Rio de Janeiro lies on the Atlantic Coast of Brazil, with a beautiful bay and mountains surrounding the background. It is one of the most beautiful and extravagant cities in the world. Rio is the second largest city in Brazil by population - estimated at 6 million people - and the sixth largest in South America. This is the capital city of the state of Rio de Janeiro, and is one of the most visited cities in the Southern Hemisphere.
Rio de Janeiro is known for many of its natural beauties, including the great Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, and the Christ the Redeemer statue situated atop the of the Corcovado Mountain - one of the New Seven Wonders of The World. It is also famous for its carnival, as well as one the largest football stadiums. This is one of the most beautiful cities to visit in the world, and people come from all over. Below is our Rio De Janeiro travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
PARQUE NACIONAL DA TIJUCA – This National Park is the only part left of the rainforest that once surrounded the city of Rio de Janeiro. This is one of the most beautiful places in Brazil, with incredible waterfalls, lots of trails, and the mountainous terrain. This National Park also features a couple restaurants, a chapel, Major Archer’s house, as well as some caves. This is one of the most beautiful places to visit as it also has a variety of species, including monkeys and iguanas.
CRISTO REDENTOR – One of the most famous statues of Christ in the entire world, and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, this beautiful statue stands atop the Corcovado Mountain. The mountain is 715 metres above the city, and the statue of Christ - standing 38 metres tall - lights up at night and can be seen from almost every part of the entire city.
INSTITUTO MOREIRA SALLES – This place is a cultural centre that holds exhibits of some of the best work by Brazilian artists and photographers. This place is surrounded by a beautiful garden, an artificial lake, and a flowing river. The exhibits almost always have one piece on display about Rio de Janeiro, and there are more pieces of work about other famous cities in the country.
MUSEU HISTORICO NACIONAL – This museum is housed in the Colonial Arsenal. Here you can find some of the relics and stories that relate to the history of Brazil, and its colonization by Europeans. There are beautiful exhibits that display the throne of Dom Pedro II, as well as the quill that Princess Isabel used to abolish slavery. There are also some artifacts, pieces, and exhibits about the indigenous people of Brazil.
LAGOA RODRIGO DE FREITAS – One of the best places to relax in the city is at this beautiful lake that is surrounded by a walking path. Here there are options to rent bikes, or even paddle boats, and go out around the small lake. If you just want to relax, the kiosks on either side do provide drinks and food, as well as some live music.
ESCADARIA SELARON – This is one of the more interesting attractions: a set of stairs that lead up from Rua Joaquim Silva. The part that has made these 215 steps so interesting, is that Chilean born artist Jorge Selaron painted murals on the steps as a dedication to the Brazilian people. The mixture of colours is a beautiful sight to see.
PAO DE ACUCAR – The views of Rio offered from the top of this summit are breath-taking. The best time to ascend this peak is on clear day, giving you the best chance of a beautiful view. There are cable cars that go up to the top of the summit but they ascend in two separate stages. It first ascends to one of the lower summits, and then you find the next one that will take you to the top.
MUSEU DA REPUBLICA – This museum is located in the Palacio do Catete which has been wonderfully restored. It was built between 1858 and 1866. This palace was the residence of the President of Brazil from 1896 until 1954, when the former President of Brazil Getulio Vargas committed suicide in the palace. This museum offers a good exhibit on artifacts from the republican period. The room where Vargas committed suicide is still preserved on the 3rd floor of the palace.
PARQUE DO FLAMENGO – This park is 1.2 square kilometres and it is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Rio. In this park, you’ll see that almost every sport is played. From bike trails to fields for soccer, there are even courts for other types of sports. This is the park to visit if you enjoy biking or other sports.
JARDIM BOTANICO – This beautiful park and garden is a fantastic place to relax. There are thousands of species of plants found in the park. Here you can also find a small café and an outdoor snack bar. This makes for a great place to enjoy an afternoon.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
Visiting Rio's famous beaches, and of course, the symbolic Christ the Redeemer statue.
