Rio de Janeiro: A pocket guide

The epitome of chic in the 1940s and a favorite hangout of rock-and-roll rebels in the 1960s and ’70s, Rio is back in fashion, and it’s never been cooler. In the lead-up to the Olympic games, Rio has been undergoing a face-lift, and the grand hotels and high-design private vacation rentals that are popping up suggest a move toward high-end tourism. The coast of Rio has become Brazil’s tourism capital, a place where verdant mountains roll into turquoise oceans, their shorelines stretching for 50 kilometers. The city’s most famous beaches, Ipanema and Copacabana, barely scratch the surface of things to do. Spend time on the sands and enjoy a game of beach football with the local boys and volleyball with the girls, or pass by the parades of sun worshippers and head into the waves for some surfing. The most famous symbol of Rio is the 125-foot art deco statue of Jesus overlooking the city from the 2,329-foot granite peak at the centre of Rio. From the top of Corcovado (the name means “hunchback”), views of the city are outstanding, perhaps the reason Rio’s nickname “Marvelous City.” Wherever you go in Rio, there’s sure to be a lively soundtrack playing in the background. The city lives on music, from modern hip-hop to Brazil’s many traditional favorites. The beat is infectious, and never more so than during Carnival season. Whether celebrating a football-match victory or New Year’s Eve, Rio throws a party like no other city, and local dancers dressed in feathered headpieces and not much else will soon have you on your feet.

Rio de Janiero carnival dancer.

Meet the Experts for Rio de Janeiro