things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Idyllic beaches, epic mountains, and world-famous landmarks are just a few of the sights that stun each visitor when they set foot in Brazil’s original capital city, Rio de Janeiro.

From the world-renowned beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema to the towering Christ the Redeemer and picture-perfect Sugarloaf mountain – these are just a few incredible sites that scratch the surface of all there is to discover in Rio de Janeiro.

Renting a boat to tour the local islands on Guanabara Bay, standing inside the impressive interiors of Candelária Church, or strolling through the charming streets of hipster Santa Teresa, are just a few paths to take to go deeper into Rio’s sites, culture, and history.

Let’s venture into Brazil’s second-largest city, and explore fun and unusual things to do in Rio de Janeiro.

Want to dive straight in? Browse our catalog now!

1 – Visit the iconic Copacabana neighborhood and beach

Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro

Whether in music or imagery of the unique black and white wavy sidewalk patterns, Copacabana is by many, a lively and festive neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, known for its incredible sights of high-rise apartments, restaurants, nightclubs, shops, and so much more.

Most famously, it is also known for the iconic Copacabana Beach – a 2 ½ mile long, curved beach where both locals and tourists flock every day, to enjoy some sun, swim, and beach volleyball.

One of the best ways to explore is via one of the best bike tours in Rio de Janeiro, to sneak into the quieter streets, and unique corners not usually seen by many. Make sure to also check out the symbolic Copacabana fort, a military base-turned-historic museum, and cultural center for locals and visitors.

2 – Engage with Carioca local culture at the Museum of Tomorrow

Museu do Amanhã, Rio de Janeiro
Left: credit to Carolina Ribeiro / Content Manager at TourScanner

The Museum of Tomorrow is a symbol of the city’s progression to create more public, cultural, and educative spaces. The interior houses an estimated 5,000 square feet of temporary and permanent exhibition spaces, and is constantly hosting events and new exhibitions. The structure itself is inspired by the coexistence of nature, city, and local Carioca culture.

Admission starts at R$ 30, with some free exhibits to peruse. Located in Rio’s Porto Maravilha neighborhood, it’s a site currently under development to become the most beautiful neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro.

See more for less on the best Olympic Boulevard tours, which include access to the Museum of Tomorrow and a historic walking tour! Also nearby is the stunning large Ferris wheel – the Rio Star offering optimal views 88 meters high!

3 – Get a bird’s eye view of Rio at Sugarloaf Mountain

Bondinho do Pão de Açucar, Rio de Janeiro
Right: credit to Carolina Ribeiro / Content Manager at TourScanner

Peaking at about 396 meters, and another emblematic symbol of Rio de Janeiro, Sugarloaf Mountain is visited by over 300,000 a year. The Sugarloaf cable car is the best way to reach the height of Sugarloaf where you can catch a glimpse of the stunning views of Rio.

For R $120 round trip, the cable car picks up visitors in the Urca neighborhood in Praia Vermelha, which visitors can get to from the city center by bus. Make sure to take a stroll on the Cláudio Coutinho trail nearby. A walking path that extends 1,25 kilometers, and is a perfect idea for a sunny afternoon activity.

With beautiful views of the sea and the greenery of Urca Hill on the other side, visitors will get the chance to view the incredibly rich scenes of native trees and flowers up close.

4 – Feel on top of the world at Christ The Redeemer

Cristo Redentor, Rio de Janeiro
Right: credit to Carolina Ribeiro / Content Manager at TourScanner

Estimated to draw in 2 million visitors per year, Christ The Redeemer has become a symbol of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil as a whole. Towering over Mount Corcovado at a staggering 98 feet high and extending 92 feet wide, the famous statue became public for all to visit in 1931.

The best way to make your journey to the top is to take the Trem do Corcovado (the train). Depending on the season in which you visit, the adult price may range between R$ 87.50- R$ 109.50, which includes a round-trip journey, along with entrance to Christ the Redeemer monument.

Make sure to take in the incredible views of Rio at the Paineiras Corcovado lookout, which stuns visitors with the most outstanding views of the city, urban rainforests, the impressive Sugarloaf, and iconic Ipanema and Copacabana Beaches.

5 – Go to Ipanema for an epic golden hour moment

sunset in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro
credit to Carolina Ribeiro / Content Manager at TourScanner

The popular setting of Brazil’s unofficial national anthem, The Girl From Ipanema, Ipanema is home to Ipanema Beach, incredible sunset views, luxurious dining, and shopping, with the sounds of bossa nova in the air.

Located near the beginning of Ipanema Beach is Apoador Beach, known as the birthplace of surfing in Brazil and where locals can buy fish from local fishermen. Naturally, surf lessons in Rio de Janeiro are a must at this spot! Nearby is Feira Hippie de Ipanema, a cool place to buy accessories, local gifts, and just people-watch.

Sit on Apoador Rock, located on Apoador Beach, and take in the sight and overwhelming feeling of gratitude come over you as you hear the clapping of those around you, bidding farewell to the day, as the sun starts to set.

6 – Feel the magic of Brazilian music at a Samba Show

Samba Shows in Rio de Janeiro

If you walk into a circle of musicians formed, while a crowd stands around singing, clapping, and dancing, then you’ve found yourself in an authentic Samba show, locally known as a “roda de samba” (circle of samba).

Known as the “World Capital of Samba” – samba circles frequently form throughout the city – from the streets to samba clubs such as the popular Ginga Tropical Club. A great “souvenir” to take with you is the skill of learning samba with the best samba dance classes in Rio!

Samba is also an influential and cultural part of the popular Carnival, which takes place inside Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí, and Pedra do Sal. Get into party mode with one of the best Carnival tours in Rio de Janeiro for an in-depth look at the celebration.

7 – Roam through Rio’s incredible gardens at the Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden, Rio de Janeiro

Recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, The Botanical Garden of Rio is one of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro in order to see towering Amazonian trees, stunning orchids, aromatic flowers, and impressive wildlife local to the area.

Located in the southern region of Rio, this incredible garden houses around 6,500 flora species, and spans 54 hectares. Visitors are transported to a garden paradise where they’ll be able to see local flora as well as international.

For the price of R $60, visitors are able to access various gardens, walk through floral aromatic pathways, listen to local birds sing, and gaze at relaxing fountains all over the grounds.

Known for its beauty and allure, the Botanic Garden also serves the environmental science community through its research and findings, which visitors can take a peek at while visiting.

8 – Take your new profile picture at Parque Lage

Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro
credit to Carolina Ribeiro / Content Manager at TourScanner

Surround yourself with the ethereal beauty of Parque Lage, located within the Jardim Botânico neighborhood, and directly at the base of Corcovado, which means incredible views every time you look up.

Named after Enrique Lage and his wife, who was a famous singer of the time, the house, which still stands today, has taken many forms throughout time, mostly as schools and academies. Today, the Visual Arts School of Parque Lage calls the famous palace home and is often open to showcase student artwork. There’s also a wonderful cafe in the courtyard.

Surrounding the mansion, is tons of verdant vegetation to breathe in, and even views of Christ the Redeemer. Nearby you’ll also find a hiking trail, with access to waterfalls.

9 – Take your picture at the famous Selaron Steps

Escadaria Selaron, Rio de Janeiro
Right: credit to Carolina Ribeiro / Content Manager at TourScanner

Another incredibly iconic sight not to miss in Rio is the Selaron Steps – located in the heart of Rio between the bohemian neighborhoods of Lapa and Santa Teresa.

The Selaron Steps are known globally as the most colorful stairs in the world, and they date back to 1990 when Jorge Selaron, a Chilean traveler and ceramic artist, started the project of fixing the steps outside his home after falling in love with Rio and deciding to settle there.

It began with a few colorful ceramic tiles, which turned into the Brazilian flag, and then it slowly turned into a tribute to Brazil, its people, and the Brazilian soccer team playing in the FIFA World Cup at the time.

