If you’re lucky enough to visit Brasil, be sure to take the time to visit Rio de Janeiro, the country’s second biggest city. Known worldwide for her unmissable monuments and beaches, this article offers you a little guide to a smooth trip visiting the city.
To Know Before Leaving for Rio
When to go?
The best time of the year to go is between April and November, to avoid the hot season and heavy rains, but Rio enjoys a nice climate year round.
How to get there?
Depending where you leave from, plane tickets prices vary, but buying ahead of time and planning your travel for the off-season can help. From London, tickets start at 500 pounds, from Chicago, 500 USD, from Sydney, 800 AUD. Then to get from the airport to the centre of town, you can choose between car rental, a taxi, or the bus. The cheapest option is the “Real” bus, costing 5.5 réal (1€ = 4.1 R$).
Where to stay?
For accomodation, the price of a night in a hotel with a pool varies, but comes to an average of 75 euros, which can quickly add up, especially if you are looking to save money to spend on activities. Other solutions exist, such as home exchange. Want to know more? Click on this link to find out more! GuestToGuest has nearly 1,000 homes in Rio de Janeiro.
What to do?
There is so much to see! Here are ten things to do in Rio de Janeiro, with the bonus of some anectodes from Mélodie, our Happiness Officer who had the chance to visit Rio!
“An incredible beach! Another must-see: the sunset from the point of Ipanema beach nearby.”
One of the most famous beaches in the world, Copacabana and its mosaic of white and black waves on the promenade have become the symbol of Rio de Janeiro. Sit on one of the many terraces along the beach and enjoy a batida or a caïpirinha. In the summer, try going early because it might be difficult to find a place on the beach. It’s the perfect place to eat, drink, lie on the beach, and peoplewatch.
How to get there: métro line 1 – Siquera Campos stop
2. Corcovado – Christ the Redeemer
“The hike up is hard work, but it’s worthwhile! You really feel like you’ve earned the photo op at the summit.”
Christ the Redeemer, the statue looking out over the city of Rio de Janeiro, is one of the monuments that attracts the most tourists. It’s a truly religious monument and over the years it has become one of the most important symbols of Rio.
“in 2008, the statue was hit by lightning, which damaged its fingers, head, and eyebrows!”
How to get there: by car, funicular, or foot.
3. The Botanical Gardens
Have you always wanted to see the famous Pau-Brasil, and the Brazilian toucan flying from one tree to another? The botanical garden in Rio de Janeiro is one of the 10 most famous ones in the world. UNESCO even recognizes it as a biosphere reserve. It is a pleasant place to walk around, have lunch on the terrace, and enjoy being far away from the bustle of the city centre.
How to get there: Bus 584/162/317 towards Rua Jardim Botânico (stop 943) Entrance fee: 6 R$
4. Tijuca National Park
Located approximately 20 km from the city centre, this park is an immense nature reserve where you will find rocky peaks, waterfalls, wild animals, and a number of tropical species. This park is also the world’s largest urban forest (32 km2). It is divided into three main parts: Tijuca Forest, Carioca Hill, and Gavea Rock. It’s such a nice walk, and a great way to see Rio’s green side!
How to get there: Bus 448/302 towards Praça Afonso Vizeu (stop 4575)
5. The Rio Carnival
It is one of the most widely attended events in the world: the Rio Carnival. Every year it attracts thousands of Brazilian and foreign tourists, fascinated by the magic and the unique atmosphere. But what makes this event so special? The enormous task of organising this event is in hands of numerous Samba schools who prepare all year long in order to participate in the parade along Marquês de Sapucai. This avenue, known as the bridge of dreams, is rearranged to host spectators, especially tourists, celebrities, and Brazilian artists. Why wait? Save up and take the trip of a lifetime. You’ll be bewitched by the beauty of the costumes and the rainbow of colours at Carnival.
Cost: around 100 euros
6. Taste Feijoada
“A Rio specialty, it’s so good! With a caïpirinha or coconut water… pure happiness!!”
This typical meal is traditionally eaten on Saturdays. Originally, the worst parts of the pig were given to slaves who cooked them with black beans (feijão). Today feijoada is made with pork chops, fresh or smoked sausages, offal, pork feet, and ears. The meat is cooked in oil and seasoned with garlic, onions, and laurel. Essential sidedishes are white rice, green cabbage served with bacon fried in farofa (manioc flour baked in butter until it gets brown), and a dash of spicy sauce.
Where: Casa da Feijoada Cost: 78 R$
7. See a Match in Maracanã Stadium
Have you always dreamt of visiting the Brazilian stadium par excellence? Whether you are a football fan or not, this stadium is the right place for everyone who loves to be impressed by big spaces. Built in 1950 for the World Cup, the Stadium still attracts loads of people, thanks to its original circular architecture and its huge capacity.
How to get there: Bus: 222, 239, 455, 456, 458, 464, 609, 622, 638, 665, 711 Métro: line 2, station Maracanã
8. Sao Bento Monastery
The Sao Bento Monastery was founded in 1590 by two monks from Bahia. Today it is considered one of the most important heritage sites of Brazilian architecture. The monument is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture and the works of art presented are an enchantment for visitors. Be careful to note the visiting hours: 7 to 11am and 2:30 to 6pm.
How to get there: Taxi Entrance fee: Free
9. National Historical Museum
Located near Praça João Paulo, the National Historical Museum brings together a variety of invaluable collections for anyone who wants to explore the history of Brazil. 27,500 items are exhibited in this museum: paintings, imperial carriages, the throne of Pedro II, and many other wonders. You can also see the feather pen with which Princess Isabella signed the Golden Law, the law that abolished slavery in Brazil.
How to get there: métro line 2 – São Cristovão Entrance fee: 8 R$
10. Sugarloaf Mountain
“You have to visit just as the sun rises, to take advantage of the magnificent countryside.”
This granite hill of almost 400 metres high overlooks majestically the mouth of Guanabara bay. For rock climbers, it’s possible to climb it (there are more than 270 routes). For the rest, there is a cable car which will take you to the top, giving you a splendid view over the entire bay!
How to get there: bus 512 from Copacabana or Ipanema Cost: 71 R$
Home Exchange in Rio
Yves, a Frenchman living in Rio describes his little corner of paradise, “Our apartment is lovely year round: it’s as if you were in a home with a garden in the center of the city and right next to the beach. The apartment is very calm, equipped with wifi, and located in a very safe area of Copacabana. You can connect with all the key places in Rio de Janeiro.”
Bonus Tips from Mélodie
The Selaron Steps: “We stayed for hours just marvelling at all the mosaics, I loved it!”
Lapa: “The best neighbourhood to go out! You have to go to Rio Scenarium, a great dance bar!!”