“Rio’s a beautiful city, a vibrant place, a special place.” – Eduardo Paes
Being a city of contrasts, Rio de Janeiro is a place where you can’t help but move from one extreme to another. From an edgy underground nightlife that haunts to stunning coastlines, and from stunning favela societies to splendid monuments, this city never ceases to impress and constantly leads travellers on a dynamic trajectory.
Below are the top 8 things to see and do in Rio de Janeiro that should be on everyone’s bucket list…
1. Soak in the beauty of the Sugarloaf Mountain
The Sugarloaf Mountain is located in the Urca neighbourhood and sits surrounded by the ocean. This is an area that is only accessible by either a cable car or rock climbing for the ones experienced and brave enough. You will first have to take the cable car up to Morro da Urca from the beach Praia Vermelha and then go further for another cable car which directly heads to the famous Sugarloaf. As the views here are sensational, the most rewarding time to go is just before sunset. This is when you’ll get the panoramic lookout over the entire city and ocean.
2. Take in Christ the Redeemer
Christ the Redeemer is the most popular tourist attraction in Rio de Janeiro and has now become synonymous with Brazil. This is a magnificent monument that is known throughout the world and overlooks the city regally from the summit of the Corcovado mountain (a tall jungle-covered peak of 700-metre). It is advisable for you to reach the top by train, van, or hiking and enjoy the most heavenly viewpoints in the city.
3. Shake to the samba in Pedra do Sal
Pedra do Sal, known as the birthplace of samba, is home to one of the most improvised and traditional samba nights of Rio. If you want to experience the music and nightlife culture of this city like a local, then this is the best way. There are groups of samba bands that join together to dance the night away and sing to the rhythm of their heart at this religious and historical spot in the neighbourhood of Saúde every Monday night. This area is also considered a cultural heritage site as it once used to be the central point of the slave trade.
4. Just like Snoop Dogg, scale the Escadaria Selaron steps. Lol!
Chilean-born Jorge Selaron handmade the famous Lapa steps by the multi-coloured mosaic. Because he fell in love with Brazil so much, he dedicated his life to producing the landmark in the honour of Rio. You’ll find the steps beginning in Lapa and leading up to Santa Teresa. Its each and every step is carefully carved and decorated with vibrant patterns. Those who are eagle-eyed visitors may remember these steps as they featured in the Snoop Dogg and Pharell Williams video, ‘Beautiful‘.
5. Take a hike up the Dois Irmãos
There is no shortage of spectacular views amid amazing hikes in Rio de Janeiro. In case you’re pressed for time, the best one to go for is Dois Irmãos – The Two Brothers Peak. Beginning at the top of the Vidigal favela (one of the safest communities in Rio), the best way to get there is to take a van or moto-taxi at the entrance of Vidigal. This will be a drive of the busy and twisting favela roads that will lead you straight up to the top. It’s about one hour of hiking through the dense forest and vegetation from there.
6. Dance your heart out in Lapa
While some seem to love it, others are not particularly so keen. Irrespective of this, visiting Lapa during a trip to Rio de Janeiro is a must. This region, while once being completely rundown, has now become a thriving nightlife spot, whilst still maintaining an edgy vibe. You must walk through the Arches of Lapa and then enter the main street, flanked on either side with a heave of bars and clubs. Both the party-goers and street parties mingle in between. Head to Rio Scenarium or Carioca da Gema for authentic Brazilian music.
7. Check out the spectacular Maracanã stadium
Unlike any other country, Brazil’s reputation for football is quite passionate. Head to the Maracanã stadium if you want to experience football like a Brazilian. It is the largest football stadium in the country. This stadium was not only the host of the 2014’s FIFA World Cup final game but also the main stage for many of the Olympics games of 2016.
8. Take up a favela tour and explore the unexplored…
Although you shouldn’t visit a favela alone, going with a favela tour offers an eye-opening and safe experience into the favela life. This tour intends toward promoting cross-cultural exchange between the locals and tourists. It also aims toward breaking down the stereotypes that are often misguided surrounding the lifestyle there. You’ll find the best favela tours in Vidigal or Rocinha. There is also a great tour offered by the Favela Phoenix that revolves around the Rocinha. Part of the profits from this tour goes to a non-profit English school based in the community.
Be it any time of the year, Rio De Janeiro is a place to flock to. Now from so many exciting things to do, the only question that remains is, where will you begin your journey? 😉