WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN RIO DE JANEIRO?
Located in a superb natural setting, Rio de Janeiro is a destination that makes you dream, for its mythical beaches, its green hills, the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer and the famous carnival. Even if the setting is superb, it is still a relatively dangerous city and you will have to take precautions to explore the city safely.
To prepare your travel itinerary, here is the top 10 best things to do and see in Rio de Janeiro.
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Here are 10 must-see things to do and see during a trip to Rio de Janeiro:
1. The beaches: Ipanema, Copacabana, Leme…
Rio’s beaches all look more beautiful than the others, not for nothing. They all have a different layout, brightness and water. During your stay in Rio you will therefore have to plan to relax on one of them, or better, to visit several of them. If you want to enjoy the most famous beach in the world while sipping your coconut water, don’t miss Ipanema Beach. To soak up the Carioca atmosphere, run and relax on the Copacabana one. On the other hand, if you want to discover a magnificent panorama while tanning quietly, go to Praia Vermelha to enjoy the view. This last one is certainly the most beautiful beach in the city. All the beaches in Rio are free.
2. Hang gliding or paragliding
As soon as you arrive in the city, you will notice when you look up that there are many paragliders there. And for good reason, this activity offers one of the most splendid views of Rio. During your hang-gliding or paragliding flight, you can see all the city’s most famous sites at the same time. The starting points are varied, but we recommend the Pedra Bonita for a more impressive view. Of course, it’s a paid activity (about 150 Euros), but the price generally includes transport from your hotel or an agency, the tax to take your beautiful pictures and the accompanied flight.
3. The Santa Teresa district
After a thrill-filled day, opt for a quieter activity by visiting one of the city’s most typical neighbourhoods. Located in the heights, this historic site is Rio’s not-to-be-missed cultural and artistic rendezvous. You can marvel at the architecture of the buildings and enter one of the many museums in the district. During your visit to Santa Teresa, don’t forget to get on the Bonde, the historic yellow tramway. For the price of a ticket, line 1 of this tramway, inaugurated in 1875, will offer you a complete visit of the district while hoisting you on the famous Carioca aqueduct.
4. Go to the top of the Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcar)
This famous peak dominates the entire bay of Rio and will offer you a mythical view of the ocean. Almost 400 metres high, it’s accessible via a paid cable car. Once at the top of the Pain du Sucre, you will enjoy a pleasant 360° view of the city and its most famous places. Climbing enthusiasts will also be able to choose one of the 270 routes on this monolithic boulder, unique in the world.
5. The Lapa district
This district is the Cariocas’ favourite place to go out in the evening and on weekends. A mecca for samba, forró and Brazilian folk music, it’s a lively and musical district teeming with restaurants, bars and thematic pubs. During the day, you can admire the arches of Lapa or the typical architecture of the district. In the evening, you will enjoy drinking a Caïpirinha or Piña colada to the rhythm of the music that resounds in the streets of Lapa.
6. The statue of Christ at the top of Corcovado
The statue of Christ of Corcovado rises to an altitude of more than 700 metres. It’s one of the main symbols of the city and Brazil. This is the most visited place in the country and certainly the one that offers the most amazing view of the city. Surrounded by forest, the statue is accessible by train, tourist minibus or on foot. The ascent on foot lasts about 3 hours and will allow you to discover the monkeys and armadillos that inhabit the forest. Access to the statue is free, only the train or minivan to get there are charged.
7. The Botanical Gardens
For a small contribution, Rio’s Botanical Gardens will give you the opportunity to discover more than 8,000 species of plants and trees from all over the world. Essentially tropical, the majestic vegetation of the gardens borders Lake Rodrigo de Freitas on more than 137 hectares. Your visit will be an opportunity to offer you a quieter moment, far from the hustle and bustle of the city. During the day, the gardens are regularly visited by monkeys, raptors and other animals that live in the nearby forest.
8. Watch a football match at the Maracanã stadium
Inaugurated for the 1950 World Cup, this stadium remains one of the largest and most impressive in the world. If it’s possible to visit it during the day for a small entrance fee, nothing beats the atmosphere that prevails during a football match. Plan to attend a local team game to make the most of the Cariocas’ passion for football.
9. La Tijuca National Park
This majestic park is the one that surrounds Corcovado. It covers 3,972 hectares and was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1991. There are several hiking trails in the park. During one of your escapades, you will discover the thousands of species of insects, birds and reptiles that live there. You will also have the opportunity to take a picture of one of the 70 species of mammals that live there, including coati, savannah fox, marmosets, ants and lazy people.
10. The Parque Lage
Near the botanical gardens opens a site not very frequented by tourists and which, however, conceals some beautiful surprises. Parque Lage is a natural site, both cultural and architectural. Indeed, it contains a building built in 1849 on the model of a Roman villa, a green vegetation that joins the Tijuca National Park and the city’s school of visual arts. While walking in this free park, you can discover a cave, an aquarium, several duck pools as well as children’s playgrounds and walking paths.
MORE THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN RIO DE JANEIRO
If you have some time in Rio de Janeiro, here are some other places to visit that are worth a look:
- See the sunset in Arpoador
- The Mosteiro de São Bento
- The Museu Histórico Nacional
- The Museum of Tomorrow (Museu do Amanhã)
- Admire the view from Pedra da Gávea
- The historical centre (around Praça XV)
- See a concert at the Theatro Municipal
- The Museum of Contemporary Art in Niterói
- The Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon
- The Dona Marta point of view
- The Centro Cultural Municipal Municipal Parque das Ruínas
- La Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco da Penitência
- And of course, the Rio Carnival…