The name might translate as 'January's River', yet the city of Rio de Janeiro is incredible to visit at any time of the year. It's ringed by hills, including the Sugarloaf Mountain to the east, and the 710m Corcovado, or hunchback hill, has incredible views over the city streets. Rio de Janeiro is a great city to wander around, which is useful as traffic can sometimes be hectic.
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Golden sandy beaches give Rio de Janeiro much of its summer holiday appeal. Possibly the most recognisable are Copacabana Beach and Ipanema Beach, which have lent their names to famous songs. The main beaches have free showers, bars, pay toilets and rental deckchairs. Abricó is the city's one nudist beach, and it's not appropriate to bathe topless (if you're female) on any of the beaches.
The city's street carnival is one of the largest and most famous in the world.
Part of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, protected to preserve the natural landscapes between the mountains and the sea. Tijuca National Park stretches along Rio de Janeiro's west side towards the sea. Most of the main landmarks and points of interest are in the South Zone area. The huge, iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer is at the top of the Corcovado. Candelária Church nearer the city centre was built during the 18th and 19th centuries, with Baroque and Neoclassical architecture.
When you've saved on a cheap hotel room for holidays in Rio de Janeiro with lastminute.com, why not splash out on some local cuisine? Brazilian food is frequently roasted or barbecued, and seasoning can range from a pinch of salt to fiery spice. It's heavily influenced by European cooking, as Rio de Janeiro was first founded by the Portuguese. Feijoãda is something of a national dish, made with black beans, pork and rice. The city's most popular alcoholic drink is the caipirinha, made with cachaça to give it a sugary kick.
Rio de Janeiro is also featured in our guide to Where's Hot in July.