12 Must Do and Sees in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Girl walks down palm tree lined path at Jordim Botânico in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Planning your first trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil? These are our top 12 recommendations to see, do, and try while in Rio.

Christ the Redeemer

There's no doubt that Christ the Redeemer is the most iconic symbol of Rio de Janeiro, making it a must-see for anyone visiting this majestic Brazilian city. Located atop Corcovado Hill, the giant statue stands tall at 38 meters (125 ft) and offers breathtaking views of the entire city. If you are up for a hike, take on the winding road that leads up to Chris the Redeemer and experience its majesty firsthand. We were a bit crunched for time so we opted to take the cog train to the top which was such a beautiful ride, definitely recommend!

Visit Christ the Redeemer: Google Maps

Christ the Redeemer statue, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Sugarloaf Mountain

While Christ the Redeemer is the most iconic spot in Rio de Janeiro, Sugar Loaf is right up there on the list, too. However, the experience visiting Sugarloaf Mountain is, in our opinion, is even better. Take the cable car to the top and get a unique view of Guanabara Bay and its surrounding beaches. Make sure to bring a camera because you will want to capture this unforgettable experience and the views at the top which are 10/10! For those seeking a more active adventure, climbing Sugarloaf Mountain is also an option. We took the cablecar to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain at sunset to watch Rio de Janeiro go from day to night which was incredible. Highly recommend!

Visit Sugarloaf Mountain: Google Maps

Cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Copacabana Beach

Copacabana is hands down the most famous beach in all of Rio de Janeiro. With white sand and turquoise waters, it is an iconic spot to enjoy a relaxing day by the sea. Stroll along the waterfront or rent a surfboard and try your luck with the waves. There are plenty of restaurants and stores nearby for you to explore as well if shopping is more your speed. While most days spent at the beach are associated with relaxation, it's important to note that Copacabana is busy. Vendors selling food and souvenirs, people playing sports on the beach, music blaring... it's loud! That being said, Brazil is a very lively culture and even if you're not a party beach type person,

Visit Copacabana Beach: Google Maps

Parque Lage

Parque Lage is a hidden gem of Rio de Janeiro. Nestled in the hills near Corcovado Hill, it is an enchanting park with lush gardens and beautiful sculptures. Stop by for an afternoon picnic or take a stroll along its winding pathways; either way you will be glad you made this special stop during your visit to Rio de Janeiro. It's the perfect place to enjoy a quiet moment away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Visit Parque Lage: Google Maps

Jordim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro

Jordim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro is a must-see for nature lovers. Take a tour of the park’s many gardens, explore its aviaries, and learn about the exotic plants and animals that call this place home. There are also great restaurants nearby if you want to grab a bite after your visit.

Visit Jordim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro: Google Maps

Girl walking down path lined by palm trees at Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden, Brazil

Selarón Steps

Selarón Steps are a vibrant set of steps that have become an iconic part of Rio de Janeiro. Vibrant tiles cover the staircase express different parts of Rio's colorful and diverse culture. Not to mention the steps make for a colorful backdrop to take some great photos.

Visit Selarón Steps: Google Maps

Tijuca National Park

Tijuca National Park is a vast rainforest located in Rio de Janeiro. Take a hike and explore its many trails that wind through dense vegetation, cycle up the park's roads, rock climbing up some of Brazil's best rock walls, or one of the other many activities you can enjoy in this incredible park. No matter how you chose to enjoy Tijuca, you’ll be glad you made this special stop during your visit to Rio de Janeiro.

Visit Tijuca National Park: Google Maps

Hang gliding to Praia do Pepino

While I've never been hang gliding in Brazil, I have tried hang gliding on Lookout Mountain back home in the USA, and it's truly one of the most relaxing and incredible experiences! I hope to hang glide in Brazil next time we're there because I have no doubt it's one of the most unique experience you won’t want to miss. Hang gliding over the sea gives you an incredible perspective of the area and its stunning beaches. If heights aren't your thing, then take a boat tour and enjoy the scenery from below, or enjoy hanging out on the beach (Praia do Pepino) and watch as the hang gliders and paragliders land on the beach in front of you.

Hang glide to Praia do Pepino: Google Maps

Brigadeiro at Confeitaria Colombo

Brigadeiro is a mouth-watering treat that you must try during your visit to Rio de Janeiro. This delicious Brazilian delight is made with chocolate and condensed milk, and can be found in many of the city’s pastry shops, most famously, Confeitaria Colombo.

Visit Confeitaria Colombo: Google Maps

Confeitaria Colombo in City Center, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Ipanema Beach

Ipanema Beach is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Relax on the beach, take a walk along the boardwalk, or grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants nearby. While most visitors gravitate to the more famous Copacabana Beach, Ipanema is a much slower pace option while still having plenty of activity to enjoy.

Visit Ipanema Beach: Google Maps

Historic Rio City Center

Nothing beats the charm of Rio de Janeiro's historical city center. Stroll along the cobbled streets and discover charming boutiques, art galleries, cafes, and restaurants. Don't forget to explore some of its iconic buildings like Casa dos Santos Dumont or the National Museum of Brazil.

Visit Historic Rio City Center: Google Maps

Historic city center, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Carnival

Carnival is an event that Rio de Janeiro is known for all around the world. If you can swing it, try to plan your visit during the carnival season (February) and experience this vibrant festival firsthand. Join in on the parade and watch talented performers take to the streets with their stunning costumes and choreography. If you happen to be visiting in the weeks leading up to Carnival, you can witness one of the technical rehearsals featuring a couple of the samba schools for free.

Visit the sambadrome where Carnival takes place: Google Maps

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Hi! We're Chris and Sara a husband and wife video making, storytelling, travel loving duo with a passion for sharing travel tips, tricks, and inspiration with others.
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