For a first trip to Brazil, the Carioca capital and its region are absolutely essential.

This sprawling city nestled in the heart of an incredible landscape offers an ideal environment for both urban and nature-oriented tourism. With the blue ocean, green Mata Atlantica, and grey mountains, this multicolored capital winds its way through the panorama.

It fills the spaces in an unlikely entanglement of disparate dwellings, a reflection of the creativity and the resourcefulness of the area. In the midst of this true anthill of incessant activity, you will discover an extraordinary cultural vitality and an exotic sweetness of life that will never fail to put you under its charm. All of this happens under the gaze of Cristo Redentor (atop the Corcovado mountain), a statue of Jesus Christ that looks out over the 6,500,000 inhabitants of Rio. A unique view on your Rio de Janeiro vacation and which will make this part of your trip to Brazil an amazing memory.

On our Rio de Janeiro vacation 

visit :
Sugar Loaf mountain
Corcovado
Copacabana beach
The city on a guided tour

Map of Rio de Janeiro.

On our Rio de Janeiro vacation :

  • 1 private transfer from airport to hotel
  • 2 nights in a hotel with double room
  • 1 private excursion of about 4hrs to the Corcovado with a guide and chauffeur
  • 1 private excursion of about 4hrs to the Sugar Loaf Mountain with a guide and chauffeur
  • A half day private & guided visit of city boroughs with car and chauffeur available.
  • 1 private transfer from the hotel to one of the airports in Rio de Janeiro

A Brazilian jewel steeped in history 

Despite its immensity, Rio de Janeiro, the greenest megalopolis in the world, makes the visitor forget its gigantic size, thanks to the small, tranquil islands of greenery dotted throughout the city.

With its sandy beaches, steep mountains and tropical forests, Cidade Maravilhosa or the Marvelous City as the Cariocas call it, is situated in a unique and majestic setting.

From the sixteenth century on, Rio was occupied by Tamoyo Amerindians, the French and the Portuguese in turn. At a crucial time for the kingdom of Portugal, then in exile, it served as a refuge for the king fleeing from Napoleon. Rio was the capital of a young Brazilian republic for a long time, until the construction of Brasilia in the center of the country. Rio de Janeiro is a city full of mystery and charm that enchants visitors.

In the 19th century, some said that even the Phoenicians had occupied this city and sculpted one of the surrounding mountains into the shape of a bearded human face, making them the first Westerners to have set foot in the Americas. Today, doubt remains, but there are both ardent supporters and critics of the theory.

The city has adapted its urban planning to its environment and is today one of the greenest metropolises on our planet! Proof of this is the forest of Tijuca, at the foot of the famous Corcovado, which is the largest urban forest in the world at 3,972 hectares. A true green lung in the heart of the city that offers hundreds of walks and treks, much to the enjoyment of inhabitants and visitors. The magnificent botanical garden is also a haven of tranquility and greenery on 144 hectares, grouping more than 235,000 plants and 5,000 species of trees.

Mountains behind the buildings that line Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro.

Rio de Janeiro Carnival, the experience of a lifetime

The beautiful city of Rio never really sleeps. The true home of Samba, the city lives to the rhythm of the carnival, waiting for it all year round.

The Cariocas take this celebration so seriously that they have built more than 600m of permanent stands creating the Sambodrome Marques de Sapucai. This really shows how much collective enthusiasm there is for this special event. Streets full of partying people in coloured costumes dancing to the sound of the Bateria de Samba until morning is an experience not to be missed. Participating in the carnival while visiting Rio de Janeiro is a must!

Note :  To experience this great Brazilian celebration, you have to start booking 6 months in advance and plan a budget slightly higher than if you visit any other time of the year.

A good way to avoid these pitfalls is to travel in the weeks before the carnival. You can see the preparation parades or the ensaios, and avoid the disadvantages of Carnival week. Another tactic that works well is to come only for the winning schools parade that takes place on the Saturday following the main carnival, so you will see only the best. Do not hesitate to contact us to learn more about how to organize your stay in Rio de Janeiro at Carnival time. There are many tips and tricks if the hectic main show isn’t for you!

Colourful dancers at Rio de Janeiro carnival.

Classic sites on a Rio De Janeiro vacation 

The “must see” sites in Rio de Janeiro are mostly quite easy to identify because they are all world famous! Start with Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corcovado from where you can see the whole town and its bay.

The beaches of Leme, Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, (where the bikini first appeared), are all symbols of Brazilian sensuality. If you want to spend time by the sea and take relaxed walks along the city’s avenues, these beaches are perfect! Be careful however at the weekends, some beaches will get crowded.

