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Top Attractions in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is undoubtedly South America’s most iconic city. It’s a city so full of life, samba beats, iconic landmarks, golden sand beaches and party people. It’s a city that has it all and here the Latin America team tell you the top six things that are not to be missed in Rio de Janeiro.
Carnival (or Carnaval in Portuguese) is an energetic, over-the-top celebration; a riot of music and colour. It is a parade of giant floats and samba dancers. It is a party unlike any other. Taking place 40 days before Easter, and spread over the course of five days, it is something everybody should experience at least once in their lifetime. Traditionally, during Lent, no celebrations were held and people refrained from eating rich foods. The local population therefore cleverly decided that these vices needed to be enjoyed one last time before their abstinence. This is thought to be the origin of Carnival – the community gathering together in one large street party.
Christ the Redeemer
Built as a symbol of Brazilian Christianity and now one of the seven new wonders of the world, the statue of Christ is one of Rio’s must-see sights! The 38-metre-high and 1,145 tonne statue is a joy to behold, and its elevated location makes it an excellent viewing point for a panoramic look at Rio. There are numerous ways to reach the top of the 750m high Corcovado Hill: those up for the challenge can hike to the top, or if you are looking for a more relaxed journey, you can take the funicular.
Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches
Copacabana and Ipanema are home to beautiful beaches – both acquiring world fame through being the subject of famous songs! Copacabana is a hive for intrigue and activity, with plenty of bars, restaurants and kiosks. Ipanema attracts a chic crowd – it is a gathering place for models, well-to-do families and beautiful people. The beach is 4km long and the tree-lined promenade is very pretty with cute boutique shops, restaurants and colourful bars. Both beaches are well worth a visit!
The Escadaria Selarón is a world-famous set of stairs built by Chilean-born Jorge Selarón to pay homage to the people of Brazil. Also known as the 'Selaron Steps', every one of the staircase’s 250 steps is individually decorated with pieces of tile and glass, assembled carefully in a mosaic style from 2000 tiles collected from over 60 countries.
Not too far from downtown Rio is the vibrant, trendy hillside settlement of Santa Teresa. Known for its narrow, winding roads and boutique hotels, it is the stomping ground of artists and bohemians. Expect mosaicked and colourful streets and parks, breath-taking panoramic views over the city and a fantastic selection of tasty restaurants.
Rising 396m high above the mouth of Guanabara Bay on a peninsula that sticks out into the Atlantic Ocean, Sugarloaf Mountain is known worldwide for its cableway and panoramic views of the city. The name is said to refer to its resemblance to the traditional shape of a concentrated refined loaf of sugar. Most visitors reach the top by way of an all-glass cable car, which you can catch from its lowest connecting point Praia Vermelha. The cable car route is divided by a stop in the middle at Morro da Urca, for those who wish to take a pleasant walk up or down this hill.