World's Most Cultured Beach Cities

Make a stop in these cities that blend a beach-town vibe with cultural abundance.

Courtesy of Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn / Santa Marta Pano
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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil’s second largest city is famous for two things: The teeny bikinis at the Praias Ipanema and Copacabana and the equally underdressed Carioca crowds at Carnival. Sun-kissed parties are not the only things that define Rio, however. The class tensions within the city, particularly around its favelas, have inspired a growing street-art scene, which Design Week has called one of the world’s “most significant strands of global urban art.” Tropical travelers can get an eyeful of grafite with Santa Marta favela’s cartoonish Tudo de cor para você by Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn (favelapainting.com) before ending the day with a spa treatment at Gavea Tropical Boutique Hotel (rooms, from $190; Rio Sergio Porto 85, Gavea; 55-21/2274-6015; gaveatropical.com), located in the bohemian quarter of Gavea.