Rio, is also where samba was born. Specifically, in the first favelas at the beginning of the 19th century, then deprived neighborhoods for the disinherited black population recently freed from slavery. Today you can find samba music everywhere from the small botecos, to the humble bars where the folk play music and sing while drinking an ice cold beer. There are also the practice parades of Baterias de Samba, big percussion orchestras dedicated to the famous carnival, its feverish preparations and its final explosion of fun and joy !

Finally, for football enthusiasts, there’s a visit of the mythical Maracanã stadium and its museum. Maracanã literally means the green bird in Tupi, the first indigenous language in Brazil. Each year thousands of visitors come to see this true temple of  “futebol.” It was completely renovated for the World Cup in 2014 and on a guided tour, you can relive some of the greatest moments in football history.

Helicopter view of the famous Maracana football stadium.

Really get to know Rio, on a city tour with a local guide

The beautiful Rio is not all famous, it also contains many hidden or lesser known treasures that are definitely worth seeing. Here are some examples of places to visit alone or accompanied by a local guide who will share their knowledge and love for the city with you.

The SAARA, which gets its name from the stuffy heat that prevails during the summer, is a sort of souk (Arab market) founded by the Arab community of the city. It is spread over no less than 11 blocks and is a place where everything is bought and sold in the midst of an incessant coming and going of busy people.

The National Museum houses the most important collection of Southern Amerindian art and artifacts in the world and is well worth a visit. You will come away with a much better idea of the history and culture of this immense country.

The Gabinete Portugues de Leitura, and the Travessa do Ouvidor are other important places for Brazilian and carioca culture. These historical sites illustrate the often little known local intellectual ability. The Catholic monasteries and the majestic modern cathedral with its pre Columbian pyramid style are worth seeing and show the contrasts in faith and its symbols in a still very religious country. The Positiviste Temple is a curiosity, this non-theistic religion was based on scientific progress, humanism and the beliefs of Auguste Comte. It no longer exists today, but it was a considerable influence on the first avant-garde leaders of the Brazilian republic at the beginning of the 20th century.

For those who like theatre and classical music, you can spend an amazing evening at the Municipal Opera of Rio. It was recently renovated in 2010 and needed more than 219 000 gold leaves to recover its splendor of yesteryear. You can also visit and admire the National Library, listed by UNESCO as the seventh largest in the world and the biggest in Latin America, a beautiful Art Nouveau building.

That’s not all ! You can also wander Santa Teresa, a bohemian quarter full of artists on the heights of Rio. Or discover the neighborhood where the sidewalks have musical scores written all over them.

On the outskirts of Rio, there are some interesting excursions in the mangroves of Guaratiba and to Niteroi to admire the architecture of Niemeyer and its futuristically designed museum. A really unforgettable experience would a ride in a gulet out on the Guanabara bay, or a helicopter ride over the city.

There are an infinite number of possibilities to discover other astonishing and interesting things in this megalopolis of more than six million inhabitants. Those who come to Rio, risk leaving having discovered the most Brazilian feeling in the world, “saudade.” This is the desire shared by all Brazilians who have left home for distant countries, to come back to their homeland, or the yearning of the older generations for yesteryear.

When you spend your holidays in Rio de Janeiro, you will be warmly welcomed and able to find activities that match your desires. Whether it’s a romantic trip, or with family or friends, the diversity and charm of Rio de Janeiro leaves no one unchanged.

Looking up at a favela in Rio de Janeiro.

Rio de Janeiro Vacation – Detailed Itinerary

All transfers are private services with a Portuguese speaking driver and guide for the visits. Meals are not included except for breakfasts.

Day 1 : Rio de Janeiro/ In

Your plane will fly over Rio to coming in to land, this is your first incredible view of the city surrounded by mountains and the ocean. After collecting your luggage, you will meet your driver waiting in the arrival hall.

He will drive you to your accommodation in the Zona Sul or to Santa Tereza.

If you arrive at the Galeao international airport above the Guanabara bay, on the 40 minute ride into town, you will get a first glimpse of the true “bee hive” that is Rio de Janeiro. If you land at Santos Dumont airport in the city centre, the transfer is about 20 minutes.

The driver will drop you and your luggage off at your hotel.

You will check-in and spend the night.

Blue skies and beautiful beaches in Rio de Janeiro.

Train crossing a bridge in Rio de Janeiro.

Day 2 : Rio de Janeiro – Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf mountain)

You will enjoy a hearty breakfast at the hotel buffet before setting off on a 4hr excursion in the morning.

