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  • Writer's pictureMili Rosales

What to Do in Rio de Janeiro!

Updated: Aug 17, 2018

Rio de Janeiro is the sixth largest city in the Americas. Is also one of the most iconic ones in Brazil. Here are some tips of What to do in Rio de Janeiro!

View of Pão de Açúcar and part of Copacabana from Corcovado Mountain

One of the most beautiful cities in the world! Rio de Janeiro is so diverse that is breathtaking!

On one side you have the ocean, with lagoons and mountains and on the other side you have this huge, raw city. It was mesmerizing to get to know a little bit of this beautiful part of the world.

Last year I was lucky enough to be able to visit Rio de Janeiro while the World Cup was going on and let’s say I killed two birds at once. On one side, I was able to attend one of the biggest sport events on the planet, even though I didn’t go to any match in a stadium, I still got to experience the whole World Cup vibe and the FIFA Fan Fest vibe! It definitely was a unique experience. On the other side, I got to explore just a little bit of this wonderful city and I fell in love with it. I can’t wait to go back and keep exploring, because I didn’t get to see it all!

So, if you are traveling to Rio de Janeiro any time soon, you might want to know what to do in Rio de Janeiro?


Christ the Redeemer

First and foremost you HAVE to visit the Christ the Redeemer. It usually belongs to most bucket lists (it was on mine), and now I know why! The whole experience of going there is one thing, and then getting there and being able to see almost the whole city from above, and see this huge Christ that overlooks one of the most famous cities in the world, is an experience that everyone should have in their lifetime. This marvel is located at the peak of the Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park.

Christ the Redeemer! AMAZING

Me with the Christ the Redeemer

The view of the other side of Rio, where the Maracanã Stadium is (on the left center of the photo)

View of Pão de Açúcar and part of Copacabana from Corcovado Mountain

View of the Lagoa Rodrigo Freitas (Lake Rodrigo Freitas) from the Corcovado Mountain

My advice is for you to buy a tour from your hotel and they will take you up to the entrance. Usually the tour guides will buy your tickets and you don’t have to worry about that, just line up. Once you have the ticket and you line up, you will get on a shuttle that will take you even further up to where the actual entrance is. There, you will line up again until you can get in. They do this to regulate the amount of people up there at once, so is not so overcrowded and you’ll thank them later, when you want to take pictures from every angle!

Once you get to the front of the line, you have the option of taking an elevator or going up the stairs, I’d suggest you go up the stairs (if you can) because you get to see some great views as well and the effort is so worth it when you finally get up there. You’ll notice people lying on the floor trying to take the best picture of the Christ; others will step on the edges to take pictures with the Christ and with the city behind it. Just go around the whole complex because all the views are killers! Make sure to take your camera, GoPro and anything you need to document your visit, but don’t waste too much time looking at a phone or camera screen and make sure you take a moment to take in the amazing experience you are living! Just for that moment, life is worth everything, so take it all in and enjoy it, the rest is just extra!

Parque Lage from the Corcovado Mountain

Going up the stairs to the Christ the Redeemer

With my husband and Christ the Redeemer

Taking a break from taking pictures to take in all the experience and view

Super Happy at the Corcovado with part of Rio de Janeiro behind me



As a bonus, while driving to and from Christ the Redeemer, we passed by some favelas or slums, where you get to see the rawness of the city and how the locals actually live. I don’t suggest touring these slums because is not safe, but if your tour driver can, make sure to tell them to stop on one of the roads that overlook the favelas, for you to take some pictures. It is a truly unique sight!



Parque Lage

Another extremely beautiful place I was lucky to visit was the Parque Lage. Is a beautiful park, surrounded by dense vegetation, which is kind of weird considering is in the middle of a huge city, and not only that, but you get to look up to the Christ the Redeemer and see its greatness. This is also a beautiful place to take photos and enjoy the vibe. They have a little café inside where you can have the famous Pão de Queijo, which I ate everyday because is one of my favorite foods from Brazil, and you can have some pastries, like the Brigadeiros (yumm), light food and coffee. Is a really cool and beautiful place to visit. They even had artists painting around the place; I loved the whole feeling of being there at that moment.

