Rio de Janeiro
At once both a cinematic cityscape and a grimy urban front line, Rio de Janeiro, known as the cidade maravilhosa (marvelous city), is nothing if not exhilarating. Flanked by gorgeous mountains, white-sand beaches and verdant rainforests fronting deep blue sea, Rio occupies one of the most spectacular settings of any metropolis in the world. Tack on one of the sexiest populations on the planet and you have an intoxicating tropical cocktail that leaves visitors punch-drunk on paradise.
With the seductive sounds of samba as their rallying cry, Rio’s residents, known as cariocas, have perfected the art of living well. From the world-famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema to the tops of scenic outlooks of Corcovado and Pão de Açúcar to the dance halls, bars and open-air cafes that proliferate the city, cariocas live for the moment without a care in the world. This idea of paradise has enchanted visitors for centuries, and there are dozens of ways to be seduced. You can surf great breaks off Prainha, hike through Tijuca’s rainforests, sail across Guanabára, dance the night away in Lapa or just people-watch on Ipanema Beach.
While Rio has its share of serious problems, there are plenty of residents – expats included – who wouldn’t dream of relocating. It’s no coincidence Christo himself sits arms outstretched across the city, either.