Rio de Janeiro provides almost all types of food for every craving. You can find local buffets which are a great option, and places where you pay by the weight of the food on your plate. There are many local style as well as international chain restaurants, great places to find pastries, and amazing local juice bars.
If you’re after eclectic Brazilian food, try Bar do David (Ladeira Ari Barroso). This place is located in the Babylonia favela, and here you’ll meet David the owner, who is very friendly. The atmosphere is fun and relaxed, the menu is unique and delicious, and you can expect generous portions – come here for an authentic experience.
For the best pizza in Rio, go to Pizzaria Domenica (Rua Sao Francisco Xavier 18 A). Get here before 8pm to guarantee yourself a seat, as the place is fairly small. There’s even the option to sit out on the terrace.
L’Atelier du Cuisinier (Rua Teofilo Otoni, 97) is a French restaurant in downtown Rio. Here you can get a starter, main, and dessert, and you’ll be very impressed with the quality and flavour of your food. There’s also a decent wine list. Making a reservation here is a must: it’s only open Mondays to Fridays for lunch.
For all the vegetarians, check out Prana Vegetariano (Rua Erere 11) – even if you’re a meat-eater, you’re guaranteed a delicious meal here. The juices are excellent, and make sure you leave room for dessert! It’s a small restaurant, and situated close to the train station where you go to visit the Christ statue.
Rio offers a variety of places for all types of people to enjoy the night. There are relaxed pubs and bars where you can enjoy a drink, and clubs and parties with dancing and a more upbeat atmosphere. During some parts of the year the parties can sometimes even fill out into the streets and beaches.
For a great night out, go to Rio Scenarium Pavilhao da Cultura (R. do Lavradio, 20). This place is perfect for dancing – it has three floors, with different bands playing on each stage. The décor is beautiful and antique, the music is varied, and the vibe is amazing.
If you’re a Brazilian music lover, check out Bip Bip (Rua Almirante Goncalves 50) for bossa nova, samba, and choro. It’s a very small venue, and here you just need to consume to enter. This is a popular spot with locals, all keen to enjoy the music, and the atmosphere is informal. In fact, you even serve youself: simply grab a beer from the fridge at the back, and pay the owner when you leave – an interesting concept!
The average temperature does not really see much change over the course of the year, staying between 20 – 26 degrees Celsius. There is a dry and a wet season in Rio, with the wet season running from December to March, and the dry season from April to November.
Rio de Janeiro is home to an international airport that flies to all the major cities in Brazil, and most major cities around the world. By plane from Sao Paulo to Rio, it takes just 45 minutes. There are bus stations in the city that offer trips to the major parts of Brazil as well as other countries in South America. From Sao Paulo by bus, it takes 6-7 hours.
The other way to travel is by boat. Rio has a port on the Atlantic Ocean that is used by most major cruise ship lines.
Rio de Janeiro has its most fancy hotels in the southern part of the city. Here you can find the nicer, more expensive places to stay, along by the beautiful beaches in the area, with a chain of luxurious hotels. In Rio, it is harder to come by hotels on the cheaper side. Rio is one of the most visited places in the world and the hotel rooms fill up fast.
El Misti Hostel (Tv. Frederico Pamplona, 20) is well-located, close to shops, bars, restaurants, and the beach. Public transport is easily accessible if you need to get around the city. Private rooms and dorms are on offer, and the hostel can even pick you up from the airport free of charge! A breakfast buffet is included, and there’s a good-value dinner cooked by the chef. This place is perfect for meeting new people, as the vibe is very sociable – head to the hostel’s bar for some typical Brazilian drinks!
Lemon Spirit Hostel (Rua Cupertino Durao 56) has the reputation as the best backpackers hostel in Rio, and it’s easy to see why! It’s located one block from Ipanema beach, the staff are incredibly friendly, and it’s very easy to socialize and make new friends. Having said that, it’s not a hardcore party hostel, and if you want a quieter, more relaxing time, you can find that here too.
Rio is one of the largest cities in Brazil, and is one of the most dangerous. Caution should be taken at all times here in Rio, as foreigners are targets of violence and robbery. It is probably best to not leave your hotel at night-time, and to stay in the nicer areas of the city.