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The 4 Best Things To Do In Rio De Janeiro {Brazil}

Written By:
Bradley Williams
Last Updated:
June 1, 2020
Travel stories
The start of our 4 month journey in South America began with a fantastic 4 day stay in Rio de Janeiro. Here's the things you can’t leave Rio without doing.
Rio de Janeiro
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Even into the early hours of the morning, the streets of Rio de Janeiro are a never ending rush of people going about their days.

Be they backpackers like ourselves, tourists visiting the games, street vendors selling fruit or churros, or regular working day men and women. 

The city doesn’t seem to sleep and it makes for an exciting atmosphere to be in.

Just a word of warning, be careful of the roads which are busy like those of London, and whose drivers aren’t always obeying of the road laws!

For help planning a trip to Rio, here's my 4 favourite things to do there.


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1. Christ the Redeemer

This 32 metre tall statue stands proudly atop one of Rio’s largest mountains and can be seen from all around Rio. When we arrived from the airport at night this monolith could be seen glowing from miles away. It takes us maybe 4 to 5 hours for the round-trip to the statue. 

To get there we took the metro to Lango de Machado station which cost R$ 4.10 per person each way (this is the standard rate for the Metro and you can ride it as many stops as you like, just buy a ticket from the vendors). Come out and head left and you’ll find a green building where for R$56 you buy ticket which includes entrance to the statue and the half hour transfer there and back. 

Christ the Redeemer Rio de Janeiro
It's normally even busier than this at Christ the Redeemer!

NOTE: you can walk it and save some money and we met people who did, but it can take 2-3 hours from the base of the hill and is a steep uphill walk the entire way. So for the sake of the equivalent of £5 we would say get the taxi! You even get a free beer with your ticket from a local bar! 

When up there it truly is a spectacular monument and what are equally as impressive are the phenomenal 360 degree views of Rio. It really is a site to behold, and the fact that you get free Wi-Fi up there means you can Skype your friends or relatives and make them jealous of where you are.

ticket stand for Christ the redeemer
Look for this stand to buy your tickets

2. Sugar Loaf Mountain

We spent our final day in Rio visiting Sugar Loaf Mountain. Lucky for us the weather was amazing and the skies were clear so it offered the best view when up there. To get there you can get a taxi or like us make your way to Botafogo Metro station and then get the bus to Urca. 

Tickets to get up to and back down from the mountain are R$76 or half price if you have an international student card like Cazzy did. The ticket takes you up the first cable car to a slightly smaller mountain called Morro da Urca, and you then get on another cable cart to Sugar Loaf. Again the views are incredible and you can get to see parts of Rio that you can’t from elsewhere. 

We found a hidden little bar on the side of the mountain that looked out all across the ocean and we decided to treat ourselves to a Caprinha, a beer and a burger (I can honestly say it was the best burger I’ve ever had). For the view you get and the atmosphere and the service it was extremely cheap and I’d well recommend doing it. When you’re atop Sugar Loaf, it’s not exactly huge so if you look you should be able to find it easy enough.

View from Sugar Loaf Mountain Rio de Janeiro
View of Morro da Urca from Sugar Loaf Mountain

3. Copacabana Beach

You must have heard of the Copacabana! It is one of the world’s most famous beaches and rightly so! The sand is white and incredibly fine and the sea is incredibly inviting. For us visiting in August the sun seems to go behind the buildings at about 6pm so this is when it gets chilly there. 

For us it was the perfect temperature in the day and it was easy to lay there for hours on end without feeling uncomfortable. It was also not too busy, though in the heart of the summer months it can get very busy on there. Chair rental was R$5- 7 for the day and you could also get umbrellas. There are beach vendors walking up and down the beach continuously and they seemed to sell anything and everything (one guy was even selling swinging hammocks – I have no idea how he expected you to use one there!). 

From our experience everything they sold was extremely reasonable and good quality. Cazzy had a Caprinha (which is the local cocktail), which tastes something like gin, lemonade and lime. We haggled the guy down to R$10 which was very reasonable at just £2.50 for a large and very alcoholic drink! I’s sure you could go further but hey these guys have to make a living somehow! I tried the prawns and they were hot, extremely tasty and only R$5 a skewer!

Read Also: Backpacker Budget Tips For Carnival In Rio

Copacabana Beach Rio de Janeiro
The weather was perfect!

4. Tijuca National Park

The Tijuca National Park covers about 7% of Rio’s landmass (which is still quite a large area seeing as Rio is so big); it divides the city into its North and South regions. The park was created in order to stop the deforestation that threatened its existence back in the early 1900’s and is actually a crucial element in keeping the air around Rio clean. 

You can visit trails at various points around Rio but we entered through the Boa Vista road and there is a circular trail that takes you up the mountain and back down again and shows you waterfalls and caves and great views all along the way. 

Be warned though the paths do get altered from time to time and the maps we found were not actually completely accurate! This led to us getting sort of lost for a couple hours but we ended up at a ledge that offered breathtaking views all across the canopy and it was worth it. Although because we hadn’t planned for this Cazzy did slip into a hypo, so we had to rest and take it easy for a bit. 

My travel tip here is to just be very careful to try and make sure you know exactly where you are the whole time, one wrong turn and you could end up very confused. However I would recommend you go here; speaking to people not a lot of tourists actually visit the Tijuca National Park and they are all missing out!

view from Tijuca National Park
Surprise spot in Tijuca National Park

We spent only 4 days in Rio and these are the main sights that we wanted to do. If you've been there before and were able to do more then let me know below ...

Here's a link to Cazzy's experience with her Diabetes in Rio.

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