What to do in Rio

Places to Visit

Botafogo Praia Shopping

The mall's spread out over seven floors, which makes for a lot of escalator time, but that's the only drawback. There's an excellent selection of clothing stores, and the Kodak Express shop on the ground floor for your photo needs. The seventh-floor food court has a pair of excellent restaurants (Kotobuki, Emporium Pax), with gorgeous views of Botafogo beach and the Pão de Açúcar.

 

Trade at Copacabana night market

Maybe because of the fact of being such a busy area in Rio, Avenida Atlantica has a night fair between the streets Rua Bolívar and Rua Sá Ferreira (around Posto 5), offering shopping opportunities with affordable prices.

 

Copacabana Fort

Ever since the army granted acess to the public, people have been won over by the unexpected and novel views of Copacabana, Arpoador, Ipanema and Leblon. From high up on the hill, right beside the cannons, the view is breathtaking!

 

Leme Fort

This is one of Rio's best-kept secrets. On the top of the 183m (600-ft.) granite rock you get a 360-degree view of Copacabana and Guanabara Bay. The main gate is toward the back of the square at the end of Leme beach. Once inside, you make your way up a cobblestone road that winds around the back of the hill. It's a 20-minute walk through lush forest to the top where you'll be rewarded with a splendid view of Copacabana and beyond.

 

Ipanema

This sophisticated district offers a lively night life scene with an enticing blend of beach, bars and boutiques.

 

Botanical Garden

The Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden or Jardim Botânico is located at the Jardim Botânico district in the "Zona Sul" (South Zone) of Rio de Janeiro. One of the most beautiful and best preserved green areas in the city, the Botanical Garden is an example of the diversity of Brazilian and foreign flora. There are around 6,500 species (some endangered) distributed throughout an area of 54 hectares. The Garden also houses monuments of historical, artistic and archaeological significance. There is an important research center which includes the most complete library in the country, specializing in botany with over 32,000 volumes.

 

Maracanã Soccer Stadium

The world´s largest sports stadium still retains all the glamour that makes it a landmark and an irresistible attraction for visitors to Rio. It also hosted mega-concerts by Frank Sinatra and Paul McCartney, drawing huge audiences of over 180,000 which made the Guinness Book of Records.

 

MAM – Modern Art Museum

It has a privileged location on Flamengo Park alongside Guanabara Bay, close to downtown. It currently houses some 1,700 works including paintings, sculptures and engravings by Brazilian and foreign artists, in addition to a specialized art library and a well-known cinemathèque that is among the most popular in town.

National History Museum

Once set right on the seafront, it was originally planned as a strategic factor in the defense of the city. Today it is home to a priceless cultural treasure trove.

 

Catete Palace & Republic Museum

The seat of Brazilian Republican Government from 1897 through 1960, the neo classical facade of the Catete Palace is faced with granite and pink marble, its gateways framed in white marble. Transformed into a museum after the federal capital moved to Brasilia, this palace today features a busy cultural agenda, in addition to a bookstore, bar, restaurant and souvenir boutique. Its attractive gardens offer moments of peace during the day, and a venue for pleasant evening strolls.

 

Rio de Janeiro Municipal Theater

Located near the National Library, the National Fine Arts Museum and the Pedro Ernesto Palace, the Municipal Theatre faces the spacious Cinelândia Square. Its attractive architectural design catches the eye, with its imposing facade, paralleled by the beauty of its interior decoration. Seating 2,200 people, this theater is a true temple of culture that is just as popular with visitors as the performances staged here.

 

Cachoeira do Horto Hike

In the midst of the Tijuca Forest, the Cachoeira do Horto Hike is a short but fun hike to enjoy the jungle feeling of Rio de Janeiro. Hiking the Cachoeira do Horto, which means the Horto Waterfall in English, you will see up to three different small waterfalls. The last waterfall is only for advanced hikers but no worries, the hike is perfect also for those who are looking for an easy to moderately difficult hike.

Duration: 20 minutes one way

Difficulty: Easy-Medium

When to hike: All year, except if it has been raining the previous days.

What to bring: Hiking boots / trainers, comfortable clothing, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, canga, bikini/trunks, water.

Rio de Janeiro: Arriving & Departing

Arrival to Rio de Janeiro will predominantly be by long haul flight, arriving into Galeão International (code GIG), whose official name is Tom Jobim. The city has available airport transfers to all hotels, apartments and Villas. Rio also has a smaller domestic/short haul airport called Santos Dumont (SDU) . When arriving from Europe it's worth noting most airlines will go to Guarulhos International (GRU) at Sao Paulo first.

