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GUIDE

100 things to do in Rio


 

 

Rio is a city with much more to do than you might imagine. Besides the already famous sights such as Corcovado and Sugar Loaf, locals and tourists can also do things like hang glide in São Conrado or hike the trails of the Tijuca Forest, catch a tan on one of the beaches of the South Zone, go nude on Abricó Beach, enjoy the nightlife, eat a dessert like your grandma made at the Centennial Confeitaria Colombo, go to a samba school rehearsal, or a ballet at the luxurious Theatro Municipal ...

In the end, Rio offers a huge variety of activities, many of which are not well known by most of the visitors or even locals, because they are not widely reported. Below, we offer a list of 100 things you should not fail to do in Rio de Janeiro. Of course, this list is only a summary. You can find many more exciting and amazing things to do in the Marvelous City. Have fun!

1 - Sip coconut water sitting at a kiosk on the sidewalk of Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, or Barra, while enjoying the beauty of the ocean and people sunbathing on the sand.

2 - See the sunset at Arpoador (at the end of Ipanema beach).

3 - Soar above Rio hang gliding, launching from Pedra Bonita in Gávea.

4 – Go up Corcovado Mountain in the little cogwheel train that runs through the forest that covers the hillside.

5 - Run or exercise around Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon.

6 - Enjoy a soda or drink in the historic "Girl from Ipanema" bar, where Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Morais composed the famous song in the late 60s in honor of a beautiful girl who passed the bar going to Ipanema Beach.

7 - If you have an adventurous spirit, grab your backpack and stay in a hostel in a favela. Some favelas of Zona Sul have hostels full of British, Americans, Germans, and other nationalities, and are quite safe.

8 - Visit the Museum of Modern Art in Flamengo Park.

9 - Visit the Presidential Palace in Catete, the former residence of the President of the Republic before the transfer of the capital to Brasilia in 1960.

 10 - Visit the Carmen Miranda Museum, where you’ll find displayed clothes, photos, and personal objects of "the Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat" who conquered Hollywood in the ‘40s and taught the world about samba and the bums of Brazilian women!

11 - Visit the Villa-Lobos Museum and see scores, recordings, and instruments of Heitor Villa-Lobos, the most important South American composer of classical music.

12 - See a play at one of the many theaters of Rio.

13 – Peddle a paddleboat on the lake at Quinta da Boa Vista.

14 - Cycle in the bike lane, traveling all the way through the South Zone, from the Flamengo neighborhood to the West Zone in Barra da Tijuca.

15 - Roller skate or skateboard on the bike path, or – for those who prefer more radical maneuvers – tackle the ramps of Botafogo or Governor's Island.

16 - Explore the Imperial Palace in Petrópolis, where the family of Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil lived in the nineteenth century, when Brazil was a monarchy. (By the way, did you know that Brazil was the only monarchy in the New World?)

17 - Visit the Museum of Fine Arts on Rio Branco Avenue downtown, near the Cinelandia metro station.

18 - Go to an opera, ballet, or concert at the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro, also near the Cinelandia metro station. 19 - For those who are young and like to stir strong emotions, go to a samba or funk party in a favela.

 20 - Volunteer for an NGO working in underserved communities.

21 - Shop in one of the malls in Rio, like Rio Sul in Botafogo, Barra Shopping, Shopping da Gávea, the Fashion Mall in Sao Conrado, or any of many others.

 22 - Visit the food court of one of the malls, where there are dozens of eateries with lots of snacks, meals, pizzas, sandwiches, candy, ice cream, drinks, and more...

 23 - Dive with a guide off the coastal islands of South Zone to enjoy the scenery and underwater fauna of the coast of Rio.

24 - Catch a catamaran and go to the island of Paquetá, where you can fish, rent a bike, or sunbathe on the beach overlooking calm waters.

25 - If you are married or have a boyfriend/girlfriend, go to the island of Paquetá and write a dedication of love to your beloved on the Pedra da Moreninha, a large stone where lovers write their names intertwined to the goddess of love. Throw a pebble to know if there will be marriage, which is "ordained" according to where the stone falls.

26 – Go to the Botanical Garden and see the thousands of flowers, trees, and typical tropical plants, including carnivorous plants, and enter the Sensory Garden, where visitors must enter blindfolded and feel each plant, with the help of a guide.

27 - Visit the Rio Zoo, in Boa Vista, near Maracanã Stadium.

28 - See the mummies at the National Museum in Quinta da Boa Vista.

29 - Go to the Air Force Museum and see the 14-Bis, the world's first airplane that flew, without catapults, around the Eiffel Tower in 1906, built by Brazilian inventor Alberto Santos Dumont, called the "Father of Aviation". (The 1903 Wright Brothers’ aircraft needed a catapult to take off, so in Brazil Santos Dumont is considered the true inventor of the airplane.)

30 - Surf the waves of Ipanema and Leblon!

31 - Sunbath on one of the dozens of beaches on the coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro.

32 – Drive a go-kart in one of the many go-kart tracks of Rio.

33 - Participate in a paintball battle in a favela (yes, you can!)

34 - Visit the cities of the Serrana region of Rio, with their colder climates and European landscapes.

