Rio de Janeiro Travel, Tours & Activities
Rio de Janeiro is nicknamed 'Cidade Maravilhosa' which literally translates as 'Wonderful City' and is famous for its breathtaking landscape, stunning beaches and carnival. Find amazing things to do in Rio de Janeiro including top rated sightseeing tours, travel packages and experiences.
Activities, Trips & Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro
Travel to Rio de Janeiro
Rio is the most popular destination for foreign travelers visiting Brazil and it is easy to see why.
Highlights include visiting beachs and the harbour which is surrounded by spectacular geographic features including the rounded hump of Sugar Loaf Mountain at 1,296 feet high. Other places which you should see include Corcovado Peak topped by the impressive statue of Christ the Redeemer and the rain-forested hills of Tijuca. Collectively, these landmarks make the harbour one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. But there is a lot more to Rio than just these and we have so many recommendations it's difficult to know where to start.
You must try to watch a football game at Maracana stadium which will be used during the Football World Cup soon, the atmosphere will be amazing. The Christ Redeemer is very tourist but must be done at least once in your life or for great views you could even pay to go on a helicopter ride above the city.
View our travel guide to Rio de Janeiro and find amazing things to do. You can also view tips and advice about sightseeing, tourist activities getting the best deals on accommodation, food and transport.
How to Get to Rio
British Airways are the only airline that fly direct to Rio De Janeiro from the United Kingdom. Other airlines flying to Rio De Janeiro from international destinations include Air France, Alitalia, SWISS, KLM, TAP Air Portugal, United, Emirates, Iberia, Royal Air Maroc, American Airlines, Delta, Avianca, LATAM and Lufthansa. For the best deals and cheapest prices we recommend searching flights on Skyscanner.
Where to Stay in Rio
Rio is an expensive city but you have a lot of choice when it comes to accommodation. There are lots of hotels, hostels, apartments and AirBnB to choose from throughout the city. If you are looking for somewhere cheap to stay, use Hostelbookers or Booking.com to search for budget accommodation and book well in advance to get the best prices.
View our guide to the best hostels in Rio de Janeiro - perfect for budget travellers.
Best Places to Visit in Rio
Here are some of the most essential places you need to add to your itinerary
- The Sambadrome, famous for Carnival
- The Metropolitan Cathedral
- Cinelandia Plaza, such as the Municipal Theatre, the National Library and the National Museum of Fine Arts
- The neighbourhood of Urca, home to Sugar Loaf Mountain where you can take a cable car up Urca hill to see panoramic views of Guanabara Bay, Rio Niteroi and Corcovado hill.
- Copacabana Beach
- Ipanema and Leblon
- The Cosme Velho Train to the statue of Christ the Redeemer & Sugarloaf Mountain
- Botanical Gardens
- Santa Teresa neighbourhood
- Lapa neighbourhood
- Tijuca National Park
- Maracanã Stadium
- Lagoa neighbourhood
- Samba schools
- National Museum of Fine Arts
- Hike to the top of Dois Irmãos (‘Two Brothers’) Mountain
Rio de Janeiro Sightseeing Tours
Find activities and top things to do in Rio de Janeiro including guided, private and sightseeing tours, outdoor activities, adventure sports and ecotourism ideas. Booking a city sightseeing tour of Rio de Janeiro will allow you enjoy a safe and incredible experience in this magical destination. Search tours and discover why this city is nicknamed Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvellous City).
If you would like to discover the best places in Rio learning more about the people, history, culture and places you visit then a guided or package tour is an ideal option. There are also lots of day and longer tours departing from Rio de Janeiro.
On a tour of Rio you wil get to visit world famous and iconic places like Copacobana beach, the Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer just to name a few. Most tours are led by multilingual guides who will also take you to eat at populcar locally run cafes and restraurants where you can enjoy delicious Brazilian food. There are also lots of adventure activities you can book in Rio which all you to do more than just sightseeing.
Types of tours you can book include:
There are options to arrange private tours of Rio where you will have a guide and not be in a group. This is the best way to have the most detailed experience as you will have 100% attention and get all questions answered. These types of tours are usually the most expensive options. Tour guides can either pick you up or meet you at a pre-arranged location.
Group sightseeing tours are very popular, here you will get to explore the city with other people from all over the world. Most tours begin in the morning where you will meet a guided tour in popular tourist areas. Some tours will pick you up at your accommodation also, it really depends on the tour operator. Tours are available in lots of languages. At the end of the trip you will usually be transfered back to your hotel
Some people offer free walking tours which take you to local sights, cafes, bars and restraurants. Although these experieces are advertised as free you might want consider tipping the guide if you think the tour was enjoyable.
Interested to learn more about the world famous favelas? There are sightseeing tours available and since the Brazilian pacification process began a few years ago these tours are very safe - you will not be taken into any dangerous favelas. A favela tour is the safest way to see and learn more about this communities.
Tours vary in price depending on the duration, type of tour and also the company. Some companies also offer combo tours including volunteering in Rio de Janeiro or Portuguese language classes in Rio de Janeiro. You can search city tours and book now to discover the best of Rio for yourself!
Popular Adventure Activities in Rio
- Hang gliding and paragliding
- Helicopter tours
- Tijuca Forest adventure trips
- Dois Irmãos hiking
- Corcovado hiking
- Pedra Bonita hiking
- Pico da Tijuca hiking
- Sugar Loaf and Pedra da Gavea mountaineering
Water sports you can do in Rio include parasailing, parchuting, sailing, kayaking, paddling, surfing, scuba diving and white water rafing.
Tours from Rio de Janeiro
There are lots of day tours and longer which can be joined in Rio. Most tours of Brazil start in this city but you can then discover the rest of Brazil or even travel in South America and see more of the continent.
Best Day Trips from Rio de Janeiro
Popular Excursions from Rio include:
- Ilha Grande
- Serra dos Orgãos
Rio de Janeiro Travel Tips
How to Get from the Airport
From the airport or in the city always get the official yellow taxi's which operate a meter system, or agree a price beforehand as there are instances of tourists getting ripped off. From the main airport in Rio you can also catch a bus into the main areas like Copacabana.
Transport & Getting Around
Getting around Rio can be tricky so get a tourist map on arrival or take a guide book which should have a bus map on. In Rio there is a metro, extensive bus system and also taxi's allowing you to get around the city, walking is also recommended but check area safety advice and do not go wandering off in unknown places during night. Getting around Rio by bus is the best way to see the sights, a single ticket costs either 2.50 or 2.75 Riel (approx £1 / $1.50) and is generally safe and easy to use if you know where you are going. Ask the driver to tell you where to disembark if you are not sure where to get off.
Try to learn a few Brazilian Portuguese language phrases this will make the experience of visiting Rio a lot easier, for example learning to ask for directions or how much things cost. You might be surprised how few local people speak English and so have a list of words or a phrase book will come in really useful.
Rio does have a reputation and a pretty shocking crime rate compared to other destinations worldwide but most international tourists encounter no issues. As long as are careful, listen to advice you should be fine. Be sure to buy travel insurance in advance, we recommend World Nomads.