Rio de Janeiro is a vibrant coastal city on Brazil, famed for its long stretches of sugar-white beaches, turquoise seas and colourful lifestyle. Rio is associated with carnivals, fun and coastal living. The city is Brazil’s bold child; and one of the main reasons why visitors flock to Brazil. The city is brimming with activity, and there’s plenty do in fabulous Rio. This is the city that never sleeps and pulsates with culture and heritage; a truly beautiful city framed by endless beaches. Here are our top 5 things to do in Rio de Janeiro.
5 things to do in Rio de Janeiro
Christ the Redeemer
This is the cultural icon of Rio and possibly one of the most visited landmarks in the city. The masterpiece sits at a whopping 30 metres tall and was constructed by world-renowned artists in 1922. The looming statue was eventually completed in 1931 and watches over the city of Rio. It’s perched on top of the tall Corcovado mountain inside the Tijuca Forest National Park. The symbol of Christianity is made-up of soapstone on the outer layer and concrete on the inside and was the brainchild of a local engineer and French artist.
Prior to 1920, the city wanted a religious icon to be erected, but due to a separation of Church and state, it took many years for permission to be granted to go ahead with the build. A depiction of Christ with open arms (peace) was the chosen feature and remains a go-to tourist landmark.
Although it gets crowded at the top, the views are certainly worth the effort.
At the mouth of Guanabara Bay sits the recognisable Sugarloaf Mountain. A rounded peak that guards the exquisite bay sits comfortably on the edge of a peninsula that barges into the ocean. And its namesake? It’s said to resemble the traditional shape of concentrated refined loaf sugar. Watching the sunrise over Sugarloaf mountain is not to be missed.
This enchanting and historical landmark is best explored by taking a cable car from the bottom – or hiking from the cable car point to the middle – and then proceeding to the top. At the top of the Sugarloaf, there are exceptional views of Copacabana beach, Christ the Redeemer and aerial views of the beach. The cable car leaves from Praia Vermelha (Red Beach). We suggest you bring money with you – there are a few makeshift food vendors on the mountain and ice-cream/cool drink vendors.
A must-see! Ooh la la! This is probably Rio’s most famous beach – and with good reason. When you think of Copacabana, you conjure up images of tanned bodies strutting their stuff on this glamorous beach. This famous beach is also the home of Samba dancing and is the perfect place to drink Caipirinhas. Celebrities flock to its shores to stay at the classic Copacabana Beach Hotel for the holiday of a lifetime. Restaurants, bars and cafes dot the shoreline; and New Year’s Eve is an event to behold. This is the beach where the party happens and is arguably one of the most famous beaches in the world.
The temperature of the Atlantic Ocean averages at 21/22 degrees Celsius in Summer and the idyllic beach is perfect for swimming.
This bohemian area is popular with tourists and has been since the 1960s. It is certainly the place for trendsetters! 2 km of sandy beach provide the perfect place for relaxation, sports and tanning sessions. Ipanema is a major area for surfers, and the Ipanema town is fantastic for shopping. Markets, high-end shops and a bustling beachside lifestyle is what you can expect when visiting this ultra-cool destination.
Tijuca National Park
This national park was established in 1967 and spans 3,953 hectares of replanted forest home to waterfalls, hiking trails and historical ruins. This is the home of the Corcovado viewpoint where Christ the Redeemer statue is located. The park is home to 100s of species of wildlife and plants, making up a unique biome. Attractions in the national park include the Cascatinha waterfall, painted murals, the Mayrink Chapel and a number of impressive peaks.