Rio de Janeiro: 10 Things You Can’t MissBrazil, Central and South America — By Julie F on January 9, 2012 at 6:00 am
When most people think of Rio de Janeiro, they imagine themselves lying on one of the city’s famous beaches à la “The Girl from Ipanema.” But there’s more to do in Rio than sunbathe, and the city is well worth exploring. Here are a Lost Girl’s top 10 things to do:
Perhaps the most famous landmark in all of South America, the Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado Mountain is a must-see on any lost girl’s trip to Rio. You can get to the top via funicular or bus, on foot, or by helicopter. Whatever method you choose, be prepared for stunning views over the city and an awe-inspiring experience of seeing the statue up close.
Take the Cable Car to Sugar Loaf Mountain
Another of Rio’s famous hills is Sugar Loaf Mountain. Accessible by cable car from the city’s Urca district, Sugar Loaf has 360-degree views over Rio’s downtown, Copacabana Beach, and the harbor. At the top of the mountain there is a café and several shops if you want to mix retail therapy into your visit.
Walk Around Rodrigo de Freitas Lake
Popular with Cariocas—as Rio natives are called—the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake is the perfect place to go for a walk in the sunshine. The lake is surrounded by cafes and restaurants, so if you get tired you can stop for a drink or a snack. In the wintertime, the water features the world’s largest floating Christmas tree. At 28 stories, it is visible from all around the lake and is spectacular at night when it lights up.
Stroll Through the Botanical Garden
Rio’s botanical garden is one of the most famous landmarks in the city. Packed with flora from all over the world, the garden is the perfect place to spend an afternoon walking through the palms and admiring the orchids.
Shop in Ipanema
No trip to Rio is complete without a shopping trip to Ipanema. As the girl in the song must have known, the neighborhood is home to the city’s most fashionable boutiques and shops. Everything from international luxury goods to the creations of local Brazilian designers can be found there.
Sunbathe on Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches
Going to the beach isn’t the only thing to do in Rio, but it is definitely a must on any visit. Copacabana is where most of the city’s hotels are located, so a visit is easy if you are staying on the waterfront. But the beautiful people spend their days on Ipanema beach. Lifeguard post 9 is the place to be, so get your bikini body ready!
Go to the Olympics and World Cup
Rio is hosting both the 2016 Olympics and the 2014 World Cup, and the city is abuzz with anticipation. If you’re lucky enough to visit during one of these events, don’t miss your chance to attend an event or a game.
The most famous festival of the year in Rio is Carnival. The annual event takes place in February for several days before the start of Lent. If you go, you can buy tickets to watch the colorful parades in the massive Sambadrome or take part in street processions all over the city.
Ring In the New Year
Another of Rio’s major annual celebrations is New Year’s Eve. Few other places in the world take the party more seriously than Rio, where Copacabana Beach hosts millions of revelers. There are famous parties at hotels like the Copacabana Palace and the Sofitel, and a celebration at the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain. If you don’t want to pay to welcome the new year, head to the beach to watch concerts and fireworks for free.
Go to a Samba Show
Samba is at the heart of Rio’s culture, and no trip to the city is complete without a visit to one of the famous Samba clubs in Lapa. Classic venues like Carioca da Gema offer live samba to packed houses all year long. To feel the rhythms is to feel the spirit of Rio.
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Lost Girl Julie Falconer recently took a trip to Rio de Janeiro to soak up the sun and see the sights. Click here for more on Brazil on Lost Girls World, and see Julie’s London travel blog and Brazil travel website for more stories.