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Attractions and things to do in Rio de Janeiro

The silhouette of Christ Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro

Christ the Redeemer

Standing 38 metres high (including the pedestal) on Corcovado Mountain and overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro with arms wide open is Brazil's most illustrious icon, Christ the Redeemer formally known as Cristo Redentor in Portuguese. Declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, this Art Deco statue built between 1922 and 1931 symbolizes peace and Brazilian Christianity. To get to the top of the mountain there are three ways to choose from; by tram, car or on foot. The most popular option is to take the fifteen to twenty-minute tram ride (book tickets in advance) through the scenic Tijuca Forest all the way up to the summit. Cars or taxis are also easy to find and are ideal if you are on a tighter schedule or are simply not interested in checking out the Tijuca Forest. For the active tourist that fancies a hike, you can follow many hiking trails that will lead you directly to the monument that stands a staggering 2,326 feet above sea level. Whichever option you should choose; once at the top, stand in awe as you look up towards this legendary figure as well as taking in the breathtaking panoramic views over Brazil's much loved Rio. You can also expect to find a multitude of vendors selling souvenirs, drinks or snacks around the area. Visiting Christ the Redeemer is a compulsory visit when in Rio de Janeiro and an attraction that never disappoints!

 

Copacabana Beach

Sunny, relaxing and most of all fashionable, the world-famous 4 km Copacabana beach of southern Rio de Janeiro is one of the city's top hotspots and a definite must-visit. You won't find just a beach with classical palm trees here however; you'll also find plenty of quality beachside hotels, restaurants, night clubs and shops stretched across the lively Copacabana area meaning you won't need to drift away from the beach for too long. Join the thousands of tourists and locals that come together day after day to appreciate Rio's glorious weather and entertaining locale where you can do more than just sunbathe. For instance, play some beach volleyball or even football. Stroll, jog or if you prefer, cycle the wide promenade next to the beach with its interesting Portuguese pavement design of geometric black and white waves. Have a snack or cool yourself down with a refreshing tropical fruit drink in one of the dozens of beach bars dotted along this beautiful promenade also. From here, spend some time watching the world go by, taking in the views of the Atlantic Ocean before you or observing Rio's exceptional sunset during the evening.

 

Ipanema Beach

Many times stated as Rio's best beach, Ipanema Beach is much loved for its classiness, colourful sunsets and social qualities. Join the thousands of sun worshippers and enjoy a day of topping up your tan, playing football, volleyball or even the locally invented footvolley. Ipanema is highly valued among the surfing community given the rougher waters and waves found here, so if you're passionate about surfing, this will be a highlight of your visit. Divided into sections, Ipanema beach is divided by what are called postos or watchtowers where you'll find some areas busier than others due to their popularity. Lining the beach are your typical kiosks serving snacks and traditional drinks. You can also rent umbrellas, deck-chairs and almost anything you would need to enjoy a day on the beach. Another feature of Ipanema beach is the fabulous view offered towards two mountains rightly known as Dois Irmãos or Two Brothers which stand majestically at the western end of the beach.

 

Sugarloaf Mountain

To view the entire city of Rio de Janeiro from all different angles make Sugarloaf Mountain a priority visit morning, day or night. Pão de Açúcar, as it is known in Portuguese, is located at the mouth of Guanabara Bay and is the place to go for the most sensational views you can possibly get across this vibrant city, its airport and its various neighbourhoods including famed symbols and landmarks such as Copacabana beach, Christ the Redeemer and its various sunny beaches. To get to the summit of the mountain, enjoy a short but pleasant ride on a cable car first stopping at a shorter mountain called Morro da Urca at 220 metres high, then ascend further to Sugarloaf Mountain at 396 metres above the harbour where you can soak in all the glory of Rio like nowhere else. If trekking is more your thing, it is possible to follow several trails to the top of Morro da Urca. Although a little demanding, physically, it is an excellent opportunity to adventure through the area's natural park where you can catch a glimpse of monkeys and colourful butterflies. The experience as a whole is one of the most worthwhile when visiting Rio!

