Blessed with golden sand beaches, a curvaceous bay framed by glossy high-rises and an iconic mountain range swathed in verdant forestry, Rio de Janeiro doesn't have to try too hard to look good. Considered the most charismatic city in South America, Rio is a fun and flirtatious destination brimming with infectious music, colour and symbolic landmarks. Famed for the statue of Christ, Sugarloaf Mountain and its mountain-hugging favela slums, Rio is also the carnival capital of the world with thousands of festival-goers descending every year to watch flamboyant parades, exotic costumes and samba dancing.
With a year-round temperate climate and perennial sun-filled skies, days can be spent on Copacabana Beach – possibly the most recognisable beach in the world, with a handsome population to match. Wander inland for infectious café-culture, enticing bars and restaurants as well as museums, parks and colonial art-deco buildings. Of course, a trip to Rio isn't complete without climbing the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain, combine this with a tram ride up Sugarloaf Mountain to compare both views – sunset viewings are particularly special. In Lapa, street parties commonly flood over from trendy bars while in Santa Teresa, there’s a more relaxed vibe and a labyrinth of hillside streets saturated with artists and museums. From sea and sand, to culture, history and religion, Rio is a chameleon of transformation and while safety still remains an issue, it’s virtually impossible to dislike this urban slice of Brazilian paradise.