(BPT) - Few cities in South America possess the exotic cache of Rio de Janeiro. And whether you go to savor the excitement of a carnival event or to bask in the solemnity of the towering Christ the Redeemer statue that towers over Brazil's largest city, a visit to Rio is sure to be one you'll never forget.
There's so much to see and do in Rio - at any time of year - that it can be hard to know where to begin. As you're planning your Rio trip, keep these must-see sights and must-do activities in mind:
* Tijuca National Park and Corcovado - Whether you hike or tour by Jeep, visiting the world's largest urban rainforest (8,300 acres) promises visitors glimpses of exotic wildlife, abundant flora, plenty of activities and amazing views. Corcovado, the highest mountain within the national park, affords panoramic views, and is a breath-taking stage for the 125-foot-high Christ the Redeemer statue. Admission to the park is free, but there is a fee to visit the statue.
* Beach time - Rio is famous for its beaches, and no trip to Brazil would be complete without a visit to the city's shoreline. Whether you choose to revel in the vibrant atmosphere of popular beaches like Ipanema and Copacabana, or go farther afield to the less-crowded but equally beautiful Grumari Beach, you'll want to relax in the sand and play in the sun for at least a few hours during your Rio tour.
* Petropolis and the Summer Palace - Snuggled in a valley between the Piabanha and Quitandinha rivers, the 'City of Saint Peter' boasts a rich history and lots to see and do. You'll not want to miss the Imperial Museum, the former Summer Palace of Brazil's second emperor. While you're in Petropolis, be sure to take in the Crystal Palace - a glass and steel outdoor ballroom that dates to the late 1800s.
* Enjoy some Bossa Nova - What visit to Rio would be complete without a chance to savor the sounds of Brazil's iconic musical style? While Elvis was rewriting music history in the states during the 1950s, a group of talented Brazilian musicians was creating this singular fusion of samba and jazz. Whether you attend a Bossa Nova dinner party or enjoy the styling of some street musicians, don't miss the opportunity to experience this uniquely Brazilian music.
* Sambadrome - When you think of Rio and carnival, you probably imagine bright floats and costumed performers parading down the street. But Rio's Sambadrome stadium plays an important role in carnival. Built in just 110 days in 1984, the Sambadrome is now the official staging area for Rio's carnival parade.
* Carnival - Of course, when you hear the word 'Rio' your mind immediately conjures images of Carnival, the world-famous festival held every year before the beginning of the Lenten season in largely Catholic Brazil. More than 2 million people participate every year with parades, floats, costumed performers and samba competitions.
Organizing a Rio trip that encompasses all these must-see/must-do opportunities could be a challenge if you attempt it on your own. Leading tour companies like Tauck can make the planning and traveling easier by handling all the details for you. In 2015, Tauck will host a once-in-a-lifetime, six-day Rio event celebrating carnival and highlighting many of Rio's greatest sights and attractions.
The fully-guided, all-inclusive event takes care of everything for you - hotels, itinerary planning, on-tour transportation and much more - ensuring you have plenty of time to enjoy the trip, without worrying about potential bumps in the road. What's more, Tauck's 89 years leading luxury tours ensure you'll get special 'insider' access to unique places and experiences you'd never enjoy if traveling on your own. To learn more about the Tauck Rio trip with carnival event, visit www.Tauck.com.