A city first named by Portuguese explorers for the bay on which it rests, Rio de Janeiro–or simply “Rio”, and known by locals as the cidade maravilhosa or “Marvelous City”–is the former capital of Brazil that remains an absolutely thriving center for tourism, culture, and commerce. Rio welcomes a constant flow of visitors–both domestic and international–throughout the year, culminating in particularly explosive bursts for the wild parties of both New Year’s and Carnival. With spectacular events, awe-inspiring landscapes and monuments, amazing local cuisine, and some of the greatest beaches on earth, this UNESCO heritage city provides an unparalleled fusion of cultures that must be experienced to be believed.
Location: A Metropolis Straddling a Natural Harbor
Rio de Janeiro sits in the state of the same name along Brazil’s southern Atlantic coast, at the mouth of the Guanabara Bay and in the shadow of numerous mountain slopes. A well-developed port, excellent roads and railways, and three passenger airports ensure excellent connections by sea, land, and air to destinations within the country and around the globe.
Business: The Financial Center of Brazil
A large portion of Brazil’s petroleum reserves and refineries are based in the region surrounding Rio, and as such, the city, hosts a number of major oil firms, including Shell, Esso, Intelig, and Embratel. Financial services have a strong presence here as well, and the National Economic & Social Development Bank draws in a considerable number of business travelers each year.
Culture: A Blast of Heritage and Modern Developments
The influence of Portugal is particularly strong in this Brazilian city, which perhaps comes as no surprise–in the 19th century, it served as the capital of the Kingdom of Portugal and was home of the imperial family for thirteen years. Their palace is now the National Museum of Brazil, and well worth checking out to learn more about this nation’s history, ethnology, and archaeology. Theater lovers will enjoy the Theatro Municipal, offering ballet, classical music, and opera. Should you be visiting shortly before Lent, don’t miss the incredible and famous Carnival celebrations (though doing so would be quite challenging).
Activities: World-famous Sights and Sounds
No trip to Rio would be complete without some relaxation time at the balneario beaches, which include the famous sands of Copacabana and Ipanema. Many travelers also make the trek up nearby Sugarloaf Mountain–a journey that quickly rewards visitors with absolutely stunning panoramic views of the city and harbor areas. So does a hike up the Corcovado, home to the famous Christ the Redeemer statue that animates visitors to spread their arms when taking their souvenir pictures. When the day winds down, nightlife may take the form of fresh seafood, samba clubs, or raves–Rio has no shortage of any.