The Christ the Redeemer statue is one of the most iconic and popular tourists’ spots for Rio de Janeiro, but the city has much more to offer.
Brazil is the second main destination for international tourists arrivals in South America after Argentina, and third in Latin America after Mexico and Argentina. The most popular destinations for tourists are the beaches at Rio de Janeiro and Santa Catarina. But Rio de Janeiro is more than just beaches and giant statues of Jesus Christ, the best you can do in the city is to try and get a taste of what it means to be a carioca (native Brazilian born in Rio de Janeiro).
Here are some places you can try to visit the next time you travel to Rio de Janeiro:
Museum of Tomorrow
Visit the Museum of Tomorrow (Museu do Amanhã), a combined art gallery and science museum set inside a futuristic waterfront building. This innovative cultural center strives to explore, stimulate, and visualize the prospects and probabilities for the future of the world in which we live. The Museum of Tomorrow is supported by some of the world’s leading organizations, including the United Nations. It covers present-day issues such as ecological deterioration, global warming, and social rebellion.
Spread out across more than 340 acres, the botanical garden awes its visitors with more than 6,000 indigenous and exotic species of flora. This serene garden hosts everything from orchids to jasmine-mango heliconias.
The gardens were originally created in 1808 by Regent Prince D. João to acclimatize spices from other regions, and since its debut to the public in 1822, the verdant sanctuary has become a haven for locals and tourists. The national park is also known as a premier botany and ecology research center.
Feira Livre da Glória
Gloria Street Market vibrant Sunday morning market was founded in 1994 and created as an organic and cultural market. What makes this unique is that you won’t find this spot in every tourist’s list, but it’s the place to sample fresh Brazilian produce from exotic fruits, fish, artisanal cachaça, and even hot pastries and shots of pure sugarcane juice. Which makes it a must for every food lover.
And no, we are not talking about food. Standing high above Rio’s bustling metropolis at 1,299 feet, Sugar Loaf Mountain cascades over the picturesque Guanabara Bay.
Visitors agree that the panoramic views at the top are breathtaking, particularly at sunset. The mountain’s park also includes a history exhibit, an interactive Cable Car Plaza that displays the original cable cars used on the tram, the Baía de Guanabara Space that features restaurants and shops, as well as an outdoor amphitheater that seats 700 people.
Real Gabinete Portugues de Leitura
The Royal Portuguese Reading Room was built in 1837 in the Portuguese Manueline style. This little-known library in Rio’s city center is a bookworm’s paradise, home to a vast array of Portuguese literature. It hosts the largest collection outside of Portugal with more than 350,000 works, many dating from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. It also has a small collection of paintings, sculptures, and ancient coins.
Brimming with authentic eats, lavish accommodations, and the beautiful Avenida Atlantica sideway made of mosaic tiles, Copacabana Beach boasts much more than powdery sands. Recent visitors raved about the beach and said the people-watching is some of the best in the world. Since the sands are always crowded, some travelers recommended just taking a sunset stroll along the water.
Jorge Selarón, a Chilean-born artist, fell in love with Brazil and dedicated his life to producing this landmark of steps with a handmade multi-colored mosaic. The steps begin in Lapa, with each one carefully decorated and vibrant patterns, and lead up to Santa Teresa.
Brazil’s passionate reputation for football is unlike any other. To experience football like a Brazilian, head to Maracanã, Brazil’s largest football stadium. Maracanã was the host of the final game of the 2014 World Football Championship and was the main stage for several of the 2016 Olympics games. Tours around the stadium are currently not operating, but there is a better way to experience it – head there on match day and check out a game between Rio’s rival football teams. One of the best games to watch is between Flamengo and Fluminense when the dynamic crowd drives the electric energy in the stadium.
Pedra do Sal
Historically known as “Little Africa”, this is the best area for getting immersed in Rio’s vibrant musical heritage. The samba da mesa features musicians who play well-known songs to the crowds surrounding the tiny plaza.
All of the dancing happens outdoors, so the music is canceled on days of heavy rain. Lonely Planet recommends taking a taxi there (around R$40 from Copacabana).
Tijuca National Park
Covering 8,300 acres, Tijuca National Park is the largest urban rainforest on the planet. The natural beauty of the park can’t be understated: it features varied terrains, waterfalls, more than 1,600 plant species, and more than 350 different species of mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles.
The park is split into three sectors – Forest, the Carioca Range and Pedra Bonita, and Gávea – which offers an extensive array of activities. The forest sector houses multiple hiking trails and picnic areas, while Carioca Hill is best known as the home of the Christ the Redeemer statue on the 2,330-foot Corcovado summit. Pedra Bonita and Gávea is the place for adventure seekers with activities like hang gliding and rock climbing.