Our 10 Favorite Experiences While Visiting Rio de Janeiro

By thebeesabroad | Jan 10, 2020
South America > Brazil > Rio de Janeiro

Bianca at Escadaria Selaron

Bianca at Escadaria Selaron

Rio De Janeiro is a top city in most people's South American bucket list. Bianca is originally from Brazil and has been to Rio many times before and Rio has always been a favorite. So naturally, for Brady's first trip to Brazil, Rio was definitely on the list of places to visit. These are our favorite experiences while visiting Rio De Janeiro.

Rio De Janeiro is one of the most famous seaside cities in all of the world. The vibrant culture of Brazil is radiant as you walk and visit each area of the city. Brazilian cuisine is top notch, the people are lively, the music is always playing, and the beaches are bustling with locals and tourists.

There is so much to do and see in Rio, a week is hardly enough time! So if you are planning the trip, plan for over a week. We are excited to share our favorite experiences with you.

1. Escadaria Selaron

The steps leading up from Joaquim Silva became a work of art when Chilean-born artist Jorge Selaron decided to cover them with colorful mosaic tiles. A dedication to his love for the Brazilian people, the 215 steps are a vivid and electric riot of colors. Selaron started the project with his own tiles but as soon as it grew in popularity, people from all over the world would send him tiles.

Visit at any time during the day, and you will have no choice but to join the hundreds of other people scrambling up the stairs. Still, we were able to capture the perfect souvenir photo shot. On the weekends, the streets are filled with vendors selling anything from hand-made jewelry, souvenirs, and favorite street foods.

Soccer game time!!

Soccer game time!!

2. Soccer Game at Maracana Stadium

Rio's Maracana stadium is hallowed ground among soccer "football" lovers. This massive arena has housed major games in the 2014 World Cup. And even staged the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics. This 78,800 seat arena comes to life on game days no matter who is playing. We were there for the 2019 Copa America games, and Brazil was victorious.

Brady and Bianca at Pao de Acucar

Brady and Bianca at Pao de Acucar

3. Pao de Acucar

Pao de Acucar or Sugar Loaf Mountain is undoubtedly a spectacular site. You can see the entire city, ocean, beaches, and Corcovado mountain with Cristo from this view. There are two cable cars. The first one takes you up to Morro da Urca. Here you can find souvenir shops, snack bars, a concert venue, and a helipad.

The second cable car goes up to Pao de Acucar. The views are breathtaking! You can enjoy the view from the stylish open-sided bar or pick an area to relax and enjoy the majestic sites. It does get crowded so opt to visit early in the morning and when it's not cloudy! However, going at sunset is absolutely stunning. It is by far one of our favorite sites in all of Rio.

One of the most Iconic Travel Destinations

One of the most Iconic Travel Destinations

4. Corcovado Mountain and Cristo Redentor

Corcovado is the mountain that Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), sits on. Cristo gazes out over Rio and with his open arms, he is visible from nearly every part of the city. Corcovado lies within Parque Nacional da Tijuca.

Be prepared for crowds. There is never a time of day that is not bustling with tourists visiting the most iconic landmark in all of Brazil. You will not see the Crist at all if it's foggy or cloudy, so plan accordingly. It is also recommended to get tickets ahead of time. The most popular way to get up the mountain is by train. You cannot get same day tickets for the train.

5. Parque Lage

This beautiful park lies at the base of the Floresta da Tijuca and next to Jardim Botanico. It has English style gardens, small lakes, hidden cottages, and caves. It also has a mansion that was featured in the Pharrell and Snoop Dogg video, Beautiful.

Native Atlantic Rain-forest surround the park and you can see toucans and monkeys as you walk along the park. It's a spectacular view and worth spending a full afternoon.

6. Forte de Copacabana

This was the first place we went to when we landed in Rio. The fort was built in 1914 and was Rio's premier defense against attacks. You can still see original features and the Krupp cannons that surround the property. Not to mention the views out across the full length of Copacabana are striking. It is also a great location for afternoon coffee and pastries with a view.

Leblon Beach

Leblon Beach

7. Famous Beaches

Rio de Janeiro is known for its famous beaches. The most popular one being Copacabana beach. Following the stretch you have Ipanema beach and Leblon beach which are also well known. We personally prefer the beaches of Ipanema and Leblon. The night market at Copacabana beach is worth going to for local and cheap Rio souvenirs, artwork, swimsuits, and more.

Doesn't matter which beach you go to, they fill up quick on the weekends so make sure to get there early to stake your spot. You will also have plenty of vendors selling you anything and everything! Make sure to order a famous capirinha from one of the bar stands. Brazil beaches are also famous for the tiny swimwear so feel free to flaunt yours too!

Rio Scenarium

Rio Scenarium

8. Lapa

The vibrant and Boho style of Lapa is well-known for its dance halls, open-air samba jams, traditional bars, and live music. The Arcos de Lapa is the Roman style aqueduct that is featured in all iconic Lapa photography. Our favorite place in Lapa is the Rio Scenarium.

The Rio Scenarium has three floors and each one more lavish than the other. The food is authentic and tasty. The best part is the live music. You can dance the night away to Brazil's popular Samba music.



9. Sambodromo

If you get the chance to visit Brazil for carnival you will not be disappointed. The epic Sambodromo is home to Rio's Carnival parade. Watch the stunning carnival floats, mesmerizing samba dancers, and listen to the pounding music all night long. It's absolutely incredible to immerse yourself in so much history and culture.

Bianca with our friend Salyna

Bianca with our friend Salyna

10. Jardim Botanico

Jardim Botanico is an exotic garden which is home to over 8000 species of plants. The garden is relatively quit during the weekdays and blossoms with families and tourists on the weekends. There is so much to see here but some of the highlights include: the row of palms, the Amazonas area, the lake with the huge Vitória Régia water lilies, and the enclosed orquidario. The orquidario is home to 600 species of orchids.


We prefer to stay in Ipanema or Leblon vs Copacabana.

PS: Stay safe! We use some of the public transportation but late at night we always opted for Uber or taxi. For a higher charge you can also book a private car to pick you up and drop you off. Many of the guided tours are reasonably priced and include transportation so that is a great option as well.

Brazil is still one of the most vibrant and lively Countries we have been too and it will always be home. We have a love and passion for Rio. There is so much to do and see in Rio, it's hard to narrow down 10 favorites.

We hope you've enjoyed our Rio Guide and visit our 10 favorite experiences in Rio.

Been to Rio? Share some of your favorites in the comments?

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Written by thebeesabroad
Hi!! We are Bianca and Brady, and as you have probably already guessed we LOVE to TRAVEL. We run our Travel Blog and we have been exploring the world together since 2015. We have had some truly once in a life-time experiences; like 4 wheeling up and down rainy cliffs and mountains in Honduras, scuba diving in very cold water in the Pacific North West, cruising, swimming and trekking through Mexico, and getting married in the Dominican Republic, are just to name a few. Even our latest big adventure moving to Guam has been nothing short of exciting. Somehow we always manage to have a blast everywhere we go. We have a combined knack of g... Read more

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