Guanabara Bay

Guanabara Bay is the second-largest bay in Brazil, but that's not what it's mostly known for. On the western shores of this large body of water unfolds the vibrant city of Rio de Janeiro. The harbor of Rio de Janeiro is a dazzling sight, as both buildings and granite monolith mountains rise up from the Guanabara Bay. Among the most iconic mountains in the harbor is Sugarloaf Mountain, and you'll also have little trouble recognizing Corcovado with its famous Christ the Redeemer statue. Head to the top of one of these mountains on a clear day, and you can enjoy scintillating views of the bay and the city from on high.

Guanabara Bay was first discovered in 1502. Explorers from Portugal actually mistook the bay for being the mouth of a large river, and as such, Rio de Janeiro got its name. Regardless of what these early explorers thought the bay was, they must have been very impressed by its splendid setting. As for the size of Guanabara Bay, it is seventeen miles wide and nineteen miles long at its maximum. Five municipalities have sprung up around the shores of this idyllic bay, with Rio de Janeiro being the largest. Across from Rio is Niteroi, and thanks in part to the Fortaleza Santa Cruz and the Contemporary Art Museum, this second largest municipality on the bay is worth a visit while in the region.

Wonderful views of Guanabara Bay can be enjoyed from any number of vantage points. From the Niteroi coast, for example, amazing views of the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro help to attract visitors to the eastern shores. The best views of the bay are arguably enjoyed from the summits of Corcovado Mountain and Sugarloaf Mountain, and you can also consider booking a helicopter tour if you want to take it all in from above. Getting out on the water is just one more way to take in the dazzling views, and there are certainly plenty of Guanabara Bay cruises to choose from if you don't have your own boat.

If you want to take a boat tour of Guanabara Bay, you can book a cruise on a boat or a trip out to sea on a yacht. The Gloria Marina is the most popular place to book Guanabara Bay cruises, and depending on which cruise you book, you might even find yourself on a fishing schooner or a WWI-era tugboat. Many of the Guanabara Bay tours include a visit to Ilha Fiscal and a trip over to Niteroi to see the large fort that once guarded the bay. While plying the waters on the Guanabara Bay cruises, you'll get to see all the bay's main sights. These sights include the Rio-Niteroi Bridge, which is more than eight miles long.

Should you be lucky enough to lay eyes on the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, you won't soon forget how breathtaking it is. In fact, this is most certainly one of the most picturesque harbor in the entire world. While the months of September and October are considered the best times to explore Guanabara Bay and Rio's harbor, there really isn't a bad time to take it all in. The advantages of a September or October visit include low humidity and good weather all around.

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