| | |

Things To Do In Rio de Janeiro

Spread the love

11 Unforgettable Experiences When Visiting Rio de Janeiro

We were in Rio de Janeiro as a bookend on our Oceania Cruise, The Cape Horn Mariner, that sailed from Rio de Janeiro to Santiago De Chile. The 24-day sea voyage started with a three day stay in Rio de Janeiro as a pre-cruise package. The hot summer sun, expansive pristine beaches, along with tropical trees and flowers immediately send you into relaxing vacation mode. There were lots of interesting things to do in Rio de Janeiro, and three days is not enough time to get to everything.

As an Amazon Associate and other affiliate associate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

1. Christ the Redeemer

 things to do in Rio de Janeiro
Panoramic View of Rio de Janeiro and Christ the Redeemer

On the outskirts of the city is Corcovado Mountain. High atop sit’s the iconic statue, Christ the Redeemer. Equivalent to a 13 story building, the statue of Jesus Christ looks over the magnificent city view of Rio de Janeiro. The amazing view from the Corcovado Rack Railway to the top is breathtaking. Many pilgrims make the trek to see the iconic Christ statue for a personal in-depth experience and moments of prayer and reflection.

You can also hike to the top, however, there have been reports in the past of tourists ambushed along the hiking route. Go with a trusted guided tour or take the cable car to be safe.

Viator has a wide assortment of highly rated Rio de Janeiro Tours

2. Sugarloaf Mountain

 things to do in Rio de Janeiro
Sugarloaf Mountain Cable Car Ride

I was pleasantly surprised at the trip up Sugarloaf Mountain (referred to as Sugarloaf and Sugar Loaf). The panoramic views of Guanabara Bay and the entire city far below are stunning.

The cable car ride to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain offers beautiful panoramic views of Rio de Janeiro. The first Bondinho (cable car) brings you to Morro Station. Here you can enjoy the scenery and a bite to eat. The second Bondinho takes you steeply up to the Sugar Loaf Mountain peak at 4226 feet where the views are even more spectacular.

3. Copacabana Beach

 things to do in Rio de Janeiro
Copacabana Beach

Rio de Janeiro’s 2.5 mile long, crescent shaped Copacabana Beach is packed with daily sun worshipers. The world famous Copacabana Beach is the perfect destination for people watching and there are plenty of interesting sights to see. Sitting on the beach is one of the top things to do in Rio de Janeiro. Swimmers beware – large waves come into the shore fast and close together — it can be a dangerous swim.

Pro Tip: Don’t leave anything unattended or out of your line of sight, it will disappear fast. The Copacabana Beach thieves are super quick.

4. Ipanema Beach

 things to do in Rio de Janeiro
Ipanema Beach

It is always a party when you are on Ipanema Beach. This is where the young beach goers hang out. The beautiful beach with cobalt blue waters is surrounded by stunning mountain views.

A pretty public park sits between Copacabana Beach and Ipanema Beach along with the Arpoador Rocks. The rocks are a favorite spot to climb up for a better view, especially at sunset.

The heavy presence of law enforcement officers on Ipanema Beach (on foot, patrol car, and horseback) should be a warning to be on your guard and keep your personal items close.

5. Army History Museum And Copacabana Fort

 things to do in Rio de Janeiro
Copacabana Fort

Along the end of Copacabana Beach is the Copacabana Fort. A long walkway leads to the fort and hugs the water’s edge. On one side sits restaurants and cafes and on the other are waterview tables. It is a lovely spot to enjoy a light meal or sip a cocktail at sunset.

Pro Tip: If you are over 60, the entrance ticket is half price R$ 5.00 (about $1.00 US).

6. Botequim de Cidade do Samba (Samba School)

 things to do in Rio de Janeiro
Botequim de Cidade do Samba

When you visit Rio, a great tour to consider is Samba City, home to many Samba Schools that compete in Carnival. Touring a Samba School is a wonderful way to get the Carnival feel without being at the festival. You will go backstage and try on Carnival costumes, learn the Samba, and if you ar lucky, get a peek at this year’s costumes being created.

We were lucky to tour Botequim de Cidade do Samba, one of the leading Samba Schools. It was so much fun trying on costumes, learning the Samba, and exploring all the costume construction techniques.

Viator has a wide assortment of highly rated Rio de Janeiro Tours

7. Celebrating Carnival

 things to do in Rio de Janeiro
Botequim de Cidade do Samba Costume

Carnival takes place in late February through early March. Over 70 Samba Schools take part in the exuberant annual celebration, each with their own style of costume and dance. The top 12 schools have certain requirements in their presentation, fulfilling 10 different categories including costumes, samba dancing, and floats as they proceed along the massive Sambadrome.

Throughout the city, street parties filled with music, food, and samba dancing are a popular way to celebrate Carnival.

8. Museum Of Tomorrow

 things to do in Rio de Janeiro
Museum of Tomorrow Earth Exhibit

The Museum of Tomorrow is an interactive environmental science museum focused on planet sustainability. Not only is the building’s architecture fascinating, the exhibits are thought provoking. The large earth shaped centerpiece projects the effects of climate change presented in a multi-dimensional exhibit.

9. Tijuca National Park

 things to do in Rio de Janeiro
Tijuca National Park

The verdant Tijuca National Park is the remaining part of the Atlantic Rainforest that once surrounded Rio de Janeiro. The preserve is a tropical jungle filled with lush vegetation, waterfalls, and jungle animals; all in the heart of the city.

You can find hiking tours of Tijuca National Park that will hit all the highlights. You might even see a sloth!

