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Best things to do in Rio de Janeiro

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Where in the world: South America  /  Brazil  /  State of Rio de Janeiro  /  Rio de Janeiro

Top 15 things to do in Rio de Janeiro

1. Copacabana Beach

Lively Copacabana Beach features warm waters and a wide stretch of white sand, with numerous hotels, restaurants, bars, and night clubs dotting its promenade. You can swim, play sports, relax on the sand, enjoy freshly-caught fish delicacies, and soak up the atmosphere of one of Brazil’s most popular tourist destinations. The beach is policed and lit all through the night, so it’s always abuzz with hundreds of visitors, musicians, and food vendors. Take a leisurely sunset walk on the beach’s iconic walkway, and stay late to see locals singing, dancing, and playing footvolley right on the water’s edge. Remember to always swim where the locals do, and leave all your valuables at the hotel.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $32 › Learn more about Copacabana Beach

2. Praia de Ipanema

A long stretch of warm sand, Praia de Ipanema is divided into segments by posts ("postos," as they’re known locally), which mark diverse lifestyles and interests of beachgoers from around the world. Posto 9 attracts visitors intent on spending the day leisurely relaxing on the sand, while Posto 10 draws sports lovers with ongoing volleyball, soccer, and footvolley games. Food kiosks stay open all day long, with beer and the traditional cachaça sold right on the water’s edge. Constant swells keep the water clean all year round, with a frequent strong undertow and oversized waves. Always be careful on this beach, and swim only where the locals do. Remember that on the weekends the sand does get very crowded, so go early to stake a good spot.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $32 › Learn more about Praia de Ipanema

3. Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro

Noted for its collection of over 6,500 plants from all over the globe, historic Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro also houses Brazil’s largest botanical library. Distributed over an area of 54 hectares (133 acres) and utilizing several large greenhouses, the garden’s collection shelters many endangered and threatened species. The site also includes an important research center and an impressive collection of some of Brazil’s rarest plants. Located at the foot of the Corcovado Mountain, right below the right arm of the Christ the Redeemer statue, the garden is one of UNESCO’s protected biosphere reserves. Stop by to see over 140 species of bids, many of which have become accustomed to humans and are much easier to observe than in the wild.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $44 › Learn more about Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro

4. Full Day in Rio: Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf, Maracana and Selaron with Lunch

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Enjoy full-day tour in Rio de Janeiro visiting all the must-see attractions in one-single day: Christ The Redeemer Statue atop Corcovado Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Selarón Steps, Maracanã Stadium, Sambadrome, and Metropolitan Cathedral. The tour includes lunch at Brazilian steakhouse (meal included / drinks not included). You will also get hotel pickup and drop-off and be accompanied by a professional tour guide.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
Tours from $112 › More about this tour at viator.com ›
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Best tours in Rio de Janeiro

5. Corcovado - Christ the Redeemer

An elegant 38-meter (125 ft) Art Deco statue constructed in 1931, Corcovado - Christ the Redeemer was once only accessible by climbing hundreds of steep steps to the top of the Corcovado Mountain. Today, visitors can access this instantly recognizable city symbol by using the convenient escalators and elevators. The viewing platform from the top offers panoramic views of Copacabana, Ipanema, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, Botanical Garden, and the Maracana Stadium. Check the weather before starting your climb to the top, as thick clouds often envelop the peak and obscure the view. You can also reach the top on the funicular train, but remember that the lines can get rather long here. Try to time your visit for lunchtime, when there are fewer crowds and considerably shorter lines.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $32 › Learn more about Corcovado - Christ the Redeemer

6. Pedra do Arpoador

Take an evening walk to Pedra do Arpoador to see a spectacular change of colors as the sun sets over the calm ocean. This part of the coast is noted for being one of the finest urban surfing spots in the country, with a rock outcrop famous for creating breakers up to 3 m (10 ft) high. Keep in mind that because of its metropolitan location, the beach does get extremely crowded with very competitive surfers. Strong riptides allow a very small take-off point, so only locals and visiting experts have a real shot at surfing here. Casual tourist can enjoy views of the beach from a long seaside pathway, which is dotted with small alfresco cafés, where you sit down for a relaxing meal at sunset.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
Tours from $10 › Learn more about Pedra do Arpoador

7. Barra da Tijuca Beach

With over 15 km (9 miles) of white sand met by clear, blue-green ocean, Barra da Tijuca Beach is the largest beach in Rio de Janeiro, and the farther along it you go, the more deserted it becomes. The agitated waters attract surfers, windsurfers, body boarders, kite surfers, and fishing enthusiasts, and there is a high energy about the busier stretch, where you will see young people playing beach volleyball and soccer. In need of refreshment, you should visit Pepe, named in honor of the late champion hang-glider and regular of Barra da Tijuca Beach, where you will find great sandwiches and fresh natural juices. The quieter sweep of beach provides you with a tranquil paradise, and while it may not have many facilities, nor does it have any crowds.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
Tours from $60 › Learn more about Barra da Tijuca Beach

