Get ready to experience the best of Brazil’s vibrant and colorful culture in the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro. From sipping on fresh coconut water on the beach to dancing the night away at a samba club, this city has it all. In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through some of the top 24 Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro.
From visiting iconic landmarks like the Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf Mountain to exploring the city’s lively neighborhoods and indulging in delicious Brazilian cuisine, you won’t want to miss a thing.
We uncover the hidden gems and must-do activities in this breathtaking city. Whether you’re a beach lover, a culture seeker, or an adventure enthusiast, Rio de Janeiro has something for everyone. So come along and see for yourself why this city is known as the “Marvelous City.”
Rio de Janeiro, a city renowned worldwide, needs no grand introduction. Its reputation precedes it, heralded for the stunning beaches, pulsating nightlife, and iconic landmarks that create an irresistible allure, earning it a coveted spot on every traveler’s bucket list. The city’s vibrancy and beauty unfold in myriad ways, and here’s a guide to the top Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro you absolutely shouldn’t miss while in Rio de Janeiro.
24 Awesome Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro
Here is a comprehensive city guide spotlighting the top 24 Things to do in Rio De Janeiro.
Starting with number 24, immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring presence of Cristo Redentor, the colossal statue of Jesus Christ atop Corcovado Mountain. Standing at an imposing 98 feet, this iconic monument offers panoramic vistas that encompass the cityscape and the lush surroundings. The journey itself, whether by train or an adventurous hike, traverses the enchanting Tijuca Forest, offering glimpses of diverse wildlife and lush greenery.
Tijuca National Park
Venture further into nature at number 23 with Tijuca National Park, a haven for nature enthusiasts boasting the distinction of being the largest urban rainforest globally. The park teems with an astonishing array of flora and fauna, making it an ideal spot for hiking, rock climbing, and encountering creatures like monkeys and parrots.
Sugarloaf Mountain Cable Car Ride
At number 22, a cable car ride up Sugarloaf Mountain presents breathtaking city panoramas. The distinct shape of this landmark is reminiscent of sugarloaf molds, and its summit provides a 360-degree view of Rio de Janeiro’s splendor.
Number 21 leads you to the Selaron Steps, Escadaria Selarón, an artistic marvel adorned with over 2,000 vibrantly colored tiles from across the globe. Beyond its visual splendor, these steps hold a fascinating backstory, a testament to the artist’s dedication and love for Brazil.
Copacabana and Ipanema beaches
The golden shores of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches beckon at number 20, where history, culture, and leisure converge. These renowned beaches encapsulate the spirit of Rio, offering not just sun and sand but a vibrant social scene and a cultural tapestry.
Hang Gliding Above RIo
Dare to soar above Rio’s landscapes at number 19 with hang gliding, a thrilling experience to behold the city’s beauty from an exhilarating perspective. Accompanied by seasoned instructors, this adventure promises unparalleled views and a rush of adrenaline.
Chill out at Parque Lage
Seek tranquility at number 18 in Parque Lage, an enchanting park with stunning gardens, romantic settings, and a backdrop featuring Corcovado Mountain and Christ the Redeemer.
Take the Street Art in Lapa
Explore the captivating street art scene at number 17 in Lapa, a neighborhood adorned with vibrant murals that serve as windows into the city’s rich cultural heritage and contemporary expressions.
Visit the Metropolitan Cathedral
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian is a modern masterpiece located in the center of Rio. its unique, UFO-like design is sure to catch your eye.
Inside, the cathedral is just as impressive, with soaring ceilings, resplendent stained glass windows, and a series of chapels dedicated to various saints.
It’s the seat of the archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, and it’s been an important center of Catholicism in the city for decades.
Discover the most beautiful library in the world The Royal Portuguese reading room is a gorgeous building. it houses an incredible collection of books. with over 350,000 volumes, it’s one of the largest and most important libraries in South America.
You will find everything from rare and valuable works of Portuguese literature to modern bestsellers. but the real draw of this library is its grand neoclassical structure with ornate architectural details, marble columns, and a stunning interior.
It’s no wonder many guidebooks name this the most beautiful library in the world.
Day Trip to llha Grande
Ilha Grande is an alluring island located just off the coast of Rio. it’s an easy day trip from the city, but it feels like a world away. the island is known for its unspoiled tropical beaches, crystal clear waters, and rugged landscape, making it a paradise for nature lovers.
Llha Grande is also a great place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of city life. it’s relatively undeveloped, with no cars allowed on the island and several small charming towns and villages to explore.
The lack of development also means that the island is relatively unspoiled with plenty of natural beauty to enjoy.
Challenge Yourself up the Pedra da Gavea
The Pedra da Gavea is a massive rock formation located in the Tijuca Forest National Park it stands at almost 2,800 feet tall and offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding countryside.
The climb to the top is no easy feat it’s a physically demanding and technical climb that requires a good level of fitness and a little rock climbing experience. but the reward is worth it.