After collecting your baggage and prior to passing through customs you will walk past the Rio duty free store. Unlike most airports the duty free store in Rio is available to deplaning passengers. Prices at this shop are pretty competitive especially for cosmetics, perfumes, and booze which is heavily taxed in Brasil.

You will have 4 (four) options to get to downtown Rio and the beaches. Bus, pre-paid taxi, regular taxis (metered), and new on-line transfer services based on set schedules, which can be prebooked up until 24 hours in advance.

Bus

Air-conditioned bus service operated by REAL (sometimes called Frescao) departs every 20-30 mins from 0530-2200 and runs between both airports, the main bus terminal and further along the beachfront in the following neighborhoods: Flamengo, Botafogo, Copacabana Ipanema, and Leblon. Its terminus is at the Alvorada terminal near Barra Shopping in Barra da Tijuca  . The full run takes at least 60 mins, often double.   Single ticket R$ 15. There is plenty of luggage space, and it's comfy. A smaller bus, also by Real same price, runs directly every 30 mins from Alvorada to Galeão by Linha Amarela in as little as 35 minutes, depending on traffic.  This is the best option if you are alone. The bus stops per request in any location of the route, which helps lots. 

BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) + Subway

Purchase a BRT pass (R$ 3.40) at the arrival area, at a kiosk before you walk outside to the taxi/bus place. Walk outside and across the street to a glass encased platform area. Insert the bus pass at the turnstyle and just wait for the bus to arrive. Once you get on, the first stop is Vicente de Carvalho, about 25 minutes from Galeao. Get off, walk up and over the streets on the walking ramp/bridge, and you should see the entrance to the metro (crowds of people should be entering/exiting). Once inside, you'll have to buy a metro pass called "unitário" (one trip, R$ 3.70), or you can purchase a prepaid card (“pré-pago”). Make sure to check the subway map to see which stairway to walk down, there is only one line (green). If you are heading to Zona Sul (South Zone), you need to take the train towards Maracanã, Central and Botafogo ultimately. If you are going to General Osorio (Ipanema), you can transfer to the orange line once you hit downtown metro stations (on weekdays) or at Estácio station (on weekends or holidays).

Pre-Paid Taxi

After passengers exit customs at the Rio international airport they will be subjected to the shouts of employees at about 1/2 dozen booths all offering a car service. For a trip to Copa/Ipanema/Leblon all the car services ask around R$200 (though you can haggle a bit) or about twice the price of regular metered yellow cabs which are easily accessible an additional 30 meters right outside the exit doors of the airport.  The downside to this service is that you will pay almost twice as much as if you use a regular taxi. The upside is that you don't have to negotiate with the driver or worry that he has taken a longer route or overcharged you for the trip (although you pay more for not being overcharged, a bit counterintuitive).

Metered Taxis

If you decide not to pay the more expensive pre-paid taxis, continue out of the airport and find a yellow taxi waiting at the curb.  It is advised that you have your hotel address printed on a piece of paper before getting into the taxi to avoid any possible problems. Make sure the driver agrees to use the "relogio" or "taximeter" before getting in the cab. They are obligated to do so, but some may try to set a fixed fee - which is okay if that fee is no more than R$ 100.

Taxis in Rio are a bargain and are no less safe than in any large city. Drivers are licensed and must exhibit the license in the cab.  There are two meter rates: Bandeira um (1) is for daytime travel. Bandeira dois (2) is for travel after 9 pm, all day Sunday and holidays. The difference is about 17%. The "1" and "2" are visible on the meter. The bandeira "1" fare from the airport to central Ipanema when there is no delay caused by stopped traffic is approximately R$60.

Taxis are allowed to charge an extra R$2.05 (real pronounced HAY-al) for each "large" bag. Do not be concerned about running up a significantly larger fare because of traffic delays. The meter on a stopped cab runs at the rate of about R$25 per hour. Traffic delays will waste time but not a lot of money.

DECEMBER ADVISORY: Brazilians have a tradition of getting a 13th month of salary at the end of the year.  Taxi drivers enjoy this perk by using the bandeira 2 for the entire month of December.  Do not be alarmed when your taxi uses "2" during the day instead of the "1".

Tipping is not customary and do not be persuaded by any driver theatrics indicating the contrary. Just round up the meter fare to the next whole number, if you want to be generous give a couple of reais as a tip. Especially, if the driver helps load and unload your bags and more so, if he doesn't seek to charge extra for all bags. It will be much appreciated.

Rental Cars

All the major rental car companies are present within the airport.
AVIS; MOVIDA RENT A CAR, LOCALIZA; HERTZ; SIXT RENT A CAR.