15 Best Things To Do In Rio De Janeiro

Written by Joeri Van Overloop

Rio de Janeiro is a captivating city with an array of attractions and activities. From historic sites to the best beaches, national parks, and cultural landmarks, there is something for every type of traveler to enjoy in Rio de Janeiro. This article will provide you with the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro so that you can make the most out of your vacation trip to Rio. Whether you are looking for outdoor adventures or cultural experiences, this guide will help you identify the top attractions in Rio de Janeiro.

1. Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain is a peak situated in the heart of Rio de Janeiro. It stands 396 meters above sea level and offers spectacular views of the city below. Rising above Guanabara Bay, Sugarloaf has become one of Rio's most iconic landmarks.

To get to the top, you must take glass-enclosed cable cars that travel up the steep granite cliff face from Praia Vermelha. On top of Sugarloaf mountain lies Urca Hill which offers an even more impressive view spanning over two bays and three beaches. The mountain is also a great spot for outdoor activities like paragliding, parasailing and hang gliding for those who want to see the city from even further heights.

2. Corcovado - Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer

Being one of the best places to visit in Brazil, Christ the Redeemer is a symbol of hope, faith, and peace to many people around the world. The iconic statue stands atop Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro as a reminder of Jesus Christ’s message of love and salvation.

Rising 98 feet tall, Christ the Redeemer was constructed by sculptor Paul Landowski with engineer Heitor da Silva Costa between 1922 and 1931. Made from reinforced concrete and soapstone it was dedicated on October 12th 1931 by Brazilian Cardinal Leme and blessed by Pope Pius IX.

The statue offers an impressive view over the city of Rio de Janeiro. It overlooks Guanabara Bay from one side while Sugarloaf Mountain takes its place on the other side. It has become an icon for all Brazilians who look to it for spiritual guidance amidst their daily lives.

3. Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden in Rio

The city of Rio de Janeiro is home to one of the most incredible botanical gardens in the world. Situated within the city limits, it is an oasis of lush greenery and offers a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of urban living.

Established in 1808 by King John VI of Portugal, it spans over 300 acres and is home to more than 6,000 species of plants that are native to Brazil as well as tropical areas around the world. It also houses a variety of bird species including macaws and toucans, making it an ideal spot for wildlife-enthusiasts or anyone who loves nature.

Visitors can enjoy exploring its myriad pathways which meander through diverse ecosystems ranging from sub-tropical rainforest to semi-arid desert regions.


Address: R. Jardim Botânico, 1008 - Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 22460-030, Brazil

Phone: +55 21 3874-1808

4. Ipanema Beach

Ipanema Beach in Rio De Janeiro

Ipanema Beach is an iconic beach located in Rio de Janeiro. With its white sandy coast and beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean, Ipanema Beach has become a renowned tourist destination. Not only does it boast some of the world's best swimming spots and surfing waves, but it also offers a unique atmosphere for cultural exploration.

You can take a walk along the famous street "Rua Visconde de Piraja" to experience Brazilian culture at its finest. Here one can find unique restaurants that offer more than just delicious food - they provide an atmosphere filled with music, dancing and conversations between locals and tourists. There are also many vibrant bars where you can sit back with a fresh coconut or caipirinhas while listening to live music performances from local artists.

5. Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro

Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro

The Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro is a iconic cultural landmark and a symbol of the city's rich history. Founded in 1909, it has hosted some of the most important cultural events in Brazil, such as opera performances, ballets and symphonies. It also serves as an iconic backdrop for the annual Carnival parade and New Year's celebrations.

Located on Avenida Rio Branco, the theatre is considered to be one of the finest examples of neoclassical architecture in Latin America. Its grand façade features beautiful sculptures by Rodolfo Bernardelli and its lavish interior includes decorations by artist Eliseu Visconti. The theatre also houses a large organ with 4500 pipes that were imported from France in 1914; it is still used today for concerts and special occasions.


Address: Praça Floriano, S/N - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-050, Brazil

Phone: +55 21 2332-9191

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6. Copacabana Beach

Copacabana Beach in Brazil

When it comes to the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro, Copacabana Beach is near the top of the list. Located on Brazil's Atlantic coast, this stunning beach has long been a favorite destination for tourists and locals. With its beautiful white sand beaches, mesmerizing blue-green waters and breathtaking mountain views, Copacabana is a paradise worthy of its reputation.

