Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Steeped in rich and diverse cultural history, and home to a marvellous variety of spectacular attractions, Rio de Janeiro is a sightseer's dream. Plus, with miles of beautiful coastline and some seriously exciting neighbourhoods to explore, this city has much to offer its visitors.

A visit to Rio de Janeiro would not be complete without the obligatory visits to Sugar Loaf Mountain and the statue of Christ the Redeemer â€' one of the New7Wonders of the World and Rio de Janeiro's most famous landmark. Ipanema is the place to go for sun worshippers, where miles of white beaches await and shopping opportunities abound.

We highly recommend exploring the cobblestone streets of downtown Centro, Lapa and Santa Teresa, and, when the sun starts dipping below the horizon, sipping on caipirinha cocktails and singing along to the hit Barry Manilow tune in Copacabana.

Sports lovers should head down to the Estádio do Maracanã to take in a soccer match, although they should know that the atmosphere can be fierce and extremely charged.

We'd advise that those tourists planning on a prolonged visit research different pass packages for Rio de Janeiro. These might help curb the admission prices of the various tourist attractions and help save on public transport costs. Travellers should check out all available options to find a package that suits them best.

Corcovado photo

Corcovado

The iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer, arms spread to welcome the world, is the world-famous symbol of Rio de Janeiro. It stands atop a mountain 2,330 feet (710m) above the beac…

Corcovado

The iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer, arms spread to welcome the world, is the world-famous symbol of Rio de Janeiro. It stands atop a mountain 2,330 feet (710m) above the beaches below, and is accessed via a miniature train that runs from the Cosme Velho District through the Atlantic rainforest to the foot of the statue. The train ride offers stunning vistas of Rio, and the view from the summit is simply breathtaking. Spread out beneath the statue is the Tijuca Forest, an enchanting world of natural pools and waterfalls. Beneath the cooling canopy are attractions such as the Mayrink Chapel, which features murals painted by famous Brazillian artist Candido Portinari, and the Museu do Acude, which houses colonial furniture and an impressive collection of china.

Address Corcovado Railroad Station. Rua Cosme Velho 513, Cosme Velho

Website www.corcovado.com.br

Opens Open daily, from 8am to 7pm. Train departs every 30 minutes.

Admission

BRL 75 (adults - weekends and high season), BRL 62 (adults - low season), BRL 49 (children) for a round-trip and entry to the Christ the Redeemer Statue.

Sugar Loaf photo

Sugar Loaf

An iconic fixture of the Rio skyline, Sugarloaf Mountain is known worldwide for its sweeping views of the city below. The summit of the 1,299 foot high (396m) belvedere can be reac…

Sugar Loaf

An iconic fixture of the Rio skyline, Sugarloaf Mountain is known worldwide for its sweeping views of the city below. The summit of the 1,299 foot high (396m) belvedere can be reached by a two-stage cable car ride. The first stage takes visitors up 722 feet (220m) to the Morro da Urca, where there is a restaurant, amphitheatre and spectacular view of the Yacht Club and Botafogo Bay. The second stage ascends to the summit for a panoramic view of the city, and the whole of Copacabana beach. The Sugar Loaf cable car is a major icon of Rio's tourism and a must for first-time visitors to the city.

Address Avenue Pasteur 520, Praia Vermelha

Website www.bondinho.com.br

Opens Open daily, from 8am to 7.50pm

Admission

Cable Car: BRL 76 (adults), BRL 38 (youths aged 6-21), free for children under 6.

Ipanema photo

Ipanema

Immortalised in song, this Rio neighbourhood offers a legendary beach, excellent hotels, a bustling nightlife, sophisticated shopping and quality restaurants, all within walking di…

Ipanema

Immortalised in song, this Rio neighbourhood offers a legendary beach, excellent hotels, a bustling nightlife, sophisticated shopping and quality restaurants, all within walking distance of each other. Ipanema is famous for setting fashion trends, particularly in the line of swimwear, and fashion followers should look out for the famous bikini boutiques such as Salinas, Blue Man and Bum-Bum. The Rua Garcia D'Avila is perfect for designer fashion, jewellery and furniture, while the nearby Amsterdam Sauer Museum of Gems has an interesting tour of its workshop. There are plenty of other popular shopping strips here, including the eclectic commercial street Visconde de Piraja, lined with speciality shops, boutiques and restaurants, as well as the bohemian fair at General Osorio Square on Sundays, with its collection of wooden sculptures, exotic musical instruments and artworks.

Address Avenida Vieira Souto

Copacabana photo

Copacabana

This famous Rio beach neighbourhood was just a small fishing village until a new highway built in the early 1900s brought crowds of visitors to its golden shores. The Copacabana Pa…

Copacabana

This famous Rio beach neighbourhood was just a small fishing village until a new highway built in the early 1900s brought crowds of visitors to its golden shores. The Copacabana Palace Hotel first opened its doors in 1923 and heralded the construction of scores of Neoclassical and Art Nouveau skyscrapers, penthouses and apartments in the area. Visitors still flock to the hotel, which is the place to be seen, especially at the famed Cipriani restaurant. The white sands and calm waters of the beach make for an idyllic setting and is also a popular spot for beach soccer, volleyball and sunbathing. Copacabana beach is particularly popular on New Year's Day, when beachgoers dress in white and celebrate in droves, with more than 2 million people crowding the beach.

