70 Best Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

statue of christ the redeemer

Rio de Janeiro is probably the most picturesque city in the world, which explains its huge popularity with tourists.

Thousands of people from all over the world come here every day, attracted by its fantastic beaches, sunny weather, lush nature and countless opportunities to enjoy life.

The city is known for its excellent tourist infrastructure as well as for its great variety of architectural monuments and museums.

Not to mention the world’s biggest carnival, which takes place every February.

But while Rio offers unlimited opportunities for having fun, many people say they visited everything within the first 2 or 3 days.

How is that possible? Very simple – most travelers visit only 2 – 3%, in rare cases up to 10% of all the landmarks of the city.

This is why we wrote down an ultimate list of 70 best things to do in Rio.

1. Start your adventure from Copacabana Beach

copacabana beach
Copacabana Beach by miguelangelpulidoj/Flickr

A favorite place for walking of locals and tourists, Copacabana is the liveliest and most popular beach in Rio de Janeiro.

According to the authoritative media Business Insider, it is also one of the top 10 best city beaches in the world.

Nearly 4 km long, the stretch of fine golden sand offers numerous sports facilities and is a great place to play beach football or volleyball.

Although the beach is over 100 meters wide, it is always quite crowded, except on rainy days, which are, however, very rare even in winter.

If you feel tired from the hot tropical sun, Copacabana offers numerous great restaurants, bars and cafes.

Enjoy a long walk along the promenade, which is well-known for its mosaic of black and white granite stones.

2. Go to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain

view from the top of sugarloaf mountain
View from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain by Ronald Woan/Flickr

Sugarloaf Mountain is one of the symbols of Rio and offers an incredible view of Guanabara Bay and the entire city.

With a height of 396 meters, it dominates the silhouette of the city and is one of the reasons why Rio’s location is described as one of the most scenic in the world.

Erected vertically on the seashore itself, the mountain is located in the city’s South Zone, with the prestigious Urca neighbourhood to the north and west.

It separates Guanabara Bay from the Atlantic Ocean, and since 2012, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The mountain is one of the most important places to visit in the city.

The easiest way to climb to the top is by taking the cable car from Morro da Urca, near the Red Beach.

Of course, there is also a hiking trail to the top, and it will take about 40 minutes to get there.

The cable cars depart regularly, approximately at every 20 minutes.

On the other hand, if you decide to reach the top on foot, you will have the chance to enjoy the fantastic natural beauty of the rainforest and its flora and fauna.

3. Explore the Tijuca National Park

rio de janeiro from mirante dona marta, tijuca national park
Rio de Janeiro from Mirante Dona Marta, Tijuca National Park by Frank Kehren/Flickr

With an area of ​​32 square kilometers, Tijuca is the largest urban forest in the world.

Declared a national park, it is unique because of its location in the heart of Rio de Janeiro.

It completely covers the Corcovado Mountains, and is surrounded from all directions by the neighborhoods of the city.

Tijuca is a unique Atlantic rainforest, home to thousands of species of plants.

In this real jungle you will find a number of wonderful waterfalls, the most famous of which is Taunay Waterfall.

It attracts many wildlife lovers and enthusiasts.

Because of its lush vegetation, Tijuca Forest is known for its very pleasant microclimate.

When summer hits Rio with temperatures of between 35 and 40 degrees along the coast of Copacabana and Ipanema, in the forest of Tijuca the temperature is usually around 25 – 27°C during the day.

4. Visit a capoeira class

capoeira class
Capoeira class by fluprj/Flickr

Capoeira is a traditional Brazilian martial art.

Uniquely combined with music and dance, it has its roots in the African heritage of Brazil.

It is a very good way to keep your body and mind fit.

Many tourists attend at least one or two capoeira lessons.

Of course, this is not enough, but it is a great way to get to know this beautiful sport.

There are many places in Rio where you can visit a capoeira lesson.

You can observe and if you want, you can also join the training at very reasonable prices.

5. Visit H.Stern Workshop

h.stern workshop
H.Stern Workshop by ttnotes.com

H.Stern Workshop was founded in 1945 and is an excellent opportunity to enjoy a unique fashion experience.

Located 300 meters from Ipanema Beach and at nearly the same distance from Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, the place is a great opportunity to see with your own eyes what the manufacturing process of luxury jewelry looks like.

This is the place to note that the combination of manual work, long experience and specific skills are an important and integral part of the creation of some of the most elegant jewels.

6. Discover Ilha da Marambaia

ilha da marambaia
Ilha da Marambaia by YouTube

Ilha da Marambaia is a 46 km long narrow island, located a few minutes drive to the west of Tijuca.

The island plays the role of a natural barrier and separates the Atlantic from a quiet and smooth lagoon.

Despite being very long, at some parts the island is only about a hundred meters wide.

Praia de Marambaia, which dominates the southern shore of the island, is considered by many to be one of the longest beaches in the country.

To the northwest you will find a narrow sandy isthmus, which is about 2,5 km long.

Here you will find the popular Praia da Pombeba, which is known for its white sands and smooth waters.

Ilha da Marambaia is a place of incredible natural beauty, and the best part is the fact you will be able to enjoy some solitude and privacy with just leaving the borders of the huge and cosmopolitan city.

7. Discover Praia do Vidigal (Vidigal Beach)

Located at the foot of the Vidigal favela (one of the largest in Rio), Praia do Vidigal is one of the lesser known beaches of this contrasting city but is definitely the first choice of most local residents.