10. Church Of Our Lady Of The Candelária

 things to do in Rio de Janeiro
Church of Our Lady of the Candelária

The beautiful Church of Our Lady of the Candelária sits on a hill in Rio de Janeiro and is definitely worth the climb. Originally established in the 17th century, the Catholic Church is still active today.

Towering spires and a murualed grand dome house intricate frescos and stunning stained glass windows. Church lovers will be enchanted by her quiet exterior and exuberant interior.

11. Helicopter Ride Over Rio de Janeiro

The topography of Rio de Janeiro, including her beautiful beaches, lush tropical forest, Sugarloaf Mountain, and Christ the Redeemer monument make it a wonderful spot for a helicopter ride. I am not a helicopter ride traveer, but if you are into flightseeing, this might be right up your alley.

Travel Essentials

Safety first! Consider an RFID blocking wallet, bag, or phone case to keep your personal data safe.

Visit my list of Travel Essentials at my Amazon Storefront

What To Eat And Drink

 things to do in Rio de Janeiro
Gin and Tonic with Juniper Berries, Topik Beach Club

Churrasco, the national Brazilian barbeque feast, is nirvana for meat lovers. It is a seemingly endless parade of mixed grill that has been cooked to perfection on a rotisserie. Go hungry, the meat is rich and the green sides are almost nonexistent.

Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha, is made with cachaça, sugar, and lime. It walks the sweet/sour line and is a must try at least once.

In Rio de Janeiro the tap water is safe to drink. However, they added chemicals and treatments that might not agree with your internal plumbing. Even though the water is potable, it tastes treated and not so great.

When To Visit Rio De Janeiro

 things to do in Rio de Janeiro
Fairmont Rio de Janeiro Copacabana Pool

January to March is summer in Brazil and the height of the tourist season. Rio de Janeiro has an average summer low in the mid 70 degrees Fahrenheit and an average high of high 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It is sunny and hot, and brings lots of highly rated sunscreen.

Beginning April 10, 2025, a valid Brazilian visa is required for US citizens. An earlier roll out of the visa program in the fall of 2023 for a January 2024 requirement date was a complete disaster and pushed back just before the requirement date landed. The day the online program opened I applied for our visas, they arrived after we had been in Brazil for 5 days (weeks after my application date). My suggestion is to apply as early as possible since it is only available through their online portal.

Where To Stay

 things to do in Rio de Janeiro
Fairmont Rio de Janeiro Copacabana

We stayed at the Fairmont Rio de Janeiro Copacabana for a few nights. The Fairmont was very nice. It is right across the street from Copacabana Beach and only a short walk to Ipanema Beach. It was a good jumping off spot to enjoy this marvelous city.

Safety In Rio de Janeiro

When visiting Rio de Janeiro, be cautious. Like any big city, Rio de Janeiro can be dangerous and awash in petty crime. Be aware of your surroundings, even in the crowded tourist areas, hotel lobbies, bars, and restaurants.

Travel insurance is always important. I choose Safety Wing Insurance when I am traveling internationally. Also, since you are visiting Latin America, you should consider evacuation insurance. You may not want to be stuck in a Brazilian hospital for any length of time. Medjet Insurance is my goto when I travel and want to be sure I can get the best medical treatment in an emergency situation.

Visiting Rio de Janeiro

Swaying palm trees and beautiful beaches border this massive city shoehorned into the coastline. The dramatic city landscape, framed by Tijuca massif, Sugarloaf Mountain, Corcovado Mountain, and others is like a jewel in a box.

Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are a must visit on your next trip to Rio de Janeiro, they are some of the most popular beaches in the world.

You will find plenty of things to do in Rio de Janeiro the next time you visit Brazil. Learn to dance the traditional samba, explore Rio’s natural beauty, and take a helicopter ride over Guanabara Bay. You will love you visited Brazil.

Happy Travels,


PS We visited Rio de Janeiro before a 24-day cruise around South America. Here is my list of things to consider when planning a Grand Voyage.


Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

The information provided here is an overview of types of adventures available. Travel With Sandi does not endorse certain tours or adventures — each individual should choose based on their personal taste and physical abilities. As always, be safe, be aware of your surroundings, tread carefully, and keep your valuables hidden.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Rio de Janeiro is truly a gem of Brazil! Your article captures the vibrant essence of the city beautifully. From the awe-inspiring Christ the Redeemer statue to the rhythmic beats of samba at Lapa, you’ve covered a diverse range of experiences that make Rio so unique. I particularly enjoyed your recommendations for exploring the historic neighborhoods like Santa Teresa and indulging in the local cuisine along Copacabana Beach. Your insights will definitely help anyone planning their trip to Rio de Janeiro. Looking forward to more travel tips from your blog!

  2. This guide to things to do in Rio de Janeiro is fantastic! Thank you for sharing such a comprehensive and inspiring list! I can’t wait to experience all that Rio de Janeiro has to offer!

  3. One of my best friends has been living in Rio for the past few months. I can’t wait to see what she thinks of this guide!! She’s been searching for new activities to get away from her hot apartment, haha!

  4. Rio de Janeiro has always been on my travel bucket list. This is such a great list of things to check out. I definitely saved this for reference as now I’m so inspired to go after reading your post. Thank you so much!

  5. Thank you for these tips and information on traveling to Rio De Janeiro. I wasn’t aware of the water concern but now I know. This place is on the top of my must visit list.

  6. Rio is definitely on my list for next year. Thank you so much for all the suggestions you are making. I am a bit worried about the safety bit but hopefully it is safe enough. I cannot wait to try the food!

  7. I’ve been reading many of your recommendations on traveling lately, as I have a bit of a travel bug right now! You have beautiful insights, thank you!