On the North Eastern coast of Brazil lies the state of Rio de Janeiro, which has a capital city of the very same name. This city is well known for a number of things, including the stunning mountains that surround it, great carnivals and of course the statue of Christ the Redeemer that overlooks the city below. Rio de Janeiro’s most famous feature, however, has to be its harbor, which formed entirely naturally and was colonized in the 16th century by Portuguese explorers.
The harbor of Rio de Janeiro is in fact a bay which spans an immense 88 miles in length. As a result the majority of the city of Rio de Janeiro is spread across it, giving hotels, shopping malls, office blocks, music venues and even housing some incredible views. Perhaps one of the best views is of Sugarloaf Mountain; a 1299 foot tall peak on the Guanabara Bay peninsula.
‘Rio de Janeiro’ means ‘River of January’ in Portuguese; the name given to the area by the 16th century explorers when they thought they were sailing into a wide-mouthed river, rather than Guanabara bay (they bay that precedes and leads on to the harbor at Rio de Janeiro).
The harbor at Rio de Janeiro as we know it today was colonized in the 16th century, and modernized in the 20th century. Yet the actual structure of the bay has been around for millions of years, gradually being eroded by the waves that came through Guanabara bay and hit the land behind it.
It was the Atlantic Ocean that surrounds this area of Brazil that was responsible for this erosion; a process which earned the harbor of Rio de Janeiro its prestige. The erosion occurred in such a way that if you look at the bay from different angles, it can look like a river mouth, or even a lake. Evidence of the harsh sea conditions that caused this kind of formation can still be seen today from October until March, which is the state of Rio de Janeiro’s rainy season.
Unfortunately the formation of the harbor at Rio de Janeiro is coming to a close, as the Guanabara bay peninsula which forms its western ‘arm’ is being sluiced using pipes so that this metropolitan city can expand. Where this expansion and development will lead we cannot be sure, but one thing’s for certain; the shape of Rio de Janeiro’s harbor is changing fast.
How to Get There:
Luckily for visitors to the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro most major airports fly directly the Rio de Janeiro itself, and because it is such a well populated and metropolitan city there are many places to stay as soon as you step off the plane.
The airport (GIG), also known as Galãeo International Airport, is Brazil’s largest airport, located on Governador Island. Once you step off the plane it is just 12.5 miles to Rio de Janeiro’s central city area, so you can travel by bus, taxi or rented vehicle (motorbike or car) from there to your chosen accommodation.
Where to Stay:
Rio de Janeiro is a largely metropolitan city, so there are plenty of hotels (budget, mid range and luxury) to choose from there.
Prices start from as little as $47 per night, although for this price you will be looking at a very budget style hotel or hostel. The Martinique Copa Hotel (three stars) is a great mid-range hotel, which has rooms at a much lower rate than many that are similar ($194 per night).
Perhaps the very best luxury hotel in Rio de Janeiro is five star Copacabana Place complete with gym and swimming pool. Rooms are at an average price of $566 per night.