Rio de Janeiro – Rio de Janeiro

Affectionately known as Cidade Maravilhosa – the Marvellous City – Rio de Janeiro does not disappoint. Whatever your expectations, Rio is more beautiful, breathtaking and vibrant than any words or photos can do justice.

Rio, which will host the final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic and Parlaympic games, is both a major cosmopolitan city and a tropical resort. As a major city it has all you might expect. First class restaurants, fashionable bars, sophisticated and cutting edge night clubs, musical extravaganzas and festivals, theatres, cinemas, museums, art galleries, world class sport, designer stores and stylish shopping centres.

As a resort, Rio has miles and miles of golden beaches (over 56 miles to be exact), great weather, folklore, typical foods and music, sightseeing, and that feeling that you have really travelled somewhere special and different. None of this takes into account the overall beauty of the city that has made Rio globally famous and a much sought after leisure destination.

Rio is broken by the mountains in to two fairly distinctive zones, north and south. The north zone, zona norte, is where the bulk of Rio’s industrial activity and heavy industry is located. The famous south zone, zona sul, on the other hand, houses the more expensive residential and cultural areas as well as all the major hotels. The buffer between north and south is the city center, Centro, the commercial, banking and historic heart of Rio, that has an increasingly active cultural and entertainment scene.

Many of Rio’s attractions have links to the mountains and sea and are household names, and not just in Brazil. There is Corcovado Mountain and the Statue of Christ the Redeemer, considered one of the modern seven wonders of the world, from where visitors can look down on Sugar Loaf Mountain, another global landmark, and the bay of Rio, a bay so large that the first explorers assumed it was the mouth of a great river and called it River of January or Rio de Janeiro.

From Copacabana to Ipanema, the beaches are equally well known, and in between the original suburbs whose names are now synonymous with the city’s famous football clubs, teams such as Flamengo and Botafogo.

Rio de Janeiro will be at the heart of the 2014 World Cup, and most of the media will be based here and the majority of first time visitors to Brazil will want to spend at least one day here.

The city’s iconic Maracanã Stadium, which has been virtually rebuilt for the tournament, is set to host seven matches including a quarter-final and the final. All the games at the Maracanã were among the first to sell out.

The stadium was originally built for the 1950 World Cup, when it hosted eight matches including Brazil’s defeat to Uruguay by two goals to one in the tournaments final match. A result that meant Uruguay were the champion. In 1950 the Maracanã was the largest stadium in the world and it is estimated that 200,000 crammed into the stadium for the last game.

Maracanã – Schedule:

Sunday, 15 June, 19.00 (Argentina x Bosnia-Herzegovina)
Wednesday, 18 June, 13.00 (Spain x Chile)
Sunday, 22 June, 13.00 (Belgium x Russia)
Wednesday, 25 June, 17.00 (Ecuador x France)
Saturday, 28 June, 17.00 (round of 16)
Friday, 4 July, 13.00 (quarter-final)
Sunday, 13 July, 16.00 (Final)

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