Meet your guide and group at the Copacabana Palace Hotel, and start your full-day Rio tour with a subway ride downtown — a great way to experience a bit of local life.
Get off at Carioca Station, and walk with your guide through the Financial District and to Carioca Square, once the main source of Rio’s drinking water, which was brought in via aqueducts. Then board the historic Santa Teresa tram — the last working tram in the city — to travel up the hill to the artsy, eclectic neighborhood of Santa Teresa.
The 20-minute ride takes you across the Arcos da Lapa (Lapa Arches), an 18th-century aqueduct, to the Largo dos Guimaraes station, where you’ll hop off to explore the narrow cobblestone streets that make Santa Teresa such a popular destination. While walking around with your guide, admire the 18th- and 19th-century buildings that were once home to the city’s elite but now house art galleries, restaurants and bars. Set on a hill, the neighborhood offers great views — visit Ruins Park for photo opportunities of downtown and Guanabara Bay.
Walk past the neighborhood convent, and then check out Selarón’s Staircase (Escadaria Selarón), a set of 250 steps covered in tiles from all over the world. They were created in the 1990s by artist Jorge Selarón and have been featured in all kinds of productions, from an episode of The Amazing Race to a Snoop Dogg video. From here, ride the subway to Cinelandia station and head back to nearby Copacabana for a lunch stop (own expense).
Your tour continues to the base of the statue of Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) at the top of Corcovado, the mountain that towers over Rio. To get there, you'll take Tijuca National Park transport from either Copacabana, Largo do Machado or Paineiras Station (depending on convenience on the day of travel). As you stand at an elevation of 2,300 feet (700 meters), admire the incredible view of the city and take an up-close look at the iconic Rio statue. One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the statue was built in the 1930s and boasts a height of 98 feet (30 meters) and a wingspan of 92 feet (28 meters).
Enjoy one last sweeping view of Rio’s beaches, mountains, bays and skyscrapers before heading by bus to your last stop, a very different picture of modern-day Rio de Janeiro. When you arrive at the Santa Marta favela, explore the community accompanied by a resident guide, meeting local inhabitants and learning about their daily life. Back in the mid-1990s, Michael Jackson shot the Spike Lee-directed music video for his controversial song ‘They Don't Care About Us’ in the favela. On your tour, see some of the places featured in that video and learn how the filming — which was surrounded by legal issues — affected the favela’s residents.
Your tour ends with your return by bus to the Copacabana Palace Hotel.