When is the best time to go to Rio de Janeiro?

What to do in Rio de Janeiro

Brazil’s second largest city after Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro is a metropolis full of treasures. From Christ the Redeemer to the famous colourful carnival , through its mythical beaches, Rio de Janeiro is a dream destination!

Want to visit Rio ? So here is a little guide to attractions to see in the city, so you don’t miss anything from the beautiful Carioca!

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  • Things to do in Rio de Janeiro
    • 1. The Corcovado
    • 2. Tijuca Forest
    • 3. Sugar Loaf
    • 4. The mythical beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema
    • 5. Rio Carnival
    • 6. Guanabara Bay and its islands
    • 7. The neighborhood of Santa Teresa
    • 8. The Botanical Garden
    • 9. Pedra da Gavea
    • 10. stadium Maracanã
    • 11. Park Lage
    • 12. Selarón staircases
    • 13. The Cathedral
    • 14. Fall of Cachoeira dos Primatas
    • 15. Visit the Ipanema
    • 16 hippie market. Real Gabinete Portugues da Leitura
    • 17. Fabrica Bhering
    • 18. Passeio Publico and Cinelandia
    • 19. Leblon district
    • 20. Boa Vista Park
  • Rio tourist map
  • How many days to visit Rio?
    • Visit Rio in 1 day
    • Visit Rio in 2 days
    • Visit Rio in 3 days
    • Visit Rio in 4 days
    • Visit Rio in 5 days
    • A week in Rio Where to
  • sleep in Rio de Janeiro
  • Where to eat in Rio de Janeiro?
  • Rio de Janeiro in video

1. The Corcovado

Dominating Rio, the Corcovado (the “hunchback” in Portuguese) is a peak of 710 meters high located in the Tijuca Forest , on which stands the statue of Christ the Redeemer . Its construction was owed to a French sculptor, Paul Landowski with the participation of a Romanian sculptor, Gheorghe Leonida and engineer Heitor da Silva. Christ the Redeemer has been classified as a historic monument since 1973 and was elected 7th new wonder of the world (a list of which also includes Machu Picchu).

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It attracts some 750,000 visitors a year making it the most visited tourist site in Rio! If you want to fully enjoy your visit to Corcovado, choose a clear and sunny weather instead. After climbing the 222 steps, you can admire the breathtaking panoramic views of the ocean and the beaches of Copacabanaand Ipanema, Sugar Loaf, Lake Rodrigo de Freitas, the huge bay of Guanabara, the botanical gardenand the famous football stadium MaracanãChrist the Redeemer on the Corcovado .

How to get to Corcovado: you can get there by walking, van or train from Cosme Velho station (with departures every half hour, from 8am to 7pm), the journey takes about twenty minutes. For prices and more details, please visit the websiteThe view of the surroundings from the Corcovado .

2. Tijuca Forest

Amazing but true, Rio is home to the largest urban forest in the world: the Tijuca Forest , which extends 3200 hectares and has been declared a World Biosphere Reserve by Unesco. It is a tropical forest with lush vegetation where you can admire the local fauna such as toucans and several species of monkeys. There are several waterfalls (including the largest in Rio: the Cascatinha Taunay) but also several views of the city such as Pedra Bonita, Pedra da Gavea, Vista Chinesaand the famous Christ the Redeemer .

Visit the Tijuca forest : in winter the average temperature is 7°, so plan warm clothes if you want to get there at this time of year. However, in summer, it is the perfect place to escape the heat wave with a temperature that never exceeds 25°C. It is also possible to hire the services of a guide or go there on a jeep excursion. Be careful not to lose yourself, the park is big! Free entrance

A resident of the Tijuca Forest

3. Sugar Loaf The lush vegetation of Tijuca

A true symbol of Rio, Sugar Loaf, “Pão de Açúcar”, is often confused with Corcovado. The summit rises to 395m in height and is accessible by 2 cable cars, passing through the Morro da Urca. The route offers panoramic views of the breathtaking surroundings and the summit, you can see the beaches of Leme, Copacabana and Ipanema, as well as the districts of Botafogo and Flamengo . As Sugar Loaf is a must-see in Rio, it is also one of the most frequented by visitors. Address: Avenida Pasteur, 520, Urca, Rio de Janeiro; opening hours: 8am-19:30; entrance 76 RS. Official website.

