Rio was given its name by early Portuguese explorers who entered the massive bay (Baia de Guanabara) in January 1502, and thinking it was a river, named it Rio de Janeiro (January River). The French were actually the settlers but the Portuguese feared that they would take over, and pushed them out in 1567.Why not combine it with a vacation to Machu Picchu and Iguazu on our 3 World Wonders Tour.
Why visit Rio on your Brazil tour?
Rio occupies one of the most stunning coastal settings in the world with white-sand beaches, lush rainforests, gorgeous mountains and beautiful blue sea. It is hard not to fall in love with this enchanting place. You can hike through Tijuca´s rainfrorests, sail across Guanabara or climb the face of Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pao de Acucar). The sweet sound of Samba fills the streets, bars and dance halls at nightfall.
Ipanema & Leblon
Ipanema and Leblon are some of Rio´s nicest destinations. Here you will come across the young, beautiful and wealthy dominating the beaches.
Ipanema beach is packed with tourists when the summer season kicks off in Rio. The beach is not just a place to get a wonderful tan, playing beach volley ball or swimming is right up there with sun bathing. Beach events are very famous at Ipanema as tourists and locals come together to play games like beach soccer, beach volleyball, foot volleyball, etc. If your hobby is surfing then this is the place to lay your board. But first timers beware as the waters are strong and the waves are big.
Copacabana & Leme
The Copacabana beach neighbourhood was just a tiny fishing village until the 1900’s when it blossomed rapidly after the inauguration of the Copacabana Palace Hotel. The area is divided into two beaches, Leme beach and the 4.5km gorgeous Copacabana beach. The area is constantly buzzing with tourists as they hang around the beach, kiosks, bars and restaurants. What made this area famous is the Copacabana fort and the Palace hotel. The hotel has now actually been declared a part of Brazil’s natural history. The Fort which dates back to 1914 today houses the Army Historical Museum. Ammunitions dating to the early 20th century are displayed here.
Until recently the Maracanã Football Stadium was the largest football stadium in the world. It can accommodate 200,000 spectators and was inaugurated during the FIFA World Cup in 1950. Owned by the Rio de Janeiro State Government, major football clubs like Flamengo, Fluminense, Botafogo and Vasco da Gama play their matches here.
Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain)
A mere 600 million years ago this natural wonder was born, Pao de Acucar or Sugar Loaf. Originally it was named Pau-nh-Acqua, later to be changed by the invading French who called it “Pot de Beurre”. Portuguese colonists renamed it “Pao de Assucar” or Bread of Sugar only to be re-invaded by the French who assigned it “Pot de Sucre”. By the Seventeenth century the Portuguese had won back their power and Pao de Acucar was again the stunning mountains name. During this time sugar cane was the primary export and upon completion of processing the finished product, it was packed into bread-like loaves for shipment; hence the name Sugar Loaf.
Today Sugar Loaf is the most popular tourist attraction in Rio, but it has served its past inhabitants equally well. Navigators for years would spot the imposing figure as the entrance to Guanabara Bay. The first Portuguese to arrive chose the landmark as a settling location for the magnitude of visibility afforded towards the sea and mountains assuring their continued protection.
Tourists today can enjoy the relaxing and enjoyable cable car ride to the very top of Sugar Loaf which was first installed in 1912. A visit to Sugar Loaf is a must-do experience, offering views to die for and memories to last you a life time. Your pictures will leave your friends and family breathless and green with envy.
Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer)
Atop the 710m high peak known as Corcovado stands one of Rio’s most identifiable landmarks. From the perch of the impressive 38m high, 1,145 tons Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) you can behold the most stunning views over Rio. Corcovado, which means ‘hunchback,’ climbs up from the city to a height of 710m, and at night, the brightly lit statue is visible from nearly every part of the city.