35 - Visit the Lakes Region, with its small coastal towns and beaches.

36 - Visit Búzios and take a picture next to the statue of Brigitte Bardot, the French actress who lived in the city in the ‘70s.

37 - Take a picture sitting next to the statue of Carlos Drummond de Andrade, one of the most important Brazilian writers. The statue sits on a bench on the promenade of Copacabana Beach, near Posto 6.

38 - Catch a boat at the marina in Glória and navigate Guanabara Bay to take beautiful landscape photos of Rio and Niteroi.

39 - Go by car or bus to Niteroi, a neighboring city, passing over the huge Rio-Niteroi Bridge, the longest pre-stressed concrete bridge in the world and the sixth-longest bridge in the world in general.

40 - Take pictures from the top of Corcovado. From here you can enjoy classic views of the “postcards of Rio”: Guanabara Bay, Sugar Loaf, the Atlantic Ocean, the beaches and neighborhoods of the South Zone, the mountains and forests surrounding Corcovado, and much of the North and Central zones.

 41 - Take the cable car to the top of Sugar Loaf (which was featured in which James Bond movie Moonraker).

42 - Take in a concert of Brazilian music.

43 - Stop at a “watering hole" in the South Zone which has a "Samba wheel" (musicians singing and playing samba for the dancers).

44 - Know the nightlife of the South Zone.

45 - Take a guided tour of the Fort of Copacabana.

46 - View a rowing competition at Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon.

 47 - If you will be in Rio for Christmas, go to the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon to see the giant Christmas tree, which is mounted every year in the waters of the lagoon.

48 - Do you like horse racing? Then go to the Jockey Club, in Praça Santos Dumont in the South Zone and place your bet!

49 - Like to play golf? So don’t miss the Gávea Golf Country Club, or Itanhangá Golf Club, both in South Zone.

50 - Do you like soccer? Then Maracanã Stadium is your destination. See the day your favorite team will play, buy your ticket, and get ready to scream like Texans fans!

51 - There are also soccer players playing on the sands of Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Barra, and the courts of Flamengo. You can make friends with them (easier if you know how to speak some Portuguese) and join the team.

52 - Hike the trail up Pedra da Gávea.

53 - Climb Sugar Loaf, Corcovado, and other mountains of Rio with professional climbers.

54 - Visit the Monastery of São Bento in downtown Rio, watching the choir of Benedictine which every Sunday features a Gregorian chant, a tradition for over 400 years.

55 - Also in the monastery, take pictures and enjoy the rich arabesque walls of the church, which are all gold plated.

56 - Visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, a huge cone-shaped church in a modern architectural style. Its tranquil atmosphere inside contrasts with the bustle of downtown Rio outside.

57 - Visit the Candelária Church, in the midst of the rush of cars on Avenida Presidente Vargas downtown.

58 - Go to an art exhibition. Rio has many spaces where exhibitions of painting, photography, sculpture, and fine art are made.

59 - Visit the National Library and see books and documents spanning more than 500 years. It is the 7th largest library in the world, and the largest in Latin America, with a collection of over 9 million books, newspapers, magazines, sheet music, and documents.

60 - If you are married or have a boyfriend / girlfriend, a night out at the Praia Vermelha (Red Beach) is a very romantic idea. The beach is at the foot of Sugar Loaf, in the Urca neighborhood, an area guarded 24 hours a day because a military school is located there, which ensures 100% safety for couples who wish to appreciate the beauty of the scenery at night.

61 - The House of Rui Barbosa, on Rua (Street) Sao Clemente in Botafogo, is more than 150 years old, with a relaxed, country atmosphere. Rui Barbosa was a Brazilian statesman of the nineteenth century. Besides the luxurious furniture that is there intact to this day, visitors can see the beautiful old cars that belonged to Barbosa. A visit here is a good opportunity to experience a touch of Old Rio.

62 – Go to one of the bars in Baixo (Lower) Leblon. On many weeknights, this is a meeting point for hundreds of young people, both boys and girls of the middle and upper classes of Zona Sul (Rio’s chic South Zone).

63 - If your style is more rock 'n’ roll or alternative, you might prefer to go to Baixo Gávea, a meeting place for underground “tribes”.

64 – In Ipanema, the area of Vinicius de Morais and Joana Angelica streets has bars, restaurants, and pubs which are crowded on many nights of the week. Some restaurants are expensive, and are recommended for the upper-class audience. For those who want something more popular, you can choose one of the bars or pubs, which are frequented by Brazilians, English, and Americans.

65 - Rua (Street) Farme de Amoedo, also in Ipanema, also has bars that are crowded some weeknights. This street is known a gay area of Rio, and traditionally draws many gay visitors. During the day, the stretch of Ipanema beach in front of this street, near Post 8, is also a meeting place for the gay community.

66 - For something a little rougher, you can go to Lapa, to enjoy this bohemian area of downtown Rio. However, Lapa is a bit less safe than Zona Sul, especially at night. We recommend visiting first in the daytime, and perhaps going with a local guide.

67 - Want to learn how to dance samba and make a lot of Brazilian friends? Then go to one of dance schools that teach the Rio samba and other Brazilian dances.

