For most people, thoughts of Rio de Janeiro conjure up visions of long stretches of beach crammed with beautiful people decked out in skimpy tangas and other provocative beach attire. For others, thoughts of the renowned – and raucous - Carnaval where the samba beat goes on day and night for three days come to mind. Then, of course there are those visions of Corcovado, the impressive statue of Christ, arms outstretched from his perch high above the sea and the impressive Sugarloaf Mountain overlooking the bay.
There is no denying its inherent sexiness and natural beauty, but Rio also happens to be a sophisticated metropolis with scintillating nightspots, a plethora of delicious dining options and exotic tours. It is without a doubt, a unique honeymoon destination – anytime of year.
A melting pot of diverse cultures, it offers an interesting peek into traditions – musical and otherwise – drawn from its rich heritage – along with tasty culinary selections.
For sun worshippers, the beaches, of course are the main draw with the most publicized: Copacabana, Leblon and Ipanema – made famous by the hit tune - “Girl from Ipanema” – leading the list.
One of the city’s signature sights, since it opened in 1912, is Sugarloaf (Pão de Açucar) which is reached via a series of cable cars taking you to the top of the mountain, high above Rio. Once there, you’ll see sweeping vistas of the city, the beaches the Bay of Guanabara and beyond.
Corcovado, the Christ statue, standing more than 2000 feet above the sea is another popular site.
For nature lovers, the Botanical Gardens, (Jardim Botânico) created in 1808, offers an opportunity to get up close and personal with the area’s flora. With more than 8,000 plant species, it has been designated a Live Museum and is a popular destination for visitors and residents alike.o
Another natural beauty is Tijuca Forest, said to be the largest urban forest in the world.
History buffs will enjoy a tour of Forte de Copacabana, which was built in 1914 on the promontory of the old Our Lady of Copacabana chapel. The fort was one of Rio's premier defenses against attack and you can still see its original features, including the cannons as well as a museum with several floors of exhibits tracing the early days of the Portuguese colony to the mid-19th-century.
The Copacabana Palace Hotel, Rio’s most renowned hotel promises a perfect honeymoon haven during your stay. Opened in 1923, it’s location on Copacabana Beach, provides the perfect launch pad from which to visit the city’s sights.
No visit to Rio would be complete without dining at a typical Brazilian steakhouse or “churrascaria.” Waiters, equipped with what is called a “rodizio,” circle the restaurant with long skewers of perfectly flame grilled meats, which they cut into wafer thin slices at your table. You’ll be given a small card, green on one side and red on the other. If you display the green side, you’re telling them that you want service to be non stop. To take a break - just flip the card to the red side.
Ask for a “caipirinha,” Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça, sugar and lime to top off your meal.