Golden beaches and lush mountains, samba-fueled nightlife and spectacular football matches: welcome to the Cidade Maravilhosa.
Standing atop the 710m peak of Corcovado, you will see why Rio is called the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City). Lushly forested mountains fringe the city, with shimmering beaches tracing the shoreline and a string of tiny islands scattered along the seafront. Far from being mere cinematic backdrop, this seaside beauty hosts outstanding outdoor adventures: hiking the Tijuca rainforest, cycling alongside the lake and beaches, sailing across Baía de Guanabara, and surfing, rock-climbing and hang-gliding amid one of the world's most stunning urban landscapes.
Joie de Vivre
Speaking of Carnaval, Rio knows how to party. Whether you call it joie de vivre, lebensfreude or lust for life, cariocas have it in spades. Carnaval, and the build-up to it, is the most obvious manifestation of this celebratory spirit. But Rio has many other occasions for revelry – celebrations after the big Flamengo (or Vasco, Fluminense or Botafogo) soccer match, weekend samba parties around town, baile funk parties in the favelas and boat parties on the bay, not to mention major fests like Réveillon (New Year's Eve) and the Festas Juninas.
Rio's beaches have long seduced visitors. Copacabana beach became a symbol of Rio during the 1940s, when international starlets jetted down for the weekend. Hogging the spotlight these days is Ipanema beach, its fame and beauty unabated since bossa nova stars Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes introduced the world to its allure in the 1960s. For cariocas (residents of Rio), the beach is Rio's backyard – a playground that's free and open to all, offering endless enjoyment in the form of football, volleyball, surfing, snacking, drinking or simply relaxing amid the passing people parade.
Why I Love Rio
By Regis St Lous, Author
There's no other place like Rio. It's the combination of many things that I find so captivating: walking through parks inside the city and seeing monkeys and toucans, spending the evening catching music jams around Lapa, joining a few friends amid the roaring crowds at Maracanã or greeting the sunrise (after an early morning or late night) from Copacabana beach. It's those precious moments when you realize you're hooked. I also love the carioca spirit, spontaneous and good-natured, with the urge to live life to the fullest. It's no wonder that in a 2013 survey, Rio was rated the world's happiest city.
The Rhythms of Rio
Music is the lifeblood of Rio, with a soundtrack comprising rock, old-school bossa nova, hip-hop, funk and Brazil's many regional styles. Above all, there's samba, a rapid-fire style of music with African influences and an infectious beat that is synonymous with Rio. You can hear it all over town, but the soul of samba resides in Lapa, an edgy, red-light district that is home to dozens of live-music halls and an enormous weekend street party that draws revelers from all walks of life. Samba is also the integral sound during Carnaval and the danceable backing music to street parties and all-night parades.