Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide

One of the most stunning cities in the whole of South America, Rio de Janeiro somehow combines beautiful hill scenery and a laid-back beach culture to form a huge, bustling city. Famed for its carnival and the Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks what the locals refer to as the ‘Magnificent City’, Rio is a destination packed with things to do. Alternatively, do nothing at all while chilling out at Copacabana.

The former Brazilian capital and second largest city in the country offers a perfect beach and city combination destination. The two most popular seaside retreats remain the infamous Copacabana and the equally popular Ipanema beaches, both of which can get extremely crowded, particularly at weekends. Leblon and Grumari are also good places to sunbathe and take a dip in the ocean.

Much of the city center is dominated by opulent looking colonial buildings dating back to the Portuguese era, which sit alongside more modern skyscrapers. The Rio Cathedral is a unique looking structure built over 15 years and completed in the 1970s, and can house 20,000 people standing. Visitors should also take the time to get out of the city and explore the surrounding hills including Sugar Loaf Mountain with its stunning views of the city and bay below.


Ipanema Beach: nearly as famous as its big brother Copacabana but generally cleaner, this is the place to sample Rio beach culture.

Leblon Beach: quieter and more upscale than raucous Ipanema and Copacabana, Leblon is a wonderful place to while away days in the sun.

Sugar Loaf Mountain: actually two mountains, the more famous being the taller of the two which is incorporated into a not-to-be-missed cable car ride with fantastic views.

Christ the Redeemer: take the tram all the way to Rio’s most famous landmark with unsurprisingly wonderful panoramic views.

Maracana Stadium: the largest football stadium in the world and the best place to catch a game and experience Brazil’s passion for the sport.

Candelaria Cathedral: cavernous neoclassical structure right in downtown Rio.

Passeio Publico: built at the end of the 18th century, this is the oldest park still in existence in South America. It has recently been renovated and is now as beautiful as it appeared 200 years ago.