This is a relatively small private beach located right next to a luxury hotel complex, so it is always very clean and well maintained.

Beautiful and less crowded, it is located only half a kilometer west of Ipanema.

It offers superb golden sands and is surrounded by steep rocky slopes covered by lush tropical vegetation.

8. Visit Fortaleza de Santa Cruz da Barra

fortaleza de santa cruz da barra
Fortaleza de Santa Cruz da Barra by Diego Baravelli/Wikimedia

Completed in 1612, Fortaleza de Santa Cruz da Barra is considered one of the most impressive places to visit while in Niteroi.

Perfectly preserved, the fortress is situated on a rocky peninsula at the entrance of Guanabara Bay.

During the colonial era, the fortress was probably the most important Portuguese protective facility in South America.

Nowadays, it is an important tourist attraction and is, of course, open to visitors.

9. Try the world famous Brazilian picanha

brazilian picanha
Brazilian picanha by Yelp Inc./Flickr

Brazil is one of the most famous barbecue cultures in the world.

The good climate allows people to spend long hours having fun with family and friends outdoors, and delicious barbecue is an integral part of these parties.

Talking about barbeque, picanha is probably the most preferred and popular dish of its kind.

Served at home, in up-scale restaurants or as a fast food on the street, people regularly consume the fresh roasted beef.

The real picanha is a lean meat cut from the back of the animal in the area of the waist.

Most often, it is served with fresh green or colored vegetables.

10. Try the most traditional local drink – Caipirinha

Caipirinha by adrivdm/Flickr

Known for its sweetness and refreshing taste, Caipirinha is the most popular and traditional alcoholic drink in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil.

You can find it at virtually any bar or restaurant in the city, and according to locals, it is an integral part of their lifestyle.

The national drink of Brazil is an easy-to-prepare cocktail whose main ingredient is cachaça – a type of strong local sugar cane liqueur.

Sugar and a few slices of lime are added to make the taste of the drink fresh and slightly tart.

11. Try some surfing

ipanema beach surf
Ipanema beach surf by alobos life/Flickr

Rio de Janeiro is one of the best surfing spots in the world.

Its beaches are a great place for fans of the sport because they combine nice weather and high waves for most of the year.

Although you could find excellent conditions practically at any time of the year, experienced surfers prefer the autumn-winter period (from March / April till September / October).

The beaches of Rio face south (this is the equivalent to the north-facing beaches in the northern hemisphere), suggesting higher waves in fall and winter when the air masses come from the South Atlantic and Antarctica.

Depending on the wind direction, Copacabana surf conditions are better on some days and Ipanema on others.

If you have no experience, be sure to contact one of the local surf schools for a few lessons.

12. Go to Largo da Carioca

Largo da Carioca is an elegant square in Rio de Janeiro, located in the Central Zone of the city.

Surrounded by skyscrapers, the square creates a feeling of balance and harmony in the city’s dynamic administrative center.

Good looking and comfortable, the square is often described as the city’s most central location.

It is a popular meeting place for residents from all over the city as it is conveniently connected to practically the entire metropolis.

13. Go to Instituto Moreira Salles

instituto moreira salles
Instituto Moreira Salles by Rodrigo Lobo – Visual Rio/Flickr

If you are interested in modern art, you should definitely stop by Instituto Moreira Salles, founded in 1992.

Here you will find a wide variety of exhibitions, including photography, films and music.

The Institute is located at R. Marquês de São Vicente, 476 – Gávea, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22451-040, Brazil.

The Gávea neighborhood itself is easily accessible. It is located right next to Leblon and Ipanema.

14. Visit the Museu Seleção Brasileira – CBF

museu seleção brasileira
Museu Seleção Brasileira by Facebook

If you are a fan of football, you should definitely stop by the Museu Seleção Brasileira – CBF.

The building is located in the increasingly popular neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca, in the West Zone of the city.

The museum is a great opportunity if you want to learn all about Brazil’s national team and its numerous victories.

Among the exhibits, you can see cups, t-shirts of famous players from the national team and many others.

15. Have you ever heard about Sao Conrado Beach

sao conrado beach
Sao Conrado Beach by Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 4.0

Sao Conrado is a large urban beach.

It stretches between Praia da Barra to the west and Ipanema Beach to the east but is somehow much less popular and less crowded.

Praia Sao Conrado offers nearly 2 kilometers of golden sands.

Initially, to see such an empty beach in one of the most attractive areas of Rio de Janeiro looks a bit strange.

However, it is quite easy to explain.

In fact, most of the neighbourhood is covered by golf courses.

Because of this reason, the area is less populated and the number of local residents is much smaller than it looks at a first glance.

16. Visit the National Historical Museum

national historical museum
National Historical Museum by Limongi/Wikipedia

The National Historical Museum of Brazil is one of the recommended places to visit while in Rio de Janeiro.

It is housed in a historical building whose construction started in the 18th century, in 1762.

The museum is located not far from Guanabara Bay, within walking distance of Flamengo Park and Beach.

It is located northeast of the business district of Rio, home to most of the skyscrapers and office buildings in the city.

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The museum offers a rich variety of archives, private and digital, collections and art exhibits.

It is an important stop for anyone who wants to learn more about the culture of Brazil.

17. Walk to Travessa do Comércio (Old Town)

arco do teles
Arco do Teles by Filipo Tardim/Wikimedia

Travessa do Comércio is located in the downtown of the city, not far from the shore of Guanabara Bay.

