Rio Top 10: What to do in Rio de Janeiro
- 1. Corcovado
- 2. Sugar loaf Mountain
- 3. Rio Center
- 4. Rio Beaches
- 5. Santa Teresa
- 6. Botanical Garden
- 7. Lapa
- 8. Maracana
- 9. Lagoa
- 10. Tijuca Forest
The Corcovado ,is a 710-meters (2,329 ft) mountain lying on the west side of Rio. The name in portugese is translate "hunchback" and its one of Rio's famous icons around the world for the giant statue of the Christ Redeemer that is perched on the Corcovado's top with its arms outstretched over the bay like embracing the city of Rio.
The Corcovado is Rio's most famous landmark, not only for the amazing view of the city, but also for being one of the tallest and most impressive monuments around the globe. The whole project had begun in 1824 with the construction of a train rail to the mountain top and only in 1922 the first stone of the christ sculpture was placed, converting it into one of the most important engineering peaces in Brazil. During July 2007, the Christ Redeemer statue was voted by the public as one of the new Seven Wonders of the Modern World along with other man made structures such as the Great Wall of China and the Machu Pichu in Peru. Likewise, the statue was included in the 2009 edition of the Guiness Records as the biggest statue of Jesus in the world, mentions that make it worth a trip to see both the statue and enjoy the magnificant view of the bay and the city, you just have to be sure to choose a clear day.
How to get to the Corcovado in Rio:
Getting to the Corcovado is pretty easy from the city center and there is no entrance fee to the statue, but the train that climb you up to the top does have a cost of around $20USD round trip for adults. You can take a guided tour to the statue or get there on your own in a taxi to the Corcovado Train Station. Funicular trains depart daily every half an hour from 8:30 am till 6:30 pm. Elevators and escalators with panoramic views make the final ascent to the statue possible for everyone. Address: Rua Cosme Velho 513, Rio de Janeiro. Phone 21-2558-1329.
Sugar loaf Mountain
Pão de Açúcar in portugues or the Sugar Loaf in English is a complex of three mountains located on the mouth of Guanabara Bay: Morro da Babilônia (Babylon Mountain), Morro da Urca (Urca's Mountain) and Morro de Pão de Açúcar or Sugar loaf Mountain, which is also the tallest one rising to 396 metres height (1,299 ft) above sea-level.
The SugarLoaf Mountain is one of several monolithic morros of granite and quartz that rise straight from the water's edge around Rio de Janeiro. The Sugarloaf mountain received its name due to its resemblance to the traditional shape of concentrated refined loaf of sugar and is famous around the world not only for being the second most important landmark of Rio along with the Corcovado, but also for being a challenge for rock climbers that want to experience one of the largest urban climbing areas in the world with more than 270 climbing routes of different levels of difficulty which place this mountain as one of the most relevant to the history of mountain climbing in Brazil attracting thousands of local and foreign climbers each year.
Visitors can get to the top taking a glass paneled cable car commonly known as Bondinho de Pão de Açúcar. The Bondinho de Pão de Açúcar cable car was was the first cable system built in Brazil and the third in the whole world. This glass-paneled cable car is connecting for more than 90 years the Red Beach - Praia Vermelha- at the Urca's neighborhood with the Morro da Urca and this one with the Sugar Loaf Mountain in a route of 1400 meters, capable of transport up to 75 passengers each route.
From the SugarLoaf mountain you can truly enjoy a spectacular view of one of the most beautiful sightes of the world specially if you arrive an hour before the sun go down and watch a romantic sunset while the city lights up.
How to get to the Sugar Loaf in Rio:
Getting to the Sugarloaf mountain is very easy, your can either take a cab until the Sugar Loaf gondola station at Praia Vermelha in the Urca's neighborhood or get a guided tour to the mountain's peak. The cable car departs daily every half-hour from 8:10 am until 10 pm and has a cost of approx USD$20. Location: Ave. Pasteur 520, Urca, Rio de Janeiro. Phone 21-2461-2700.
Historical center of Rio
In Rio's downtown you can find the historic treasure of the city, as well as the financial centre as most of the cities around the world. Some of the largest companies in Brazil have their head offices here, including Petrobras and Vale (formerly Companhia Vale do Rio Doce), two of the largest Brazilian corporations.
Sightseeing the downtown of Rio is more productive and safe if you visit it during labour days when most of the venues, place of interes, restaurants and cafes are open and there is more security in the area. During the weekends you can find sometimes cultural activities or special exhibitions in the cultural centers.
Important landmarks in Rio Historical Center:
Sites of interest include the Paço Imperial, built during colonial times to serve as a residence for the Portuguese governors of Brazil; many historic churches, such as the Candelária Church, the Colonial Cathedraland the modern-style Rio de Janeiro Cathedral.
