Standing on the top of Corcovado Mountain and looking out over the city with outstretched arms, the statue of Jesus was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. Its left arm points to the northern areas of Rio de Janeiro, while its right arm points to the south. If you venture up through the Tijuca Rain Forest to the top of the mountain for a closer look you will be rewarded by fabulous views of Sugar Loaf Mountain, Copacabana, Ipanema, the Maracanã Stadium and the Serra do Órgãos mountain range.
The small, pert granite mountain known as Sugarloaf rises from the ground in an egg-like fashion and is the iconic symbol of the Rio de Janeiro skyline. A visit to experience the top with its 360-degree view of the city is an absolute must. There is a two-stage cable car called Corcovado Train that runs up the mountain and makes the ascent and descent effortless.
Held seven weeks before Easter, the Rio de Janeiro Carnaval (Carnival) is a five-day extravaganza of colour and music. If your visit coincides with the festivities be sure to take part. Everyone dances in the street, including many with fabulously coloured costumes and feathered headdresses. All move to the sounds of the samba that is constant throughout the five days. See the parades and demonstrations and listen to live bands too. The Tourist Office always has a programme of events.
If you like music, you should look out for Rio Jazz Festival. The sultry music will be heard seeping out of almost every one of the city’s bars and clubs as they host special events to mark the fabulous Rio Jazz Festival. Jazz acts from around the world come to Rio to take part each year. The Tourist Office always has a programme of festival events and dates vary annually for this event.
The city is famous for its fabulous beaches. Copacabana is perhaps Rio de Janeiro’s best known beach because it hosts Rio de Janeiro’s New Year celebrations that are seen from all around the world. Other beaches close to the centre of the city include Ipanema and Leblon where there are restaurants galore and the beaches of Barra da Tijuca, Prainha and Grumari that are all great for surfing and windsurfing enthusiasts. Nearby Búzios, a former fishing village, has many beaches where surfing, volley ball, scuba diving and windsurfing are popular, such as the beaches of Geribá, Enseada de Manguinhos, Armação, Praia dos Ossos, Azeda and Ferradura. Along the coast you find Arraial do Cabo known for its fabulous diving. The water off the beaches of Dos Anjos, where one of the first settlements was established in the 1500’s, is crystal clear and the rock formations teem with tropical fish. If you sit on the shoreline you can look out over the Massambaba spit and the Araruama Lake. More outstanding beaches can be found around the Angra dos Reis bay. The area is famous for its forest areas known as the Atlantic Forest. Here you can take nature trails through the undergrowth. It also has more than 360 islands including the beautiful Gipóia Island where Piedade and Jurubaíba beaches can be found and the IIha Grande, the largest islands, that has the beautiful Lopes Mendes and Cachadaço beaches.
Along with the State Park of Ilha Grande and the Biological Reservation of South Beach, the Marine State Park of Aventureiro is among the most important environmental initiatives in Brazil. They are located on the IIha Grande, Rio de Janeiro’s largest island, in the Angra Dos Reis Bay. They offer nearly 200 square kilometres of natural forest and waterways, beaches, nature trails for those who love to trek and clear waters for water sport enthusiasts, particularly surfers, divers and sailors.
The shanty towns in Brazil are called favelas. The favelas are old places along the hillsides where former slaves used to live. Today the favelas have become popular tourist destinations and the most famous favela in Rio de Janerio is called Rocinha. There are many different guided tours to the favelas and they will show you a whole different side of Rio de Janeiro.
If you pay a visit to Teatro Municipal you will find yourself in an extravagant theatre with cosy lights and exclusive interiors. This a good place to take the opportunity to attend a performance and show. If you are not visiting for a performance or show, the guided tours are highly recommended by its visitors.
To celebrate New Year's Eve in Rio de Janeiro is a true classic. One of the main sites for this annual event is Copacabana beach where there are many festivities. Make sure you see the world famous fireworks display at midnight. So put your dancing shoes on and join in on the New Year’s party in Rio de Janeiro.
