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25 Amazing Things to do in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

25 Amazing Things to do in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Rio de Janeiro is one of the most famous cities in the world, and to me, visiting was a dream come true! For starters, the city is so beautiful. The surrounding mountains, white-sand beaches, and greenery make it picture-perfect.

But it wasn’t just the views and beauty that made me fall in love, a city like Rio is so much more than that. The sheer number of amazing things to do in Rio de Janeiro makes visiting a highlight of Brazil.

However, for first-time visitors, it can be hard to know exactly where to spend your time. With so many activities, you’ll need help narrowing it down. That’s why I wrote this blog!

I’ve been to Rio a few different times, and have explored the city a lot! But, let’s be honest, I’m still not an expert. This is why I reached out to a few other bloggers to help me write this blog. Other travel bloggers from around the world have written about their absolute favorite activity in Rio to contribute to this blog.

With these contributions combined with a little bit of my own expertise, what I ended up with was this ultimate Rio de Janeiro bucket list – the perfect place to find the inspiration and info for your upcoming trip to one of the greatest cities on earth!

So without further ado, here are the 25 best things to do in Rio de Janeiro!

Things to to in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

1. Take the gondola up Sugarloaf Mountain

A sunset view from Sugar Loaf Mountain with the gondola in view
Not a bad view of Rio de Janeiro if you ask me!

I’ve had the chance to take many gondola rides around the world. Some were great, and others not so much. But if you asked me which gondola ride was my favorite, I would have to say the ride up Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro is definitely one of the best!

Sugarloaf Mountain is the large peak you’ll see in just about every photo of Rio de Janeiro, and taking the gondola to the top is one of the best attractions in Rio de Janeiro. Of course, the gondola ride isn’t cheap at $21 USD per person, but the views along the way are spectacular and worth the price if you ask me!

Once at the top, you can wander around and enjoy the views and even a meal or drink. I will warn you though, the restaurants at the top are not cheap, so if you’re on a budget, eat before you go.

I went up Sugar Loaf Mountain at sunset and loved it. If the photo above doesn’t tell you just how beautiful the view is, I don’t know what will!

You can book the cable car ticket in advance at no extra cost. However, if you want a “skip the line” ticket, you’ll pay double the price. If you want a more in-depth experience, you can also join a guided tour for $25 USD.

2. Visit the Selarón Steps

The Selaron Steps in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Selaron Steps in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Written by: Bruna Venturinelli from I Heart Brazil

No trip to Rio de Janeiro is complete without stopping by the famous mosaic stairs called the Selarón Steps for a photo or two.

Jorge Selarón, a Chilean-born Brazilian artist, created these world-famous steps to add colors to the city’s gray and dull area.

In the beginning, the tiles were green, yellow, and blue because of Brazil’s flag. But because he was a Chilean in his heart, Jorge made sure to add lots of red tiles in tribute to his country’s flag too.

The project became so popular that tourists from all over the world would bring him tiles from their home countries, accounting for tiles from over 60 countries!

The Selarón Steps are in the popular Lapa Neighborhood, one of the best places to stay in Rio de Janeiro and hands-down the best area to listen to samba over a cold beer or two.

The steps are only a 3-minute walk from the Lapas Arch, and because it is so easy to find, it’s often packed with tourists (don’t expect to snap a perfect shot of yourself without the crowds, unless you wake up really early in the morning!)

Still, the colorful Selarón Steps are incredible and should be part of your Rio de Janeiro itinerary!

If you’re short on time, you can combine a visit to the Christ the Redeemer and Selarón Steps on this tour.

3. Explore Tijuca National Park

The view from Tijuca National Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This is one of my favorite views of the city!

Written by: Stephanie from History Fan Girl

Tijuca National Park in Rio de Janeiro is a huge tropical rainforest right in the heart of the city. In fact, it’s so big that it is actually the largest urban forest in the world! The park contains amazing views of the city below, about thirty different waterfalls, and acres of beautiful rainforest.

