The former Brazilian capital of Rio de Janeiro has been Brazil’s hub for decades. It’s the second largest city in Brazil and is most famous for its annual Carnival and the host of the 2016 Olympics. With landmarks, museums, and beaches all at your disposal, we’ve narrowed down the top ten things to do in Rio to make the most out of your trip.
1. Christ the Redeemer
It’s hard to miss the famous statue of Jesus Christ gazing over the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro. It’s been featured in movies and travel guides for years but nothing comes close to seeing this wonder in person. If you’re not keen on hiking the 2330 feet to the top of Corcovado Peak, take the cog train to the summit and then climb stairs or escalators to make it all the way to the top. From here, you can join in on “Cristo Redentor”’s stunning view of Rio.
2. Sugarloaf Mountain
A visit to Sugarloaf Mountain is a must when in Rio – even the name sounds inviting. The famous glass walled cable car ascends to the top of Morro da Urca hill, where another will take you to the mountain’s summit sitting at about 1300 feet high. This is the perfect time to get a picturesque shot overlooking Guanabara Bay.
It’s hard not to sing the song when this famous beach is mentioned. It’s even harder not to pay it a visit. This lively beach is home to Fort Copacabana and the 2.5 mile long promenade featuring an array of shops and restaurants. Join in a game of volleyball or see what the fishermen have caught fresh from the ocean. Stroll along the water or pick a spot on the popular promenade for some world-class people watching.
Another beach made famous by music in the 60s, Ipanema Beach is still a hot spot for tourists and locals today. As a beach that’s known as the place to see and be seen, this is another ideal opportunity to take it easy and people-watch. Surrounded by a variety of galleries, shops and museums, there are a ton of sights, smells, and sounds to appeal to everyone across Ipanema’s two mile stretch.
5. Jardim Botânico
Nature lovers will enjoy taking a stroll through the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden built at the start of the 1800s. Head north of Ipanema to view over 8,000 plant species including 600 orchid species. This 340 acre park also features fountains, statues, and a Japanese garden to explore on this relaxing experience.
6. Tijuca National Park
For more seriously stunning views, head to the city’s highest peak at Pico da Tijuca, where you’ll have a breathtaking sight line of Guanabara Bay. The peak isn’t the only thing to enjoy at this rainforest park expanding over 8000 acres. The Mayrink Chapel and scenic Cascatinha Waterfall are great stops while in the park where over 350 different species of animals roam.
If you’re in the central district of Rio, you’re probably near the colorful neighborhood of Lapa. Once known as the city’s red light district, Lapa is brimming with energy and excitement. With architecture dating back to the 1800s, this area is the perfect backdrop for a night of samba dancing, or catching up with friends. Its central location makes it easy to get to, and around.
8. Santa Teresa
The famous Escadaria Selaron borders between Lapa and the sought after bohemian-esque neighborhood of Santa Teresa. The neighborhood was taken over by artists and creatives during the twentieth century, and while more upscale establishments are being added to the area, it still manages to hang on to its free-spirited vibe. Gaze into history as you stroll the cobblestoned streets lined by plantations from the 19th century.
9. Maracana Stadium
It’s hard to avoid Brazil’s national sport so why not give in and catch a football game at the famous Maracana Stadium. With events like the 2014 World Cup under its belt, this stadium that stood up with the largest around the world, is far from underwhelming. Since it’s opening in 1950, the capacity has since been scaled back from 200,000 to 80,000 for safety, but one thing’s for sure; the energy felt in the stadium during a football game is unimaginable.
10. Theatro Municipal
Rio’s main opera house is the beautiful Theatro Municipal located in Rio’s central area, built in 1909 and modelled after the Paris Opera. This building’s architecture and decor is said to be some of the best in the country adorned with marble columns in a neoclassical style. Even if you don’t have time or funds to squeeze in a show, at least step in to catch a glimpse of its beauty.
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