I think Rio de Janeiro is a place that should be on everyone’s South American bucket list! Rio is like no other place I have been to. It is a huge, bustling city, that has a unique atmosphere, different from any other city. Maybe it’s the famous beach-side setting, or the towering mountain rock formations breaking up the city. Maybe it’s just the people! Whatever it is, Brasilian cities are on their own level. There’s no shortage of things to do here. If you are looking for some inspiration of what to do in Rio, here are 10 things you should do!
No.1 Copacabana – What to do in Rio
Other than the 2016 Olypmics, Copacabana Beach is what drew me to Rio! As you may know, I often get my travel inspiration from songs, and ‘Copa, Copacabana…da da da daaa da’ was definitely a luring factor! This beach is known to be bustling with Brasilian beach babes. Actually, this beach is packed with people of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds. Men in their 60s with large beer bellies sport the smallest of budgie smugglers, and life is great! It is packed with volleyball nets, beach-side bars, people selling ice-blocks. You will most definitely hear people calling out “Calliiiiipoooo!” selling the Callipo ice blocks. If that’s not enough to lure you, I don’t know what is!
No.2 Ipanema Beach – What to do in Rio
Ipanema Beach is another beach famous in song! My Poppa told me to kick the sand and sing ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ for him while I was there, so of course, I did :). This beach is similar to Copacabana: packed all the time with people, caipirinhas, and people selling sunglasses! It is another must-see to put on your ‘what to do in Rio’ list.
No.3 Caipirinhas in Lapa – What to do in Rio
Have you had a caipirinha before? If you haven’t, then you must! It is a drink made with: lime juice, cachaca, sugar, and ice cube, and it is delicious! You should head to Lapa to have the real Rio experience. Samba in the streets, people drinking Caipirinhas in the streets into the night, always packed and popular with the locals. Just head to the Lapa Arches. A very strong caipirinha will set you back 5 Reais – bargain!
No.4 Lapa Steps – What to do in Rio
Another reason to head to Lapa, is the Lapa steps, or Escadaria Selaron. They are steps that are covered in bright colored tiles. These steps are famous for many reasons. The first reason is who they were made by: the Chilean artist, Jorge Selaron. He began creating his masterpiece in 1990, and said it would never be complete until the day he died. In 2013, he was found dead on the Lapa steps. These steps are awesome, and definitely a must see. The second reason to visit the steps is that this is where Snoop Dog and Pharrell filmed the song ‘Beautiful’, that definitely got me going!
No.5 Christ Redeemer – What to do in Rio
A list of what to do in Rio wouldn’t be complete without Christ the Redeemer! Tick off this Wonder of the World when you go to Rio. Just be smart about it. The lines can be long, and often, the skies turn cloudy and foggy in the afternoons. Make sure you go early, and check the weather forecast, otherwise you will get pictures like my one below. The old iPhone 6 couldn’t handle the lack of light and immense fog!
No.6 Sugar Loaf Mountain – What to do in Rio
I didn’t get to experience the amazing views from Christ the Redeemer due to the crazy fog that came as soon as I bought my ticket. However, many say that the views are even better from Sugar Loaf Mountain! The views were absolutely stellar! This attraction was about $30 AUD, and while expensive, I thought it was worth every penny. Plus, you get a view of Christ the Redeemer from here. It is verrrry nice!
No.7 Pedro do Telegrafo – What to do in Rio
You would have seen pictures of this place! It is that view where people risk their lives by dangling off a rock ledge, with an amazing background of greenery, beach, and sea. However, it is all for show! This walk is a 30 minute walk uphill (a couple hours drive from Rio), and underneath the rock ledge is a perfectly safe landing, where the rest of the people are waiting for their turn for a photo! Again, make sure it is good weather, otherwise you will end up with picture like this:
No.8 Pedra da Gavea – What to do in Rio
Unfortunately, I ran out of time to do the other hikes/walks in Rio, but there are some absolute stunners out there! The other hike you should do is the Pedra da Gavea hike. It is strenuous, but worth it! My friends did it, and they got the most amazing photos! I hope my friend doesn’t mind, but she has an absolute cracker of a photo on her Instagram account.
No.9 Santa Marta Favela – What to do in Rio
If you want to see a bit of the real Rio, the Santa Marta favela is pretty safe and tourist-friendly. This favela was featured in the Michael Jackson video ‘Don’t Care about Us’. You will find a Michael Jackson statue about halfway up the favela, and an awesome view of Christ the Redeemer, and of the city below. Read about my experience and how you can do it too, here.
No.10 Santa Teresa and Santa Teresa Tram – What to do in Rio
Santa Teresa is the ‘bohemian neighborhood’ in Rio. The neighborhood features street art, and a real laid back feel. There are some nice cafes and restaurants. A really cool thing about the Santa Teresa neighborhood is the old school tram they have. It is also free to take this tram! You should include this tram ride on your day of visiting Lapa and the Lapa steps/ Escadaria Selaron. Take this tram over the Lapa Arches and to the Lapa steps.
Where have you been in Rio? Let me know if you think I have missed anything major or interesting off this list of what to do in Rio.