Rio de Janeiro is the most famous destination in Brazil. It’s usually what springs to mind when someone thinks of this country. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
The State of Rio de Janeiro is less famous than the city but it also has lots of interesting places to visit along the famous Costa Verde with its hundreds of small islands. Our Brazil vacation packages, explore not only the famous city but its gorgeous surroundings. There is also the lovely, ancient colonial port of Paraty, or the tropical paradise of Ilha Grande. The Northern coast boasts the town of Buzios, the Brazilian equivalent of Saint-Tropez, coveted by the local jet-set. A choice destination for relaxing, beaches and partying in exceptionally beautiful and natural surroundings!
The famous Rio de Janeiro
Explore the city that lives to the sweet rhythms of Samba and Bossa Nova
Brazilian tourism first developed in Rio de Janeiro and its surrounding region.
Here you will find the country’s best hotel and restaurant services. Between mountains, jungle and ocean, Rio and its coastline are totally unique in that nature and humanity live side by side in total harmony. It is not just by chance that the biggest urban forest on the planet is here in Rio.
The birth place of Samba and Bossa nova music, and the land of many poets and writers, the state of Rio de Janeiro is also a choice destination if you want to explore Brazilian culture and nightlife. The Carioca capital has several museums and monuments to visit, not to mention the small colonial streets that will take you back to ancient times. From Lapa to Copacabana, the entire “Zona Sul” will welcome you whole heartedly; eager to share a few smiles, there will always be invitations to dance to the local music.
Rio is also a perfect destination for the more active among you, with lots of nature walks, from easy treks to more challenging hikes, a great way to explore the region and its capital. The many local beaches are also perfect for swimming, surfing and snorkeling depending on which beach you choose.
A vacation just visiting the state of Rio de Janeiro can therefore be enough in itself and is in fact quite a popular option. There is such a huge variety of things to do in the carioca capital!
A stay in Rio de Janeiro, where the myth becomes reality!
The “Wonderful City” as its inhabitants call it, snakes around the rounded mountains, closely interlaced with the mysterious tropical jungle and lined by a delicate band of superb beaches.
This is carnival country; the sweetness of life in Rio de Janeiro is felt in every step you take. From the heights of Pão de Açúcar (Sugar loaf mountain) to the heart of Guanabara bay or with your feet in the waves on the famous Ipanema beach, Rio is a complete change of scenery. After staying here you will leave with many treasured and memorable moments. You will want to just come back and discover more of its secrets!
Rio de Janeiro is set in a unique position. Even if you only have a few hours to go up Pão de Açúcar or to see Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), you will be amazed by the magnificent panoramic view spread out before you. For those who want to sunbath, relax and enjoy the mythical beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, they fully live up to their reputations. You will enjoy strolling along the vast sidewalks that border the beaches, an excellent way to discover the customs of the Cariocas, the inhabitants of this magnificent city.
If you want to meet some of the locals, you can try and join a football game on the beach early in the morning. Usually people are welcoming and will be happy to let you play. Beware however, these beachside players especially, have very fast feet! Otherwise, go and mingle with the crowd on the beach at the weekends and join in the fun and laughter with the locals. There will always be invitations to dance to the local music!
During your stay, you must see some remarkable places like the curious Saint Sebastian cathedral, built in the heart of the city with its pre-Colombian pyramid shape. The Corcovado, also known as Christ the Redeemer and the Pão de Açucar, or Sugar loaf Mountain, are two “must see” places from where you get different panoramas of this breathtaking city.
For historians, you can take a boat & explore the Guanabara bay fort. Finally, the mythical Sambodrome, a wide street full of stands from which you can sit and watch the carnivals pass is not to be missed for those interested in the local culture! For nature lovers, Rio is a choice destination, the tropical jungle is everywhere, the town has lots of parks such as the magnificent Botanical garden or the Tijuca forest, the largest urban forest in the world, offering a constant display of amazing biodiversity. It is therefore not surprising that our nature tours include a stay in Rio de Janeiro!
There are also lots of hiking paths on the outskirts of the city offering more adventure for those who are looking for more physical activities.
The surrounding area of Rio de Janeiro: Dream beaches, wild celebrations and historic colonial heritage
If after your discovery of the capital, you have a few days left for a beach holiday in the region of Rio, there are plenty of options.
Explore the beauty and historical heritage in the south of the state and the beautiful beaches to the north!
Paraty, the historic port of the gold route
For the curious, or those seeking a quiet destination and above all for history lovers, the small port of Paraty from where the galleons set sail loaded with gold for the Portuguese crown in Lisbon, is a great place to discover. With a little imagination, it can be a real journey into the country’s colonial past.
The architecture of this remarkably preserved, and for a long time forgotten, seventeenth-century village-museum lends itself admirably to the most baroque reveries. You will soon get caught up in the game and imagine yourself a pirate strolling through the cobbled streets lined with colored colonial houses. In the evening, the pretty mansions and the cobbled streets light up and come alive to entertain you.
Ilha Grande, ecotourism and paradisiacal beaches
The Costa Verde, is composed of dozens of different sized islands covered by jungle along a coastline dotted with little bays, coves and peninsulas. Some islands are private properties, some larger ones have a few inhabitants, and the smaller ones generally only have a few birds and their nests.
It’s in this idyllic setting that we have chosen the best place for a stay in paradise, on Ilha Grande, the largest island nestled in the Angra dos Reis bay.
The island (a few hours from Rio) is 30kms long with steep slopes and covered with forest. A true ecological sanctuary with no cars allowed, where you can discover the beautiful wild nature of the Atlantic forest. It is a perfect combination of tropical forest, mountains and ocean not to be missed for those looking for their paradise island! A place to go for families, friends or romantic couples.