The stairs went from abandoned, and run-down to becoming some of the most iconic steps that everyone wants to visit and take their picture.

10 – Spend your days checking out the best beaches in Rio

beaches in Rio de Janeiro
credit to Carolina Ribeiro / Content Manager at TourScanner

Rio is home to 2 of the most famous beaches in the world: Copacabana and Ipanema, but did you know that there are over 2,000 beaches throughout this city?

If you’re taking a day trip to Niterói, take advantage of Icarí Beach situated not too far from Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum.

Over on the Rio side, wherever you may be, there will be a high chance of finding a beach. Check out Red Beach located on the northern side of Rio, as well as Leblon Beach for some incredibly clear blue waters and great amenities.

If surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, or wakeboarding in Rio de Janeiro are activities you’re interested in, visit Barra da Tijuca Beach!

If you’re in the south, check out Prainha, which is also an amazing surfing beach.

11 – Visit South America’s largest Aquarium at AquaRio Aquarium

AquaRio Aquarium, Rio de Janeiro

Located in Porto Maravilha is the impressive AquaRio – home to 3,000 animals representing 350 different species, local to the country. With a whopping 5 floors 28 different tanks, and spanning a total of 26 square meters, AquaRio Aquarium is the biggest aquarium in all of South America, and it’s one of the best things to do in Rio.

Cross through the famed undersea tunnel for the ultimate immersive sea life experience, see different sea life such as rays and sharks, and a wide variety of different fish like scorpionfish.

Innovative technologies allow visitors to get even closer to marine life, by learning even more about the animals, their habitat, what they eat, their life expectancy, and more. Check out the Museum of Science and Museum of Surf, where visitors get a chance to explore the history of this important sport in Rio.

12 – Sail around Rio de Janeiro on a boat tour

boat tours in Rio de Janeiro

Rio has some incredible skyline views – from natural rainforests to incredible peaks, buzzing beaches, and luxurious high-rise buildings, and one of the best ways to see it all simultaneously is from a boat.

Check out the mixture of amazing boat tours to take you throughout the Guanabara Bay or the open sea, and choose from tours that last from 3 hours up to 4 or 6 hours.

Choose from sailing experiences, cruises, and private boats to check out some of the hidden corners near Rio, from ancient ports to amazing marine life, specifically Gruta Azul, Pontal do Atalaia, and Praia do Forno.

Some tours offer additional services such as lunch, drinks, water activities like swimming, snorkeling, or diving in the pristine waters of Rio, and even ground transportation to and from your hotel.

13 – Listen to beautiful renditions of your favorite songs at a Candlelight concert

candlelight concerts in Rio de Janeiro
credit to Fever Up

If you’re looking for a romantic thing to do in Rio, a candlelight concert is sure to fit the bill, offering an intimate, glowy, and beautiful night of music, with a focus on the composition of your favorite songs.

From instrumental covers of your favorite artists and their hit songs, like Taylor Swift, to Queen, Imagine Dragons, and even a few classical composers like Bach and Mozart, you’re surely in for a musical treat for your ears, as you tuck into the theater, filled with tiny candles all over.

To grab your ticket and claim your spot, make sure to head to their official website, and purchase safely online. Your digital tickets will be sent via email, for easy access.

14 – Fly high through Rio on a helicopter tour

helicopter tours in Rio
credit to Carolina Ribeiro / Content Manager at TourScanner

Sugarloaf and Christ the Redeemer aren’t the only places to see Rio from the top of the world. Check out some of the most incredible helicopter tours offering the most immaculate views of Rio’s cityscape, rainforests, beaches, luxury life, and favelas.

A helicopter would give you iconic views of Rio’s most famous landmarks, and a view that goes beyond anything you could ever see in a photo. Check out helicopter tours ranging from sunset tours to private tours, many of them including hotel transportation, food, and snacks.

Rest assured that the helicopter tours offered are directed by trained pilots and follow international laws and regulations that fit safety standards. Ranging in prices from $200-$400 USD, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity opens a new lens of Rio, which visitors can make the greatest memories with.

15 – Visit a zoo unlike any other at BioPark of Rio

BioParque Rio
Credit to BioParque Rio

BioPark of Rio is a zoo unlike anything else out there, paving the way for a better way to combine a comfortable, healthy, and sustainable habitat for the species inside the zoo, while making the experience the zoo a better experience for the visitors.

In order to create an empathetic environment between humans and animals, it is required that the employees complete training and projects as part of their jobs on animal life, care, and sustainability practices.

Check out the impressive BioPark of Rio located in São Cristóvão, near Maracã Stadium, and home to more than 1,000 animal species, divided into sections from mammals, birds, reptiles, the kings of the jungle, marine life, and so much more – both local and international animals.

Tickets to enter this spectacular space are R$ 40 per adult.

16 – Take a step back in time in Niterói

Niterói day trip from Rio de Janeiro

Niterói is a city located 15 kilometers from Rio, that is connected via a bridge called the Rio-Niterói Bridge that goes over Guanabara Bay. With a population of 500,000 people, there are more than a few things to do in this day trip idea from Rio.

Niterói Contemporary Art Museum for starters is recognized not only for its spherical, dome shape but also for its incredible scenes and views of Icaraí Beach and parts of Rio.

Another interesting point of view is Santa Cruz da Barra Fortress. An old fortress used by the French during the 17th century, visitors will get to explore the inside of this fortress, as well as the historical significance of the construction during the colonial era of Brazil.

While visiting, visitors will also get incredible views of both Christ the Redeemer as well as Sugar Loaf.

17 – Get to know the other side of Rio on a walking tour of Favela Rocinha

Favela Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro

Interested in what the local life on the other side of Rio is like? Favelas are neighborhoods established outside the city, where locals live in some challenging circumstances, and in the past, were dangerous to visit alone.

An interesting experience to observe and learn from, there are plenty of walking tours in Rio de Janeiro, offered by favela locals, such as Favela Rocinha, who know how to guide visitors through the winding streets.

Experience local insight, places of interest, historical facts, and so much more. The Favela Rocinha is located on the steep hills of southern Rio, and you can choose tours that offer a local guide, ground transportation, and an air-conditioned van.

Once you pass the police security check at the favela’s entrance with your guide, the adventure will begin.

18 – Go inside the famous Maracanã Stadium

Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro

Football fans and entertainment enthusiasts will love the incredible opportunity to set foot inside the famous Maracanã Stadium, known to host some of the world’s most impressive records in football, big names in music worldwide, and so much more.

Inaugurated in 1950, Maracanã Stadium has an incredible capacity of 78,838 and has hosted 2 World Cups in 1950 and 2014.

Brimming with so much history and cultural importance worldwide, Maracanã Stadium hosts a variety of tours, giving you a look into the history of its first game, the world records, and of course, a tour of the grounds.

Check out football match tickets, and even concerts while visiting Rio, to witness a game or show, and the Brazilian passion in action inside the iconic stadium for a legendary experience.

19 – Explore Rio’s incredible marine life while scuba diving

scuba diving in Rio

Scuba diving is one of the best things to do in Rio due to its beautiful clear blue waters, and the vast amount of different marine life available.

Dive down 9-45 feet below the water surface to see dolphins, turtles, sea horses, and more. With an average water temperature of 60°F-72°F, incredible visibility, and a guide to take you through safely, doing a little scuba diving is the perfect sunny day activity.

Local guides are ready to take in pros and newbies and train them on proper safety techniques to securely dive into Rio’s waters. Check out tours from R$ 699,99 that include equipment, snacks, drinks, diver guides, and ample opportunities to practice your diving.

Groups can range from 2 to 12 people per tour group, so whether you’re traveling solo and want to meet new people, it’s the perfect day activity.

20 – Learn about Brazil’s health science advancements at the Museum Of Life at Oswaldo Cruz Foundation

Museum Of Life, Rio de Janeiro

The Museum of Life is a physical manifestation of the works of the Brazilian bacteriologist and epidemiologist, Oswaldo Cruz, whose life’s work was dedicated to the study of microbiology and medicine.