The historical center of Rio counts also with one of the most interesting spots in the city, the Floriano Square, better known as the Cinelândia square (cine-land) as it used to be surrounded in the early 20th century by the best cinemas of the city. Most of those cinemas are close today, but this area is still an interesting active place with bars, restaurants and other important landmarks of the Belle Epoque of Rio, such as the Municipal Theatre, National Library building and the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts).
If you like art and history you will certainly enjoy visiting the Museu Histórico Nacional (National Historical Museum), a former Imperial Palace built by the king of Portugal Don Jõao VI to encourage the reasearch in the new continent. The museum nowadays counts with one of the largest exhibits of the Americas, consisting of animals, insects, aborigens utensils, Egyptian mummies and many other South American archaeological findings.
Enjoy also a lovely walk outdoors to the Passeio Público, an 18th-century public garden carefully designed, and don't miss the imposing arches of the Carioca Aqueduct also known as Archs of Lapa, as they are located in the Lapa neighborhood. This landmark is a Roman-style aqueduct built around 1750 in order to bring water from the Carioca River to the city and can be visited in a tram o bondinho that departs from the city center station, crosses the aqueduct converted to a tram viaduct in 1896 and rambles through the hilly streets of the Santa Teresa neighbourhood nearby.
Beaches of Rio
It's no secret that Rio de Janeiro is all about the beach. It is people's center of entertainment and relaxation and anyone who has ever been to Brazil will tell you there is nothing quite like it anywhere! Catching some rays, surfing, jogging, playing soccer or simply cracking open an ice cold beer while checking out some of the world's hottest bodies are the favorite activities.
Is a borough of the southern zone of Rio and is the most famous beach in the city . The beauty of its sand and its special relaxed-cool athmopshere made of this beach a must for those tourist exploring exotic urban destinations around the world. Copacabana's famous sidewalk is decorated with portuguese pavement resembling the shapes of waves that inspired all sort of artists around the world while its main street the Atlantica Avenue counts with the largest number of hotels, including the Copacabana Palace Hotel, the oldest one in the city built in 1923 and the luxury Sofitel Rio Palace.
The beach of Copacabana has over 4 kms of white sand to relax on and plenty of beach activities including volleyball, water sports and of course, beach parties, but inspite of being one of the most touristic areas of Rio, the social differences of the country make notorious the presence of a less favoured population coming mostly from the four slum areas of Copacabana. Just keep a low profile, take care of your personal belongings, don't take any valuable objects when you are going to the beach, keep your eyes open and you'll have a wonderful experience in this urban paradise of fun, sun and wonderful people.
Its the second most famous beach in Rio bordered at the west side by the mountains called "two brothers" (Dos Irmãos) and at the east by the district of Copacabana, but Ipanema its quiet different from its crowded neighbor. Ipanema is one of the most expensive and elegant places to live in Rio, with 7.5 kilometers of beach (4.6 miles) is considered the sexiest beach, with cleaner water, friendly atmosphere sexy tanned people, small bikinis and lot of surfers. Its blue cool water invites swimmers to have a dip, just be careful of not passing the control breakers as the water could be deceptive and can put you in troubles.
Ipanema's most famous spots are the Posto 9 beach, (9th Stand), place of meeting of many personalities, football players and members of the show business, as well as the gay friendly area at the Farme de Amoedo St where the gay community with their coloured flag hanging on the air use to openly meet. Everyday is perfect to enjoy Ipanema's beach, but Sundays are an excellent day to hang out around the area, as the main road along the beach is closed to vehicles transit becoming an exclusive space for sport lovers and tourist that want to experience the local's lyfestile.
The Leblon beach is separated from Ipanema by the Allah's Gardens , a channel that connects the ocean with the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake and the Corcovado Mountain. Leblon is even more exclussive neighborhood than Ipanema with a beach that remains more quiet, clean and calm that the other two, is prefered by families and all those looking for a paceful piece of sand to quietly excercise, read or take a nap, but its water could be not so safe for swimming farther specially during rainy days.
Leblon is known by its beautiful houses, most of them were replaced by tall modern building but you still can find some of those beautiful complex hidden in the modern streets. Its exclusively population and a sudden commercial explosion contribute to an increae in the price of the real state converting this neighborhood into one of the most expensive real state areas in South America which contrasts with the poverty of the favelas around the neighborhood. A clear example of Leblon's economical explosion is the Street Diaz Ferreira on which you will find stores of the most exclusives brands around the world as well as many cafes, bars and restaurants to spend a nice and fancy time.