It’s hard to believe while you’re there, but this forest is actually manmade! It was a major (successful) nineteenth-century conservation project to reclaim a portion of the land in the city that had been cleared.

You can visit Tijuca National Park on a guided tour or on your own. There’s no entry fee if you go on your own, but I highly recommend going on a guided tour. While it will cost a bit more, you’ll get to learn all about what makes Tijuca special while you’re there.

You can even go on jeep tours where you’re driving with the tops down and enjoying the open air. This increases the chance that you’ll see wildlife on your trip, like the monkeys that live in the forest.

4. Overnight or day trip to Ilha Grande

Lopes Mendes Beach on Ilha Grande, Brazil
Lopes Mendes Beach on Ilha Grande, Brazil

Ilha Grande is one of the most beautiful islands in Brazil. It’s a well-known tourist destination and a place I loved so much!

Ilha Grande is truly an island paradise surrounded by pristine beaches and crystal clear waters. From Rio, it takes around 3 hours to reach the island first via bus and then ferry. Once on the Island you can join lots of different tours, enjoy short or long hikes, and also party if you’re up for it.

We stayed six nights on Ilha Grande and loved it! The best tour we did was this boat tour of the north side of the island. On the tour, we visited so many stunning beaches all while enjoying a few drinks on our boat. The tour was just what we needed.

Of course, from Rio, you can either book this transfer and spend a few nights, or join a day tour. If you’re short on time I highly recommend this day tour that also visits Angra dos Reis. Although a long day, missing out on seeing Ilha Grande would be such a shame!

For more info: Read my complete guide to visiting Ilha Grande!

5. Go hang gliding

Hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Those views though!

Written by: Dan Bagby from Honeymoon Always

One of the most thrilling and awe-inspiring things to do in Rio de Janeiro is going hang gliding. Hang gliding is an amazing experience anywhere, but Rio provides a unique experience with amazing views of mountains and beaches. 

Hang gliding happens at Pedra Bonita, a mountain located a 20-minute drive from Ipanema. You do need to schedule your flight ahead of time. However, regardless of who you book with, all of the pilots are certified by the Brazilian Hang Gliding Association and everyone follows the same safety checks and regulations, for example, a pilot can only do 4 flights a day.

Start by meeting your pilot at Pepino Beach who will take you up to the mountain for your flight. They give you all the instructions you need before running off the runway with you and into flight. The experience is like no other I can explain. Running off the mountain was terrifying for me, but was followed by an amazing flight.

After several minutes in the air, you touch the ground on the beach where you started!

Flight prices vary based on the season and exchange rates. But for a general reference, expect to pay between $120-150 USD for a flight. I believe hang gliding should be part of every Rio de Janeiro itinerary.

6. Wander Jardim Botanico (the botanical gardens)

Jardim Botanico in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Jardim Botanico in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Written by: Noel Morata from Travel Photo Discovery

One of the most scenic and lush places to discover in Rio is the botanical gardens which is an expansive area with so many fascinating gardens to explore.

This historic part of Rio called the Jardim Botanico is located in the southwestern part of the city. It shows the diversity of local and tropical flora from the region and international plantings collected from other botanical regions of the world. 

In fact, there are over 6,500 species of plants and other rare flora that you can find in this special and large botanical space! The first thing you’ll see is an impressive line of giant royal palms all generated from just one mother plant. 

You can take a guided tour or do your own DIY tour to the many sections including the Amazon garden, sensory garden, Japanese garden, an orchid house, a desert garden, and also a series of small exhibits and museum spaces to enjoy. 

There are even lovely restaurants on-site to enjoy a wonderful meal of local specialties from the region. Check out the fantastic La Bicyclette on site which serves French desserts and pastries along with fantastic drinks from its French owners.

