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Why you should visit Rio de Janeiro

Travel contributor Timothy Dodd reflects on his trip to Rio de Janeiro, highlighting the best spots to visit over the scenic city.

By Timothy Dodd, Biology student

Travel contributor Timothy Dodd reflects on his trip to Rio de Janeiro, highlighting the best spots to visit over the scenic city.

Rio is an exquisite mix of culture, mountains, beaches, skyscrapers, and forest that really make it quite unlike anywhere else I’ve been in the world. This summer I was lucky enough to be welcomed to Brazil by the outstretched arms of Jesus on Corcovado mountain, as I visited the city on my way to a 4 week volunteering programme in South Brazil. With a wealth of sights to see, mountains to climb, and caipirinha’s to drink, there’s really not a dull moment in this city. Let me share with you the whistle-stop tour which without doubt provided me with some of the best memories of my life so far.

Image: Timothy Dodd / Epigram: View from Vidigal favela

Lets start with the most obvious, Christ the Redeemer, or Cristo Redentor to the locals. A cable car trip takes you on a steep scenic incline up Corcovado mountain to the statue. You can hike up (which I’d love to have done), however I wouldn’t advise this unless you’re in a large group or with locals, as I was told many tourists get mugged on the way up. As spectacular as he is, Jesus himself is only half the picture. Swivel yourself around and you have yourself a view of the harbour, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and definitely one of the most breath-taking views I have seen.

If you’re after a good view, look no further than Morro Dois Irmãos, or ‘Two Brothers’ mountain. This one is a safe but challenging hour or so hike. The trail is pretty much created from footsteps over the years, so be prepared with grippy footwear to hang on to trees, be greeted by marmosets, and climb up some slippery rocks to get to the top. Also look out for clearings in the forest, as the route up has some incredible views of the favela below. The view from the top is just spectacular, but absolutely check the weather forecast before you go, as you could literally find yourself in clouds with brief glimpses of the city like I had. To get to the base of the mountain, you’ll get your first favela experience as you enter via Vidigal, the most tourist-friendly favela in Rio! Definitely visit a favela whilst you’re there, but only if you’re with a tour or some locals who know where they’re going, or you could end up at gun point, which happened to a friend I made at the hostel.

Image: Timothy Dodd / Epigram: View from the top of Two Brothers mountain

Be sure to check out Escadaria Selarón, also known as the 'Selaron Steps' - a set of world-famous steps by Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón who claimed it as his "tribute to the Brazilian people". With 2000 tiles collected from over 60 countries around the world, this will be the most engaging staircase experience of your life. After searching high and low, I finally found the Welsh tile which made me very happy to have a taste of home when I was on the other side of the world.

Finally, no trip to Rio is complete without a visit to the famous Sugarloaf mountain. Proudly standing 396m high, a cable car journey will take you to the top where there are superb panoramic views of the city, especially if you go for sunset, alongside places to eat, drink and relax.

My four days was simply not long enough for a city that has so much to offer, so if you’re planning to go definitely have at least a week there to fully experience it. As my favourite city I’ve been to thus far, Rio and the people I met there will undoubtedly drive my return to the city in future.

Featured Image: Timothy Dodd / Epigram

What do you think of Rio's culture? Have another city you'd like to explore for us? Let us know in the comments below

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