Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide
Introduction to Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is easily one of the most high-profile cities in South America, as it is home to one of the world’s most egregious parties in the run up to Ash Wednesday.
Even so, there is more to this culturally complex city than its ten to twelve days of Carnival, as its numerous diverse neighborhoods, museums, and festivals make it a top-flight tourist destination throughout the entire year.
Cultural Attractions in Rio de Janeiro
Upon arrival in Rio de Janeiro, visit Christ the Redeemer, a world famous statue that first put this Brazilian city on the map.
Located atop Corcovado Mountain, this monument is emblematic of Brazil’s deep belief in the Roman Catholic Church, as it was built in the 1920’s when the faithful in the nation felt that its inhabitants were in grave danger of collectively slipping into godlessness.
Not only did they get the statue funded, approved, and built, but it has since been embraced by most people from around Brazil.
Visitors from around the country and the world have made this monument one of the most popular of its kind on the planet, as it garners almost two million visits per year.
Rio de Janeiro is a city of neighborhoods, from the posh seaside condos of Ipanema, to hillside favelas such as Rocinha.
One of its most eclectic districts from an artistic perspective is Santa Teresa, as it owes its edgy nature due to the growth of favelas on the surrounding hillsides during the early 20th century.
This drove the wealthy inhabitants of this neighborhood to flee to the more modern and affluent districts that were growing up along the beaches at that time.
While many feared that this place would fade into insignificance, plummeting property values lead artists to move in and take over shortly after the rich and the elite pulled up stakes and fled their mansions, thus creating a place where creatives from around Brazil could live in Rio de Janeiro and pursue their art without fear of going broke.
To this very day, one can find countless galleries along its streets, along with many excellent restaurants that have breathtaking views over the city and the ocean beneath.
While the act of heading into a favela may have once led some to consider that you certainly must have a death wish, the security situation in some of these neighborhoods has improved dramatically in recent years.
So much so, that tourism operators have begun to feel comfortable enough with the current situation that they are able to offer favela tours to foreign visitors with a degree of certainty that nothing bad would happen to groups going in.
With permanent police bases in formerly lawless favelas such as Rocinha, you will be able to safely head in with a guided tour that will show you the day-to-day lives of the working class and poor families that live in the biggest Shantytown that exists in the Rio de Janeiro area.
Other Attractions in Rio de Janeiro
For many visitors to Rio De Janeiro, the one thing that they look forward to the most is spending quality time on one of its many famous beaches.
The one that is best known among international visitors is Copacabana, as its extroverted social scene that is filled with perfectly tanned Cariocas appeals greatly with those looking for a party.
It is divided up into sections that differ by level of activity and socioeconomic status: members of the LGBT community have their own section, young urban professionals have their section, and citizens coming down to the beach from the favelas also have their own section.
While this may be jarring for those that are from wealthier nations where people blend together, this is how things work in Rio, so don’t be too quick to judge the locals if you are shocked by what you see.
It’s best to focus more on working on your tan, grabbing a surfboard and riding the waves, or joining a game of sand soccer or volleyball, as these activities will help you get into the spirit of this popular spot in Rio de Janeiro.
Looking for a great place to get a panoramic shot of Rio De Janeiro from above? If so, taking the tram to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain is the best way to accomplish this goal.
With views of Copacabana beach below, Christ the Redeemer over on Corcovado Mountain, and the teeming mass of Rio below, you’ll have a photo opportunity that will rank among the top 10 shots that you will have taken in your life to date.
Be sure to either plan your trip up here in the morning, or in time for golden/blue hour in the evening, as the best quality shots can be had at those times.
As far as urban parks go, most cities in the world can’t match the scale or the authenticity of Tijuca Forest.
Protecting over 32 square kilometers of Atlantic tropical rainforest (making it one of the largest urban forests in the world) and a number of species endemic to this threatened ecosystem, this attraction is a must for lovers of nature.
In addition to the rare flora and fauna that can be found here, there are over 30 waterfalls that can be found within its borders, making it the perfect place for those needing a break from the hectic chaos that sometimes reigns on the streets of Rio De Janeiro.