Santa Teresa Neighborhood
Santa Teresa neighborhood received this name for the Santa Teresa Church and Convent. The area is being rediscovered recently as a ourist landmark in Rio de Janeiro eventhough is one of Rio's oldest neighborhoods that features many great mansions and castles with stunning rich Portuguese, colonial and eclectic style.
Santa Teresa's hill used to be inhabited by the european elite of the city, who look to settle down long time ago high on the hill looking for fresh air and an exclussive view to the sea, the bay and the mountains just on top of the city center. Within the 60's-70's, the upper class started moving to more modern areas like Ipanema and Barra da Tijuca, while Santa Teresa stayed the favourite district of the intellectual and artistic elite.
Santa Teresa remains the bohemian of all Rio's neighborhoods and its stretts offer a beautiful trip to the past, but don't forget that as a tourist in Rio you must have always an open eye to your belongings and avoid sightseeing the neighborhood alone in the dark. The neighborhood is conveniently located 5 minutes from Rio's downtown/business district, and the old, wooden tramway become a tourist attraction by itself, and will allow you to enjoy a calm authentic ride for only 0.60 Real.Check Out Our Santa Teresa Tours!
Botanical garden of Rio
The Botanical Garden of Rio was created as a royal garden by Dom Joao VI with the objective to acclimate some species that were brought during the colonia from West Indies. The Botanical Garden has 140 hectares of extension; is nowadays one of the nature sanctuaries around the world and is certainly the perfect place for a lovely walking while enjoying the exotic birds and playful monkeys that naturally coexist with the thousands of visitors that the garden receives every day.
The gardens are so insulated from Rio's noises that you may think you're in the countryside, and temperatures are blissfully cool on hot days thanks to its thousands of tropical vegetation. Highlights include the majestic Avenue of Royal Palms and the Orchid House, there is also a museum, an outdoor cafe, a gift shop and a sensory garden for the visually impaired.
The Botanical Gardens of Rio is open daily from 8 am-5 pm (except Christmas and New Year's Day). The entrance fee is R$5 and R$5-$7 parking (prices of sept-2009). Rua Jardim Botanico 1008, Rio de Janeiro. Phone 21-3874-1808.
Lapa is a neighborhood in Rio, next to the neighborhood of Santa Teresa. Lapa passed from having a bad reputation for being the meeting place of artists and intellectuals but right now is well known for its bars and discos of samba and forro that stay open from morning to morning, street artists that constantly singing all sort of brazilian rythms invading the streets, creating a unique atmosphere , and as one of the most authentic nighlitfe in Rio, nevertheless, take into account that Lapa is not the nicest place to be hanging out in Rio as most of the people will only come at night to join the samba and the party.
But Lapa is well known also due to its beautiful long streets, eclectic architecture and the Carioca Aqueduct or Arcos da Lapa, an impressive aqueduct built in 1780 to transport the water from the Carioca River and other small streams to the several fountains spread through Rio de Janeiro.
You can see the Carioca Aqueduct from a tramway "Bodinho de Santa Teresa" which runs from the downtown of Rio , take a ride over the Arcos da Lap before climbing up the steep cobbled streets at Santa Teresa's neighborhood. The Arcos da Lapa are 42 arches covering 270 meters at an altitude of 17.6 meters, a stunning monument in the middle of the downtown of Rio to become after the sun goes down in the favorite place for local and foreigns to enjoy a delicious fruit cocktail or either the best party in town.
Is not a secret that football is one of Brazilian's passion and plays a very important role in their culture and daily life, either you are a passionate football fan, or just a curious tourist, you probably don't want to miss the chance to see a soccer match at Rio de Janeiro's famous Maracana Stadium. You'll feel the electric atmosphere of a Brazilian football match. It's an experience you'll never forget!
Rio's giant Maracana Stadium is part of a complex composed by the stadium and a modern indoor arena called the Maracanã Gymnasium o Ginásio do Maracnãzinho that was built few years after the stadium. The Maracana Stadium received is named after the neighborhood Maracana where is located and the stadium was built after Brazil won the right to host the 1950 FIFA World Cup, but it didn't bring so much luck to the national team and almost 200.000 Brazilians had to watch their team lose the world cup against Uruguay that year. It is one of the biggest football disappointments in history widely known as the Maracanãzo or the Maracana Blow.
But the Maracana also hosted many other glories, such as Pele's goal number 1,000 in 1969 , is the home of the Rio de Janeiro's Championship and hosts the four biggest teams in Rio: Botafogo, Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama; is one of the most important venues of the city with important events as the massive mass celebrated by the Pope Joan Paul II or many other international concerts, international sportive events and it will be in 2014 the second stadium in the world hosting twice the World Cup after the Azteca Stadium n Mexico DF where probably Brazil expects to enjoy the victory at home.
