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Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Things to do in  Rio de Janeiro

Welcome to Rio de Janeiro

Buzzing Rio de Janeiro—the second largest in Brazil—is famous for its miles of stunning beaches, rich musical culture, and beautiful people. Experience it all at once by simply people-watching on one of the beaches, which Cariocas (Rio locals) consider their backyard. On legendary Copacabana, Ipanema, or Leblon beach, you’ll find residents and visitors alike socializing, relaxing, eating, drinking, dancing, and playing. Off the sands, see the best of Rio—while maximizing time and minimizing crowds and potential language barriers—on a guided city tour. A cog-train trip up Corcovado to the famous art-deco Christ the Redeemer statue or its twin peak, Sugar Loaf Mountain, rewards with stunning views of the urban sprawl, lined by white-sand beaches and the sparkling Guanabara Bay. Cruise that very bay for a different but equally epic perspective on the city, then feast on a Brazilian-style barbecue at a churrascaria. Stay up late to catch a samba show in Lapa, or wake up early to trek through the tropical Tijuca Forest or the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden. Walking tours stroll through the streets of historic and bohemian Santa Teresa, or up into the hills for a look at favela life in Santa Marta or Rocinha. And for sports lovers, behind-the-scenes tours of Maracana Stadium showcase the country’s national obsession: futebol (soccer).

Top 15 attractions in Rio de Janeiro

Christ the Redeemer Statue (Cristo Redentor)

Keeping a watchful eye over the people of Rio de Janeiro, the iconic Christ the Redeemer Statue (Cristo Redentor) sits atop Corcovado Mountain at 2,300 feet (700 meters) above the city. Unveiled in 1931 and voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, this impressive monument is often credited as the most iconic site in Brazil.More

Sugarloaf Mountain (Pao de Açúcar)

It’s easy to see why Rio de Janeiro was nicknamed the “Marvelous City” when you’re gazing down at it from the heights of Sugarloaf Mountain (Pao de Açúcar). From its soaring 1,300-foot (396-meter) summit, the city unfolds around you, with views of the iconic Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, the Tijuca Forest, and the Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) statue standing tall atop Corcovado Mountain to the west.More

Rio de Janeiro Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana de Sao Sebastiao)

Tall and cone-shaped, the modernist Rio de Janeiro Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana de Sao Sebastiao) doesn’t look like a typical church. The unusual design was constructed between 1964 and 1979 by architect Edgar Fonseca. One of Rio’s most important religious structures, it is dedicated to St. Sebastian, the city’s patron saint.More

Copacabana Beach (Praia de Copacabana)

Rio de Janeiro’s legendary Copacabana Beach evokes images of white-sand shores, sun-kissed volleyball players, tourists sipping agua de coco out of bright green coconuts, and bikini-clad revelers partying long into the night. And for the most part, that’s pretty accurate. Add in a touch of local carioca (Rio residents) flavor and a splash of the obscure, and it becomes obvious how thousands of people easily spend entire days (and nights) wholly entertained on the world’s most famous beach.More

Selarón Steps (Escadaria Selarón)

Decorated with more than 2,000 brightly colored tiles in the colors of the Brazilian flag, the Selarón Steps (Escadaria Selarón) is one of Rio de Janeiro's most vibrant and striking landmarks, marking the boundary between the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods.More

Sao Conrado Beach (Praia de Sao Conrado)

Whether you’re looking for the surf, the golden sands or to soar in the skies above, visiting Sao Conrado Beach (Praia de São Conrado) is a highlight of Rio de Janeiro. Here in this affluent, oceanfront neighborhood that’s sometimes called Praia Pepino, visitors will find an eclectic combo of people, many of whom are surfers or paragliders. The juxtaposition of social classes is evident out on the streets—yet everyone seems to equally enjoy the combo of sunshine and surf.When strolling the sands of Sao Conrado, be sure to look up and scan the skies for hangliders circling above. The beach is a popular landing spot for groups of paragliders and hangliders, most of whom have launched from the slopes of neighboring Pedra Bonita. To get a birds-eye view for yourself—but keep your feet back on land—a strenuous trail climbs 2,500 feet up towering Pedra da Gávea. This stoic sentinel and oceanfront rock is a classic Rio landmark, though the round-trip climb can take a whole day—even for seasoned hikers.More