Also: at the foot of Sugar Loaf is a rather quiet beach in the morning. By taking the trail, you find yourself in full vegetation with colorful birds and a Path that runs along the hill!

4. The mythical beaches of Copacabana and IpanemaThe cable car to Sugar Loaf

How to talk about Rio without thinking about Copacabana and Ipanema beaches ?

Attracting the jet set from the 1930s, renowned by the general public from the 1960s, Copacabana is now one of the most famous beaches in the world. Its long 4.5km beach is guarded by two historic forts at its ends, Fort Copacabana built in 1914 to the south and Fort Duque de Caxias built in 1779 at the northern tip and the promenade that borders it is opposite the hotels, bars and restaurants ofAvenida Atlantica .

IpanemaCopacabana beach in Rio is the rallying point for the affluent youth of Rio. It’s the cradle of bossa nova. Do you know the famous Garota de Ipanema, sung by the sweet voice of Antonio Carlos Jobim? Yes, it is precisely this beach that it is about! It is a dynamic beach with on one side luxury shops that line the beach, the other football and volleyball players, sellers of snacks including the Acai ice cream this frui from the Amazon whose many properties are boasted.

5. Rio Carnival

Carnival is Brazil’s most important national holiday and Rio Carnival is the country’s most important celebration with millions of participants! It extends over the 4 days before Ash Wednesday (February) and culminates with the famous Sambódromo parade — a huge complex that is 10 times bigger than a football stadium! -, but the party begins before with the many parades of batucadas and blocos.

Remember to book your hotel in advance and plan the budget… the price double or triple during this period! Same for the tickets, you have to go fast!

Buy a ticket for the Rio Carnival: ticket sales starts in September at the official fare (from 130 to 550 RS) and the official outlet changes every year. Around December-January, it is the turn of the Samba Schools Association (Liesa) to sell tickets, but they are mostly bought by agencies that, of course, sell them with commission.

And if you want to dance the samba or just listen to it, but you are not there at the time of the carnival , you can attend a rehearsal in one of the many samba schools (like Estácio de Sá or Beija Flor). Another friendly option is also to go to a bar or simply head to the bohemian Lapa neighbourhood, where every night — but especially Friday and Saturday- you can listen to samba in the streets.

Another essential and traditional appointment is the site of Pedra do Sal (Saúde district) where crowds gather on Monday evening around 6pm to dance the samba.

6. Guanabara Bay and its islandsThe Carnival of Rio

second largest bay in the country, Guanabara Bay 15 cities, 53 beaches and a hundred islands such as the Ilha do Governador – the largest – where Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport is located. You can access several islands by boat, but I recommend especially theisland of Paqueta The , peaceful place with small houses and flowery streets that you discover on foot since cars are prohibited.

Visit the bay of Guanabara : a boat goes there in 1h10 from the Praça XV pier (departure every 2h, go R$ 4,80) and the journey is as nice as the destination!

7. Santa Teresa DistrictThe Bay of Guanabara

Santa Teresa is the bohemian district of the city. Not only does it offer stunning views of Rio Bay with its ideal location, perched on a hill, but it continues to charm with its cobbled streets, 19th century houses, small shops, cafes, museums and artists’ workshops, all in a unique and offbeat atmosphere. Of course it is also a very nice place to have a drink in the evening!

The best way to get there is undoubtedly the historic Bondinho tram , which starts at Carioca metro station and ends in Largo dos Guimarães where there are several friendly bars. The tram runs from 10am to 4pm — temporarily out of service, scheduled to resume in December 2017.

8. The Botanical GardenThe sunset over the bohemian Santa Teresa district of Rio. Foto Mathieu Bertrand Struck

Rio Botanical Garden is certainly one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world. How can we doubt it in this beautiful setting? It is a 140-hectare haven of peace, home to some 40,000 plants spread over 6000 different species , including thousands of orchids, in addition to monkeys and exotic birds. It was, moreover, declared Biosphere Reserve by Unesco. This is the perfect place to escape the noise and heat of Rio! Address: Rua Jardim Botânico, 1008, Rio de Janeiro; opening hours: Monday noon-17h, Tuesday to Sunday 8am-5pm; entrance 15 RS (only cash); Official website

Rio Botanical Garden. Foto Roma Errejota 9. Pedra da Gavea

This mountain that rises to 842 meters above sea level is not easily won. You have to be in shape to reach its peak after 3 hours of walk (from the Botanical Garden ), but it offers one of the most beautiful views of Rio, overlooking the sandy beaches. For thrill enthusiasts, know that you can go paragliding! Paragliding prices range from 200 RS to 300 RS if you choose photos/video options and include transfer from the hotel.

