The best cities in South America
12th July 2021
As the first ever South American Olympic host and winning more golds for their country than ever before, Brazil made history recently. With its vivacious culture and infectious carnival spirit, this unforgettable country is sure to bring a smile to even the most seasoned traveller’s face. As the Paralympics draw to a close, we examine what makes Rio de Janeiro so special and why you should visit this vibrant, colourful city.
A visit to Rio de Janeiro would not be complete without the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. With spectacular views and an undeniable dignity, the monument looks down on the sprawling city from the Corcovado mountain. A rack railway leads up the sloping peak from the traditional village of Cosme Velho, allowing for sweeping views over the Tijuca Forest as you ascend. Always an unforgettable sight, your visit can be enhanced with a bit of local know-how. Guides have an in-depth understanding of the monument and the surrounding areas, creating a truly authentic experience for the savvy traveller.
Nestled within the city’s confines is the Tijuca Forest: the largest urban rainforest in the world. In stark contrast to the concrete jungle of the city streets, Tijuca offers an unexpected escapism. Hundreds of species of plants and flowers call this leafy metropolis home and there are plenty of options for exploration. With hiking trails for the vigorous and open-top jeep tours as a laid back alternative, this urban jungle is bound to surprise and inspire.
Known as the creative hub of Rio, Santa Teresa’s cobbled streets are lined with distinctive colonial architecture, restaurants and artist studios. The main square, Largo de Guimaraes, is a hub of activity with independent shops offering all manners of handicrafts and souvenirs. The heart of the neighbourhood, from which its winding alleys sprawl, is the Convent of Santa Teresa. While the church can only be visited during mass, it has become a dynamic creative project. Chilean artist Selaron has been transforming the dilapidated staircase that connects the convent to Rua Joaquim Silva with colourful tiles, mirrors and ceramics. No two steps are the same and the creative vibe of the area is utterly infectious.
The Rio Scenarium is an iconic nightlife spot in the vibrant Lapa area of the city. Spread across three floors, the bar doubles as a restaurant and antiques warehouse with samba as its lifeblood. From Thursday to Sunday every week, the venue becomes a meeting point for locals and tourists alike. The Rio Scenarium is a living museum which dances to the beats of local musicians until dawn. With its labyrinthine corridors and ever-changing line up, this vintage haven is bound to impress.
Rio de Janeiro is a city with more spirit and life than it could possibly know what to do with. The variation in its sights and the possibilities it has to offer are making it an attractive choice for a city break with a difference.
Make it happen
The Olympics may be over, but Rio de Janeiro’s rise to prominence is just beginning. If you would like to plan a trip to Brazil, get in touch with our local experts who are extremely knowledgeable on the destination and can plan your perfect holiday, be that on or off the beaten path. If you would like to speak to someone in the TravelLocal office, please call +44 (0) 117 325 7898.