Not even including the extravagant Carnaval, the reasons that Rio is nicknamed the “Marvelous City” are endless. To start, there’s the spectacular setting: the otherworldly granite monoliths Corcovado (topped with its Christ the Redeemer statue) and Sugarloaf soaring above Guanabara Bay, as well as the silver crescents of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, packed with bronzed sun seekers. The warmth, passion and vivacity of Rio’s residents are infectious; whether in the ecstasy of a goal scored at Maracanã Stadium, in animated conversation over frosty sour-sweet caipirinhas, or in a night out at the samba clubs of the Lapa district, the cariocas and their hometown have perfected the art of living well.
One of the most dynamic cities of the world -- famed for its carnaval, its samba, and its natural beauty -- Cidade Maravilhosa ("Marvelous City") lies between a magnificent bay and the dazzling Ipanema and Copacabana beaches on one side and a forest-covered mountain range on the other.
Capital of Brazil from 1763 (when it was moved from Salvador) until 1960 (when it was moved to Bras¡lia), Rio de Janeiro is one of the most recognizable cities in the world thanks to one natural and one man-made landmark. Sugar Loaf mountain -- actually two mountains connected by cable car -- stands sentinel at the entrance to the bay. The Christ the Redeemer statue spreads its arms in a welcome-to-the-city gesture at the top of Corcovado mountain.
The city's festive reputation comes to fruition during the four days of carnaval when the day-to-day routine is replaced by music, parties, and elaborately -- yet scantily -- costumed dancers swaying to the samba in street parades. Practically every neighborhood in Rio has a samba club that competes for top honors along the Sambodramo, a street specially designed for the samba parades.
New Year's Eve is also a popular celebration when candle-carrying, white-clad supplicants make offerings to the sea god on the beach at Copacabana, and a massive fireworks display lights up the sky to the accompaniment of classical music.
Rio has no shortage of sightseeing, nightlife, dining, and fun throughout the rest of year. Offering clubs that stay open all night to restaurants that serve traditional Brazilian food and cuisine from around the world, Rio's carefree atmosphere and welcoming Cariocas (Rio's citizens) make a visit to this city an unforgettable experience.