Relishing Rio the restorer
It’s the city of Carnival; of street parties and festivities of a scale that only the Brazilians can concoct.
And, though it is probably the best party you will ever attend, there are so many reasons to visit Rio de Janeiro besides Carnival.
With easily five million people descending on this South American city each year, it’s even possibly better for some of us to visit Rio outside of Carnival season.
Whatever your appetite, here are my 13 top reasons to get your derriere, whatever its shape, size or age (see point 7) to Rio.
1. Christ the Redeemer
Rio’s iconic statue that watches over the city from the top of Corcovado mountain. Whether you’re religious or not, it’s a magnificent structure to see and the views from Corcovado are incredible.
2. Sugarloaf Mountain
Another famous Rio peak, Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) stands 396m above the harbour and has some of the most magical sunsets.
3. Rock climbing
Speaking of Sugarloaf and Corcovado, why not take the alternative, more exhilarating route up these peaks? With these and many other peaks, Rio and surrounds offer some great climbing opportunities. If clinging to rock is not your thing, there are also hiking routes to take.
Rio’s national cocktail. If neither points one, two nor three interests you, this should!
Rum on ice with lime and sugar may not sound like a deal maker but believe me, you’ll be back for more. Nothing cools down a warm Rio day more than a caipirinha, which can be bought just about everywhere. Disclaimer: these are to be consumed slowly. The story goes a bit like that of tequila — one caipirinha, two caipirinha, three caipirinha, floor.
Tijuca is argued by some to be the largest urban forest in the world, wrapping itself around the city like a big hug (something you’ll need after too many caipirinhas).
The forest was declared a national park in the 1960s, and offers walking and hiking, trail running and mountain biking opportunities, swims in waterfalls and magnificent views of the city.
From sexy Ipanema and Lebblon beaches to the world-famous Copacabana and lesser-known Red beach. Take your pick, arrive early and enjoy Rio’s sublime sandy shores.
7. Body positivity and inclusivity
The joke goes that there is only one bikini size on sale in Rio, and it fits all. And that is one of the best things about the city. People of all shapes, sizes and ages have fun without judgment or reservations. Rio teaches you to love your body shape and to just end all the body shaming already.
Speaking of love, the general atmosphere of LGBTQ inclusivity is inspiring!
8. Buzios and other boozy island experiences
The islands around Rio make for easy day escapes. Or take a trip to upscale resort Buzios for a day of party-boat fun, with swimming, snorkelling, drinks, slides from the boat into the ocean, music and even a little braai on the boat included.
As is clear from Carnival, Rio knows how to party and that is not reserved only for Carnival season.
10. Iconic Instagram moments
Lapa stairs, the historical Santa Theresa neighbourhood, the Lagoa, Parqe Large, beautiful views, beautiful streets, beautiful beach moments. This place will uplift your Insta feed in a jiffy.
11. Botanical garden
The Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro was founded in the early 1800s and is a little natural paradise just waiting to be visited. Travellers, botanists, photographers, nature lovers ... rejoice!
With its mountains, beaches and sunsets, sailing around Rio is the perfect way to see all three. Visitors can book sunset sailing tours and enjoy caipirinhas and snacks while cruising around the shores of the city.
13. Museum of Tomorrow
Someone once said you can’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you came from.
The Museum of Tomorrow attempts to bring the past, present and future together through incredible exhibitions and Augmented Realty experiences. Visitors are taken on a ride from the start of time in space all the way through to modern-day life and even with some predictions of what the future may be.