There are so many things to see and do in Rio, that when I was there I felt a bit overwhelmed by choice! But now I’m back in my cosy London flat and I’ve had a few months since the trip to reflect about what I loved and what really sticks out in my mind. If I was going back to Rio, here’s what I’d be sure to see and do…
1. Enjoy the views
Rio is gorgeous, to put it simply. From the streets to the beaches and the mountains in the distance, it’s a beautiful place to be.
These plant pots and this tiling is GOALS in my book. What I’d give to have this much greenery outside my front door!
When we were booking hotels in Rio we noticed that the majority of them offered pools, and many of the pools were on rooftops. I say go for the rooftop pool and take advantage – you’ll get a great view on clear days! Also, these rooftop pools offer envy-worthy Instagram pictures, if that’s your thing.
The beaches in Rio are fantastic, with great waves and a whole beach culture to go with it.
Which brings me to my next suggestion…
2. Spend a day at the beach
I wrote a whole post about visiting Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon if you fancy reading it here, but below are some highlights!
While you’re at the beach, do yourself a favour and get a fresh coconut. Refreshing and delicious, especially when they’ve been on ice for a few hours and are deliciously chilled.
The water is cool, but once you’ve gone in you’ll get used to it! Rio’s beaches are great for swimming and splashing.
Palm trees line Rio’s beach front, which is fantastic for providing a bit of shade while walking along the tiled pathway. And for Instagramming, of course!
3. Buy Havaianas
And if you’re going to be spending time at the beach, you’ll want some beach-appropriate shoes.
Havaianas are made in Brazil, so they cost a whole lot less than the Havaianas in London. While I’m not sure I’d buy myself a second paid of flip flops (I never really wear them outside of beach holidays!) I am glad I bought this pair – they were only about £5!
3. Eat sushi
Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, and considering Rio is right on the coast with lots of fresh fish this offers the perfect situation for delicious sushi.
From sashimi to maki to tempura, you can get pretty much any type of sushi you’d like in Rio.
And not only that, it’s delicious sushi with fresh fish at a price that’s a total bargain compared to London.
If you haven’t already, check out my blog post about the sushi I ate while in Rio for suggestions of where to go!
4. Visit Christ the Redeemer
So this one is obvious, but I’ve got to include it. If you haven’t been to Rio you should definitely check this out. And if you’re returning to Rio… then I’d say it’s fine to pass this up on round two if you’d like.
While the monument is incredible to look at, the views around it are stunning. Here’s my blog post all about visiting Cristo Redentor.
5. Visit Sugarloaf Mountain
Another obvious one, but Sugarloaf Mountain is just as iconic as Cristo Redentor and it’s another must-do in my book.
You go up via a series of cable cars and then are greeted with this view. Oh baby!
Here’s my full post about Sugarloaf Mountain if you’re thinking of visiting.
6. Drink açai
Açai is currently famous as a trendy superfood, and in Rio you can buy it pretty much everywhere. The beach, cafes, resturants, juice bars, supermarkets – you name the location, you can get it. But beware! The açai I had in Rio was super sweet with lots of added sugar, making it perfect for those after a tasty treat but not those looking for a health drink.
7. Visit the Botanical Gardens
Rio’s Botanical Gardens are stunning, and totally massive covering 54 hectares which include something like 6,500 species of Brazillian and foreign flora.
But it’s not all plants to see – you can even spot our friend Cristo Redentor off in the distance.
Check out more pictures from my visit to the Botanical Gardens in the blog post here.
8. Check out the Selaron Steps
Another key site to see in Rio de Janeiro are the iconic Selarón steps, which became a Rio city landmark in 2005, in the bohemian and artistic neighbourhood of Lapa.
This tiling is the work of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón, who actually lived in a house along the steps.
As you climb the steps you’ll see tourists and locals alike, either going about their daily business or visiting to appreciate the steps.
There are tours that offer trips to the steps, but they’re easy enough to get to on your own. We went in the morning, so there weren’t as many people around. You can check out my post abou the Selarón Steps here.
9. Spend an afternoon in Santa Teresa
For my final suggestion of this blog post, go to Santa Teresa.
Santa Teresa is a neighbourhood at the top of Santa Teresa hill that is famous for its winding, narrow streets and colourful graffiti. I loved our visit, and wrote this picture diary post about what we saw.
To get there, we took the Santa Teresa Tram which connects Rio’s city centre with the neighbourhood of Santa Teresa, part of which goes over the Lapa viaduct. This tram is mainly maintained as a tourist attraction, is one of the oldest street railway lines in the world and the oldest electrical railway in Latin America.
While you’re in Santa Teresa there are plenty of little shops to nosey about in, and the houses are beautiful to look at, too. When we visited we also stopped off for lunch at Espirto Santa Restaurant, which was not only delicious but also offered lovely views of the hillside.
This is the Carpaccio de Pirarucu Defumado which was absolutely delicious – I didn’t want to share a single bite!
What is your favourite thing about Rio de Janeiro?