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In three days, it is possible to see most of what Rio de Janeiro has to offer (as long as you don’t spend too much time on the beach!). This guide has been designed by area, so that each day’s activities are close to each other. Day one explores the south and focuses on the beautiful nature; day two gives you a whirlwind tour of the central cultural area; and day three takes you into the heart of the northern bustling city center. Of course, you can also do it in reverse, north to south!

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Thrill Seeker
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nightlife Seeker
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • LGBT
  • Beach Goer
  • Luxury Traveller
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Trendsetter
  • Like a Local

15 Places

4 City Tips

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15 Places

Day 1

Morro Dois Irmaos

Observation decks & towers, Parks

Leblon Beach

Beaches, Lookouts

Rodrigo de Freitas Lake

Bodies of water

Botanical Garden (Jardim Botanico)

Gardens

Sugarloaf Mountain (Pao de Acucar)

Mountains, Landmarks & points of interest, Lookouts

Day 2

Parque Lage

Historic sites, Parks

Santa Teresa

Neighbourhoods

Escadaria Selaron

Landmarks & points of interest

Praia do Leme

Beaches

Pedra do Sal

Geologic formations

Day 3

Maracana Estadio Jornalista Mario Filho

Arenas & stadiums, Speciality museums

Teleferico Do Alemao

Landmarks & points of interest

Centro Cultural Banco Do Brasil

Natural history museums, Landmarks & points of interest

Church of Our Lady of the Candelaria

Religious sites

Corcovado - Cristo Redentor

Monuments & statues

Jessica B's City Tips

  • Rio is a huge city and difficult to navigate, so allow yourself plenty of time to travel between places.
  • The metro is the easiest way to get around: invest in a MetroCard as this will make traveling quicker and cheaper.
  • It is considered rude to bring your own food, umbrella and deckchair to the beach: food can be bought and beach supplies can be rented very cheaply.
  • Remember that Rio is surrounded by a rainforest, so if you are visiting during the rainy season (late October- March) it’s always advisable to bring a jacket and closed shoes with you.
    Day 1
  • Save
    Morro Dois Irmaos
    Observation decks & towers, Parks
    See more photos
    Jessica B Says:

    Dois Irmaos (the two brothers) is a peak that provides breathtaking views over the city: a great place to start your trip to Rio and to get your bearings of the picturesque but vast metropolis.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Friends
    • Solo
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Couples
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The hiking trail is moderate, but not recommended for those under the age of 10, or for those in poor health.
    • Views from here rival those from the Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer, both of which charge an entrance fee. For travelers on a budget: this is the view for you.
    • The peak can be reached either by hiking trail or car.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #7 of 262 attractions in Rio de Janeiro
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Dois irmãos in Vidigal 23/03/2015
    • Perfect view 19/03/2015
    • Morro Dois Irmaos
    Address:
    Parque Do Penhasco Dois Irmaos
    Rio de Janeiro
    Brazil
  • Save
    Leblon Beach
    Beaches, Lookouts
    See more photos
    Jessica B Says:

    Located just below the Dois Irmaos Peak, this is the perfect place to relax after a hike or hard-day’s sight-seeing. It is a continuation of the more famous Ipanema beach and therefore less frequented by tourists. The water is also clearer here.

    Good for
    • Beach Goer
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Trendsetter
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • There is no need to bring an umbrella or deckchair with you: these are available to rent.
    • A great place to play volleyball.
    • Food vendors stroll up and down the beach, so you will never go hungry here.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #81 of 507 activities in Rio de Janeiro
    • Next to Copacabana 16/03/2015
    • Great not so crowded beach 16/03/2015
    • Leblon Beach
    Address:
    Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva
    Rio de Janeiro
    Brazil
  • Save
    Rodrigo de Freitas Lake
    Bodies of water
    See more photos
    Jessica B Says:

    Off the beaten tourist track, this picturesque lake is surrounded by a 3-mile boardwalk and cycle lane, and is popular with the locals. If you are not a beach person, this is the perfect place to enjoy the water.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Trendsetter
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • You can also rent canoes and paddleboats to really explore the lake.
    • Look for venders selling coconut water (agua de coco) — not only is it a very refreshing drink, but they’ll also carve up the coconut when you've finished so that you can eat it!
    • You can rent bikes to cycle around the lake. It is also popular with rollerbladers.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #15 of 262 attractions in Rio de Janeiro
    • It's a calm place, peaceful 23/03/2015
    • Beautiful "pic" 10/03/2015
    • Rodrigo de Freitas Lake
    Address:
    Avenida Epitacio Pessoa
    Rio de Janeiro 22471-001
    Brazil
  • Save
    Botanical Garden (Jardim Botanico)
    Gardens
    See more photos
    Jessica B Says:

