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Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Riding the cable car to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain reveals blissful views of the city and Guanabara Bay. The downtown Museu de Arte Moderna showcases contemporary Brazilian painters like Candido Portinari and Emiliano Di Cavalcanti. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike the trails of the Floresta da Tijuca, the world’s largest urban rainforest. For the best views of Ipanema beach, start your walk at the rocky outcrop of Arpoador. Most museums are open from Tue-Sun.

Museu de Arte Contemporanea - Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro. Photo courtesy Alexandra de Vries
The Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil building in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo courtesy Lisa Wiltse
1

Centro Cultural do Banco do Brasil

Neoclassical galleries

It's worth stepping inside this gorgeous neoclassical building just to gaze up at the soaring domed atrium. Once the HQ of Brazil's national bank, the building is now one of the city's premier cultural spaces. Inside there's a pleasant cafe, a small bookstore with an excellent selection of art and architecture books (many in English), several small galleries featuring changing art exhibits, and three theaters featuring film, theater, and music. For coin freaks there's also a small exhibit on Brazilian coinage. Allow 30 minutes.



Cost

Free admission; theaters or events may charge a separate fee

Opening Hours

Tues-Sun 10am-9pm

Address

Rua Primeiro de Março 66, Rio de Janeiro

Telephone

+55 021/3808-2020

Transport

Metrô: Uruguaiana

Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro. Foto: Pedro Kirilos
2

Museu Chácara do Céu

Eclectic art collection

A wealthy man with eclectic tastes, Raymundo Castro Maya had this ultramodern mansion built in the hills of Santa Teresa, then filled it with all manner of paintings, engravings, and drawings. The museum displays European painters and Brazilian art, particularly 19th-century landscapes. The house itself is a charmer, a stylish melding of hillside and structure that evokes Frank Lloyd Wright's work in the American West.



Cost

Admission R$5 adults, free for children 11 and under. Free admission Wed

Opening Hours

Wed-Mon noon-5pm

Address

Rua Murtinho Nobre 93, rio de Janeiro

Telephone

+55 021/3970-1126

Transport

Tram: Curvelo

Website

Museu Chácara do Céu Website

The Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro. Photo courtesy Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
3

Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

Brazilian inspired masterpieces

Inaugurated in 1909 as the Academy of Fine Arts, this building was converted into Rio's fine arts museum in 1937. Spanish architect Morales de Los Rios was clearly inspired by the Louvre in Paris when he designed this neoclassical jewel with marble floors, French mosaics, and delicate stained glass. Highlights of the collection include numerous works by foreign artists who visited Brazil, such as eight landscapes painted by 17th-century Dutch artist Frans Post in the northeast of Brazil, and works by Debret, a French painter who lived in Rio de Janeiro from 1816 to 1831.



Cost

Admission R$8. Free Sun

Opening Hours

Tues-Fri 10am-6pm; Sat-Sun noon-5pm

Address

Av. Rio Branco 199, rio de Janeiro

Telephone

+55 021/2219-8474

Transport

Metrô: Cinelândia

Website

Museu Nacional de Belas Artes Website

Museu de Arte Contemporanea - Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro. Photo courtesy Alexandra de Vries
4

Museu de Arte Contemporânea - Niterói

Contemporary Brazilian art

Niemeyer's most photogenic building is in Niteroi. Also known as "the flying saucer," the circular structure rests on a single pillar, overlooking Guanabara Bay. Reflective pools create a variety of perspectives of the water, building, and sky. Curators bring in a constantly changing selection of Brazilian contemporary art but one can't help thinking the best piece of work on display is the building itself.



Cost

Admission R$5, free for children 7 and under

Opening Hours

Tues-Sun 10am-6pm

Address

Mirante de Boa Viagem, Rio de Janeiro

Telephone

+55 021/2620-2400

Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM), Rio de Janeiro. Photo courtesy Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM)
5

Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM)

Landscaped art museum

Located in the waterfront Flamengo park, the MAM is a long, rectangular building lofted off the ground by an arcade of concrete struts, giving the museum the appearance of an airplane wing. Displays change constantly, and include Brazilian art and international exhibitions. Have a look at the garden from the second-floor patio: The lawn is the work of Brazil's great landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.



Cost

Admission R$8 adults, R$4 students and seniors, free for children 12 and under

Opening Hours

Tues-Fri noon-6pm; Sat-Sun noon-7pm

Address

Av. Infante Dom Henrique 85, Rio de Janeiro

Telephone

+55 021/2240-4944

Transport

Metrô: Cinelândia

Website

State Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM) Website

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro. Courtesy Embratour
6

Christ the Redeemeer

Iconic statue

Towering over Rio de Janeiro on the top of Mount Corcovado stands Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor), his arms spread out protecting the thriving metropolis. This iconic, 30-metre-high landmark has come to symbolise the city. Visitors need no longer climb the 220 steps to the top - three panoramic elevators and four escalators now allow leisurely access to the monument and the views beyond.



Cost

Free

Opening Hours

Train runs 8.30am-7pm

Address

Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro

Transport

Train: from Rua Cosme Velho

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Claudia Fogg.
7

Ipanema Beach

World famous beach

One of the most upmarket areas of Rio de Janeiro, Ipanema was made famous by the Tom Jobim bossa nova song The Girl from Ipanema as well as string bikinis. Today, sun-seekers play football or hang out drinking cold beer along the strand of golden sand surrounded by the majestic hills of Rio.



