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The Rio de Janeiro coastline
The Rio de Janeiro coastline © Hank LeClair

Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide

Bikinis on the beach, samba in the streets, a stunning mountainous backdrop, and a rainforest within city limits... how many more reasons can there be to book a holiday in Rio de Janeiro, the vibrant heart of Brazil? 

Best known for its feisty annual Carnival, thought to be the biggest party in the world, Rio is a fun, sexy city irresistible to party-people. All year round, the Rio nightlife is lively, and those missing Carnival needn't worry that they won't experience the legendary energy of the locals. Of course, a holiday in Rio de Janeiro is also perfect for sultry sun-lovers, with 62 miles (100km) of beaches flanking the city. Travellers will find a booming restaurant scene and a rich and varied culture in Rio de Janeiro, with museums and galleries enough to please any committed sightseer, not to mention iconic urban landmarks.

Best time to visit Rio de Janeiro

Rio rocks all year round, with holiday beach weather the order of the day almost every day of the year. It is therefore always a good time to travel to Rio de Janeiro, but party people are particularly attracted to travel to Rio for Carnival, held annually in January or February, when the samba schools parade through the streets in their brilliant costumes. Travellers should note that the peak summer months (December to February) can be very hot and humid in Rio. Read more on Rio de Janeiro's Climate and Weather.

What to see in Rio de Janeiro

-Stand with the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue and take in beautiful Rio.

-Catch a soccer game at the celebrated Estadio do Maracana.

-Enjoy Ipanema's glorious beaches and feisty nightlife.

-Explore Santa Teresa, a charming, maze-like old district.

What to do in Rio de Janeiro

-Shop and sunbathe in the famous coastal neighbourhood of Copacabana.

-Tour one of the colourful favelas, like Rocinha, for a taste of how the locals live.

-Ride the cable car up Sugar Loaf for the best views of the city.

-Make an excursion to the many islands of Angra dos Reis.

Beyond Rio de Janeiro

As the city is blessed with rainforests and gorgeous beaches, as well as diverse urban attractions, it is easy to spend a whole holiday in Rio de Janeiro, but those wanting to explore farther afield will find that the nearby Buzios Peninsula boasts some very popular beach resorts. Though farther away, the Iguacu Falls of southern Brazil are also a popular excursion from Rio.

Getting there

Galeao Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport, commonly known as Galeao International Airport, is one of the busiest airports in Brazil and underwent significant improvements for the 2014 World Cup. The airport is located 13 miles (20km) from downtown Rio de Janeiro. Get more information on Airports in Rio de Janeiro.

Did you know?

-Christ the Redeemer has been named one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

-At least 20 percent of Rio de Janeiro's population live in the poverty-stricken favelas.

-Rio has more than 46 miles (74km) of bicycle trails, mostly along the beaches.


Mention Rio to anybody and immediately the name evokes images of sultry street parades, the Sugar Loaf cable car, the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado mountain, and the 'itsy-bitsy teeny weeny' bikinis on the beach at Ipanema. The exuberant cultural capital of Brazil is tucked between the mountains and the sea and is endowed with awe-inspiring natural beauty. Rio's beaches, including the famous Ipanema and Copacabana, are a main attraction due to the city's warm climate. The city also contains the biggest urban forest in the world, the Tijuca Forest, which was completely replanted during the second half of the 19th century.

The city pulses to the infectious beat of Brazilian music, and Rio's annual carnival draws together the city's inhabitants (known as Cariocas), from the very rich to the very poor, who take to the streets for the world's largest samba parade.

Rio is a sprawling city made up of 150 districts, each characterised by unique features. One of the most intriguing, Santa Teresa, is a winding maze of streets populated by artists and musicians, which is reached by taking an old tram across an ancient aqueduct called Arcos da Lapa. In the heart of Rio there are historic monuments and public buildings like the Municipal Theatre, the National Museum of Fine Art, the Itamaraty Palace, the National History Museum, and the National Library. There are also beautiful examples of religious architecture, such as the Sao Bento Monastery. No matter how long you spend exploring the city, it will always deliver new surprises.

To the north of the city is the Lakes region, which has more than 62 miles (100km) of beaches and salt-water lagoons, and is the site of the main tourist resorts of Búzios, Cabo Frio, Arrial do Cabo, Rio das Ostras, Marica and Saquarema. Many other stunning natural areas and fun man-made attractions in Brazil are easily reached from Rio, which makes a fabulous travel base.

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