You stand on the vast sweep of Copacabana beach with its roar of Atlantic breakers and you take in the city of Rio de Janeiro. To your left is Ipanema beach. Above the city, Christ the Redeemer rides the clouds on Corcovado Hill, arms outstretched like a holy surfer. The sun is hot. The chilled coconut water is refreshing. Welcome to Brazil!
Beyond the beaches, Rio is a city of many attractions. The Sambadome, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Selaron Steps, the National Museum and the historical buildings of Cinelandia Square are all must-sees. Of course, you’ll also take the cable car up Corcovado (the same cable car in which James Bond fought Jaws in Moonraker) and ascend Sugar Loaf Mountain for the views. Up in the hills, the quaint Santa Teresa district and the vibrant favelas present alternative perspectives on Rio life.
When the weather gets too hot, flee the traffic and noise to nearby Petropolis – a curious German settlement where the architecture is quite bizarre. For the best views of the city from a distance, we recommend a trip to Gavea Rock high in the mountains above the coast. From here, Sugar Loaf is just a cupcake and the city is a toy.