Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Referred to warmly as Cariocas, the residents of Rio de Janeiro are spirited and friendly, with a free-and-easy vibe that permeates this vibrant South American metropolis. Renowned for its beaches — especially Copacabana and Ipanema, both flanked by sidewalks bearing distinct black-and-white patterns — Rio is also famed for Carnaval, an elaborate annual festival in February or early March. But that’s simply the beginning of Rio’s cultural offerings. The Museum of Modern Art and Museum of Tomorrow provide a unique perspective on the city’s creative and science vibes, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro and Selarón Steps are striking landmarks, and you simply can’t miss Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), the 98-foot-tall statue of Jesus with outstretched arms 92 feet wide at the 2,300-foot summit of Corcovado Mountain.