His museum – the Museum of Life, is a cultural and science hub that welcomes locals and visitors to dive a bit deeper into the world of science and health with the interactive advances of technology.

Visit exhibits, activities, labs, and presentations designed to inform and entertain simultaneously. When planning a trip to the Museum of Life, make sure to pay attention to the dates and times they open, as they vary depending on the day you choose to visit.

If you’re planning on visiting any day between Tuesday and Friday for instance, you are required to book your tickets in advance. If you’re visiting on a Saturday, no booking in advance is required.

21 – Fly through Rio’s skies with some paragliding

paragliding in Rio de Janeiro

Catch some serious air paragliding through the bright blue skies of Rio, and get your blood pumping as you fly above the shores and crowds of beachgoers on some of the most famous beaches of the world.

Reach new heights, as you are guided by an experienced pilot, and also be provided pre-departure training and safety instructions to securely take off.

When looking for a paragliding experience, make sure to check out what different experiences include. For instance, some may include ground transportation in an air-conditioned vehicle, some may offer water, and licensed equipment apt for paragliding, etc.

Paragliding prices can start at around $120 per person, and this will vary depending on the season you visit, the company, what is included, etc. It is an experience that even if you’ve visited Rio before, you haven’t seen it like this before.

22 – Ride the tram in Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro

Considered one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Rio due to its resistance to modern development, and intriguing colonial aspects, the Santa Teresa neighborhood welcomes curious and artsy visitors.

Established in 1750 after the construction of a convent, the neighborhood grew to be one of the prettiest neighborhoods with cafes, restaurants, art galleries, and even has one of the last streetcars. Situated on top of Santa Teresa Hill, and 5 minutes away from downtown, it’s surely a place not to miss out!

Check out Parque das Ruínas – an open-air park, housing a cultural center that offers educative programs and activities for families, and also doubles as a music venue. Check out some incredible sights of the city offering spectacular views with any of the all-encompassing scooter tours in Rio de Janeiro.

23 – Admire Brazilian art everywhere at the Modern Art Museum

Modern Art Museum, Rio de Janeiro

Inaugurated in 1948, the Modern Art Museum – MAM, is considered to be one of Rio’s most important educative and cultural institutions, and one of the things to do in Rio if you’re interested in an impressive collection of art.

At one point, the museum housed an impressive amount of art pieces, but after a devastating fire, today visitors can still admire approximately 11,000 pieces that were thankful salvaged.

Art is seen everywhere inside and outside the museum itself, as visitors will be able to notice the museum’s architecture, marrying art and nature itself, as well as the stunning gardens, designed in a beautiful pattern, which can be admired from the inside of the museum.

Visitors can expect a variety of collections donated by private collectors and businessmen, mostly representing some of Brazil’s most brilliant creatives. Tickets to enter the museum are R$ 14.

24 – Visit Fiscal Island in Guanabara Bay

Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro

Guanabara Bay is a body of water that connects Rio de Janeiro, with neighboring cities such as Niterói São Gonçalo, and Duque de Caxias.

Various geological events are what gave Sugarloaf (touching Guanabara Bay) its staggering appearance as the only mountain with this type of shape because it was part of other rock formations that are now underwater.

Explore the multiple boat tours in Rio de Janeiro, voyaging across this impressive bay, and Fiscal Island. Fiscal Island is the home of the historic and beautifully designed Guarda Fiscal in Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro Fiscal Police Force).

Make a stop at the island, and visit the palace to view the museum that retells the story of its use throughout history, and some of its other controversial uses throughout time.

25 – Walk the colorful streets of Rio on a street art tour

street art tours in Rio de Janeiro
credit to Carolina Ribeiro / Content Manager at TourScanner

Feel the city’s pulse as you explore the creative, descriptive, and beautiful street art scene on one of the best street art tours in Rio de Janeiro!

With the guidance of a local and passionate artist, you’ll venture to the streets of Rio, going into certain areas you wouldn’t have known about to explore some of Rio’s best-kept street art.

Specifically, you’ll be exploring the area of Ipanema, as your local guide breaks down the stories of both the artist and their art while giving you more appreciation for the history of Rio, in a creative way. From schoolyards to old abandoned buildings, and sides of residential homes, this 2-hour experience is one that will leave a lasting impression, no doubt.

26 – Learn about the interesting history of the Favela of Santa Marta

Favela Santa Marta, Rio de Janeiro

Santa Marta Favela is a neighborhood located around 30 minutes away from the city center, and it makes one of the over 1,000 favelas situated all over the mountainsides in Rio.

The Favela Santa Marta is an interesting one to note because although the most famous favela in Rio is Rocinha, Santa Marta was the first favela to be “pacified” by police.

Meaning that this was the first favela to have a police presence on site, and was therefore deemed safe to begin the tours and bring in visitors.

Check out some of the tours taking groups of travelers to explore safely and respectfully the Santa Marta favela, with a local guide.

Check out the bronzed statue and mural dedicated to Michael Jackson, who filmed a music video in the Santa Marta favela in 1996. Gaze at the incredible views of Ipanema and Copacabana Beach.

27 – Hike to the top of Morro Dois Irmãos

Morro Dois Irmãos in Vidigal Favela, Rio de Janeiro

Plan a hiking trip to Morro Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers Mountain), a 40-minute walk that begins at the top of Favela do Vidigal and takes you around the beautiful forest-lined path to some equally incredible views.

Appearing as two peaks tucked in between São Conrado and Leblon (giving the appearance of two brothers standing side by side), prepare to take in sights from the beaches to the city and curved coast. To get to the base of the hike, you can take a public bus or motor-taxi, and then start your hike.

To ensure safety and comfort, be prepared for a few steep parts throughout the 1.5-kilometer (a little less than 1 mile long) trails, and if it’s rained previously, be sure to wear appropriate shoes to prevent any slips.

28 – Hunt down beautiful murals in Favela do Vidigal

Favela do Vidigal, Rio de Janeiro

Situated between two of Rio’s most affluent neighborhoods, is the up-and-coming neighborhood of Vidigal Favela. The neighborhood presents a promising future for visitors wanting to gain the experience of staying in an area that used to be deemed as one of the most dangerous in Rio.

The police made its presence in the Vidigal favela, and over time, has changed its appearance and increased the safety measures to the point of developing it into a hipster neighborhood, with the construction and build of a favela.

Today, the neighborhood is experiencing development with new bars, trendy restaurants, and hotels attracting more and more visitors every day.

Don’t forget to explore the colorful street art, specifically Marcelo Ment’s mural of a woman with colorful hair, and of course, stop by the relaxing Vidigal Beach.

29 – Speed your way around Rio’s nearby islands

speed boat in Rio

Add a fun water activity, and hop on a jet boat during your day at the beach. Enjoy a half-day jet boat trip with some of your friends, or join a boat tour experience, that will take you closer to Rio’s most beautiful natural sights such as the Carragas Islands for a quick day trip, and along the way, enjoy stunning views of the beaches, Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain and more.

Jetboat tours are available throughout the day, but an especially great time to take one is during the sunset hours when golden hour will cast a beautiful light on the city, and visitors will get to see the city come alive during this magical time.

Jetboat tour prices range anywhere from $70 – $400 USD and prices will also vary from private tours to general tours.

30 – Discover the most beautiful library in the world at the Royal Portuguese Reading Room

Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, Rio de Janeiro
credit to Carolina Ribeiro / Content Manager at TourScanner

An ornately decorated library that houses centuries-old text from Portugal, The Royal Portuguese Reading Room is an astounding culturally rich, and historically impressive site to visit.

Established in 1837 by Portuguese immigrants living in Brazil, they decided to start a collection of Portuguese books in order to share Portuguese culture, work, and literature.

Named the 4th most beautiful library in the world in 2014 by Time Magazine, The Royal Portuguese Reading Room welcomes a little over 50,000 visitors per year and is currently still receiving shipments of approximately 6,000 books each year from other Portugal.

