The Best Things To Do In Rio de Janeiro

Written By: Oliver Payne

Rio de Janeiro has a lot to offer visitors coming from around the world. Located on the coastline of Brazil, this city – also known as the Marvelous City – is within driving distance to numerous beaches, mountains and, of course, all of the city amenities you could want visiting a major metropolis in the world. The location of Rio de Janeiro also means that visitors who love to get out and explore the outdoors will have plenty to keep themselves occupied, whether it’s sailing along the coast, hiking through the nearby rainforests or spending time exploring the various streets and urban landscape in Brazil.

One of the main draws to Rio de Janeiro is the famous beaches. Copacabana Beach has long been an international symbol for fabulous gatherings dating back to the 1940s, as Rio de Janeiro was once a highly desired destination for celebrities. Another one of the famous beaches, Ipanema Beach, is also very popular and at any point in time both of these beaches are full of visitors. For residents and tourists, beaches throughout Rio de Janeiro are a highlight and no matter what time of year you visit you’ll always find some type of game going on, whether it’s volleyball or football or just people laying out and soaking up the sun.

While visiting Rio de Janeiro, there are a few must-visit destinations during your stay. One of the most famous landmarks in Brazil — and around the world — is the Christ the Redeemer statue, which sits at the top of Mount Corcovado. While you will definitely want to get a picture of Christ the Redeemer, you can also head up to the mountaintop, which gives you a spectacular view of Rio de Janeiro and the surrounding area. Sugarloaf Mountain is also another destination that outdoor enthusiasts will want to add to the itinerary — this peak offers great views of the city as well as sits near the Atlantic Ocean. Culturally speaking, Rio de Janeiro offers an immersive experience of amazing Brazilian food, music and hospitality — a definite place to go during a trip to Brazil.


Copacabana Beach

Just as promised in the tourist brochures, the famous Copacabana Beach waits for you! It’s the perfect place to soak up the exhilarating vibe of the city as you walk the 4.5 kilometres of the coastline, with brilliant sands and inviting waters. People-watch for a while, then join the party as the sun comes down, when the crowds attention turns from luxuriating on the beach, to dancing in the bars and clubs. Be careful though, some visitors never leave!


Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor)

When you visit Rio de Janeiro, you just cannot miss seeing Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor), as it sits at the peak of Corcovado, 700 metres above the city. One of the Seven New Wonders of the World, the statue stands 39 metres tall, and the arms span 30 metres wide. Take the trip to see this massive concrete and sandstone structure and enjoy the best view you could ever dream of! At night, admire the statue as it is lit up, and if you’re lucky enough to be there when the fog rolls in, the mystique will enthral!


Sugarloaf Mountain (Pao de Acucar)

A great way to get your bearings in Rio de Janeiro is to take a trip to the peak of Sugarloaf Mountain (Pao de Acucar). From the peak, there are magnificent views of the city, Christ the Redeemer, and the surrounding beaches and mountains. Stay for a while and enjoy a walk along one of the trails, and if you visit at dusk, the lights of the city will enchant you. With everything in sight below you, you can even plan your upcoming itinerary!


Santa Marta Favela

Rio de Janeiro is a city in which there are many areas it is not safe to go, but the Santa Marta Favela is one of the few favelas which is actually safe and very accessible. Take a guided tour of this maze of stacked houses and narrow lanes – set steep on the hillside – and see the “other side” of the city! It’s time to experience both the good and the bad side of Rio’s living conditions, so take this is an opportunity to make sure you see both extremes.


Tijuca National Park

Rio de Janeiro is blessed with the magnificent Tijuca National Park – a 32 square kilometre rainforest, which includes Corcovoda, and so much more. Nature lovers and hikers will love to visit and enjoy the birdlife, while keeping an eye out for ocelots and howler monkeys. There’s lots of ways to explore the well-marked trails and waterfalls; you can hike up Pico da Tijuca, take a bike tour, and you can even go by Jeep. It’s a great day no matter who you are!


Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, and relax in the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens, located in the Jardim Botanico district. Established in 1808, meander through the 54 hectares of garden, and enjoy over 5500 species of Amazonian and exotic plants. Sit and soak up the tranquillity of the lake – adorned with lilies – and explore the Japanese Garden.


Ipanema Beach

If beaches were all part of one family, then Ipanema Beach would be the “well to do” relative, located in a ritzy and upmarket part of the city. Hire a beach chair and relax, go for a stroll, or plunge in for a swim. Keep in mind that it is best to swim only in the designated areas, as the waters can be quite dangerous at times. There is plenty of food for sale, and there are many restaurants adjacent to the beach, but you are also welcome to picnic on the beach or in a local park!


Selaron Staircase (Escadaria Selaron)

Marking the boundary of the Lapa and Santa Theresa neighbourhoods, make sure you seek out the Selaron Staircase (Escadaria Selaron). This famous landmark is 250 steps tiled in a mosaic of the bright colours of the Brazilian flag. This famous street art draws millions of visitors each year, and has featured in both commercials and magazines. It is unique and quirky, and well worth a visit!



Come and see the heart of the famous Rio Carnival – The Sambadrome. The Sambadrome – located in the downtown area of Cidade Nova – comes alive for four nights a year – during Carnival – as samba schools compete and parade along the 700 metres of this purpose-built area. The Carnival is held just before Lent each year, and will rage with festivities during this time. Unfortunately though, it remains quiet for the remainder of the year. But if you’re in town, why not come and take a look and soak up the history of this amazing place!


Morro da Urca

As the crowds flock to the famous Sugar Loaf Mountain, why not stop for a while at Morro de Urca. The cable car stops here on its way to Sugar Loaf anyway, so take a break, see the magnificent views of the city, and walk the trails. From here you can also make an extra special day of it with a helicopter ride over Rio de Janeiro!

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