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Brazil's captivating city has more to offer than the World Cup

The Hayes and Jarvis Blog Team April 10, 2014

Rio de Janeiro

Whether you love ‘the beautiful game’ or can’t bear to watch a single minute, there is already plenty of hype surrounding Rio’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup this June and July. So not wanting to add to the hysteria, we want to recommend a few gems this beautiful city has to offer away from the football pitch. 

Take a trip to these natural wonders and discover a city that can leave you rejuvenated, exhilarated and inspired all in one, without a single football in sight:
 
Corcovado National Park and Christ the Redeemer
 
To get away from the crowds and enjoy the rainforests of Rio, head to Corcovado National Park. Covering almost a third of the Osa Peninsular, it is arguably one of the most biologically beautiful places on earth, left virtually untouched. No other wild area in Brazil protects its plants and animals in the same way that Corcovado does. Comparable only to the Amazon, the trees seem to touch the clouds and provide ample opportunities to spot a flock of scarlet macaws in their natural habitat. If you’re lucky enough, you may even get the chance to spot a jaguar or two!
 
This is without mentioning Rio’s most famous icon, the 38m high Christ the Redeemer statue on top of Corcovado Mountain itself, otherwise known as Cristo Redentor. Climb the steps, take the elevators, hop on the escalators or board the funicular train to the top of the mountain to see this magnificent statue. Whilst you’re there, try and spot the hidden trapdoor on Christ’s right shoulder too, used only by fearless workers. Bring your camera too as you really won’t want to miss a photo opportunity here with tremendous views of the city in all directions, best viewed at sunrise or sunset.
 
Sugarloaf Mountain
 
Rivalling Corcovado Mountain for the best views in Rio, the 394-metre-high Sugarloaf Mountain was named by the Portuguese, as it reminded them of moulds used to set sugar cane. Take a glass-walled cable car to the top (if you’re not too afraid of heights) on a 1,400 metre route between the peaks of Pão de Açúcar and Morro da Urca; they run every twenty minutes. Then revel in the stunning panoramas of the city, including its glowing beaches, the mountains of Tijuca National Park and the islands of Guanabara Bay.
 
Copacabana Beach
 
One of the most famous beaches in the world, renowned for its magnificent, scalloped shores, enlivened by a number of exciting activities - Copacabana is the place to be. Sink your feet in its sand with a game of volleyball on the nets or (dare we say it) a kick about. This is also the infamous home of bare-skinned, string bikini wearing locals, who use the beach’s training equipment to stay in shape. Copacabana is also known for its vibrant clubbing scene, so when the sun sets, dress in your finest and get ready to dance the night away.
 
Iguazu Falls
 
On the border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, sits the mesmerising and awe-inspiring Iguazu Falls. Three times wider than Niagara Falls, this semicircular waterfall is the most voluminous in the world and well worth a visit. From the Brazilian side, expect spectacular views of the 275 separate cataracts plunging 80 metres into the Iguazu River. We recommend pre-booking a boat trip to see the base of the falls but don’t forget to pack a raincoat!
 
Samba
 
Famous for its love of dance and music, and as raw and exciting as the scenery surrounding it, we’d highly recommend taking a samba lesson in Rio de Janeiro. Take inspiration from the world-famous carnival with its colourful, exotic dancers and pick a samba school you can trust. We recommend visiting a class pre-carnival to catch a glimpse of their rehearsals, which start in August. Most schools hold their classes on Saturday nights but check times for availability. Now, you can even join a class just to learn to play an instrument and pass on the dancing itself! 
 
Don’t forget Rio de Janeiro is a great stopover destination for Latin America, including the magnificent Incan ruins of Peru, the infectious Tango of Argentina or Chile – land of ice and fire.