See for yourself the incredible “cathedral” of books, with shelves holding a host of Portuguese literature, as well as art and other cultural pieces collected throughout the years.

Admission is free, and visitors are welcome to go see the incredible architecture and floor-to-ceiling shelves of books.

31 – Appreciate African culture in Brazil on a Little Africa tour

Little africa, Rio de Janeiro

Catch a glimpse into Brazil’s deeply rooted African history and ancestry while exploring the culturally rich neighborhood of Little Africa in the Saúde neighborhood.

With a local to guide your experience, and answer questions relating to the dark past of African slavery into the new world via Brazil, you’ll simultaneously learn about the beautiful influence of African culture, and important recognition of African traditions embedded into some of Brazil’s most important celebrations and cultural items.

From celebrations like Carnival to specific foods like feijoada, music influences in samba, and much more, your tour around the Saúde neighborhood is one to remember.

The tours typically last 2-5 hours depending on the tour, and some tours also offer transfers for easier travel.

32 – Take a city break to Angra dos Reis and visit Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro

Located on the south coast of Rio, Angra dos Reis is said to be a slice of Brazilian paradise, with white powdery sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and incredible scenery of marine life.

Angra dos Reis is located around 160 kilometers away from downtown Rio and is home to 365 islands. Some of the best things to do here are to visit the historic center and take in the pristine natural scenery.

Take one of the Ilha Grande tours from Rio de Janeiro, one of the highlights of visiting this part of Rio, which is known for incredible diving and snorkeling. Visit some of its beautiful waterfalls while sailing the picture-perfect waters and be able to see marine life up close, with other amazing boat tours in Rio de Janeiro.

33 – Experience the thrill of white water rafting

rafting in Rio

A unique perspective and experience are to raft throughout some of the rushing waters inside Rio’s incredible national parks.

Most rafting experiences take place at Macaé River, around a 2-hour drive from downtown Rio, visitors can expect ground transportation with most tours, as well as the rafting equipment, a local guide, and even a GoPro to film your experience.

Most rafting experiences last around 2 hours, but this depends greatly on the season that you visit. For instance, summers are when there is more rainfall, therefore, the rafting experience may be a bit more challenging and thus a shorter experience.

Winter experiences a shortage of rainfall, therefore a lighter, and longer rafting experience. Depending on the rafting experience that you purchase, visitors can expect prices to start at $150 per person. Private tours are also available for a different rate.

34 – Walk along the beautiful Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon

Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, Rio
Left and bottom right: credit to Carolina Ribeiro / Content Manager at TourScanner

The Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon is an impressive lagoon named after the owner of the sugar cane farm that was located beside the lagoon. It is said that during times of colonialization, Rio de Janeiro had an especially tough landscape filled with lagoons and swamps.

Throughout time, they were buried up, and a great part of the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon was as well – so what is seen today is what was left after burying the majority of it previously.

Visitors can enjoy everything from a stroll around the trails of the Lagoon, bike rides, or people-watching from one of the many cafes and restaurants nearby.

Visitors can also check out the Natural Park of Catacumba, located beside the famous lagoon, for zip lining, rappel, and climbing. Check out the incredible views of the lagoon from this park as well.

35 – Refresh yourself at Horto Waterfall

Horto Waterfall, Rio de Janeiro

Take a break from the heat of the city and escape into the wilderness to one of Rio’s most famous and local waterfalls – Horto Waterfall.

At Horto Fall, you’ll find a few people gathering to escape the large beach crowds, relaxing in the natural cascading showers of this waterfall, washing off the sand, or simply refreshing themselves after a hot summer day.

Located in the famous Tijuca Forest, Rio’s national and natural sanctuary, in an approximate 30 minutes drive or bus ride, people can visit the incredibly invigorating waterfall, as well as explore the other stunning natural sights inside the Tijuca Forest.

If you’d prefer a planned tour, there are a few available that will take you and your guests to explore the park, intentionally visiting all the must-see natural wonders, including Horto Waterfalls.

Pack comfortable shoes, as the waterfall may require a bit of hiking.

36 – Check out the lofty views of Rio from its incredible rooftop bars

Fasano Rooftop Pool Lounge
credit to Fasano Hotel

For a relaxed rooftop environment with million-dollar views, check out Moonlounge Rooftop Bar, with a stunning selection of cocktails with a side of international street food, uniquely served from food trucks – on the rooftop.

One of the best pool rooftop bars in Rio (and the world) is Fasano Rooftop Pool Lounge, where visitors will swim into a luxurious view of Ipanema Beach, Rio’s stunning skyline, and the Two Brothers mountain peak.

Deck Lounge Bar is another great option, with an outstanding pool and bar right over Copacabana. Located in Pestana Rio Atlântica, it’s the perfect place to watch the sunset and get your night started with a refreshing drink. Similarly, Isabel Lounge looms over the busy Avenida Atlântica and grants incredible views of Rio to drink up as well as the best craft cocktails.

Relax and unwind in natural style at Bossa Lounge, offering an open-air pool terrace with a pool, and comfortable sunloungers, as bossa nova music fills the air. If heights scare you, Bar da Laje on the 3rd floor is perfect, as it offers incredible views of Ipanema Beach due to its elevated location.

37 – Take a hike through the Tijuca Rainforest and spot some tropical birds

Tijuca National Park, Rio de Janeiro

Overflowing with abundant greenery and incredible biodiversity is the Tijuca Rainforest, considered an important National Park in Rio ever since 1961.

The rainforest has an extraordinary impact on the local climate as it has lowered the overall surrounding temperature by 9°C due to its density. Everything from lizards to monkeys, porcupines, sloths, and more live within this stunning rainforest.

One of the best ways to explore the forest is hiking, whether it’s a 50-minute hike to Christ the Redeemer, or a shorter hike to Pedra Bonita.

Pedra Bonita is an easier 2.6-kilometer trek that offers visitors a small taste of a hiking experience in Rio. If hiking is not your thing, consider one of the many jeep tours in Rio de Janeiro to explore the rough terrains and more.

38 – Check out Rio’s sun coast at Buzios on a day trip

Buzios day trip from Rio de Janeiro

Looking for a luxurious way to treat yourself while in Rio? Check out Buzios – an island resort peninsula located east of Rio, considered to be a hot spot to spend a grand day away from Rio.

Originally known to be a sleepy little fishing village, today, Buzios has upgraded into Rio’s sun coast, which has many amazing activities to enjoy from. From paragliding, surfing, or simply relaxing and being tended to at one of the exclusive lounges.

Buzios has 23 beaches so simply catching up on your tan or taking a leisure stroll on the famous Rua das Pedras where boutique shops and leafy trees line the street are perfect plans too.

To get to Buzios from Rio, it is recommended to book a private tour or rent your own car. The distance from Rio to Buzios can go from 2 hours to 4 depending on traffic.

39 – Take a photo of the Carioca Aqueduct

Carioca Aqueduct, Rio de Janeiro

Located beside the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian and dating back to the 17th century is the Carioca Aquaduct. It was a functioning aqueduct that helped transport water from the Santa Teresa area, to the city center.

A very slow-growing process, it took about 100 years to finally finish construction on the aqueduct, which meant more access to clean water, in the city center which at the time, was a land of swamps and dirty water.

Today, however, it has been repurposed to help support the local tram that goes between the Santa Teresa neighborhood and Rio city center.

Visitors can take a ride on the tram which rides on top of the aqueduct today, or visitors can take pictures, or visit at night when parties and celebrations take place underneath the arches.

40 – Enter the fascinating Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian

Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian, Rio de Janeiro

Casting a bit of curiosity, at first glance, visitors who visit the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian may find its architecture either very futuristic or resembling an ancient Mexican Mayan temple. Either way, it will look very different from a “traditional” cathedral.

Located in the heart of the historic city center of Rio, the Cathedral welcomes interested visitors to step through its doors, and take in its larger-than-life, floor to ceiling stained glass windows, that culminate in the massive cross on the ceiling.

