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Discover Rio: Beaches, Culture & Nightlife

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    Jonathan Chum


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is one of the most visited cities in the world, and for good reason. With its stunning beaches, beautiful gardens, and architecture, Rio de Janeiro is a must-see for any traveler who loves beautiful scenery. However, if you're visiting Rio de Janeiro for the first time or are thinking about returning soon but aren't sure what to do there, we want to make it easy for you! In this guide, we will cover all our favorite things to do in Rio de Janeiro so that whether you have one day or two weeks on your itinerary, there will be plenty that interest even the most discerning traveler!

See the Sunset and the Christ Redeemer Statue

You can't go to Rio without seeing the Christ Redeemer statue. It's a must-see, and it's well worth the trip. There are lots of different ways to see it:

  • See the statue illuminated at night---the best time for this is during Carnival (check out this article for more information about Carnaval). If you're coming during that time, be sure to check out our guide on how to enjoy Carnival in Rio de Janeiro as well!

  • See the statue from different angles---there are many places around town where you can get great views of both Christ Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain on one side, or have both mountains in view while still being close enough to take pictures of them together or with city skyline behind them! Here are some examples:

  • From Corcovado station (gondola rides cost $25 roundtrip) - From Mirante do Pão de Açúcar lookout point (free viewing area) - From Jardim Botânico gardens (free viewing area)

Visit Copacabana Beach

If you are visiting Rio, then be sure to visit Copacabana Beach. It's one of the most famous beaches in the world and has been featured in many movies and TV shows over the years.

It's located in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro, which is relatively close to some other areas that we recommend you check out during your trip as well (like downtown). There are plenty of things to do here: walk along its shoreline, jog on its boardwalk, or ride bikes along its paved paths. You can also swim with locals who come for a dip during their lunch breaks or at night after work.

Watch a Brazilian Carnival Show

Carnival is one of the most important Brazilian festivals and dates back to the early 16th century. It's a time when locals and tourists alike get together to celebrate the end of winter with parades, music, dance, costumes, and much more.

Carnival takes place in Rio de Janeiro from Ash Wednesday (February 28th) until Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras (March 5th). Other cities across Brazil also have their versions of Carnival including Salvador da Bahia, Olinda, and São Luís do Maranhão. The biggest celebration is held in Rio de Janeiro which attracts over 2 million visitors every year.

You can watch Parades at Sambadromo da Marquês de Sapucaí which is the largest carnival street party in the world where hundreds of thousands will gather along Avenida Presidente Vargas on Saturday nights to see thousands of dancers perform elaborate choreography routines dressed as everything from flamboyant tropical birds to giant fruit slices swinging from headdresses made out of feathers! If you want an up-close view then we recommend getting tickets for a box seat so that you can take photos without being blocked by bodies around you!

Tour Maracanã Stadium (Maracana)

  • Maracana Stadium: The stadium is the biggest in Brazil and was built for the 1950 World Cup. The Maracanã has hosted many of Rio's most memorable sporting events, including two 1970 World Cup finals (1970 and 1994) and both matches at the 1950 Football Tournament between Uruguay and Brazil. It also hosted three matches during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

  • Guided Tours: The stadium offers guided tours daily from 9 am to 6 pm except on Mondays when it opens at 10 am. The tour lasts about 90 minutes and covers the history of the stadium, its architecture, design features such as its cantilevered roof that covers all seats with no obstructed views; how it was renovated for use during both FIFA tournaments; its current uses as a venue for concerts and other events in addition to being home ground of Botafogo FC team

Tour Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar)

Sugar Loaf is one of the most famous peaks in Rio. Located in the Tijuca Forest National Park and standing at 910 meters tall, it was named by Portuguese sailors who saw how the peak resembled a sugar loaf when they arrived in Brazil in 1530. Today, this granite peak is a popular tourist destination. There are several ways to climb up and explore its trails: you can take an elevator or cable car ride that will take you to the top for spectacular views of Rio and its coastline; hike up for about 3 hours or get there by boat from Botafogo Bay.

Wander through Gardens and Lagoons at Parque Lage

Parque Lage is a great place to take a walk, especially if you have kids. There are many things to see and do here, including restaurants, playgrounds, and even an aquarium. If it's nice out this park can be packed with people trying to escape the heat of Rio by sitting in one of its many beautiful gardens or lagoons.

It's also a great place for picnics! Pack some sandwiches and snacks and go check out the Botanical Gardens.

Enjoy Sunrise from Pedra Bonita Hiking Trail

To get to the top of Pedra Bonita, it's about a 2.5-hour hike. Once you arrive at the summit of this mountain, you'll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Rio de Janeiro and its surrounding beaches. However, keep in mind that this hike is not suitable for people with mobility issues or young children who are unable to navigate stairs. The stairs may also be too steep for people who have trouble with their balance or suffer from vertigo.

The hike itself is quite strenuous but gives your body a good workout after sitting on planes all day long! Make sure that you bring plenty of water and snacks as there aren't any facilities along the way except those found at the base camp (the beginning) and top camp (the end).

Explore Rio's Shopping Options

Rio has a ton of shopping options, and it's not just for tourists.

Shopping in Rio can be done in a day. It's also affordable since Brazilian currency is weaker than the U.S., so you can get more bang for your buck!

To shop in Rio, you'll need to know some Portuguese---but don't worry: the locals will help you out!

Watch the Sunset from a Rooftop at Bip Bip Bar

Where: Rua Garcia d'Avila 405, Ipanema

Why You Should Visit: This bar has an unbeatable view of Ipanema beach and the ocean. It's located on the rooftop of a building in the heart of Rio de Janeiro's most famous beach neighborhood, so you can enjoy sunset drinks while watching people surfing or playing volleyball on the sand. The happy hour is from 5-7 pm and includes 50% off selected drinks and appetizers (including their signature caipirinhas).

Indulge in Some Brazilian Food Specialties

Brazilian food is delicious and healthy. It's very different from American food, and it's even more different than European food. When you're in Rio, try some of these Brazilian specialties:

  • Pastel (Pastel)

  • Feijoada (Feijoada)

  • Acarajé (Acarajé)

  • Feijão-de-corda (Feijão-de-Cordeiro)


As you can see, there are many things to do in Rio de Janeiro. You don't have to spend a lot of money or even leave your hotel -- just make sure you go out on the balcony and watch the sunset!