    A stone’s throw away from the Rodrigo de Freitas lake, and situated in the middle of the urban jungle, the Botanical Gardens provide an oasis of calm. The largest of its kind in the world, this garden is home to over 8,000 species of plants and 140 species of birds.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Hidden Gems
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Be sure to take insect repellent with you.
    • Look for the giant Victoria Amazonica water lilies, the largest in the world.
    • There is a small café that overlooks the gardens.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #11 of 262 attractions in Rio de Janeiro
    • A Gem 26/03/2015
    • Place to relax 26/03/2015
    • Botanical Garden (Jardim Botanico)
    Address:
    Rua Jardim Botanico 1008
    Rio de Janeiro
    Brazil
    Phone:
    021-294-6012
    Price range:
    $2 - $2
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    8:00 - 21:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Sugarloaf Mountain (Pao de Acucar)
    Mountains, Landmarks & points of interest, Lookouts
    See more photos
    Jessica B Says:

    This peak offers spectacular bird’s eye views over the city and is one of the country’s most famous natural landmarks. A great place to head for sunset to watch the city light up.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The best views are at sunset. However this is also the most popular time to visit.
    • As it’s one of Rio’s most famous landmarks, it’s always busy. But if you want to avoid the worst of the crowds, go first thing in the morning.
    • The peak can only be reached by cable-car: Buy your ticket beforehand to avoid the giant queues.
    • After your visit, consider exploring Praia Vermelha, the beach just below it.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 262 attractions in Rio de Janeiro
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Amazing view, choose sunset time! 28/03/2015
    • Sunset visit 27/03/2015
    • Sugarloaf Mountain (Pao de Acucar)
    Address:
    Av. Pasteur, 520 - Urca
    Rio de Janeiro 22290-240
    Brazil
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    8:00 - 23:45
    Other:
  • Day 2
  • Save
    Parque Lage
    Historic sites, Parks
    See more photos
    Jessica B Says:

    This beautifully landscaped park is one of the most relaxing places in Rio, and home to several species of monkeys. A great place to get up-close-and-personal with the city’s wildlife.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Trendsetter
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • There is a free art gallery in the park, as well as an old mansion house that has been converted into a café.
    • Although the monkeys are used to humans, please respect their natural habitat; do not try to touch or feed them.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #16 of 262 attractions in Rio de Janeiro
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautiful 23/03/2015
    • Beautiful and 17/03/2015
    • Parque Lage
    Address:
    Rua Jardim Botanico, 414
    Rio de Janeiro 22461-000
    Brazil
    Phone:
    +55(21) 3257-1800
    Other:
  • Save
    Santa Teresa
    Neighbourhoods
    See more photos
    Jessica B Says:

    The artsy and bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa is full of narrow winding streets, beautiful mansion houses and boutique shops. Off the main tourist trail, you will be able to get a feel for the community spirit here that makes Rio special.

    Good for
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Trendsetter
    • Friends
    • Solo
    • Couples
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Santa Teresa is built on a hill; so be prepared for a climb!
    • There are many great independent cafés and restaurants in this area. Be sure to stop off for some pao de queso and acai; two of Rio’s most famous and delicious snacks.
    • Café Cultivar does amazing pao de queso (cheese bread balls).
    • This is a great place to pick up a unique souvenir: many local artists sell their work here.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #43 of 262 attractions in Rio de Janeiro
    • Artsy dream 26/03/2015
    • Excellent panoramic views of Rio de Janeiro but dead on a weekday 18/03/2015
    • Santa Teresa
    Address:
    Rua Aurea
    Rio de Janeiro 20240-210
    Brazil
  • Save
    Escadaria Selaron
    Landmarks & points of interest
    See more photos
    Jessica B Says:

    Not to be missed. These 250 steps are paved with colorful, individually-designed tiles.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Trendsetter
    • Friends
    • Solo
    • Couples
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • Look out for the Lapa Arches — another iconic piece of architecture of this city — on your way down the stairs.
    • From Santa Teresa, you can walk down the hill to the top of the stairs. Descending the stairs will take you into the heart of Lapa.
    • The bottom of the stairs leads onto one of the busiest bar streets in Rio. The perfect place to stop off and try a Caipirinha (Brazilian cocktail).
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #32 of 262 attractions in Rio de Janeiro
    • Great piece of colourful art! 26/03/2015
    • Diversity 18/03/2015
    • Escadaria Selaron
    Address:
    Rua Manuel Carneiro
    Rio de Janeiro 20241-120
    Brazil
  • Save
    Praia do Leme
    Beaches
    See more photos
    Jessica B Says:

    Less famous than Copacabana, Leme is actually just a continuation of the same stretch of beach. In general it is quieter than Copacabana and has its own fort looking down on it. A perfect place to relax.

