Top 10 Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro

My last destination of South America was Rio de Janeiro (“Rio”), Brazil and I found this city to be the perfect end to my travels.  As I relaxed on the beaches, Barry Manilow’s song “Copacabana” was the first tune that popped into my mind.

At the Copa, Copacabana
The hottest spot north of Havana
At the Copa, Copacabana
Music and passion were always the fashion

Although there are plenty of sights to see, here are my top 10 things to do in Rio de Janeiro:

1.    Sugar Loaf Mountain

Cable car to Sugar Loaf

The views from Sugar Loaf Mountain (as it resembles a refined loaf of sugar) are spectacular.  To reach the summit of Sugar Loaf Mountain, you have to take two cable cars (approx. $22-23 USD).  The first ascends to Morro de Açúcar and the second ascends to Pão de Açúcar, about 1,219 feet (396 meters).

2.    Maracanã Football Game

Maricana Football Stadium

Maracanã Football Stadium, one of the largest stadiums in the world with a capacity of over 80,000 spectators, is located in the northern part of Rio de Janeiro.  A great way to visit this stadium is to attend a football (“soccer”) match (usually on Wednesdays and Sundays).  The football match is such an incredible sight with constant chanting and cheering from the many spectators.  It is a great way to see the locals enjoy one of their favorite past-times!

3.    Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer

Weighing about 635 tons, Christ the Redeemer, is located at the peak (2,300 ft, 700 meters) of the Corcovado mountain.  Additionally in 2007, it was named as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.  This is one of Rio’s must-see sights, but beware, everyone is planning to come here. There are tons of tourists and if you want to take a picture with the statue, you might have some new friends in the pictures as well.

4.    Copacabana Beach

Copacabana beach

One of the most famous beaches in the world is the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro.  Although packed with tourists, the beach is very lovely and a great place for people watching.  One of the nicest looking hotels in Copacabana is the Copacabana Palace Hotel, with its French architecture and white gleaming facade.

5.    Ipanema Beach

Ipanema beach

Another beautiful beach in Rio is the Ipanema beach, which is lined by small cafes and shops.  Post 9 and 10 along the beach is supposedly the area where you can view all the beautiful people.  Viewing the sunset here is quite magically as the sun casts a shadow over the hotels.

6.    Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa's steps

Santa Teresa is a quirky neighborhood in Rio and offers cobblestone streets, great views, and a community of artists.  A great way to see Santa Teresa is by tram, known as the Bonde (about $.50 USD).  It is a great escape away from the many tourists in the beaches.  At the bottom of Santa Teresa near the Arcos da Lapa is an amazing one-man art project, the Escadaria Selaron, the famous steps of Santa Teresa.  There are 215 steps and the tiles that form the mosaic are sourced from places all over the world.

7.    Hang gliding

Free as a bird!

Sometimes a great way to see a place is by air.  Everyone I spoke with along the way raved about the hang gliding in Rio. So for about $125 USD, you can hang glide in the Pepino Beach.  You start off with a few practices on top of a cliff in the national park before making your way to Pepino Beach. There are great views of the city and you can tell everyone you know what it is like to be a BIRD!

8.    Favela Tour

View from Rocinha favela

I was a bit hesitant to take a favela tour (about $22 USD), but decided to see another view of Rio.  A favela (slum) is a shanty town in Brazil ruled mainly by drug lords.  We visited the Rocinha favela, the largest favela in Rio de Janeiro, with a population over 200,000 inhabitants.  The tour started with a motorbike ride to the top of the favela.  The streets are very narrow so the main source of transportation used are motorbikes.  We visited various streets and had views into a few homes and businesses.

9.    Lapa

Arcos da Lapa

The neighborhood of Lapa is located in the center of Rio and is famous for its monuments, night-life, and live music.  One of the most famous structures in this area is the Arcos de Lapa, a viaduct in the days of colonial Brazil and serves as part of the tramline that climbs the hill of Santa Teresa.

10.  Hippie Craft Market in Ipanema

Hippie Market in Ipanema

If you happen to be in Rio on a Sunday, a great way for visual stimulation is the hippie market in Praca General Osorio (Ipanema) from around 8am to 6pm. Although touristy, it is a great way to pick up souvenirs and look at the local artwork.


About Jan

In 2004 and 2010, I set aside time to travel the world in 3 parts. In 2004, I traveled to Thailand, Europe, and Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. In 2010, I traveled to 3 continents: Asia, South America, and Africa. I am not sure if I have a fascination with the number 3, but I seem to be constantly traveling by numbers.
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2 Responses to Top 10 Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Top 10 Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro | Traveling by Numbers --

  2. Shu says:

    This post is excellent. I love the Copacabana Beach=) That is 1 out of the 10 things I definitely want to see while I am in Rio De Janeiro!!!

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