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Famous for its breathtaking scenery and position on the South Atlantic coast, everyone thinks of Rio when conjuring images of Brazil.

We stopped in the country’s second largest city, for a couple of nights, on our way up to Bahia.

With only a couple of days to explore, these were our favourite things:

1. Football on Ipanema beach. It looked like one big game of ‘keepy-uppy’!!

2. Walking along the long stretches of sand, appreciating the vista and swimming in the sea

3. Running with the locals along the main road that they close every Sunday! Brilliant idea!

4. Rooftop views from our apartment block.

Above, you can see a favela on the hillside.

5. Eating acaraje at Ipanema’s ‘Hippie Market’.

6. Taking two cable cars up to the top of Sugar Loaf mountain at 395 meters (1,296 feet)

7. Getting the train up to Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Peak at 704 meters (2,310 feet).

Sadly, most people also know Rio for its violence and crime. Favelas, areas of poor-quality housing, can be seen dotted around the city, mainly on the many mountain slopes, alongside middle-class neighbourhoods. It’s awkward to see such a juxtaposition and one that feels horribly unnerving. This situation isn’t unique to Rio, however, and can be seen in all cities across the country.

Aside from this reality, we were careful and felt safe. We loved the cool vibe of Rio and all the city offers. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World? Without a doubt it is!