Known in Portuguese as the ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’, or Marvelous City, it’s easy to see why sun-starved vacationers, movie stars and escaped bank robbers all flock to Rio de Janeiro. A place where mountains and forests tower over white-sand beaches and famously fun-loving locals, this is the ultimate playground for people in search of exotic thrills. If you are one of them, here are a few ideas:
Hang-glide from Pedra Bonita
The guidebooks say the best view of Rio is from the Christ the Redeemer statue. But by simply jumping off the side of a mountain attached to a flimsy piece of cloth and an experienced hang-gliding instructor, you can enjoy even better (albeit hair-raising) vistas and land on Sao Conrado beach in time for an afternoon tanning session. The only qualification needed is the ability to run off the side of a ramp 1,700ft high.
Party like a Carioca
Rio is well known for its New Years Eve and February Carnival celebrations, but year-round this is a city that never sleeps. Begin your night of debauchery in the arty Santa Teresa neighborhood with a red fruit caipirinha. Then take the yellow streetcar down to Lapa, where you can either find a nightclub (Rio Scenarium offers live samba) or enjoy the constant street party. Clubs in Ipanema and Leblon offer a more upmarket vibe, and further afield, The Week is the pinnacle of Rio’s gay scene.
Climb up Sugarloaf Mountain… the hard way
This big rock protruding into Rio’s epic skyline is just begging to be conquered. Most people would ride to the top via cable car as Roger Moore did in the 1979 movie Moonraker, but to do so would be to ignore one of the largest urban climbing areas in the world. Plus, few things are more satisfying than upstaging James Bond.