The botanical gardens in Rio are definitely the right place to enjoy to get away from the urban jungle. And to me, it was a highlight of my trip to Rio de Janeiro!

You can book this half-day guided tour that visits both the botanic gardens and Tijuca National Park in Rio! It’s a great tour for nature lovers or those who want to learn about the tropical flora and fauna of the region.

7. Hike Pedra da Gávea

Pedra da Gávea viewpoint overlooking the beach below in Rio de Janeiro
This is a challenging hike but the view makes it worth the effort!

One of the best but lesser-known hikes in Rio de Janeiro is Pedra da Gávea

Known as the highest peak in Rio, this short but challenging hike is famous for its epic views over the city. The trail is all uphill, and the last section is a little dangerous and aided with the use of ropes. However, the challenge becomes all worth it once you see the magnificent views. 

You can hike the trail on your own. However, I recommend going on an organized tour as I did. This specific tour includes all your transport, safety equipment, and health insurance for $60 USD. 

The trail begins a short bus ride out of Ipanema near the Rio Beach Club, and the walk up takes around 2 hours. 

8. Hike to Vista Chinesa

The view from Vista Chinesa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The view from Vista Chinesa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Written by: Miguel from Travelsauro

If you’re looking for an alternative to the famous (and packed) Christ the Redeemer viewpoint, I recommend that you visit Vista Chinesa. From Vista Chinesa, you’ll be able to enjoy a fantastic view of the southern area of Rio de Janeiro but without the crowds.

From this viewpoint, you can spot the Christ on the left, Botafogo and the Rodrigo Freitas Lagoon in the center, and the boardwalk on the right.

Located in Tijuca National Park, this viewpoint is easily accessible from Santa Marinha street, in Parque da Cidade. Although some tourists decide to visit the place by taxi or Uber, I recommend that you hike up to the viewpoint, as this is one of the easiest and more beautiful hikes you can find in Rio de Janeiro. The trail is well marked, it can be completed in less than 40 minutes, and it’s surrounded by lush tropical forest all the way up.

Another advantage is that you don’t have to pay an entry fee to access the area, and you can stay as long as you want! On the way back, you can take the opportunity to visit neighboring “safe” favelas, making it a perfect day activity in Rio de Janeiro.

9. Get the famous photo at Pedra do Telégrafo

Pedra do Telégrafo rock
People hang from the rock and it appears they are hanging over a 100 foot drop!

Made famous by Instagram, Pedra do Telégrafo is one of the most well-known hikes in Brazil. Although many won’t know the name, the photo above should be recognizable. 

The classic Instagram shot shows people hanging from what looks like a 1000 foot drop over the dramatic coastline near Rio. Although the photo looks dangerous, there is actually a ledge below you, and it’s just the camera angle that makes it appear dangerous. 

From Rio, you’ll need to get a taxi or join a tour that includes transport to the beginning of the trail. That’s because the trail begins on Guaratiba Beach, just over an hour’s drive from Rio. 

The hike up isn’t overly challenging, but you will have to climb over 350 meters to the top. This takes just over an hour for most people. If you ask me, though – it’s totally worth it! 

Unfortunately, any viewpoint made famous by Instagram does attract a fair amount of people. To avoid the crowds at Pedra do Telégrafo, it is best to arrive by 7 am. For that reason, I recommend this organized tour that leaves Rio at 6 am. 

10. Enjoy Samba at Pedra do Sal

A crowd of people at Pedra do Sal in Rio, Brazil
The party is just getting started at Pedra do Sal in Rio, Brazil

Written by: Phoebe from Your Green Grass Project

Move over Lapa! If you want to experience the real street party scene in Rio de Janeiro then you need to head to Pedra do Sal (Salt Rock). Known as the birthplace of samba, by day Pedro do Sal is a historic and religious site in the traditional neighborhood of Saude, but by night, it’s a whole different story!

