Tomorrow, March 1, Rio de Janeiro turns 454. In 2019 the date coincides with the beginning of the largest and most joyous party promoted in the city: Carnival. While Cariocas and tourists get ready to enjoy the block parties and samba schools, the second largest metropolis in the country, that was once the federal capital, presents its postcards as a perfect scenario for those who like partying and for those who just want some rest.
Official records show that Gaspar Lemos arrived at the Bay in January of 1502. The navigator understandably assumed that what he had in front of him was the mouth of a river and named the region Rio de Janeiro (or, in English, January River). But it was not until 1565, with the expulsion of the French from the Bay by Estácio de Sá, that the city was founded and then developed thanks to its natural vocation as a harbor. It was here that, in 1808, the Portuguese royal family landed after fleeing the Napoleonic invasion. It was the capital of the country until 1960 when Brasília was founded.
There isn’t a single person who visits Rio and is not amazed by such much natural beauty. Gateway for tourists in Brazil, the city offers its vast cultural, musical, gastronomic and historical diversity with a one-of-a-kind joy. The options of sights are so many that it is worth planning to live and breathe this city. Check out the tour that explains all this success:
Visiting Copacabana and Ipanema is almost mandatory. The two beaches, located in the South Region of the city, have beautiful promenades, in addition to bike paths and kiosks. Before taking a dip, visitors may rent a bike and cycle through the more than six kilometers of beachside. Depending on how athletic you are, put on a pair of sneakers and go out for a walk or a run. Then, some coconut water or perhaps an iced mate tea and a bag of the traditional biscoito de polvilho (a snack made from manioc starch) might do some good.
The Princesinha do Mar, as Copacabana Beach is nicknamed, is the stage for the world’s largest New Year’s Eve celebration. Its fireworks display attracts over 1 million people every New Year’s Eve. Ipanema is among locals’ favorites for its charm and laid-back style. The beach is the meeting point of young residents and tourists, especially nearby Posto 9. At the end of the end, what about joining locals and going over to Arpoador rock to applaud the sunset?
SUGARLOAF CABLE CAR
Save an afternoon to visit the Sugarloaf. Going from Praia Vermelha (Red Beach), in the neighborhood of Urca, South Region of the city, visitors first take a cable car heading towards the Urca Mountain and from there they take a second car that takes them to the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain – 396 meters above sea level. The view from the top of both mountains is breathtaking, as visitors get to see the Botafogo Cove, Copacabana Beach, and the Guanabara Bay entrance. At the end of the day, go over to Urca to have a beer and watch the sunset. At the base of the Urca and Sugarloaf Mountains, you can also see Christ the Redeemer. To feel like a local, don’t forget to order a portion of pastel in one of the bars.
CHRIST THE REDEEMER
With arms wide open over the Guanabara Bay, the Christ, the Redeemer blesses Cariocas and visitors. Sitting atop the Corcovado mountain, the statue is one of the most sought-after sights. The world’s largest and most famous art deco sculpture, Christ is one of the seven wonders of the modern world. To get to the monument, visitors take a pleasant 20-minute train ride across the Tijuca Forest. The view is stunning. In addition to seeing the Christ statue, visitors can also explore the forest. Join the locals in mountain climbs, hikes, and bike tours or in a simple picnic.