Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is a mesmerizing city that is known for its rich cultural history, vibrant nightlife, and natural beauty.
As the second largest city in Brazil, Rio offers some of the most spectacular sights and attractions in all of South America.
From breathtaking beaches to world-famous sites such as the Christ The Redeemer statue overlooking the city from atop Corcovado mountain, it’s no wonder the 10 Best things to do in Rio de Janeiro are so popular among visitors.
Whether you’re looking for an adventure-filled excursion or just want to take in the stunning scenery that Rio has to offer, here are 10 of the best things to do while visiting this stunning Brazilian city.
1. Visit Sugarloaf Mountain
Sugarloaf Mountain is an iconic peak located in the heart of Rio, offering spectacular views of the city and coastline. Take a cable car to the top and enjoy the stunning 360-degree panoramic views or climb up one of the many trails for a more challenging adventure.
Sugarloaf Mountain is a must-see for anyone visiting Rio de Janeiro. Located in the center of the city, Sugarloaf offers spectacular views of Corcovado and Guanabara Bay.
The best way to experience this icon is by taking one of the cable cars up to the top. There are two cable cars that take passengers from Praia Vermelha (Red Beach) to Morro da Urca (Urca Hill), then onward to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain, 396 meters above sea level.
Along with incredible views, visitors can also enjoy hiking trails, restaurants, souvenir shops, and an observation deck at the top. Be sure to bring your camera – you won’t want to miss out on Sugarloaf’s unforgettable views.
At night, the mountain is illuminated in bright colors, making it a popular spot to capture the beauty of Rio. With panoramic views and lots of fun activities to do, Sugarloaf Mountain is easily one of the 10 best things to do in Rio de Janeiro.
2. Explore Old Rio
Take a step back in time by exploring Old Rio, which is full of colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and fascinating museums. While here you can visit sites like Museu Imperial de Petrópolis where you can learn about Brazil’s history, take a stroll through Praça XV square, and admire some incredible street art at Escadaria Selarón steps.
The city center, known as Centro, is home to some of the most beautiful colonial architecture, old churches, and historical sites.
One of the top attractions here is Praca XV, or Fifteenth Square – a famously vibrant square near the harbor which is always full of life and attracts locals, tourists, vendors, and street performers.
Other highlights include the old Imperial Palace, Sao Bento Monastery, and the National Historical Museum. Not to be missed is a visit to the top of Corcovado Mountain to see the famous Christ the Redeemer statue up close – another one of Rio’s 10 best things to do.
There are plenty of other great attractions around Old Rio too, such as walking through Lapa and Santa Teresa districts to experience their unique bohemian vibe or visiting Fortaleza de Sao Sebastiao on nearby Ilha Grande island.
Whatever you choose to explore in Old Rio, you’re sure to leave with some amazing memories.
3. Marvel at Christ The Redeemer
This iconic statue that towers over Rio are one of the most recognizable landmarks in Brazil. Take a trip up Corcovado mountain to get an incredible view of the city below and take some amazing photos with this iconic landmark as your backdrop.
The towering, iconic Christ The Redeemer is one of Rio de Janeiro’s most visited attractions. Standing at a staggering 39m tall, the statue of Jesus overlooks the city from atop the 2,310-foot Corcovado Mountain.
To reach it you can take the cog train (bondinho) or jeep tour to get up close and personal with this amazing symbol of faith.
Once there, soak in breathtaking views of nearby beaches and urban neighborhoods as well as the lush rainforest surrounding the area. After taking pictures, visit the chapel located near the base for a special story about how this monument came to be.
Finally, if you’re feeling extra brave and have some money on hand, you can purchase tickets for a helicopter ride to the top of Corcovado. This is a truly unique experience that you won’t soon forget.
You can also visit various other attractions near by such as the Selaron Steps, an iconic landmark created by Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón. It’s made up of over 2000 tiles from all over the world and is worth a visit for its vibrant colors and interesting story.
Additionally, you can take a stroll along the promenade of Ipanema beach or explore Sugarloaf Mountain – both are must-visits when in Rio de Janeiro. And no trip to Brazil would be complete without sampling some traditional feijoada (black beans stew), so be sure to try some.
4. Enjoy Sunsets at Ipanema Beach
Ipanema beach is one of the best beaches in Rio, with stunning white sand and beautiful views of the mountains in the distance. Enjoy watching one of Rio’s spectacular sunsets from here or take a dip in the clear blue waters for a refreshing swim.
Located in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro, Ipanema Beach is world-renowned for its stunning beauty and amazing atmosphere.
This beach stretches over two miles long and is lined with hundreds of shops and restaurants. On any given day during peak season, you’ll find countless locals playing volleyball or surfing along the shoreline. From sunbathing to people-watching, Ipanema Beach is the perfect place for any traveler who wants to soak up the vibrant atmosphere of Rio de Janeiro.
Don’t forget to check out the famous Copacabana Palace Hotel, located just a few blocks away from the beach! And if you really want to make your experience one for the books, make sure to grab a caipirinha at one of the beachside bars – it’s an absolute must!
But apart from its turquoise waters and stunning views of Dois Irmãos mountain, Ipanema’s main attractions are its lively peddlers and street performers.
Spend some time exploring the various stalls set up on the boardwalk and don’t forget to buy yourself a souvenir or two! You can also expect to find plenty of musical performances and cultural shows taking place throughout the day.
If you’re looking for some laid-back fun in Rio de Janeiro, make sure Ipanema Beach is at the top of your list! With its vibrant atmosphere, stunning views, and endless activities.