Pedro do Sal promises a wild night out where you can enjoy the traditional samba show from your perch on some very slippery steps carved into the huge namesake rock. Once the samba is over, you can explore the winding streets filled with locals before ending up in the main square to continue the samba party. It’s definitely a must for any traveler wanting to experience a more authentic side of Rio.

Samba night is on every Monday at Pedra do Sal located in Saude neighborhood. And the best part is that it’s free! All you need to pay for are the cheap caipirinhas from the hundreds of street sellers providing drinks and Brazilian street food.

Your best bet to get there is via Uber but if you’re feeling adventurous then you can head there on the Metro too. Get off at the Cinelandia station exiting via Exit C – Pedro Lessa street and then take the tram heading in the direction of Praia Formosa before getting off at Parada dos Museus. Then, simply follow the sounds of the samba!

This is definitely one of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro and the perfect experience for anyone looking for a fun party and local experience!

Related Read:   Robbed in Brazil at Gunpoint - Our Story

11. Hike to the Two Brothers Lookout

Sunrise at the top of the Two Brothers Hike in Rioa
The best place to watch the sunrise in Rio!

One of the most iconic viewpoints of Rio de Janeiro can be found on the Two Brothers Peak (also known as Morro Dois Irmaos.) Although other lookouts around the city give you great panoramic views, the Two Brothers Peak offers breathtaking views of Rio’s most iconic beach, Copacabana.

To reach the peak you will need to do a little bit of hiking and the trail actually starts in Vidigal Favela. Despite being a favela, Vidigal is a safe place to visit. However, for those still worried you can do tours with a guide. I did my tour at sunset, however, it no longer appears to be available as of November 2021.

With that said, you can also do tours during the day like this one without transport, or this tour which includes hotel pickup. Despite missing sunrise, you’ll still get to enjoy that spectacular view. Both tours don’t end there though, and after admiring the view you’ll walk down through the favela to learn all about Vidigal’s life and history.

Overall, it’s a great learning experience and scenic view all in one – and one of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro!

12. Visit the Christ the Redeemer

Bailey takes a photo with Christ the Redeemer in Brazil
The classic photo with Christ the Redeemer in Brazil

The Christ the Redeemer is one of the 7 Wonders of the World! This massive statue of Jesus Christ is a must-see attraction in Rio de Janeiro as one of Brazil’s most famous landmarks.

There are three ways to visit Christ the Redeemer. The first is by taking the bus or train to the top. This is a very convenient and easy option as you get dropped right at the entrance gates. You’ll just need to get yourself to the lower starting point.

The second is to join this guided tour that visits the Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, Maracana, and Selaron. The tour includes lunch and your entrance fees for Sugarloaf and Christ the Redeemer for $80 USD. It’s excellent value and is the most booked tour in Rio de Janeiro.

The third, and the way I visited Christ the Redeemer, is by hiking up through the forest of Corcovado Mountain. This hiking trail starts in Parque Lage and takes around 2 hours to complete. The trail is mostly uphill, but walking through the forest is beautiful. Along the way, we even saw monkeys swinging from the trees.

Entrance to the Christ the Redeemer is R$18-24 (depending on the season), and you can only pay with cash at the top. Once you visit the statue, you’ll be able to get that iconic photo, that although is cringe-worthy, makes for a great memory of Rio!

Please note: There have been reports of people getting robbed on the trail to Christ the Redeemer. Please check recent reviews on TripAdvisor before going. If you are concerned, you can join this guided hiking tour.

13. Tour through Rocinha Favella

13. Tour through Rocinha Favela  from above
Rocinha favela from above! Its huge!

Rocinha is the largest favela in Latin America and the second-largest in the world. Although Rocinha used to be a very dangerous place, these days the favela has become much safer and now visitors can learn about the culture and history of these communities.

This guided tour is run by a Rocinha resident and includes pick-up from your hotel. On the tour, you’ll be guided around the favela to learn about the daily life of the residents and the hardships and difficulties they have faced. Along the way, you’ll admire unique street art and part of the tour price goes towards helping the residents of Rocinha.

