10 Key Things about Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro. The Marvelous City (Cidade Maravilhosa)

Sparkling beaches, strikingly beautiful mountains with the backdrop of samba and bossa nova- what more do you need to fall in love with a place? The largest Art Deco statue in the world, Christ the Redeemer, and needless to mention, the soccer superstar Ronaldo, among many other attractions beckon visitors to unravel the marvels of Rio de Janeiro themselves.

1. History of Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is the city it is today because of its historical past. 10-Key-Things-Rio-de-Janeiro-Brazil-Cristo-Redentor 10 Key Things about Rio de Janeiro, BrazilPortuguese rulers were the first ones to rule Rio as they landed on the soil of Guanabara Bay on the 1st of January, 1502. The bay forms the opening of a river, hence the name ‘Rio de Janeiro’ which means ‘River of January’. The French also wanted to make the best of the strategic position of Rio in the Brazilian region and tried to make a foothold in the city but were debarred from the city after two years of intense war. To protect from further invasions, the city was moved to a safer position on a hill, which was later named as Castle Hill.

Its economic development was fueled by sugar cane and reserves of gold and diamond initially. As time passed, it started facing a stiff competition from other South American nations due to which its sugarcane trade suffered. Its reserves of gold and diamond also started dwindling. To prevent an economic crisis, it started exporting coffee and during this time, the Portuguese family resettled in Rio. During their rule, Rio de Janeiro expanded both economically and area-wise. Brazil finally achieved its independence in 1889 when the Portuguese left. Rio emerged as the capital of this newly independent country.

2. Nightlife of Rio de Janeiro

The party capital of Brazil has a dizzying number of nightclubs, discotheques, restaurants and bars. You can choose to sit in one corner with your partner or family or dance all night to the eclectic music played by international DJs. The nightclubs in Rio mostly feature a different theme every night depending on the music genre or the DJ. Fostobox, Espaco Acustica, Mirior and Club Six are some of the popular nightclubs in the city. Academia da Cachaca, Palaphita Kitch, Shenanigan’s Irish Pub, 00 (Zero Zero) and Nuth Lounge Bar are just some of the places which will give you a taste of the classic bar culture of the city. Drinks here are really cheap and it is a laborious task to find the best bar for hanging out with friends.

3. Safety in Rio de Janeiro

One needs to be concerned about safety especially whilst travelling on foot. It is necessary to take precautions whilst walking in crowded areas, as the crime rate is quite high due to the abject poverty in some areas in the city. It is always good to keep valuable items, passport and additional cash safely in the hotel. It is not advisable to travel alone, flashing one’s jewellery, branded items and credit cards or leaving your baggage unattended because mugging is frequently reported in the city. Call the police on 190 if you need any help.

10-Key-Things-Rio-de-Janeiro-Brazil-Copacabana-beach-1024x768 10 Key Things about Rio de Janeiro, Brazil4. Living Expenses in Rio de Janeiro

The cost of living for a single person in Rio de Janeiro is 2,032 R$ (USD 505) for a month and for a family of four people, it is 7215 R$ (USD 1791). Basic utilities for a month for an 85 sq. m. apartment will amount to 351 R$ (USD 87). The rent of a 1BHK apartment in the city centre would be close to 2131 R$ (USD 529). A similar apartment outside the city centre will cost you much less at 1521 R$ (USD 378).

5. Cuisines of Rio de Janeiro

Some of the best Brazilian dishes have originated in Rio de Janeiro. You’ll find good restaurants all around the city to fulfil your desire to taste authentic Brazilian cuisine. Copacabana, Ipanema, Leme, Lebnon, Urca, Downtown and Santa Teresa are some neighborhoods with famous restaurants. Brazilian cuisine has been influenced by African, Portuguese and Native American cultures.

Frango com quiabo- a dish made of okra, chicken and cheese, Farofa, which is prepared with manioc flour, onions, pork, eggs and vegetables, Polenta (mildly flavoured sausage), Chourico (fried bananas), Bobo de Camarao (shrimp in manioc and coconut milk puree), Feijoada (national dish), Carne Seca com abobora (beef cooked in pumpkin puree) and Moqueca (shrimp or fish stew) are a few dishes which you must try.

DaSilva’s lunch buffet consisting of Portuguese salads, seafood and meat dishes and Zaza Bistro Tropical’s South American menu are extremely popular.

Gero and Quadrifoglio are other favourites of socialites, journalists and politicians for their Italian fare. You may also try Cipriani, café Lamas, Amir, Satyricon, Braz Pizzaria, Marius Degustare for different cuisines from all over the globe.

6. Statistics of Rio de Janeiro

According to a census conducted in 2010, there were 5,940,224 people residing in the city of area 1255 sq. km. 51.2% were white people, 36.5% were found to be multiracial, 11.5% were Blacks, and the rest were East Asians and Amerindians. 51% of the population is Catholic.

7. Public Transport in Rio de Janeiro

You may opt for any mode of public transport depending on your budget. You have the option of taking a bus (city or executive), the subway(metro), taxis or even a ferry. The city is not very difficult to navigate if you learn basic Portuguese ahead of your visit.

Pollution Rio de Janeiro: PM10 levels are quite high at 67 PPM. PM2.5 levels are slightly lower with a value of 36 PPM.

8. Weather of Rio de Janeiro

Most of the tourists visit the city during the summers in Rio, which is between December and March. This summer period encompasses both New Year and Rio’s famous carnival, hence the crowd is maximum during this time, as a result of which prices are also quite high.  