It is known for its narrow cobbled streets which remind about the old historical cities in Europe.

Travessa do Comércio is popular also for its beautiful old architecture, including the Archway (Arco do Teles).

This is a place to find a number of nice boutique cafes and restaurants, housed in the lovely 18th century buildings.

18. Visit the scenic Botafogo Beach

botafogo beach
Botafogo Beach by Matt Spurr/Flickr

Botafogo Beach is famous for its picturesque location and views of Guanabara Bay.

It is usually empty as it is not recommended for swimming.

On the other hand, it is an excellent choice for a stroll along the coast, especially considering the pleasant shade of the trees lining the promenade.

One of the most typical features of the bay are the countless boats scattered around the cobalt-blue waters.

Being separated from the ocean, the bay offers excellent sailing opportunities because of its smooth waters.

It reveals a beautiful panorama to the popular Sugar Loaf.

19. Visit the Monastery of Sao Bento

interior of the baroque monastery of sao bento
Interior of the baroque Monastery of Sao Bento by Patricia Figueira/Wikipedia

The Monastery of Sao Bento is one of the main tourist attractions in downtown Rio de Janeiro.

You will find it just north of the financial center of the city.

The monastery was founded in 1590 but the building was completed in 1671, more than 81 years later.

The construction work itself took almost 40 years after the first groundbreaking.

The building is completed in an original Mannerist style.

The interior is very elegant and richly decorated, especially the main altar.

20. Take a walk along Praia do Flamengo

flamengo beach
Flamengo Beach by Leimenide/Flickr

Praia do Flamengo is a beautiful beach on the shores of Guanabara Bay, famous for its calm waters and beautiful views.

It is located just north of Botafogo, so you can easily visit them both one after the other.

Because the water in the bay is heavily polluted, the place is not good for swimming.

On the other hand, if you are a fan of sunbathing, the beach will certainly not disappoint you.

Praia to Flamengo is a very nice place to walk because of the green and well-maintained park along the coast.

Additionally, if you are willing to make new friendships, here you can take part in a beach soccer or volleyball match.

Don’t miss to visit the Monument to the Dead of World War II, which is located within the park, on the shore of the bay, right next to the popular Marina da Gloria.

21. Visit the Imperial Museum in Petropolis

imperial museum in petropolis
Imperial Museum in Petropolis by Alexandre Machado/Wikipedia

Petropolis is a beautiful city located north of Guanabara Bay, about an hour and 20 minutes drive to the north of the Central Zone of Rio de Janeiro.

The city offers too many things to do and see, and it has the reputation of an important historical and cultural center.

Founded in 1843, Petropolis is often referred to as the “Imperial City”, and the largest tourist attraction is the Imperial Museum.

The elegant building was the favorite residence of Emperor Pedro II and in modern days attracts tens of thousands of visitors a year.

The museum is really worth a visit, and the biggest attraction inside is the golden Imperial Crown.

22. Go to the Carioca Aqueduct

carioca aqueduct
Carioca Aqueduct by Wolfhardt/Wikipedia

While in Zone Central, go to the Carioca Aqueduct.

Built in the 18th century, it is a great example of elegant colonial architecture.

The aqueduct was the main source of freshwater for the local population.

Nowadays, it serves as a tram bridge that connects the financial district and the neighbourhood of Santa Teresa.

Today it is a place that attracts many tourists and is definitely worth a visit.

23. Go to Itacoatiara Beach

itacoatiara beach
Itacoatiara Beach by Rodrigo Soldon/Flickr

Itacoatiara is a beautiful 800 meters long stretch of fine golden sand, which is located on the Atlantic shore of Niteroi.

It is known for being less crowded than most of the beaches in the large megapolis and the pace of life in the area is much more relaxed.

The other difference between Itacoatiara and the beaches of Rio is the lack of tall buildings.

Niteroi is a beautiful city with a population of more than half a million people.

It is situated on the other side of Guanabara Bay, and according to many, it looks like a smaller version of Rio.

24. Visit the Selarón Steps (Escadaria Selarón)

selarón steps
Selarón Steps by Rodrigo Soldon/Flickr

The Selarón Steps (Escadaria Selarón) are a great example of how colorful and unique the city of Rio is.

In a narrow street in Zone Central, just a few steps from Flamengo Park and Marina da Gloria, this place with its vibrant colors appears to you out of nowhere.

Selarón Steps attracts many photographers and regular tourists.

Over the recent years, the area has become increasingly popular.

25. Visit Igreja Nossa Senhora do Carmo da Antiga Sé

interior of igreja de nossa senhora do monte do carmo
Interior of Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte do Carmo by Patricia Figueira/Wikipedia

The Igreja Nossa Senhora do Carmo da Antiga Sé is an old church that remains relatively hidden in a narrow street right next to Praça Quinze de Novembro square in Zone Central of Rio.

Taking a closer look, you will see the elegant bell towers of the church rising above the dense crowns of the trees.

Most impressive is the church from inside.

Built in 1761, it is known for its unique interior, rich decoration and beautiful altar.

26. Discover the heavenly beautiful Lopes Mendes Beach (Ilha Grande)

lopes mendes beach, ilha grande
Lopes Mendes Beach, Ilha Grande by Matthias Faure/Flickr

Ilha Grande is located about 110 km from Rio and is famous for its fantastic beaches that are in no way inferior to those in Thailand, Costa Rica or the Caribbean.

