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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

Museums and Galleries

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  1. 1. Centro Cultural do Banco do Brasil - Neoclassical galleries

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    The Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil building in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo courtesy Lisa Wiltse

    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.Show this on map

    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

  2. 2. Museu Chácara do Céu - Eclectic art collection

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    Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro. Foto: Pedro Kirilos

    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.Show this on map

    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

  3. 3. Museu Nacional de Belas Artes - Brazilian inspired masterpieces

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

    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.Show this on map

    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

  4. 4. Museu de Arte Contemporânea - Niterói - Contemporary Brazilian art

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

    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.Show this on map

    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

  5. 5. Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM) - Landscaped art museum

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

    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.Show this on map

    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

Attractions

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  1. 6. Christ the Redeemeer - Iconic statue

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    Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro. Courtesy Embratour

    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.Show this on map

    Cost

    Free

    Opening Hours

    Train runs 8.30am-7pm

    Address

    Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro

    Transport

    Train: from Rua Cosme Velho

  2. 7. Ipanema Beach - World famous beach

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

    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.Show this on map

    Cost

    Free

    Opening Hours

    24 hours

    Address

    Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro

    Transport

    Metrô: General Osorio

  3. 8. Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden - Palm shaded getaway

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

    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.Show this on map

    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

  4. 9. Sugarloaf Mountain - Rio's mountain backdrop

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

    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.Show this on map

    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

  5. 10. Tijuca Forest - Urban rainforest

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    Tijuca Forest, Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Nick Breckenfield

    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.Show this on map

    Cost

    Free

    Opening Hours

    24 hours

    Address

    Rio de Janeiro

    Transport

    Taxi

Special things to do

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  1. 11. Arpoador - Beach hotspot

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    Arpoador Beach. Courtesy of Embratur

    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.Show this on map

    Cost

    Free

    Opening Hours

    24 hours

    Address

    Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro

    Transport

    Metrô: General Osorio

  2. 12. Feira de Sao Cristovao - Market filled with music

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

    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.Show this on map

    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

  3. 13. Forte de Copacabana - Beachfront fortification

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

    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.Show this on map

    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

  4. 14. Paquetá - Beautiful island

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

    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.Show this on map

    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

  5. 15. Parque da Catacumba - Rio's adventure destination

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

    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.Show this on map

    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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