Best things to do in Rio

Best things to do in Rio De Janeiro

Rio De Janeiro is one of the top bucket list city for so many. La Cidade Maravilhosa offers an incredible variety of activities. From classical sightseeing to more adventurous excursions. Here is your final guide to the best things to do in Rio De Janeiro, considering a 4 days itinerary.

Note: when going through the guide, consider half a day to do each activity that is listed

1. Take the gondola ride up to the Sugarloaf Mountain

When I visited Rio the first time there was only one thing I was sure I wanted to do. To visit the Sugarloaf Mountain. I wasn’t disappointed! The Pao de Açucar offers one of the most breathtaking views on the amazing city of Rio de Janeiro. Situated in the heart of the city you can enjoy many different views on the surrounding hills, beaches and Niteroi.

As one of the main attraction in Rio the line to buy your ticket is very long and may take even a few hours. You can buy the ticket online at no extra cost. Although If you’re willing to take the fast line you can buy the ticket for the double of the price.

If you’re willing to go at sunset (the view and colours are beautiful!), don’t forget to check the hours of the gondola. Those are the official hours but they may change:

LAST RIDE UP : Praia Vermelha / Urca Hill at 8 pm. Urca Hill / Sugar Loaf at 8:20 pm.
LAST RIDE DOWN : Sugar Loaf / Urca Hill at 8:40 pm. Urca Hill / Praia Vermelha at 9 pm.

Best Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

2. Wander in Jardim Botanico (the botanical gardens)

This beautiful gardens name a whole southwestern area and runs on many kilometres. It shows the diversity of the tropical flora from the region and international plantings coming from many different regions of the world. 

House to over 6,500 species of plants it is one of the most lush places in Rio! You can take a guided tour or do your own walk through the many sections including the Orchid House, Amazon garden, Sensory garden, Japanese garden, and also a series of small exhibits and museum spaces to enjoy. 

3. Relax on Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches

I bet that when you booked your Rio trip (or If you’re still planning it), you were already dreaming sunbathing on two of the most famous Brazilian beaches : Copacabana and Ipanema. The white sand, skyscrapers on the beach, sipping coconut water, the beaches are one of the main touristic attraction in Rio attiring millions every year.

One of the coolest things to do in Rio is rent a beach chair and an umbrella, and simply sunbath or dive in the blue water. But be careful of waves as the shore break may be dangerous. Otherwise enjoy your time. And don’t be shy to ask people If you can join their soccer or volley match, people are very friendly in general.

4. Visit the Christ the Redeemer

Did you know that The Christ the Redeemer is one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World? This impressive statue is a must-see attraction in Rio de Janeiro and one of South America’s most famous landmarks.

The statue is situated on the Corcovado one of the hills surrounding Rio. To conquer the top you can book a bus ticket or you can choose the Train which climb to the top in about 20 minutes. I took the train both time I’ve visited and the view is great even long before you reach the top !

If you are motivated you can also hike up to the Christ the Redeemer statue through the forest of the Corcovado Mountain. The hiking starts in Parque Lage and takes about 2 hours. If you’re lucky you may even see monkeys while walking in the forest. Just don’t forget to bring water! The walk is quite long and depending on the temperatures you may dehydrate very fast.

Weather transport you choose once arrived, the entrance is between 20 and 25 € depending on the season. Then you get the access to the observation deck through the last 223 steps. Enjoy the view!

Best things to do in Rio

5. Visit Santa Teresa neighbourhood

One of the most known neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro, is Santa Teresa. Home of many art galleries and studios, this area add a chic and bohemian touch to the already wonderful Cidade Maravilhosa. When visiting you can take a ride on the typical Santa Teresa Tram which is a modern replica of the old tramcars. Otherwise get lost in the narrow roads but don’t forget to visit the amazing Selaron stairs from Chilean born artist José Selaron.

6. Get off the beaten path at Praia Vermelha

Praia Vermelha (or the Red Beach) is situated on the foothills of Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain.) It is a small and quiet beach that has access to an exclusive sporting club. The view is great and there aren’t many tourists. The Red Beach gets its name from the reddish rocks that surrounds the shore.

If you’re not sure to go visit first the Sugarloaf. You’ll have an idea on how the beach looks from above.

Little Extra : Celebrate New Years Eve

One of the most exciting things to do in Rio the Janeiro and one of the best experiences as well is living the atmosphere of Copacabana New Years Eve celebration. Prices are higher and the city is very crowded but If you’re in the mood for a big party you should definitely plan your stay!

Don’t forget to wear white for your good luck! You can also complete with an accessory depending on what are your wishes for the New Year. Put a red flower in your hair for romance, braid a green leaf crown for a healthy year or wear a yellow belt If you’re searching for money and success.

You must start your evening by doing a flower offering to the sea goddess Lemanja. Then you can reach Copacabana beach and the 2 million tourists joining the legendary party every year. The fireworks lasts about 20 minutes and are one of the world’s best pyrotechnic shows. Completing the beautiful and shiny picture the many cruise boats get close to the coast to enjoy the fireworks within the bay.

Have you already visited Rio? Would you like to go? Let me know in comments. If you’re an architecture lover you may be interested in our 1 day itinerary in the Centro of Rio de Janeiro. Are you looking for more destinations inspirations? Continue your reading here.

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