Brazil's most touristic and interesting city, many times described as its heart and soul, lies within the south-east of the country with a shoreline hugged by the cool Atlantic Ocean. Once known as Brazil's original capital city, from 1763 to 1960, Rio de Janeiro is filled with natural beauty which makes it stand out from its cosmopolitan counterparts like Brasilia and São Paulo. Today, Rio, as the city is also referred to, is synonymous with fashionable beaches, sunshine, forests and brilliant attractions such as the gracious New World Wonder and statue of Christ the Redeemer; the dense Tijuca Forest; Sugarloaf mountain with its panoramic views; and its southern-coast beaches like Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. Beauty aside, the not so pretty favelas which occupy Rio's hillsides, many times overlooking the expensive and glamorous areas of the city, are a harsh reality of the country's economic imbalance.
Rio de Janeiro is sometimes described as a mega leisure resort. It's the kind of place where it's common to see Brazilians and tourists strolling around, roller-blading, jogging or cycling the beautifully long promenades which stretch along beaches from end to end and which are likewise crowded with people practising different sand sports among family and friends. These vibrant promenades are also loaded with world-famous hotels and everything needed to enjoy a beach getaway from chic restaurants to cafés, shopping centres and beachside kiosks where you can enjoy an afternoon sipping on a Brazilian Caipirinha or watching the evening sunset illuminate Rio's night sky with a display of warm colours.
This much loved destination, with a vibrancy and culture that can be seen in every aspect of life in Rio, is a thriving commercial centre and Brazil's biggest tourist magnet. With something always going on the city, making it even more interesting, Rio de Janeiro is well-known for its vivacious events packed with music, dance and fireworks. Its greatest events include its New Year's celebrations and iconic Lenten Carnival. Join in on all the fun if you're in the city at the time and learn just how a party should be done!