The purpose of the tour is education and to give the residents here a voice. Although this tour might not be for everyone, those who want to learn about the darker side of Brazil, as well as the beautiful side, will enjoy it.

14. Celebrate Carnival

Taking a selfie in the middle of a crowd during Carnival in Rio
This block party started at 7 am!!!

There is no bigger party in the world than Brazil’s Carnival and the best place to celebrate Carnival is, of course, in Rio de Janeiro! A couple of years ago, I hit the streets of Rio de Janeiro for a week of craziness. To say the least, I was blown away by the sheer number of people who come to celebrate this amazing event!

Carnival in Brazil runs for 6 days usually starting on a Tuesday and ending on a Sunday. The dates change every year but Carnival starts at the end of February and runs to early March.

When you visit Rio for Carnival there are a few ways to enjoy the festivities. The first is to hit the streets and party at the block (or “bloco parties”.) These are essentially street parades that you can join in on. At these events be sure to dress up as crazy as you can!

The second is at the Sambadrome. Now, this isn’t exactly a crazy party but it’s still fun, and seeing the professional samba dancers, the amazing costumes, and massive floats is a bucket list experience. I recommend spending one night at the Sambadrome but the rest on the streets at one of the hundreds of bloco parties.

You can also join a ton of Carnival tours that visit various parts of the celebration. These are perfect for those who are a little worried about wandering the streets of Rio!

Regardless of how hard you plan to party, Carnival will be an eye-opening experience and is sure to blow you away!

15. Relax on Copacabana Beach

Copacabana Beach, Rio on a hot sunny day
Copacabana Beach, Rio on a hot sunny day

You simply cannot come to Rio de Janeiro without visiting Copacabana Beach. Copacabana is Rio’s most iconic beach and such a fun place to hang out. The beach is massive, so there’ plenty of space to set up for a day in the sun!

With that said though, Copacabana isn’t really a relaxing beach, instead be sure to get some cocktails or beers from local sellers and spend the day drinking under the sun with the locals. Brazilians love to party and you’ll see that at Copacabana!

Copacabana Beach is also one of the best areas to stay in Rio de Janeiro, and when I stayed there I loved it! Being within walking distance to Rio’s best beach was not only convenient but also a highlight of my trip in Brazil!

Related read: Check out the 7 best beaches in Salvador, Brazil!

Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!

If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!

SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $42 USD per 4-weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.  

World Nomads is a good option for anybody looking for fully comprehensive travel insurance including things like trip cancellation and adventure activities. They included coverage for over 250 different adventure activities, everything from snowboarding to whitewater rafting! You can also buy the insurance in advance in case your travel plans are interrupted, or, while you’re already on the road. 

We’ve personally used both SafetyWing and World Nomads for different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive.)

It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!

16. Ride the historic Santa Teresa Tram

The historic tram in Santa Teresa in Rio!
This is a great way to tour the Santa Teresa district too!

Written by: Daniel James from Layer Culture

For those into cultural sites and attractions, any visit to Rio de Janeiro should definitely include a trip to Santa Teresa for a ride on the tram.

This historic tramline has been a major part of daily life for residents who want to connect themselves to the bohemian Santa Teresa neighborhood which is located within the hills around 10 minutes from the inner-city Rio.

To ride the tram I recommend you walk up to Santa Teresa from the Lapa steps area and buy your ticket once in Santa Teresa. Here, you’ll find a small station which local officials who will sell you a ticket for around $4 USD.

I also recommend that you have a credit or debit card at hand so you can pay the fare without any confusion.

This historic tram offers a bumpy but enthralling ride that goes over the top of the Lapa Arches (which is another famous landmark in Rio.) All in all, this is a must-do activity in Rio de Janeiro if you’re looking to enjoy a slice of history and to learn more about the story of this colorful neighborhood.