Known to be the first cathedral in Rio, this site has hosted many important figures in the Catholic religion, including Pope John Paul II, and has also hosted incredibly important events in the faith that have been practiced and televised worldwide.

The Cathedral is open to the public, and it is free to enter.

41 – Snap a photo from the top of Mirante Dona Marta

Mirante Dona Marta, Rio de Janeiro

Rio has many beautiful viewpoints all over the city, and one more viewpoint to add to the list has to be Mirante Dona Marta.

Located 18 minutes away from the city center, is the most visited viewpoint in Rio, where you can get the most unreal views of all of the most famous Rio landmarks – Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf, Maracanã Stadium, and so much more in one go.

With a height of 360 meters, this viewpoint is extremely accessible via elevator, and hiking (although pretty difficult), it’s worth the visit, especially to catch the sunset.

If you’re interested in hiking up to the viewpoint, it is recommended that you book a tour with an experienced guide, who will guide you exactly how to get there and give you best practices and tips so the experience is enjoyable and safe.

42 – Challenge yourself with a hike to Garganta do Céu through Pedra da Gavea

Garganta do Ceu, Rio de Janeiro

The options of hiking in Rio de Janeiro are close to endless, and one to add to your itinerary of the best things to do in Rio is the incredible Pedra da Gavea hike. Considered the world’s largest monolithic mountain, Pedra da Gavea reaches 842 meters above sea level.

A 3-mile (3-hour long) trek, with a few strenuous parts of overgrown grass and rocks, we recommend booking one of the best Garganta do Céu tours, to better complete the hike.

Though it is considered one of the most difficult hikes in Rio, the views are absolutely one of the best as well. Reaching the peak of the hike, you’ll find a cave called Garganta do Ceu that opens into a gaping view of Guanabara Bay, the sea, and all of Rio.

43 – Visit the Brazilian Caribbean at Arraial do Cabo on a day trip

Arraial do Cabo day trip from Rio de Janeiro

Sitting on the coast of Rio de Janeiro is the excellent coastal town of Arraial do Cabo. A town with immaculate transparent blue waters, white sandy beaches, and known as the “capital of diving” – travel a little over 2 hours from Rio to see these incredible sights for yourself.

Dubbed “The Brazilian Caribbean” Arraial do Cabo offers its guests an incredible list of activities to do while visiting this slice of sun heaven.

Interested in diving? Everything from incredible marine life diving to shipwreck-specific diving options is available. Want to sit back at a beach? Visit the region of Pontal do Atalaia in Arraial do Cabo for the best beaches.

The town charm has remained in the area and is so well preserved, from its architecture to its locals, and incredible food options there. Finalize the night with a fun boat ride to enjoy the epic sunset.

44 – Discover how art and culture come together at the Rio Museum of Art

Museu de Arte do Rio

Originally opened in 2013, the Rio Museum of Art (MAR) is a museum where culture, history, art, society, and variances come together to exhibit to the world Brazilian progression through the arts, and examples of continued efforts for a promising future for Brazilians.

Located in the neighborhood of Praça Mauá, the museum itself is a great advocate of art in culture and society and houses private collections of modern art and other contemporary works, both national and international.

At the center of the museum’s work is the Escola do Olhar – a special institution with the goal of connecting art and education, and encouraging a deeper level of reflection, thought, creativity, and imagination in young minds.

For R$ 20, visitors can browse through the library collections, which invite visitors and locals to continue learning further about the topics displayed in the museum exhibits.

45 – Step inside one of the most beautiful buildings in the country at the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro

Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro

An incredible piece of architecture and culture is the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro which has hosted a number of talented Brazilian artists as well as international.

Beautiful it is outside as it is on the inside, the theater dates back to 1909, and is oftentimes visited simply to take in the incredibly ornate architecture.

A grand staircase, mosaic flooring, ceramic ceilings, and a grand chandelier inside the theater, are just a few of the highlights of the theater’s interiors.

Check in advance to see if you can catch a show inside this spectacular theater, said to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the country. The type of shows presented here are usually opera, dance, and symphonic orchestra.

Located in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, the theater is accessible via walking, the subway, or bus.

46 – Visit Pier Mauá & Mauá Square for a lesiure stroll

Mauá Square, Rio de Janeiro

Pier Mauá was historically a very important pier in old Rio, where ships would dock and disembark products and tourists into Rio. Today, it is still used as an important dock, used for travel, and commercial uses.

Mauá Square is the platform from which tourists, as well as locals, like to congregate, especially after its revival after the 2014 Olympic Games. Most notably, two important museums are located here – the Museum of Tomorrow and the Rio Art Museum. A short walking distance away is also the famous aquarium – AquaRio.

Expect to see food trucks, and admire views of Guanabara Bay, as well as the incredible murals on the wall. Look out, especially for a mural called the Wall of Ethnicities – an impressive 190-meter-long mural.

Just a 4-minute walk from old Rio, Mauá Square, and the pier are great afternoon activities to indulge in.

47 – Spot wildlife on Gigóia Island

Gigóia Island, Rio de Janeiro

A small island located in a lake inside Rio de Janeiro, Gigóia Island has a population of 3,000 inhabitants and can be walked across in 15 minutes.

A tiny island but equipped with all the resources it needs, Gigóia Island offers people a perfect little break from the city, while not steering too far from it.

Peace and tranquility reign over the island, and one of the must things to do while visiting is to try its incredibly rich seafood gastronomy such as moqueca and shrimp pastries. A boat tour allows visitors to take a look at the wildlife, such as turtles, exotic birds, fish, shrimp, and more.

Gigóia Island makes up one of the various Tijuca Islands, and if you have time, you can go to Ilha Primera, have a meal inside Bar do Cicero, and get incredible views of Gigóia Island.

48 – Learn about the fascinating world of astronomy at the Museum of Astronomy and Related Sciences

Museum of Astronomy and Related Sciences, Rio de Janeiro
credit to Museum of Astronomy and Related Sciences / photo modified

The Museum of Astronomy and Related Sciences is a space where technology comes together with science to show visitors the developments and inventions created by Brazilians for the advancement of humans all over the world.

An educative center at its core, the museum holds 3 main rooms – the history of science, the museology and heritage, and science and education. Each room is dedicated to teaching people the progression and importance of scientific advancements, research, and findings.

While visiting, check out the different activities open to visitors for a more immersive experience of the science world, especially in the world of astronomy. The museum is located in the heart of downtown Rio, so walking, taking the subway, or the bus are the easiest ways to reach this point of interest.

49 – Admire the incredible landscape beauty at Sítio Roberto Burle Marx

Sitio Roberto Burle Marx, Rio de Janeiro

Known as one of the greatest landscapers in the 20th century from Brazil, Roberto Burle Marx, the Sítio Roberto Burle Marx is set in what used to be his home and where he worked and got inspired for 20 years of his life.

As you explore the many corners of Roberto’s House including the detailed museum, consider booking one of the Sítio Roberto Burle Marx tours, to learn more about the details of the space, plus learn about more than 3,500 tropical and subtropical plants.

Surrounded by the lush scene of verdant trees, and bushes, on the outside, the inside of his simple, yet beautiful home offers a look into the creative mind of Marx when it came to botanical art.

50 – Step into the religious site of the Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat

Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat, Rio de Janeiro

Commonly known as the Monastery of São Bento, this point of interest is an abbey that is an example today of a typical Portuguese colonial architecture, called the Mannerist style.

Founded in 1590 by the Benedictine monks, who before constructing the Montesary, were living in unfavorable conditions elsewhere, constructed a new center for religious faith and home on the land that was gifted to the monks by noble Manoel de Brito and his son Diogo de Brito de Lacerda.

Visit the Abacial Church, which is said to be one of the most beautiful churches in Rio de Janeiro, and take a walk around the grounds. Check out the center of theological studies.

