This Brazilian siren has symbolized carefree, swimsuit-clad life since the 1960s, when the song "The Girl from Ipanema" riveted the world.
Rio's reputation as a beach paradise goes beyond song lyrics. Anywhere in Rio, you are not far from silky white sand and gentle surf.
Yet this tempting tropical destination is also a major city (Brazil's second largest) with lively culture, dining, nightlife, and shopping.
For couples weighing a beach honeymoon against a city honeymoon, Rio fills both bills.
Rio's citizens ("Cariocas") and hospitality pros are welcoming, English is widely spoken, and the exchange rate is favorable to North Americans.
TAM, the friendly (and biggest) Brazilian airline, runs stylish nonstop flights to Rio from New York. Other North American airlines fly nonstop from their gateways. Flights are of manageable duration (under nine hours from JFK), and Rio's New World longitude minimizes jetlag.
Toronto newlywed Liz Walker was thrilled with her Rio honeymoon. "Ian and I wanted a vibrant, romantic city to explore together," she reports. "Rio is sexy, poignant, and complex. You are always uncovering some sultry intrigue. Rio's got grown-up magnetism.
"Ian and I got sunburnt and drunk and danced all night on the beach, and slipped into faded gilt chapels to watch fervent old women pray.
"Rio is like a Madonna video."