 

Corcovado Mountain

Corcovado or hunchback according to its translation is a granite mountain in a dome formation most famous for what majestically graces its peak - the New Wonder of the World, Christ the Redeemer. At 720 metres tall, Corcovado is situated in the Tijuca Forest and is easily visible from other landmarks across the city. Three electrically powered trains, part of the Corcovado Rack Railway, transport visitors through the beautiful Tijuca National Park to the peak every twenty minutes where they can appreciate views towards downtown Rio, Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana beach, Estádio do Maracanã and many of Rio's favelas.

 

Tijuca Forest

At 32 kilometres-squared, Tijuca Forest is the world's largest urban rainforest, having also been hand-planted. Once completely destroyed and laden with coffee farms, a colossal project to try and replant Tijuca in order to protect Rio's water supply underwent in the second half of the 19th century and went on for decades. Tijuca is blessed with widely notable features; its greatest and most prized possession being the statue of Christ the Redeemer which graces the also famous Corcovado mountain. Other important attractions include the Pedra da Gávea peak; the Cascatinha Waterfall; the Mayrink Chapel; the gazebo at Vista Chinesa outlook; and the enormous granite picnic table known as Mesa do Imperador. Tijuca is also home to an array of interesting flora and wildlife, some of which are already in danger of extinction. Take a tour through the Tijuca Forest and enjoy several hours of beautiful scenery, as well as experiencing the smells and sounds of a tropical rainforest.

 

Teatro Municipal

Located in the historical centre of Rio de Janeiro is the Teatro Municipal; a lavish and hard-to-miss building both exquisite on the outside as it is on the inside where you'll discover gilded mirrors, shiny chandeliers, elegant statues, inspiring murals and stained-glass windows. Choose between taking a tour of the theatre and its ornate features or perhaps you can stick around a bit longer and attend an opera. If a show of dance or music is part of the Theatre's schedule, there is no better way to round up your Teatro Municipal experience.

 

Escadaria Selarón

The Escadaria Selarón (Selarón's Staircase) may be nothing more than a long flight of 250 steps but ordinary it is not. What began as Jorge Selarón's pass time of wanting to bring life to his run-down doorstep, developed into a 23 year-old obsession and an inspiring form of artwork declared as a personal "tribute to the Brazilian People". Decorated with over 2000 colourful tiles from across the world; paintings; ceramics; and mirrors, the Escadaria Selarón runs 125 metres long from Joaquim Silva street to Pinto Martins street. This famous Rio landmark has featured in widely read magazines and newspapers and has also appeared in travel shows like the National Geographic Channel and Commercials for Coca-Cola and Kellogg's Corn Flakes. Escadaria Selarón is a great attraction for avid photographers and is packed with so many interesting details depicting Brazil's cities, traditions and culture.

 

Estádio do Maracanã

Host of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, the Estádio do Maracanã football stadium is officially named Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho and is an open-air stadium. Located in the Maracanã neighbourhood, the stadium was completed in 1950 and was also host of the FIFA World Cup that same year when Brazil reached the final but was defeated by Uruguay. Today, Estádio do Maracanã is used for football matches between Rio de Janeiro's major football teams known as Vasco da Gama, Botafogo, Flamengo and Fluminense. It is also known for having been the host of numerous music concerts by legendary artists including Frank Sinatra; Tina Turner; Paul McCartney; Sting; and Madonna plus hosted the 1991 Rock in Rio featuring the likes of George Michael; Prince; Guns N' Roses; INXS; a-ha and New Kids on the Block. Whilst in Rio, take the opportunity to tour the Maracanã stadium and learn all about its interesting past and present.

 

Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden

At the base of Corcovado mountain, in the South Zone of the Rio city, lies the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden. Not only boasting terrific views where you can look up towards the one and only Christ the Redeemer statue, this utopia of Brazilian and foreign flora offers a great chance to explore some 6000 species of tropical and subtropical plants and trees including its distinctive tall palm trees. Beautiful fountains like the cast-iron Fountain of the Muses in addition to ponds, themed gardens, sculptures, historical monuments, large greenhouses and 140 species of colourful birds charm the entire area of 54 hectares. The country's most complete library in botany is also found here as well as significant collections of dried fruits, carnivorous plants, cacti, orchids and photographs. The Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden is an enchanting attraction and yet another fine example of nature in Brazil.

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