The Monastery is located centrally in downtown Rio and can be accessed via bus, car, or subway, and it is free admission.

51 – Contemplate Brazilian artworks at the Fine Arts Museum

Fine Arts Museum, Rio de Janeiro

Known as the national museum of fine arts in Rio, art lovers will find this site to be one of the best things to do in Rio when it opens back up.

The Museu Nacional de Belas Artes – as it’s locally known – is a collection of more than 70,000 pieces of fine art ranging from paintings, sculptures, drawings, documents, books, and more detailing Brazilian culture throughout time.

The building itself is a beautiful work of art, exemplifying colonial architecture by the Spanish architect Adolfo Morales de los Rios. Some of the main and precious art relics inside the museum are those that belonged to King John VI, who brought them to Brazil and left part of the Royal Portuguese Collection in Rio.

Situated in the heart of downtown Rio, the museum is accessible via bus, subway, or even on foot, or by car.

52 – Hike up Morro da Urca – Sugarloaf’s little brother

Morro da Urca, Rio
Left: credit to Carolina Ribeiro / Content Manager at TourScanner

Located in southeastern Rio, the Morro da Urca is considered by many as the little brother of the well-known Sugarloaf Mountain.

Sitting next to the famous mountain, not many people know that hiking up Morro da Urca to get equally beautiful views of Rio is possible, even if hiking is not your forte.

The cable car that connects visitors to Sugarloaf makes a stop beforehand in Morro da Urca, however, many people have decided to start hiking it instead for the adventure, and avoid paying the R $40 roundtrip cost.

The Morro da Urca hike includes a few rough patches to walk through, but then it gets easier, and it takes around 40 minutes and is completely safe to complete.

Cut the cost of going to Sugarloaf or simply go on a moderate hiking adventure with an epic hike up Morro da Urca.

53 – Experience culture and technology at the Cultural Center Oi Futuro

Cultural Center Oi Futuro, Rio de Janeiro
credit to Oi Futuro

A center quite unique, and welcoming every creative and non-creative to walk through its doors is the Cultural Center Oi Futuro, which is a center where technology and culture take center stage, in order to encourage creativity, ingenuity, and invention in the youth.

Divided into three sections, visitors can wander through the cultural center to view any and all temporary exhibits or presentations, the lab where visitors can see people in action manifesting their creative ideas into real life, as well as the museum.

The museum does an incredible job of displaying important pieces of technological advancements, specifically the progression of communications via telephone and beyond.

Visit often, they suggest, as the exhibits and presentations are constantly changing, and you do not want to miss the curated exhibits and new inventions. Entrance to this museum is free.

54 – Get your iconic photo taken at Pedra do Telegrafo

Pedra do Telegrafo, Rio de Janeiro

You’ve probably seen this photo on your Instagram feed at one point – one of your friends “hanging” off a rock and possibly falling into the abyss below. Well, now you can get your photo by hiking Pedra do Telegrafo.

This hike on average takes around 45 minutes to complete, and visitors can often get there by bus, private tour, or by hiring a private driver.

The hike itself is pretty short and easy to complete with plenty of rest stops along the way including an opportunity to stop by Grumari Beach.

However, if your goal is to get your iconic “hanging off the cliff” photo, you may end up waiting in a long line. On average, people have been said to have waited up to 1 hour in line to take their photos. Prepare to get an early start so you have a higher chance of beating the crowds.

55 – Spend the afternoon or evening at one of the best beach clubs in Rio

Clássico Beach Club, Rio
credit to Clássico Beach Club

With an incredible coastline, Rio offers locals and visitors some of the best beaches as well as beach clubs that cater to different styles and moods. From trendy and new to relaxed and casual.

Yndú Beach Lounge is the perfect beach bar if you’re looking for something casual with a few bohemian vibes. Offering yoga by day, and serving rounds of caipirinhas with a DJ on the weekends by night.

Tucked into the idyllic scene of the Barra da Tijuca’s promenade, Classico Beach Club, features a great ambiance of music, great food, and drinks for all, without overcomplications. While nearby Rio Beach Club offers a youthful dose of fun, mingling with locals at the pool or chilling on a lounger, under the hot Brazilian sun.

A perfect place to go with your partner is Guarderya Beach Club, where the ambiance is all romance, charm, and exoticism. Go in the evening to enjoy a lovely candlelit dinner on the beach.

56 – Look for Brazilian handcrafts at the Luiz Gonzaga Center of Northeastern Traditions

Luiz Gonzaga Center of Northeastern Traditions, Rio de Janeiro
Brazilian handmade products at Sao Cristovao Fair

The famous Luiz Gonzaga Center of Northeastern Traditions is a venue named after a famous singer from the Northeastern region of Brazil.

During the 1940s, there was a massive migration of people from the northeastern region of Brazil who came to Rio to work. Back then, this space was born, and it originally held various events and parties representing the people and their culture.

Located in the São Cristóvão neighborhood, the São Cristóvão Fair is an open-air pavilion that is very much like an open-air market inside the Luiz Gonganza Center.

Inside, where visitors can get a taste of northeastern Brazilian traditions – from food to accessories and more. Locals suggest trying the candy while visiting. Not many tourists visit, therefore, it is important to keep safe and not visit at night, and they also suggest taking a cab rather than the subway.

57 – Learn and create modern art at the Instituto Moreira Salles

Instituto Moreira Salles, Rio de Janeiro
credit to Instituto Moreira Salles

Making up part of Rio’s cultural scene is the Instituto Moreira Salles. Visual arts, photography, and film come together at the institute, and invite visitors to enjoy an afternoon to enjoy the modern grounds.

Opening back in 1992, the Instituto Moreira Salles has had the same goal, which is to encourage the creation of art through different mediums – literature, photography, music, and plastic arts.

Divided into 6 different sections, immerse yourself in modern art through different mediums, while walking through the mid-twentieth century house, that sprawls over 3,000 square feet.

Concerts and music events are also held at the institute, so make sure to check their website to purchase tickets. It is the perfect art museum where participation is encouraged through various workshops and roundtable discussions for adults, as well as art workshops for children.

58 – Catch the last bit of sun on a sunset cruise

sunset cruises in Rio

Finalize one of your nights in Rio with a spectacular sunset cruise on Guanabara Bay, while viewing from afar some of Rio’s most remarkable landmarks. Choose from a yacht, cruise, or boat, and prepare yourself for one of the most beautiful journeys you can have in Rio.

Move with the gentle waves and the soft bossa nova playing while meeting new people, breathing in fresh bay air, and enjoy the spectacular views of the city, the islands, and the glistening waters as the sun starts to set.

Sunset cruises can range from $50 UDS for a 3-4 hour boat ride and can go up to $100 USD, each offering different services in addition to the sunset cruise itself.

Some tours include dinner and drinks, while others may just be drinks, and some may be just the boat ride itself.

59 – Go back into Brazilian culture and history at the Imperial Palace Cultural Center

Imperial Palace Cultural Center, Rio de Janeiro

The Imperial Palace Cultural Center is a cornerstone of tradition, history, and Brazilian culture that goes back as far as 1743 when it was first constructed. Inside, visitors can expect different expositions and displays put on by the Ministry of Culture.

The palace has taken different purposes throughout the years: from housing the royals, to military use, a postal office, and now a cultural center. It has 3 floors and houses various art collections that visitors can wander through and learn at their own pace.

The first floor is occupied by more than 6,000 books detailing Brazilian and Portuguese art and architecture, and the second floor has photography and space for presentations and concerts.

Located in the heart of Rio’s historic town, it is an accessible and easy walk no matter where in downtown Rio you may find yourself.

60 – Go for a run at Eduardo Gomes Park

Eduardo Gomes Park, Rio de Janeiro

Also known as Flamengo Reclaim Park or “Aterro” in Rio, is Rio’s biggest open land space, covering approximately 1.2 million square meters, and originally created to widen the streets to lessen traffic jams in Rio.

