Ever read one of those trip articles where you get consumed by the fantasting sights and wish you were there? This is what happened when I first read about Rio de Janeiro!
I pictured it as a busy location, culturally alive, colorful and with majestic views. And so it was! 🙂
Visit Christ the Redeemer they said.
Popular attractions in Rio must include Christ the Redeemer. There’s not a single person that hasn’t seen this in movies or advertising and didn’t wish they were there!
Get your tickets as early as possible just to make sure you have a seat in the train that takes you straight up to Corcovado (670m above the sea). The train runs every 20 minutes starting with 8am until 6pm. You can also get them online via ticket.corcovado.com.br They cost around $16 – $20 USD per adult, depending on the season.
If you just decide to go there and end up at the line to purchase tickets, save your money by not opting in for “skip the line” Trust me on this one!
Honestly, I was a bit disappointed to see that the statue wasn’t at all how I pictured it. Why? Well, the statue itself was exactly like it was supposed to be, but although the space was wide enough (if a 7 people wide space is wide enough), it felt so crowded! Lots and lots of tourists hogging up the space. Maybe if I had chosen a different day or a different time, it would have been less crowded – as some locals said.
The view? Worth it! Breath taking sights, especially if you pick a serene day and the sky is cloudless! This was even better that any pictures I have seen online. Standing below the statue and above the city had a great impact on my overall state of mind. Imagine yourself flying! Yes, that’s the feeling right there, flying!
Tijuca Forest Park
Do you need a guide to hike Tijuca? Probably not. Should you have a guide to hike through Tijuca? Probably yes. Why? Well, just because that park is so big and if you already have trouble finding your right hand (like me), you could easily get lost.
You wouldn’t expect to find a park among the popular attractions in Rio de Janeiro, but this one is simply stunning!
If you’re already tired from having breakfast, then you could also purchase a reasonable jeep tour. And what do I mean by reasonable price? Starting rom $75 USD per ride, depending on the season.
There are a couple of rides that take you through Tijuca, hitting all of the best sights. A tour can last up to 4 hours, which includes almost an hour of hiking (40-45 mins). Don’t worry, hiking won’t eat out your soul. It’s a great way to explore the tropical forest and see its beauty!
Oh, did I mention that Tijuca Rainforest is actually surrounded by the busy metropolis of Rio de Janeiro? You will be amazed to see the contrast between the busy city, concrete walls and this small piece of heaven.
A must see is Vista Chinesa panoramic point which in terms of splendid views rivals Christ the Redeemer. If you reach it before sunset, then you’re in for a treat!
Copacabana Beach in Rio
Brazil is world famous for its beaches, so it shouldn’t be of any surprise that popular attractions in Rio de Janeiro will include sand beaches!
You’ve probably heard about Copacabana in songs and movies and it’s maybe the second thing that comes into mind when you say Rio. It’s a 4km long luxurious beach where even the road waves at you! I often saw lots of people running and exercising, skateboarding, playing volleyball and all those things you see in a movie.
The general atmosphere was relaxed, people were smiling and it all felt so alive! But don’t get to relaxed. While the beach is always full with tourists, so are the streets with muglers. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to be stressed out, just make sure you keep you eyes on your belongings.
Depending on the season, the waters might be a little murky and it’s a must to checkout nearby Leblon and Ipanema!
Pão de Açucar or the Sugarloaf Mountain
Rising up from the waters is Pao de Acucar, a colossal granite mountain that guards the city’s shapelines. Levitating above Guanabara bay are cable cars that can take you to the top! They’re not actually levitating, of course, but once you hop into one, you will find it hard not to realize your feet have left the ground.
There are two ways for reaching the top – by cable car and a mix of that and your own two feet. If you don’t feel like walking, then you might be relieved to know that the price is only 17 EUR to get from the base of the mountain to Morro da Urca (first hill) and then to Pao de Acucar (second stop). You can also walk to Morro da Urca and pay only 7 EUR from there to Pao de Acucar – not that many signs posted, you should know.
Ticket Office: 08:00 – 19:50 Gate to access the hike closes at 18:00 during the winter and 19:00 during the summer
The views are pretty awesome and you will most likely end up spending more time that you thought! There are also a number of restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops where you can spend you money.
But, the best thing, I think, is the helicopter ride! For only 75 EUR you can charter a helicopter for 7 minutes up in the sky (helipad in Morro da Urca) and that’s a thing you shouldn’t miss out! You will have a memorable experience and if you are not afraid of heights, then it’s definitely a must. If you’re not on a budget, a full hour with the helicopter costs ~415 EUR
Don’t rush to get back to the city. The golden lights and orange hues make this painting come to life when the sun is setting!
The Urban and Cultural Rio
If you ask any local about the cultural life in Rio, then listed among the popular attractions in Rio is this location.
Beautiful and expressive paintings adorn the walls of Rio. Santa Theresa was once the city’s aristocratic area, but it has grown to be known for its bohemian culture and artistic development.
Take your time to explore it. Walk around the cobblestone streets that reveal modern restaurants, quaint shops, fantastic mural designs and fancy-old style architecture! The combination of urban and effortless chic is what I most loved about this place.
Jardim Botanico – or the Botanical Gardens and Lage park
Being quite close to Santa Theresa neighborhood, if you’re in the area it would be a self-reproach to miss these two sights!
Popular attractions in Rio include a botanical garden that is truly ecstasy for your eyes! You can spend a hole day there and even forget to leave. The superb surroundings just won’t let you leave!
Lage park is almost 1 km away, and it’s a former private residence converted to a public park. If you loved the bothanical garden, then you’ll love this place even more! It feels like a secluded place, a hidden treasure with a vast forest coverage. The entrance is free of charge and Cafe du Lage is the place to have a drink!
Things to know before going to Rio de Janeiro.
How do I get to where I need to be? Well, Rio is not the smallest city you know. So, there are two options: the expensive way (cab), the cheaper way (public transport). English is not commonly spoken in Rio, but if you pronounce the destination almost correct and in Portuguese (doesn’t matter how bad it is) then you’ll definitely get there. A tourist map is always handy, where you can just point to the spot. You can find one at hotels or wherever you are staying.
Always have spare change and small bills to pay for fares. Most of the time you won’t get a ticket.
Accomodation? Prices rage anywhere from 35 EUR for a Hostel to 70 EUR (and up!) for a hotel room close to the beach. Depending on the season of your choice, the rooms can easily reach higher fees.
Location? Choose a more quiet place to spend you nights. The southern Rio neighborhoods are the safest. Botafogo, Flamengo, Copacabana and Ipanema are just a few beaches that you are next to.
Weather is always unpredictable – especially in Rio, so be sure to check the sky everytime you leave. Oh, and wear sunscreen!
Slow your pace. Rio is not easy to walk through. Thinking of reaching many sights in just one day? You couldn’t be more wrong! Just enjoy your trip and don’t be sad if you don’t get to do all the trips you have planned. I promise you, Rio is a city you will want to take your time with!
Have a safe trip!