The views from the top are breathtaking and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel after making it to the top is unbeatable. this is the ultimate test of endurance.
Shop at the Hippie Market of Ipanema
The Hippie Market of Ipanema also known as the Feira de lpanema is a popular outdoor market located in the trendy lpanema neighborhood of Rio. it’s a lively and colorful place, known for its handmade crafts, local art, and one-of-a-kind souvenirs and gifts.
You’ll find everything from jewelry and clothing to home decor and accessories at the market. buying crafts here is a great way to support local artists and artisans.
The Hippie Market is open every Sunday from 09:00 AM to 06:00 PM and it’s a popular spot for both locals and tourists. it’s also a great place to people-watch and soak up the vibrant culture of Rio.
There are often street performers and food vendors at the market, adding to the lively atmosphere.
Rochinha Favela Walking Tour
A Favela is a community of mostly low-income families who have built their homes on the steep hillsides of the city. while living conditions in favelas can be difficult, they are also vibrant and lively neighborhoods, with a strong sense of community and pride.
Rochinha is the largest favela in Brazil and has been dubbed “a city within a city” Taking a walking tour is a great way to learn more about the history and culture of these informal settlements and get a glimpse of daily life in the favela.
Many walking tours of Rohinha are led by local guides who are passionate about sharing their community with visitors. they’ll take you on a tour of the narrow streets and alleys of the favela, introducing you to local businesses, community organizations, and cultural landmarks.
You’ll also have the opportunity to meet and interact with residents giving you a unique and authentic cultural experience.
Dance Like Michael Jackson at Favela Santa Marta
One of the most notable aspects of Favela Santa Marta is that it is the first favela in Rio to be pacified which means that it has been the target of a government initiative to improve living conditions and reduce crime.
As a result, Favela Santa Marta is considered one of the safest favelas in Rio. Another notable feature of Favela Santa Marta is its colorful houses. the houses are often built with a mix of materials and painted in bright colors, adding to the vibrant and lively atmosphere of the neighborhood. This makes it a great spot to take Instagram photos.
Favela Santa Marta is also known for being the location where Michael Jackson filmed part of his music video for the song “They Don’t Care About Us.” the video, which was released in 1996, features Jackson dancing and singing in the streets of Favela Santa Marta, highlighting the neighborhood’s vibrant culture and energy.
Hang off a Cliff at Pedra do Telegrafo
Located 90 minutes drive from Rio, Pedra do Telegrafo is a popular spot for tourists and locals to visit due to the unique photographs that can be taken here. the rock offers a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape and the perspective of the photographs. taken from the top can make it appear as though the person in the photo is hanging off a cliff.
While the photographers are certainly a draw the rock is also a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and anyone looking for a challenging and rewarding hike with picturesque views.
Visit South America’s Largest Aquarium
AquaRio is the largest aquarium in South America and is located in the heart of Rio de Janeiro. it is home to over 8,000 animals, representing more than 350 different species from all over the world.
The aquarium is divided into several different exhibits, each showcasing a different type of marine life. visitors can see everything from colorful tropical fish and sharks to dolphins, sea turtles, and even penguins.
The aquarium also has several interactive exhibits, including touch tanks and a simulated dive experience where visitors can get up close and personal with the animals. you can even spend a night in the tunnel that passes in the middle of the ocean tank.
See the largest street art mural in the world
Located on Olympic Boulevard in Rio, the mural was created by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra and is truly a sight to behold. it’s an enormous piece of art, covering the entire side of a building and measuring over 12,000 square feet.
The mural depicts iconic figures from Brazil’s history and culture, including musician Chico. Buarque soccer player Pele and indigenous leader Kayapo. But the mural isn’t just a pretty picture it’s also a symbol of hope and unity.
The mural was created as a tribute to the 2016 Olympic Games, which were held in Rio de Janeiro and it celebrates the diversity and unity of the city and its people.
Marvel at the Museum of Tomorrow
The Museum of Tomorrow is not your average boring old history lesson. it’s a futuristic, interactive experience that will blow your mind. the museum encourages visitors to consider the big questions about the future and to think critically about the choices we make today and how they will impact the world of tomorrow.
The Museum of Tomorrow was designed by the world-renowned architect, Santiago Calatrava. and it is truly a work of art. The building itself is shaped like a giant silver boat, and it’s surrounded by a beautiful reflecting pool. inside you will find a spacious open air atrium with a sweeping, curved ceiling. it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
But the real showstopper is the rooftop terrace. from up there, you’ll get an incredible view of the city and the harbor. it’s the perfect spot to take some Instagram-worthy photos and just soak in the sights and sounds of Rio.
Ride the historic Santa Teresa Tram
The Santa Teresa Tram is not your average public transportation experience. it is a historic landmark in itself. the trams have been around since the late 1800s and have become an iconic symbol of the city. riding it is like stepping back in time and getting a glimpse of what life was like in Rio de Janeiro over a century ago. but beyond its historical significance, the Santa Teresa Tram is just plain fun.
