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How to Spend 1 Day in Rio de Janeiro

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How to Spend 1 Day in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is a not-to-be-missed destination full of adventure and natural beauty. With plenty of fascinating attractions, from sandy beaches to sky views of famous landmarks, there’s something for all types of travelers. With just one day to explore, here are a few options to help you make the most of your stay.

Morning: Rio de Janeiro City Sights
Start out by getting a lay of the land, choosing among several sightseeing options. Combine a tour of Corcovado, where the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) overlooks Guanabara Bay, with an aerial cable car ride to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. Or take a helicopter flight above it all for an exciting alternative. See city landmarks on a walking tour of downtown; climb Selarón’s Staircase in the Santa Teresa neighborhood; or get an overview of beaches and attractions aboard a hop-on hop-off bus. Nature lovers shouldn’t miss the Tijuca Forest or the Botanical Garden.

Afternoon: Unbeatable Bay Views
Get your camera ready for spectacular views around Guanabara Bay, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Board a bay cruise for a panoramic tour of Rio’s harbor with its andy-white beaches and towering granite monoliths. Glide past the neighborhoods of Copacabana, Botafogo, and Flamengo, and learn about the Niteroi Bridge. Alternatively, a walking tour through Rio’s largest favela, Rocinha, offers a different perspective on the city and its inhabitants. Local residents shed light on the unique challenges of this hillside community.

Night: Dancing and Drinking in Rio
The city’s world-famous Carnival offers a chance to see a spectacular parade, plus dancing and drumming on city streets, but if you visit during another time of the year, you can still experience Brazilian dance and music. You’ll be treated to a dazzling display of costumes and capoeira, with the option to feast on barbecue. If spinning on the dance floor is more your style, gain VIP access to nightclubs like Rio Scenarium during a nightlife tour that lets you skip the line in places like Leblon. 
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Rio de Janeiro Tours & Activities (10)
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Rocinha Favela Walking TourHalf-day Tours

Rocinha Favela Walking Tour

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Get an in-depth local experience with this walking tour of one of Rio's favelas, Rocinha. Follow your resident guide to get an insider's perspective on daily life and learn about the challenges these communities face.
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  • 3 hours
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  • 3 hours
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Ginga Tropical Show with Transportation and Optional Barbecue DinnerTheater, Shows & Musicals

Ginga Tropical Show with Transportation and Optional Barbecue Dinner

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Attend the Ginga Tropical Show, a dance and music that allows you to learn about Brazil's vibrant history and culture through its traditional music and dance. During this show, see talented performers dance the lambada, samba and bossa nova dressed in outrageous Carnival costumes. Hear folklore from around the diverse country, live drumming and the Brazilian martial art: capoeira.
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  • 4 to 5 hours
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  • 4 to 5 hours
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Two of Rio's Best: Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountain TourBus Tours

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Two of Rio's Best: Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountain Tour

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Visit two of Rio de Janeiro's most famous landmarks, Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corcovado Mountain, during this half-day tour. Ascend to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain for sprawling views of the city below and Corcovado to visit the Christ the Redeemer statue. See the mountains, lakes, beaches, and oceans that surround the bustling city with natural beauty from its highest points. Learn about the culture and history of Rio through informative commentary from your local guide. Round-trip transportation from Rio hotels is included. 
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  • 3 to 5 hours
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  • 3 to 5 hours
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Rio From the Sea: Guanabara Bay Cruise with Optional Barbecue LunchDay Trips

Rio From the Sea: Guanabara Bay Cruise with Optional Barbecue Lunch

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Sail on Guanabara Bay for half a day, viewing the Rio's picturesque city skyline and Sugarloaf Mountain from the water. On this cruise from Rio, glide through the bay's tranquil waters, passing islands and historic forts. Upgrade your experience to enjoy a local all-you-can-eat barbecue lunch at a restaurant in Rio. Round-trip transportation from most Rio hotels is included.
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  • 4 to 6 hours
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  • 4 to 6 hours
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Rio de Janeiro Half-Day Walking TourHalf-day Tours

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Rio de Janeiro Half-Day Walking Tour

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Walk through Old Rio on this afternoon sightseeing tour with a local guide. During this half-day outing, wind through the narrow lanes and baroque-style buildings while your guide fills you in on the history and legends of the area. Visit sites like the Metropolitan Cathedral, Carioca Square and the Imperial Palace. Round-trip transportation from Rio hotels is included.
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  • 4 hours
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  • 4 hours
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Best of Rio: Secrets of Santa Teresa and Lapa StepsHalf-day Tours

Best of Rio: Secrets of Santa Teresa and Lapa Steps

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Explore one of Rio's oldest neighborhoods, Santa Teresa, on this guided sightseeing tour. With a small group of 12 people or fewer, walk down cobblestone streets among the district's interesting architecture. Admire sprawling views of greater Rio de Janeiro, climb the Selarón Staircase, explore the Parque das Ruínas (Ruins Park), and walk through Guimarães Square where local shops, studios, and restaurants abound.
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  • 4 hours
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  • 4 hours
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Rio de Janeiro Panoramic City TourBus Tours

Rio de Janeiro Panoramic City Tour

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Discover the best of Rio at your own pace with this panoramic bus tour. See top attractions including Ipanema Beach, Sugarloaf Mountain, Corcovado Mountain, and Maracana Stadium. Listen to commentary on board the bus to learn more about each location and return to your point of origin on this convenient tour.
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  • 3 hours
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  • 3 hours
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Rio Botanical Garden and Tijuca Rainforest Jeep TourHiking & Camping

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Rio Botanical Garden and Tijuca Rainforest Jeep Tour

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Explore Brazil's diverse plant life on this tour of the Tijuca Rainforest and the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden. During this 4-hour activity, visit the city's botanical garden to view a variety of exotic and native plants. Ride in a jeep through the Tijuca Rainforest, stopping for a leisurely hike with picturesque views and chances to see local wildlife. Round-trip transportation from Rio de Janeiro hotels is included.
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  • 4 hours 30 minutes
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  • 4 hours 30 minutes
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Private Rio Nightlife Tour with Skip the LinePrivate Sightseeing Tours

Private Rio Nightlife Tour with Skip the Line

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Hit the town to experience Rio's nightlife with a local guide on this private 8-hour evening tour. Party with the locals and enjoy the VIP treatment at hot spots like Rio Scenarium and other bars and clubs in Zona Sul, Santa Teresa and Leblon. Entrance fees at each destination are included, and you'll skip the long lines at the entrance. See how the 'Cariocas', or Rio residents, like to party. . . and see if you can keep up. Round-trip transportation from most Rio hotels is included.
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  • 6 hours
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  • 6 hours
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Rio de Janeiro Super Saver: Sugar Loaf Mountain Tour and Christ Redeemer Statue Helicopter FlightHalf-day Tours

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Rio de Janeiro Super Saver: Sugar Loaf Mountain Tour and Christ Redeemer Statue Helicopter Flight

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Take the cable car to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, then get a bird's eye view of Rio by helicopter during this all-day Super Saver tour. This combination of activities gives you spectacular views of Rio and fantastic photo ops or sights like the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) statue, Maracanã Stadium, Cinelandia Square and Copacabana Beach. Lunch and round-trip transportation from Rio hotels is included.
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  • 5 hours
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  • 5 hours
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