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Barra da Tijuca
Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
NileGuide Expert tip:
Like it or loathe it, don't miss the giant fiber glass 'Statue of Liberty' that stands proudly in front of the New York City Center entertainment complex.
Located to the West of Rio de Janeiro, Barra da Tijuca feels like another city altogether. The modern high rise apartment blocks and wide avenues have been modelled on Miami, and it is with good reason that many Rio locals refer to the neighborhood as the United States of Barra.
But while some may mock the faux-Western attitude, it's hard to find fault with the 17km beach, whose sands rarely get as crowded as the tourist Meccas of Ipanema and Copacabana. Meanwhile, shopaholics will be in seventh Heaven - Barra is awash with vast US-style Malls, including Barra Shopping, the largest mall in Rio de Janeiro.
Be prepared for a bone-rattling white knuckle ride of a bus trip out here (or, during rush hour, be prepared to spend hours staring idly out of the window).