13 Best things to do in Rio de Janeiro

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Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world. It’s known for its beaches, culture, music, food, and nightlife. The city of Rio de Janeiro has so much to offer. It’s so amazing and has a lot of great attractions, but it can be hard to decide exactly what to do while you’re there.

The best things to do in Rio de Janeiro are all about enjoying life and having fun. From beaches, bars, and clubs to museums, parks, and restaurants – there are many good reasons to visit this incredible city.

Aerial view of Rio de Janeiro.
Aerial view of Rio de Janeiro

If you’re planning a vacation to Rio de Janeiro and want some ideas on things to do, whether it’s driving on your own, or joining a group tour this blog post is for you.

We’ll explore the best places to go in Rio, from the beachside city of Copacabana to the lively Lapa district, to getting an aerial view of Rio from a helicopter. Whether it’s surfing or just relaxing on a beautiful beach that interests you, we’ve got your back!

The best things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Here are, without further ado, the best attractions and things to do in Rio. Before planning your trip, don’t forget to read about all the best Rio de Janeiro travel tips here.

1. Have ice cream at the Copacabana Palace Hotel

Copacabana Palace is one of the most iconic and beautiful hotels in Rio. It’s known for its unique architecture and world-class service.

With a privileged location, in front of the Copacabana beach, the hotel features more than 100 rooms with views of the sea and Rio’s most famous landmarks.

If staying there is a little out of budget, you can still visit the incredible historic building by getting some amazing ice cream at the gelateria on the first floor.

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2. Visit Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redemeer statue in Rio De Jenario.
Christ the Redeemer in Rio

Christ the Redeemer is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and for a good reason: this huge art-deco statue at the top of Corcovado mountain offers some of the most incredible views of Rio! You can get here by taking a ride on the century-old cogwheel train that travels through Tijuca National Park to get here.

Christ the Redeemer from the back.
Christ the Redeemer from the back

Visiting this landmark is a must in Rio de Janeiro and you should try to do it early in the morning or later in the day when there are fewer people and you can climb up the stairs leisurely to get a nice picture.

You can read more about visiting Christ the Redeemer here.

3. Visit Parque Lage

People relaxing at Parque Lage.
Parque Lage from above

Parque Lage is a fantastic spot for picnics and relaxing on those sunny Rio days. Also, the views from the park are just stunning!


The park is very easy to get to as it’s only about 10 minutes from the Jardim Botânico metro station (the entrance is just across the street), but what really makes this place famous is the historic mansion located just at the center of the park. It is simply gorgeous.

4. Spend the day on Copacabana Beach

View of Copacabana beach.
Copacabana Beach Promenade

Copacabana is one of the most famous beaches in the world and it is easy to see why. Famous as one of the best watersport destinations in Rio de Janeiro, it’s a popular spot for surfing.

Beautiful views of Morro do Leme.
Beautiful views of Morro do Leme, Rio de Janeiro

This 4-mile long crescent of sand is known for its beautiful views, carnival atmosphere, and great bars. If you want to soak up some sun, walk along the promenade or go for a swim, this is definitely where you need to be. You can also look at the upper-middle-class Leme neighborhood nearby.

People playing footvolley and relaxing in Rio de Janeiro Beach.
Footvolley in Rio de Janeiro Beach

5. Spend some time in Lapa at night

The Church of Our Lady of Lapa do Desterro in the Lapa neighborhood was designed by José Fernandes Pinto Alpoim and built in 1751. The architecture at this Latin American church is a must-see in the daytime.

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But Lapa really comes alive at night, with its music halls and bars hosting some of the best local bands and singers. It’s a great place to simply wander around and people-watch – there are so many interesting characters here!

If you have the opportunity, try to catch a show at Circo Voador, you won’t regret it!

6. Go on a day trip to Ilha Grande

View of Ilha Grande Island.
Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande is one of the many beautiful islands that surround the city of Rio de Janeiro.

The island itself is home to some stunning beaches and incredible wildlife, so it’s worth looking into what boat tours are available to explore this beautiful place.

You can read more about visiting Ilha Grande here.

7. Watch a football game at Maracanã Stadium

If you love football (or soccer as Americans call it) then watching a game at Maracanã Stadium is an absolute must!

This historic stadium has been hosting huge games for over 50 years now – including the 1950 World Cup – and going along to cheer on your favorite team will be a magical experience.

8. Visit the Santa Teresa neighborhood

People at bus station in Rio de Janeiro.
Bus station at Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro

Santa Teresa is a charming neighborhood where you can spend the day exploring galleries, museums, and especially fun street art.

Also, you can climb up to the iconic viewpoint of Santa Teresa for breathtaking views of the city!

9. Make sure to visit the Arcos da Lapa

The Arcos da Lapa is one of Rio’s most famous landmarks. It was built in the late 18th century as part of an aqueduct system that supplied the city with fresh water. Nowadays it’s a picturesque site worth visiting!

10. Visit Museu do Amanhã

Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow) is a fantastic museum dedicated to all things science and technology.

This is a great spot for kids (and kids at heart!) as fascinating exhibits explain all about the future of mankind.

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11. Stroll along Jardim Botanico

Jardim Botanical Garden.
Jardim Botanico

Once you’ve explored Parque Lage, it’s worth strolling around Jardim Botânico. This beautiful garden is home to thousands of Brazilian plant species and makes for an incredible place to visit in the afternoon.

12. Ride a bike along Ipanema Beach And Stop For Drinks

Ipanema beach is famous worldwide for its gorgeous scenery and relaxed atmosphere. If you’re feeling extra energetic, you can rent a bike to explore the area and discover some of its hidden gems.

The beach has a more tropical vibe than Copacabana and is home to many bistros and bars. You can’t leave Ipanema without tasting some of the local cocktails, especially those made with the Brazilian rum cachaça.

13. Attend Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

Last but not least, attend Carnaval celebrations if you have the opportunity!

Carnaval in Brazil is one of the biggest parties in the world and surely makes for incredible memories. It is the representation of everything that makes Brazil such a fun country, with great music, friendly locals, and lots of partying!

Wrap-up: The best things to do in Rio de Janeiro

That’s a wrap! Now you know all the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro and can start to plan the trip of a lifetime to this wonderful city. I hope you enjoyed this post and that you love Rio as much as I did! If you have any questions, make sure to leave them in the comments.

By Camila Neves from travelcami.com

Camila from Travel Cami
Camila from Travel Cami

Camila Neves is a travel blogger from Brazil that loves sharing her experiences traveling solo on her blog, Travel Cami. Find her on Instagram at @travel_cami and on Pinterest at @travel_cami

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Pinterest images of Parque Lage and ariel view of Rio.
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Pinterest images of Christ De Redeemer Statue and views of Morro do Leme.

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