    Good for
    • Beach Goer
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • The nearest metro stop to this beach is Cardinal Arcoverde.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #110 of 507 activities in Rio de Janeiro
    • Very calm and relaxing 24/03/2015
    • not so touristy. 29/12/2014
    • Praia do Leme
  • Save
    Pedra do Sal
    Geologic formations
    See more photos
    Jessica B Says:

    Had enough of beaches and amazing views of the city? Then head down to Pedra do Sal, a site of real religious and historic importance in Rio: this is where the old slave market used to be held, and it is considered by some to be the birthplace of samba dance. While there's not much to see during the day, a 'roda de samba' (dance circle) is held here every Monday night: people get together to play, sing, and dance samba.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Friends
    • Solo
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • Many food and drink vendors pitch up here during the "roda."
    • If you’re not in Rio on a Monday, don’t worry: there is free outdoor samba every day of the week in a different location. Look for details online before you go.
    • The "roda" (samba dance circle) is very informal, free, and held from around 9pm till midnight.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #39 of 262 attractions in Rio de Janeiro
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Local and authentic Rio 01/03/2015
    • Live music and happy people 18/12/2014
    • Pedra do Sal
    Address:
    Largo do Joao da Baiana
    Saude
    Rio de Janeiro
    Brazil
  • Day 3
  • Save
    Maracana Estadio Jornalista Mario Filho
    Arenas & stadiums, Speciality museums
    See more photos
    Jessica B Says:

    A must for any fan of the 'beautiful game,' this impressive stadium hosted the 2014 World Cup Final.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Why not catch a game whilst you're in Rio?
    • You can take a guided tour of the stadium, but you should book this in advance.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #10 of 262 attractions in Rio de Janeiro
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • a must 28/03/2015
    • Awesome stadium! 27/03/2015
    • Maracana Estadio Jornalista Mario Filho
    Address:
    Rua Professor Eurico Rabelo
    Rio de Janeiro
    Brazil
    Phone:
    +55(21)2568-9962
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 - 21:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Teleferico Do Alemao
    Landmarks & points of interest
    See more photos
    Jessica B Says:

    Rio is much more than football and beaches; it is also home to large favelas (slum neighborhoods). Located near to the Maracana stadium, Complexo Alemao is one of Rio’s largest. In 2011 they built a cable-car to help members of the community travel in and out, and for anyone interested in getting a well-rounded view of the city, this experience is a must.

    Good for
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Friends
    • Solo
    • Senior
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Couples
    Tips
    • The top of the cable-car leads onto a small park where you can buy souvenirs and food, the money from which goes directly into the community.
    • Ask permission before you take photos; many tourists pass through here but it is only polite to ask permission before you photograph someone’s home.
    • Many tour operators organize guided tours around the favela; it is not really advisable to wander into a favela on your own.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #72 of 262 attractions in Rio de Janeiro
    • Public transport in the air 22/02/2015
    • Football At The Top 22/07/2014
    • Teleferico Do Alemao
    Address:
    Praca Das Nacoes
    Zona Norte
    Rio de Janeiro
    Brazil
    Other:
  • Save
    Centro Cultural Banco Do Brasil
    Natural history museums, Landmarks & points of interest
    See more photos
    Jessica B Says:

    Known locally as the CCBB, this beautifully restored 1906 building is home to ever-changing art and history exhibitions, two theaters and a cinema. There is always something going on here!

    Good for
    • Trendsetter
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • A great place to visit on a rainy day.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 262 attractions in Rio de Janeiro
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Worth a visit. 22/03/2015
    • worth the visit 17/03/2015
    • Centro Cultural Banco Do Brasil
    Address:
    Rua Primeiro De Marco 66
    Rio de Janeiro 20010-000
    Brazil
    Phone:
    (21) 3808-2020
    Hours:
    Wed - Mon
    9:00 - 1:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Church of Our Lady of the Candelaria
    Religious sites
    See more photos
    Jessica B Says:

    Just down the road from the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, you’ll find this gorgeous Baroque era church. Famous just as much for its role in contemporary Brazilian history as it is for its religious importance, this church is much more than a beautiful building.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Friends
    • Solo
    • History Buff
    • Senior
    • Couples
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • This was the site of a 1983 protest for direct presidential elections, attended by more than 1 million people.
    • Look out for the 8 red outlines painted on the floor just outside of the church — a tribute to the sleeping street children gunned down by police in the '93 Candalária massacre.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #29 of 262 attractions in Rio de Janeiro
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A historic place 26/01/2015
    • Beautiful church 20/01/2015
    • Church of Our Lady of the Candelaria
    Address:
    Praca Pio X
    Rio de Janeiro 20040-020
    Brazil
    Phone:
    021 2233-2324
  • Save
    Corcovado - Cristo Redentor
    Monuments & statues
    See more photos
    Jessica B Says:

    This 40-meter-tall statue of Jesus is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The perfect way to end your trip to Rio, the viewing platform gives breathtaking panoramic views over the city and many a great photo opp!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • There are two ways to reach Corcovado: train or taxi-van. Taxi-vans leave from Largo do Machado and the train departs from Rua Cosme Velho.
    • If you’re taking the train up, book your ticket in advance to avoid the huge queues and sit on the right-hand side (this offers the best view during the 20-minute ascent).
    • It is also possible to hike up to the statue. The path is very steep in some parts, so take lots of water with you to hydrate.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #4 of 262 attractions in Rio de Janeiro
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Probably the best view in the world 28/03/2015
    • Must see 28/03/2015
    • Corcovado - Cristo Redentor
    Address:
    Parque Nacional Da Tijuca
    Rio de Janeiro 22241-125
    Brazil
    Price range:
    $17 - $17
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    8:00 - 23:00
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