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Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide: What to Do & Where to Eat in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | Wanderlist Travel

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Travel Guide: Top Things to Do and See in Rio de Janeiro

Useful Information:

  • Language: Portuguese

  • Currency: Brazilian Real (R$)

  • Not too many people speak English, so prepare for some language barriers

  • Uber everywhere! They are safer and cheaper than taxi’s

  • The cost of living is very cheap. Standard meals are on average R$30-60 ($10-$20 USD). A 15 minute Uber will set you back a whopping R$18 ($5 USD)

  • Rio doesn’t have the best reputation for safety, but I never felt like I was in danger or uncomfortable. The trick is to dress casually, with no jewelry or flashy items. Keep your expensive cell phone tucked away when you are done taking pictures. It helps if you could pass as a local/ Brazilian

  • Unfortunately, there is still a lot of gang violence in the Favelas (aka slums). If you chose to visit one, hire a tour guide, but locals suggest you avoid these areas. See “Morro Dois Irmaos Hike” below to get a little bit of a Favela experience without too much risk

Neighborhoods & Beaches to Visit:

  • Copacabana – Famous beach area with good food. Great area to stay in

  • Ipanema – A trendy neighborhood with great restaurants, bars and nightlife. Famous beach as well

  • Leblon – An upscale neighborhood with luxury shopping and a nice beach

  • Santa Teresa – Super nice neighborhood to walk through with good food and bars



Sights to See & Things to Do:

  • Christ the Redeemer – This is the famous statue of Jesus in Rio. You can either hike, train or take a van up

  • Parque Lage – Located at the foot of Corcovado trail (see below), a public park with a great spot for brunch that was formerly the residence of industrialist Enrique Lage and his wife, singer Gabriella Besanzoni (also, the music video for Beautiful by Pharrell and Snoop Dogg was shot here)

  • Escadaria Selarón – Famous mosaic steps in Rio

  • Sugarloaf Mountain – Spot for great views

  • Mirante Dona Marta – Spot for great views

  • Surfing Lessons

  • Paragliding

Mirante Dona Marta

Mirante Dona Marta

Hiking Trails:  

  • Corcovado – This is the trail to hike up to Christ the Redeemer. Compared to other hikes in Rio, it is medium difficulty and takes on average 1.5-2.5 hours for one way. Option to take a van or train back down

  • Sugarloaf Mountain – Apparently has some rock climbing that you may want to consider booking a tour guide for

  • Morro Dois Irmãos – The easiest hike in Rio compared to others. Takes about an hour one way. Great views and definitely worth it! Getting to the hike can be confusing. Take an Uber to Vidigal, which is the entrance to a Favela. At the entrance, you have a few options to get to the beginning of the trail: 1) walk 2) take a van – at the entrance, costs R$5 per person or 3) take a motorcycle, costs R$2-3 per person. The drive to the entrance is only 5 minutes or so. You will be dropped off at a soccer field where the trail begins. Vidigal has recently been marked safe, but proceed with caution if you chose to walk

  • Pedra da Gávea – definitely the most challenging but rewarding hike. There is a rock climbing component that I would recommend hiring a tour guide for (we used Rio Adventures) that shouldn’t cost you more than R$200 per person (or about $50 USD). Has the best views of all the mountains listed above and can take around 6 hours round trip. The rock climbing takes about 1 hour each way due to the equipment

Pedra da Gávea

Pedra da Gávea

Where to Eat:

  • Amir – Rio has a heavy Lebanese/ Arabic population and this is one of the best Arabic restaurants in the city

  • Aprazível – One of the top restaurants in Rio offering great views in a jungle-like outdoor area. Very good Amazon influenced Brazilian

  • Balada Mix – Health conscious spot that serves delicious food and acai bowls

  • Plage Café – Nice spot for brunch at Parque Lage

  • Amazonia Soul – Apparently the best acai bowls in the city!

  • Confeitaria Colombo – Looks like a French Brasserie, serves amazing coffee, desserts and brunch

Plage Café

Plage Café


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