If You Have Olympic Fever, It's Time to Plan a Trip to Rio de Janeiro

The countdown to the 2016 Summer Olympics has started and everyone's eyes are officially on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And while you might not be lucky enough to attend the sporting event this Summer — accommodations have been booked for months! — seeing the gorgeous sights of Rio on your TV and Instagram are sure to give you an itch to visit the large South American city. If that's the case and you're ready to start planning your escape, keep reading to find out what you cannot miss on a visit to the former capital of Brazil.

What to See
Flickr user Imgadelha

What to See

  • Christ the Redeemer: The impressive art deco statue of Jesus Christ at the top of the Corcovado mountain in Tijuca Forest National Park might be the most recognizable spot in Rio de Janeiro (and maybe even Brazil). Don't miss out on climbing the stairs to the top and snapping a selfie.
  • Sugarloaf Mountain: Take a cable car up to Pão de Acúcar for your chance to take breathtaking photos of the city. You get 360-degree views on the way up, so get your Instagram or Snapchat ready.
  • Maracanã Stadium: Soccer fans will have to visit the largest stadium in Brazil and the site of the national team's now-famous defeat by Uruguay during the 1950 FIFA World Cup.
Flickr user rogerzgiet

  • Escadaria Selaron: The Lapa Steps downtown feature colorful mosaics created by Chilean artist Jorge Selarón that should not be missed.
  • Arcos de Lapa: The aqueduct arches are a great pit stop for a memorable picture on your way out to one of Lapa's many clubs.
  • Santa Teresa: For a true taste of Rio's artistic vibes, check out this neighborhood located atop the hills of the city. The bright colonial houses are a sight to be seen from one of the cobblestone streets.
Where to Hit the Beach
Flickr user armandolobos

Where to Hit the Beach

  • Copacabana Beach: Five kilometers of sand and a view of Sugarloaf Mountain make this beach an awesome spot to spend the day. Though it's not as glitzy as it once was, there's still plenty of people watching.
  • Ipanema Beach: Framed by the Dois Irmãos mountains, you can sip caipirinha after caipirinha here. Bring your hottest swimsuit, because the scene is worthy of a James Bond movie. Is "The Girl From Ipanema" already stuck in your head?
  • Búzios: Hitting this beach will require a day trip from Rio, but it's worth it. The water is clear, the clubs are hopping, and the bikinis are tiny.
Where to Party
Flickr user ndecam

Where to Party

  • Carnival: The first obvious stop for those who love a good dance party is the Rio Carnival, happening every February in the city's Sambadrome with the celebration ending in street parties full of costumes and drinks.
  • Rio Scenarium: Tourists rate this big colonial house in the center of Rio the best spot to get a true samba nightclub experience.
  • Carioca da Gema: Expect live music at this Lapa bar that's open seven days a week. Put your dancing shoes on — the samba here is almost professional.
Where to Eat
Flickr user hisori

Where to Eat

  • Bar Amarelinho: Don't let the fact that this is a chain fool you. Locals like this spot that serves feijoada and meat with supercold chopes (that's beer).
  • Porcao Rio: Get ready for all the meat you can eat at the Flamengo location of this churrascaria, which offers a view of Sugarloaf from your table.
  • Academia da Cachaca: You won't know which caipirinha flavor to sample first. That'll be your biggest problem, because you can't go wrong with anything in this typical Brazilian menu.