85 Rio de Janeiro

PopulationMetro: 11,990,000
Senses of place on the edge of a continent.

Rio may not rank high overall, but it sways in at #18 for Place, our most layered category that quantifies a city’s elusive sense of place.

Cidade Maravilhosa oozes with sensory delights: tropical and sexy, with dazzling beaches lapped by the Atlantic Ocean, samba-fueled nightlife, and lush mountains that rise to the heavens, Rio is surely one of the most stunning cities in the Americas. And the best way to experience everything it has to offer is to dive right in. The former Brazilian capital ranks #5 best in the world for Parks & Outdoor Activities, and #16 for Neighborhoods & Landmarks.

Place 62
Product 20
Programming 21
People 13
Prosperity 13
Promotion 30

You could certainly spend your entire visit exploring Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon, located south of the Centro business district, and the elevated Lapa district. If you’re here for a taste of samba music, Lapa is where you go. The edgy red-light district is teeming with live-music clubs, and on weekends the party spills into the street. The scene at Rio Scenarium, a market-meets-bar set inside a mansion, heats up after 9 p.m. Back in Copacabana, there’s the Museum of Image and Sound by the New York-based architects behind the High Line park. Go to Sushi Leblon for the miso-marinated salmon and foie gras. Once you’ve done the beach, dust off your Havaianas and go explore Tijuca Forest, a national park with waterfalls, wildlife, and, of course, that statue. Christ the Redeemer stands in all its glory atop the 2,329-foot Corcovado Mountain.