17. Spend the day at Ipanema Beach

The boardwalk at Ipanema Beach

Written by: Ivan from Mind the Travel

Have you really experienced South America, and particularly Brazil, if you haven’t visited one of its fantastic beaches? Located in the southern part of Rio, Ipanema is a 2 kilometer-long white sand beach – which is almost as famous as the adjacent Copacabana.

Ipanema is safe, has beautiful water for swimming, and is less overcrowded than Copacabana. This is the perfect spot to sunbathe, take a stroll, or just soak up the beach-life vibes. The beach was made world-famous by the song “The Girl from Ipanema” and today it offers a well-organized grid of shops, restaurants, cafes, different theaters, clubs, and art galleries nearby.

Once you’ve made your way to Ipanema Beach, rent a chair or just lay down your towel, bury your toes in the soft white sand, and relax with coconut water or a caipirinha (a drink made with cachaça, Brazilian sugar cane rum, sugar, and lemon). While sunbathing and tanning, beach hawkers will try to sell you everything from swimsuits, beach sarongs, and jewelry to chips, fruit, and grilled cheese.

If you’re feeling active, you can join the many surfers, joggers, or beach volley players.

18. Watch a Brazilian Soccer Match

A soccer match at Maracanã Stadium in Rio
Maracanã Stadium in Rio

Written by: Paula Martinelli from Paula Pins the Planet

As a Brazilian living in the US, my opinion is that visiting Rio de Janeiro without watching a game in Maracana Stadium is like going to Paris and skipping the Eiffel Tower – it’s one of those must-do things to do in Rio de Janeiro!

Maracanã Stadium was founded in 1950 and it’s not only the most important stadium in Rio, but the most important in all of Brazil (and there are a lot of soccer stadiums in Brazil!) The two major soccer teams in Rio are Flamengo and Fluminense (the locals call them Fla and Flu), and watching a game between these teams is considered a dream come true for any soccer fan. 

I had the opportunity to watch a Fla vs. Flu game during my last visit to Rio and I have to say, it is absolutely remarkable. The stadium trembles, people from both sides sing songs of support to the teams, and the atmosphere is just indescribable. 

I really recommend visiting Maracanã if you’re traveling to Rio, and if possible, to watch a classic Fla vs Flu soccer game.

You can visit Maracanã any day from 9 am to 4 pm, with average prices around $5 USD for a 40-minute tour. If you decide to watch a game, you can book an organize tour that includes tickets and transport and costs $75 USD.

19. Get off the beaten path at Red Beach

Red Beach in Rio de Janeiro
Red Beach in Rio de Janeiro

Praia Vermelha (or the Red Beach) lies on the foothills of Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain.) It is a small and quiet beach with an amazing view and relaxing vibes. The beach is named the Red Beach because of its reddish sand and rocks. It is not usually crowded and has fewer vendors than Copacabana and other popular beaches in Rio de Janeiro.

You can go to Praia Vermelha by taking the underground metro to Botafogo Station, which is 2.3 kilometers away from the beach. It is a 30-minute walk to the beach and it is safe because of the several military bases in the area. The metro ticket costs R$4.30 (which is equivalent to 0.78 USD.)

You can also get there by taking a bus to Urca, which is 350 meters away from the beach. The bus ticket costs R$3.6.

Praia Vermelha has a few beach “Barracas”, which are huts renting beach chairs and umbrellas. These Barracas also sell cold beverages and cocktails, making your beach experience even more relaxing with the famous Caipirinha cocktail.

If you want, you can rent a stand-up paddleboard for R$60. There is also a very nice restaurant at the end of the beach where you can have a decent lunch and enjoy the charming view of the beach and Sugarloaf Mountain.

Hot tip: Since Praia Vermelha lies next to Pao de Acucar, most travelers visit both the beach and the Sugarloaf Mountain on the same day.