The island offers hundreds of small and large stretches of sand, but one of them is particularly attractive.

Approximately 2.5 km long, Lopes Mendes Beach is one of the largest on the island.

You can find it in the isolated eastern part of Ilha Grande.

The beach looks to the southwest and is almost always completely empty.

It is well-known for its white and fine sands, and on windless days, the sea water is crystal clear.

Its color changes from one day to another, but on quiet days is irresistible with its turquoise shades.

27. Visit the Metropolitan Cathedral

interior of metropolitan cathedral
Interior of Metropolitan Cathedral by Dennis Jarvis/Flickr

The Metropolitan Cathedral of San Sebastian is one of the most iconic and easily recognizable buildings in the cosmopolitan city.

Completed in 1979, it fits surprisingly well into the surrounding administrative center with offices, banks and other high-rise buildings.

According to many, it looks even more modern and contemporary than many of the surrounding office buildings, which is especially interesting when it comes to a cathedral.

It was designed by Edgar de Oliveira da Fonseca, whose idea was inspired by the Mayan pyramids.

28. Visit the Statue of Christ the Redeemer

statue of christ the redeemer
Statue of Christ the Redeemer by Rafa Bahiense/Flickr

Mount Corcovado rises majestically at an altitude of 710 meters above the city.

The Statue of Christ the Redeemer, which is located at the very top of the mountain, is one of the most famous landmarks in the world.

Completed in 1931, the statue itself is 30 meters high and stands on the top of an 8 meters high pedestal.

In July 2007, it was proclaimed one of the Seven New Wonders of the World.

There are various ways to enjoy the beauty of this majestic statue.

You could climb by train or if you prefer you can walk there.

But, of course, the most beautiful is the view from a helicopter.

29. Go to Praça Gen. Tibúrcio

praça general tibúrcio
Praça General Tibúrcio by Malay_EA/Wikimapia

Praça Gen. Tibúrcio is a small square located in the South Zone of Rio, in the Urca district, which is traditionally known as a beautiful and expensive area.

Visiting the small square is a great opportunity to explore the neighbourhood.

In the center of Praça Gen. Tibúrcio is a monument known as Monumento aos Heróis de Laguna e Dourados.

The square is well-known for its picturesque location, right next to Praia Vermelha (or Red Beach in English).

This is a nearly 250 meters long stretch of golden sand.

The cable car that takes tourists and locals to the popular Sugarloaf runs over the neighborhood.

About 300 meters to the north of the square is Guanabara Bay, and to the south Praya Vermelia faces the open Atlantic.

30. Walk along Praia de Icaraí in Niteroi

praia de icaraí, niteroi
Praia de Icaraí, Niteroi by Vpassos01/Wikimedia

Praia de Icaraí is one of the emblematic places in Niteroi.

It is one of the northwestern-most beaches in the city and is situated on the shore of the Guanabara Bay.

Since the bay is heavily polluted, the beach is not good for swimming.

However, it is a very nice place for walking, sunbathing and enjoying the relaxed pace of life in the colourful city.

The atmosphere along the coast of Icaraí is sophisticated and you can easily find a nice cafe to have a glass of refreshing fruit drink or a cup of coffee.

31. Visit the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura

real gabinete português de leitura
Real Gabinete Português de Leitura by Mayumi Ishikawa/Flickr

Opened on May 14, 1837, the Portuguese Royal Library is today one of the most important cultural centers in the lusophone world.

Known as the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, it is located in the heart of the city.

Impressive from outside, this library is simply breathtaking from inside.

No matter how much you have traveled and how many places you have visited, you will remain totally speechless entering inside.

It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful libraries on the planet and one of the most beautiful buildings in Brazil in general.

At the same time, the library is also the eight largest in the world.

32. Go to Praça Quinze de Novembro

quinze de novembro square
Quinze de Novembro Square by Carlos Luis M C da Cruz/Wikipedia

Praça Quinze de Novembro (or Quinze de Novembro Square) is an old square of historical importance and another recommended spot to visit in Zone Central of the city.

Many of the landmarks of Rio are at a walking distance from here.

At one of the corners of the square you’ll find the pantheon of the famous General Osorio.

There is also a ferry terminal that connects the downtown to the other shore of Guanabara Bay and Niteroi.

The place is very lively and from here you can easily reach every part of the city.

33. Walk along the coast of Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon

rodrigo de freitas lagoon
Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon by Matt Kieffer/Flickr

Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon is one of the most famous landmarks in the city.

It is approximately two kilometers in diameter and is located in the South Zone, occupying a large part of the prestigious Lagoa neighbourhood.

It is located just north of Ipanema and is connected to the Atlantic via a narrow canal.

It allows seawater to enter the lagoon.

The canal itself passes through the Jardim de Alah Park, another famous place to visit in the city.

While in Rio, you should definitely take a long and pleasant stroll along the coast of the lagoon and enjoy the tree-dotted promenade.

Because of the exotic vegetation and pleasant shade, this is a favourite place for walking and cycling of locals.

34. Go to Morro da Babilonia

Morro da Babilonia is a 240 meters high narrow forested hill that separates Leme (one of Copacabana Beach’s neighborhoods) from Urca.

The hill offers exceptional views of both Guanabara Bay and Copacabana.

The experience of climbing a hill is worth it not only because of the panorama but also because of the unique 18th-century fortress on the top.

35. Go to Maracana Stadium

maracana stadium
Maracana Stadium by Daniel Basil/Wikimedia

Opened on June 16, 1950, Maracana is considered the most famous football stadium in the world and the second largest in Latin America.

