Sun, Sand, and Samba: Best of Rio de Janeiro
Within the space of three years, the two most important sports events in the world will take place in Rio: In 2014 the city with the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain will be one of Brazil's soccer World Cup tournament cities and probably the site of the championship match. Then in 2016 Rio will host the Summer Olympic Games. But even if you visit Rio tomorrow you’ll find yourself in a fascinating metropolis – with the following attractions that you won't want to miss.
Back to the overview
Rio's classic attractions: Ipanema, Sugar Loaf and Copacabana
The beach at Ipanema is world famous, but the district with the same name is less well known. Yet Ipanema – and adjacent Leblon – are among Rio's most exclusive neighborhoods. Those who can afford it stay at one of the hotels located right on the beach. Elegant bars, boutiques, and restaurants abound nearby.
Riding the cable car to the top of this 396 meter high granite monolith is almost obligatory for Rio tourists. The base station of the so-called Bondinho is at the foot of the mountain in a quiet city neighborhood called Urca – which is itself well worth getting to know in the course of a leisurely stroll.
Body culture, not purchasing power is what matters on the four-kilometer beach in Copacabana, the proverbial bathtub of Rio de Janeiro. Here the social differences so much in evidence elsewhere in Brazil don't seem to hold sway: What counts is your figure! The pulsating Copacabana entertainment district with its famous beach boardwalk throbs with action until the small hours of the morning. But late night tourists are well advised to avoid the areas where there are fewer people, such as side streets.
Rio is something else with its museums, cathedrals and Lapa
Museu de Arte Contemporânea di Niterói (MAC):
The flying saucer has landed – in Niterói on a high cliff with a commanding view of Guanaraba Bay and nearby Rio – and transformed itself into a museum of contemporary art. Its architecture vies with the works of art on display and the breathtaking panorama for the attention of visitors. The building's designer, the famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, was 89 years old when construction was completed in 1996.
Mirante da Boa Viagem, s/nº., Niterói. Tel. +55-21 2620-2400, www.macniteroi.com.br
Catedral de São Sebastião:
It took 15 years to build this striking cathedral, from 1964 to 1979. Seventy-five meters in height, its large conical form is reminiscent of an Aztec pyramid. The cathedral holds 20,000 people and has four stupendous stained glass windows that stretch from floor to ceiling. These windows refract the outside sunlight, creating a unique ambience for those inside.
Av. República do Chile, Tel. +55 21-2240-2669, www.catedral.com.br
Just a few years ago, Lapa was still seen as a run-down neighborhood frequented by characters so shady that even real Rio de Janerians (called Cariocas) steered clear of it. But since then the former artists' quarter has made a comeback. The city's trendsetters have returned and opened ateliers, bars, cabarets, restaurants, and theaters. Lapa has also regained its former prominence in the samba scene, and its dance clubs are thronged by people of all ages.
Photos: Corbis (3), Giradou/Bilderberg, look-foto, mauritius images (2)