People come here to sunbathe, swim and relax while taking in all that nature has to offer. Aside from simply soaking up the beauty of this magnificent beach, there are plenty of activities available as well. You can go surfing or sailing on any given day; rent a bike or rollerblades to explore; play volleyball or football with friends; dine at authentic restaurants serving delicious Brazilian cuisine; visit nearby shops for souvenirs - the possibilities are endless.


7. Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil

Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil

Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil has been an integral part of the Brazilian cultural landscape since it was founded in 1989. Situated in Rio de Janeiro, this facility provides a range of services and activities that promote education, culture, and leisure. It showcases some of the best artwork from all over Brazil, from both emerging and established artists. It also serves as a platform for preserving Brazilian culture by hosting live performances featuring traditional music styles like samba and bossa nova.

At the Centro Cultural, you can take part in a variety of workshops focusing on topics such as drawing and painting techniques, photography, theater production, dance classes, and other creative arts classes. Additionally there is a library which houses thousands of books about Brazilian art and culture for people to explore.


Address: R. Primeiro de Março, 66 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20010-000, Brazil

Phone: +55 21 3808-2020

8. Museum of Tomorrow (Museu do Amanha)

Museum of Tomorrow

The Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is a highly acclaimed and innovative modern museum designed to explore the challenges humanity faces, with a particular focus on sustainability. Located near the Guanabara Bay, the building itself is an architectural masterpiece. It consists of four separate structures connected by glass bridges, giving it an industrial yet futuristic feel. The museum contains interactive exhibits that are intended to entertain as well as inform visitors about environmental topics such as climate change and ocean pollution.

In addition to its extensive collection of exhibits, the Museum of Tomorrow also offers educational programming for students from kindergarten through high school. These programs aim to inspire young people about their role in protecting our planet for future generations. Other activities include lectures by experts in various fields related to sustainability, art shows focusing on nature-related topics, and workshops designed to help people take actionable steps towards living more sustainably.


Address: Praça Mauá, 1 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20081-240, Brazil

9. Parque Nacional da Tijuca

Parque Nacional da Tijuca

Parque Nacional da Tijuca is the world's largest urban rainforest and a major attraction in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It covers an area of about 32 km2, making it one of the largest green spaces in the city. The park is home to many different species of flora and fauna, including exotic butterflies, macaws, marmosets, monkeys and wild cats. This natural wonderland also features breathtaking waterfalls and spectacular views from its various lookout points.

A visit to Parque Nacional da Tijuca is a must for any traveler visiting Rio de Janeiro. There are numerous hiking trails that wind their way through the lush tropical landscape. Many tourists take advantage of guided tours which provide unique opportunities to spot wildlife while learning more about the local ecology.


Address: Estr. da Cascatinha, 850 - Alto da Boa Vista, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20531-590, Brazil

10. Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon

Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon

The Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon is one of the best things to see during your visit to Rio. It is located near Ipanema, Copacabana and Leblon, three of Rio's most famous neighborhoods. This lagoon covers an area of 6.8 square kilometers and has a depth of up to 5 meters in some spots. The entire lagoon has a border lined with tropical vegetation which makes it even more picturesque.

The lagoon has become a popular tourist destination over the years because of its crystal-clear water, lush green surroundings and amazing views from all angles around the park. Visitors can take advantage of multiple activities like renting a boat for sightseeing or going for walks along the shoreline and admiring the vibrant wildlife found within this ecosystem.

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11. Parque Lage

Parque Lage

Parque Lage is a stunning public park located in the center of Rio city. Its sprawling 32 acres of gardens, fountains, and lush greenery make it one of the most picturesque locations in Brazil. It is home to a variety of wildlife including monkeys, birds, and even macaws. The Parque also boasts an impressive array of plants such as orchids and bromeliads as well as its large collection of exotic trees.

The Park's main attraction is its castle-like villa which was designed by renowned Brazilian architect Mario Vodrelizier in 1928. This impressive building stands at the top of a hill overlooking Guanabara Bay and offers sweeping views over Rio de Janeiro's cityscape.


Address: R. Jardim Botânico, 414 - Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 22461-000, Brazil

12. Sao Bento Monastery

Sao Bento Monastery

São Bento Monastery is a beautiful and historic landmark. Built in 1590 by Portuguese Benedictine monks, this monastery is one of the oldest religious sites in the city of Rio. The monastery was constructed with a combination of Baroque and Neoclassical architectural styles, giving it an impressive and distinctive aesthetic.

