For full immersion in the lush green of this tropical city, it is hard to beat the 200-year-old botanical garden. I am no expert, but have returned several times to wander the extensive grounds and wonder at the extraordinary diversity of the 6,500 species that grow here, including carnivorous plants, orchids, cacti and bromeliads.
After a tough afternoon of selfie-taking on the Avenue of Royal Palms, relax at one of the coffee shops or escape the heat in the forest shade. If that whets your appetite for an even deeper green experience, make a day trip to the home and gardens of Burle Max at Barra de Guaratiba (see below), an ecologist, artist and landscape designer who – for me – should be Brazil’s most celebrated son.
Shunning the once prevailing trend to import European flora and designs, he mixed folk art, cubism and abstractionism to create a distinct tropical garden style that celebrated the beauty of indigenous plants, such as philodendrons and bromeliads. If that was not enough, he was also among the first to call for conservation of the Amazon.