Explore the Marvelous City - 20 Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro

Facing Atlantic Ocean in the southern part of the Americas, Rio de Janeiro is the emerald of Brazil. This second largest city in Brazil offers breathtaking landscape, from the height of forested mountains to the promenades and long shorelines. 

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If you're planning to visit Rio de Janeiro soon, you must read the list we've prepared for you below. Here are our recommendations about great places to visit and things to do in Rio de Janeiro.

1. Copacabana Beach

Located in the vibrant Copacabana neighborhood, the 4 km (2.5 miles) beach is often dubbed as one of the most famous beaches in the world. Enjoy the sun as you watch boys from the nearby favela play soccer and beach bodies pass by. This place is so popular for events such as New Year fireworks.

2. Christ the Redeemer

Erected in 1931, this statue has become the most recognized landmark of both Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor in Portuguese) stands 30 meters (98 ft) on top of Corcovado Mountain, which you can reach by taking cog train for 20 minutes.   

3. Sugarloaf Cable Car

Hop into the glassed cable car taking you to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain with breathtaking view of the city and forest. The trip is divided into two lines, with the cable car running every 30 minutes. The first line will take you to Morro da Urca, continued with the steeper second line up to the summit.


4. NiterĂ³i Contemporary Art Museum

The UFO-shaped building is a contemporary museum located on top of a cliffside on Boa Viagem beach. The museum contains more than 1,000 art works and is equipped with viewing gallery where you can see Guanabara Bay and Sugarloaf Mountain.

5. Escadaria SelarĂ³n

Take your best picture for Instagram on the iconic steps between Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods. The steps are named after Jorge SelarĂ³n, the artist who created them. They are covered by some 2,000 tiles and ceramics from all over the world, creating a beautiful street art.   

6. MaracanĂ£ Stadium

Football is the spirit of Brazil, and MaracanĂ£ Stadium is a monument to it. Take a guided tour to explore the stadium which was opened in 1950 to host the World Cup. MaracanĂ£ Stadium is also used for music concert and even masses celebrated by the Pope. 

7. Museo do AmanhĂ£

It means "The Museum of Tomorrow". This science museum has an impressive futuristic design with focus on experiments and inventions for the future of humanity. Visitors can wander through its five areas of exhibition: Cosmos, Earth, Anthropocene, Tomorrow, and Us.   

8. Royal Portuguese Reading Room

Also known as the Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading, this sophisticated library from the 19th century is a legacy from the era of Brazilian Empire. The interior will make you feel like you are in fantasy world, with some 350,000 books lining in the massive wooden cabinets.

9. Ipanema Beach

Located just next to Copacabana, this beach is also highly recommended. Ipanema Beach is fitted with wide promenade and has a lively atmosphere with cariocas (Rio residents) playing local games, vendors selling grilled shrimps, and a breathtaking view of mountain in the background. 

10. Parque do Flamengo

Sitting on an area of around 120 hectares (296 acres), this is the largest park and recreational area in Rio de Janeiro. Situated in Guanabara Bay, the park is equipped with outdoor facilities for running, cycling, skating, or sports such as volleyball. There are also museums and monument within the park.

11. Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden

If you love taking a walk in the garden, this is the right place for you. Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden is one of the greenest spots in the city. Spanning 154 hectares (380 acres), it is home 6,500 species of flora. Some area looks domesticated, while others make you feel like you're in the middle of rainforest.


12. Mirante Dona Marta

This cliffside observation post with balcony offers one of the most incredible views of Rio de Janeiro. Mirante Dona Marta is located right above Santa Marta favela at the height of 360 meters (1,181 ft), on the way to Corcovado Mountain. It's much cheaper and less crowded, making it a good option to try.

13. Barra da Tijuca Beach

This is the longest beach in Rio de Janeiro (some 18 km/ 11 miles) with a more local vibe. Compared to Copacabana, Barra da Tijuca is definitely a quieter neighborhood in a less touristic area. Rent umbrella and enjoy cold drinks as you watch local families having a picnic.  

14. Pedra do Telegrafo

Located at the hilltop in Morro de Guaratiba, this rock became popular in the past few years due to its unique view where you can be seen as if you're hanging on cliff. The hiking route to the top is quite challenging, so be prepared and wear comfortable shoes.

15. Rio Star

This is another way to enjoy the panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro from above. At the height of 88 meters (289 ft), Rio Star is currently the tallest ferris wheel in Latin America. The wheel is located in Porto Maravilha, and the queue can be a bit long during peak season.

16. Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro

Feel the grandeur as you enter this magnificent building inspired by Palais Garnier in Paris. Theatro Municipal is located in downtown Rio de Janeiro, incorporating elements of Baroque and Art Nouveau with ornate facades, gilded mirrors, and beautiful statues. 

17. Pedra Bonita Hiking Trail

As one of the most popular hikes in Rio de Janeiro, Pedra Bonita offers a relatively easy trail with spectacular view. The trail takes up to 90 minutes for round-trip, where you can walk through Tijuca National Park all the way to the summit at the height of 693 meters (2,274 ft).

18. Arpoador Beach

Between Copacabana and Ipanema, there is a small peninsula with beautiful sandy beach and rock formation. It is Arpoador Beach, a favorite among locals to watch the sunset. They say this is where surfing in Brazil first developed, along with other Brazilian beach culture such as bikini.

19. Rio Sul Shopping Center

Opened in 1980, this premier shopping hub is the first mall in Rio de Janeiro. Rio Sul is located not far from Copacabana Beach. Here you can find some 400 stores and 2 food courts with lots of culinary options to choose. 

20. Rio Carnival

Held every year before Lent, Carnaval do Rio de Janeiro is often regarded as the biggest carnival on earth with some two million people flooding the streets everyday. Be amazed by a parade of massive floats and colorful costumes from different samba schools. 

Rio de Janeiro is also listed among the best city for party. The vibrant nightlife can be found in Lapa neighborhood where you can find street party during weekend, or simply choose from many lively bars around Copacabana and Ipanema Beach. 

If you know other interesting places to visit and things to do in Rio de Janeiro, don't hesitate to tell us in the comment section.

Don't forget to book your favorite hotel in Rio, too. Click here to book now.

Wish you lots of joy and fun while on your vacation!

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