Rio has a new cosmopolitan edge, with a reinvigorated downtown, recently opened museums and a diverse cuisine that ranges from Amazonian to old-school European. Video by the New York Times.
Of all the competing images that swirl in your head at the mention of Rio, the most irresistible is Carnaval, with its armies of scantily clad men and women, beaming and dancing to the thrum of samba. Rio's week-long celebration of the senses begins on the Friday before Ash Wednesday (February 10 in 2016). Seats at the famous Sambadrome start at $85, but go for up to 10 times that amount officially, and much more unofficially, to see the various samba schools display their wares in all-night parades. It's hard to find even three-star hotels under $500.