Rio de Janeiro
Brazil’s Carnaval capital, wedged between emerald mountains and a sapphire sea, is not without its problems, but it can throw some glitzy parties. And what better excuse to dust off the drums than a football World Cup played on home soil? Away from the samba and the soccer, Rio’s parks, beaches and gardens are frantically being spruced up for the 2016 Olympics. If you’d rather see a World Cup game in more relaxed surroundings, try Brazil’s first colonial capital, Salvador de Bahia, 1,000 miles to the north.