Rio. Just the name conjures up magical images of flamboyant carnival costumes, warm beaches lapped by the waters of the southern Atlantic, and iconic monuments.
Situated on the east coast of Brazil, Rio is the second-largest city in the country, but it is the first in the hearts of adventurous travelers. If you are thinking of visiting Rio, then it pays to plan in advance, otherwise you will be overwhelmed with the choices of things to see and do.
The statue of Christ the Redeemer is perhaps the best-known symbol of the city. The 125-foot statue stands with its arms outstretched, embracing the city from the 2330-foot peak of Corcovado Mountain, and is often regarded as one of the seven wonders of the modern world. The Art Deco sculpture was installed above the city in 1931, and is still one of the premier destinations for visitors to the city.
Seen from a distance, the statue is spectacular, but you would be missing out if you did not see it up close and enjoy the stunning panoramic views over the city and beyond. The monument is accessible by train or road, but be warned – the 220 steps up to the base of statue are a stiff climb and not for the faint of heart.
No trip to Rio is complete without a day on fabled Copacabana Beach. Not only does it offer broad expanses of powdery silver sands, it is also a perfect place to watch the world go by. See skilled youths playing football on the beach, demonstrating their superb ball control, or keep a lookout for celebrities enjoying the ocean playground.
You will also find many wonderful places to eat, including Cervantes, a longtime favorite with the locals that is known for its delicious sandwiches and cheap prices. However, make sure that you arrive early, because the beach is always crowded with both residents and tourists.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay in Rio, it offers excellent accommodation, ranging from reasonably priced tourist hotels through to luxurious establishments. For example, the Rio Othon Palace offers first-class accommodation, along with breathtaking views of Copacabana Beach. You can find out more about the Rio Othon Palace by visiting the Royal Holiday wiki.
If you want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of central Rio, consider paying a visit to the Ilha Fiscal. This is a remote neo-Gothic castle set on an island in Guanabara Bay. When you see it illuminated at dusk, the view is truly spectacular.
Originally occupied by the Brazilian Customs Service, the castle is now home to an outpost of the Brazilian Navy, and features attractions such as a submarine, naval ship and helicopter that you can explore. There are also guided tours, which are offered from Thursday through Sunday, which provide insights into the history of the building and events that took place there. The island can be accessed by bus via a causeway on the weekends, but during the week you will have to take a boat.