Tijuca National Park (Parque Nacional da Tijuca)

Prior to the 19th century, Rio de Janeiro was surrounded by Atlantic rain forest. Today, all that remains is the 13-square-mile (33-square-kilometer) jungle known as Tijuca National Park (Parque Nacional da Tijuca). Studded with tropical trees knotted together by jungle vines, the world’s largest urban forest is home to ocelots, howler monkeys, more than 300 bird species, waterfalls, and one of Rio’s iconic landmarks, the Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) statue standing atop Corcovado Mountain.More

Ipanema Beach (Praia de Ipanema)

Although less famous than its neighbor Copacabana Beach, Ipanema holds its own with quiet charm and considerably cleaner surroundings—and it does so without skimping on any of the white sands, blue waters, or local character that give Rio de Janeiro’s beaches their claim to fame.More

Sambadrome (Sambadrome Marques de Sapucaí)

Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome (Sambadrome Marques de Sapucaí)—also known as Sambodromo or Passarela do Samba Darcy Ribeiro—was designed and built by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1984. Established to host the city’s enormous Carnival celebration every year, the stadium features a 2,300-foot (700-meter) runway and seats 90,000 spectators.More

Santa Teresa (Barrio Santa Teresa)

Close to the center of Rio de Janeiro, the cobbled district of Santa Teresa has long been a visitor favorite. Though it started out as an upper-class neighborhood, it has now become an artistic enclave that’s famous for its bohemian cafes and galleries.More

Maracana Stadium (Estádio do Maracana)

The gigantic Maracanã Stadium (Estádio do Maracanã) is one of the most iconic soccer temples in South America, built to open the 1950 World Cup. The site holds the record for the largest attendance at a World Cup Final thanks to the 199,854 paying spectators who crammed into the stadium in 1950 and also hosted the FIFA World Cup Final again in 2014 and the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. Officially known as MárioFilho Stadium but called Maracanãafter the small river that runs alongside it, the arena is now a historical site dedicated to its former use as a world-class arena and event venue.More

Morro da Urca

Approximately half the size of neighboring Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the 720-foot (219-meters) Morro da Urca is by no means insignificant. In fact, Morro da Urca is a necessary, and often overlooked, stop on the cable car ride up to Sugar Loaf Mountain. Before heading off to the larger hill, wander around the turtle-shaped mound for spectacular views of Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, downtown Rio, Christ the Redeemer, and Sugar Loaf itself.More


Pouring down a hillside in Rio’s South Zone, the one-square-mile (2.6-square-kilometer) Rocinha favela is crammed with a colorful maze of cement buildings, tin roofs, and upwards of 180,000 residents living in challenging socioeconomic conditions. The district is considered the largest favela in Brazil, complete with a culture and history of its own, and has entered a period of renaissance, with urban gardens, community art projects, and educational services revitalizing the neighborhood little by little.More

Lapa Neighborhood

Rio de Janeiro’s vibrant and bohemian Lapa neighborhood is the epicenter of the city’s music scene, with an abundance of bars and clubs hosting local samba and forro bands. After dark, revelers spill onto the sidewalks of Rua da Lapa and Rua Joaquim Silva in the heart of Lapa.More


Far less crowded than Rio hot spots such as Copacabana or Ipanema, the art deco Flamengo neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro’s Zona Sul offers a comfortable downtown alternative to the more trendy beaches and resorts. While there, visit Flamengo Park, a grassy section of reclaimed shoreline that faces Guanabara Bay.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Rio de Janeiro

Christ Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountain Small-Group Tour
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Rocinha Favela Walking Tour