Buzios, the fashionable jetset destination
This small, chic and trendy village, whose fame began after Brigitte Bardot’s stay in the 1960s, lies on a majestic 8km long peninsula, two hours’ drive from Rio.
Bordered by small coves, it has, among many other assets, twenty magnificent beaches all very different from each other thanks to the encounter of two opposing ocean currents. Today, Buzios is one of the venues of the Brazilian jet-set, as well as the destination of many celebrities from around the world. Many artists have settled here. It is a cosmopolitan village where some have come for a short vacation, been seduced by the enchanting surroundings and the sweetness of life and have never left!
As a result of this success there is a large choice of quality establishments for those looking to relax, eat good food and party. Buzios offers top-of-the-range services and entertainment day and night!
Top Rio de Janeiro FAQs
When is the best time to travel to Rio de Janeiro?
The best time to travel to Rio de Janeiro is between December and March, this is the summer season in the region, when the weather is hot and sunny, although there is slightly more rain. The average temperature in this season is 30°C / 86°F. In fact, anytime of the year is good to visit Rio de Janeiro although between June and August, you are likely to encounter cooler temperatures averaging 18.3°C / 64.9°F.
In 2020 the official carnival of Rio de Janeiro will run from Friday, 21/02/2020 until Wednesday, 26/02/2020. Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is one of the most extravagant parties in the world and if you want to part of it, you need to book your trip at the very least 4 months in advance (most people book their accommodation 6 months to a year in advance). Rio de Janeiro hosts the most famous carnival celebration in the country. The samba schools compete with massive floats and “baterias” (drum sections) to see who can put on the best show. If music and dancing are not your thing, you may be better visiting Rio de Janeiro outside the carnival dates.
Christmas and New Years
Rio de Janeiro is also a popular destination for New Years and Christmas but similar to carnival you need to book at least 4 months in advance to ensure you get accommodation at a fair price. During this time, the city lights up with festivals, parties and decoration and the Rio de Janeiro New Years Eve celebrations are broadcasted all over Brazil and the world. Hotels usually have a “minimum night stay” policy in place during this time, which means you can only book accommodation for at least a certain number of nights, this can make it difficult to find accommodation at a fair price unless you book early!
What are the top places to see in Rio de Janeiro?
The most famous landmark in Rio de Janeiro is certainly “Christo Redentor” or “Christ the Redeemer.” The famous statue of Jesus Christ with his arms outstretched sits atop the mountain of Corcovado and looks out over Guanabara bay. You cross the immense Tijuca forest to reach Corcovado Park, then you can take the funicular train to the top to witness the statue close up. From this position, 710 metres above sea level you also have one of the best views of the city. An essential stop for any visit to Rio de Janeiro.
Another popular mountain for tourists is “Pão de Açucar” or “Sugarloaf” mountain in English. To reach the summit you start at “Praia Vermelha” in the Urca quarter. The first stage of the climb takes you up Urca hill at 224 metres during the first cable car ride. After your first ride, there is a museum telling the story of the cable car installation with some restaurants, cafés and souvenir shops. After that, you take the cable car to the top of Pão de Açucar where you can see the whole coastline, as well as the other side of the bay, the Zona Sul and most of the Zona Norte. It is an incredible view and a very special place from which to enjoy a sunset.
One of the other most famous landmarks of Rio de Janeiro is the “Escadaria Selarón.” The mesmerizing multi – colored staircase was decorated by Chilean born artist Jorge Selarón as his “tribute to the Brazilian people”. It features tiles from over 60 countries of the world and draws visitors every day to its location between the neighborhoods of Lapa and Santa Theresa. These are the more bohemian neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro where you will find plenty of bars, clubs and restaurants to enjoy.
The Botanical Gardens of Rio de Janeiro exhibits an impressive display of Brazilian flora. The many greenhouses hold over 6500 species of plant, some of which are native and some of which are foreign. The Botanical Garden is also home to pieces of architectural and cultural significance as well as the biggest library/research centre dedicated to botany in the country with over 32,000 books! A great day out in Rio de Janeiro.
For people who want to be close to nature whilst in Rio de Janeiro then a visit to Tijuca forest is a must, one of the biggest urban forests on the planet, its main sights include Vista Chinesa and Taunay Waterfall, but there are many options for hikes to visit the caves and waterfalls within the park. Vista Chinesa is particularly interesting for those who do not wish to go hiking, as it is accessible by car. It features an impressive Chinese structure built as a tribute to the Chinese tea planters who came to Brazil and a magnificent view said to be a favourite picnic spot of Emperor Dom. Pedro II.
Rio de Janeiro´s beaches!
What is a trip to Rio de Janeiro without a day at one of the city´s famous beaches? Ipanema is where you will find the postcard Rio de Janeiro: white sand, a relaxed environment and beautiful people. It is known as the more “upmarket” beach, where people go to have drinks, relax and socialize. If you want to join in with the local games of football, “futevolley” and “frescoball” then you should head over to Copacabana. In comparison to Ipanema, it is more fun and down to earth. If you want to get away from the more crowded beaches then Joatinga is the beach for you, during the week there are few visitors here and it is also known as the beach with the cleanest water in Rio. For the surfers, the best waves break on Leblon, just next to Ipanema. Prainha is also a surf hotspot in Rio and one of the beaches with the best views in the city. You can see the mountains and the jungle in the background and it generally attracts a more laid-back crowd. Just be careful swimming here as the rip – currents can be strong and difficult to see.