The Marvelous City
There are numerous beachside cities around the globe — but none like Rio de Janeiro. For starters, the main stretches of sand that border this metropolis are two of the most famous strands in the world: Copacabana and Ipanema. But the beaches are just the beginning of this city’s alluring landscape. Rio is backed by lush, jagged mountain peaks and Parque Nacional da Tijuca, 15 square miles (39 square kilometers) of protected tropical forest. In between, the city’s architecture ranges from the massive Metropolitan Cathedral of São Sebastião to the futuristic Museu do Amanhã and the vibrant Escadaria Selarón stairsteps.
Must-Do: As difficult as it is to pull yourself away from Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, you simply shouldn’t leave Rio de Janeiro without visiting the iconic Christ the Redeemer. Sure, it’s easily visible from myriad points around the city, but to fully appreciate its magnitude, you need to stand at the base and gaze upward at the approximately 124-foot tall (38 meters; including the pedestal) statue.
Eat: While in Brazil, it only makes sense to enjoy a traditional Brazilian steakhouse, and Churrascaria Palace is one of the most popular. The selection of endless skewered meats — sliced right to your plate — includes sirloin steak, prime rib, lamb shoulder, ostrich, and more.
Day-Trip: About 90 miles (145 kilometers) west of Rio de Janeiro, the island of Ilha Grande is surrounded by calm and clear water that’s ideal for a day of snorkeling or scuba diving. To truly enjoy the Brazilian coastline, plan to visit via a boat tour.