5. Visit Jardim Botânico
Located near downtown Rio, this garden features 10,000 different species of plants spread across 10 hectares of land. Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens, admire some of the stunning views, and learn more about the plants used in traditional Brazilian medicines.
Jardim Botânico is a sprawling, beautifully landscaped garden located in Rio de Janeiro. The park was established in 1808 and covered an area of over 10 hectares. It features sculptures, waterfalls, ponds, and fountains, as well as hundreds of species of exotic plants and trees from around the world. Visitors can also enjoy guided tours, bird-watching walks, and outdoor activities such as canoeing on the lake.
It’s a great place to spend an afternoon with family or friends while enjoying the beautiful scenery. With its peaceful atmosphere and awe-inspiring views, Jardim Botânico is one of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro.
6. Go Shopping at La Cinelândia
This bustling shopping district is filled with shops selling everything from local crafts to designer brands. Spend an afternoon here browsing for souvenirs and treats or simply take in the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Rio de Janeiro.
Located in downtown Rio, La Cinelândia is a square surrounded by stunningly beautiful Neo-Classical architecture, with many historic buildings that date back to the early 19th century. The square was built as a tribute to Brazil’s film industry and is now also home to several museums and other attractions.
Most noteworthy among these attractions are the National Library, National Museum of Fine Arts, Municipal Theatre, and Municipal Palace. Visitors can also explore nearby pedestrian streets lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops that offer plenty of entertainment options for all tastes.
La Cinelândia is the perfect place for people who want to explore Rio’s culture and discover the city’s history – no visit to Rio de Janeiro is complete without a trip to this beautiful square.
7. Take A Boat Ride on Guanabara Bay
Experience Rio from a different viewpoint by taking a boat ride around Guanabara Bay where you can get stunning views of the city skyline and the surrounding mountains. Stop off along the way to explore some hidden beaches, go fishing or even spot some dolphins in the water.
It’s a large bay that provides stunning views and plenty of opportunities for activities. There are several islands in its waters, including Governor’s Island, which makes it an ideal spot for sailing, kayaking, and fishing.
For those looking for more exhilarating activities, there’s parasailing and jet skiing too. The bay is also home to the famous Sugarloaf Mountain and the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue – both must-sees when visiting Rio de Janeiro.
To really experience all this natural beauty, take a tour around Guanabara Bay on a boat or catamaran – you won’t regret it.
8. Visit Santa Teresa
This picturesque neighborhood is one of Rio’s most colorful and vibrant districts, home to a diverse mix of cultures and cuisines. Wander through the cobbled streets, explore some of the many galleries or take in a live performance at one of the local venues.
Santa Teresa is a charming hilltop neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Filled with colorful colonial buildings and cobblestone streets, this bohemian area is great for sightseeing, shopping, and trying out local restaurants.
Start your visit by walking through the Selaron Steps located at Rua Joaquim Silva near the Gloria Metro Station. This iconic set of stairs was created by Chilean artist Jorge Selarón who decorated them with ceramic tiles from many countries around the world.
Tourists love taking pictures of these unique stairs that are now considered part of Rio’s cultural heritage.
9. Experience Carnaval
One of Rio’s most iconic celebrations, Carnaval takes place every year during February and March and features stunning parades with floats, dancers, costumes, and more. Be sure to book your tickets early to experience this amazing event that draws millions of people from all over the world each year.
Every year, Carnaval takes place in February or March (depending on the lunar calendar) and is celebrated with parades, parties, dancing, music, and more. The iconic Sambadrome Parade is a must-see event during Carnaval – make sure to book tickets ahead of time as they sell out quickly.
Other ways to participate include joining street parades such as Bloco da Lama or Banda de Ipanema where you can join in on the festivities and dance alongside locals. Make sure to dress for the occasion – vibrant colors are encouraged! It’s also a great way to experience authentic Brazilian culture.
Carnival is also a time to treat yourself, so be sure to try some of the traditional Brazilian foods like feijoada and churrasco.
10. Get A Bird’s Eye View From Corcovado Hill
Climb up to the top of Corcovado Hill and enjoy stunning views over Rio from the world-famous Christ The Redeemer statue. Visit early in the morning to watch the sunrise or later in the day to take in beautiful panoramic views of this incredible city.
At the top of the hill stands one of the world’s most iconic sculptures, Christ the Redeemer. This symbol of Brazil welcomes all visitors who make it to the summit with open arms and breathtaking views over Rio de Janeiro.
A climb up Corcovado Hill is an unforgettable experience, as you witness stunning panoramic views across Rio’s picturesque landscape and take in some of its famous landmarks, such as Sugarloaf Mountain and Copacabana Beach.
You can also explore lush forests on your way to the summit, offering a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the city below. For those looking for a more leisurely way to reach the top of Corcovado Hill, why not take a ride up in one of Rio’s cable cars.
This is an easy and enjoyable way to experience the stunning views from above, as well as see iconic landmarks like Christ the Redeemer up close!
The hill is only open during daylight hours, so make sure you plan ahead and leave plenty of time for your visit. With its spectacular sights, relaxing atmosphere, and unbeatable views over Rio de Janeiro, visiting Corcovado Hill should be high on any visitor’s travel list.
Thoughts and Conclusion
No matter what you decide to do, the 10 Best things to do in Rio de Janeiro will provide a unique experience that you won’t forget any time soon. So book your tickets now and get ready for an unforgettable journey.