When visiting the country of Samba, why not put your dancing shoes on and try a few moves yourself? The samba schools are especially popular during Sambadrome and the carnival in Rio de Janeiro. The Samba School have different costumes depending on the school. Watch the samba schools in the carnival or buy a costume and join a Samba School yourself. One of the most famous samba schools are Mangueira.
If you are feeling brave and are looking for one of the most thrilling experiences and amazing views of Rio de Janeiro you should try Hang Gliding. There are different companies offering Hang Gliding in Rio de Janeiro and one of them is Easy Fly Rio. Easy Fly Rio takes off from Pedra Bonita and flies over numerous attractions and sights.
Dining at the Cais do Oriente will be a memorable experience. Not only is its Oriental and European menu inspired and the dishes artistically presented but the ambience of this stylish restaurant is quite unique. Housed in a restored 19th century warehouse beautifully decorated and furnished with antiques it oozes charm.
Full of Belle Époque charm this lavish Art Nouveau café is located in the heart of old Rio de Janeiro. It serves a range of cakes, pastries, light snacks and a selection of teas. Be sure to take the 5pm High Tea. There is another branch of this popular cafe on the harbour side.
For enthusiasts of markets, and especially those that specialise in antiques, head for the Rua do Lavradio which is close to the Praça Tiradentes. Every first Saturday of the month it hosts the Feira do Rio Antigo that is a huge, bustling antique market where everything from books to lamps can be found. Make a day of it as there are plenty of restaurants to grab a bite to eat and live bands playing samba if you fancy a dance. Another market that should capture your attention is the Feira Hippie in Praça General Osório, Ipanema. Here you will find handicrafts, art, unusual clothes and leather goods.
Most flights arrive into Rio de Janeiro via International Airport Galeão. The airport is located on Governador Island, the largest one in Guanabara Bay, and is located around twenty kilometres from the city centre. The airport is served by a good road network, including the Linha Vermelha and Linha Amarela freeways and Avenida Brasil. International Airport Galeão has a range of facilities including ATM's, bank, restaurants, telephones, parking and car hire offices. There are four bus lines (2018, 2101, 2145 and 2918) that run to and from the city centre and Rio’s other airport, Santos Dumont Airport. The buses run every ten minutes and journey times can vary depending on the time of day, but allow at least 40 minutes. For regular taxis there are two companies at the airport, Aerotaxi: +55 21 3398 3163 and Aerocoop: +55 21 3398 3691. There are also VIP taxis available.
Santos Dumont Airport is located eight kilometres downtown from Rio de Janeiro. It has a range of facilities, including ATM's, telephones and car hire offices. There are two bus lines that operate from the airport. Number 2145 runs to Rio de Janeiro International Airport and 2018 runs to Rio de Janeiro International Airport and Alvorada. There are also taxis and rental cars available.
Getting around Rio de Janeiro is relatively straightforward. The city is divided into four zones: the South (Zona Sul), Centre (Centro), North (Zona Norte) and the West (Zona Oueste). You can get around with metro and bus, ónibus, that are both very inexpensive ways to travel and you can also purchase a combination ticket. You can buy tickets and cards at all stations. Be careful of pickpockets during rush-hour!
Taxis can be seen everywhere and they are fairly priced, although always use those associated with an accredited company with an identification sticker in the window. Be sure it has a meter before you begin your journey, some drivers might quote you excessive rates at night-time. Taxis are usually found in the designated ranks outside the airport terminal and hotels, and are generally yellow or white coloured. If you feel unsure ask the hotel or restaurant to call you a taxi, that way you can be absolutely sure it is safe. Nettaxi +55 21 9136 9784 Aerocoop +55 21 3078 5050 Aerotaxi +55 21 2467 7408 Central Táxi +55 21 2195 1000