Angra dos Reis photo

Angra dos Reis

This peninsula and group of islands is a holiday playground containing 2,000 beautiful beaches and a wonderland of mountains, forests, waterfalls, lakes and secret coves. Visitors …

Angra dos Reis

This peninsula and group of islands is a holiday playground containing 2,000 beautiful beaches and a wonderland of mountains, forests, waterfalls, lakes and secret coves. Visitors can take trips by schooner or yacht to explore the delights of the area: fishing and scuba diving are the favoured activities for tourists among various other water sports, while on land there are hundreds of walking trails giving access to some of the less frequented beaches such as Canto, Abraãozinho, Morcego and Grande das Palmas. The beaches of Aventureiro and Lopes Mendes are popular surf spots. The islands can easily be reached from Rio by road in just over three hours, or accessed by bus with daily departures every hour from the Novo Rio Bus Station.

Website www.angra-dos-reis.com

Buzios Peninsula photo

Buzios Peninsula

Once the preserve of pirates and slavers, the Buzios Peninsula is today the haunt of the rich and famous who flock here to enjoy the dozens of inviting beaches. Situated 109 miles …

Buzios Peninsula

Once the preserve of pirates and slavers, the Buzios Peninsula is today the haunt of the rich and famous who flock here to enjoy the dozens of inviting beaches. Situated 109 miles (176km) northeast of Rio de Janeiro, Buzios Peninsula is a sophisticated beach resort with a buzzing nightlife and a selection of fine restaurants. The west coast beaches offer calm, clear waters ideal for swimming, while the east coast beaches face the open sea and are a little wilder, drawing surfers and water sports enthusiasts to its choppy waters. Among the most popular beaches are Azeda Beach, João Fernandinho Beach, Ferradura Beach and Geriba beach, which is particularly popular with surfers.

Website www.buziosonline.com.br

Iguaçu Falls photo

Iguaçu Falls

The Rio Iguaçu begins its journey in the coastal mountains of Paraná and Santa Catarina, snaking west for 370 miles (600km) before it widens and then plunges through the jungle i

Iguaçu Falls

The Rio Iguaçu begins its journey in the coastal mountains of Paraná and Santa Catarina, snaking west for 370 miles (600km) before it widens and then plunges through the jungle in tiered falls at the border with Argentina and Paraguay.

The Foz do Iguaçu (Iguaçu Falls) are more than two miles (3km) wide and 262ft (80m) high (almost twice the height of Niagara Falls), and their beauty is unmatched. Almost twice the height of Niagara Falls, their name fittingly comes from the Guarani Indian word meaning 'great waters'. The deep flowing waters of the river tumble down 275 falls, the most famous of which is Devil's Throat on the Argentinian border, with a drop of 230ft (70m).

As well as taking in the stunning views, visitors can enjoy kayaking and other water sports in the river. The best time of year to visit is August to November, when there is least risk of floodwaters hindering the approach to the boardwalks. The falls are surrounded by the Iguaçu National Park, a huge sub-tropical rainforest covering 135,000 acres and home to thousands of different species of animals and birds, including flamboyant parrots and pretty hummingbirds.

Estádio do Maracanã photo

Estádio do Maracanã

Even for non-football fans, São Paulo's Museu do Futebol is a must-see. The Brazilian team has unquestionably been the sport's most successful and exciting national football team,…

Estádio do Maracanã

Even for non-football fans, São Paulo's Museu do Futebol is a must-see. The Brazilian team has unquestionably been the sport's most successful and exciting national football team, and the Seleção (the Brazillian national team) is worshipped with a religious fervour. Housed within the city's iconic Pacaembu Stadium, the museum takes a modern, interactive approach to its exhibitions, with holographic displays, touch-screen information panels and various other multimedia installations. Highlights of the museum include the 'History of the World Cup' section, and a display introducing Brazil's 25 greatest-ever players. An appreciation of what football means to the country is vital to getting to grips with Brazilian culture, and São Paulo's Football Museum is a wonderful and appropriate introduction.

Address Av. Pres. Castelo Branco, Portão 3 - Maracanã

Website www.maracana.com

Opens Open daily, from 9am to 5pm

Admission

Basic tour costs BRL 36 (Monday to Thursday), or BRL 40 (Friday to Sunday)

Santa Teresa photo

Santa Teresa

Having had their fill of the beach, tourists who want to experience 'the real Rio de Janeiro' should make a beeline for one of its most iconic neighbourhoods, Santa Teresa. Located…

Santa Teresa

Having had their fill of the beach, tourists who want to experience 'the real Rio de Janeiro' should make a beeline for one of its most iconic neighbourhoods, Santa Teresa. Located at the top of Santa Teresa Hill, the neighbourhood is famous for its winding, narrow streets, 19th century architecture and sublime array of restaurants, bars, art galleries and eclectic shops. A popular area for local artists and tourists alike, Santa Teresa is best reached using its historic tram service, which departs from Largo da Carioca square and runs up the hill. The only one of its kind in Rio, it wends through Santa Teresa's picturesque streets, offering magnificent views of the city below.

Address On the top of Santa Teresa Hill, near the centre of Rio de Janeiro

Rocinha photo

Rocinha

A tour through the sprawling urban township (favela) of Rocinha caters to those who wish to get to grips with the social reality facing most Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro. Thankfull…

Rocinha

A tour through the sprawling urban township (favela) of Rocinha caters to those who wish to get to grips with the social reality facing most Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro. Thankfully, tours with local guide Zezinho aren't voyeuristic or intrusive as they are conducted with a great love for and desire to share their culture with foreigners. All who take part in his tour of Rocinha agree that it's a valuable, moving and humanising experience. There are also other guides and companies offering good tours of the various favelas and it's important to book in advance.

Address Túnel Zuzu Angel‎, west of the Ipanema area

Website www.favelatour.org

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