Inside the monastery’s walls lies an array of stunning artwork, including intricate wooden sculptures and detailed frescoes depicting biblical scenes. Visitors to Sao Bento can also marvel at its original tilework throughout the building's interior.

The grounds of Sao Bento are just as breathtaking as the inside of the building itself. A large statuary garden contains dozens of works by prominent 19th-century sculptors, while lush vegetation creates an inviting atmosphere for anyone looking to explore or simply relax outside.


Address: R. Dom Gerardo, 68 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20090-030, Brazil

Phone: +55 21 2206-8100


13. Museu Histórico do Exército e Forte de Copacabana

Museu Histórico do Exército

Museu Histórico do Exército is one of the most beautiful spots to discover in Rio de Janeiro. Located in the south zone of the city, it is a fort constructed by the Portuguese military in 1779 and designed to protect the Guanabara Bay from suspected attacks. This historical site is both a museum and an active garrison, dedicated to preserving Brazil's military history while offering guests an opportunity to experience this significant piece of architecture up close.

The museum includes exhibitions that cover several centuries of Brazilian military life, with displays baroque-period uniforms as well as modern-day arms and equipment on display. There are also interactive activities like virtual reality simulations that take you through key moments in Brazillian army history or give you a chance to explore life within the fort walls.


Address: Praça Cel. Eugênio Franco, 1, Posto 6 - Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 22070-020, Brazil

14. Quinta da Boa Vista

Quinta da Boa Vista

Quinta da Boa Vista is one of the most iconic parks in Rio de Janeiro. Situated in the northern region of Rio, this park is part of the city's heritage and has been around since the 18th century. It occupies over 360 hectares of land and has a variety of activities and attractions that draw thousands of visitors every year.

The park has a wide range of flora and fauna, with trees such as Araucaria pines, Royal Palms, Maceió Trees, Frangipani Trees, Brazilian Peppers and more providing shade for visitors. Vacationers can also explore some historical monuments like the National Museum and Imperial Palace which are located within Quinta da Boa Vista's boundaries. There are also lakes within the park where it is possible to find fish species such as tilapia or carp.


Address: Av. Pedro II, s/n - São Cristóvão, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20940-050, Brazil

15. Catedral de São Sebastião

Catedral de São Sebastião

The Catedral de São Sebastião in Rio de Janeiro is an impressive architectural wonder. Located within the historic city center, this stunning 16th century cathedral is a must-see for any traveler visiting the city. The opulent Baroque and Neo-Classical facade of the church stands out amongst the other buildings in downtown Rio, making it easy to spot from afar.

Inside, you are welcomed by intricately designed stained glass windows that allow sunlight from outside to flood into the building, illuminating its many altars and chapels.

The interior walls of the church are richly decorated with gold foil and ornate carvings which accentuate its grandeur even further. There are also several pieces of religious art located within such as large statues of Jesus Christ and Mary that adorn either side of the main altar along with paintings depicting scenes from Bible stories.


Address: Av. Chile, 245 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-170, Brazil

Phone: +55 21 2240-2669

Best Flights To Rio De Janeiro

Quickly search the best flights from the widest selection of airlines flying to Rio De Janeiro. Regardless of what airline you go with, you can save money by comparing. Skyscanner is the best airline price comparison service specifically for Rio De Janeiro.


Book Your Hotel In Rio De Janeiro

You can book your hotel in Rio De Janeiro with Booking.com as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hotel, they also return the cheapest rates for accommodations like guesthouses and apartments.

Book Your Flight To Rio De Janeiro

Use Skyscanner to find cheap flights to Rio De Janeiro. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know you get the best rates.

Need a Rental Car In Rio De Janeiro?

Here is a budget-friendly car rental resource. No matter where you’re traveling, you’ll be able to find the best — and cheapest car rentals in Rio De Janeiro here.

Looking for an Airport Transfer Service In Rio De Janeiro?

If you are looking for a convenient and affordable option to get to and from the airport in Rio De Janeiro, here you will find all the answers to book your next airport transfer in Rio De Janeiro.

Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance

Travel insurance will protect you against illnesses, an injury, luggage theft, and even trip cancellations. It’s a comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong during your trip. I never travel to Rio De Janeiro without it as I’ve had to use it several times in the past. My favorite travel insurance companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the Best Travel Companies to Save Money With?

Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m taking a trip. They will save you money when you travel too.

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