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10 Best Rio de Janeiro Tourist Attractions

Rio de Janeiro aerial view after dark

Any vacation to Brazil should include a visit to the seaside Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, known for its love of soccer, samba, and beautiful beaches. This exuberant city is welcoming to visitors and teeming with spectacular sights, you can be sure there will never be a dull moment! There are plenty of Rio de Janeiro attractions, even in just a few days you can get a taste of its vibrant spirit as you climb through the rainforest, ride up in cable cars to breathtaking viewpoints, and relax on the sparkling beaches while drinking from a coconut. Here are the 10 best Rio de Janeiro tourist attractions, for every type of visitor!

Large statue of Jesus towering on a hilltop

Cristo Redentor

1. Christ the Redeemer

You haven’t been to Rio until you’ve gone up to the giant Christ statue overlooking the entire city. Beautifully carved with his arms reaching out to embrace all of Rio, there’s nothing like seeing the Christ the Redeemer landmark up close and personal. Delicately perched atop the Corcovado mountain (named because it looks like a camel hump), it’s no surprise this is a new addition to the 7 New Wonders of the World. Ride the train through the trees to the top of the mountain and enjoy the view of Rio de Janeiro from one of the highest points in the city!

Cablecar over Rio de Janeiro

Cable car to Sugarloaf

2. Sugarloaf

The Sugarloaf mountain is Rio’s second most popular viewpoint, but some argue its view is even better. Across the city from the Christ statue, Sugarloaf offers an entirely different vantage point. Ride the cable cars up to the summit where you can hang out, have a drink, and look out over the beaches and cityscapes of Rio de Janeiro. On the back of the mountain, you can even explore the footpaths through the trees- don’t be surprised if you see some monkeys!

Palm trees on the beach

Ipanema beach

3. Ipanema Beach

The same one from “The Girl From Ipanema”, this impressive beach graces the front of most postcards being sent from Rio de Janeiro. With bright waters, white sand and the iconic Two Brothers mountain towering over one end, it’s guaranteed to make you understand why they call Rio de Janeiro the “Marvelous City”. When you’re ready for some relaxation from touring around and seeing the sights, come lay out here with an umbrella and coconut and watch local life unfold.

Long crowded beach at the ocean


4. Copacabana Beach

Another infamous strip of sand, Copacabana beach is right next to Ipanema and another spot you won’t want to miss. With a thicker boardwalk lining the beach, you can expect to see more beach vendors, a variety of kiosks selling food and drinks, and artists sculpting sand into the most impressive sandcastles you’ve ever seen. For those on a Brazilian honeymoon tour book a stay at one of the prime beachfront hotels, such as Belmond.

Yellow tram in the Rio street

Santa Teresa trams

5. Santa Teresa

The Santa Teresa leafy hilltop neighborhood is perhaps the most beautiful in all of Rio de Janeiro. Come explore the tasteful, artistic community by wandering through the tiny, cobblestoned streets and popping into the unique shops and restaurants. If you come in the afternoon, make sure to stay for a sunset dinner at one of the restaurants with the best views!

Dense forest

Tijuca Forest

6. Tijuca Forest

The largest urban forest, Tijuca weaves all throughout the city, giant collections of trees topping the many hills and mountains. See the contrast to Rio’s beaches by visiting the cool rainforest, full of great hiking trails, waterfalls, and even places where you can rock-climb or hang-glide!

Beautiful facade of the theatre

Municipal Theatre

7. Municipal Theater

Perhaps the most beautiful building in the city, the Municipal Theater in downtown Rio is ornately decorated inside and out. If you can, try to catch one of the ballets or philharmonic concerts! If not, at least stop by for a glimpse of the building itself or a tour of the inside.

Yellow tiled staircase

Must-see staircase

8. Lapa Stairs

In the heart of Rio’s bohemian district, the Lapa Stairs is a colorful work of art that represents the vibrancy and passion of the city itself. Covered in mosaic tiles from all over the world, this staircase was made by Jorge Selaron as his tribute to the city and connects the neighborhoods of Lapa and Santa Teresa.

Ocean beach view


9. Leblon Beach

The most affluent neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, Leblon is home to some of the most relaxing parts of the city. Sitting at the end of Ipanema, it offers the best part of the beach if your definition of relaxing involves some peace and quiet. For upscale shopping, dining and accommodations, this is the place to go.

Aerial view of a stadium

Maracana Stadium

10. Maracana Stadium

Last but not least, Rio de Janeiro’s place of worship: Maracana soccer stadium. The stage for several famous World Cup games over the years, this huge stadium is always buzzing with wild rivalries between local teams. Plan to see a football game here for an exhilarating experience you won’t forget!

Get ready to throw on your flip-flops and hit the sights, Rio awaits! Check off each Rio de Janeiro tourist attraction on the list and we know you won’t be disappointed. If you have any questions about any of the Rio de Janeiro attractions featured in this post, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Brazil destination specialists and they’ll be happy to help.


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This entry was posted October 7, 2015
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