Attractions in Rio de Janeiro
No one should doubt that there are not enough sights and attractions in and near mighty Rio de Janeiro. As elsewhere in Brazil you will find fantastic scenery and beaches of course. But Rio also has culture and city, as well as one of the world’s most famous statues!
- See AbbreviationFinder for commonly used abbreviation of city Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Also includes meanings of the same acronym.
The Sugar Loaf
This famous spherical mountain crust, locally known as Pao de Acucar, is nearly 400 meters high and gives you breathtaking views of the entire city. You first take the gondola lane to the station at Morro da Urca and from there you can continue up to the top with the next lane. From here you can see Copacabana and Ipanema stretch for miles below you. Here you will find restaurants and cafes, souvenir shops and colonies of small monkeys.
The gondola train, which opened in 1912, runs from 1 p.m. 0800 in the morning until 7 p.m. 2200 in the evening [see picture first in article]. It costs approx. 90 kroner for a return ticket to the top. Children under five years drive free.
The name may not tell you much, but Rio’s most common postcard motif is this 38-meter-high statue of Jesus with his outstretched arms on top of the over 700-meter Corcovado Mountain, just behind Copacabana. From here you have a fantastic view of the sugar peaks, the beaches, the city center and Maracana and the mountain ranges in the north. You can drive or take a taxi up here for approx. 200 NOK round trip or take the specially built train that runs every half hour from 10am. 0800 in the morning. The price is approx. 85 kroner, and the view is by far the best from the right side of the train. Read more.
No trip to the footballers’ homeland is complete without a visit to one of the world’s largest stadiums, Maracana. During the 1950 World Cup finals (which Brazil, by the way, lost), it was rumored that around 200,000 spectators were seated at the stadium, but it has now been modified to approximately 97,000 seats. Attending a football match here is an experience for a European, who has doubtless experienced something similar. Here, the samba drums thunder for hours before the match, huge supporters’ flags are spread across the crowd, colored smoke bombs and Roman lights are burned off, and all the spectators seem to be in hysterical panic as the opposing team enters their halfway.
Maracana also has a museum which is open from 10am. 1100 a.m. to 3 p.m. 1700 Monday to Friday. Here is an interesting exhibition of objects from Brazil’s impressive football history. For more information, see the section Rio de Janeiro and sports.
Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden is an over 140-acre site with six lakes and thousands of different plants and flowers, mainly from Brazil. It has its own Amazon branch. Here are several hiking trails and picnic areas that can tempt you when you want to get away from the crowds and find your own quiet, green corner. Bring mosquito spray!
Parque Nacional da Tijuca
If the botanical garden is too small and too organized, try the Tijuca Forest. This 3200-acre Atlantic Rainforest is home to hundreds of wildlife species, such as sloths, harvesters and monkeys. In addition, it has an extensive flora of sprawling fruit trees, a bustling bird life, waterfalls and caves. Tijuca has been a national park since 1861. Those with extra stamina can also enjoy the 1018 meter high Pico da Tijuca. The park opens at 2 p.m. 0700 and closes at sunset.
This nearly 100-year-old theater is decorated with statues, huge gilded mirrors, stained-glass windows and candelabras. It is well worth experiencing whether you are going to see a show or just take a tour.
Museu Historico do Exercito e Forte de Copacabana
On the headland between Copacabana and Ipanema lies this fort, which was built in 1914 to defend the city against invaders from the sea. Here are weapons and cannon displays and a great view of the Copacabana.
Tourist in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro has a number of tour operators to help you with a guided tour in and around the city. The reception at your hotel can certainly help you, or you can book online when you wish. Of course, it is quite possible and more affordable to visit all the attractions on your own, but if you are planning to visit a favela, we strongly recommend that you contact a serious tour operator.
