Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautiful cities in the world
The city’s charm, atmosphere and 7 million inhabitants are so welcoming you might forget to leave! Sports, carnival, beaches, warmth, music - ask anyone who’s been to Rio why did they go, and they’ll answer at least one of these. Rio de Janeiro is a stunning tropical metropolis that has cards in its sleeve for all tastes.
There are four districts in the city, each with its own vibes and attractions, and you shouldn’t miss out on any.
Centro (the city centre): History, Culture and Business
Rio’s centre is made of raging contrasts that match the city itself. Tall glass business buildings, historical buildings dating from the 1800’s, libraries and museums, Lapa’s bustling nightlife and the hills and colorful houses of Santa Teresa. Don’t miss the beautiful Teatro Municipal, inspired by Garnier’s Paris Operá. With a wide variety of shows and recently refurbished interiors that make justice to its outside, a visit is sure to be unforgettable.
If you want to see authentic Brazilian nightlife, music and food, head to Lapa. The wide variety of bars caters for everyone (from bossa nova to classic rock) and you can feel the Carioca party spirit at its fullest. The Santos Dumont Airport, with its remarkably short runway, is located here and handles many domestic flights.
Zona Sul (the south region): The Touristic Heart
Rio’s south zone is what you’ve probably been expecting: long and heavenly white sand beaches, unmistakable Portuguese pavement mosaics, the Sugar Loaf, Christ the Redeemer... it’s all here. This region has so many things to see and do that to list them would make this page longer than the Lord Of The Rings trilogy compiled! While the most popular attractions are a no-brainer, make sure you don’t miss some of its hidden gems. For hiking or climbing, head to the Tijuca National Park where you’ll find incredibly fresh air, hundreds of species of plants and animals and great views too.
Also, make time for some of the museums that dot the region, including the Copacabana Fortress and Oi Futuro, a place for digital and interactive art lovers. We suggest taking a walk along the beach from the city center. The sidewalks can take you all the way to Leblon, and pass some of the region’s best attractions like the Sugar Loaf and the Modern Art Museum (MAM).
Zona Norte (the north region): Soccer Sanctuary
Rio’s northern region isn’t traditionally touristic, but most travelers are likely to see it at least once: both the Galeão International Airport and the Novo Rio bus station are located here, and welcome travelers from all over Brazil and the world. If you are in for the sports however, this might become your most visited spot. Both the Engenhão and Maracanã stadiums are located here.
The Maracanã is one of the world’s most sacred stadiums, and used to hold 200,000 fans before safety concerns and renovations brought the number down to 80,000. Regardless of the matches being local or World Cup games, any game here is an unique experience, with the most passionate crowds you will ever see. The Engenhão, built in 2007, is a modern olympic stadium built in 2007 and which also offers you a good idea of what a Brazilian match is like from the stands. Rio’s North region is also home to some museums and parks, including the Quinta da Boa Vista, a beautiful 19th century urban park that was adjacent to the Emperor’s residence, and the Museu Aeroespacial, a great field trip for aviation junkies.
Zona Oeste (the west region):
Beaches, Shopping Malls, Partying and Suburbs
Located past Zona Sul, Rio’s western region comprises a wide array of neighborhoods, most of them residential. It is however home to Barra da Tijuca (Barra, for short) and Recreio, where you will find fantastic beaches less cramped with tourists, enormous nightclubs and concert houses and most of Rio’s finest shopping malls.
Surfers take note: head to Barra and Recreio for great waves and clean waters.
Barra Shopping, the largest mall in South America, is located here. You will find a great mix of Brazilian and international brands, and prices are rather friendly especially for jewelry, leather goods and shoes, all of which are Brazilian specialties. Barra Shopping is linked by a walkway to New York City Center. Besides shopping, the complex offers excellent cinemas, restaurants, cafés and bars, and is worth dedicating a whole day to.
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