Today, it is a massive urban park that is a fun site to spend an afternoon, whether it’s cycling its wide paths, strolling through, or partaking in a soccer game with locals. If you do any sort of bike tour while in Rio, you will bike through this path.

Throughout the park, people will also stumble upon cultural centers where they can step in and explore the local exhibitions.

Speaking of other incredible cultural sites, people can also check out bigger museums like the Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum dedicated to the fallen soldiers of Brazil, and the Carmen Miranda Museum – a famous Brazilian singer.

61 – Try your skills preparing Brazilian food in a cooking class

cooking classes in Rio

Food is a language we all speak, and a cooking class in Rio could be an incredible way to begin understanding the local language and culture through an alternative, tastier way.

Check out the many different cooking classes available in Rio, teaching its participants how to cook different Brazilian classics and traditional dishes from the region of Rio de Janeiro.

Learn to cook dishes such as feijoada, codfish cakes, Oswaldo Aranha filet, and more while also learning about the use of different ingredients in traditional cooking.

Learn about the Portuguese influence on Brazilian cooking, and the different types of cooking styles in all regions of Brazil, while preparing an incredible meal you get to enjoy afterward.

Classes are available constantly and begin for around $80. There are vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian Brazilian cooking classes, so make sure to try one that best fits.

62 – Learn a bit about the brazilian military at the Monument to the Dead of World War II

Monument to the Dead of World War II, Rio de Janeiro

In honor of the fallen Brazilian soldiers during World War ll, the Monument to the Dead of World War ll was created and can be found within the Eduardo Gomes Park.

The monument has an abstract appearance and towers over 30 meters high with the appearance of two columns and a roof on top. There are two components to the monument – the columns with the roof, and three statues of soldiers.

There is also a mausoleum at the site of the monument, where it’s said that 467 Brazilian soldier remains.

As people step closer to the monument, they will also see a tiled mosaic mural to commemorate the Navy and Marine men who lost their lives, a granite statue to honor the sea, land, and air forces, and a metal sculpture to honor the air force alone.

The informative plaques are translated into English.

63 – Check out what new exhibitions are happening inside the CCBB Cultural Center

CCBB Cultural Center, Rio de Janeiro

The CCBB Cultural Center is located in the heart of the historic district of Rio and features art galleries, cinemas, theaters, and exhibition rooms.

Dating back to its construction in 1906, this beautiful Neoclassical period building has been beautifully restored to shine with its colonial style, which is a draw to many visitors.

Its exhibits are always changing throughout the seasons, so make sure to check ahead of time what they currently have. In previous years, the museum has held exhibitions of Brazilian rock music through the times, optical illusion art pieces, live music, and more.

The Bank of Brazil manages a network of cultural centers around Rio, hence the name CCBB – Cultural Center of the Bank of Brazil. There are 3 centers of this kind throughout Brazil, one of them in Rio. Entrance is free, and they also offer tour guides.

64 – Admire the mystifying beauty of the Candelária Church

Candelária Church, Rio de Janeiro

Believed to be the most beautiful church in Rio, drawing in more than 100 visitors each day, the Candelária Church is a church not to be missed according to locals.

Said to have been named by a Spanish couple whose journey to Brazil was via a ship named Candelária, was challenged by storms. They would eventually survive and ultimately promised to build a hermitage with the name Candelária. The hermitage turned into a church and it opened its doors in 1811.

Interestingly, some contemporary events have taken inside its walls from important memorials, to even being the location of the official cauldron during the 2016 summer Olympics.

Currently, visitors can step inside, and admire the impressive murals, the marble flooring, columns, and stained glass windows, all designed by talented Brazilian and Italian artists. The entrance inside the museum is free.

65 – Get your adrenaline pumping at Play City

Play City in Rio
credit to Play City

Whether you’re traveling with family or with friends, and you’re looking for something a bit different from the beach – a visit to Play City is the perfect idea to consider.

Play City is an amusement park and huge shopping center, located just 30 minutes away from downtown Rio, offering amusement park lovers thrills perfect for children and adults.

With various sales and ticket packages offered, there are ample opportunities to find tickets that can help you maximize your fun inside the park.

Check out tickets that allow access to 10 different attractions starting at R $59, or a package for R $59 to enter the impressive shopping centers inside Play City.

Keep checking the promotions page for Play City, to see the most updated specials, and take advantage of roller coasters, Ferris wheels, and so much more.

66 – Visit the broken but beautiful Largo do Boticário

Largo do Boticário, Rio de Janeiro

Set in the quiet yet pleasant neighborhood of Cosme Velho, Largo do Boticário is a unique square of broken, abandoned houses that somehow still feel bright due to the exterior paint colors.

Overgrown by plants, and uninhabited, it all adds a certain unique charm to the area which draws people 365 days out of the year.

Dating back to the 1830s, the Apothecary’s Square as it’s known in English was owned by Joaquim Luís da Silva Souto, who was known to be a famous apothecary and had the royal family as clients.

After different owners possessed this idyllic square, hosting fancy pirates, and being the home of the elite at a point – it slowly started to become abandoned for unknown reasons. Today, people visit its overgrown aesthetic and visit the one art gallery located within the vicinity.

67 – Get ready for an incredible dinner and show at the Ginga Tropical Show

Ginga Tropical Show, Rio de Janeiro

Ginga Tropical Show is an incredible spectacle that combines Brazilian dance, culture, and entertainment unlike anything else. Learn about the impressive dances throughout Brazil, from Samba, Carimbó, Frevo, Lambada, Gafieira, and Bossa Nova.

For night plans, book one of the best dinners in Rio de Janeiro that include a show, plus extra surprises along the way, taste-testing Brazilian cuisine at its finest. Before the show, get a few Samba lessons from the pros and ask questions about Samba or Carnival. For a more personalized experience, look into the best samba classes in Rio de Janeiro!

The tour offers ground transportation and English-speaking guides who will ultimately make your experience customized to your language and understanding. On this amazing tour, everything is taken care of, to witness Brazil’s culture through entertainment.

68 – Tour some of the mountainous beauty of Petropolis

Petropolis day trip from Rio de Janeiro

A natural mountain resort for Rio locals (Cariocas), Petropolis is overflowing with incredible scenes of forests, mountains, and rivers.

Only 1 hour away from Rio, visitors can plan a journey to this mountain haven, and check out a few noteworthy sites that add interest and intrigue to this area. Catching the eye of Emperor Pedro l in 1822, his son Pedro ll was the one to build the first palace later on in 1843.

Today, you can visit The Imperial Museum, a palace built by Pedro ll, where you can see some of the most prized possessions of the emperor as well as some incredibly important pieces of art, photography, and items in Brazil.

Step inside the Museu Casa de Santos Dumont, where the father of Brazilian aviation once lived, and the Crystal Palace – a greenhouse built in France and transported to Brazil for Princess Isabel.

69 – Learn about the fascinating history of Jewish Heritage in Rio

jewish heritage in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro holds second place as the city with the second-largest Jewish population in Brazil, with most of them moving to Brazil’s old capital city between the 16th and 18th centuries, and the greatest migration of Jewish people to Rio coming shortly after World War I.

To learn more about this ever-present Jewish community in Rio and their influence, the most informative Jewish Heritage tours will take you to see the Marvelous City’s Jewish heritage, plus a few other sights.

Explore Park Itzhak Rabin, and learn more about the public school that was named after Anne Frank, plus more. If you prefer to go at your own pace, a visit to the Jewish Museum is also a good idea.

70 – Visit the former home of one of Brazil’s controversial leaders at Catete Palace: Museum of the Republic

Catete Palace, Rio de Janeiro

A palace museum with so much beauty was once the home of one of the most controversial figures in Brazilian political history – the Catete Palace dates back to the 1890s, and today is a museum dedicated to displaying art, statues, and sculptures.

The controversial figure was Getulio Vargas, who was dictator turned president of Brazil and called Catete Palace his home for a few years until he took his own life in 1954.

