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Barra de Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Barra de Tijuca (or just Barra, as it’s called in Rio) is one of the newest neighbourhoods in Rio de Janeiro and, despite a fantastic setting of lagoons, foothills and an endless beach, it’s about as superficial and soulless as Brazil gets.

Barra de Tijuca is something like the Beverly Hills of Rio de Janeiro with imported American culture everywhere. You have hypermarkets which sprawl thousands of feet, malls that are bigger than most favelas and theme parks for the tourists.

The beach is stunning though and you can escape the city and find your own space on the sands with no one bothering you. The surf is better here too.

If you’re a nature freak then there’s great hikes here up through the rainforest. You can lose yourself in the jungle and be back in Rio the same day.

The people who live in Barra are the ones who can afford to. They make their money in Rio and then relax in their gated communities in luxury.