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Visit Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Travel Tips and Tourism Guide

By Dave Paris on May 4, 2015

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro never fails to impress us with its modern outlook that reflects its progression through the times of yore. The historic sites, sparkling beaches, green belts and jubilant attitude of the locals embrace the tourists to the world where heaven meets the earth. If Ronaldo played football at the Maracanã stadium, then Christ the Redeemer puts Rio on the world map. Rio's carnival with its effervescent samba dancers jiggling their hips attracts thousands of tourists around the world. The rain-forests, museums, beaches and the glitz of the city have made Rio what it is today - Brazil's top-notch tourist attraction.

Top 10 Rio de Janeiro Landmarks

Christ the Redeemer
Standing atop the Corcovado Mountain with his arms spread out, this enormous statue of Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) has been embracing the people of Rio since its inauguration in 1931. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the imposing structure of soapstone and cement provides panoramic views of Rio beyond compare. Book a cog train to the statue through the trails of the Tijuca Forest National Park. The Corcovado Mountain is a tourist destination in itself with every inch occupied by frantic visitors. So arrive early to get a surreal view of the statue and an amazing view of the city. Entry is free.

Maracanã Stadium (Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho / Estádio do Maracana)
Fans of legends like Ronaldo, Pele, Romario, Carlos Alberto and Nilton Santos will surely love to pay a visit to the Mecca of Football; the Maracanã Stadium. Officially inaugurated during the 1950 World Cup, this all encompassing stadium features a capacity to hold 100,000 cheering fans. If you are lucky enough, it is possible to catch one of your favourite players in action. Otherwise, pay a visit to the sports museum with treasuries in store. The stadium is hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies.

Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar)
Named after the traditional sugarloaves used during the yesteryears, the Sugarloaf Mountain is a tall 395 meter peak rising at the Guanabar Bay in the Atlantic Ocean. Right at the top, tourists will have the chance of their lifetime to capture photo opportunities of the sparkling Rio beaches, statue of Christ and the green forests. Although, most visitors arrive by a cable car, which takes 2-3 minutes, others can test their enthusiasm and energy by climbing the mountain. The best time to visit the peak is at sunset when the flickering colours of the sun make way for a blanket of stars.

Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens (Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro)
The Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens is a complete resource on Amazonian tropical species including 5000 varieties of plants explicating the rich botanic diversity of Brazil. The garden showcases a fine collection of excruciatingly large Victorian water lilies and Japanese plants. Sitting on the edge of Tijuca Forest, Dom João VI designed the garden himself in 1808 to include plants of artistic, archaeological and historical importance. Visit the parks on the weekdays to avoid weekend crowds.

Sambadrome (Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí)
During the Carnival season, the fervour gains ground in Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí where samba school dancers compete to become the best in town. Dancers performing to the school’s samba anthem impress the crowd with their music, elaborate costumes and most importantly heart stomping samba dance. The Sambadrome, also known as the Apoteose Square, holds a capacity to accommodate 90,000 people who come to watch the enthralling Carnival parade every year.

Copacabana Beach
Rio will never be complete without the mention of Copacabana Beach. The stimulating 4.5 km of crescent coastline never sleeps, as visitors play beach soccer, soak in the sun or swing and dance until the wee hours of the morning. One of the culturally richer neighbourhoods of Rio, the borough is filled to the brim with bars, restaurants and upscale hotels. Tourists of all ages will have some or other activity to do at the beach, be it soaking in the sun, snorkelling or water sports. The place will be one of the hosts for the 2016 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup and also is favoured by revellers who want to bring in the New Year celebrations with great enthusiasm.

Ipanema Beach
The wealthier sibling of Copacabana, Ipanema is a glitzy neighbourhood located between Leblon and Arpoador. Favoured by the Rio's locals (las cariocas), Ipanema’s beauty lies in its dusky stretch of sand dotted by greenery with cafes, bars and restaurants weaving up the place. The waters at Ipanema are dangerous at times, so swim or surf in areas allotted by the many lifeguards.

As the historical and financial hub, Rio’s central district holds many jewels in its purse. Despite the bustling traffic and skyscrapers, the lanes provide an insight to how Rio was discovered and then consequentially developed in the years that followed. There are a number of historic landmarks that distinguish Central Rio – The National History Museum, displaying relics from Imperial days, the 17th-century Mosteiro de São Bento church, the 1905 Theatro Municipal, The Paço Imperial; seat of former Portuguese rulers, the baroque styled Igreja Sao Bento church, the 18th-century Passeio Público garden and the 1750 built Arcos da Lapa aqueduct. Today, these restored structures include many restaurants, art galleries, tea houses and speciality shops for tourists and locals alike.

Tijuca National Park (Parque Nacional da Tijuca)
Covering some 32 km², Parque Nacional da Tijuca is the world's largest urban forest in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Hand-planted in the 19th century to recover the damage caused by extensive coffee plantations, the wildlife park population includes many insects, ocelots, birds, howler monkeys and other endangered species known only to the Amazon basin. The park's summit, where the symbolic Christ the Redeemer statue is situated, offers fantastic views over the city and ocean. Although many visit the park by car, hiking tours for the more adventurous type are arranged by a number of local travel agents.

Petrópolis (The Imperial City)
About an hour drive away from Rio is Petrópolis, a town also known as 'The Imperial City of Brazil'. Petrópolis unique location at the foothills of Serra dos Órgãos National Park bestows it with a cool climate, compared to the muggy surroundings of Rio. A popular resort town, the main attraction of Petropolis is the Summer Palace of the former Brazilian Emperors, which is now restored into a museum displaying Imperial memorabilia. Other notable buildings are the Palacio Cristal glasshouse and the Cathedral.

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