A sun-soaked metropolis that nearly 6.5 million people call home, Rio de Janeiro is one of South America’s most sought after travel destinations and one of its most recognisable too. Along with the splendid beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, there’s the majestic Sugarloaf Mountain that guards the bay and the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue that towers over the city. Needless to say, your holiday photos will be spectacular.
Most people who have been to Brazil will tell you that it’s impossible not to have a good time here, whether you’re sunbathing on a perfect stretch of sand, socialising with the locals well into the early hours or using the city’s improved travel infrastructure to explore what’s on offer.
Rio de Janeiro is a foodie's paradise, with offerings ranging from quick and easy joints on the street or the beach to five-star high-class restaurants where the only thing better than the service is the food. The best restaurants in Rio de Janeiro start with Aprazível, hidden on a hilltop that overlooks the city, and Satyricon, which sits just off the water at Ipanema Beach and features fare so fresh you wouldn't be wrong to think it was caught right in front of you.
If you're after a more traditional local meal, order leão veloso, a seafood-based soup with lobster, olive oil, and onion, frequently served with tomato and saffron. Another popular local delicacy is coconut water, which comes fresh off the many trees, while fresh fruit juices are just a bodega stop away. Make sure to have Quindim for dessert, an egg yolk, sugar, and coconut cake.
When it comes to accommodation, most areas in the city have dozens of options for every price range. Chances are you want to be based by the beach, and two of the best hotels in Rio de Janeiro near the sand and shore are Arena Copacabana Hotel and Hotel Maria Santa Teresa. Rio also has a lively and vibrant backpacking culture, and it's not unusual to see happy tourists with large packs and a smile on their face.