Inside Parque Lage where it feels as if you are in the middle of a jungle

View of the Corcovado Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer from Parque Lage

Coffee and Pão de Queijo (Cheese Bread) at Parque Lage

A lot of Pão de Queijo Yummmm

Brigadeiro – A chocolate ball pastry from Brazil


Lagoa Rodrigo Freitas

From Parque Lage we walked to the Lagoa Rodrigo Freitas and walked around the whole lake. The views and the sunset there were amazing. You see people exercising, locals walking their dogs, some people kayaking on the water, others riding bicycles, even though the water is somewhat polluted, which is a shame because the lake is beautiful, but do be careful not to be there until too late, because Rio is not too safe, specially at night.

Lagoa Rodrigo Freitas (Lake Rodrigo Freitas) Beautiful

Another angle of the Lagoa Rodrigo Freitas


Maracanã Stadium

The Maracanã Stadium is also a staple in the city. I was able to see it from the Christ the Redeemer and up close but only the outside. I didn’t get to go in, but is something that you should do while in Rio, specially if you like soccer, like I do, and I went right after the World Cup Final was played in that stadium so it had even more meaning.

Maracanã Stadium where the FIFA World Cup 2014 Final was held at

My travel buddies Ale (my husband), Martin, Majo and I


Catedral Metropolitana De São Sebastião

As you might know, Brazil is a country where the majority of its population is Catholic, and I also had the pleasure of visiting the Catedral Metropolitana De São Sebastião and when you enter the building, you feel the grandeur of that church. Is amazing and the stained glass are beautiful and create such a vibe inside, I think is a masterpiece that everyone should visit, even if they are not religious. The shape of the building, the lighting and the art inside is incredible, worth the visit for sure.

Main entrance of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastion of Rio de Janeiro

Beautiful stained glass at the Main entrance of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastion of Rio de Janeiro


Pão de Açúcar

Another MUST in your Rio list should be Pão de Açúcar! Is a whole experience on itself and I hope you are not afraid of heights or being suspended for a period of time from a cable. This is another attraction where you get the tickets, line up, take a cable car up to the first station, then line up and take the second cable car to the top and then you can take it all in. From there you get to see Copacabana and further down and on the other side you see Baia de Botafogo. When the sun is setting, the view is breathtaking! I didn’t stay until it was dark but I bet it must be beautiful too to see all those lights reflecting on the water!

There is also the less explored part of Pão de Açúcar, where people get to go hiking per say, and you are surrounded by vegetation and sometimes wild animals. I recommend you to do that because not many people do and is a space where you can have some quite time in a usually crowded tourist place.

Going up de cable car to Pão de Açúcar

The less explored part of Pão de Açúcar, beautiful

Another photo of the less explored part of Pão de Açúcar

With my husband at Pão de Açúcar pointing at Copacabana

View of Copacabana from Pão de Açúcar

Baia Botafogo from Pão de Açúcar with the Sunset and Christ the Redeemer



And last but absolutely not least, you can’t go to Rio and not visit the famous Copacabana Beach! There are many restaurants, cafes and bars between the street and the beach where you can have some local food and beverages (aka Caipirinha) and enjoy the beach. You can sit there and just watch people come and go, play sports on the sand and sun tanning. You can also purchase some local goods and some famous Brazilian bikinis from street vendors, whom you can negotiate the price with by the way. Is a whole world and it deserves a big chunk of a day just to take it all in. Don’t forget to look on the city’s direction because you also get to see great scenery.

Here is where the FIFA Fan Fest took place during the World Cup and some of the areal shots you saw in TV came from there. There were also some artists making sand castles with the World Cup theme and a lot of people that drove from Argentina to watch the final match against Germany, were actually sleeping in their cars or on the sand in Copacabana. By the way Germany won! (Sorry Argentina =/)

Entrance to the FIFA Fan Fest right in Copacabana

World Cup themed Sand Castle in Copacabana

A local vendor selling the famous Brazilian Bikinis in Copacabana

My friend and travel buddy Majo with our 5 second Brazilian friends

Delicious Alcoholic Beverage from Brazil – Caipirinha


Typical Soccer game at the beach in Copacabana

Enjoying my REAL Coconut Water in Copacabana


Overall Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve visited so far. I know I said this above, but it is truly breathtaking!! Hope you enjoy it and let me know how it goes! 🙂


*Lee este post en español aquí

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