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What to do and see in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

What to do and see in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


How can you conceive of going to Brazil without going through Rio de Janeiro? For our first trip to Brazil, we absolutely wanted to discover Rio de Janeiro. Even though we only stayed two full days in Rio, we loved this city and did not regret having put our suitcases there for a few days.

What to do and see in Rio de Janeiro? What are the must-sees in Rio? What are the neighborhoods to discover? In this article I will try to give you all the information and advice for our trip to Rio.

Rio de Janeiro is a very different city from Sao Paulo, you can also find my article on my must-do things in Sao Paulo…and thus see the differences between these two cities!

The Sugar Loaf

With the Corcovado, the Sugar Loaf or Pão de Açucar is a must in Rio. The view is just magnificent from up there in good weather. There are two cable cars to take, the first drops us off at Morro da Urca and then we get to Sugar Loaf. You will then have a panorama of the bay of Rio with walks in the garden.

There, you will surely have the visit of very cute little monkeys but you should not feed them!

The Corcovado and the Cristo Redentor

We absolutely wanted to see the statue of the Cristo Redentor but unfortunately the clouds were there and it’s really not a good idea to go there when it’s cloudy…because you can’t see anything, absolutely nothing! We still had good hopes but really it is useless to insist. A word of advice, go there when the sky is clear!

One of the strong symbols of Rio! It seems that the view of the city is magnificent….

Copacabana Beach and Ipanema

The copacabana beach is also quite a symbol, I would have liked to see that of Ipanema but as I told you the time on site was very short. We were therefore able to discover Copacabana beach at night, and drink caipirinhas in one of the many bars along the beach.

The neighborhood of Santa Teresa

This was the area where our hotel was located, so we were able to walk around and discover the small streets all around. A district full of charm, with very nice restaurants…

You can see the famous yellow tram on the Guimaraes Squareand a little further on Park of Ruins and its pretty view of Rio. You can also continue like us the ride to theSelaron staircase but I do not recommend that you go through the top because it is a dangerous corner that is best avoided! Several people told us and some Uber drivers, did not want to take the street…

And if you have more time than us….

The Lapa district

Right next to Santa Teresa and the staircase, the Lapa district was recommended to us…unfortunately we didn’t have time to walk there but if you stay a little longer than us, go and have a look, there is street art, bars and a lot of entertainment!

Rio Botanical Garden

It seems that it is really worth it, there are royal palm trees and nearly 8,000 tropical species rub shoulders there! A short break away from the hustle and bustle of the city, to stroll, or for plant lovers!

National Park of Tijuca

For nature lovers too, it is the largest urban forest in the world! There are rocky peaks, and of course trails offering incredible panoramas! On site, you can swim in natural waterfalls, go hiking with a guide, go climbing, hang-gliding!

Where to sleep in Rio de Janeiro?

The Mama Shelter

During our stay in Rio, we took a room at the Mama Shelter in the Santa Teresa neighborhood. The hotel is great! We really enjoyed our stay at Mama Shelter. You can also find the article on the hotel as well as the video.

Some tips

  • Transportation issue: you can use the buses, I admit I had trouble finding my bearings with all the lines, without knowing the timetables… It was frankly a big mess! We missed a lot of it, but hey, it’s doable! Uber was very convenient and economical when taken together! There is also a metro but we didn’t use it….
  • To eat, there are lots of nice bars and restaurants in Rio but we mostly ate street food there!
  • Security : it was our biggest apprehension coming to Rio. And then the family of Brazil had not reassured us on this question. Rio is a city full of contrasts, it’s difficult to spot the border between a nice neighborhood and a street that will be conducive to traffic or other …. you have to be vigilant and follow some very simple tips such as putting away cameras, jewelry, which might catch the eye, we don’t go to a favela without a guide, we stay in the busy streets…

I hope you have enjoyed this little article on Rio, for more information on the city, do not hesitate to take a look at the site of the‘Rio de Janeiro Tourist Office. (in English, Portuguese and Spanish)

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