Immediately after it was completed, it hosted the 1950 FIFA World Cup.

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Thousands of sporting, musical and other events have been held here over the years, and the stadium has become one of Rio’s symbols and a main source of pride for locals and their football culture.

The stadium is located in the Maracana district.

It is one of the middle class neighborhoods and is located in the North Zone of the city.

The stadium has a capacity of 78 838 people.

The Maracana Stadium houses one of the city’s recommended museums – the Football Museum.

It ranks among the most visited of its kind in the world and can introduce to you the rich football history of Brazil in a very interesting and easy to understand way.

36. Visit the Botanical Garden

jardim botânico
Jardim Botânico by Second-Half Travels/Flickr

In the heart of the prestigious Jardim Botânico neighborhood you will find the most famous botanical garden in Latin America.

The green oasis is located in the South Zone, not far from the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon and next to the racecourse Hipódromo da Gávea.

Founded on June 13, 1808, the garden is more than 2 centuries old and is more lush and beautiful than ever.

It combines a great variety of plant species from different parts of the world.

The park is notable for its charming alleys winding among 6,000 different species of trees, flowers and shrubs.

The main alleys in the garden are dotted with giant palm trees.

The Botanical Garden is a green paradise and offers some pleasant coolness in the summer heat.

Sophisticated fountains complement the relaxing atmosphere of the tropical park and guarantee a pleasant experience.

37. Enjoy the outstanding Ipanema Beach

ipanema beach
Ipanema Beach by alobos life/Flickr

There is hardly anyone who has not heard the famous bossa nova song “The Girl from Ipanema” recorded back in 1963.

With a length of about 3800 meters, Ipanema Beach is among the most beautiful and preferred stretches of sand in the Americas.

It is considered the most sophisticated beach in the country, and this is largely due to the close proximity to two of Latin America’s most luxurious neighborhoods – Leblon and Ipanema.

Ipanema Beach is usually much less crowded than Copacabana.

Its fine and golden sand is just fantastic.

The coastal promenade is paved with the famous black and white granite mosaics.

Along the coast you will find fantastic bars and restaurants.

This is the place to say that Ipanema is the best place to enjoy an authentic refreshing cocktail of coconut water.

38. Go to Museu Casa do Pontal

museu casa do pontal
Museu Casa do Pontal by Facebook

Located in the farthest western end of Tijuca, the Museu Casa do Pontal is an interesting and exciting way to spend a wonderful afternoon in this charming city.

The house-museum is known for its rich folklore exhibitions.

The large collection of figurines takes an important place in the museum.

It is dedicated to the local culture and shows people in their traditional daily activities.

The area itself is breathtaking. Despite suffering from regular flooding, the nature is very diverse.

Here you can enjoy unexpected encounters with rare and very beautiful animal species so don’t forget your camera.

39. Explore the wonderful Angra dos Reis

angra dos reis
Angra dos Reis by David Kirsch/Flickr

Founded at the beginning of the 16th century, Angra dos Reis is a city and municipal center with a population of over 200,000 people, most of which live in the city itself and a smaller part – in the nearby villages, towns and islands.

Extremely safe and quiet, Angra is a very attractive vacation spot for Rio’s residents and many other more distant Brazilian cities, such as São Paulo, for example.

Located 2 hours and 30 minutes’ drive from downtown Rio, this piece of paradise attracts tourists and travelers, mostly for its gorgeous lush Brazilian nature, golden beaches and emerald sea.

Traveling to Angra is one of the most recommended experiences if you have a week or more in the metropolis.

40. Walk in the forest of Ilha Grande

the forest of ilha grande
The forest of Ilha Grande by Leonardo Shinagawa/Flickr

If you have a little more time in Rio de Janeiro, you should definitely take a short trip to Ilha Grande and enjoy its wonderful forests.

The island is located about 110 kilometers west of the downtown of the city.

Situated in the emerald Baía da Ribeira, the island is known for its unique Atlantic rainforests.

As it is about 30 kilometers long, you will be able to explore its hiking trails for hours.

It all depends on how long you are willing to spend on the island.

41. Visit the Modern Art Museum

modern art museum
Modern Art Museum by Marinelson Almeida/Flickr

While strolling around the beautiful tropical city park of Flamengo along the coast of Guanabara Bay, be sure to stop by the Modern Art Museum.

It is known for its regular exhibitions of popular artists from around the world.

And while the museum offers unique collections of contemporary art, many come here to see the building itself.

Completed in a modernist style, it is very well positioned against the sun, and the exterior is dominated by a well-designed and well-planned garden.

42. Visit The Palácio Quitandinha

palácio quitandinha
Palácio Quitandinha by Sesc Rio/Wikipedia

If you decide to go to Petropolis, which is recommended for anyone who has decided to spend a few days in Rio, make sure to visit the Palácio Quitandinha.

The former hotel and casino, which was designed by the talented Italian architect Luis Fossatti, is considered one of the most beautiful and iconic buildings in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

In 1947, the hotel was visited by the President of the United States, Harry Truman, who signed the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, better known simply as the Treaty of Rio.

43. Walk around Barra da Tijuca neighborhood

barra da tijuca
Barra da Tijuca by Barrazine Da Barra/Flickr

Be sure to take a stroll in Barra da Tijuca, one of Rio’s most prestigious neighborhoods over the recent years.