20. Take in the street art in Lapa

Street art in Lapa on an old building
More street art in Lapa, Rio

Written by: Julie from Wandering Sunsets

Rio de Janeiro has one of the most vibrant street art scenes in the world. Finding and photographing street art in the city is easily one of the best things to do in Rio!

Street art was officially legalized in Rio in 2009. Since then, many murals and individual pieces have popped up all across the city. The best area to find street art in Rio is by far the neighborhood of Lapa. If you wander around the viaduct and the Selarón Steps, you will come across incredibly colorful murals decorating old buildings. Many of these murals are very detailed and complex.

Aside from Lapa, you can also find interesting street art in the Santa Teresa neighborhood and the streets around the Botanical Gardens. You can, of course, set off on an adventure to find street art on your own in Rio (which is completely free) or take a guided urban art tour.

If you love graffiti, checking out amazing graffiti is also one of the best things to do in Sao Paulo, Brazil!

21. Go scuba diving

Scuba diving in Rio de Janeiro
There’s plenty to see on a clear day!

Not many visitors realize that Rio de Janeiro is a great place to go scuba diving. Of course, the nearby dive sites have suffered from Rio’s huge tourism boom, but many scuba-diving tours take you to beautiful places such as Arraial do Cabo or Cagarra Island.

The best part is, even those who have not dived before can enjoy these tours. In fact, I was shocked to find out first-timers can tag along with a divemaster for a 30-minute dive. So although you won’t dive very deep, staying primarily close to the surface, you’ll get to experience this amazing activity I and many others love!

This specific tour costs $132 USD and includes two dives for accredited divers, or one dive for first-timers. The tour travels to Arraial do Cabo, which is well known as one of Brazil’s best dive sites.

22. Climb Arpoador rock

The views from Arpoador rock in Rio
The views from Arpoador rock in Rio

Written by: Bruna Venturinelli from I Heart Brazil

Whether you’re traveling with your significant other, solo, or with friends, watching the sunset at the Arpoador Rock is a must!

Arpoador, which literally means “harpoon thrower” in Portuguese, is a rock formation by the sea in Rio.

This rock borders the eastern end of Ipanema, one of the best beaches in Rio de Janeiro to sunbathe, people watch, and soak up the summer vibes! Just a little before sunset, locals and tourists head over to the Arpoador, find a place to sit, and take in the view of Rio.

The landscape will surely leave you speechless!

From here, you can see Ipanema Beach sprawling towards the Two Brothers Hills, while everything in between is being painted with orange hues as the sun sets on the horizon – it’s an unforgettable moment!

To top it off, this scenic spot is entirely free. Just be sure to wear comfortable shoes and walk carefully as the rock is full of uneven paths.

23. Visit the largest mural in the world by Eduardo Kobra

The mural by Eduardo Kobra
This thing is huge!

Written by: Chrisoula Manika from Travel Passionate

Eduardo Kobra’s mural on Olympic Boulevard in Rio de Janeiro is thought to be the largest street art mural in the world, spanning 32,300 square feet! This Guinness World Record-breaking mural runs for 560 feet along the waterfront in Rio, paying homage to the colorful 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

The work celebrates the diverse nature of the world, with the mural depictions portraying people from each corner of the globe (America, Asia, Europe, Africa, and Oceania) as represented in the five rings of the Olympic symbol. The idea behind the mural was to represent the common wisdom and ancestry of humankind, which is clear when you read that the mural was originally entitled “Todos Somos Um” (We Are One).

The mural is a real feast for the eyes, with splashes of color and intricate faces. Renowned street artist Kobra is thought to have used around 100 gallons of white paint, 400 gallons of colored paint, and 2,800 cans of spray paint to complete the project; taking this run-down area of the city and making it into a tourist destination!

If you’re into street art then Olympic Boulevard is the place to be as not only is it home to Kobra’s mammoth work, but it also features pieces by other graffiti artists including André Camila Cadiz, JR and Rita Wainer.

