It’s no secret that I love South America – the most popular post on this site is a sample itinerary for two months on the continent, after all. The only thing I’m more passionate about than traveling in South America myself is inspiring and empowering you to do the same, which is why I’ve posted several opportunities for you to win free trips to South America this year, from Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, to Chile’s Atacama Desert, to the charming Colombian coastal city of Cartagena, all sponsored by LAN Airlines.
To commemorate its epic year of #OnlyInSouthAmerica contests, LAN has decided to give away one more free trip, this one to the most epic South American destination of them all. The great news is that if you’ve already entered a previous sweepstakes, you’re automatically entered in this one. If not, click here to learn more about entering the contest, which runs until 11:59 P.M. eastern time on December 31, 2014.
Regardless, continue reading to learn about my top tips for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s aptly-named cidade maravilhosa.
Come in Winter
If you want to experience the beauty of Rio de Janeiro without encountering excessive crowds, come during Brazil’s winter, which falls between June and September. This might sound counterintuitive, given Rio’s ubiquity as a global beach destination, but “winter” is an operative term on the shores of Ipanema, where average highs hover close to 80ºF on the coldest days.
Rain is more common in Rio’s winter, and you might need to wear a jacket at night, but the trade-off is that you get to have the beach – and the sunrise, and the sunset and maybe even the nearest caipirinha seller – all to yourself. Not a bad deal if you ask me.
Get Off the Beach
Of course, Rio is much more than the beach, so after you’ve tanned yourself to a beautiful Brazilian brown, head away from the ocean to discover the rest of what Rio has to offer. One place that’s easy to reach on foot is the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens, which is about a 20-minute walk from Ipanema and Leblon, much of which takes you along the city’s scenic inland lagoon.
Another must-see part of Rio is the historical Santa Teresa neighborhood, whose European architecture makes it seem more like Portugal than Brazil. After walking down the steep hill out of Santa Teresa and into Rio’s busy commercial center, make sure and visit the Arches of Lapa, a construction that also seems European, which is to say Roman.
See the Rest of Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is one of the most amazing…er, marvelous cities in the world, but Brazil doesn’t end here – it’s merely where it begins! Whether you head south to cosmopolitan São Paulo, up the coast to colorful Salvador, or to Brazil’s far northeast and the lush Amazon or the otherworldly Lençóis Maranhenses, use your trip to Rio as an introduction to a fascinating country you’ll never forget.
Speaking of forgetfulness, make sure and enter to win your free trip to Rio if you haven’t already. The contest ends on December 31, so click here now to submit your entry!