Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

One of the most distinctive and breathtaking harbors in the world is the port of Rio de Janeiro encrusting the south-facing shores of Guanabara Bay under the looming domes of Corcovado and Sugarloaf mountains. Few urban landscapes have been more photographed or more effusively praised than Rio’s unmistakable cityscape. Sugarloaf welcomes visitors arriving by sea, and invites them to dare the thrilling gondola ride on its cable-car access to enjoy panoramic views of the city and its signature beaches: Copacabana, Tijuca, Ipanema and Leblon. The city seems to pulse with the energy and impetus of its famous Carnavál Sambadrome parades, no matter when you visit. The city itself is inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, defined as “Carioca Landscapes, Between the Mountain and the Sea.” Visitors are practically required to survey certain sites, including the Sugarloaf ascent, the Tijuca Rainforest Park, the towering statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado, and, for football fans, the Maracanä Stadium. The food, the music, the breathtaking scenery, and the joyous spirit of Rio will be among the most lasting memories of any traveler fortunate enough to visit.