It is located in Zone West of the city and is famous for its wide and long coastal promenade as well as for the huge golden sand beach.

Much of the neighborhood is occupied by Lagoa de Marapendi – a large lagoon and wetlands whose shores are covered with lush tropical vegetation.

Thanks to its vast green spaces and because of being less crowded than Copacabana and Ipanema, Barra da Tijuca is a great place for long walks.

44. Try local cakes

Brazil is known for its fantastic desserts, two of which compete to be called traditional.

These are the popular Brigadeiro and Bolo de Cenoura.

Bolo de Cenoura is a carrot cake. It is the most favourite dessert in Brazil and you will easily find it, no matter what part of the country you are in.

It is relatively light, contains a lot of fiber and has a delicate taste.

Brigadeiro are usually small chocolate cupcakes which sometimes look like chocolate table tennis balls.

What Brigadeiro and Bolo de Cenoura have in common is that you can find them easily practically anywhere.

45. Discover the hidden Joatinga Beach

joatinga beach
Joatinga Beach by VinnyWiki/Wikipedia

Joatinga Beach (or as it is also known as Praia do Joá) is a hidden small beach known mostly by locals.

You will find it just before Ponte da Joatinga (Joatinga Bridge), on the way to Barra da Tijuca.

It is famous for its picturesque location at the foot of steep coastal cliffs covered with lush tropical vegetation.

This is a great place to visit, not just because of its golden sands and emerald waters but also because of the chance to find some privacy, which is a rare opportunity in Rio.

46. Go to Centro Cultural dos Correios

centro cultural dos correios
Centro Cultural dos Correios by Luciosalvatore/Wikimedia

Centro Cultural dos Correios is located in Zona Central, which is one of the most important financial areas in Latin America.

The building is located behind the popular CCBB cultural center, in the old part of the city.

Housed in a beautiful historical building with a red-tiled roof, the Centro Cultural dos Correios attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors per year with its musical, theatrical and other performances or exhibitions.

47. Visit the Fort of Copacabana

the fort of copacabana
The Fort of Copacabana by Portal Brasil 2016/Wikimedia

The Fort of Copacabana is a massive stone fortress located on the small rocky peninsula in the western part of the prestigious neighbourhood.

Built between 1908 and 1914, today the fortress is open to visitors, and the emotion of going there is really worth it.

The white-washed entrance of the fortress meets its guests with the sign “Forte de Copacabana”.

The fortification was originally designed to protect Copacabana and the entrance to the harbor.

Today it houses the Army Historical Museum, which is open to visitors every day from Tuesday to Sunday between 10am and 6am.

48. Visit the Sunday Hippie Market of Ipanema

sunday hippie market of ipanema
Sunday Hippie Market of Ipanema by Janice Waltzer/Flickr

The Sunday Hippie Market of Ipanema is one of the most interesting events you can visit in the most popular neighbourhood.

Also known as the Hippie Fair, it is a good opportunity to find a great variety of works of art.

This place is highly recommended if you are looking for souvenirs for your home as well as for your close friends and relatives.

Here you can find a very large selection of items, many of which are handmade.

You will probably remain pleasantly surprised because of the combination of good prices and high quality of the works.

You can choose between paintings, sculptures, clothing, sandals and many others.

49. Discover Praia do Secreto

praia do secreto
Praia do Secreto by VinnyWiki/Wikimedia

On the rocky coast west of Praia da Macumba, a natural extension of Praia da Barra, there is an interesting place that is well-known only to the local residents of Rio.

It comes to Praia do Secreto – a hidden natural swimming pool on the very shore of the Atlantic.

It has a sandy bottom and is surrounded by rocks.

On windy days with large ocean waves, the water overflows into the pool, and then Praia do Secreto attracts many visitors.

50. Try traditional Brazilian feijoada

brazilian feijoada
Brazilian feijoada by Wilfredorrh/Flickr

Brazilian feijoada is a traditional local dish you should definitely try while in Rio.

Actually, it is among the most popular dishes in the everyday life of locals.

It is very nutritious and rich in protein.

You can try Brazilian feijoada at almost any restaurant in Rio de Janeiro.

The main ingredients of the meal are beans and meat (it can be pork or beef – it all depends on your taste and preferences).

The dish is prepared in a clay pot in the oven.

Usually, most people add toasted cassava flour, which is the reason behind the pleasant aroma and texture of the stew.

51. Visit the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil – CCBB Rio de Janeiro

centro cultural banco do brasil
Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil by Rodrigo Soldon/Flickr

Don’t miss to go to Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil – CCBB, located on the coast of Guanabara Bay, not far from the city Cathedral.

While at first glance this is far from being the most popular tourist attraction to visit in Rio, most of the visitors describe it as one of the top rated and most highly recommended experiences!

The reason is very simple and easy to explain.

The cultural center offers a wide variety of options to spend your time, in dependence of what are your interests and preferences.

Here you will find different interesting exhibitions, cinemas, theaters and many others.

Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil is located in a very beautiful art deco building.

52. Go to Cinelândia Square

cinelândia square
Cinelândia Square by Kalexander2010/Flickr

Surrounded by iconic buildings reminiscent of Manhattan, Cinelândia Square is one of Rio’s busiest points.

You will find it in Zone Central of the city, right next to Flamengo Park.

The square was built during a massive reorganization and redevelopment of the city center in the early 20th century.

The Monument of Marshal Floriano Peixoto, the second president of Brazil, takes a central place on the square.