Cost

Free

Opening Hours

24 hours

Address

Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro

Transport

Metrô: General Osorio

Rio de Janeiro's serene Botanical Garden; Courtesy of www.jbrj.gov.br
8

Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden

Palm shaded getaway

Rio's magnificent Botanical Garden is nestled against the lower part of the Parque Nacional da Tijuca and contains more than 8,000 species of flora. The garden was founded in 1808 by Portuguese king D. João IV, who planted the first row of Imperial palm trees that line the main entrance. Make sure you visit the Museum of the Environment, the bromeliad collection, the orchid greenhouse, and flesh-eating plants. There are several beautiful monuments, artwork, fountains, and historic buildings scattered throughout the park.



Cost

R$6; under 7s, pensioners, and disabled free

Opening Hours

Tues–Sun 10am–5pm

Address

Rua Jardim Botânico 920, Rio de Janeiro

Telephone

+55 021/3874-1808

Sugarloaf (Pão de Açucár) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo by Lisa Wiltse
9

Sugarloaf Mountain

Rio's mountain backdrop

Along with samba, beaches, and beautiful women, the Sugarloaf remains one of the original and enduring Rio attractions. Standing on its peak, the entire cidade maravilhosa lays at your feet: the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, the favelas of Babylonia, the Tijuca Forest, Christ the Redeemer on His mountain, the Bay of Guanabara, and the fortresses at the edge of far-off Niteroi.



Cost

Cable car R$53 adults, R$26 children 6-12, free for children 5 and under

Opening Hours

Daily 8am-9pm. Last ride up at 8pm

Address

Av. Pasteur 520, Rio de Janeiro

Telephone

+55 021/2546-8400

Transport

Metrô: Botofogo, then catch the integração bus marked Urca

Website

Cable Car Website

Tijuca Forest, Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Nick Breckenfield
10

Tijuca Forest

Urban rainforest

Tijuca Forest in Rio de Janeiro covers 3200 hectares, making it one of the world's largest urban forests. Extensively replanted in the mid-19th century, today it is a national park and home to a huge variety of flora and fauna. Highlights of the park include the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, the Cascatinha Waterfall, the Excelsior Lookout Point and Fairy Lake.



Cost

Free

Opening Hours

24 hours

Address

Rio de Janeiro

Transport

Taxi

Arpoador Beach. Courtesy of Embratur
11

Arpoador

Beach hotspot

Just around the corner from Copacabana and its fort lies Arpoador. Climb to the top of this rocky headland for a fabulous view of Ipanema and Leblon, set against the peaks of Dois Irmaos (Two Brothers). Especially at the end of a long, hot summer day, Cariocas love to gather here to watch the sunset.



Cost

Free

Opening Hours

24 hours

Address

Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro

Transport

Metrô: General Osorio

Feira de Sao Cristovao, Rio de Janeiro. foto: Pedro Kirilos/Riotur
12

Feira de Sao Cristovao

Market filled with music

The Feira Nordestino is essentially one long weekend party, Friday to Sunday featuring exclusively forra, the dance-happy accordion two-step of Brazil's Northeast. In addition to the music, there are lots of shops selling Nordestino arts and crafts, and stalls and restaurants offering Northeastern cuisine. Visitors wander the shops, sample the snacks, and let their feet hippity hop to the happy accordion beat.



Cost

Admission R$1 adults, free for children 10 and under

Opening Hours

Tues-Thurs 10am-6pm; continuously 10am Fri till 8pm Sun

Address

Pavilhao de Sao Cristovao, Rio de Janeiro

Telephone

+55 021/2580-6946

Transport

Taxi

Website

Feira de Sao Cristovao Website

Forte de Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Nick Breckenfield
13

Forte de Copacabana

Beachfront fortification

Built on the eve of World War I, Copacabana Fort boasts mighty walls of reinforced concrete and a monstrous cannon that could fire a deadly shell 23km (14 miles) out to sea. Inside, rooms contain then-state-of-the-art instruments for targeting and aiming the great guns. Best of all, the bored soldiers guarding the place never leave the gate, so you're free to touch, fiddle, and play as much as you want.



Cost

Admission R$4 adults, free for children 9 and under

Opening Hours

Tues-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat-Sun 10am-8pm

Address

Praça Coronel Eugênio Franco 1, Rio de Janeiro

Telephone

+55 021/2521-1032

Transport

Bus: 415 to far end of Copacabana Beach

Website

Forte de Copacabana Website

Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro. Photo courtesy Embratur, Brazilian Tourist Board
14

Paquetá

Beautiful island

The island of Paquetá, in the middle of Guanabara Bay, is great for a day-trip. It benefits from a beautiful landscape and cars are prohibited. Stroll around the well-preserved streets before enjoying a picnic in Darque de Matos park.



Cost

Admission R$1 adults, free for children 10 and under

Opening Hours

24 hours

Address

Rio de Janeiro

Transport

By ferry: from Praça XIV in downtown Rio de Janeiro

Parque da Catacumba, Rio de Janeiro. Foto: Ricardo Zerrener|Riotur
15

Parque da Catacumba

Rio's adventure destination

A short, fun walk to a lookout that will reward you with fabulous views of Rio de Janeiro's lagoon. Parque da Catacumba also offers several adventurous activities, including a climbing wall with rappelling and tree climbing, appropriate for children ages 6 and up.



Cost

Admission Free

Opening Hours

Tues–Sun 9am–5pm

Address

3000 Av Epitácio Pessoa, Lagoa, Rio de Janeiro

Telephone

+55 21/2521-5540

Transport

Taxi

Website

Parque da Catacumba Website

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