copacabana, what to do in Rio de Janeiro

Top 10 Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro

Facing the South Atlantic coast, Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city and one of the most famous tourist destinations in Brazil. With numerous places to visit in Rio de Janeiro, there are countless things to do in Rio de Janeiro. Tourist attractions in Rio de Janeiro includes sandy white beaches, breathtaking neighborhoods, soaring mountains, world famous Maracana Stadium,  picturesque harbor and best of all the “Christ the Redeemer”.

With so many Rio de Janeiro attractions, no wonder the city is known as the “Cidade Maravilhosa” or marvelous city. The city is blessed with one of the most gorgeous natural settings for a metropolis in the world. Apart from enjoying the dazzling landscape there are many entertaining things to do in Rio de Janeiro. The streets fill with music and lavishly costumed dancers during carnival season, attracting revelers from all over the globe.

10 Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro:

Visitors find themselves at a loss to what to do in Rio de Janeiro? So here is our list of top things to do in Rio de Janeiro.

10. Lagoa Neighborhood

things-to-do-in-rio-de-janeiro, Lagoa Neighborhood
Lagoa Neighborhood | image credit – Wikimedia/Chensiyuan

One of the best places to visit in Rio de Janeiro is the Lagoa Neighborhood. It is the most elite neighborhood in the prosperous Zona Sul district and also the third-most luxurious neighborhood in all of South America. The area features a large lagoon known as the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas.

There is a beautiful four-mile path encompassing the lagoon that is a favorite spot for joggers and cyclists. It is one of the things to do in Rio de Janeiro to sit in one of the open-air cafés or restaurants along the shore and enjoy stunning views of the lagoon and the beaches beyond.

Also Read: Top 10 most famous tourist attractions in Brazil

9. Maracana Stadium

maracana-stadium, what to do in Rio de Janeiro
maracana-stadium | image credit – Wikimedia/Daniel Basil

Maracana Stadium is one of the top tourist attractions in Rio de Janeiro. It is one of the most important landmarks in Brazil as football (or soccer) is by far the most important sport in Brazil. Watching a game in this world famous stadium is one of the most entertaining things to do in Rio de Janeiro. The stadium was once the world’s highest capacity football venue with the capacity to hold nearly 200,000 people when it opened in 1950.

But the capacity was reduced due to safety measures and for the introduction of seating for all fans. For the 2014 World Cup, the stadium was partially rebuilt and now it can seat about 80,000 spectators making it the largest stadium in South America. If you are thinking of what to do in Rio de Janeiro, then watch a football match in Maracana Stadium.

8. Tijuca National Park

tijuca-national-park, places to visit in Rio de Janeiro
tijuca-national-park | image credit – Wikipedia/Halley Pacheco de Oliveira

One of the thrilling things to do in Rio de Janeiro is hiking in the Tijuca National Park. It is one of the largest urban forest in the world that covers a huge area of a mostly mountainous landscape. Through this park, visitors can hike to the Pico da Tijuca, Rio’s highest peak. The peak offers a stunning view of Guanabara Bay and the city below. The forest was nearly destroyed in the early 1800s by encroaching coffee plantations, but a good deal of the forest was replanted by hand in the latter half of the century with as many as nine million trees.

Visitors can enjoy themselves at the tumbling 100-foot Cascatinha Waterfall. Another attraction is the Mayrink Chapel. The chapel features murals painted by the famed Brazilian neo-realism painter Candido Portinari. Either enjoying the view from the Pico da Tijuca or the Cascatinha Waterfall, hiking through the Tijuca National Park is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Rio de Janeiro.

7. Lapa Neighborhood

lapa-neighborhood, Tourist Attractions in Rio de Janeiro
lapa-neighborhood | image credit – Wikimedia/chensiyuan

For those who love a vibrant nightlife, one of the things to do in Rio de Janeiro is visiting the Lapa Neighborhood. The Lapa neighborhood is located in the downtown section of Rio. The neighborhood is also known as “Centro” and was once the city’s red-light district. But now it is one of the top tourist attractions in Rio de Janeiro. The area is lined with samba and choro bars and on weekend nights, the music and dancing spills out into the street.

As the architecture of most of the neighborhood dates back to the 1800s, visitors can enjoy a charming backdrop to all the festivities. One of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro is to going to a bar with friends and cariocas to sample local cuisine and to sip caipirinha, the national cocktail made with sugarcane hard liquor and lime.

6. Santa Teresa Neighborhood

santa-teresa-neighborhood, Rio de Janeiro attractions
santa-teresa-neighborhood | image credit – Wikimedia/chensiyuan

One of the things to do in Rio de Janeiro is stepping back in time to experience the faded elegance of the plantation mansions and cobblestone streets of 19th century Rio. Hovering on a hill overlooking the city’s harbor, the Santa Teresa neighborhood offers visitors this fabulous chance. The area was not well developed until 1896. An aqueduct was built during that time to link the neighborhood to the city.

