What to do and see in Rio de janeiro, Brazil

Next month, Brazil will play host to the Olympics and Paralympics, and will be welcoming the World to the city of Rio De Janeiro, with over half a million expected to visit for the games.


If you are planning to be one of them. You may be attempting to plan your itinerary for your time there.

I spent 4 days in in Rio during my trip to Brazil, back in March, and loved it. It was part of the trip where I felt at home, and was able to relax before flying back home. I rented an air bnb apartment with my friend, and this made it feel more homely.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Rio, as I am normally not a ‘city person’. However, I fell in love with the beaches, and amazing viewpoints, so much that when I left, I felt that I had merely scratched the surface of the city, and vowed to return.

So whether you are in the city for 4 days, or a few weeks, you shouldn’t run out of things to do.

Here are some starters to get you going. Most are obvious and a little bit tourist heavy, but they need to be seen and done.

Marvel at Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) 


With arms wide open, the Christ the Redeemer statue (Cristo Redentor) is undoubtedly, the most recognised landmark of Rio, and indeed perhaps Brazil. The art deco statue of Jesus Christ, which was completed in 1931, stands at 30 metres and overlooks the city. The statue has been a symbol of Christianity for many years, and sees an estimated 1.8m visitors per year.

Getting to the statue is easy by public transport, taxi, or a private tour; just prepared for it to be very busy.

A tourist attempting to get a good shot of Christ the Redeemer
A tourist attempting to get a good shot of Christ the Redeemer

If you are visiting; it is best to try to go up on a clear day, as the views are stunning. It was a little cloudy when we visited, but the clouds moved on finally, and we got a clear picture of this New Wonder of the World.

A view of Rio from Christ the Redeemer
A view of Rio de Janeiro  from Christ the Redeemer at Parque Nacional da Tijuca

Ride a cable car to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain for Sunset 


Admittedly, we probably didn’t get the best evening for a sunset, but the views from Sugarloaf Mountain are incredible. Sugarloaf is 396 metres above sea level, and on a clear day, you can get great views of the city, including Ipanema and Copacobana beaches, as well as the Santos Dumont (domestic) airport.

Sunset from Sugarloaf Mountain, Brazil

Climb on the Escadaria Selaron (Selaron Steps) 


These World famous steps are the work of a Chilean born artist called Jorge Selaron, who restored the 215 steps outside of his house in multiple colours. The steps take on a mosaic type effect, and have tiles representing most countries, and some cities in the World.

Located in the lively, some would say hipster neighbourhood of Lapa, the steps are an icon not to be missed. You may have to wait a little while to get a photograph.


Street vendors in Lapa, Brazil
Street vendors in Lapa, Brazil

Visit the (waffle-like Cathedral) Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian


Is it a waffle cone, or is it a church. Well, it is a Cathedral, shaped strangely like a waffle cone. The cathedral is open (free) to the public for viewing (around service times). It was completed in the late 1970s, as one of the cities most modern Cathedrals.

It is incredibly beautiful from the inside, and a great place to take time out, rest and reflect.


Become a beach bum 




If your image of Rio is of pristine white beaches, with bikini clad skinny minnies. You’ve got it about right. Expect there are also plenty of scantily clad, buff men, wearing tiny shorts, which lead little to the imagination.

Don’t feel that you need to be of a particular size or stature to fit in, in the beaches of Rio (I certainly I’m not), yet spent a good few days lying in the sun, reading.

It is a great way to rest after a day of sightseeing.

Just be careful of your belongings; especially if you are prone to falling asleep in the sun.

Ipanema Beach
Ipanema Beach

Shop at the Markets


One great aspect to staying at an Air BnB apartment, is that you generally feel part of the neighbourhood you are in.

Rio has lots of great little local markets, full of fresh food. Check some out when you are there – the fresh coconut is divine!

Get sporty at the Maracana Stadium 


Two years ago, Rio hosted the World Cup (Football/Soccer). The Maracana Stadium is a great place to visit if you are a football fan. The stadium run tours daily from 9am to 5pm for 18 Reals (approximately £4).

Hideaway in the Botanic Gardens (Jardim Botânico) 


For just 9 Reals, (approx.  £2) you can retreat from the scorching hot sun in the beautiful Jardim Botânico. It is a huge garden (like most botanical gardens around), with an impressive avenue of trees, and cute little hideaway spots and fountains.


The garden is open from 9am to 5pm, and is easy to access via public transport.


Getting around Rio 

Rio has a subway (metro) system, which for the inner city, was fairly easy to use. However, we did get quite confused by how it worked, and purchasing tickets was a challenge.

If you are travelling a lot through the city, it is possible to purchase an all day ticket, which will cover both buses and metro journeys.

Safety in Rio 

Prior to travelling to Rio, I was advised that it had quite a high crime rate, and that many people get pick-pocketed. Having spent 4 days there, I felt 100% safe, even after dark.

As always in any area; be sensible and look after your belongings.


Are you heading to Brazil for the Olympics? Check out some of my other articles on the country, if you want to explore more.


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