Flying into Rio de Janeiro, you catch your first glimpse of what many consider to be the most beautiful city in the world. Nestled on an alluvial strip of land between Guanabara Bay and the Tijuca Forest and extending down to the sea, the dramatic setting has long been the inspiration for artists, musicians, poets and writers. Beyond its iconic sites – the glinting white sands of Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, the Art Deco statue of Christ the Redeemer, Rio has much to wow visitors, including lush botanical gardens and historic neighborhoods whose architecture chronicles Brazil’s history. Sugarloaf Mountain is another landmark that lives up to its fame – from the summit you will find a 360-degree view of Rio’s verdant hills that undulate along the coast.

The gondolas make the trip in two parts, first to Urca Mountain and then on to the conical Sugarloaf. Back at sea level Rio is relaxed and sophisticated, and the shopping reflects that; stroll along Leblon’s Dias Ferreira Street- the place to buy the latest fashions and beachwear. Ubiquitous juice bars offer tropical drinks with acai and other Amazonian fruits. Dining is eclectic and International; you will find an abundance of fresh seafood at Sushi Leblon or creative delicacies like banana crumble or floating islands with confit of ginger – from Chef Pernambuco at Carlota. Rio’s music scene is world-class; it spills out of beachside cafés and from samba clubs in the bohemian neighborhood of Lapa while the art world has been revived by the opening of Casa Daros in Botafogo – one of the world’s largest private, contemporary Latin American collections.