Rio de Janeiro is one of the most popular and well-known cities in the world. The glimmering metropolis who is also known as the Marvelous City (Cidade Maravilhosa) is one of the biggest cities in Brazil and a top tourist destination. The city is located at the mouth of a bay harbor giving it the most beautiful white-sand beaches a person can see. Surrounding the city, the lush tropical rainforest together with the beautiful green mountains make up for a stunning view, where nature merges with human constructions.
Places to Visit
Having so many tourist attractions the city quickly became one of the favorite places to visit in the 21st century. One of the most dramatic views from which tourists can gaze upon the city is the slopes of Corcovado Mountain. There the famous statue which is 125-foot-tall of Christ the Redeemer can be seen. For those who prefer beaches more than mountains then the famous Copacabana is the perfect place to be. Together with Ipanema, the beaches have been attracting visitors and native Brazilians (Cariocas) for more than 500 years.
But nature is not the only thing that attracts and defines Rio, there is much more to the city than the cerulean seas and the tropical rainforests. Rio is known as a city of high fashion and a laid-back attitude that dominates the character of the metropolis. The Avenida Atlântica from Copa is a spectacle of all kinds and shapes of bikinis. Rio is also famous for its love of the sport. Brazilians have an obsession with football. The Maracana Stadium which hosted some games from the 2014 World Cup and from the 2016 Olympic Games is one of the most imposing stadiums in the country. Flamengo Park is home to many volleyball courts, volleyball being probably the most popular sport in Brazil after football. When the night comes, tourists will hear the mesmerizing sounds of samba which pulsates through the streets in Lapa. The Carnival is a can’t miss destination if you go to Brazil during February.
Unfortunately, not all of what Rio de Janeiro has to offer is fairytale-like. The city has its share of problems too. If you step outside the areas which are meant for tourists then you will find many large shanty towns which are also known as favelas. There around 130,000 people live in cruel poverty. Fortunately, in recent years large efforts have been made in order to get rid of the crimes, but still, this wasn’t enough and the places are still unsafe.
Besides that, many demonstrations and protests are happening in the city. The unhappiness of the local people is making some tourists back down from the thought of going to this beautiful city. Tourists who stumble upon these kinds of demonstrations are encouraged to avoid them and immediately consult the U.S. Department of State.
Best Months to Plan a Trip
Probably the best months to visit Rio de Janeiro are from December until March. Then the weather is sunny and warm, perfect for visiting the white beaches. As it was mentioned before, the Carnival starts in February and is one of the most incredible things someone can witness in Brazil. The carnival lasts for four to five days and it leads to Fat Tuesday which brings many locals and tourists to the streets. Take note that the city is pretty much expensive and thus finding an affordable place to stay might pose a challenge. In these months the temperature may rise to 100 degrees Fahrenheit so make sure you cover your head with something and use sun creams. In Rio, tourists will find many souvenirs, from traditional products to more modern ones, including toys such as nanoblock which replicate famous landmarks and buildings from around the world.
Customs, Culture and Getting Around in Rio
Brazilians are known for their hospitality and easy-going demeanor and Cariocas (people born in Rio de Janeiro) are no exception. Their friendliness and hospitality will make any tourist want to come back. Everything from a Cariocas life revolves around late. From dancing late to eating late and making traditional costumes for the Carnival, the Cariocas are known to party.
The official language of Brazil is Portuguese. Some English speakers can be found near the tourist attractions but still, a Portuguese phrasebook is a good thing to have with you. For the costumes, wearing shorts and T-shirts is enough. Dressing casually in restaurants is the best choice to do.
Brazil has some of the best authentic dishes such as feijoada which is basically a meat-and-bean stew. An unusual combination of ham and pineapple sandwiches is rising in popularity between the locals and tourists alike. Coffee plays an important role in the lives of Brazilians and thus serving an espresso after finishing the meal is the best choice. Many restaurants won’t accept credit cards, so make sure you have some cash with you too. Also, it is expected to add gratuity but most restaurants also have a 10-percent service charge. Brazil’s official currency is the Real (BRL).
Getting around Rio is usually made by taxi or by foot. The famous attractions such as Santa Teresa and Lapa are easily accessible on foot. Those who want to go to beaches must take a taxi. Rio also has a subway that is affordable and relatively safe. Rio de Janeiro is a must-visit destination at least once in your life.
Featured Image by Heiko Behn from Pixabay