Atlantic beaches as city parks
Iconic mosaic pavements and beach culture
The Sugar Loaf Mountain

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Fun at the feet of the Sugarloaf Mountain

Copacabana is dominated to the east by Sugar Loaf Mountain and circled by a line of hills that stretch out into the bay as you’ll see when you’re cruising the Atlantic Ocean with MSC Cruises.
The town’s expansion as a residential area has been restricted by the Morro de São João, which separates it from Botafogo, and the Morro dos Cabritos, a natural barrier to the west. Consequently, Copacabana is one of the world’s most densely populated areas as well as a frenzy of sensual activity.

Of course, Copacabana hasn’t always been as it is today, and traces remain of the former fishing community that dominated the area until the first decades of the twentieth century. Each morning before dawn, the boats of the colônia de pescadores (the descendants of the fishermen) set sail from the Forte de Copacabana, returning to the beach by 8am to sell their fish from stalls at the southern end of the beach. Rio’s sophisticated beach culture is entirely a product of the twentieth century.

The 1930s saw the city’s international reputation emerge and “flying down to Rio” became an enduring cliché, celebrated in music, film and literature. Nonetheless, Rio’s beaches are first and foremost the preserve of cariocas: rich or poor, young or old, everybody descends on the beaches throughout the week, treating them as city parks. Copacabana is amazing, the over-the-top atmosphere apparent even in the mosaic pavements, designed by Burle Marx to represent images of rolling waves.

The seafront is backed by a line of prestigious, high-rise hotels and luxury apartments that have sprung up since the 1940s. Some fine examples of Art Deco architecture are scattered around the bairro.

Must see places in Copacabana

  • Fuochi d'artificio a Copacabana

    Fuochi d'artificio a Copacabana

  • A beach

    A beach

  • A beach bar

    A beach bar

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South Brazil

Past Christ the Redeemer
Past Christ the Redeemer

In Brazil’s south-east, the three largest cities – São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte – form a triangle around which the economy pivots.

All are worth visiting, but the must-sees during your cruise to Brazil are Rio, which really is as beautiful as it seems in the pictures, and the ravishing colonial relic of Paraty which lies between here and booming São Paulo. North of here, the city of Belo Horizonte sits at the heart of Minas Gerais, where the old Portuguese towns of Ouro Preto, Tiradentes and Diamantina drip with colonial history.

The south, encompassing the states of Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, boasts the spectacular Iguaçu Falls on the border with Argentina – one of the great natural wonders of South America. From Curitiba the scenic Serra Verde Express snakes down to the coast, where you can chill out on Ilha do Mel or beach-hop around Florianópolis.

Despite its proximity to the city, São Paulo’s 400km coast has sometimes been overlooked in favour of more glamorous Rio. North-east, towards the border with Rio state, the area is developing rapidly, but still offers great contrasts, ranging from long, wide stretches of sand at the edge of a coastal plain to idyllic-looking coves beneath a mountainous backdrop.

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