Rio de Janeiro is the most visited city in South America because of it’s beautiful beaches, Carnival festival, and famous mountains. In fact, there is no destination on earth more likable, exciting, and lively than Rio de Janeiro. The city is surrounded by many natural attractions such as Corcovado and Sugarloaf mountains, Tijuca rain forest and famous beaches like Ipanema and Copacabana. Apart from the Carnival celebrations and vibrant parades the Iconic landmark of Brazil gigantic Christ the Redeemer statue also attracts visitors from around the world.

Plan Your Trip

Best Area to Stay

Ipanema and Leblon are locals favorite and it is relatively quieter and safer place to stay in Rio. The beautiful sandy beach is connecting this two neighborhoods with the two brothers mountain in the background. They are less touristy than Copacabana and very safe. I stayed here and loved the area.

Copacabana, of course, is world famous for its beautiful sandy beach where you will find many hotels and perfect for all kind of entertainments. It is the most popular place of choice to stay among the foreign visitors.

The beachfront middle-class neighborhood of Botafogo and Flamengo is also a beautiful place to stay. It may not be as popular as Ipanema or Copacabana but it got its own fame. These areas are home to some great restaurants, shopping, and lively nightlife with a picture perfect view of the bay and the Sugarloaf mountain.

How To Get There

There are two airports in Rio de Janeiro SDU (Santos Dumont) and GIG (The Galeão International Airport) 14 and 6 miles respectively (23 km and 9 km) from my hotel in Ipanema Beach. Most of the long haul international flights have daily flights to GIG and my favorite airport is SDU for short distance international and domestic flights. I have used both the airports several times and found both very convenient, both got free WiFI which was a plus for making UBER reservation. 

I still remember the breathtaking view of Sugarloaf mountain and the Rio Skyline through the airplane window when taking off from Santos Dumont (SDU) airport to Iguazu Falls (IGU), it was once in a lifetime experience. 

How To Get Around

Taxi – There is plenty of meter taxi and widely available in the city. I have used them on multiple occasions and never had a bad experience. Price is reasonable and they are reliable too.

UBER – Personally I preferred using Uber as no need to deal with cash or flag down one. It was convenient to make a reservation at the hotel, restaurants, and airports and they were relatively cheaper than metered Taxi fare.   

Best Time to Visit Rio de Janeiro

Winter – I visited Rio de Janeiro in June and experienced the best weather over there. Winter in Brazil is between May to September just opposite of North America. The temperature in Rio de Janeiro is mild during the winter it remains between 58º F to 80º F ( 15º – 26º C) perfect for hiking and sightseeing. Humidity is low so you get clear blue sky with no haze that will provide you a clear view of the surrounding landscape. It’s a good idea to bring a light jacket with you because some evenings may get surprisingly chilly. 

Summer – The hottest and most humid period of the year is from December to March, the temperature and humidity rise well above 90º F on a regular basis. It’s holiday season for Brazilians, so the lodging and other expenses are relatively expensive.

Useful Information

  1. Avoid walking alone at night, certain areas in Rio is known for a high crime so try to avoid it, even if you are in a group. Take a taxi or call Uber if you are going somewhere unknown. 
  2. If you like to explore Favelas (slums), go to a safe one located in the south zone such as Rocinha or Vidigal. Don’t even think of going to a Favelas located in the north zone.
  3. Don’t wear clothes that will stick out as a tourist, to avoid being overcharged at the shop or being targeted by the muggers.
  4. When you are on the beach, keep an eye on your bag, avoid taking valuables with you and when going to the sea leave them with a reliable person.

Top Things To Do In RIO 

Tijuca National Park

Tijuca National Park is one of the largest urban forests in the world. The 13 square miles (33 square km) jungle is home to ocelots, howler monkeys and many bird species. Taunay Waterfall is one of the popular attraction along with hiking and one of Rio’s iconic landmarks, the Christ the Redeemer statue stands atop Corcovado Mountain. It is located only 19 miles west of Rio de Janeiro and the best way to get there is by taking a guided tour.

Tijuca National Park
A breathtaking view of Sugarloaf mountain from the Tijuca National Park!

Tijuca National Park owns locations and historical attractions that are worth a visit, such as: Cascatinha (Little Waterfall), Capela Mayrink (Mayrink Chapel), Mirante Excelsior (Excelsior Viewpoint), Barracão (Big Shack), Gruta Paulo and Virginia (Paulo and Virginia Cave), Lago das Fadas (Fairy’s Lake), Vista Chinesa (Chinese Viewpoint) and Açude da Solidão (Solitude Weir), all of them spots often visited by entire families on the weekends.

Visit Christ the Redeemer

I am sure we all have seen the world famous iconic landmark statue Christ the Redeemer (Statue of Jesus Christ) over and over again especially when it comes to representing not only Rio but also the entire country.

It is difficult to think a trip to Rio de Janeiro without visiting Christ the Redeemer. Located on top of Corcovado’s Mount, the masterpiece is the best-known Brazilian symbol, famous all over the world.

rio de janeiro
Christ the Redeemer, located on top of Corcovado’s Mount

It’s easy to get to Christ the Redeemer, I took an uber to the Corcovado Train station and from there took Trem Do Corcovado all the way to the top. The adult ticket price is R75.00 (US$ 1 = 27 Reais). 

Corcovado Train going all the way to Christ the Redeemer
A view of Christ the Redeemer from a distance

Sugarloaf Mountain

Your Rio visit is not complete without visiting Sugarloaf Mountain. It is one of the most popular spots in Rio de Janeiro for a bird’s eye view of the beautiful Rio beaches such as Flamengo, Botafogo, Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon also beautiful Rio skyline, the Dumont Airport and many more.

