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Find Sun, Surf & Celebration in Rio de Janeiro
by Roy Witman © 2008

Tropical temperatures, golden-sand beaches and round-the-clock parties make Rio de Janeiro a popular destination for singles and young couples. Although the literal translation for this city's name is “River of January,” it's better known by its nickname, “The Marvelous City.” Home of the samba, you might imagine that dancing is a widespread pastime as are sightseeing, beach activities and partying. What might surprise you even more is that the residents of this city speak Portuguese, not Spanish.

World-Famous Beaches

While you may not have known they were beaches, practically everyone in the world is familiar with the names Copacabana and Ipanema, both made famous by songs. (“Copacabana” by Barry Manalow and “Girl From Ipanema” by Tom Jobim.) These two Brazilian hotspots are heavily trafficked tourist sections that draw sunbathers and surfers from all around the world.

The weather is perfectly suited for beach dwellers. With a tropical climate, Rio (as it's commonly referred to) averages highs of around 86F (30C) and lows of 68F (20C). While record highs have exceeded 104F (40C), the cool sea breezes normally keep temperatures fairly moderated.

Sports are popular on the beaches of Rio. It's common to find volleyball games and surf-worthy waves here. For those who would rather lounge, take a break from catching rays and indulge in an oceanfront massage.

It's at Copacabana beach that you'll find Rio's annual New Year's Eve celebration. More than two million people crowd the Atlantic coastline each December 31st to watch a mammoth fireworks display. Launched from boats positioned out in the ocean, this spectacular array is worth repeating year after year.

Mountain Views and More

If you want to see a panoramic view of Rio, a trip to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain is in order. A two-stage cable car ride is an adventure in and of itself, but nothing compares to the views once you reach the summit. Corcovado Mountain is another spot that delivers postcard-quality pictures of Rio and the surrounding areas.

But if looking isn't your speed, you can take a flying leap! Hang gliding is a prevalent pastime and Rio's mountainous and rocky regions give plenty of opportunities to sail high in the sky then make a gentle beachfront landing.


Without a doubt, the biggest crowds descend on Rio during Carnival. This highly celebrated Brazilian festival resembles New Orleans' Mardi Gras in many ways. Held annually two weeks before Lent, this four- day festival ends on Mardi Gras Tuesday. Like its Louisiana counterpart, Carnival is a massive street party filled with wall-to-wall food, fun, color, people and dancing. (The samba, of course!)


The partying isn't exclusive to Carnival, however. Every night, Rio lights up with an attitude and atmosphere that upholds its longstanding reputation. So electric are the clubs in Rio that frequent celebrity sightings are common. Among the stars spotted in Rio nightclubs are Calvin Klein, Mick Jagger and Naomi Campbell.

For the young or the young at heart, Rio de Janeiro is a vibrant city with endless energy. When you're planning your next holiday, check for itineraries that include stops in Rio. You'll find a thrill a minute while you're there.

Read more about Carnival Cruise Line.