Vibrant Rio de Janeiro

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Advisor - Anne Bisgaard
Curated By

Anne Bisgaard

  • Arts & Culture

  • Beaches

  • City Travel

  • Rio de Janeiro

  • Brazil

  • Local Culture

  • Local Food

  • Sightseeing

A picture of a cable car picture in the daytime.
Curator’s statement

Visiting Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, offers a vibrant and dynamic experience that combines natural beauty, cultural richness, and a lively atmosphere. Here are compelling reasons why you should consider exploring Rio de Janeiro:

Iconic Landscapes: Rio's stunning landscapes are famous worldwide. The iconic Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado Mountain and the Sugarloaf Mountain provide breathtaking panoramic views of the city, coastline, and surrounding mountains.

Beautiful Beaches: Rio is home to some of the world's most famous beaches, including Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon. These shores offer opportunities for sunbathing, beach sports, people-watching, and enjoying the vibrant beach culture.

Carnival: Experience the exhilarating Carnival, one of the largest and most famous festivals in the world. It's a celebration of music, dance, and colorful parades that showcases Brazil's rich culture and diversity.

Samba and Music: Rio is the heart of Brazilian music and samba. You can enjoy live music in various venues, from lively bars to cultural centers, where you can dance to the infectious rhythms.

Rich Cultural Scene: Explore the city's cultural treasures, such as the historic neighborhood of Santa Teresa, filled with art studios, galleries, and charming streets. Visit museums like the Museum of Tomorrow and the National Museum of Fine Arts.

Tijuca Forest National Park: Discover the lush Tijuca Forest, a tropical rainforest within the city limits. It offers hiking trails, waterfalls, and opportunities to spot local wildlife.

Local Cuisine: Savor Brazilian cuisine, including feijoada (a hearty stew), churrasco (barbecue), and an abundance of tropical fruits. Street vendors offer delicious snacks like coxinha and açaí bowls.

Lively Nightlife: Rio's nightlife is legendary, with numerous bars, clubs, and live music venues. The city comes alive after dark, and you can enjoy the vibrant nightlife until the early morning hours.

Historical Sites: Explore historical sites like the São Bento Monastery, the Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading, and the Santa Cruz Fortress.

Urban Art: Witness the impressive street art scene that decorates buildings, walls, and public spaces throughout the city, reflecting Rio's artistic spirit.

Outdoor Activities: Engage in outdoor activities like hang gliding, paragliding, and surfing, taking advantage of Rio's unique geography and natural features.

Local Markets: Immerse yourself in local life by visiting markets like the Feira de São Cristóvão, offering traditional foods, crafts, and live music.

Friendly Locals: Experience the warmth and friendliness of Cariocas (Rio's locals), who often embrace visitors with their cheerful spirit.

Beach Culture: Rio's beach culture is a way of life, offering a relaxed atmosphere where you can enjoy the sun, sea, and social interactions with both locals and travelers.

Outdoor Events: Join outdoor yoga sessions, beach volleyball games, and other group activities that take advantage of Rio's beautiful surroundings.

In essence, Rio de Janeiro offers a blend of natural beauty, cultural vibrancy, and lively entertainment that creates a unique and unforgettable travel experience.

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Where to stay in Rio de Janeiro

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Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

An aerial view of the city

Rio de Janeiro offers a plethora of exciting and diverse activities for visitors to enjoy. Here are some top things to do in this vibrant Brazilian city:

  • Christ the Redeemer: Visit the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado Mountain. Enjoy panoramic views of the city, coastline, and mountains from this world-famous landmark.

  • Sugarloaf Mountain: Take a cable car ride to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) for stunning vistas of Rio's landscapes, including Copacabana and Botafogo beaches.

  • Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches: Relax on the famous shores of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. Enjoy sunbathing, swimming, beach sports, and exploring the beachfront promenades.

  • Carnival: If you're visiting during February or March, immerse yourself in the exuberant celebrations of Rio's Carnival. Experience vibrant parades, music, dancing, and elaborate costumes.

  • Samba and Live Music: Experience Rio's music scene by attending live samba shows, exploring local bars with live bands, and even joining in the dance at a samba school rehearsal.

  • Lapa Neighborhood: Explore the Lapa neighborhood, known for its iconic Selarón Steps, vibrant nightlife, and historical landmarks like the Lapa Arches.

  • Santa Teresa: Discover the bohemian Santa Teresa neighborhood, home to art studios, galleries, charming streets, and beautiful views of the city.