The palace was later transformed into a museum, with extraordinary gardens, temporary exhibits, an art gallery, photography, as well as a cinema, cafe, restaurant, and children’s playground.

Visitors can also walk the interior and step into some of the rooms where the families slept and lived in. Take a walk outside in the gardens and the courtyard for a moment of tranquility amongst botanical beauty. Visit on Tuesdays for free admission.

71 – Try unique Brazilian craft beer blends at a beer tasting

beer tastings in Rio

The craft beer movement has been increasingly gaining momentum in Rio in the past couple of years, and today, it has managed to spread into most corners of Rio, where people can get tastings of local Brazilian beers.

Check out some impressive craft beer blends such as brown ale with cocoa and an Indian white ale and other artisanal beers at Botobier, or discover the mix of craft beers and Carioca culture with the award-winning beers of Carioca Brewing Co. Try their India Pale Ale (IPA) renamed IPA-nema, which won a gold medal.

Visit 2cabeças for even more creativity and Brazilian beer flair, and try their unique blends of flavors such as honey and coconut water.

Most cervejarias (breweries) are located in the heart of Rio, so planning a night out to do some beer tasting unlike anywhere else, is a must.

72 – Dive deep into the solar system at the planetarium

Planetarium in Rio

Stop by the Planetarium, and learn about the fascinating world of astronomy, the advancements, and the findings discovered by Brazilian scientists.

Found in the Gávea neighborhood, and near the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, The Gávea Planetarium in Rio de Janeiro is sure to offer a tremendous amount of insight and knowledge into the world of astronomy.

Engage with some interactive games, experiments, and more to learn about the fascinating facts about our universe and solar system. The Planetarium is a perfect place to bring kids to explore this fascinating topic, and it’s also the perfect rainy day activity.

See incredible images of planets, and if you visit on a Wednesday, visitors get the chance to locate planets and other objects with real telescopes and other equipment. Walk through exhibits displaying the history of astronomy, astronautics, and physics.

73 – Satisfy your craving for new flavors on a food tour

food tours in Rio

A look into any city involves all 5 senses, and that includes taste. In a city like Rio, where your senses are captivated by the vibrancy of the city, the best food tours in Rio de Janeiro will offer you a feast worth exploring.

Enjoy a gastronomic experience that will offer you a different look into Rio’s history and culture, this time through the palate, as you taste-test your way through Rio’s best restaurant scenes like Santa Teresa and Lapa!

Try the best feijoada (pork, beef, and black bean stew), coxinha de galinha (shredded chicken fritters), and more! Taste the burst of flavors and the influence of many other cultural flavors, with one of the best food tours in Rio de Janeiro.

74 – Explore Rio’s nightlife on a pub crawl

pub crawls in Rio

The night has come, and the fun begins with an exciting pub crawl tour. The perfect way to make friends, and explore the best bars, clubs, and pubs in Rio, let yourself be guided by a local who knows exactly where to go, and exactly what to order.

Win exciting gifts as you test your trivia knowledge (and win of course), be transported safely by car with a designated driver, and visit not-so-touristy neighborhoods where the real Cariocas party and like to enjoy the night.

Rest up and fuel up before discovering the neighborhood of Lapa, famous for its bars and exciting nightlife. Visit Rio’s oldest bar located in Lapa, visit the famous Selaron Steps, and arrive at the best party hot spots where the locals go.

75 – Dance all night long with Cariocas at Rio Scenarium

Rio Scenarium, Rio de Janeiro

Looking for the best place to party it up in Rio? You can’t go wrong with stopping by Rio Scenarium, one of the most popular nightclubs in Rio, located in the vibrant Lapa neighborhood.

Score your Rio Scenarium tickets, which include a “host” to guide your experience, from learning what to order at the bar, to even learning how to dance like a Carioca, and much more! The experience also comes with ground transportation, for a safe return back home after you’ve partied yourself out!

Perfect for solo travelers, or travel groups looking for a good time in Rio, a trip to Rio Scenarium will open you up to Brazilian music, from samba to Brazilian funk, and Brazilian Popular Music.

How to get to Rio de Janeiro?

To prepare for your arrival at Rio’s airport (Geleão International Airport) look through the best airport transfers in Rio de Janeiro, to ensure a smooth journey from the airport to your hotel, especially if you’re arriving at night.

If you’re stopping by on a cruise ship, why not check out the best shore excursions in Rio de Janeiro, and make the most of your time?

Visiting Rio de Janeiro on a budget?

One of the best ways to see the city easily and efficiently is by booking one of the many free walking tours in Rio de Janeiro.

Free walking tours provide a wealth of information, from the history of the landmarks and most notable spots in the city to the lay of the land, with restaurant recommendations, and great local insight!

Where to stay?

There’s no lack of great accommodation in Rio de Janeiro, but choosing the best place to stay can be very time-consuming. To save you the hassle, here are some recommendations.

Miramar Hotel by Windsor: Stay on the world-renowned Copacabana beach, and be steps away from all the action. Enjoy the hotel’s exclusive rooftop bars and lounges.

Yoo2 Rio de Janeiro by Intercity: Enjoy Rio’s complete skyline from the hotel, and be steps away from the beach. Minutes away from Sugarloaf mountain and Flamengo Beach.

Sol Ipanema Hotel: Enjoy the views of the iconic Ipanema Beach, and enjoy a free buffet breakfast included. Enjoy the beautiful rooftop terrace that gives views of Sugarloaf Mountain, and the Morro da Urca.

Casa Nova Hotel: Stay in the hipster area of Santa Teresa, and enjoy being minutes away from Selaron Steps, and the subway to move around the city.

Selina Lapa Rio De Janeiro: Stay in the bohemian neighborhood of Lapa, perfect for nightlife as well as its proximity to museums and cultural centers.

Where to go next?

Where next? Before heading out to explore the best places to visit in Brazil, check out the different multi-day trips available near Rio!

Consider extending your trip to Brazil with a visit to the lively city of São Paulo, overflowing with culture, art, and history, home to historical theaters and some of the best museums in the country. Want more? check out our list of the best things to do in São Paulo!

A mix of Afro-Brazilian, tropical weather, and baroque-style architecture is exactly what sets the scene in Salvador, in Bahia. When it comes to the things to do in Salvador, you can count on admiring breathtaking views from the Elevador Lacerda to getting lost in the charm of the historical Center of Salvador.

Another capital city of the state of Ceará on Brazil’s northeastern coast, the things to do in Fortaleza include stopping for a few bites at the Fortaleza Central Market, stretching on the golden sands of the Praia do Futuro, dining at the seaside restaurants, or grabbing a cocktail at the beach bars.

The capital city of Brazil since 1960 holds many incredible things to do in Brasilia, from admiring the tall (168 meter high) Itiquiria waterfall to catching a show at the famous National Theater. Don’t forget to step inside the futuristic and blue Santuário Dom Bosco dedicated to the city’s patron saint.

Jump to Argentina, and witness tango in action in the colorful La Boca neighborhood, visit the Presidential digs at the famous Casa Rosada, and shop for books in arguably the most beautiful bookshop. We guarantee the things to do in Buenos Aires are very promising.

Final thoughts

We hope you enjoyed our list of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro, and that you’ve already started planning your trip to this famed Brazilian city! From samba in the streets to devouring the best feijoada, relaxing on Ipanema beach, and admiring the deeply rich African heritage in Carioca culture – what’s first on your list?

Happy travels!

Maritza Chavez is a travel writer from the U.S., passionate about travel and culture. Her curiosity for traveling began after her first few trips to Mexico to visit family, and then studying abroad in Greece during college. After living in Spain as an English teacher, and more traveling, she decided to start her blog, Travel Notes and Things, to help fellow Latinas travel to their dream destinations while touching on other topics including reverse culture shock and transformative travel. Further expanding her horizons, Maritza frequently travels the globe to pen down exquisite articles for the TourScanner blog, bringing her unique perspective and insights to a wider audience.