There’s something for everyone in the City of Rio. Whether you’re in Rio de Janeiro by day or by night, in February or in August, you’ll always find something worth your while.
In a single day, you can fall asleep to the soothing sounds of waves, explore some of Rio’s gorgeous parks, and dance the night away in one of the city’s many nightclubs. Its natural beauty stretches from mountain to sea in a green belt that connects Rio’s world-class beaches with the surrounding expanse of Atlantic forest. Rio is filled with beaches, lagoons, forests, and more.
In this post I’ve listed the Top 5 must see destinations in Rio de Janeiro to hang out. So get ready to take notes!
5. The Beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema
The first attractions on my list are the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, right in the heart of Rio de Janeiro. Ipanema Beach, called “the sexiest beach in the world” by the Travel Channel, became famous in 1962 with the hit song “Girl from Ipanema”.
Today, it’s a charming spot to enjoy the sun and watch cariocas (the people of Rio) playing in the waves. Copacabana Beach is home to many of Rio’s outdoor concerts and sports events. Next year, it’ll also be the main hub for the 2016 Summer Games.
While on the beach, cool off at one of the many restaurants on the beach with a caipirinha, a traditional Brazilian cocktail made from lime, sugar, and cachaça. I’d also recommend drinking coconut water straight from a coconut – it’s great for curing dehydration! Or, if you want a truly unique experience, get a deliciously refreshing açaí smoothie. It’s full of essential vitamins and antioxidants and can only be found in South America. I always add granola and nuts to mine, but you can’t go wrong with the original smoothie.
The beaches in Rio are world-famous and should be incorporated into any trip to the city.
4. The Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens
The Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens, located at the bottom of Corcovado Mountain, is one of my favorite places in Rio to relax and unwind.
The gardens were founded in 1808 by King John VI of Portugal and opened to the public in 1822. They hold a huge variety of subtropical and tropical plants and trees, like the towering Imperial palms, as well as two monkey species and countless bird species.
Besides the local plants and animals, you’ll find many historic statues, monuments, and buildings, including a huge research institute which holds a collection of botany-related photos and research volumes.
The gardens were designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1992 and are a must-see attraction for lovers of history and the outdoors.
3. Maracana Stadium
The Maracana Stadium, named after a nearby river, was the home of Brazil’s first World Cup in 1950 and the main stage for the 2014 World Cup. Fans from all over the world flock to see the arena where soccer legends competed to take home the gold.
When it was first built, it was one of the largest stadiums in the world, holding an incredible 200,000 spectators. After a huge renovation project to prepare the stadium for the recent World Cup, the stadium now holds a comfortable 79,000 spectators.
Maracana Stadium remains one of the most amazing stadiums ever built, and one of the most visited spots in Rio. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the day and time you plan to arrive to book your visit in advance. This is a perfect spot for sports lovers and soccer fans.
2. Urca Hill and Sugar Loaf Mountain
Two of Rio’s most unique and iconic sights are the twin peaks of Urca Hill and Sugar Loaf Mountain. While they are connected to each other by cable car, only Urca Hill’s cable car goes back and forth from the city below.
Start your journey into Rio’s skyline by taking the cable car from the street level up to Urca Hill, where you’ll gaze down on Urca Beach and the rest of the surrounding city. From Urca Hill, there’s a direct cable car line that leads to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain. Each car holds about 75 people – for the best views, make sure you’re one of the first to enter and claim a spot next to the glass.
The gorgeous bird’s eye view from inside the car is unforgettable, and if you’re lucky, you’ll see a some monkeys playing below you.
Sugar Loaf Mountain is one of the best sunset spots in Rio, so the best time to visit is of course before sunset. Newlyweds always tell us the sunset from the top is one of their favorite memories from their honeymoon experience.
You’ll want to set aside a couple of hours to explore both Urca Hill and Sugar Loaf Mountain!
1. Christ the Redeemer
Finally, we come to one of the modern wonders of the world. The huge statue of Christ the Redeemer is one of Rio’s most iconic images and the 9th most visited tourist site in the entire world, according to the voters of TripAdvisor. It stands triumphant at the top of Corcovado Mountain and can be reached by a scenic cable car ride through the forest. This 115 foot-tall statue took 5 years to build and was finally completed on October 12, 1931, to the astonishment of the world. The view from Christ the Redeemer onto the bay of Rio takes my breath away every time I see it.
It’s a perfect spot to share a romantic kiss and appreciate one of the world’s greatest engineering marvels. For a challenge, try to take a photo with the entire statue in view (hint: you’ll have to lay down!).
While riding the cable car up to the statue, keep a look out for the rare monkey and bird species hidden in the lush trees of the mountainside forest. Check out the website for information on booking tickets. If you can only visit one place in Rio, Christ the Redeemer should be it.
I hope this list has inspired you to put a trip to Brazil at the top of your to-do list.
Check out See You In Brazil’s all-inclusive vacation packages in Rio de Janeiro and book your trip to Rio today!
We’ll gladly arrange additional tickets and transportation to any of these attractions so you can explore as much of this gorgeous city as possible! See You In Brazil!