Brazil: 7 things to do in Rio de Janeiro & Niterói

Rio de Janeiro

Brazil: Rio de Janeiro & Niterói

Undoubtedly Brazil’s most highly sought after destinations and one people from all over the world seem to have fallen in love with throughout the years, Rio de Janeiro seems to simply have it all. This year with Carnival 2016 approaching and Summer Olympics all eyes will be on the region.  Be aware of your surroundings and safety, as you would at any overseas destination.

From the beautiful beaches and the lush rainforests surrounding them, to the vibrant atmosphere and famous historical attractions, if one thing is sure for your upcoming trip to Rio de Janeiro, it is that you will be far from bored and always presented with and an endless list of things to do, see and discover. Here are seven of them…

1. Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain – Pão de Açúcar

Your first days will undoubtedly be spent exploring the city and getting an up-close look at what makes it so incredible. However, once you have moseyed around a bit, it’s now time to gain an entirely new perspective of the city from atop Sugarloaf Mountain. Located at the mouth of Guanabara Bay and stretching up for a total of 396 meters, this is one sweet spot you will not want to miss. Head up on the glass-walled cable car that will take you along a 1400-meter route starting at the base of Babilonia hill, through the Urca hill, and up to the Pão de Açúcar. Be sure to have your camera ready for this one as you are going to want to capture every step along the way.

2. Christ the Redeemer & Corcovado

Christ the Redeemer, Cristo Redendor, Corcovado

As the single most iconic landmarks in all of Rio de Janeiro – and Brazil, for that matter – being able to witness Christ the Redeemer atop of Corcovado Mountain is an absolute must during your trip. Though it will not take you a full day, be sure to set aside a good amount of time to experience the statue and its surroundings for at least a few hours. You can arrange a guided tour that will include a visit to the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, a journey by train through the beautiful Tijuca Rainforest, and then finally an ascent to the top of Corcovado Mountain where you get to experience the statue and its magnificent views from atop.

3. Maracana Stadium

This one is especially for all of the football fans out there. However, Maracana Stadium is an impressive sight to see even if you aren’t the biggest football follower. Built back in 1950 to host the FIFA World Cup, it has since then seen plenty of wins and losses over the years for teams such as the Flamengo, Fluminense, Botafogo, and Vasco da Gama in addition to hosting many concerts and other sporting events. Be sure to either attempt to see a match while you are there or simply take a tour of the stadium as there is so much history behind it.

4. Explore the Beaches


In between all of the wandering of famous sites and attractions, be sure to enjoy an exploration of some of the many internationally famous beaches that Rio de Janeiro is home to. Start out with a visit to the widely recognized Copacabana that stretches for a total of nearly 5 kilometers and is surrounded by plenty of shopping, restaurants, and nightclubs. Next stop is Leblon Beach where high-class and stylish ways exude its every meter. Just west of there, you will find Ipanema Beach where you will also find a plethora of world class restaurants and shops but with a somewhat more laid back atmosphere. No matter what beach you head to, you are sure to find plenty to do while there including street markets.

5. Discover Lapa & Santa Teresa

Arcos da Lapa


Within the city, there are several neighborhoods, landmarks, and sights to see that you should be sure not to miss, especially the neighborhood of Lapa where it’s become famous for its many historical monuments and exciting nightlife, making a great place to visit at any time of the day. Some of its main spots include the Arcos da Lapa, a signal for the cable cars that climb the hill of Santa Teresa, a neighborhood nearby known for its many winding roads and narrow pathways. Santa Teresa is also filled with many beautiful mansions, which make both Lapa and itself great spots for those interested in great architecture.

6. Spend Some Time in Niteroi

Located in the Southeast region of Brazil and just across Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara Bay, the municipality of Niteroi is filled with incredible places of interest that draw in tourists from all over the world.  It is within easy reach via an impressive bridge, known as Ponte Rio–Niterói,  that connects the two urban centers of Rio de Janeiro and Niterói which is over 14km long.  Or you can get there by ferry or fast boat.  Once in Niteroi, be sure not to miss Boa Viagem Island, usually closed to the public, but opens the third Sunday of the month, boasting scenic views and surroundings.

