Rio's skyline at sunset is sure to get the senses tingling — Photo courtesy of Germania Rodriguez
Couples visiting Rio de Janeiro with romance in mind should prepare to have their senses stirred and their pulses quickened as soon as they step foot into this most beautiful of tropical cities. Known as the Cidade Maravihosa ("Wonderful City") by Brazilians, Rio has been blessed with more than its fair share of natural beauty spots.
The soft curves of white sand that make up the city's beaches are just footsteps away from towering mountains and dense tropical jungle. And the city moves to a constant musical beat thanks to the samba sounds that resonate from bars and cafes citywide.
Couples on a half-day cruise stopover in Rio will need to be quick on their feet in order to see the major attractions, so don't spend too long gazing awestruck at the sights. There is sure to be another breathtaking vista just around the corner.
Rio's gorgeous natural landscape makes it an ideal destination for a romantic getaway — Photo courtesy of Jack Fiallos
Rio's cruise port is located in an up-and-coming area of the city center. While regeneration work is making this area more attractive, it's best not to dawdle here for long. Instead, jump in a cab and head straight for the sedate neighborhood of Urca, which is home to one of the city's most famous attractions: Sugar Loaf Mountain.
Time-pressed visitors to the city usually need to choose between visiting Sugar Loaf and the legendary Christ statue. While the latter boasts even more spectacular views, the shorter queues at Sugar Loaf make it the more time-friendly option.
The dizzying cable car ride calls first at Morro da Urca, where passengers can alight and marvel at the views across the city, before taking the second ride up to the very top. Bring along a chilled bottle of wine (a cool box will help, as things don't stay chilled here for long) and raise a toast, as you admire one of the most spectacular cityscapes on the planet - beaches, mountains and jungle spreading for miles around.
After descending the mountain,take a stroll down to the nearby beach - a small, sheltered strip of sand known as Praia Vermelha. Pause for a refreshing coconut water and a chance to soak up a little tropical sunshine.
From here, grab a cab back to Centro and stop for lunch at Confeitaria Colombo - a wonderfully ornate cafe/restaurant whose opulent interior harks back to Rio's belle epoque. Enjoy a lavish afternoon tea that sees cakes, pastries, sandwiches and fresh fruit laid out to ornate effect.
From here, it's just a quick hop in the cab back to the cruise port.