Rio de Janeiro is nicknamed “Cidade Maravilhosa” in Portuguese.
It was given that name by a Brazilian writer as a tribute to the city’s natural beauty.
But it has earned that name for a lot more!
In my opinion, as a Brazilian, Rio de Janeiro is the most versatile city for South American tourism. It has pretty much everything people look for when they travel to the southwestern hemisphere.
Beaches? Rio has plenty of beaches.
Some of the most world-renowned beaches like Copacabana Beach and Ipanema Beach make up the heart of Rio. But there are many more. There are more isolated nature-y beaches to explore, young hip beaches for some pickup volleyball and many others. The state of Rio boasts over 370 beaches total, many of which are close to the capital. The one thing Rio does not lack is beaches.
Nature? You’ve got it.
The city is known for its unique mountainous, lush and green topography. The most popular experiences are taking the Corcovado train to the Christ the Redeemer Statue and the cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain. Both give an amazing view of the mountains, the city and the beaches. Both spots are also known for the local flora and fauna, where mico monkeys are known to occasionally steal a tourist’s sunglasses.
For the more nature-inclined, there are plenty of hikes, waterfalls and other mountains to explore in Rio de Janeiro.
Culture? Rio has that too!
In fact, I think the historic district rivals those of other South American cities such as Buenos Aires and Cartagena.
There are plenty of old coffee shops, theaters, churches, stores and military forts to visit!
Just like other South American cities, Rio is very proud of its soccer stadium. It has the third biggest in Latin America, the beautiful Maracanã Stadium.
Parties? C’mon, this one is too easy.
Rio is known for its “Carnaval” (Mardi Gras) celebration.
Rio’s Carnival of Brazil is considered the biggest in the world, with two million celebrating it daily. There are parties on the beach, the streets, in people’s houses, hotel rooms, ballrooms and everywhere you go.
It’s a chance for everyone to set aside their stress and dance some samba.
In fact, Brazil has a history of competitive partying. Those floats you might’ve seen on TV are actually “schools of samba” putting on a performance. They compete in leagues very much like sports teams do. Rio’s parades are known to be the best in Brazil.
All in all, Rio de Janeiro is a must see for those visiting South America. Outside of snowsports, it has something for everyone. Seriously, if you’re looking to ski in Brazil you’ve got the wrong country my friend.
The culture, the music, the food, the parties and those beautiful world-class beaches: Rio de Janeiro is quintessentially Brazilian.