Boa Viagem Island

Niteroi – Jurujuba beach
Niteroi : Views over Rio and Guanabara Bay

Niterói is also known for its many quaint beaches you can enjoy, and if you feel like venturing outside of the area (30-minute car drive), you can experience the beautiful beaches of quiet Piratininga, the upmarket neighborhood of Camboinhas  and the posh  Itacoatiara – great for surfers and a little bay forming a calm, natural swimming area – Idyllic! I have great childhood memories of this area. Highly recommended!

Itacoatiara Beach, Niteroi

7. Oscar Niemeyer’s path, Niteroi

MAC, Niterói Contemporary Art Museum

The Niemeyer Way consists of some buildings designed by world famous architect Oscar Niemeyer, built along the edge of Niterói beaches. The road is well known for allowing the enjoyment of several of the works of this architectural genius. One end of the path is at the ferry station in Niteroi. 

A succession of beauties arise works like the internationally known MAC (Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, and another that calls the waterfront attention, they are the Ferries terminal Charitas, the BR Center of Brazilian Cinema and  Juscelino Kubitschek Square.

I recommend the visitor that after exploring the way by foot, there are no local bicycle rental, you have a view from the sea, so take a ferry at Praça XV, in Rio de Janeiro, bound for Charitas station in Niteroi, these catamarans operate only from 2nd to 6th Friday – 6.30am-9pm, but it’s a lovely day out.  Contact for more info and guides.: Tourist Service Center (CAT), the Niemeyer Way, Rua Visconde de Sepetiba, 987 – Centro – Niterói – RJ

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  1. January 19, 2016 / 6:58 am

    Such a stunning place with so many things to do! I'd love to visit there one day.

  2. ana de jesus
    January 19, 2016 / 8:14 am

    Of course there is the iconic landmark but there is also a secret underground city. They have a lot of street art!

  3. Laura Hartley
    January 19, 2016 / 11:42 am

    So many beautiful landmarks that I had no idea about!!! Would love to visit Brazil, but only after the OIympics!

  4. Stressed Mum
    January 19, 2016 / 2:15 pm

    I would love to go to Rio one day, it does look an amazing place to visit x

  5. Tanya
    January 19, 2016 / 4:31 pm

    I have always wanted to go to Brazil, especially Rio, and your pictures make me want it even more. It seems like such a wonderful City to explore.

    Thank you


  6. Stella Olojola
    January 19, 2016 / 4:42 pm

    I have never really thought of visiting Brazil but this looks great.

  7. Rebecca Smith
    January 19, 2016 / 6:14 pm

    Perfect blog post with the Olympics coming up! Would love to visit Rio one day 🙂

  8. Odd Socks and Lollipops
    January 20, 2016 / 12:39 pm

    Oh wow those pictures, they look amazing, what an wonderful place to explore! I am really want some blue skies right now!

  9. Meeta K
    January 20, 2016 / 8:22 pm

    Another bucket list place to go! I adore all your travelogues. I know when I do this I will come back here! YOu are the best!

  10. January 20, 2016 / 9:22 pm

    thanks everyone for the lovely comments. This is really a beautiful destination. Meeta , thank you! so much, glad you like it. R

  11. Renna Creighton
    January 21, 2016 / 10:46 am

    I would absolutely love to go to Brazil. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Jessica McDonnell
    January 21, 2016 / 6:57 pm

    Brazil looks like such a wonderful place to visit, I definitely want to go in the future.

  13. Andrew
    January 22, 2016 / 8:54 am

    take me next time… please!!!

  14. Agata Pokutycka
    January 22, 2016 / 10:41 pm

    It looks beautiful! I hope I will get to visit it one day soon.