Although Rio is famous for its vibrant carnival (during February) with gigantic floats, extravagant dancers, excellent performers, streets filled with millions of people, and a great music vibe; this actually would not be the reason why I recommend Rio as a travel destination.
Yes, if you love carnivals, this is the one to experience as it is world-famous and who can compete with the sound of the Samba. But Rio has so much more on offer. This 2nd largest city of Brazil (São Paulo being the largest), is beautiful. It truly earns the title of being one of the world’s most beautiful and worth visiting places.
Portuguese navigators named the city Rio de Janeiro (which means River of January), thinking the beautiful bay was a huge river mouth.
In Rio, you will find the iconic beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana. Both are very busy and popular beaches and Copacabana has a 2.5-mile beach with a walkway, lined with towering hotels and buildings on one side and the beautiful ocean on the other. However, Barra da Tijuca Beach (the longest beach) and Leblon beaches are also beautiful and just a bit quieter (yes only a little bit).
I think the best beach to visit is Arraial Do Cabo: A beautiful tropical beach with white sand and light blue clear water. This beach is just outside of Rio city, but definitely worth a visit: Especially if you book one of the boat tours to explore.
In my opinion, one of the real reasons you would want to go to Rio de Janeiro is the breathtakingly beautiful views. Reaching any high point, you will have the most amazing views ever.
The 38 m towering statue of Christ the Redeemer on top of Mount Corcovado is something I cannot describe. Only when you stand there on top of the mountain do you realize the magnitude. Being the Top attraction in Rio de Janeiro, you must go early and I would strongly recommend buying your tickets online before going. It is jam-packed and very, very busy. But this is why you come. This is what you have to see and experience. Obviously, the views from here are awesome and if you’re looking for an Instagram photo hotspot – this is it.
Pão de Açúcar or Sugarloaf is a mountain peak you can reach by means of a cable car and it is a popular tourist attraction. Tickets are sold at the station located at Praia Vermelha (Red Beach). If you keep in mind that more than a million tourists visit Sugarloaf every year, enjoying the breathtaking views, you will realize that you just have to be there early. It is a very popular and very busy tourist site. Rising 396 m (1,299 ft) above the harbor, Sugarloaf Mountain offers you stunningly beautiful panoramic views.
Exploring the beach areas on bikes is a popular way of getting around and Rio does have Uber available.
Although Rio de Janeiro is mostly a safe city, there are like in all countries, areas that are less safe. And like everywhere else in the world you have to be alert when using electronics out in the open.
Rio de Janeiro is known for its natural settings, so taking in the beautiful lagoon, beaches, and parks are all for free, but beautiful and well worth the trip.
Some of the best accommodation options in Rio de Janeiro – with a Sea View: Where to stay