As thousands descend on Brazil for the 2014 World Cup, all eyes are on Rio de Janeiro: the host city to the Cup’s final match is South America’s premier tourist destination for a reason. Whether you’re cheering on your favorite team or planning a relaxing beach vacation, check out our guide to beautiful Rio:
Brazil’s most famous city has a population of about 6.3 million, making it the country’s second largest city and South America’s third largest metropolitan area. Known as the cidade maravilhosa (marvelous city), Rio is a spectacular city surrounded by natural paradise, including white-sand beaches, rainforest and mountains. Home to the final match of the World Cup on July 13, Rio is one of the premier tourist destinations in the Southern Hemisphere.
Maracanã Stadium has a powerful FIFA history: it hosted both the 1950 World Cup final and the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup before being tapped for this year’s championship match. The stadium seats 78,838 spectators, making it the largest stadium in both Brazil and South America. In addition to hosting football matches between the major football clubs in Brazil, the venue is also used for local concerts and sporting events.
What to See
Rio de Janeiro is combines beautiful geography and vibrant city for an incredible vacation experience. Take advantage of the beautiful weather and hit the beach: Rio has dozens of gorgeous white-sand beaches that all link into each other, meaning you can walk from one to the next or simply stay put and soak up the sun. Hikers will find lots to love in Rio, including Floresta da Tijuca, a national park and rainforest within 15 minutes of the city center. Head to Sugarloaf Mountain at sunset for incredible views of the city, including cable cars to take you to the top. For the true Rio experience, dance to samba beats at one of the city’s gafieras (dance halls), where locals meet to party into the night.
What to Eat
In Rio, the local cuisine is all about fusion: traditional indigenous flavors blend with Portuguese and Africa influences to create a unique hybrid flavor. Two of the carnivore-friendly area’s most famous dishes are feijoãda, a stew with black beans and pork, and churrasco, a meal prepared with up to ten types of meat. Cool of with a caipirinha, a cocktail consisting of cane liquor, lemon, sugar and ice. For dessert, Rio locals love quindim, a cake made with egg yolks, sugar and shredded coconut.
Although Rio’s temperature during the day should stay within the 65-75 range, winter in the Southern Hemisphere means there’s always a chance of rain. To avoid the mid-match chills, pack a light raincoat to layer in case of a sudden downpour.
Ready to book your trip to Rio? Check out http://www.hipmunk.com/ to book your flights and find your perfect hotel.