While most people only associate Rio with Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, the city actually boasts 23 beaches on the south side that are frequented by locals and visitors alike. Check out Praia do Pepino, where you can watch hang gliders and paragliders on windy days.
Getting around Rio can is something of a circus. The city has a solid public transportation network of buses and a limited subway, and many neighborhoods are very walkable. But the city is known for its crime for a reason, and many of the less favorable neighborhoods are pushed up against the safer ones, so it pays to be cautious, carry a map and take taxis if you're unfamiliar with the area or traveling around at night.
Peter says there's more than Carnival to Rio's charms.