Why It's Worth It

Rio is unlike any other place in the world, with more natural beauty per square inch—and more flip-flops per capita—than any major city. Its “urban setting,” tucked dramatically between and amid mountains and sea, is itself a UNESCO World Heritage site. With a beachy, informal vibe infusing its street life, Rio’s natives, Cariocas, are at once so raucous and relaxed that other Brazilians parody them relentlessly, as much with jealousy as with disdain. —Seth Kugel