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The Best Places to Visit in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is a stunning place to visit no matter what time of year. A trip to this marvelous city offers so much to see and do. Whether it’s lazing on beaches, hiking through forests to catch a glimpse of South American wildlife, soaking up culture and food or gazing out over one of the most stunning city skylines in the world from iconic vantage points, you will have plenty to keep you entertained.

When you are visiting Rio, you will want to see some of the most amazing places that you can only find here:

Tijuca National Park

Among one of the best places to visit when in Rio de Janeiro is the Tijuca National Park. Located within the city, the park covers a large portion of Rio’s mountainous landscape. The forest was almost destroyed during the 1800s because of the spread of coffee plantations. Thankfully, much of it was replaced by locals who hand-planted nearly 9 million trees. Today it’s a thriving forest filled with wildlife.

Visitors can trek to the top of Pico de Tijuca, the highest peak in Rio. From there, you will get the most amazing view of the city and Guanabara Bay. Also in the park, you can visit the Mayrink Chapel and see murals by Candido Portinari. Cap off your excursion by hiking out to the Cascatinha Waterfall. 

tijuca forest/tijuca national park/tijuca peak

Christ the Redeemer

The Christ the Redeemer is one of the most well known statues in the world. Standing 710m above the peak of Corcovado Mountain, it was long considered the largest statue of its kind in the world. Today there are larger statues of Christ around the world, but perhaps none are as iconic as this one.

Visiting this statue is on many people’s “Must See” lists for their time in Rio. For that reasons it’s a hugely popular attraction. Queues can be huge, particularly on weekends over summer. Did you know that a record 14,000 people visited the statue in a single day? If you are planning on visiting Christ the Redeemer and want to avoid waiting all day in a line and learn a lot of interesting facts about the statue, I highly recommend purchasing My Rio Travel Guide on visiting the Christ the Redeemer. It’s inexpensive and has some great tips that will help you get the most out of your visit.

You can reach it by taking the vertical cog train to the base of the summit and then climbing the hundreds of steps to the top, or opting for the elevators and escalators.

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro

Jardim Botanico

The Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro was built in the early 1800s and is now home to more than 6,500 plant species. You can walk down a path edged with towering palm trees and be amazed at the site of more than 600 orchid species. 140 species of birds call the gardens home, as well as howler monkeys and marmosets.

The Avenue of Royal Palms is very impressive, especially considering these 174 towering palm trees all originally came from the one tree. Visit the Japanese garden and the many different fountains and monuments around the park. You can also go to the new Museu de Meio Ambiente, featuring many environmental exhibits. The picnic area near the fountains is a great place for families to sit down for lunch. It’s always filled with families enjoying a picnic.

The gardens are located at the foot of Corcovado Mountain. It’s easy to combine a visit to the Christ the Redeemer with a stop at the gardens. 

Jardim Botânico

Sugarloaf Mountain

Nestled at the mouth of Guanabara Bay is Sugarloaf Mountain. Visitors can travel up the 400-meter mountain in a glass-walled cable car, called a “bondinho.” One departs every 20 minutes at the bottom on Babilonia Hill. Sugarloaf Mountain is one of the most iconic locations in Rio de Janeiro and the view from the top is truly spectacular.

You can also hike to the top. It’s a two hour trip that requires some rock climbing at the end to reach the summit. It’s a great idea to do the hike as part of a tour.

Night time view from Sugarloaf mountain


One of Rio’s most popular tourist spots is Ipanema. The long arc of white beach draws thousands of visitors every year and is almost always listed among the world’s best beaches.

It is also surrounded by cafes, shops and restaurants, as well as clubs, theaters, and art galleries. You can soak up the sun and then walk through the shops to cool off, step inside a café for some lunch.

Due to it’s popularity, Ipanema can be targeted by thieves. It’s a very safe area though, provided you use common sense. Leave your valuables behind when you head to the beach. Don’t be the last to leave the beach, go out in a group at night or use taxis if you are going a long distance.

Ipanema Beach Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro offers so many exciting things to see and do to its visitors every year. These are just some of the places that you need to include on your itinerary while you are there.

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