8. The Best of Rio in a Full Day Tour - Corcovado, Sugar Loaf, Selaron and more

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Come with us to enjoy your day during this hassle free guided tour in Rio de Janeiro and have perfect presentation of the most famous attractions in the city. While our tour guide and driver organize everything you can take your time to simply relax and have some fun.Take fabulous pictures of the Christ the Redeemer Statue before the crowds, take the cable car to the Sugar Loaf to have the best views of the city and see the landmarks at Downtown area like Maracanã (outside only), the Sambadrome area, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Sao Bento Monastery and to close the perfect day, spend some time at the Selarón Stairs. And don't worry, you will also learn a lot about all the attractions visited as our guides are the best ones to explain everything about them.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
Tours from $84 › More about this tour at viator.com ›

9. Escadaria Selaron

Admire the colors and shapes of broken glass and ceramics built into Escadaria Selaron, a set of artistically renovated steps straddling Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods. These 215 steps stretched over 125 m (410 ft) feature an explosion of colors built into mosaics by a Chilean-born artist. One of the most charming attractions of Rio de Janeiro, the steps have over 2,000 tiles. The author Jorge Selaron, a painter and sculptor, began the project in 1990 by renovating the dilapidated steps outside his house.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $42 › Learn more about Escadaria Selaron

10. Praia de Grumari

Unwind and enjoy the rustic nature at Praia de Grumari, an environmentally protected zone featuring six pristine beaches in Rio de Janeiro's only unpopulated neighborhood. Buffered by rainforest-covered mountains, the dense salt marsh greenery provides necessary shade. The long golden sandy stretches here remain the only nude beach around the city. Free of development save a few modest bars, this beach leaves enough room for visitors--unlike most other popular Rio spots. Waves can get rough, so you need to be a good swimmer (surfing is also possible). Bring your own food and drinks.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
Tours from $43 › Learn more about Praia de Grumari

11. Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon

Walk, skate, jog, or cycle the pathway encircling Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, which features numerous convenient spots from which you can photograph the Tijuca Forest and Corcovado Mountain. Along the way, grab a light snack and a refreshing drink from one of many kiosks dotting the 8-km (5 mi) track. You can row, sail, or water ski on the lake, but if your prefer to just bob on the water and admire the sights, rent a small paddle boat from one of several stands located on the eastern side of the lagoon. Visit the area in the evening to enjoy live music, mingle with the locals, and watch the sunset with a cold drink in hand.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
Tours from $27 › Learn more about Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon

12. Rio de Janeiro Day Trip - All Inclusive - By Ok Rio Tour

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The most classic ride of all!With outings every day, rain or shine, and last approximately 8 hours, you will be able to know the most iconic attractions of Rio de Janeiro: Cristo Redentor, Sugar Loaf, Selarón Staircase, Metropolitan Cathedral, Maracanã (panoramic), Sambódromo and much more between one point and another.Included: transportation, guide, tickets of the Sugar Loaf and the Christ and lunch with barbecue.
Suggested duration: 7 to 9 hours
Tours from $100 › More about this tour at viator.com ›

13. Walking tours

Suggested duration: 5 hours
Tours from $22 › Learn more about Walking tours

14. Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil - CCBB Rio de Janeiro

A special cultural treat for visitors from around the world, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil - CCBB Rio de Janeiro is located inside an iconic art deco building that formerly served as the headquarters of the Banco do Brasil. The museum uses several modern galleries for plays, art exhibitions, and live music performances. This site is not only the city’s most important cultural center, but also one of the most visited art museums in the world. The building features several theaters, auditoriums, a well-stocked bookstore, and a restaurant. Join a guided tour to explore the museum’s permanent collection, which includes a display of the evolution of Brazilian currency. The museums hosts frequent special events and film screenings, so check online for a list of upcoming events before you go.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $5 › Learn more about Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil - CCBB Rio de Janeiro

15. Full Day in Rio: Christ by Train, Sugarloaf, Maracanã, Selarón & Lunch

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Visit the best of Rio de Janeiro in a single day: Christ the Redeemer by Train, Sugarloaf Mountain, Selarón Steps, Maracanã Stadium, Sambadrome, and Metropolitan Cathedral, and lunch at Brazilian steakhouse. The tour includes lunch at Brazilian steakhouse (meal included / drinks not included). Includes roundtrip transportation.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
Tours from $142 › More about this tour at viator.com ›

Best tours in Rio de Janeiro