Overview From iconic beaches to churrascaria and caipirinhas, few South American cities stand out as much as Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The sixth most populated city in the Americas is known for Carnaval, Christ the Redeemer and bossa nova beats and offers no shortage of things to do while you’re there.
Sleep at the Sofitel for stunning beach or mountain views – Eat in Churrascaria Palace, a traditional Brazilian Steakhouse – Drink in Carioca da Gema, a busy nightclub with samba dancing – See the Christ the Redeemer statue in all its glory – Shop at Rua Visconde de Piraja, Ipanema for a mix of bargain stores, brand names and markets – Get Outside and relax in the world famous Copacabana beach – Don’t Miss the natural beauty of the Tijuca National Park
Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are two of the most iconic stretches of sun-drenched sand and sea in the world. The former is a two-and-a-half mile stretch of beach along the Atlantic Ocean in Rio’s South Zone. It’s framed by a gorgeous boardwalk and draws millions of revelers to its annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display; while the latter draws locals and visitors to sunbathe, pick up a game of volleyball or leisurely sip cachaça. Get back to nature at Tijuca National Park. The nearly 12.5 mile-squared tropical rainforest is one of the largest urban parks in the world. Escape to its hiking trails to view beautiful plants, wild flowers and animals, many threatened extinction. The park is also home to some 30 waterfalls and the iconic 98-foot-tall Christ the Redeemer statue. All the sightseeing in Rio is sure to work up an appetite, and luckily Rio offers a perfect solution for it. Brazilian barbecue, known as churrascaria features meats—beef, pork, chicken and more—cooked churrasco-style over a charcoal grill on skewers. You’ll need a caipirinha to wash all that barbecue down. Brazil’s national cocktail is made by muddling lime and sugar together, covering the mixture with crushed ice and adding a hefty pour of cachaça, a spirit made from sugarcane juice.
Rio is known for its beach culture and with that comes casual dress. Don’t leave home without the necessities: bathing suit, sunglasses, sunscreen and flip-flops or sandals. Rio’s rainy season is usually around August and September so you’ll want to pack a light jacket and umbrella. The jacket will also be useful if you head to Tijuca National Park or any other mountainous area where the temperatures are a little more brisk.
There’s no doubt you’ll be drinking a few caipirinhas your visit and they will most likely be made with Nêga Fûlo cachaça. The national favorite isn’t currently exported to the U.S., so bottles of it are one of the best souvenirs to take back. The city is known for its sound. Search out music shops for the best samba and bossa nova tunes. Soccer and Brazil go hand-in-hand so Rio is the perfect spot to pick up for favorite player’s jersey. Rio is also the home of Havaianas, so if you need an extra pair of flip-flops, expect them to be in plentiful supply.
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