What to see in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is unquestionably one of Brazil’s favorite destinations, largely due to its famous carnival, one of the most colorful and fun events internationally. On the other hand, it is also a lively city that houses many other aspects that are worth knowing, such as its natural beauty, its architectural eclecticism or the joy of its people. That is why, in order to help you decide what to see in Rio de Janeiro, at El Viajero Feliz we offer you 10 captivating places in the city that will be essential on your visit. You dare?

10 places to visit in Rio de Janeiro

1. Copacabana

The magnificent beaches, with crystalline waters and white sand, are also an incredible tourist attraction in Rio de Janeiro, since their beauty and cleanliness mean that they are full of people throughout the year. Within the set of wonderful beaches that make up the city, Leblon, Copacabana and Ipanema stand out.. All are surrounded by residential areas and large emblematic hotels from the 30s and 50s.

The famous Copacabana beach stretches for 6 kilometers and although it is one of the most touristic destinations, it retains a particular charm. So much so that the cariocas refer to her by the nickname “Princesinha do mar”, where you can practice sports and get a tan lying on its white sand.

To cool off from the sweltering heat, you can choose to take a dip in its waters or venture into the bohemian streets of this well-known and multicultural neighbourhood. Here you will enter an area full of life that is full of theaters, cafes, fashion stores and bars where you can enjoy both a good soft drink and Brazilian gastronomy in general.

2. Christ the Redeemer

Christ redeemer brazil

At 709 meters above sea level, from the top of Mount Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer controls the city with his outstretched hands, becoming one of the most emblematic places to see in Rio de Janeiro and throughout Brazil.

The statue, 30 meters high, receives thousands of tourists daily who yearn to enjoy the complete vision of the city of Rio de Janeiro. Although the site can be accessed both by taxi and by funicular, which leaves every thirty minutes from Cosme Velho, it is worth being cautious and leaving enough time, as there are usually long queues.

It is worth noting that Christ the Redeemer is considered one of the new 7 wonders of the world. However, it is not famous only for this fact, but also for the incredible views that there are from the viewpoint at its feet towards the Sugar Loaf.

3. Ipanema and Leblon beaches

ipanema beach

Cradle of one of the most internationally recognized Rio rhythms, Bossa Nova, the Ipanema neighborhood is synonymous with glamour, elegance and distinction. Known especially for its cultural richness, its abundant fashion shops and the exclusivity of its restaurants and bars, students, professionals, surfers and a flourishing LGBT community coexist there. Also, Ipanema beach is one of the most famous in Rio de Janeiro, along with Copacabana beachand its waters stand out mainly for its rough sea, ideal for surfing.

Leblon beach is another thing to see in Rio de Janeiro for its spectacular nature. It is famous for being the scene of great postcards, for being the ideal field for foot volleyball, for having huge waves and a unique turquoise blue. It is one of the essential places to go on your visit to one of the most emblematic cities of Brazil. It is also characterized by its white sands dressed in overflowing vegetation that makes the eye fall in love. Here you can have a classic caipirinha at Bar Astor where they prepare this refreshing drink with all the traditionalism it deserves.

4. Sugar Loaf

Sugar Loaf - Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Among the places to see in Rio de Janeiro in 5 days is the ascent to Pan de Azúcar. It is a cliff about 338 meters high, located in Guanabara Bay, and can be seen from practically the entire city. It has a particular cone shape that resembles the clay molds that were used to process sugar.

Beyond that, it is a landscape full of vegetation that transforms the whole place into a spots ideal for capturing unforgettable moments. To get to the top of the Sugar Loaf you must take the cable car that leaves every 20 minutes to travel the 1,400 meters to the rock. Along the way you can be dazzled by the incredible views of the Bay and the entire city.

5. San Sebastian Cathedral

San Sebastian Cathedral

On your visit to this city, the Cathedral of San Sebastián cannot be missing from the places to see in the center of Rio de Janeiro. It usually goes unnoticed since it does not have as many signs as other famous points in the city. Nevertheless, It is as imposing as it is wonderful, starting with its façade that seems out of this world., inspired by the Mayan pyramids of South America. But, the truly dazzling is inside.

