With an impossibly beautiful natural setting between mountains and the sea, stunning white-sand beaches, gregarious, gorgeous people – and potent caipirinhas – Rio de Janeiro is intoxicating in more ways than one. Throw in the world famous carnival and must-see landmarks like Sugar Loaf mountain and the distinctive statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain, and you’ll fully understand why Rio is the most visited city in the whole of the southern hemisphere. Fasano Rio is the pick of the city’s luxury hotels.
Copacabana Beach is arguably the most famous stretch of sand in the world, and is a microcosm of Rio’s vibrancy and joie de vivre. Four kilometres of golden sand teeming with bars, skilful beach footballers, and lounging sun gods and goddesses, it’s an incredible place to spend a few hours simply drinking it all in. When you’re done with sea and sand, head to the Parque Nacional da Tijuca, one of the world’s largest urban rainforests. It’s home to some beautiful scenery, including 30 waterfalls, and some rare plant and animal species, including marmosets – the smallest monkeys in the world – coati raccoons, sloths and colourful toucans.
The beaches to the north and south of Rio de Janeiro are well worth a visit: three hours’ drive north you’ll find Buzios with 25 hip and happening beaches to choose from, while 125 miles south en route to Sao Paolo, are picturesque Paraty (also spelled Parati), a pretty colonial town with cobblestone streets and close to lovely beaches – and the beautiful beaches and coves of Angra dos Reis.