Rio de Janeiro, host of FIFA World Cup 2014, is more than just a flamboyant city of wild carnivals, sultry bossanova and sexy samba. Nestled within a spectacular landscape of scenic beaches and forested mountains, Rio de Janeiro is one of Latin America’s top destinations to visit. Although slums – also known as ‘favelas’ in Brazil – are found throughout Rio de Janeiro, these communities have long blended into Brazil’s society to become a permanent urban fixture. Here are my top 5 experiences in Rio de Janeiro.
Filled with beach-goers engaging in a flurry of activities, Copacabana is a beautifully chaotic place to explore. No doubt that it is certainly one of the liveliest beaches I have ever experienced! Yet, despite its international popularity, this world-famous beach exudes a distinct local Brazilian vibe, which I feel is much stronger than that of Ipanema and Leblon.
4. Favela Santa Marta
Favela, which is the term for a slum or shantytown in Brazil, is an iconic feature in Rio de Janeiro’s urban landscape. Far from being a place of shunned taboos, favelas are huge communities that house almost one-third of Rio de Janeiro’s population. Exploring a favela is definitely an eye-opening experience. One of the most famous favelas is Favela Santa Marta, which has seen many artistes visiting for work and inspiration. Amongst them is Michael Jackson, who was there to shoot the MTV for his hit song “They Don’t Care about Us”.
3. Ipanema and Leblon
My personal favourite in Brazil, Ipanema and Leblon are much less crowded than Copacabana. With a variety of trendy restaurants and luxurious cafes alongside beautiful beaches, you can easily spend half a day in these two Rio’s most affluent neighborhoods!
2. Christ the Redeemer
Located atop Corcovado Hill at a stunning height of 700 meters, Christ de Redeemer is the most iconic symbol of Brazilian Christianity. Visit on a day of clear blue skies and a magnificent aerial view of Rio de Janeiro awaits you!
1. Sugar Loaf
At a height of 400 metres, Sugar Loaf may not be the tallest hill, but it is where you will witness one of the most stunning sunsets ever. I will just let my picture below do the talking.