As the World Cup approaches, start planning your tour of South America
Rio de Janeiro is among the most popular stops on South America tours, and the city will likely see even more visitors when it hosts the 2014 World Cup in June. In fact, experts estimate that anywhere between 600,000 and 3 million foreign visitors will head to Rio once the soccer tournament kicks off. While the city will be especially vibrant during the World Cup, any trip to Rio is sure to be a memorable one, provided you make the right decisions on what to do and see while you're there. Here's a few spots you can't miss:
There are a number of natural highlights spread throughout Brazil, but Corcovado is arguably the most recognizable. Standing more than 2,300 feet above the city, this stunning granite peak gives you the chance to see the city from a whole new perspective. Corcovado sees hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, and with good reason. Not only is it one of the best vantage points in South America, but it is also home to the iconic Christ the Redeemer - a nearly 100-foot statue of Jesus that stands guard over the city below.
Tijuca National Park
For those looking for an adventure that's a bit closer to the ground, Tijuca National Park offers an unfettered look at the natural appeal of Rio. The park encompasses a large rainforest that's home to a wide variety of plant and animal life and also provides ample hiking opportunities. Among its most-recognizable features are the Cascatinha Waterfall as well as the impressive Mayrink Chapel, which features some awe-inspiring murals.
City of Arts
Of course, Rio is home to much more than just natural attractions, and the city is teeming with culture and art around seemingly every corner. One of the newest attractions is the City of Arts complex, which opened its doors in 2011. The expansive building is the official home of the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra and is the largest concert hall on the continent. Along with the City of Arts, you should make a point to check out the National Museum of Fine Arts, which has been a staple of Rio's cultural identity for more than 75 years and remains a popular tourist draw.