Rio de Janeiro

Best time to go: Rainy season is from November to March around Rio.

Rio was described by Darwin as ‘more magnificent than anything any European has ever seen in his country of origin’.

It is certainly blessed with an idyllic setting, lying on Brazil’s Atlantic coast close to the Tropic of Capricorn, with more than 80 kilometres of beach against a mountain backdrop.Rio’s must see landmarks are Sugarloaf Mountain, known to locals as Pao de Acucar, and the statue of Christ the Redeemer, although considering their size, they are pretty difficult to miss.

Looming over the city from the top of the Corcovado mountain with arms outstretched, the Statue of Christ the Redeemer or Christo Redentor, is visible from practically everywhere in the city, and looks magnificent at night when brightly lit.

Although the statue can be seen from practically everywhere in the city it’s worth taking a trip up the Corcovado, to experience the spectacular panorama of the city and its surroundings.Rio was the political capital of Brazil until the 1960s when the capital was moved to Brasilia, but for many people, it remains the carnival capital of the world, and although the Rio Carnival only lasts five days, the excitement seems to last all year.

The carnival enlivens the city with constant music, singing and lavish street parades with plenty of samba danced by sambistas in spangly costumes.However, the costumes range from skimpy to very skimpy, so this event is not for the prudish or faint hearted. You have been warned!

Did you know?

  • the first person recorded as having climed the Pao de Acucar was Englishwoman Henrietta Carstairs who placed a British flag on the top of the mountain in 1817
  • the statue of Christ the Redeemer is 30 metres tall and weighs 1145 tons
  • Brazilian bikinis are banned from many American beaches