24. Go on a pub crawl

Live music at Café Cultural Sacrilégio
Live music at Café Cultural Sacrilégio, a stop on the pub crawl!

It’s no secret that Rio de Janeiro is one of the best places to party in Brazil. However, it can be challenging for first-time visitors to know where to go and if it’s safe to go. For that reason, I love joining organized pub crawls in a new city.

With a local guide, you’ll be taken to some of the best bars in Rio de Janeiro and get to meet a lot of other travelers while you’re at it!

This pub crawl tour visits four different bars in the party area of Lapa. Along the way, you’ll get discounted drinks and free shots throughout the night, and free transport is provided between venues. It’s a great introduction to Rio’s crazy nightlife!

25. Celebrate New Years Eve

A group of poeple dressed in white get ready to celebrate the New year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Make sure you wear white!

Written by: Halef from The Round the World Guys

Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro is one of the top events you should experience for yourself in Brazil. Head out to Copacabana Beach for a spectacular fireworks display from the floating boats in the center of the harbor.

Start your evening at Ipanema Beach for the traditional candlelight ceremony of building a simple offering to the ocean. Follow it up with a concert at the beach. Then, before midnight, head to Copacabana for the big party with your bottle of champagne.

The horseshoe-shaped beach is the perfect setting to watch the huge fireworks at the stroke of midnight. The fireworks launch from several vessels in the center of the harbor.

For the best experience, you can stay in one of Copacabana’s beach hotels, such as the Hilton Rio de Janeiro Copacabana or Grand Mercure Rio de Janeiro Copacabana. That way, you can easily head back to your hotel after the celebration is over – or whenever you feel like enjoying it privately in your room.

Related Read:   8 BEST Places to Visit in Northeast Brazil and Travel Guide

Where to Stay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The view of the pool and Copacabana Beach at PortoBay Rio de Janeiro
PortoBay Rio de Janeiro Hotel in Copacabana! Photo credit – PortoBay Rio de Janeiro

As you can imagine, Rio de Janeiro is filled with unique places to stay all over the city. However, the three most popular areas to stay in are Copacabana, Ipanema, and Lapa/Santa Teresa. Each location offers its own unique stay, with Copacabana and Ipanema being close to the beach and Lapa and Santa Teresa in the more historical part of the city.

In Copacabana, budget travelers will love Pura Vida Hostel. Its clean, social, and dorm beds start at $13 USD per night. If you can spend a little more, Nacional Inn Rio Copacabana is a popular choice that’s a few blocks from the beach and has a pool. Luxury travelers should stay at PortoBay Rio de Janeiro. It’s a beachfront hotel with a rooftop pool, gym, spa, and sauna.

In Ipanema, Ipanema Beach House is the best budget option. It’s close to the beach and also has a pool! For medium-budget travelers, Arena Ipanema Hotel is a beachfront property with stunning views and a rooftop pool. For the price, it’s great value. Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro is another fantastic option for luxury travelers. You can’t get any closer to the water and with a rooftop pool and all the facilities you’d expect – it’s perfect!

For budget travelers wanting to stay in Lapa and Santa Teresa, I love the Selina Lapa Rio de Janeiro. The hostel is clean and modern with excellent facilities. The Mansion Aline is located in Santa Teresa and would suit the medium to high-end budget. The hotel has a rooftop jacuzzi as well as breathtaking views over the city.

Before you go…

Bailey stands on Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Thanks for reading!

Rio de Janeiro is truly a magnificent place to visit filled with amazing things to see and do. Reading this blog sure makes me miss the city! For those of you lucky enough to be heading to Rio I truly hope you enjoy yourself and make the most of your visit using this travel guide.

Thanks so much for reading! If you have any questions at all just leave us a comment below! Also, check out all our other Brazil blogs here or these related articles below:

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