It’s a leisurely ride that takes you through the winding, cobblestone streets of the bohemian Santa Teresa neighborhood. along the way, you’ll get to see some of the city’s captivating colonial-style houses and stop at charming little squares and parks.
You will also have the opportunity to hop off and explore the neighborhood on foot, or just sit back and take in the views as you ride through the hills.
Hike to the two Brothers Lookout
The two brothers looked at Morro Dois Irmaos, which is a popular hiking spot for hikers and nature lovers, thanks to its beautiful views and relatively easy trails. On a clear day, you will be able to see for miles and miles in every direction.
The vistas of the city the ocean and the surrounding mountains are truly breathtaking. it’s the perfect spot for a picnic and some Instagram photos. but beyond the views, the hike itself is a lot of fun. the trail is well marked and not too strenuous making it suitable for hikers of all levels.
Along the way, you will pass through some splendid lush vegetation and have the opportunity to see some local wildlife. you might even spot a capuchin monkey or a toucan.
Watch a Football Match at the Maracana Stadium
Football, or soccer is a huge part of Brazilian culture, and Maracana Stadium is the mecca of Brazilian football. the stadium is an absolute marvel of engineering and architecture.
It’s one of the largest and most iconic football stadiums in the world with a seating capacity of over 78,000 just stepping inside the stadium is an awe-inspiring experience.
Ride the Largest Ferris Wheel in Latin America
The Rio Yup star Ferris wheel is an absolute architectural marvel it stands at a towering 377 feet tall making it the tallest Ferris wheel in all of Latin America just the sight of it is enough to take your breath away. but the real fun starts when you get on the ride.
The gondolas are spacious and comfortable and the views from the top are absolutely breathtaking it’s a great way to get a bird’s eye view of Rio and take the beauty of the city from above.
Celebrate Rio Carnival
The Rio Carnival is the biggest and wildest party on the planet, which takes place annually in the weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday. it’s a celebration of Brazilian culture, music, dance, and all-around good vibes that draw millions of people from all over the world.
The main event is the parade at the Sambadrome which features elaborately decorated floats and tens of thousands of costumed dancers and musicians. for weeks leading up to the main event, the streets are filled with colorful floats, costumed revelers, and live samba music.
It’s an unforgettable experience that you will be talking about for years to come. but the Rio Carnival isn’t just about the party it’s also an opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Rio.
FAQ: Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro
Here’s an FAQ rundown of things to do in Rio de Janeiro:
What are the must-visit landmarks in Rio de Janeiro?
- Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor): Iconic statue atop Corcovado Mountain.
- Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar): Cable car ride for panoramic city views.
- Selaron Steps (Escadaria Selarón): Colorful tiled steps in the Lapa neighborhood.
- Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian: Unique modernist architecture.
What natural attractions are there in Rio?
- Tijuca National Park: Urban rainforest with hiking trails and wildlife.
- Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches: Famous for their beauty and vibrant scenes.
- Pedra da Gávea: Challenging hike with stunning city and ocean views.
Any cultural experiences to explore?
- Rocinha Favela Walking Tour: Insights into community life and culture.
- Museum of Tomorrow: Futuristic museum encouraging critical thinking about the future.
- Royal Portuguese Reading Room: Stunning neoclassical library housing extensive collections.
What activities offer unique experiences?
- Hang gliding: Spectacular views while soaring above Rio’s landscapes.
- Hippie Market of Ipanema (Feira de Ipanema): Vibrant outdoor market for unique crafts.
- Rio Carnival: World-renowned festival celebrating Brazilian culture with music, dance, and parades.
Are there any other attractions worth mentioning?
- AquaRio: South America’s largest aquarium with diverse marine life.
- Santa Teresa Tram: Historic tram offers a nostalgic ride through the Santa Teresa neighborhood.
- Maracana Stadium: Iconic football stadium offering thrilling matches and an electric atmosphere.
How can I make the most of my visit to Rio de Janeiro?
- Plan: Research attractions, book tickets in advance, and consider guided tours.
- Safety precautions: Stay aware of your surroundings and follow local safety guidelines.
- Local experiences: Engage with locals, try traditional foods, and embrace the city’s culture.
What’s the best time to visit Rio de Janeiro?
Rio is vibrant year-round, but the weather is generally pleasant from April to October, offering comfortable temperatures for outdoor activities. The city also comes alive during Carnival in February, but it gets crowded, so plan accordingly.
Any travel tips for first-time visitors?
- Language: Basic Portuguese phrases can be helpful, but many locals speak English.
- Currency: Brazilian Real (BRL) is the local currency, and cards are widely accepted.
- Transport: Use reputable taxis or ride-sharing apps, and be cautious in crowded areas.