Rio de Janeiro


Top City

"The places you must absolutely visit in Rio de Janeiro"

Presented By: Brad Harbach, Top 100 Places Fanatic, Travel Blogger & Rio Fanatic -

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain
Taking the tram to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain is not only the #1 thing you must-do when you visit Rio, but it is also the very first thing you should do after you check into your hotel. The views at the top of Sugarloaf are the best in the city and they help you immediately orient yourself in what can be a complex city layout to figure out. My best advice to you is to not just rush up, Instagram a photo and come back down. Relax. Buy a beer at each level and really take in the scenery around you. I've been fortunate to travel to over fifty countries and I'm telling you, it doesn't get much better than this. Lastly, make sure to check out the cool bamboo forest on the backside of the top peak!
Must Visit

Zona Sul Beaches

Zona Sul Beaches
There is nothing more Carioca (the term used to refer to people who live in Rio) than spending a day soaking up the sun on one of the many beaches surrounding this beautifully mountainous city. The Zona Sul (South Zone) area encompasses two of the most famous beaches in the world - Ipanema and Copacabana. Both beaches have their own charm. Ipanema with its panoramic mountain views and Copacabana with its perfectly cut crescent shape. Locals commonly rent chairs and umbrellas from the various shops on the beach. You can even have ice cold beers, coconuts naturally filled with coconut water and even Caipirinhas brought to your side as you soak up the magical Brazilian sun.
Must Visit


While many places around the world hold celebrations to mark the beginning of Lent, the festivities that take place on the streets of Rio de Janeiro stand above the crowd and elevate Rio Carnaval firmly into the "Best Party On The Planet" seat. Most people are familiar with images of the beautifully decorated samba schools parading through the historic Sambadrome stadium (like the picture above). Unfortunately the hundreds of bloc parties (called blocos) that collectively make up the "Street Carnaval" are often lost in the shadow of the samba costumes. When you visit, spend a night at Sambadrome, but be sure to get your hands on a schedule for all of the blocos. Spend a few days bouncing around from party to party on the streets with the Cariocas and you are guaranteed to learn what makes Carnaval so special.
Must Visit

Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer
Christ the Redeemer (Cristo in Portuguese) is one of the most iconic images in the world and is certainly the face of Rio de Janeiro. As you spend time in Rio, jumping around from one part of the city to the other, you will always be able to look up and see the towering statue watching over your visit. Standing next to this 30m high statue affords you incredible, almost 360 degree views of Rio's mountainous landscape. The view of the city from Sugarloaf is slightly better because it is physically closer to the beaches, but don't let that keep you from visiting Cristo. Your opinion could certainly be different. At the very least, Cristo has been featured in many different films over the years and a quick visit to the top would allow you to forever say "I've stood there!"
Must Visit


A churrascaria is a restaurant where meat is cooked in churrasco style, which can be loosely translated as Brazilian Barbecue. Almost all churrascarias are rodizio style, which means that you pay a fixed price to have waiters bring an unlimited amount of food to your table until you can't possibly eat anymore. A rodizio churrascaria then consists of waiters continually coming to your table with massive skewers of meat of which they slice off sizzling pieces onto your plate. The diversity of the meat selection is one of the highlights of the night - filet, sirloin, lamb, pork ribs, beef ribs, sausage, chicken hearts and so much more. You will not leave a churrascaria hungry! Porcao is the best churrascaria in Rio and it is an absolute must-do every time you visit. Their "Porcao Rio's" location offers fantastic nighttime views of Sugarloaf Mountain to accompany your meal.
Must Visit

Quiosque Caipirinha

Quiosque Caipirinha
This is really a merger of two must-do items when you visit Rio. They are so complimentary that it just doesn't make sense to list them as two separate activities. The Caipirinha - a mix of limes, sugar and cachaca (sugar cane rum) - is the national cocktail of Brazil. It also happens to be far and away the best national cocktail on the planet (leave a comment below if you think you have a contendor). Quiosques (kiosks is english) are these ubiquitous shops planted alongside urban beaches all over Brazil. They generally sell casual food and drinks and profit from their naturally beautiful views. When you visit Rio it is all but mandatory that you enjoy a traditional Caipirinha from the plastic chairs at one of these Quiosques. The best place to do this in Rio is from an elevated spot at the end of Leblon beach (as seen in this picture). Don't forget your camera!
Must Visit

