Rio de Janeiro, Brazil cruises

Your guide to Rio de Janeiro.

Without question, Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautiful harbor cities in the world. The second largest city in the Federal Republic of Brazil, cascading mountains, sandy beaches, tropical vegetation and the South Atlantic Ocean give Rio de Janeiro a dramatic backdrop in a league of its own. The city is renowned for its spectacular carnival and world-famous sights, including Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf Mountain) and Corcovado (Statue of Christ the Redeemer). Whether you are taking a schooner cruise around Guanabara Bay or conquering the city’s summits, Rio de Janeiro is guaranteed to amaze and inspire.


Rio is a large city, and distances can be quite considerable. A suitable starting point is Praça 15 de Novembro, the oldest part of Rio and center of the old city. Nearby monuments include an 18th-century Pyramid Fountain, the restored Paço Imperial (Imperial Palace) and Palácio Tiradentes (Tiradentes Palace). Also close-by is the 16th-century Carmelite Convent and Church, now home to Rio’s Academy of Commerce. Next door is the Catedral de São SebaStiao do Rio de Janeiro, while the excellent Museu Naval e Oceanografico is just a short distance away. The Museu Histórico Nacional is near the bay and offers a fascinating collection of historical exhibits.

Eating and drinking.

Rio offers an array of cuisines, from fast food outlets to gourmet restaurants. Rice, black beans and manioc flour form the base of many dishes, with a typical meal consisting of these staples alongside steak, chicken or fish. The prato feito (set meal) and the prato do dia (dish of the day) often represent a good value. However, if Brazilian does not appeal, Japanese, Italian and Portuguese cuisines are also well-represented. Local specialties include Feijoada, a meat stew served with rice, and Vatapá, a seafood dish. Cachaça (or pinga) is a potent sugar-cane liquor, which is drunk neat or as part of a cocktail.


Rio offers an eclectic mix of shopping, stocking everything from high-end fashion to traditional arts and crafts. Three of the city’s malls are located in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood, including the prestigious Village Mall, which specializes in designer brands. Mercada Uruguaiana is one of Rio’s largest markets and a good place to pick up souvenirs, while the Feira Nordestina São Cristóvão specializes in items from Bahia and Brazil’s northeast. A monthly vintage fair is held in downtown Lapa and offers hundreds of stalls selling unique, one-of-a-kind items. It is a spectacle of color and well worth seeking out if you happen to be in Rio when it takes place.

Beyond Rio de Janeiro.

Many of Rio’s attractions are away from the city center and involve a bus, taxi or metro trip. Pão de Açúcar, better known as Sugar Loaf Mountain, is accessed by cable automobile and offers superb views across the city. Copacabana Beach is just a few minutes by taxi, while Maracanã Stadium is two miles west of the city center. Fifteen miles southwest, you will find Jardim Botânico, containing the world’s largest water lily and an area of tropical rainforest. The world-famous Statue of Christ the Redeemer stands on top of Corcovado Mountain, in the Parque Nacional da Tijuca. It can be reached by funicular from Rua Cosem Velho or by road.