Rocinha Favela Walking Tour

Rio de Janeiro Soccer Match

Rio de Janeiro Soccer Match

Skip the Line Christ the Redeemer Admission Ticket
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A day in Rio - Full City Tour
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A day in Rio - Full City Tour

Rio's Full Day: Selarón Steps, Christ & Sugarloaf – Tickets & Lunch Included
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Full Day in Rio: Christ by Train, Sugarloaf, Maracanã, Selarón & Lunch
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Hang gliding Hang gliding Experience Rotorfly
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Private Tour: Rio City Essentials including Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf
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Recent reviews from experiences in Rio de Janeiro

Had a blast with Carnival experience. Was fun all round
BradfordDean, Nov 2022
Rio: Carnival Backstage Tour at Samba City with Cocktail (Carnaval Experience)
Fascinating for me personally to Learn the process, history and and to see the actual construction of the famous and upcoming Carnaval of Rio de Janeiro was inspiring.
Everything about Rio
Richard_F, Oct 2022
Paragliding and Hang gliding included Pick up and drop off from your hotel.
RIO DE JANEIRO BRAZIL 🇧🇷 awesome experience🔥🔥🔥 Hotel experience was amazing the staff spoke English and very helpful the pickup from the hotel for the hang gliding experience was very professional and on point
A great tour with a great guide
Carl_M, Nov 2022
Private City Tour of Rio de Janeiro
We talked about what we would like to see and agreed on an agenda, namely that we would like to visit Christ the Redeemer, the top of Sugarloaf, the Selaron steps, and maybe visit the botanical garden.
Perfect Rio tour
Luke_P, Aug 2022
Christ Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountain Small-Group Tour
As for the tour itself it was excellent we had already had a packed holiday visiting Machu Picchu & Iguassu Falls so we wanted to see the two main sites of Rio but without a really early start or a long day.
Great Service, removes shuttle anxiety
Charles_N, Jan 2022
Private Transfer GIG International Airport To or From Rio de Janeiro
He spoke good English and gave a high level overview of Rio de Janeiro.
An Experience of a Lifetime
Steven_R, Dec 2020
Helicopter tour in Rio de Janeiro - 30 Minutes
This was the best way to see the entire city of Rio de Janeiro.
Interesting, but incomplete visit
nicofiore, Feb 2020
Full Day in Rio: Christ by Train, Sugarloaf, Maracanã, Selarón & Lunch
I congratulate your guide Renata Polakow for her professionalism and the driver for his conduct in Rio, we would have liked to discover more Rio de Janeiro the visit of the cattedral to be eliminated not interesting, I would have preferred to visit the interior of the Manacana stadium, the favellas ......
Great tour of Rio!
Mark F, Jan 2019
The Best of Rio in a Full Day Tour - Corcovado, Sugar Loaf, Selaron and more
Our guide Kiko spoke great English and provided us with a lot of information about Rio, the culture and history.
Full Day in Rio: Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf, Maracana and Selaron with Lunch
Humberto L, Jan 2019
Full Day in Rio: Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf, Maracana and Selaron with Lunch
The tour guy was an expert and we were able to see many attractions during the tour.
If you want to see the best sites of...
MartinDamm_L, Mar 2018
The Best of Rio in a Full Day Tour - Corcovado, Sugar Loaf, Selaron and more
If you want to see the best sites of Rio De Janeiro in a safe and comfortable environment, this tour comes highly recommended.
We had Marcello as our driver and...
Lisa_E, Mar 2018
Private Tour: Rio City Essentials including Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf
His English was great and he made adjustments to our day based on different factors.
Guide was helpful and not rushing...
YuTing_Y, Dec 2016
Small-Group Panoramic Bike Tour in Rio de Janeiro
The tour really allowed you to see many spots of the city and I was very impressed with the bike lane constructions of Rio de Janeiro!
You can see the Christ the Redeemer...
Leonila C, Sep 2015
Skip The Line to Christ Redeemer By Train with Maracanã Stadium
This is the best place to see in Rio de Janeiro!
Great 1/2-day trip to one of the...
Sumit D, Jan 2014
Skip The Line to Christ Redeemer By Train with Maracanã Stadium
The guide was quite proficient in English and spent ample time explaining things in English.
It's a great tour of two prime...
Anatoli S, Mar 2013
Skip the Line to Christ Redeemer, visit to Sugar Loaf and barbecue lunch
It's a great tour of two prime tourist attractions in Rio de Janeiro.
Excellent tour if you have limited...
Maria Z, Sep 2013
Skip the Line to Christ Redeemer, visit to Sugar Loaf and barbecue lunch
Excellent tour if you have limited time in Rio de Janeiro but want to see most of the popular sites.
This was an excellent opportunity to...
Jonathan W, Mar 2014
Rio From the Sea: Guanabara Bay Cruise with Optional Barbecue Lunch
This was an excellent opportunity to see Rio de Janeiro from a different perspective than one gets from a bus or van.
Margo, Best Tour Guide Ever
Sean_S, Jun 2021
Christ Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountain Small-Group Tour
Margo was the best tour guide and English translator that we have ever met.
A perfect day in Rio!
Marcus_M, Feb 2021
Full Day in Rio: Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf, Maracana and Selaron with Lunch
We were a smaller group (less than 15 people) and about half of us were English speakers and the other half were speaking Portuguese.
Exclusive individual tour service
yanasafonova7, Feb 2020
Customizable Private Tour: Rio in 8 Hours
There were no any language difficulties as Wagner speaks English fluently and clearly.
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All about Rio de Janeiro

