On January the 1st of 1502 a Portuguese squad, commanded by Goncalves, discovered the Guanabara Bay and, judging it to be a great river, and that time being January, he gave it the name of Rio de Janeiro. Guanabara Bay is the largest bay in the world based on volume of water, has several islands such as the Governor's Island, Fundao and Snakes Island. In the west, you will see Rio de Janeiro, and facing east - the municipal district of Niteroi. A city vision is discovered as you leave "Marina da Gloria" by saveiro (schooner), neighborhoods of Botafogo, Flamengo, Urca, Sugar Loaf, Fort Sao Joao, Flagstone Island, Santa Cruz Fortress, Rio-Niteroi Bridge and more.
Rio de Janeiro vacations have something to offer everyone. It's a good city both for family groups and groups of young partyers. Surfing enthusiasts who follow the sun, sand, and waves flock to the city for vacations to Rio that concentrate on the Rio de Janeiro beaches and surfing-kite surfing, wind surfing, para-surfing, and good old fashioned board surfing. Sports enthusiasts come for soccer, the number one passion of Brazilians, and beach volleyball. Some of the best players in the world, in both sports, hail from Brazil.
There are other things to do on Rio de Janeiro vacations that run the gamut of interests. Consider booking Rio tours that take in its historic colonial center with beautiful architecture and many wonderful museums full of history. Two things that should not be missed on all Rio de Janeiro vacations are the ascents to the summit of Sugarloaf and Corcovado mountains. The latter is topped by the imposing statue of Christ the Redeemer, which has recently been named one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. The views from the summit of both peaks is quite breathtaking.
With six million people occupying an area of 1256 square kilometers (485 square miles), Rio is the second largest city in Brazil. The many districts of the city lie in three major areas: Center, South, and North (which includes the suburbs). The more affluent South comprises the area between the hills and the sea from the Center to the western limits of the city, while the North and the suburbs spread from the Center to the northern and eastern limits. The great majority of tourist attractions and trendy shopping districts are concentrated in the Center and the South. People from Rio de Janeiro are commonly called cariocas.
The city center is the financial and business district of Rio, where most historic buildings are located. Crowded and packed with skyscrapers, the Centre is the home of the Monumento Nacional aos Mortos da II Guerra Mundial , the Teatro Municipal , the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (National Fine Arts Museum), the Museu de Arte Moderna (Museum of Modern Art) and the Sambódromo, where the Carnaval parades take place every year.
Santa Teresa & Glória
A quiet district set on a hillside, Santa Teresa is chosen by many artists as a location for their studios, and was also the hideaway of the (in)famous train robber Ronnie Biggs. It can be reached by car or tram, through the Lapa tramway, and has a few inexpensive restaurants and attractions like the Ruins Park, with one of the best views of the Bay, and the Museu Chácara do Ceu. The adjoining district of Glória has one of the most charming churches in Rio, the 18th-century Baroque Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Glória do Outeiro.
Flamengo & Catete
Highly populated areas, and not too expensive to live in. The Republic Museum is in Catete, the Santos Dumont Airport is at the end of the Aterro do Flamengo, closer to the center.
Laranjeiras & Cosme Velho
Mostly residential, with lots of trees and green areas. These two districts are located between Flamengo, the Corcovado and the Rebouças Tunnel. The Guanabara Palace, seat of the state government, is in Laranjeiras, while closer to the entrance of the tunnel, in Cosme Velho, are the colonial-style houses of the Largo do Boticário and the railway station for the train that goes up Corcovado Mountain.
Both a residential and business district, Botafogo is the passage between the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and the Guanabara Bay. The main attractions are the Home of Rui Barbosa, a neo-classical museum, the Indian Museum and the Museu Villa-Lobos .
Strictly residential, quiet and secluded, Urca is one of the most pleasant districts in Rio, set between Sugar Loaf and the 17th century Fortaleza de São João . Fishermen are part of the scenery here, and the district is also home to the Yacht Club .
Copacabana & Leme
With a large population, high-rises and a world-famous beach, Copacabana , is where the New Year's fireworks display is held. It has the most eclectic nightlife in Rio, with strip clubs, bars, and elegant restaurants and hotels, such as the Copacabana Palace Hotel . At the end of Copacabana sits the Copacabana Fort , with a beautiful view and a nice museum.
The definitive trend-setter in Rio, with elegant shops, restaurants and bars; home of the famous Girl from Ipanema. Devil Beach and Arpoador Beach are two of the few areas where surfing is allowed outside of Barra da Tijuca.
One of the most beautiful views in Rio, with good restaurants and bars, and a few food stalls. The lake shore is also a large public sports complex with a bicycle and jogging track, tennis courts and football fields and a skateboard and roller-skate bowl. There are also some private clubs and public parks where free open-air shows and concerts are frequently staged.
The most sophisticated and expensive district in Rio, with large mansions, elegant flats, and a few late-night restaurants, bookshops and supermarkets.
Gávea and Jardim Botânico
Very sought-after residential districts, with quiet streets and lots of greenery. Gávea is the home of the Planetarium and the Parque da Cidade (City Park) with its Museu Histórico da Cidade . The Botanical Garden is in the Jardim Botânico.
Ensconced between the mountain and a beautiful beach, São Conrado is filled with very expensive flats, yet is a next-door neighbor of Rocinha, the largest slum in Rio. Hang-gliders taking off from Pedra da Gávea to land on the beach, are a common sight in the skies of São Conrado.
Barra da Tijuca & Recreio dos Bandeirantes
The Brazilian California, with wide avenues and large condos. Barra is the home of the Chico Mendes Park , a protected area for wild animals such as birds and alligators. The largest shopping center in Rio, Barrashopping , is in Barra, as well as the Riocentro Convention Center and the motor racing track, the Autódromo Nelson Piquet, located in the outskirts of Barra, close to Jacarepaguá. The beaches in Barra are the cleanest in Rio, and have areas for surfing and scuba diving.
Floresta da Tijuca
A tropical forest in the middle of Rio. With winding roads that go through the trees and overhang more than a thousand feet, this is where the most spectacular views of the city and the sea can be seen. Besides the awesome landscape, there are some places worth visiting, like the Emperor Table, the Chinese View and the Museu Açude.
North & Suburbs
A series of industrial and residential districts, much less expensive than the South, where the Maracanã Stadium, the Zoo , the Museu Nacional , the International Airport and the Penha Church are located.