Paragliding over Rio 10. Maracanã Stadium

mythical place in a country where football is a true religion, the Maracanã stadium (of its real name Mario Filho) in Rio is a dream. Built in the 1950s, it was a new look for the 2014 World Cup. It is a gigantic stadium that can accommodate 78,000 seated spectators and up to 250,000 standing! It is possible to visit the Maracana Stadium A in 2-3h by seeing the different stands, the conference room and a small museum on site, but you can also choose to attend a game on Sundays.

Maracana Stadium in Rio 11. Lage Park

Located at the foot of Corcovado, right next to the Tijuca Forest, it is a cool, quiet park, with gardens where there is also a magnificent house that is home to an art school and a nice cafe, ideal to start the day with breakfast or just rest in the afternoon. It is also a very nice spot to take pictures! From here you can decide to climb through the trails to the Corcovado (about 1h30 climb). Freeaccess. Address: Rua Jardim Botanico 414, Rio de Janeiro, website

The Parque Lage house which houses a cafe and an art school. Photo Pedro Botton

12. Selarón StairsThe Parque Lage in Rio is filled with lush vegetation

Difficult to miss the famous colourful staircases designed by the artist Jorge Selarón who spent 20 years decorating the stairs make his house with a multitude of tiles. Today it is an iconic staircase with its 215 steps in yellow and green that connects the neighborhoods of Gloria and Santa Teresa ! Address: Rua Joaquin Silva, Lapa, Rio de Janeiro (Gloria Metro Station)

The stairs of Jorge Selaron 13. The Cathedral

Whether you like style or not, what is sure is that the Catedral Metropolitana does not go unnoticed with its architecture inspired by the Mayan pyramids . The interior is quite simple but what impresses is its four stained glass windows 60m high in bright colors that lead to the ceiling. Try to go there at Mass time to understand its magnitude (5000 seats!) , it is held at 10am on Sunday or 11am on other days of the week. Free admission. Address: Avenida Chile 245, Centro, Rio de Janeiro (Carioca Metro), 7am-5pm

14. Fall of Cachoeira back PrimatasThe Cathedral of Rio

The Primates Trilha dos Primatas trail allows you to see caves and falls surrounded by the jungle… right in Rio! The hike starts at the end of the Rua Sara Vilela (30 min walk) or Rua Jarim Botanico (1 hour walk) and continues in the Tijuca forest, in the company of some small monkeys. The highlight of the hike is the beautiful Cachoeira dos Primatas waterfall , which also offers a natural swimming pool for swimming (especially in the rainy season). Don’t forget to bring a mosquito repellent! Free access.

15. Visit Ipanema Hippie Market

Every Sunday since 1968, the Feira hippie of Ipanema is held, a large market with more than 700 kiosks that present handicrafts (painting, jewelry, clothing, leather, etc.) and local cuisine. This is a very lively event that is worth a visit, even just for a stroll! Sunday 7am-19h; Address: Praça General Osório, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro

16. Real Gabinete Portugues da Leitura

The Real Gabinete Portugues de Leitura is a library opened since 1837 with a magnificent collection of some 350,000 books, some of which date back to the 16th century! There is also a small collection of paintings, sculptures and ancient coins. It is a beautiful building inside all wooden, inspired by the Jeronimos Monastery of Lisbon in Portugal. It may not be a must, but the visit is definitely worth a visit in my opinion! Closed on weekends. Freeaccess. Address : Luís de Camões, 30 — Centro, Rio de Janeiro

17. Fabrica BheringThe interior of the Real Gabinete in Rio

This is an unusual place in Rio, which will appeal to art lovers! It is an old chocolate factory converted into a space for artists (photographers, writers, craftsmen, illustrators, etc.) between workshops, shops and exhibition halls. There is even a small restaurant on site. The place itself is interesting to explore while we still find the entire structure of the factory and even a few machines. Freeaccess. Address: Rua Orestes 28, Santo Cristo, Rio de Janeiro. The best is to get there by taxi (around 40RS from Copacabana); Opening hours: noon to 6pm, closed Sunday; Facebook page

