Dizzying heights, white-sand beaches and gritty city life: When you visit Rio de Janeiro, it’s easy to see why it’s called Cidade Maravilhosa or the “marvelous city.” Rio’s most iconic sight is the arms-outstretched Christ the Redeemer statue, atop Corcovado, but it's just as famous for its annual Mardi Gras festival, Carnival. The rest of the year, this city offers incredible beaches, great shopping and gorgeous mountain scenery (as well as some harsh realities, such as the drug-trafficked favelas, or slums). But travel to Rio de Janeiro is easily filled with things of beauty, whether you want to gaze upon Centro’s modern-architecture masterpieces, or dance the samba (or at least watch locals do it), and listen to bossa nova. Read on in this Rio de Janeiro travel guide to take your first steps here:
Things Not to Miss in Rio de Janeiro• Exploring the different beaches, from Ipanema to Copacabana and Arpoador
• Take the train to the top of Corcovado, home of the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue
• Take in the pageantry at Carnival at least once in your life. The wild annual four-day festivity always starts just before Easter and ends on Fat Tuesday.
• Seeing Cascatinha Waterfall at lush Tijuca National Park
• Take a photo op of the granite Sugar Loaf Mountain, or Pão de Açúcar
• Enjoy a caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça (sugar cane hard liquor), sugar and lime.
When to Go to Rio de Janeiro
The height of the Rio de Janeiro travel season is the summer season of December through March, when the weather is hot and beach-ready, and New Year’s and Carnival celebrations are on the agenda. April and May offer fewer crowds, but still warm temperatures—the only downside being that the weather gets more humid. June through September offers milder temperatures and is perhaps the ideal time for sightseeing while October and November are also mild and nicely dry.
Cooling off after a hot day on the beach with a tangy star fruit sorbet at Mil Frutas—or any other of its 80 exotic flavors.
Partying with the locals and taking in the pageantry at Carnival—at least once in your life. The wild annual four-day festivity always starts just before Easter and ends on Fat Tuesday.
Taking a 123-year-old train to the summit of Corcovado, home of the world-renowned statue of Christ the Redeemer. (Not to mention, stunning 360-degree views of the city!)