It might be a globally renowned superfood and a staple of health food stores around the world, but there’s no better place to tuck into a bowl of acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) than Brazil. A low-GI food and powerful antioxidant, the Amazonian fruit has long been celebrated for its nutritional properties and is packed with B, C and E vitamins, omega acids and potassium.
For many travelers, a visit to Rio de Janeiro is synonymous with Carnival and the city’s riotous pre-lent celebrations are legendary, with its now-iconic samba parades dating back to the 1930’s. Renowned as the world’s biggest festival and drawing over 2 million revelers, visiting Rio during Carnival is an incomparable experience, so to help you plan your trip, here’s our ultimate guide to celebrating carnival in Rio.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Rio de Janeiro’s beach scene was all about wild parties on Copacabana or sipping Caipirinhas on Ipanema, but the city is also a stone’s throw from some of South America’s top surf spots. In fact surfing has become so popular in the city that a dedicated surf bus chugs up and down the coast, whisking surf enthusiasts to all of Rio’s best beaches.
From the rugged mountains of the Tijuca Forest to the omnipresent peak of Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio is celebrated for harboring some of the best urban rock climbing in the world, with everything from beginner-friendly scrambles to tricky ascents that will challenge the most experienced of climbers.
Even if you’re not in the mood to party, you can’t fail to be mesmerized by the rhythmic beats blasting out from the dance clubs of Rio’s Lapa District, a lively alternative to the slick clubs of the city’s Zona Sul (South Zone). The heart of bohemian Rio and beloved by the city’s creative types, Lapa is renowned for its vibrant local music scene and credited with keeping Brazil’s rich Samba culture alive.
Second only to Carnival as Brazil’s biggest bash, New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro—known as Reveillon to locals —brings over two million people to Rio’s famous Copacabana Beach to ring in the coming year with music, fireworks and champagne raining down on the crowds like glitter. The celebrations along the beach are free, while many hotels and nightclubs host private VIP parties, but wherever you choose to party, no place gets down on New Year’s Eve like Rio.
A pocket of tranquility just a stone’s throw from the lively beachfronts of Copacabana and Ipanema, it’s no surprise that Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas is one of the city’s most popular recreational grounds. The vast lagoon is at the heart of Rio’s south side, hemmed in by scenic parklands and overlooked by the looming peak of Corcovado Mountain. A 7.2km track runs around the lake, drawing a steady stream of joggers, walkers and cyclists to the waterfront, but the recently refurbished parks also play host to a variety of sporting activities. Horseback riding, roller-skating, volleyball, basketball, soccer and tennis are all possibilities, with the majority of sports grounds free to use.
The soaring temperatures of Brazilian summertime might not seem very festive for those traveling from the northern hemisphere, but while dreams of a white Christmas might be smashed, spending Christmas in Rio doesn’t mean giving up on tradition all together. As the holiday season gets underway, Rio unveils its striking festive centerpiece – the Bradesco Seguros Christmas Tree, the world’s largest floating Christmas tree, which towers 85 meters over the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon.
From the cliff top statue of Christ that dominates its skyline, to the sea of gyrating dancers and bejeweled costumes that take over the city during the legendary Carnival celebrations, Rio de Janeiro is a city that doesn’t shy away from its individuality. This is a city that has always danced to its own beat and it’s no surprise that you’ll find plenty of unique and sometimes downright weird attractions in Rio. So step away from the beach and spend a day taking in these weird and wonderful sights.
From hearty Afro-Brazilian stews to sugary Caipirinhas, Brazil’s gastronomic heritage is as vast and varied as the country itself, drawing from its Indian, Portuguese and African roots and maintaining a strong emphasis on slow-cooked, uniquely flavored dishes. This melting pot of culinary influences makes eating out in Rio one of the top experiences among visitors, but those wanting to learn more about the distinctive local cuisine should consider taking cooking classes in Rio, where you’ll a peek into the workings of a traditional Brazilian kitchen.