Nowadays, the Maracana Stadium has a capacity to accommodate over 100,000 spectators,a number that was reduced to half after an accident happen in 1992 when the upper stadium collapsed causing many injuries. Since then, the Maracana has passed through many reforms like the reduction of its space with more than 70.000 seats to increase the commodity of spectators and during its 50th birthday it was created a hall of fame where the brazilian football stars printed their foot as an homenagem to this venue that helped to write the history of football in Rio.
How to get to the Maracana Stadium: Rua Professor Eurico Rabelo, s/n. - Maracanã , Visit the official site of the Estádio do Maracanã (in pt)
Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon
The Lagoon Rodrigo de Freitas in Rio is a natural lagoon in the Southern Area of the city (Zona Sul). Is a wonderful place place for a walk and to enjoy the romantic-relaxing atmosphere while sharing one of the favourite places for the Cariocas. With its 204.000 m2 of extension (7800 sq feet), the Lagoon is considered the biggest gastronomical center in an open space in Latin America while is surrounded by green areas and a great cycling and jogging track where chic Cariocas work out or walk their fancily clad dogs. Kiosks serve everything from Italian to Japanese food and you can hear Brazilian music and jazz played in the evenings after 9 pm at stands around the lagoon.
The Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas mostly known as "the lagoa" is connected to the Atlantic by a canal bordered by the Alah's Gardens and is surrounded by the districts of Ipanema, Leblon, Jardim Botânico, Copacabana, Botafogo as the most importants. The lagoon attracts during the Christmas holidays a large number of visitors that come to see its traditional and enormeus Christmas Tree, built over a floating platform that moves around the lagoon.
How to get to the Lagoon Rodrigo de Freitas: Between Avenida Epitacio Pessoa and Avenida Borges de Medeiros, Rio de Janeiro.
Visit the site of Lagoa Rodrigo Freitas
The Tijuca Forest is part of the Tijuca National Park, one of the world's largest urban forests. By the mid-19th century, Tijuca Forest was practically deforested to open place mainly to coffee plantations, later, in 1861, the government recognized that deforestation was hurting local rainfall leading to a critical shortage of potable water and develop a project to replanting within 13 years 100 thousand seedlings. The replanting was made with species, in its great majority, natives to the Atlantic Forest Ecosystem.
The forest is now one of the city's most important nature protected areas and an important "green lung" of Rio. If you are lucky you probably will see many small animals including monkeys and a variety of butterflies flying around the forrest and its multiple streams, waterfalls, lakes, viewpoints and playgrounds.
The Tijuca forest has 7 gates of access:
1. Sumaré (Sumaré Road)
2. Dos Caboblos (Almirante Alexandrino St.)
3. Macacos (Dona Castorina Road)
4. Passo de Pedras (Vista Chinesa Road)
5. Sapucaias (Redeemer Road)
6. Solidão (Açude da Solidão Road)
7. Cascatinha (Waterfall)
Beautiful spots in the Tijuca park include a lovely waterfall called the Cascatinha , the Mayrink Chapel, the Lago da Fada (Fairy Lake), the Acude da Solidão (Solitude Dam) and several caves but take into account that the minimum of time required to visit the main highlights of the Tijuca park is about 2 days, as some of its landmarks such as the Gavea Stone will take you a whole day to go and get back.
Some suggested routes are:
The Corcovado Section: includes the Christ Redeemenr, Paineiras, Dona Marta viewpoint. It will take around 3 hours in a car.
The Macacos section: Chinees viewpoint, Mesa do Imperador, the Corcovado Section, the Christ the Redeemer, Paineiras, Dona Marta viewpoint. It will take around 3 hours in a car.
Tijuca Forrest section: waterfall Cascatinha, caves, Excelsior: 2 hours in car but some part of the road can be closed for vehicles transit.
Jacarepaguá: Mateus Throat, Pretos Forros Hill, Ciganos dam.
To visit this natural reserve, we recommend you take a guided tour as even though there are plenty of signposts and walks, the place is so big that many people that want to go farther get lost in the forest. If you're determined to go by yourself, the best place to start is Cascatinha, which is the closest point to the main park entrance, just remember to stay on the marked trails and to leave before it gets dark.
The park is open daily from 8 am-7 pm. Admission is free. The main entrance is at Praca Alfonso Vizeu, Alto da Boa Vista, Rio de Janeiro. Phone 21-2492-2253.
Visit the site of the Tijuca Forest Check Out Our Tijuca Forest Tours!
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