It was a haven for artists, writers and musicians during the 20th century and still retains a friendly artist-colony vibe although stylish clubs and boutiques have since overtaken the neighborhood. One of the popular Rio de Janeiro attractions was the Santa Teresa Tram, the last remaining streetcar of the city, but was closed after a serious accident on the line.

5. Jardim Botanico

jardim-botanico, what to do in Rio de Janeiro
jardim-botanico | image credit – Wikimedia/feliven

Among the numerous places to visit in Rio de Janeiro, the Jardim Botanico will give you a different feeling. The Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden or Jardim Botanico is located to the west of the Lagoa neighborhood. The garden houses more than 8,000 species of plants. It was built in the early 1800s. Including avenues of soaring palm trees, the garden features many mature specimens.

There are 600 species of orchids that dazzles the visitors to the park. There are a number of monuments and fountains in the garden. It also features a Japanese garden, an enchanting pond filled with water lilies and the new Museum do Meio Ambiente that displays exhibits which focus on the environment. Spending a relaxing time in the park is one of the things to do in Rio de Janeiro.

Also Read: Top 10 most remarkable and attractive trees in the world

4. Sugarloaf Mountain

sugarloaf-mountain, places to visit in Rio de Janeiro
sugarloaf-mountain | image credit – Wikimedia/Travelbusy.com

Climbing the Sugarloaf Mountain is another one of the many exciting things to do in Rio de Janeiro. Sugarloaf Mountain is a monolith of quartz and granite that rises 400 meters (1,300 feet) above the mouth of Guanabara Bay. Visitors can climb to the top using a glass-walled cable car known as a “bondinho” or “teleferico.”

From the base of Babilonia hill, the cable car departs every 20 minutes and climbs to the top of the Morro da Urca hill. Visitors can take a second cable car up to the summit from there.

Also read: Top 10 most visited bays in the world

3. Ipanema

ipanema, Tourist Attractions in Rio de Janeiro
ipanema | image credit – Wikimedia/chensiyuan

Ipanema is one of the top tourist attractions in Rio de Janeiro. This beautiful beach is located in the upscale South Zone or “Zona Sul”. The bossa nova song “The Girl from Ipanema” in the 1960s made the beach world famous. Ipanema lies between the beaches of Copacabana and Leblon. Year after year, Ipanema routinely reaches the top of the “Best Beaches in the World” lists.

A long, curving stretch of soft white sand and rolling waves, the beach is bordered by a well-organized grid of shops, cafés and restaurants as well as an array of art galleries, theaters and clubs. The beach is sectioned with posts or “postos” mark and different types of people tend to gather in each area. Posts 11 and 12 are popular with families while the area near post 9 attracts dedicated sunbathers and free-wheeling artists. Sunbathing or having a great time with the family in Ipanema is one of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro.

Also read: Top 10 most attractive city beaches around the world

2. Copacabana

copacabana, what to do in Rio de Janeiro
copacabana | image credit – Wikimedia/Gabriel Heusi

Among the numerous things to do in Rio de Janeiro, visiting the Copacabana beach is one of the best. The beach is separated from Ipanema to the west by surfer-favored Arpoador beach. Compare to Ipanema, Copacabana has a more active vibe. There is always a game of soccer or volleyball in play by the Rio locals, called “cariocas”. There are many vendors enthusiastically hawk their drinks and snacks from the kiosks that line the beach.

At one end of the beach, you will find a military base with a wartime museum called Fort Copacabana that is open to the public. Fishermen offer up their morning catch for sale on the length of beach in front of the fort. Strolling along the promenade that borders the 4 km (2.5 mile) long beach is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Rio de Janeiro. The walkway was built in the 1930s. It has a wave-like design laid out in black and white stones.

1. Christ the Redeemer

christ-the-redeemer, Tourist Attractions in Rio de Janeiro
christ-the-redeemer | image credit – Flickr/Kirilos

Visiting the Christ the Redeemer is one of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro. The statue of “Cristo Redentor” hovers atop the 710 meter (2,330 feet) high peak of Corcovado Peak. The statue stands gazing peacefully out over the city with arms widely spread. During the heyday of the Art Deco movement in 1922, construction of the statue began and the concrete and soapstone statue is considered the largest statue designed in the genre in the world.

A vertical cog train is used by most visitors to reach the base of the summit. You will have to climb hundreds of steps to reach the top from there. You can also use elevators and escalators to shorten the trip. Watching the serene statue is one of the most enlightening things to do in Rio de Janeiro.

Also read: Top 10 world famous statues you must visit

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