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  • Writer's pictureJuan Aponte

Top 10 Things to See & Do in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro or “Cidade Maravilhosa”is the 2nd largest city in Brazil with world famous beaches, stunning attractions, a vibrant nightlife, and a perfect destination to experience outdoor activities.

Here are the 10 things to see & do in Rio de Janeiro:

1. Christ the Redeemer

A must see! One of the New Seven Wonders of the World and definitely the most popular tourist attraction in all of Rio. Christ the Redeemer sits on top of Corcovado mountain overlooking the city and can be reached by hiking, train, and/or van. Once up there, the panoramic views are breathtaking.

2. Pão de Açúcar

Another of Rio’s most spectacular landmarks, Pão de Açúcar or in English Sugarloaf Mountain. Rising 396 meters above the harbor, it is known worldwide for its cable cars and panoramic views of the city. To reach the summit, passengers take two cable cars. The first ascends to Morro de Urca, 220 meters high and the second car ascends to Pão de Açúcar(Sugarloaf Mountain). Beware of your belongings, marmoset monkeys rule this area.

3. Beaches

Rio is loaded with magnificent beaches. The most famous and popular beaches are Copacabana and Ipanema. Visitors looking for sports activities and a party-like atmosphere, head to Copacabana. From beach vendors selling cheap beer and caipirinhas to kiosks, restaurants, and beach bars scattered all over Avenida Atlântica, there’s plenty of options to choose from. If you’re trying to learn how to play beach football and/or volleyball, don’t hesitate to ask the locals to join.

Ipanema is another famous beach packed with younger crowds with beautiful people. Although kind of similar to Copacabana, its scenery and sunset are the best. To the right, Dois Irmãos(Two Brothers Mountain) overlooks the beach. At night, catch the sunset over the ocean next to Dois Irmãos. You’ll also see the Vidigal favela lighting up at night.

Copacabana Beach(Locals playing beach soccer)

Ipanema Beach(Dois Irmãos in the background)

4. Escadaria Selaron

The famous steps are located in the Lapa neighborhood in the centre of Rio. These world famous set of ceramic tile stairs were created by Jorge Selaron, a Chilean-born Brazilian painter and ceramist. The steps begin in Lapa and as you go all the way up, you’ll end up in the Santa Teresa neighborhood. This is also where part of Snoop Dogg and Pharrell’s song “Beautiful” was shot.

5. Arcos da Lapa

Also known as “Arcos da Lapa” is located in the centre of Rio in the Lapa neighborhood. The arches date back to the 1700’s and currently serves the Santa Teresa tram.

6. Maracana

Brazil is the land of football. The National Team has won 5 World Cups and you cannot leave Rio without checking out a game at the Maracana. It’s Brazil’s largest stadium and hosted the World Cup 2014 final.

7. Party in Lapa!

If you’re looking for street parties, head to Lapa especially on the weekends. After passing by the Arcos da Lapa, the streets are packed with tourists and locals dancing to Samba and enjoying caipirinhas and Antarctica beer. Leviano Bar and Rio Scenarium are the clubs to go to for those who don’t want to party in the streets.

8. Rio Boat Party

What happens on the boat, stays on the boat! The two-story boat is transformed into a nightclub with about 150 people dancing to house, hip-hop, and latin vibes. The boat party is every Monday and Saturday from 11pm-4am and strolls around the Guanabara Bay. Purchase tickets here: - They also organize other parties throughout the week, check them out!

9. Favela Tour

There are numerous tour agencies that coordinate tours into the favelas. Some favelas are active communities/neighborhoods with health clinics, police, and schools. The first favela that was pacified is Santa Marta, located in the Botafogo neighborhood in the south zone of Rio. A very small favela, but safe and even has its own cable car system that gets people up and down the hillside. I actually stayed here for 5 days during the Summer Olympic Games. It was an eye-opening experience and met a lot of great people that I’m still in contact with. I will release a separate post about my experience. For the Santa Marta favela tour, check out

10. Hang Gliding

For the outdoor enthusiasts, hang gliding is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Rio. This awesome adventure takes about 10 minutes while seeing all of Rio from an bird's-eye view. Rio Adventures is a reputable tour company with over 15 years of experience. Reserve your hang gliding spot at Check out my adventure at:

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