Inside, the cathedral houses an immense collection of picturesque stained glass windows 75 meters high that are in charge of receiving anyone who visits its interior. It is a site full of culture and history of Rio de Janeiro, so its visit is essential. It is worth mentioning that it is also free and you can enjoy an authentic architectural wonder.

6. Maracana Stadium

Things to see in Rio de Janeiro - Maracana

The Maracanã stadium is not only a recommendation for soccer fans wondering what to see in Rio de Janeiro, but it is a must-see even if you are not a fan of the sport. World Headquarters for 2014 and with more than 80,000 seats, it has been the scene of such relevant artists as Kiss, Frank Sinatra, Queen, Madonna or U2. Around him, moreover, You will be able to walk through a kind of walk of fame dedicated to the greatest footballers in history.

7. Neighborhood of Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa neighborhood

One of the main things to see in Rio de Janeiro is the Santa Teresa neighborhood, considered one of the most representative of the city. Here you will be able to witness the urban art enclosed among its alleys, taste a good plate of food in Largo dos Guimaraes and travel on the last remaining electric train in Brazil, the popular bondinho.

It is an inevitable visit on your visit to Rio de Janeiro, where you will have the feeling of having traveled back in time. Walk through its colonial streets that cling to a hill and enjoy a warm and picturesque atmosphere that overflows with people in the Parque das Ruinas. Also, do not leave without going through the Lapa neighborhood and seeing the work of art of the 250 colorful steps of the Selarón stairs.

8. Tijuca National Park

Tijuca National Park

28 square kilometers of extension through coastal hills and mountains make the Tijuca National Park not only the largest replanted urban forest in the world, but also one of the most impressive landscapes to see in Rio de Janeiro. Inside it houses innumerable species of animals and plants, as well as natural springs and waterfalls capable of leaving your visitor breathless. As if all this were not enough, it also has rock formations from where the conquerors kept watch over the horizon to keep it free of enemies, as is the case of the Piedra de Gávea, 842 meters high.

9. Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden of Brazil

If you want to disconnect for a while and get a little out of the plan of things to do in Rio de Janeiro, the city’s Botanical Garden is your ideal destination. It is a park full of tranquility, located behind the hectic beach of Ipanema. It was built at the beginning of the 19th century by Botanical lovers from Rio de Janeiro, whose main mission was to be a storehouse for seeds and plants so that they could adapt to the tropical climate.

Before it was a place of exclusive access for the aristocracy, until 1889 when they were opened to the public following the proclamation of the Republic. Inside, you can explore its avenue of palm trees while you are escorted by hummingbirds, toucans and plumb hawks. Also visit its Orquidarium, where they house more than a thousand species of tropical orchids and the largest water lily in the world is cultivated.

Near the garden is also the Parque Lage, adored by the Cariocas themselves.contains English-style gardens, small lakes and a beautiful mansion that currently houses the School of Visual Arts and where you can enjoy different exhibitions and free performances.

10. Slums

Favelas of Brazil

Among the most emblematic places to see in Rio de Janeiro are the favelas, neighborhoods full of Brazilian history and culture. Previously, visits to these areas were not recommended, but with the passage of time and a good social investment, some are safe to receive tourism with open arms. Here you will be able to witness the other side of Rio de Janeiro, where the true authenticity of the city resides.

One of the most recommended is the favela of Santa Marta, where there is a huge sculpture and a mural dedicated to Michael Jackson. Also Vidigal, where there are pensions, bars and restaurants exclusively for travelers. Then there is Tavares Bastos, characterized by presenting live music that captivates anyone who passes through its streets. The one that has been popular for a long time is the Cantagalo favela, standing out mainly for the wonderful views it offers. Similarly, It is best to do in-depth research on the favela you are going to visit, since some of them can be dangerous.

We hope that this selection of essential places has helped you decide what to see in Rio de Janeiro when you visit the city. Have you been to the city yet? Do you plan to travel there soon? Leave us a comment sharing with us all your travel experiences and tell us, according to your criteria, what to see in Rio de Janeiro for our next compilations.

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