Top 5 Things-to-Do in Rio de Janeiro
With cold temperatures settling in the northern hemisphere, it’s time to think about heading south to warmer climes. If you’re like me and not quite ready to lose your healthy glow, there’s no place better to soak up some sunshine than Rio de Janeiro. Quite fortuitously for us North Americans, our “winter”—December to March—is the best time to go.
Here’s 5 MUST-DO’S in the world’s most beautiful city.
Get your groove on in Lapa! Located in the downtown section of Rio known as “Centro,” the Lapa neighborhood was once the city’s red-light district. Today, still packing the heat, the area is known for its booty-shakin’ nightlife. Lined with samba bars, the music and dancing spills out into the street on weekend nights, tempting even the most well behaved passersby to get naughty. Most of the neighborhood’s architecture dates back to the 1800s, providing a scenic backdrop to all the festivities. It’s the ideal place to meet up with friends or go out on a date with a carioca (a Rio local) to sample local cuisine and sip caipirinhas, the national cocktail made with lime and cachaça, a sugarcane hard liquor.
2) BOTANICAL GARDENS
Fortunately you don’t have to get a Yellow Fever vaccine and go to the Amazon to see Brazil’s mind-blowing flora. The Jardim Botanico (botanical garden) of Rio de Janeiro houses more than 8,000 species of plants. Built in the early 1800s, the garden features many mature specimens, including avenues of towering palm trees, a picture of paradise. The garden includes Zen-style fountains, a Japanese garden, a pond filled with enormous water lilies (e.g. frog mansions), and, a crowd favorite, a permanent exhibit with over 600 types of orchids!
3) SUGAR LOAF MOUNTAIN
Rising 400 meters (1,300 feet) above the mouth of Guanabara Bay, Pão de Açucar, known as Sugarloaf Mountain, is a monolith of quartz and granite that visitors can summit via a glass-walled cable car known as a bondinho or teleférico. The cable car departs every 20 minutes from the base of Babilônia hill and climbs to the top of the Morro da Urca hill. From there, visitors can take a second cable car up to the mountain’s summit. For the more adventurous type, bring your hiking and climbing shoes, and ascend Pão de Açucar with your own might.
4) CHRIST THE REDEEMER
Perched atop the 710 meter (2,330 feet) high peak of Corcovado Peak, the statue of Cristo Redentor stands with arms outstretched, gazing serenely out over the city. Construction of the statue began in 1922 during the heyday of the Art Deco movement, and the concrete and soapstone statue is considered the largest statue designed in the genre in the world. Most visitors take a vertical cog train to reach the base of the summit. From there, visitors once had to climb hundreds of steps to reach the top. Today, elevators and escalators are available to shorten the trip.
Cristo might redeem your soul, but the white sandy beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema will show you heaven on earth. Above all, the praias (beaches) are why you won’t want to come home.
Ipanema, the beach made famous in the bossa nova song “The Girl from Ipanema” in the 1960s remains one of Rio’s most popular tourist spots today. A long, arcing expanse of soft white sand and rolling waves, Ipanema routinely reaches the top of the “Best Beaches in the World” lists year after year. The beach is bordered by a well-organized grid of shops, cafés and restaurants as well as an array of art galleries, theaters and clubs.
Separated from Ipanema to the west by surfer-favored Arpoador beach, Copacabana has a more active vibe than its equally famous neighbor. Cariocas always seem to have a game of soccer or volleyball in play, and vendors proffer their drinks and snacks from the kiosks that line the beach. On the length of beach fronting the fort, fishermen offer up their morning catch for sale. Visitors and cariocas alike love to stroll along the promenade that borders the 4 km (2.5 mile) long beach. Originally built in the 1930s, the walkway features a wave-like design laid out in black and white stones.
(Secret Tip: If touristy crowds are not your thing, only an hour bus ride south of central Rio lies Recreio de Bandeirantes, a beautiful beach with a gradual slope into the sea. Compared to the blanket-to-blanket beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, the water is cleaner; the food is legit, and there are far more locals around. If you want to avoid the crowds all together, go during the week when the beach is nearly empty. Be sure to walk up the big rock for great views looking north towards Rio.)
Important Travel Note:
To enter Brazil, you will need a current passport and a tourist visa. Both can be acquired hassle-free from us at 24 Hour Passport and Visas.
Here at 24 Hour Passport and Visas, We expedite U.S. passports in 24 hours, and Brazil visas as well.
So take a break from winter and head south to Brazil!
24 Hour Passport and Visas is a private, non-government passport and visa expediting service agency. The fees included with our services are to expedite the procedures and are in addition to the government fees. If you wish to do your visa yourself, You may visit the consulate website of the country you are traveling to.
All our Visa application forms are free for you to download in our website.