  • Tijuca Forest: Explore Tijuca Forest National Park, the largest urban rainforest in the world. Hike through lush trails, visit waterfalls, and enjoy the natural beauty.

  • Ipanema Hippie Fair: Browse through the Ipanema Hippie Fair on Sundays, where local artisans sell handcrafted jewelry, art, clothing, and more.

  • Jardim Botânico: Wander through the Jardim Botânico (Botanical Garden), home to a wide variety of plant species, including exotic orchids and towering palm trees.

  • Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas: Enjoy a leisurely stroll, bike ride, or paddleboat excursion around Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, a picturesque lagoon surrounded by greenery.

  • Parque Lage: Visit Parque Lage, a public park with walking trails, a historic mansion, and beautiful gardens. The park often hosts cultural events and art exhibitions.

  • Joatinga Beach: Discover the secluded and pristine Joatinga Beach, a hidden gem known for its tranquil atmosphere and stunning natural beauty.

  • Feira de São Cristóvão: Experience the lively Feira de São Cristóvão, a traditional northeastern Brazilian market offering food, crafts, music, and dance.

  • Maracanã Stadium: For sports enthusiasts, take a guided tour of Maracanã Stadium, one of the world's most iconic soccer stadiums.

  • Street Art Tours: Join guided street art tours to explore Rio's vibrant street art scene and discover impressive murals and graffiti.

  • Hang Gliding: For the adventurous, take a tandem hang gliding flight from Pedra Bonita for breathtaking aerial views of Rio's landscapes.

    From natural landmarks to cultural experiences, Rio de Janeiro offers a diverse range of activities that cater to various interests and preferences. Whether you're drawn to the city's beaches, music, art, or outdoor adventures, Rio has something for everyone to enjoy.

Places to eat & drink in Rio de Janeiro

A food picture on a plate.


Porcão: Enjoy an all-you-can-eat churrasco (Brazilian barbecue) experience at this popular restaurant.

Fogo de Chão: Indulge in a variety of grilled meats and a salad bar at this renowned churrascaria.

Traditional Brazilian Cuisine

Aprazível: Located in Santa Teresa, this restaurant offers Brazilian dishes with a contemporary twist in a beautiful setting.

Restaurante Sobrenatural: A local favorite for seafood dishes with a Brazilian touch, located in the heart of Ipanema.


Bar do Mineiro: Known for its delicious feijoada, this casual spot in Santa Teresa offers a taste of traditional Brazilian cuisine.

Beachside Dining

Azur: Enjoy Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with ocean views in Ipanema.
Bira de Guaratiba: Savor seafood dishes in a relaxed beachside setting in Guaratiba.

Street Food and Snacks

Academia da Cachaça: Sample a variety of cachaça (Brazilian rum) and traditional Brazilian snacks in Leblon.

Café Colombo: A historic café in the city center where you can try pastries, coffee, and light meals.

Botecos (Local Bars)

Bar Urca: A classic botequim overlooking Guanabara Bay, known for its cold beers and traditional Brazilian bites.

Bar do Gomes: A casual spot offering Brazilian snacks and drinks, perfect for mingling with locals.

Açaí Bowls

Bibi Sucos: Enjoy fresh açaí bowls and juices at this popular local chain.

Brazilian Sweets

Confeitaria Colombo: Experience the charm of this historic bakery and café, offering traditional Brazilian sweets and pastries.

Rooftop Bars

Skye Bar & Restaurant: Located at the top of Hotel Unique, this rooftop bar offers panoramic city views and a trendy atmosphere.

Dois Irmãos: Enjoy cocktails and live music with stunning views of Ipanema Beach and the surrounding area.

Lapa Nightlife

Rio Scenarium: Experience the vibrant nightlife in Lapa at this renowned samba club, known for its eclectic décor and live music.

Street Food Stalls

Explore the city's street food stalls for local favorites like coxinha (deep-fried dough stuffed with chicken) and pastéis (fried pastries).

Juice Bars

Look for local juice bars (sucos) to enjoy freshly squeezed tropical fruit juices.

Carioca Cuisine

Olympe: Discover a high-end restaurant offering innovative Carioca cuisine with a focus on local ingredients.


Feira do Lavradio: Visit this antique fair in Lapa on the first Saturday of the month, where you can find food stalls and live music.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, The Glamorous French Riviera (Côte d'Azur).

Advisor - Anne Bisgaard

Travel Advisor

Anne Bisgaard

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Rio de Janeiro.