This guest post comes from Patricia Schultz, author of 1000 Places to See Before You Die.
Rio–the very name of the city makes me smile! Aptly named “Cidade Maravilhosa,” the exhilarating Marvelous City is one of the world’s most beautifully situated. From atop Corcovado, under the outstretched arms of the 120-foot-tall Christ the Redeemer statue (who wouldn’t embrace this view?), you can see much of the city’s almost uninterrupted 45-mile strip of white-sand beach (most popular are Ipanema, Copacabana, and Leblon). Cariocas (the residents of Rio) have raised life to a seductive art form–always with a score of samba playing in the background. Don’t even think about coming during hedonistic Carnaval season in February or March if you don’t relish the idea of getting swept up by the world’s largest street party. Ditto for New Year’s Eve, when millions of barefoot revelers dressed in white dance to live samba bands on Copacabana beach under a panoply of fireworks.
- The two-stage aerial cable to Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf) is open late: go at dusk and watch the lights flicker on across the waterfront city and see the Christ statue illuminated across the bay.
- Take the old-fashioned tram up to the regentrified, hill-top neighborhood of Santa Teresa for a simple meal in a trendy restaurant, then linger in small music venues. Or head to the historic, charmingly shabby neighborhood of Lapa in central Rio, but remember, it doesn’t really get going until after midnight.
- The grand Copacabana Palace was inspired by the old waterfront hotels of the French Riviera and today hosts Carnaval’s most exclusive ball. Come any day for people watching over a potent but refreshing caipirinha, the national drink.