Rio de Janeiro is known as the Wonderful City and attracts more than 1 million foreign tourists every year. Most are interested in its laid-back atmosphere, carnival parties, and endless, gorgeous beaches. The city is the perfect getaway for those seeking tropical vibes in both South America and Brazil. Here are 10 top things not to miss in Rio de Janeiro.
1) PRAIA DE IPANEMA (IPANEMA BEACH)
Considered by many to be the best beach in Rio, Ipanema beach is the trendiest one. Here you can rent a chair or just lay your towel on the beach, and relax with a coconut water or caipirinha (a drink made with cachaça, Brazilian sugar-cane rum, sugar, and lemon). In addition, you can buy swimsuits from vendors that walk up and down the beach all day, and try the classic Globo biscuit (made with tapioca flour) while drinking mate with lemon (a local iced tea) – both unique delicacies of the city.
Towards the end of the day after enjoying Ipanema beach, head on over to Arpoador, where you can witness Rio’s most renowned sunset, so beautiful that people applaud the sun as it sets against Rio’s beautiful horizon.
3) MIRANTE DONA MARTA
Many photos of Mirante Dona Marta have appeared on social media lately, and for a good reason! From this single point, you can see the Guanabara Bay, the Sugar Loaf mountain, Christ the Redeemer statue and even the Maracanã Stadium. The best times to visit are either sunrise or sunset when the light catches Rio’s landscape perfectly.
4) INSTITUTO MOREIRA SALLES
The former residence of the Moreira Salles family, located in Gávea, is a landmark of the modern architecture of the 1950s and an attraction for visitors. The residence is currently a cultural center featuring exhibitions, films, and shows, as well as housing collections of photography, music, literature and iconography.
Covering an area of approximately 10,000 m² with manicured gardens of the celebrated Burle Marx, the residence is nestled at the base of the mountains. Go there, regardless of the current exhibition, to enjoy the peace of the gardens and gaze up at Christ the Redeemer.
5) LEBLON AND ITS LOOKOUTS
Leblon is one of the most expensive and refined neighborhoods in Rio. Even if you are not staying here, take some time to get to know this famous part of the city. Window shop along Ataulfo de Paiva and Delfim Moreira Av.
After you’ve had your fill of shopping, go to the viewpoints in the neighborhood. Mirante do Leblon, with its wooden deck, offers a beautiful view of the sea, the beac,hes of Leblon and Ipanema and the waves crashing on the rocks with Morro Dois Irmãos in the background. The Mirante Alto do Leblon – in Parque Municipal do Penhasco Dois Irmãos, is a quiet place that guarantees you beautiful photos of one of the most famous beaches of Rio and its stairways that guarantee an intense exercise for those looking for an outdoor workout.
6) RIO DE JANEIRO BOTANICAL GARDEN
The Botanical Gardens of Rio were created in 1808 by the Portuguese Prince Dom Joao VI. The intention was to adapt plants from other parts of the world to the local climate. A visit here is a great option for an outdoor walk and to spend the afternoon relaxing and recovering from the sunshine of the beaches.
The Botanical Gardens are a kind of sanctuary in the middle of the city, with a quietness interrupted only by the sound of birds. While visiting, be sure to see and take a picture of the famous imperial palm-lined avenue.
7) PARQUE LAGE
Just a few steps away from the Botanical Gardens, Parque Lage is a great option for a more peaceful walk through nature in the city. With an area of 52 hectares, Parque Lage is full of greenery, lakes, caves and a small historic palace which houses the School of Visual Arts.
8) LAGOA RODRIGO DE FREITAS
Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas is a 7-kilometer lagoon that serves as a refuge for the city’s residents. Here you’ll find the locals engaging in physical activity – such as running, walking or cycling – or just resting, with the blessing of Christ the Redeemer. Rent a bike to ride around the lagoon, stopping once in a while to soak the view of the city and watch the locals enjoying their backyard.
9) MUSEU DO AMANHÃ (MUSEUM OF TOMORROW)
The Museum of Tomorrow is one of the most recent projects inaugurated in the city, which revitalized an area that until recently was forgotten. The museum has a unique architecture thanks to the design of the trendy Spaniard Santiago Calatrava (the same of The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain).
10) PARQUE DAS RUÍNAS EM SANTA TERESA
Santa Teresa is a neighborhood near the Center of Rio, very famous for its steep hills and old mansions. In addition to the small stone streets and great views of the city, Santa Teresa is an unusual place: even close to the bustle of downtown, it retains a certain tranquility. The best way to get to know the neighborhood is getting lost in its streets and going to Parque das Ruínas Cultural Center, an old mansion that once belonged to the great patron of the Rio de Janeiro Belle Époque.
WHERE TO EAT IN RIO DE JANEIRO
- Academia da Cachaça in Leblon, to feast on Brazilian feijoada (a tasty sort of bean stew with different kinds of beef and pork, sautéed kale and farofa) accompanied by a caipirinha to get into the rhythm of the city.
- Empório Jardim which has two locations, the most photogenic is in Gávea, where Instituto Moreira Salles is. In a serene place, you will be able to have a good meal and take great photos for social media.
- Casa Graviola in Leblon, for healthy dishes focusing on organic products from local producers.
- Braseiro da Gávea in the neighborhood of Gávea, to eat picanha (a famous Brazilian cut of beef) with black beans (almost omnipresent in Brazilian cuisine) and farofa (the cassava flour mix that can have bacon, eggs or banana) and a cold chopp – or beer.
- While in Santa Teresa, go to Bar do Mineiro which has a relaxed and informal vibe. There, try the caipirinha and the feijoada burger. If you want something more luxurious, choose the restaurant Aprazível.
- And you cannot leave Rio de Janeiro without trying açaí – the tasty frozen snack, perfect for cooling down after an afternoon at the beach. There are many places where you can find it, among them Bibi Sucos, Balada Mix and Poli Sucos.
If you are planning a trip to Rio de Janeiro, make sure to add the places above to your itinerary, and you will certainly experience the best of the city.
Rio de Janeiro is one of the best cities in the world and I hope this article will help you get the most out of it during your next visit!
Have you ever been to Brazil? If you have any additional tips for our readers or questions please leave these in the comments below.
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