18. Passeio PublicoThe Fabrica Bhering is an old chocolate factory and Cinelandia

Established in 1779, Passeio Publico (the “Public Promenade”) is the oldest public park in Brazil and one of the oldest parks in America . Through the green space, there are several sculptures by artist Mestre Valentim and paintings by Leandro Joaquim , in addition to his baroque architecture, fountains and statues of mythology. The area is surrounded byAvenida Beira-Mar, theFlamengo Parkwith theMuseum of Modern Art, theMarina da GloriaandCinelandia.

Cinelandia Square (by its official name Praça Floriano Peixoto ) owes its name to the great concentration of cinemas that occurred at the beginning of the 20th century. Today it is one of the most important political and cultural centers of Rio .

Cinelandia. Foto Kenya Castro 19. Leblon District

Next toIpanema, on the other side of theCanal Jardin de Ala, is thedistrict of Leblon. It is one of the most vibrant areas of the city with hotels, cafes and restaurants with terraces, beaches, art galleries, and theatres. On Sundays, the antique market is held in Quental Square .

The beach of the district of Leblon. Foto Kate Hooper 20. Boa Vista Park

Residence and gardens of the Brazilian imperial family in the 19th century, the “ Quinta da Boa Vista ” is now a large park that houses the superb National Museum (home to the country’s largest zoological, botanical, ethnography and archaeological collection!). Through this huge park there are 2000 species of mammals, birds and reptiles from Brazil and around the world. Address: Sao Cristovao district

Photo Flavio Zagri Tourist map of Rio

Here is a convenient map of Rio de Janeiro to easily locate the main attractions of the city!

How many days to visit Rio?

Rio is both huge and accessible. That is to say, you can manage to see a lot of them in a single day, and not be bored if you spend a whole week there.

Visit Rio in 1 day

When you spend only1 day in Rio you must of course make choices, sometimes difficult, but if you do not hang out, it is quite possible to see several great must-see !

  • Start the day enjoying the beach of Ipanema or Copacabana , while the sun is still soft (watch out for sunburn in the afternoon)
  • You can easily find in the surroundings a café and a pão de queijo, perfect for breakfast! You can also taste the Acai bowl, this Amazonian fruit that has become so popular for its properties.
  • Then head to Cosme Velho station to take the train that goes up to Corcovado in about 20 minutes. At the top you can admire the magnificent view of Guanabara Bay from Christ the Redeemer. In all you can count about 2h.
  • From Corcovado, descend through the beautiful forest of Tijuca to Parc Lage (45 minutes walk). Pop yourself for a coffee or a light meal at the beautiful cafe of the School of Visual Arts , you will not regret it!
  • If the sun has not yet fallen, do not hesitate to go to the nearby botanical garden , where you can see parrots and toucans
  • In the evening, head to the district of Leblon where there are restaurants, nice bars. You can even find a place to listen and dance samba

Visit Rio in 2 days

If you have 2 days in Rio , you can take more time and explore other corners of the city

  • On the first day, you can follow the same program as this top
  • the 2nd day in the morning, start with the cable car climb of the famous Bread de Sugar On
  • In the afternoon, discover the Selaron Stairs and take a tour of Rio Cathedral which is not far away
  • Guests can also take a walk on Passeio Publico and Cinelandia. If you are trendy culture, take a tour of the museum of modern art instead

Visit Rio in 3 days

In 3 days in Rio , it is possible to see a lot of things!

  • the 3rd day, head in the morning to the beautiful Bohemian district of Santa Teresa. Between cafes, restaurants, art galleries, you can easily spend half a day and even a daythere. If you love modern art, visit the private museumChácara do Céu and especially don’t miss the view fromthe Ruins Park. On
  • I recommend that you shift the visit of the Selaron stairs from day 2 (to lighten it) to day 3 because part is in the neighborhood, accessible from the Santa Teresa Convent Museum
  • Another option would be to take a tour of Guanabara Bay in the morning (there are 3 hours, departure between 8am and 9am) and climb to Santa Teresa for lunch and spend the afternoon there.