Maracana Football Match

Maracana Football Match
If football is the national religion in Brazil, Maracana Stadium is the main house of worship. Holding 199,854 people during it's inaugural game held during the 1950 World Cup, Maracana was the largest stadium in the world for years and today is the largest stadium in South America. In 2014 Maracana will host the World Cup final. In 2016 Maracana will host the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies. Experiencing a match under Maracana's roof not only gives you an up close visit to one of world's most historic stadiums, but you also get a deep look into Brazilian culture and identity. You can take the metro safely from the downtown beaches directly to the stadium and back for the games. Check with your hotel concierge for help getting tickets to the games.
Must Visit

Sucos Stand

Sucos Stand
For months after returning from your first visit to Brazil, every piece of fruit you eat or juice that you sip will just taste flat out nasty. You will continuously keep asking yourself the question - why does fruit taste so much better in Brazil? While the answer surely is sitting out there somewhere behind a google search, who cares, it just tastes better. Like, absolutely ridiculously better! Sucos Stands (sucos is juice in portuguese) are located all over Rio. These are the places you can easily acquire all of these amazing juices. You need to 100% try Acai (it is served like a thick icy smoothie), Abacaxi com hortela (Pineapple and Mint) and Maracuja. Don't stop there though - seriously drink as much juice as your body can handle, because once you board your plane home, you will never taste juice quite like this ever again!
Must Visit

Santa Teresa Walk

Santa Teresa Walk
Beaches, Caipirinhas, Cristo, Carnaval, Juices, Churrascaria, Carnaval, oh my! It's easy on a trip to Rio to completely miss that Rio was controlled by the Portuguese for hundreds of years before Brazil gained its independence in 1822. Rio is filled with some incredible Portuguese colonial architecture that is definitely worth checking out when you visit. This is especially a good activity to do when the clouds or rain empty the beaches and leave you wondering how to spend your day. The neighborhood of Santa Teresa offers a beautiful walk along the historical tram tracks to take in the Portuguese architecture. Additionally you are also offered spectacular panoramic views of Rio that 95% of visitors never see. Make sure to check out Parque Das Ruinas (amazing views) while you are in the area. There is a local company that offers highly rated walking tours of Santa Teresa. Either book with them or have a look at their route and craft a tour of your own -
Must Visit
"A few of my local favorites"

Farmers Markets

Mouth watering Brazilian fruit

Farmers markets are setup during the week in Ipanema and Copacabana. The markets are a great place to explore various different fruits that come from all over Brazil. The people working the stands are very friendly and will often times hand you samples of their incredibly rich tasting fruit. My favorite is the Tuesday market located at General Osorio in Ipanema. Check with google to find out where the markets move each day.

Koni Sushi

Fast, Casual, Cool Sushi Chain in Rio

This hip, casual sushi chain is frequented by university students and 20-somethings during the night for the delicious konis (or what we would call hand rolls). There are several Koni restaurants spread all over Rio and you are certain to walk by one as you explore the city. It's the perfect place to grab a bite when you are looking for a small snack or a healthy alternative to the heart attack inducing churrascaria experience!

Pom de Queijo

Delicious Morning Snack

Pom de Queijo (literally translated Bread of Cheese) are small, doughy pieces of bread that are commonly consumed by Cariocas during their morning commute to work. They are always served blazing hot out of the oven and they are a delicious treat that can't be found in most of the world. They are fairly ubiquitous in Rio, however the best place to find them is generally inside of metro stations on weekday mornings. good!

Lagoa Jogging

7.5km of beautiful scenery to enjoy

Lagoa is the massive lake that sits between the Zona Sul beaches and Corcovado Mountain. There is a trail that circles the entire 7.5km around the lake, making it perfect for a nice morning jog or long walk. It offers you a chance to easily explore a different side of Rio, that those who solely spend time at the beach would completely miss. The trail is safe during the day, but leave your fancy iPhone at home to guarantee pure bliss.

Lapa Street Party

Everyday Rio Street Party

Lapa is one of the most lively places to be in Rio after dark. The open outdoor area is filled with streets and bars full of people, all enjoying the sounds of Brazilian music and the beauty of historic Portuguese buildings in the area. Hop in a taxi and just say "Lapa" and you will be dropped off at this street party that takes place nightly. There are plenty of people selling food and drinks to keep you happy. Make sure to be smart and stay alert while you have fun.

Meet Brad Harbach

Top 100 Places Fanatic, Travel Blogger & Rio Fanatic -
Passionate traveler, photographer in training and a semi-retired computer geek - Brad has managed to explore over 50 countries. Through all of his travels, Brad has always strongly held that Rio de Janeiro is the best place in the world he has ever visited. He's made numerous trips to Rio over the last decade to experience Carnaval, sip on Caipirinhas, lay on the legendary Copacabana sand and converse with the beautiful locals. Stay connected with Brad as he continues to navigate the best of our world -
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