Rio de Janeiro. The wonderful city
In this article I will tell you which ones I think are the Must-Visit Places in Rio de Janeiro. I’m in front of the keyboard trying to think about where I start to tell you about my experience in this city and the truth is, that I’m not clear how to do it. I have 17 things in my head to tell you and they all crowd into my head like people in black Friday. just before doors open, so I’m going to start at the beginning and see if I order my ideas.
The nickname of Rio is not wrong, it really is a wonderful city, in fact, I think I can tell you that possibly, it is the most beautiful city I have ever been to. It is a city that has left me shocked, reflecting and above all, wanting to return.
When I was preparing my trip to Brazil, people told me a lot of things. Be careful, don’t wear a watch, don’t even think of talking on my cell phone, that I didn’t trust anyone, etc. I was told that Sao Paulo was somewhat safer, but that in Rio de Janeiro I have to be very careful.
Totally, that when I arrived in Rio, I thought I was going to a city in a state of war or almost. I left my phone in Madrid and I took a cheap phone just in case, I did not wear a watch and I did not take anything of value, and what hurt me most, I left my Camera SLR in Madrid and I took a cheap one, so as not to attract attention despite I love to take pictures…
Rio de Janeiro is a huge city, is the second largest in Brazil and has more than six million inhabitants. And I have to tell you, it’s not as insecure or complicated as people told to me. It’s a very big city, in a developing country, that’s for sure. And yes, it’s a city with favelas, actually with a lot of favelas. But it’s like all cities when you’re a tourist, you just have to be careful where you go.
What to see in Rio de Janeiro?
Rio de Janeiro is full of icons that we all recognize. One of them is Sugarloaf Mountain. The Sugarloaf Mountain or Pão de Açúcar as they call it, is a “Morro”, a hillock or smaill Mountain at the entrance of Guanabara Bay. The cariocas differentiate between using the word “morro” and the word “mountain”, it is a difference of connotation. Morro is derogatory while mountain is not.
For example, if it is a mountain occupied by a favela, then it is a morro, if it is a beautiful mountain with nice houses of rich people, then it is a mountain. At least, that was the explanation they gave me.
Sugarloaf has a cable car that allows you to get to the top and enjoy the views of the city. Which are spectacular by the way. In addition, the planes pass very close as the airport for short-haul flights is right in front of the Sugarloaf. Of course, from the Sugarloaf you can also see the Corcovado and the Christ. The cable car has a first stop at the hill of Urca, where you can rest, have a drink and also enjoy the views or buy a souvenir. There is also a restaurant for dinner or to have a drink.
The second section is the one that leads to the top of the Sugarloaf. Here there are not so many options to do things but enjoy the view. You can see the bay of Guanabara, the Botafogo, the ocean obviously, Copacabana, the Corcovado, Tijuca, and some favela growing in a messy way on some hill…
The Christ of Corcovado
What I’m going to tell you about the Christ of the Corcovado. It is probably the best known and most reproduced icon in Rio de Janeiro. Also one of the seven wonders of the modern world. It can be climbed in several ways, by car, by van or by train (funicular).
By car is not recommended, there are only 230 parking spaces and in addition there is a walk then, the two best options are by van or train.
The van is faster and possibly more practical but also more expensive. The train is more bucolic and also slower, something I prefer because that way I enjoy the road and the view.
When you arrive you have to climb about 250 steps until you reach the Christ although there are elevators, if you do not want to climb the stairs. However, sometimes the queue to catch the elevator is quite long.
Once up the Christ is what it is and the view is beautiful and complements very well to the one you have previously had from the Sugarloaf.
However, I have to put a “but” and it’s the number of people that were up there. There is no control of any of the influx of people and it was very overwhelming. You could hardly walk. People throw them self to the ground to take a picture of the Christ from a lower position, I don’t think it’s bad, but that makes you unable to walk and people get beat.
When you want to approach the viewpoint that is in front of the Christ, you have to go down some stairs where every person stands to take a picture with the Christ behind me, nor do I say that I think it wrong (I did it myself) but it is true that it makes it impossible to walk well out there and when you get to the viewpoint you have to overcome the three rows of people in front of you to get there.
All this made the experience not very calm and I wanted to go from there as soon as possible.
The beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Copacabana and Ipanema
When you go to Rio de Janeiro you have to visit Copacabana and Ipanema, at least. The beaches are beautiful and worth knowing. Bathing or not is your decision. There was a lot of controversy because the beaches of Rio de Janeiro were very dirty during the Olympic Games.
I didn’t see the dirty water and I didn’t see the dirty beaches. But just because I didn’t see the dirty water doesn’t mean it wasn’t or that it wasn’t unhealthy. I took a bath, as it could not be otherwise.
One of the things that I liked most about the beaches is that there are a lot of people doing sports. There is in general, an important culture of cult to the body and if you are like me, I do not do sports for years, gives a little bit of envy. If you go with your wife or girlfriend, I guarantee you, her will brighten your eyes…
They also have beach bars but call them kioskos. They are very good, they have good atmosphere and some of them are well known. Like Barraca do Pepe for example, where they are said to prepare the best caipirinhas in Rio de Janeiro. That said, Pepe is past Ipanema, on Barra do Tijuca beach.
La Pedra Do Arpoador
Between the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana you have the Pedra do Arpoador, which would not be a very interesting place if you did not have the peculiarity that from there you can see a beautiful sunset, where the sun sets in the sea or very close to the sea and the view is beautiful.
People gather in this place and watch the sunset. In the meantime, have a beer or a caipirinha and clap after laying. It’s a very nice plan for after going to the beach.
This beach is very close to another one called the secret beach. They are far from the center and can take an hour to arrive and still be the city of Rio de Janeiro.
It is a small, beautiful beach, where on one side you have the sea and on your back the mountain and vegetation. It is very popular with surfers and well known among cariocas. There are few tourists and it is more than recommended. If you do not feel like bathing, you can have a beer in the beach bar, which is very nice.
In addition, near this beach you have a restaurant specializing in fish and seafood. A beautiful view of a natural space protected by being owned by the army. It is called Point de Grumari, and it is also a restaurant very frequented by cariocas and with very few tourists. Judge for yourself.
The view from this place is simply wonderful. I recommend you go, by the walk and by the view, in addition you can get there by car.
Tijuca Park and Vista Chinesa
Tijuca Park is one of the largest urban forests in the world and is spectacular. You can tour it by car and stop in some places for a walk. One of the most beautiful points of this park is a Chinese view. Its name comes from the Chinese who came to Rio de Janeiro to try to grow rice and tea. They were located in Tijuca and built some buildings called Chinese houses. In this view there is a viewpoint that was built with clear Chinese influence.
From a chinese view the low road to the botanical garden which is one of the most important in the world. He’s got spectacular lilies. And more than 9000 species in addition to a Japanese garden, there are more than 130 hectares of garden. Also, after visiting the garden, I recommend you go for a caipirinha at Borogodó Restaurant. They have a terrace that is a joy, because very few people pass and very few cars. ah! and if you go to the bathroom you’ll find yourself a bit of a interesting surprise. You can also go to Jojó which is right in front of Borogodó.
Urca is in the foothills of the Sugarloaf and is a neighborhood that is very nice. But what is particularly so about the Bar Urca in which people ask for their drink and go to the small wall whith views to the bay. As you can see the number of people is tremendous.
Are you planning to rent a car?
If you are planning to rent a bike for your trip to Brazil, our recommendation is to take a bike tour or rent a bike here.
Where to sleep in Rio de Janeiro?
You have many places to sleep in this fantastic city. Check out Booking hotels and choose the one that best suits your type of trip and budget.
Rio de Janeiro is a wonderful city so surely there are many more essential sites, do you recommend any?
Book Your Trip
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel, hotel or apartments on Booking.com.
Best companies for activities
Check out Civitatis.com and find the best tours in English (French, Spanish and Italian)
Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too! (Is in Spanish yet)
Some of the links you’ll find in this article are from affiliates. This means that if you contract any of the services mentioned through the link we provide, we will receive a small commission, for you the price will be the same or you will have a discount. This way you help us to maintain the blog and continue to create content useful for your travels. Thanks a lot!
We are not native English speakers but we have decided to translate our post to English so we can share it with the whole world. If you see any spelling mistake or something, please let us know, it is so important to us. If you do so, we can improve our post and also our English knowledge! Thanks in advance!!!