68 - Like the Bossa Nova? It’s not very easy in Rio today to hear musicians or singers playing this style of music from the ‘60's, which spread throughout the world because of songs like "The Girl from Ipanema". But hopefully you can find a Bossa Nova concert at one of the shows of Brazilian popular music that are happening in the city.

69 - Chorinho is a musical style typical of Rio at the end of the 19th century, and is a predecessor of samba. An example of chorinho known to many is the “Tico Tico" which came to Hollywood by the voice of Carmen Miranda in the ‘40s. If you are lucky, you will also find a chorinho group performing at a venue in Rio.

70 - Learn a little Portuguese in a crash course for foreigners. Rio has numerous language schools.

71 - Visit the Museum of Image and Sound and hear the first recordings which were made in Brazil between 1902 and 1917, before the invention of electrical recording. It is very interesting to hear the music of Rio at the time, very different from the current music!

72 - The Train Museum in Meier (a suburb of Rio) tells the story of the railroads in the country.

73 - Visit the Museum of Astronomy, in São Cristóvão (near Maracanã Stadium) and discover the mysteries of the moon, stars, and planets.

74 - Hike the trails of the Tijuca Forest, the largest urban forest in the world.

75 - Visit Fiocruz, on Avenida Brazil in Manguinhos, and know some of the work of Brazilian medical scientists.

76 - Visit the Fair of São Cristóvão on a Saturday night. The main attraction is forró, a traditional dance. Spend the night sampling typical foods and waiting for the singers early Sunday morning.

77 - When there is a rehearsal of Salgueiro (a samba school) in the court Teles da Silva in Tijuca, ask for an acarajé, a typical food from Bahia. Highly recommended!

78 - Pay a visit to the Grajaú Forest Reserve.

79 - Visit the planetarium in Gávea and watch an eclipse, a meteor shower, and the movement of planets through space.

80 - Ride a horse or carriage in Plaza Xavier de Brito, in Tijuca, North Zone.

81 - Eat a pizza in "La Veronese" in Ipanema, one of the best pizzarias in Rio.

82 - Practice yoga and meditation with teachers on Ipanema Beach, the Botanical Gardens, and other quiet spots in Rio.

83 - Visit Parati, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

84 - On the way, stop at Angra dos Reis.

85 – Sail a sailboat or go diving in Ilha Grande.

86 - See a rehearsal night of a samba school. Samba schools prepare the entire year for the competition which takes place each February during Carnival.

87 - If you are in Rio in February, enter a Carnival street parade, called a bloco. Unlike the samba school parades, where you can only participate if you buy a costume, you can join the blocos and dance without paying anything, and mix with the common people.

88 - If you are in Rio for the New Year, it is obligatory to watch the fireworks in Copacabana, one of the largest New Year’s celebrations in the world.

89 - Visit Rio Water Planet, an amusement park with over 40 water attractions like water slides, wave pools, rapids, and much more.

90 - For those who like video games and pinball, pinball arcades can be found in several shopping malls around Rio.

91 - If you 're a fan of model airplanes, look for one of the clubs that exist around Rio. They are well organized and practice this sport in various locations around the city.

92 - Campo de Santana is a green park in the bustle of downtown Rio. The park is full of agoutis, ducks, and cats living free, in addition to statues depicting the seasons.

93 - While downtown, visit the metro’s Central Station, which was the scene of a Brazilian Oscar-nominated film which tells the moving story of a poor boy. On weekdays around 6 pm, the station is crowded with workers of the lower and middle classes who will catch trains to return to their homes in the outer suburbs of Rio.

94 - Also close to the Central Station is Sahara, a neighborhood full of old houses from which operate hundreds of Arab, Lebanese, and Chinese shops and stalls. Here they sell many cheap things where the population of the lower and middle classes usually shop.

95 - In the Sahara you can eat a kibe, kebab, and other typical Arab snacks. You can also find Chinese pastries.

96 - Rua da Carioca is a downtown street listed on the national heritage register, with houses over 100 years ago, where you’ll find cafeterias, shops selling musical instruments, bookstores, and hardware and appliance stores.

97 - Close to Rua da Carioca is the Villa-Lobos School of Music. If you are a student of music, stop by there.

98 - The Central Avenue Building, between Avenida Rio Branco and Largo da Carioca, houses a multi-level shopping mall, with dozens of shops selling everything related to computers and electronics.

99 - The building of the Ministry of Finance, in downtown Rio, is impressive with its architecture inspired by Greek temples, both outside and inside. But note: To enter, you must carry an identity document.

100 - If you are one of those who enjoy contact with nature and a complete sense of freedom, visit Praia de Abricó (Apricot Beach). It is the only official nudist beach in Rio de Janeiro, hidden amidst mountains, in an almost uninhabited region. Part of the beach is only for couples, and part is for singles. But beware! Follow the rules of conduct to the beach, or you will be kicked out by security.

 

Watch for a list of more suggestions from Rio is ours for things you can find in this wonderful city. After all, the list of pleasures and amusements that Rio has to offer is endless. .

Do you have more suggestions for this list? So, contact with the authors

 

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