Cunard guests visiting the pulsating, exhilarating Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro will find themselves in one of the most colorful, musical places in the world. With delicious cuisines, stunning scenery and its famous carnival atmosphere, Rio has new delights waiting around every corner.
Marvellous by name, marvellous by nature, vivacious Rio de Janeiro, nicknamed ‘the Marvellous City’, does things a bit differently. Whether you’re sipping caipirinhas on Copacabana Beach, taking in the incredible sunset at Arpoador Rock, or dancing the night away in the samba bars of Lapa, Rio is somewhere that always prioritises having a good time.
Founded by the Portuguese in 1565, on the shores of the South Atlantic, Rio has grown into a city of over six million Cariocas (the name given to Rio natives). Hedonism set against one of the world’s most beautiful cities – one of mountains, lagoons, rainforests and beaches – makes for an intoxicating mix.
Beyond the beach
Most visitors tend to stick to the beach neighbourhoods of Ipanema and neighbouring Copacabana, but the arty hilltop district of Santa Teresa, with its twisting lanes, small galleries and independent cafés, should not be missed.
UNESCO named Rio as the World Capital of Architecture for 2020, showing that this city is going from strength to strength. The Museum of Tomorrow is a futuristic science centre, its design inspired by the bromeliads in the Botanical Garden. And a trip to the Corcovado mountain viewing platform for spectacular panoramas - and to visit the 98-foot statue of Christ the Redeemer - is a must.
When eating and drinking, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Feijoada, a stew typically made with pork, beef and black beans, is the national dish. Try it at Casa da Feijoada in Ipanema or visit Marius Degustare in Copacabana, which serves up a traditional Brazilian barbecue.
The perfect addition to a Rio de Janeiro visit is a trip to the Iguazú falls. Lying 730 miles southwest of the hustle and bustle of the city, the falls offer a natural wonder of epic proportions. The main attraction is the Garganta del Diablo (the Devil’s Throat): an 80m drop with a thunderous roar that will shake your very soul. If you visit during a full moon, you stand a good chance of seeing an eerie lunar rainbow rise from the depths of the falls.
Rio de Janeiro has plenty more to keep you busy. Don’t miss our top experiences recommended by Andressa Ricci-Williams, Port Presenter, Queen Victoria.
Cunard recommends - our favourite Rio de Janeiro highlights
Superbly located at the mouth of Guanabara Bay, this almond-shaped block of granite stands at 396m. Take the two-stage cable car to the top for views guaranteed to set your pulse racing.
Famous for its nightlife, Lapa is a joy to explore during the day. Visit the 18th-century aqueduct and browse the antique shops and flea markets. You’ll also find the famously colorful Selarón Steps nearby, decorated by the Chilean artist Jorge Selarón.
Cariocas really enjoy weekend strolls here. The gardens offer plant species from all over the globe, including rare orchids and a majestic avenue of tall palm trees. You can also see endangered black capucin monkeys.
The stained glass windows and polished marble tables of this café that opened in 1894 makes a trip to historic Downtown Rio a very tempting prospect. The coffee is strong, the pastries sweet and the aristocratic atmosphere simply sublime.
However incredible this port of call is, Rio de Janeiro isn't the only South American must-see that Cunard visits.
Known as the city of happiness, Salvador stands out as a tangle of youthful energy and Afro-Brazilian culture. The city perches on a cliffside that drops 280 feet from the ‘cidade alta’ (high city) down to the ‘cidade baixa’ (downtown) at sea level, and is connected by Elevador Lacerda, Brazil’s first escalator. The streets are lined with pastel-hued buildings, like a living museum of 17th and 18th-century Portuguese architecture, while murals and sculptures add further interest.
The city also has a thriving cultural scene: considered by many to be the country’s cultural capital, Salvador is the perfect place to watch the dazzling acrobatic practice of capoeira or simply enjoy the buzz of live open-air music.
This amazing city, locally known as Sampa, is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and home to some 20 million people from more than 200 countries. Visitors should prepare for striking architectural variety, broad cultural activity (MASP, the São Paulo Museum of Art, boasts one of the largest art libraries in the country), and culinary insight. The latter may be top of the list: São Paulo has more pizzerias than any Italian city, 50 different national cuisines and some 12,500 restaurants. This thriving and ethnically diverse modern culinary scene can be traced back to São Paulo’s migrants from Africa, Europe, the Middle East and East Asia.
More South American gems
Though itineraries vary year to year, one of the ports you could visit with Cunard is the Argentine city of Puerto Madryn, with a surprising Welsh heritage and ancient shipwrecks well worth a dive to see. Or sail around the legendary Cape Horn of Chile, where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet around Hornos Island. Montevideo, Uruguay's capital city, is a hub of colonial and modern architecture with a laid-back atmosphere and delicious food. Or, if alpine is more your scene, visit Ushuaia, the southernmost city on the planet, for stunning snow-capped scenery and maritime military history. Wherever your South American voyage takes you, it is sure to be a brilliant combination of local wonder and on board luxury, with Cunard.
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