Rio de Janeiro- the city to be when it comes to beaches, amazing views, tropical nature, hikes, and the real samba feeling while enjoying great caipirinhas.
The Brazilian metropolis is not only famous for its beaches, but also for its extensive, colorful favelas covering the hills and mountains. A mix of diversity that makes the city so special and a must-do when traveling in Brazil.
The famous Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro is one of the liveliest areas in the city. It’s famous for its crescent-shaped beach that is popular for tourists as wells as locals. The beach and the promenade, with its striking mosaic pattern, is always busy.
From cozy cafés to relaxed bars there are many things to enjoy in Copacabana!
How about walking along the famous beach in the sun with an awesome view of the mountains and nothing to worry about except finding the right spot to spend your day drinking caipirinhas or coconuts! Let yourself be impressed by Brazil’s beach culture!
Samba Live music can be expected.
Don’t worry: If you are getting hungry, you can simply buy some snacks from the guys that sell those on the beach or sit down at one of the kiosks that you can find everywhere along Copacabana Beach.
This band plays live samba music on the beach and invited me to be part of it! 😀
One thing you shouldn’t leave Brazil without- at least one new pair of Havaianas and (tip for girls) a new bikini from Rio de Janeiro!
Havaianas are super cheap in Brazil (10 EUR) per pair and they have so many shops with massive amounts of Havaianas to choose from! They have many stores everywhere with loads of different choices. There are 5 Havaiana shops in Copacabana.
For the girls: If you are looking for a new bikinis (or simply want one more) Rio is a dream for shopping!!
You shouldn’t miss 13 floors of pure bikini shops selling ONLY bikinis.
This place can be found at this address: “Rua Santa Clara 33”. The entrance is small and a little hidden, but when you find the house number 33, it’s the right one!
Go upstairs by elevator and work yourself through 13 levels of bikini stores.
I went with my mum and it took us 4 hours to get through ¾ of all the shops and I’ve never seen so many bikinis in my life! You can be sure you’ll find one.
Within 13 floors there is something for every style and price range.
In the evening you can visit a samba bar! They are really relaxed, you can enjoy life samba music and some beers or caipirinhas and the one or other samba dance.
Tip: Visit “Bip Bip” Samba Bar in Copacabana! It’s a small bar with a political movement background and always plays very nice samba music. If there are no spots left anymore for sitting, it’s very usual that people drink their drinks standing outside and listening to the music. Also, you serve yourself for drinks and only pay at the end when you leave the bar.
2. Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain)
The 396 m high and steep rock located on the peninsula Urca is a must-do when visiting Rio!
The views from the top are breathtaking as you have a view over the entire city.
Basically there are two mountains forming the sugarloaf and to get to the highest point you have to get up the first mountain first.
How to get to the top
You have two options:
1. Take 2 cable cars to get up
2. Hike up the first mountain and take 1 cable car to the second mountain
We did the first option and the hike was beautiful going through some tropical jungle. It only takes about 40 minutes to get up (when going slowly).
Arrived on the first mountain you can take a break and drink and eat something, as there are some bars/food trucks here.
Then, you will have to take the cable car.
The cable cars depart every 20 minutes (from 8 am to 9 pm), but the last cable car going to the top of the sugarloaf leaves at 7:50 pm.
Good to know: If you are afraid of heights (like me) it will be scary and takes some courage to overcome your shadow, but it’s so worth it! The cable cars are big compared to other ones that I know and you don’t have to look outside as there is enough space for you to be far away from the windows. After about 3 minutes you’ll arrive on the top.
From here the view over Rio is just stunning!
Tip: Especially during sunset, it’s really worth coming here!
3. Corcovado & Cristo Redentor
The Corcovado is a 710 m high mountain and on the top you can find the famous Cristo Redentor that is, besides the Sugar Loaf, an important symbol for the city.
You can purchase the tickets on the bottom of the Corcovado.
The most traditional way to get up is by train. It has a very beautiful view and is worth to take.
Arrived at the top, you walk up a few stairs and then you will be standing directly in front of Cristo the Redeemer! It’s impressing!
The view over the city is stunning, you can see everything from the favelas, to the sugarloaf mountain and Copacabana. You can even go inside the christ through the back, where you can find a small, cute chapel.
Tip: Don’t worry about lunch! There is a cafe right on the top where you can eat and drink.
Careful: A few people actually hike up the mountain by taking a trail that leads from Parque Lage to Corcovado and Christ the Redeemer. I wouldn’t recommend doing this, as a lot of tourists have been robbed on this trail and it’s not considered safe.
Ipanema beach, a stretch of sun-drenched sand, is for me the even more beautiful beach!
The beach is marked by “Postos” (posts), which mark off subcultures as diverse as the city itself.
For example post 9 is known for the area with the most tanned bodies and most beautiful bikinis. Post 10, on the other hand, is for sports lovers, where volleyball games, soccer and “Frescobol” (beach tennis) are going on.
There is a lot to see and you should definitely have a walk between the different posts as it’s really interesting and entertaining to see how different they are!
Tip: After the beach stop at Megamatte to grab an Açaí Bowl.
5. City Centre & Santa Teresa
When you visit the city center, make sure you can make a quick stop at the “Museu do Amanhã”. It’s a really cool museum of applied sciences that explores the opportunities and challenges facing humanity in the coming decades from the perspective of sustainability and coexistence.
Already from the outside, it’s worth seeing it for its special architecture.
Besides that, there are many market stalls to buy souvenirs and delicious food.
Then, have a walk through the center of Rio.
➳ Read: Things To Do in São Paulo.
Museu do Amanhã in the centre of Rio de Janeiro.
Santa Teresa is known as the artistic neighborhood. With artist studios, elegant villas hiding boutique hotels, fancy cocktail bars and romantic restaurants, it’s a place that you should not miss!
Visit the Escadaria Selarón, a series of world-famous stairs that are painted in different colors and patterns. There are some nice hidden boutiques when making your way up the stairs.
From Santa Teresa, you can walk to the neighborhood of Lapa, where you’ll find many restaurants and bars.
Lapa is known for great nightlife, so it’s perfect to spend the evening here.
Tip: Take an uber back to your accommodation, as you should not walk alone by night in Rio!
6. Pedra Bonita
Pedra Bonita is one of Rio’s most popular hikes and offers some of the best views in the city!
It’s located in Tijuca Forest National Park, a famous tropical rainforest in Rio de Janeiro.
Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to do the hike myself, so I won’t write too much about it as I don’t want to give out wrong impressions, but still wanted to mention this place, as it definitely should be on your bucket list for Rio!
➳ Must Read: Brazil Travelguide – 3 week Travel Route.
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