53. Go to Lagoa Azul

lagoa azul, ilha grande
Lagoa Azul, Ilha Grande by Leo Prieto/Flickr

Lagoa Azul is a place known for its unbelievable beauty.

See also  15 Best Beaches in Rio de Janeiro

It is located on the north coast of Ilha Grande, in Baía da Ribeira, about 11 km southeast from Angra dos Reis.

And while Ipanema and Copacabana are among the most famous beaches in the world, Lagoa Azul is definitely the place with the most limpid azure waters in Brazil!

If you are a lover of snorkeling, diving and swimming, this is the best place to visit in the country.

On sunny and quiet days you will be able to enjoy an incredible underwater visibility of 40 – 50 meters!

The number of visitors is moderate, and in fact, the lagoon is never too crowded with tourists.

You will find Lagoa Azul between two tiny islets, right off the west coast of Freguesia de Santana peninsula, in the northern part of Ilha Grande.

54. Visit the Centro Cultural Municipal Parque das Ruínas

centro cultural municipal parque das ruínas
Centro Cultural Municipal Parque das Ruínas by Carlos Alkmin/Wikimedia

The Centro Cultural Municipal Parque das Ruínas (known to locals simply as Parque das Ruínas), represents a unique art gallery housed in and around the ruins of an old mansion.

The house that was abandoned during the 70es of the 20th century is located in the Santa Teresa neighborhood, in the so-called Zone Central.

The building has been renovated in a way that preserves its partially ruined and abandoned appearance.

Nowadays, a number of cultural events take place in the old mansion.

55. Go to the Crystal Palace of Petropolis

crystal palace of petropolis
Crystal Palace of Petropolis by Rodrigo Soldon/Flickr

If you have more than a weekend in Rio, you should definitely visit the Crystal Palace, located in the nearby historical and cultural center of Petropolis.

The structure itself was inspired by London and made in Paris, then moved to Brazil and installed here, in a beautiful garden.

Various cultural events and exhibitions have been held here over the years.

The glass facade of this structure allows interaction with the surrounding environment and nature, regardless of the weather outside.

56. Climb Bico do Papagaio and enjoy the panoramic view

scenic view of bico do papagaio
Scenic view of Bico do Papagaio by Trilhando Montanhas/Flickr

In the dense and lush tropical rainforest of Tijuca you will find a special place offering some of the most breathtaking panoramic views in Rio.

Known as Bico do Papagaio, the huge rock rises 989 meters above sea level and resembles the much more famous Sugarloaf or Corcovado.

Although seemingly detached from the entire world, this place is located in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, somewhere in the middle of the way between the Olympic Village to the west and Maracana Stadium to the east.

This is the reason why you can enjoy a stunning view in all directions.

57. Paragliding over the city

paragliding above the city
Paragliding above the city by Rodrigo Soldon/Flickr

Rio de Janeiro is considered the paragliding capital of South America.

Several clubs offer the necessary equipment and facilities to offer you the opportunity to enjoy this magnificent experience, even if you have no any skills.

Such an adventure is truly unforgettable, and the view of Rio’s most beautiful places is unique.

Flight should not scare you, because you will have the opportunity to rise above the city in the presence of an experienced instructor.

58. Try the traditional Pão de queijo (cheese bread)

pão de queijo
Pão de Queijo by YouTube

Pão de Queijo is a traditional Brazilian food.

It is a small baked cheese bread with an oval shape.

It can be consumed very easily even while walking around the streets of Rio de Janeiro.

In fact, Pão de Queijo comes initially from the states of Minas Gerais and Goiás, but it gradually has become one of the national delicacies in the country.

It is suitable for a light but satisfying snack or as a complement to another dish.

59. Try the local Vitamina de Abacate

vitamina de abacate
Vitamina de Abacate by Facebook

Sweet, aromatic and filling, Vitamina de abacate is among the most popular drinks in Brazil.

This is an avocado smoothie that locals sometimes consume instead of a morning or afternoon breakfast.

Full of vitamins and nutrients, Vitamina de abacate is especially popular in Rio de Janeiro.

It contains milk, sugar and avocado blended together and is a good idea if you need some energy in the middle of the day.

60. Go to Quinta da Boa Vista

quinta da boa vista
Quinta da Boa Vista by Rodrigo Soldon/Flickr

Quinta da Boa Vista is the main tourist attraction in Zone North of Rio de Janeiro.

The park was created in the 19th century and in the past was part of the gardens of the royal residence of São Cristóvão.

Today it houses the National Museum of Brazil, which is considered the oldest in the country, as well as a zoo, which, with its more than 2000 animals, ranks among the largest in Latin America.

61. Try Brazilian wine

brazilian wine
Brazilian wine by Paul Scott/Flickr

When it comes to wine, Brazil is rarely being mentioned.

What you probably don’t know, though, is that there are some pretty good red and white wines here.

What they lack is only promotion and popularization.

Spending your holidays in Rio de Janeiro, you should definitely visit some of its great restaurants and try a glass of the top quality drink.

Of course, you should also consider buying a bottle for your loved ones at home.

The warm and sunny climate in combination with rich soils are an excellent prerequisite for producing high quality wines with unique flavors.

The most interesting is that the best wines of Brazil come from the state of Pernambuco, which is only about 8 degrees south of the equator!

62. Go to Chinese View and the Emperor’s Table

chinese view and the emperor's table
Chinese View and the Emperor’s Table by IK’s World Trip/Flickr

Rio is known for some of the most beautiful panoramic views in the world.

