Brazil, South America, Travel Guides

Top 5 Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

The first part of our Round the World adventure took us to Brazil, starting in Rio de Janeiro. We knew we were throwing ourselves in the deep end starting with South America and a Portuguese speaking country, but we have loved our experiences so far!

We spent 5 nights in two area of Rio; Copacabana and Santa Theresa (near Downtown Rio and Lapa).  It is hoped that this blog will inspire you to book your flights Brazil and explore Rio de Janeiro for yourselves!

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Our first few days in Rio took us to Copacabana, that is renowned for it’s world famous beach! So why not walk the entire 4 km stretch! We popped out onto the beach at Copacabana Palace and walked until we ran out of beach. We headed round the bend to find a pathway that led to Ipanema Beach. On this occasion, the surf was much better on Ipanema but it’s not far to walk between the two as the waves inevitably change. Later on, we walked in the opposite direction to the headland, where we saw locals enjoying sea-fishing. We were fortunate to catch a local derby Football Game (Ipanema vs. Racing?). Honestly, when that first goal was scored I never seen so many children run onto the pitch cheering and jumping all over the scorer… unforgettable moment.


Christ the Redeemer
You cannot visit Rio without going to visit the main man keeping a watchful eye over you. Are you aiming to tick off all 7 Wonders of the World? Well, Christ the Redeemer is one of them to tick off your list. The statue of Jesus Christ and is situated 700 metres high at the peak of Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park. We took the 583 bus from Copacabana to Trem do Corcovado. The cost of the cable car and entrance to Christ the Redeemer was 150 R$ for the two of us (so £34.61 for 2). From our research, it was suggested to go early morning as the sun wouldn’t interfere with your pictures but naturally this is a busier time. We went on a Saturday morning, in low season and it wasn’t too crowded (I imagined much worse). Be prepared to wait to get the perfect Instagram worthy shot but remember to take the time to have a mindful moment. It is a wonder of the world for a reason, take it all in!


Escadaria Selarón
This is also known as the Selaron Steps that are world famous! The vibrant tiled steps were created as a tribute to the Brazilian people by Jorge Selaron. The steps go between Lapa and Santa Teresa and feature 2000 tiles collected from over 60 countries. We literally stumbled upon these only 10-15 minutes from Rio Forest Hostel in Santa Theresa. Again, getting the perfect Instagram picture can be difficult with every one else trying to achieve this too. However, a kind guy took our picture together and we took our time for a great shot without other peoples bums or feet in the way.


Cathedrals and Palaces
Although the exterior the Metropolitan Cathedral is rather dull, inside this cathedral is truly stunning with 4 stained glass windows from floor to ceiling. This pyramid style building is a great place to escape the Rio sun, appreciate the history of Saint Sebastian and observe worshippers.

Paco Imperial is the Royal Palace of Rio that was built in the 18th century. King John VI of Portugal resided there, as well as King Peter I and II. Several important events in Brazils history are associated with the Imperial Palace. It is situated in the Praca XV in Central Rio.

Close by to the Imperial Palace is Tiradentes Palace that is named after the Brazilian hero who’s aim was for full independence from the Portuguese and to create a Brazilian republic. A statue of Tiradentes in a Jesus-esque pose is at the entrance of this impressive building that formally was the ‘Old Jail’ where Tiradentes was imprisoned before his public execution.


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It is worth noting that many of the Museums in Rio are free on a Tuesday. However, the one we chose to visit on a Tuesday… was not free haha! We headed up towards the Maracana Stadium (mentioned below) and came across the Boa Vista Park. This is a very tranquil and well looked after park which is perfect for a picnic or leg rest! Within this park is the National Museum that cost us 6 BR each (£1.50 each). The exhibitions are remarkable, especially the mummified bodies, that I must admit gave me the hebbie-jeebies (although very interesting!). Only some of the explanations are written in English but there is an audible app you can download if you really want to take it all in. So remember to take your headphones, as we didn’t think about this.

Update: Unfortunately, on September 2nd 2018, there was a fire at the National Museum destroying many ancient artefacts. Read more about this tragedy on the National Geographic website.

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We had headed over to the Maracana Stadium under the impression there was a free museum/club shop there but this could not be found. There are tours that cost from 25 BR to 50 BR depending on whether you want access only or guided tour around the stadium. We chose not to do this but for football enthusiasts i’m sure it would be a fantastic experience.

The free walking tour will enable you to see the Seleron Steps, palaces and many important historical buildings. This is a 3 hour tour with very knowledgeable tour guides so tip generously at the end of the tour… they work hard for their money!

booking com discount

Where we Stayed
Cobanacopa Hostel
Price: 70 BR pp/n for a 5 person dorm
Pros: Great sense of community, larger kitchen, washing machine, impressive communal areas, water fountain, great security, clean rooms and toilets.
Cons: Cold Cold shower, our of stock beer, limited kitchen facilities

Rio Forest Hostel
Price: 45 BR pp/n for a 8 person dorm
Pros: Vibrant art, friendly english speaking staff, artistic communal areas, warm showers, clean rooms and facilities, cable luggage car for luggage
Cons: Basic Kitchen with few utensils, lots of steps

Find a detailed review of Rio Forest Hostel here.

Go the Distance in Rio,



3 thoughts on “Top 5 Things to do in Rio de Janeiro”

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