Rio de Janeiro is soon taking its place in the world’s spotlight as host of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics. Beyond these sporting spectacles or its famous Carnival, this alluring city has always had a dramatic natural beauty, cultural richness and flirty energy that draws visitors from around the globe. With rain-forest pinnacles and crescent-shaped beaches, the town is dotted with Art Deco, Beaux-Arts and skyscraper architecture. Music fills the air and dancing spills out onto the streets. Food and drink are deliciously distinctive. Day or night, the pulse of Brazil’s second largest metropolis never stops. You’ll soon realize why Rio’s nickname is cidade maravilhosa, the “marvellous city”. Here is the definitive must-do list of what to eat, see and experience when in Rio.
1. Embrace Christ the Redeemer
You’re going to see Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) whether you seek him out or not – look up and you can’t miss him. The 40 meter tall iconic statue stands open-armed atop Corcovado Peak, the saviour serenely smirking as he soaks in the best views in the city. This Art Deco masterpiece was built in 1922 out of concrete and soapstone, and was the largest statue of this genre in the world until Poland captured that title in 2010. Not to worry, Rio’s sacred symbol was voted a spot on the New Seven Wonders of the World list. To get up close to Christ there is a vertical cog train that ascends every 30 minutes from Corcovado Station, but it can be really crowded especially on the way down. If time and patience are tight you’d best take a van or taxi up there. Active types can hike it in about two hours.
2. Strut Your Stuff at Copacabana
This sexy beach is the sizzling hub of Rio de Janeiro for visitors and local cariocas alike. By day, this sandy stretch is the place to pose, preen, see and been seen working on your tan – preferably in a teeny-tiny swim suit. At night, the clubs are hopping with that distinctive Rio vibe. Oceanside Avenue shuts down on Sunday’s for a pedestrian-friendly party. There are plenty of places to grab a bite or drink, from small kiosks to swanky sit-down bars and restaurants. Stroll along the 4km wave-tiled promenade and check out Fort Copacabana at the end of the beach.