Day 1 in Rio de Janeiro
Since you are definitely not going to take an early night, we recommend you have a late breakfast at the hotel before finding bus 500, 511 or 512 to Urca. From the bus stop you will see the lower mountain lift station which takes you 218 meters up on Morro da Urca. Take a look down at the Gulf of Guanabara before continuing on the next gondola lane to the top of the Sugar Loaf. From here you can enjoy the view of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. You are now 395 meters above sea level. Here you will find restaurants, souvenir shops, viewing binoculars and a colony of cute but exceptionally cheeky and thievery monkeys, so hold on. There are not a few tourists who have come to the local police station from small-town fliers to report that “a monkey got off with the passport and the Visa card.”
Take the bus back to Copacabana and get off at Avenida Princesa Isabel. From here you walk down to the world’s most famous beach, the four kilometer long Copacabana. Feel free to stop by and take advantage of the offers of the many sellers. Sunglasses, sunscreen, hammocks, beer, caipirinha, tattoos, fruits, strawberries, coconuts and barbecue are some of the offerings. Be careful about the extremely tempting and seemingly fresh seafood you are guaranteed to be offered; you have no idea how long it has been in the sun. But if you see that it has been recently cooked through, there is usually no danger.
At the end of the beach lies the nearly hundred-year-old fortress Forte de Copacabana, which today is a museum with exhibited weapons, cannons and pictures from the building’s active history. And the views of Copacabana beach are great too.
If you are looking for more fabulous views, take a taxi or bus to Rua Cosme Velho. Here you will find the Estacão da Estrada de Ferro Corcovado, the train station that brings you up on the Corcovado mountain. In the last paragraph you have to walk a steep staircase, but the rewards are worth it. As it starts to darken around you and the city lights go on, you stand beneath the 38-foot tall Jesus statue, Rios Protector, with an absolutely stunning view around you on all sides.
Take a taxi back to your hotel, get yourself a well-deserved shower, a breather and maybe a drink at the bar before it’s time to think about dinner, if it’s been late enough. Most restaurants do not fill up until about 10 pm on weekends. An old classic is Garota de Ipanema in Rua Prudente de Morais 49. This is where Jobim and Morais sat in the fifties when they wrote the now world famous song by the same name. It serves a large selection of Brazilian dishes as well as pizza and pasta, if you prefer. When you are good and satisfied, you can visit bars and clubs nearby.
Day 2 in Rio de Janeiro
After another late breakfast, you might want to spend a few hours sunbathing on the nearest beach? Or maybe you want to take a closer look at the cultural sights of Rio de Janeiro’s old neighborhoods? Within a relatively small area of the city center you will find buildings and sights such as the National Library, the Art Gallery of the Museo Nacional de Belas Artes and the Opera and Concert Hall Teatro Municipal. Also visit the huge cathedral of the city, the monastery Mosteiro de São Bento, and the Baroque / Renaissance church Nossa Senhora de Candelària.
Samba and football are perhaps the first thing most people think of when they hear the name Rio de Janeiro, and both have their own museums near the downtown areas. Sambódromo is the huge passage through which carnival parades pass, and here you also find the Museu do Carnaval. Maracana football stadium should preferably be visited in connection with a match, but if it is not a Sunday in the season, you can still visit the corresponding sports museum, which is open from. 1100 a.m. to 3 p.m. 1700 Monday to Friday. Here you will find all the trophies Brazil has won, Pele’s football jersey and flags and photographs from the country’s unique football history.
When the evening comes, it’s time to try another Brazilian restaurant. At Leme, in the northeastern part of Copacabana, you will find Restaurante Shirley, which specializes in all kinds of seafood, both fish, clams, squid and lobster, at reasonable prices.
Another highly respected meat and seafood restaurant is Mariu’s Degustare a few hundred meters further east, almost at the end of the beach. The address is Off. Atlântica, 290. This is a churrascaria restaurant where you can eat as much as you want for less than 200 kroner.
Afterwards you might want to drink an ice cold beer at the beach? Close to these two restaurants are several local pub chains and which is very popular with the local residents. There it is cramped and noisy, and maybe not the place you take your grandmother with, but it is very Brazilian!