The series of competitions held between city-states in Ancient Greece were not only designed to highlight athletes’ abilities, but also to strengthen the relationships among all the regions. Inspired by the Olympics of Ancient Greece, the modern day international sporting event promotes the same idea of unity with athletes coming from all corners of the world. With the entire world tuned into the Olympic Games, host cities have a chance to showcase their cultural heritage. This summer, Brazil’s second most populous city, Rio de Janeiro, will fuel the Olympics with its animated spirit and vibrant lifestyle.
Enchanting scenic views of Rio are visible from its captivating beaches. Recognized as one of the world’s most famous beaches, Copacabana is a venue for some of the biggest celebrations such as New Year’s Eve parties. Tourists can relax peacefully, soaking up the sunshine while vendors wander around attempting to sell small trinkets. Growing in popularity, Ipanema beach is a hub for cariocas, or local residents. Cariocas, fond of staying in shape, come together on the beach to play soccer and participate in volleyball tournaments. The surrounding area of Ipanema, nicknamed “Little Paris,” is sprawling with art galleries and bookstores that speak to the talents of the local artists and poets.
© Alex de Carvalho
Praised by the United Nations Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Institute for its natural beauty, Rio de Janeiro is home to an abundance of lush parks and forests. Millions of tourists are drawn toward Tijuca National Park each year, as it offers a wide range of activities such as hiking, rock climbing, and hand gliding. Carioca Hill, part of Tijuca, leads visitors directly to the statue of Cristo Redentor, the iconic symbol situated on Corcovado Mountain overlooking the city of Rio.
In the heart of Rio, the neighborhood of Santa Teresa will delight visitors with its colonial, old-world charm. Riding along the narrow streets of Santa Teresa aboard the famous trolley car, visitors can catch a glimpse of Museu Chácara do Céu, which houses modern artwork, and Parque Das Ruínas, an old mansion now used primarily for concerts and shows. As one of the most popular tourist attractions in Santa Teresa alone, Escaderia Selarón evokes the lively culture of Rio with its intricate mosaics, comprised of colorful tiles and mirrors from all over the world, decorating each step.
© Sandeepa Chetan
Fresh coconut water sold by beach vendors might cool visitors’ down from the intense heat of Rio, but it won’t satisfy their appetite. The hidden treasure of Academia Cachaça hails as one of the top restaurants in all of Rio, where customers are eager to taste creative flavors of caipirinhas, a specialty cocktail of Brazil. Restaurants such as Zaza Bistro Tropical attract visitors with its quirky décor, bohemian vibe, and organic dishes including the popular grilled fish with caramelized plantains.
When traveling through stunning places like Rio de Janeiro, hotel rooms function solely as a place to sleep and freshen up since the majority of the time is spent outside soaking up the beauty of the surroundings. Tourists looking for a luxury hotel in the Rio area should consider the Arena Copacabana Hotel, located minutes away from the Copacabana beach. Arena Hotel provides spacious, modern rooms that feature free WiFi and sweeping seaside views. Guests have access to the hotel bar, rooftop pool, and fitness center. Closer to Ipanema beach, Mar Ipanema provides its guests with open concept, minimalistic rooms where guests can choose to upgrade to private floors that feature whirlpool tubs. Situated in the center of the Ipanema neighborhood, this hotel is in close proximity to some of the most popular attractions in Rio.
© Migel Angel Pulido
In a city where celebrations such as the annual Carnival, celebrating the start of Lent, attract hundreds of thousands of people, the nightlife scene is just as energetic and dynamic. Rio Scenarium, a popular favorite among locals and tourists, is recognized by its antique décor. Dancers take center stage on the first floor, entertaining the crowds with samba music booming from the sound system. On the other side of the city, a youthful crowd dominates Casa da Matriz where bright paintings and video arcade games line the walls. With nightclubs scattered across the city, tourists are never too far from entertainment, tasty food, and loads of excitement.
While the Olympic Games are largely responsible for putting Rio de Janeiro on the map this summer, there’s more to this dazzling city than this global sporting event. From the calming beaches, to the charming streets, and to the warm personalities of the locals, everything that Rio offers will leave travelers eager to come back.
© Chris Battaglia