Take the cable car from the base of Babilonia hill and climb to the top of the Urca hill, then another cable car up to the Sugarloaf mountain’s summit. If you want to avoid the daytime heat then either early morning or late afternoon is the best time to head up there. It is also one of the best places to enjoy the Rio sunset.

rio de janeiro
A view of Sugarloaf Mountain and the cable care heading from Morro da Urca hill

Copacabana Beach

Copacabana, often known as the world’s most famous beach and ranked one of the top attractions in Rio de Janeiro. The beach runs from Posts Does to Posto Seis stretches up to 2.2 miles (4 km).

You can’t miss the world-famous Copacabana beach as it is the center of all attraction in Rio de Janeiro. The 2.5 miles (4 km) long beautiful beach is full of activities like the soccer game or beach volleyball and for convenience, kiosks lined up along the beach serving all kind of drinks and snacks and on the other side of the road is closely packed hotels and apartments.

rio de janeiro
Early morning view of Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro

Ipanema Beach

The Ipanema beach is located in between Copacabana and Leblon in a nice upscale neighborhood with a beautiful soft white sandy beach and a lovely view of two brothers mountains in the background. It regularly enters the peak of the “Best Beaches in the World” lists year after year. It is Rio’s most popular beaches among locals and tourists alike.

Ipanema
Beautiful view of Ipanema beach and the Two Brothers Mountain in the backdrop!

Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas

One of the city’s most scenic points in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas (also known as Lagoa or Lagoon) is surrounded by a 7.2 km hiking and cycling track. The lagoon is renowned for its tranquility and beauty there are bikes and paddle boats are available for rental.
This natural lake is located in the upscale neighborhood Lagoa, just a few blocks away from the beaches in Ipanema and Leblon. A great place to visit during your Rio Trip.

Corcovado Mountain
In the heart of Rio de Janeiro the huge Lagoon – Picture was taken from Corcovado Mountain.

Visit The Ipanema Hippie Fair (Feira Hipe)

This is a great place to find Authentic Brazilian folk and contemporary art, jewelry, clothing and a lot of street food. Extremely popular among tourists and locals alike.

This Sunday market in Ipanema was started by a group of hippies a long time ago and in current days it’s has grown a lot with hundreds of stalls of all kind.

Maracanã Football Stadium

Maracana football stadium is one of the showpiece venues for the 2016 Rio Olympic. It is one of the most famous and one of the world’s largest football stadiums. Initially, it was built for the World Cup of 1950 and later renovated for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Book a guided tour and get behind-the-scenes experience at Maracanã Stadium.

The Maracana Stadium It is one of the showpiece venue for the Rio Olympics
The Maracana Stadium It is one of the showpiece venue for the Rio Olympics

Escadaria Selarón (Selerón Stairs)

Escadaria Selarón, also known as the ‘Selaron Steps’, this place has come under everyone’s radar and recently became quite popular around the world. The stairs totaling 215 steps were decorated with colorful mosaic tiles, named after the Chilean-born artist who worked on the steps since 1990. I would recommend paying a visit and check it out.

rio de janeiro
Colorful stairs of Selaron Steps, Rio de Janeiro

Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian better known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro. This is a beautiful church does not actually look like a traditional church at all, instead, it was built in the style of an ancient Mayan Pyramid.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro
Inside the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro

Traditional Food and Drinks

Carretao Classic Grill, Ipanema

In the heart of Ipanema, this is a popular Brazilian Steakhouse that you must try. They are more renowned for their best Churrascarias (rodizio style BBQ) in Rio. You’ll find high-quality cuts of a variety of meat dishes and delicious salads. Waiters make frequent rounds at your table with the delicious food. This nice looking restaurant with great service is definitely worth a try.

Carretao Classic Grill (Churrascaria), Rio de Janeiro

CT Boucherie Restaurant

Created by Claude Troisgros, Rio’s most famous chef. The innovation is to follow the traditional idea of Churrascaria BBQ but instead of unlimited all-you-can-eat meat, you will be served rodizio style side dishes fresh from the kitchen. They have delicious house special lamb, duck breast or grilled fish.

Casa Momus Restaurante

One of the best and loveliest restaurants in Lapa, Casa Momus. It is a small, but great selection of Mediterranean-influenced dishes that will certainly satisfy your taste bud. Start with prawn croquettes, fried polenta with spicy gorgonzola. Also, Moroccan lamb kafta (spiced meat patty) with tabbouleh and yogurt sauce is delicious.

Accommodation in Rio de Janeiro

Arena Ipanema Hotel, Ipanema – Rua Francisco Otaviano 131 Rio de Janeiro

rio de janeiro
A View of Ipanema beach from the Rooftop pool and bar Arena Ipanema Hotel.

Arena Leme Hotel, Copacabana – Av. Atlântica 324 Rio de Janeiro

Le Chateaux Joá, Rua Jose Pancetti N 70 Rio de Janeiro

My Opinion and Tips

Have you been to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil? Any additional tips to share?

Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you to improve my knowledge. 

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Hasan Mahmud

Traveler, Blogger, and Travel Photographer!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Your name

    A very helpful guide for things to do in that city! The photos will make anyone wish to go! Are there viewing points on Corcovado Mt where you can stop to take photos of the lagoon? Thanks! And any rough idea on how much a guided tour would cost?

    1. DZTraveler

      Thank you for the nice comment, I am glad that you liked the pictures. Yes, there are multiple viewpoints on Corcovado mountain for the photo opportunity. Regarding the guided tour, please check the above affiliate link for the cost of “Rio de Janeiro Full-Day Sightseeing Tour”.

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