When to visit

Free-spirited Rio de Janeiro is in its element in summer, when travelers come to sip caipirinhas by the beachside and join the legendary Reveillon (New Year's Eve) and Carnival celebrations. Just don’t forget your umbrella—it’s also rainy season. To avoid the crowds, visit in fall when the cooler weather also means increased visibility from Rio’s mountain viewpoints.

People Also Ask

What is Rio de Janeiro best known for?

Rio de Janeiro is known for the beautiful beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema, and Barra da Tijuca; its samba culture; Sugarloaf Mountain; its huge statue of Christ the Redeemer; and its colorful annual Carnival. The city is also known for its love of soccer and the Maracanã stadium.

What types of activities are popular in Rio de Janeiro?

Taking a cog-train trip up Corcovado to the imposing Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf are both must-do activities in Rio de Janeiro. You should also take a stroll through the bohemian Santa Teresa district, catch a match at Maracanã, savor a Brazilian-style barbecue at a churrascaria, stay up late to catch a samba show, and people-watch on Copacabana, Ipanema, or Leblon.

Do they speak English in Rio de Janeiro?

No. English is not widely spoken in Rio de Janeiro but you should be able to get by with just English in the main tourist areas. The second language of Cariocas is more likely to be Spanish—fortunately, if you speak some Spanish, you will likely be able to understand a little Portuguese.

How can I spend 3 days in Rio de Janeiro?

With three days in Rio de Janeiro you should have enough time to take trips up both Corcovado and Sugarloaf; explore a few neighborhoods, such as Santa Teresa or Lapa; watch a soccer game at Maracanã; cruise around Guanabara Bay; and spend some quality time on the beach.

What is there to do in Rio de Janeiro at night?

Rio de Janeiro truly comes to life after dark. Lapa is one of the most popular nightlife districts and is a great place to catch a samba show, drink caipirinhas and meet locals at the bars, and dance the night away at a club.

Is Rio de Janeiro a safe place to visit?

Yes, Rio de Janeiro is safe to visit, but visitors should still be cautious as Rio’s reputation as dangerous is not entirely unfounded. The city's favelas have high rates of crime, so it’s best to avoid them while popular neighborhoods such as Santa Teresa and Praia de Botafogo should only be visited during the day.

Frequently Asked Questions