Best Of Rio De Janeiro

In February 2018 we had the pleasure of going to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. During our stay we explored some of the best sights, beaches and experienced the world famous Carnaval (We will be posting a blog post about everything you’ll need to know about Carnaval soon). Here are some tips on how to best spend a week in Rio. 

Christ The Redeemer

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If there’s one thing everyone knows about Rio its the Cristo statue! Standing at almost 100 ft tall, Cristo is located on the top of Corcovado mountain and can be seen from almost anywhere in Rio. We found it cool that the large religious population of Rio would look up Cristo when ever they needed inspiration as the statue literally looks over the city. 

If you’re staying in Copacabana or Leme, we suggest you walk to Lido Square located at Posto 2 where you can find an office that sells round trip transfers along with entry for $75R, we recommend taking this shuttle service over buying tickets for the tram on site as it is more convenient and quicker. We highly suggest checking the weather before going. If its a cloudy day, you won’t be able to see the full statue. As always, go early to avoid huuuge crowds.

The 360 city views from the top are absolutely breathtaking and totally worth the easy walk to the top.

Onsite they also have a restaurant, bathroom and gift shop.

They also have a dense walking trail through Tijuca Forest National Park that leads to Parque Lage, but the walk is about 2 hours long! This trail from the foot of the Cristo statue is only recommended for the very adventurous. Wear your bug spray! 

Parque Lage

 

Originating from an old sugar mill, Park Lage has a beautiful European style garden where you can have lunch and explore caves, ponds and many trails on the ground. Be cautious of monkeys, they will take loose items from you i.e. water bottles, sunglasses, hats, etc.

They have a restaurant on site which is known to be expensive located on the stunning mansion grounds.

This location is also famously known as being part of the Pharrell and Snoop Dog “Beautiful” music video. And it’s even better in person! 

Jardim Do Botancio

 

A beautiful botanical garden with a variety of photo ops, we loved the gorgeous tall palm trees throughout the grounds. We spent about 2 hours here total and entry was only $15R pp. There were art installations within the gardens which was also fun to see. Take the map they give you at the entrance, you can get turned around easily while taking in the natural beauty. 

Pedra Bonita

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We hiked Pedra Bonita on a cloudy day and had to wait out the clouds. It was worth it for the view but we thoroughly enjoyed the hike also. Just like Cristo, check the weather before heading up there. The short 1.5km was more difficult than we had anticipated, beginning with a difficult steep walk up a paved driveway used for driving up hang gliders. At the top of the driveway you’ll arrive at a check in desk where you officially start the hike. A map of the national park is provided, but you won’t need it brcause the trail is very straight forward. At times the trail is steep so ensure you wear the correct footwear. Make sure you bring lots of water and snacks for yourself, they do have a bathroom (for $3R) and a spot to buy snacks at the beginning of the hike but nothing at the top.

Uber to Trilha Pedra Bonita to start your hike, and watch for wildlife, we saw some monkeys and lizards throughout. 

Beaches

 

One of our favorite things to do on any vacation is head to the beach, we chose a hotel right on Copacabana for that reason!

While Copacabana definitely had its own charm, it was very busy with lots of tourists and Brazilians selling items on the beach. They also had some fun beach bars on Copa along with restaurants across the street with a beautiful beach views!

Ipanema which was a quick 10 minute walk from Copacabana and located at Posto 9 was a little less touristy with a beautiful backdrop Morro Dois Irmaos, a beautiful rock that you can climb at the start of the beach.

Leblon is a trendy beach west of Ipanema, in a wealthier district of Rio with high class hotels and restaurants.

Leme is basically an extension of Copa. 

Outside of the Copa area, other beaches to check out are: Sao Conrado, Itacoatia, Joatinga, and Piranha.

Biking

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This is the perfect way to explore all of the beaches in the area on a designated bike path along the boardwalk. The trail connects Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon and Leme which takes approximately 1.5 hours to get from 1 side to another and back. This was alot of fun and great way to get some exercise while on vacation. 

We rented our bikes from a company called “Blame It On Rio 4 Travel” The prices were fair with friendly service, we suggest arriving early as bike rentals sell out quickly for the day. They also sell day tour packages, we didn’t book any but saw a bunch we would have been interested in! The charming owner from New York City seems to have everything you need in Rio, he’ll even sell you real estate! 

Selaron Stairs

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A staircase of 215 steps, hand decorated by a Chilean artist, as a tribute to the Brazilian people. This incredible spot is another space you may recognize from the music video “Beautiful”. This spot also gets crowded fairly quickly so we would highly recommend heading here first thing in the morning and making your way right to the top of the stairs.

The details in each tile is very interesting with flags and symbols from around the world, we were captivated by the bright colors and design. Spend some time walking the steps, you will find something you identify with! 

Boulevard Olympico

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There are lots of wall murals commissioned by street artists for the Olympic Games in 2010, its a short 15 minute walk to see all of the murals but definitely worth the sights. Easily accessible by light rail streetcars, and very close to other attractions like Maua Square (Historical Statues and Olympic Structures) as well as the Rio Aquarium. This is a great place to stop at. It’s free and a quick walk to see some very detailed and intricate murals. Best view is across the street at the murals need to be viewed from a distance. 

Sugarloaf Mountain

 

Pão de Açúcar also known as Sugarloaf Mountain is two peaks in the middle of Rio, with cable cars to the top for some incredible panoramic views. The cost to ride the cable cars is $80R pp, they have student discounts if you bring valid student ID. As we always suggest, go early to avoid line ups and enjoy the views without overcrowding, make sure you check the weather before you go, this is another attraction which is best enjoyed when it’s sunny and clear out. A cool added option they have is a helicopter ride (at an additional cost) that takes off from the first peak! Each peak is well equipped with shopping and restaurants, but we would suggest bringing your own snacks and water to save money!

Tips:

  • Use Uber to get around, the taxi drivers will overcharge like crazy (example: $10R from Christ the Redeemer to Parque Lage in an Uber, Taxi tried to charge us $150R)
  • Use the Metro or underground subway, easy to navigate and cheap ($4.80R pp)
  • We would use McDonalds or Starbucks nearby to find WIFI however we would recommend getting a phone plan while in Rio to call Ubers easily
  • Always go early to the attractions if you can, you get to enjoy the sights without the crazy rushes
  • South American plug adapter needed, depending on where you travel from
  • Most places take credit card, so don’t worry if you’re short on Reals
  • Bring bottled water, Rio gets hot and tap water is not safe to drink

XO,

M&B