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Natural Wonders of the World: Rio de Janeiro Harbour, Brazil

16 December 2020 08:21

Scale Sugarloaf Mountain for panoramic views of Guanabara Bay

Scale Sugarloaf Mountain for panoramic views of Guanabara Bay

Travel may be trickier than normal right now. But we can still dream. Searching for a little destination inspiration, how about Rio de Janeiro's world-famous harbour? Discover more about the mountains and beaches that surround Brazil's party city...

Rio de Janeiro Harbour at a glance:

  • Rio de Janeiro translates as 'January River' in Portuguese
  • European explorers mistook the bay for a river when they discovered it during the first month of 1502
  • The bay is also home to one of the New7Wonders of the World, the Christ the Redeemer statue, completed in 1931
  • There are more than 130 islands within the harbour of Rio de Janeiro

What makes the Rio de Janeiro Harbour a natural wonder?

The harbour at Rio de Janeiro is the largest in the world, based on volume of water. The unique formation of granite mountains surrounding the bay can make the South Atlantic appear like a series of lakes depending on your point of view. Otherwise known as Guanabara Bay, the natural harbour is home to over 130 islands and some of the world's most famous beaches, including the much-loved Copacabana.

The Rio de Janeiro Harbour in film and TV

Bond fans might recognise Rio from the famous cable car scene in Moonraker, and the film also features one of Brazil's New7Wonders of Nature, the Iguazu Falls. The bay appears throughout the critically-acclaimed City of God, the Oscar nominated film giving a gritty glimpse into life in the city's deprived neighbourhoods known locally as favelas. And if you kept an eye on the Rio Olympics in 2016, you'll have noticed the beach volleyball arena was built on the sandy Copacabana shore.

How can tourists enjoy the Rio de Janeiro Harbour?

The best views of Guanabara Bay can be enjoyed from above. Thrill-seekers should head to Pedra Bonita, a mountain located in São Conrado for the chance to hang glide over Ipanema Beach and take in panoramic views from the sky. If you prefer not to jump off platforms hundreds of metres high, there's always the option to take the cable car at Sugar Loaf Mountain. Visitors with a head for heights can arrange a helicopter ride from the summit for unspoilt views of the natural wonder as you hover around Christ the Redeemer.

What else is there to see and do in Rio De Janeiro?

To really get a feel for Rio and the locals, aka 'Cariocas', head to the city in time for its world-famous carnival. Inevitably, social distancing measures will have an impact on the street parties and colourful processions at the 90,000-seater Sambadrome stadium, but locals are sure to mark their favourite time of the year with a suitable celebration. If it's a traditional beach holiday you're after, or the chance to enjoy live music and a unique culture, 'January River' has it all.

Find the perfect cover before you head to the Copacabana

At World First we provide travel insurance for Brazil, so you can enjoy sun, samba and soccer with peace of mind.