How can anyone NOT consider going to Rio for Spring Break? The beach city has been immortalized in countless movies, songs, pictures and stories as the place to embrace the golden sun, the golden beach and the golden Brazilians who share their country’s number one tourist destination with almost two million international visitors every year.
Why, you can even wear your Haivanas and Ipanema flip-flops in the country and even the suburb where they were born.
Beyond the hype and the glitz of the Rio de Janeiro name, there truly does lie a beach city that is exquisite in the true sense of the word. Contrary to what many believe, there is life beyond the sand.
Perhaps most famous Rio destination apart from the beach is the Christ the Redeemer statue, 124 feet tall and perched atop the 2329 feet Corcovado (Hunchback). If not for religious reasons, it is immensely popular for its fantastic view of the entire stretch of beach, city and the bluest ocean.
Copacabana is one of those places that might not live up to its old reputation as a fantastic getaway, but retains its position as one you can say ‘I’ve been there’ when it is mentioned. Formerly a jet-setter magnet, it is now one of the best places to see how wealth and poverty and the people afflicted with either coexist almost seamlessly in Rio.
It might shock you to know that Ipanema means ‘treacherous waters’ in an indigenous language. Yes, the history of your flip-flops is not as benign as you thought. A visit to Ipanema Beach will show how deserved the name is. Massive waves crash regularly onto the shore. Different stretches cater to different demographics and interests. Some are almost exclusively populated by favela kids, others are frequented by the LGBT community, there are exclusive sports areas with volleyball and the eternal Brazilian favorite, soccer, covering the beach.
Since it is Spring Break, you might as well party off the beach, too, right? Botafogo lies just north of Copacabana and is noted for its excellent nightlife and clubbing scene.
If food is your folly, prepare to sin in Rio. Native Indian, European and African palates combine to manifest amazing creations of taste. Feijoada, stewed beans in pork gravy with crunchy pork cracklings and crispy potatoes is one to try. Sweets and savory snacks carts stand on every corner. The freshly-squeezed sugarcane juice is unbelievably delicious and shockingly cheap.
The best time to visit Rio is late November to early April, with the latter coinciding with Spring Break. If you love the sun and are looking to tan, the temperatures will be a toasty 100 degrees Fahrenheit after the start of the new year.