Spring: October to November; Average high: 27 °C; Average low: 22 °C

Summer: December to March; Average high: 30 °C; Average low: 25 °C

Autumn: April to May; Average high: 26 °C; Average low: 22 °C

Winter:  June to September; Average high: 24 °C; Average low: 18 °C

9. Culture of Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is said to be the main cultural hub of Brazil. Its architecture embraces churches and other buildings from the bygone eras alongside the designs of the 20th century. Its culture has been heavily influenced by Portuguese, English and French cultures.

Carnaval is an annual celebration in the Roman Catholic tradition that allows merrymaking and red meat consumption before the more sober 40 days of Lent penance which culminates with Holy or Passion Week and Easter. Another day of celebration in the city is New Year’s Eve. Every year on 31st December, close to 2.5 million people gather at Copacabana Beach to celebrate New Year’s in Rio de Janeiro. The crowd, mostly dressed in white, celebrates all night at the hundreds of different shows and events along the beach. It is the second largest celebration only next to the Carnival. Rock in Rio de Janeiro is another festival that is celebrated on a large scale. It is a music festival conceived by entrepreneur Roberto Medina for the first time in 1985, and since its creation, it has been recognized as the largest music festival in the Latin world and the largest in the world.

10-Key-Things-Rio-de-Janeiro-Brazil-Rio-Carnival-Sambodromo-1024x682 10 Key Things about Rio de Janeiro, BrazilIt has a number of large cultural centres, public and mobile libraries, cultural spaces, cinemas, museums, theatres and planetariums.  If you want to enjoy Brazil’s music and performing arts culture, remember to visit The Arts City (Cidade das Artes) which is the city’s leading music venue. It includes Latin America’s second largest hall for opera and classical music and has seating for up to 1,800 spectators. Rio has always had a vibrant music scene, being the origin of samba and bossa nova. More recently, funk has emerged as a new mass cultural phenomenon in the city.

10. Places to visit in Rio de Janeiro

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro: This city has some of the world’s most famous landmarks. The statue of Christ- the Redeemer is now one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Maracana Football stadium was the largest football stadium in the world for a long time.  It has the capacity to hold 1,00,000 spectators. So, if you happen to be fan of Ronaldo and Pele, this stadium should not be missed!

Copacabana, Prainha and Barra da Tijuca are the three main beaches in the city. If you like the hills and clouds more than beaches, Rio wouldn’t disappoint you at all. Sugarloaf mountain is a 395m peak, from the top of which, visitors will have once-in-a-lifetime kind of an opportunity to capture photos of the sparkling beaches, green forests and the famous statue of Christ. You can either take a cable car or climb the mountain to unleash your adventurous side! Visit the peak at sunset for awe-inspiring views.

Museums and Galleries: Rio is home to many art galleries and museums. Museu de Arte do Rio is the the most recently constructed art museum in the city. Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts) is another museum famous for its collection of Brazilian art from the 17th to the 20th centuries. It also houses some great work by international artists. MAM (Museu de Arte Moderna Rio de Janeiro) is home to over 4000 pieces from Gilberto Chateubriand’s collection. MAC (Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói) is known the world over for its spectacular design by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and the marvelous 360 degree views you get of Rio and Niterói from it, although the collection is not exceptional.

So, all you history enthusiasts, keep a day or two aside to visit the many museums and galleries waiting to welcome you to explore Rio’s rich history and culture.

Things to do for kids in Rio de Janeiro: The beaches are giant sandy playgrounds and your child will never get bored of playing with the waves drenching them or making sand castles. Is your child an ardent soccer fan? Take him to the Maracana Stadium and he may thank you later for getting to meet a famous soccer player. The Jardim Botanico (Botanical garden) is also worth a visit for its fascinating variety of flora and fauna.

Places Nearby: Petropolis is worth a visit for its Summer Palace which was home to Brazilian emperors. The climate is cool and the surroundings exude serenity. It is an hour’s drive from Rio. You could also visit Samba city in the neighboring town of Gamboa. It is the origin of Carioca samba and is also known for its geometric architecture.

Offbeat places: Lagoa is a beautiful lake flanked by mountains and bordered by a 7 km track meant for walking, running and cycling. Enjoy the view with some delicious food and drinks on offer at the cafes, bars and restaurants in Lagoa. Parque Lage, which is right next to the Botanical Garden, is often overlooked by tourists, inspite of having one of the most spectacular buildings in the whole of Rio. It is currently an art school and holds exhibitions from time to time.

Author’s Conclusion: Rio de Janeiro will definitely exceed your expectations of a tourist destination. Its modern outlook woven together with its history promise to give you a unique experience that you are sure to cherish for a long time. The sparkling beaches, vibrant nightlife, historic sites and the green belt are sure to take your breath away. Christ the Redeemer and Ronaldo have put this city on the world map and it is high time that you should pay it a visit and experience the charm.

Country Brazil
City Rio de Janeiro
Area 1255 sq. km
Population 5,940,224 (approx.) as of 2010
Demonym Janeirite
Languages Portuguese ,Spanish, English
Currency Brazilian Real (1 USD= 4.03 BRL) as of 10 Feb 2016
Time Zone Brazil Time Zone (UTC -03:00)
Driving Right Hand Traffic, Left Hand driven vehicles
Emergency Police: 190

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