Visit Rio in 4 days

After enjoying the beaches and visiting the great must-see during the first few days, you can afford to slow down the pace if you have 4 days in Rio .

  • Follow the same route on days 1 and 2, but dedicate 3 day to Santa Teresa with the Selaron stairs to enjoy
  • On day 4, spend the whole day in the Bay of Guanabara. She’s huge! The towers will take you toGovernor’s Island,Fundaoand Snake Island. But you can also decide to take a shuttle (boat) to the beautiful island of Paqueta.

Visit Rio in 5 days

The possibilities are endless in the city itself, but also in the surroundings! If you have the opportunity to spend 5 days in Rio here are my suggestions

  • the 5th day, go to Niteroi on the other side of the bay. You can easily get there in 10-20 minutes by ferry and there are several friendly activities to do on site: museums (such as the Art Museum contemporary), historic forts ( Santa Cruz Fortress offers stunning views of Sugarloaf) and several idyllic beaches such as Itacoatiara , Itaipu or Camboinha On .

A week in Rio

If you have several days or even a week in Rio , here are several other ideas for tours that you can include:

  • The visit of the favela Rocinha . There are several guided tours of the favela, organized by local guides, to understand that it is the reality on site and whose income goes to the community. Be careful, it is not recommended to go there alone. As part of a tour, the guide knows the safe portion.
  • Buzios Peninsula, 3 hours by bus from Rio,is a seaside destination which contains some 23 beaches. It is quite possible to spend the night there while there are several hotels. I advise you against going there during holidays, holidays, etc., because it will be full!
  • Paraty is a little further (more than 4 hours by bus), but it is a small, beautiful colonial town between the sea and the mountains, which has kept its character.
  • At 6 hours by bus from Rio, Ouro Preto is another pretty esacapade. Heritage protected by unesco, it is a pretty colonial city with cobbled streets and magnificent churches.

Places to stay in Rio de Janeiro

Rio offers several interesting accommodations, but here are some of our favorites!

  • Slaviero Lifestyle Rio from Janeiro : this is a beautiful modern hotel in a 19th century building, with a restaurant, gym and conference room. It is located in a bohemian area of Lapa, close to several museums, but also close to business centers. From 47 euros.
  • Arena Leme Hotel : This is a chic hotel facing Copacabana beach with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The rooms are comfortable and come with large full-foot windows. Very good buffet breakfast, welcoming staff and wifi, gym and sauna. Don’t miss the rooftop terrace with pool and bar. From 109 euros
  • Miramar Hotel Windsor : Also located in front of Copacabana Beach, Miramar is a beautiful 5-star hotel with a glass of champagne. Beautiful rooms in shades of gray, with wifi, air conditioning and even a Nespresso machine, a beach area reserved for guests with water and fruit, chairs and umbrellas. The rooftop terrace with bar and pool is the perfect place to admire the sunset. From 216 euros

Where to eat in Rio de Janeiro?

There are many restaurants in Rio de Janeiro and as in any tourist city, it is not uncommon to find yourself in a tourist trap. Here is our little suggestion of good restaurants in Rio:

  • L’Escondidinho : its name means “the hidden little thing” and for good reason we often pass by. This is one of the restaurants where you can eat Brazilian classics. That is what makes it his reputation. Address: Beco dos Barbeiros, 12, Rio de Janeiro; Facebook page
  • Confeitaria Colombo : It is a pastry shop located in a historic house, where you can enjoy delicious desserts but also other savoury options and even a buffet for lunch. The city’s most iconic premises are located in the centre of Rio, but a 2nd branch has opened its doors in Fort de Copacabana. Address: Rua Gonçalves Dias, 32 — Centro, Rio de Janeiro (Carioca metro station); Website
  • Angu do Gomes : this is a family recipe that is at the origin of this restaurant. Its founder sold meat stew accompanied by polenta on the streets before opening his restaurant. Today there are many guests to taste family dishes. Address: Rua Sacadura Cabral, 75, Rio de Janeiro; Website
  • Nova Capela : this restaurant open day and night offers a delicious roasted lamb as well as bacalhau bolinhos (cod croquettes) all as well appetizing. Address: Avenida Mem de Sá, 96, Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro in videoConfeitaria Colombo

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