One of the places you should definitely visit is the popular Chinese View and the Emperor’s Table or as they say in Portuguese – a Vista Chinesa e la Mesa do Imperador.

The place is located in the interior of Tijuca National Park and is accessible mainly by car as well as by an organized tourist group.

The panoramic views include the statue of Christ the Redeemer along with the Corcovado Mountain, the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, and the popular Ipanema and Copacabana neighborhoods with their world class beaches.

63. Boat trip around Baía da Ribeira

boat trip around baía da ribeira
Boat trip around Baía da Ribeira by Facebook

Baía da Ribeira is a bay with a diameter of several tens of kilometers, located to the west of the metropolis of Rio de Janeiro.

The place is remarkable for its exceptional natural beauty, which can be compared to the exotic of Thailand and the Caribbean.

The region is characterized by the combination of smooth emerald waters and hilly islands covered with tropical rainforests.

The hundreds of small islands scattered around the bay (some of which are privately owned) are a popular vacation spot for the residents of Rio.

If you join a tourist boat trip to Baía da Ribeira, you will surely be able to swim in the warm emerald sea and enjoy the irresistible fine golden beaches.

64. Visit the world’s most famous carnival

the carnival in rio
The Carnival in Rio by José Luis Suerte/Flickr

The Carnival in Rio is undoubtedly the most famous in the world, and you should definitely visit it, if it is possible.

It has been held every year since 1830.

It usually takes place in February, and sometimes in early March.

This coincides with the peak of summer in the colorful Brazilian city, when the daytime air temperature averages around 32 – 33 degrees Celsius.

There are different ways to enjoy the Samba Carnival.

The most popular, of course, is to visit it in person but there are other options as well.

For example, you could rent a hotel room or an apartment on the popular Copacabana and Ipanema beaches and enjoy the performance from above.

65. Visit a cooking class

cooking class
Cooking class by YouTube

They say that the best way to get to know a country’s culture is by tasting different meals from its national cuisine.

That is why one of the best travel tips is to always take some time for gastronomy.

As Rio is an international tourist and cultural center, it is not surprising that you can find numerous cooking courses here to get to know the local cuisine better.

Two lessons are enough to accumulate some knowledge which could be very useful in your everyday life.

66. Go to Praça Grécia at Jardim de Alah

praça grécia at jardim de alah
Praça Grécia at Jardim de Alah by Márcio Cabral de Moura/Flickr

While walking around Rio, don’t miss to visit and enjoy the beautiful Praça Grécia, located in the beautiful Jardim de Alah.

This is a relaxing green oasis in the heart of the luxury coastal neighbourhood of Ipanema.

It stretches for about 600 meters between the lagoon of Rodrigo de Freitas and the fabulous Ipanema Beach.

67. Helicopter tour over the city

helicopter tour
Helicopter tour by TravelingOtter/Flickr

Rio de Janeiro is an exceptional city known for its unique location.

Therefore, it is considered that the best way to explore the area is by helicopter.

This is a great opportunity to see the city as it looks on postcards.

You will be able to enjoy from above to all its neighborhoods and beaches as well as the incredible natural beauty of the surrounding area.

When it comes to the duration of the tour, it all depends on your preferences and finances.

The walk can range from 15 or 20 minutes to an hour, depending on your plans, time and budget.

68. Learn to dance samba

Strongly influenced by the rhythms of Africa, the roots of samba can be traced to the lands of present-day Angola.

The first information about samba as we know it today dates from the first half of the 19th century.

Today, there is hardly any other place in the world where the dance is more popular than in Rio de Janeiro.

Here you will find numerous thematic bars and clubs.

If you want to immerse yourself in the rhythms of samba, you can do that at many of Rio’s nightclubs.

Here you will be able to learn the basic steps of the dance.

69. Join an organised tour in favela Rocinha

favela rocinha
Favela Rocinha by Ronald Woan/Flickr

Rio is a city of contrasts.

Here you can find both some of the most expensive and the poorest neighbourhoods in Latin America.

Actually, there is no other place in the Americas where wealth and poverty mix together in such an incredible way.

If you want to feel the ultimate taste of the multicultural megapolis, you should consider the opportunity to join an organised tour to some of the most famous favelas in the city (don’t do it alone!).

Even if it looks dangerous and sometimes are possible accidents, this is one of the strongest experiences.

Favela Rocinha is the most famous of the slums in the Cidade Maravilhosa.

It is located in the South Zone, not far from Ipanema and Leblon and is home to about 100,000 people.

70. Explore the huge Barra da Tijuca Beach

barra da tijuca beach
Barra da Tijuca Beach by Barrazine Da Barra/Flickr

Barra da Tijuca is one of the fastest growing neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro, and for young people of the new generation it is associated with luxury and modern lifestyle.

Located to the west of Copacabana and Ipanema, it is famous for its almost 19 kilometers long stretch of golden sand.

Barra da Tijuca Beach, or as they call it Praia da Barra, is different from all the other beaches in the city.

In fact, here you can always find a lot of free space for yourself on the coast.

In addition, this place is quite diverse.

While in the eastern part you can find a large selection of beach bars, restaurants, cafes and all kinds of facilities and entertainment options, to the west the beach looks almost deserted sometimes.

And while Praia da Barra is generally less crowded, especially quiet and empty is the part of the beach that stretches along the coast of Lagoa de Marapendi.

Here you can enjoy the best of Rio without being disturbed.