At about 8a.m. a guide and a driver will collect you in a vehicle and take you to visit the famous Sugarloaf Mountain, one of the city’s emblems.

During this roughly 4hr visit you will start in the Urca quarter where you will leave the car at the Military school and start climbing the mountain. This is done in two stages, the first from the Red beach (Praia Vermelha) to Urca hill at 224 metres, you will take the first cable car.

Here you find a mini museum telling the story of the cable car installation, restaurants and souvenir shops. The second cable car ascension is up Urca hill to the Sugar Loaf, which is 395m high. The ride lasts about 3 minutes for each cable car.

From the top you can see the whole coastline with its gentle Niteroi valleys and the bay on the other side, as well as almost all the Zona Sul and a large part of the Zona Norte. It’s an impressive view to say the very least.

After lunch (not included), you will continue to explore the town, accompanied by your guide and driver (4hrs.)

During this visit you can walk the pretty bohemian quarter of Santa Teresa, discover Lapa, the SAARA or the cathedral and also the famous Maracana stadium and its football museum; there are hundreds of options. Feel free to select your choices in advance and then see what is possible to do on the day when you meet your guide.

At the end of the afternoon you will come back to your hotel for the night.

You can book a table at the Aprazivel in the Santa Teresa quarter for a Brazilian flavored dinner and a magnificent view over the bay. Dinner is not included in our package.

You can also dance at the Rio Scenarium, a museum-bar in the heart of the Lapa quarter. Spread out over three floors and decorated with old town souvenirs, the Rio Scenarium has very lively carioca evenings, so that tourists can discover a little local culture and music. Dinner is not included.

Cable car heading towards Pão de Açúcar in Rio de Janeiro, something included in Rio de Janeiro vacation.

One of the beautiful buildings of Rio de Janeiro.

Rio de Janeiro, where nature meets people and culture.

Day 3: Rio de Janeiro – Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) – Out

After breakfast, your guide will join you for a 4hr. excursion to visit the Corcovado.

The Corcovado hill, with its summit decorated with an image of Christ the Redeemer, is one of the main symbols of the town. This immense stone monument, tall and imposing, stands out above the forest dominating everything around it. It is undoubtedly one of the monuments that make Rio de Janeiro “The Wonderful city”.

You will cross the Tijuca forest to reach the entrance to the Corcovado Park where your driver will drop you off. From there, you and your guide will go to the top and admire the spectacular view at 710m above sea level, or about twice the height of the Sugar Loaf !

The climb to the top can be done in a small train (funicular) through the forest. However, the queues can be more than an hour long in high season!

After looking out over the “Wonderful city” for a last time you will return to your hotel and check out of your room.

A driver will take you to the airport for your flight,

End of our services.

A train heading through the Tijuca forest in Rio de Janeiro.

Christ the redeemer in the distance looks out over Rio Bay.

Rio de Janeiro Vacation – Accommodation

Olinda Rio Hotel (Standard)

The Olinda Rio hotel is a very well situated, small establishment on the Copacabana seafront. The rooms are decorated in an elegant and classic style with wooden floors and furniture. The luxury category rooms and suites have a panoramic view of the beach and the Atlantic and some have balconies. The restaurant offers a French  –      Brazilian style menu.

A Classic hotel with quality services and large well equipped rooms. Above all it has unbeatable prices for rooms with an ocean view looking out over Copacabana beach ! Our most affordable price in Rio.

Double room in Hotel Olinda Rio.

Arena leme hotel (Standard)

The Arena Leme hotel charmed us with its fine rooms, all brand new and with a view facing the sea (Deluxe category). Recently built, it has the latest technology in terms of sustainable development, guaranteeing comfort and quiet for its visitors. It offers a combination of modern design and traditional wood creating a calm and refined atmosphere. From its rooms or the rooftop bar with pool, the Arena Leme hotel has a breathtaking panoramic view along the Atlantic avenue on one side and the Duque de Caxias fort on the other.

This is a fine hotel in a quiet area on the seafront that has all the advantages of Copacabana without the footfall and traffic. It is without doubt the best value for money on the Rio seafront if you consider its location and quality of services.

Deluxe room with sea view in the hotel arena Leme.

Altos de Santa Teresa (Standard)

In peaceful, luxuriant surroundings on Santa Teresa Hill, Rio de Janeiro’s bohemian-style neighborhood, the Altos de Santa Teresa pousada offers an interesting alternative to coastal accommodation if you are looking for peace and quiet. Beautiful rooms with a refined decoration in the same style as the rest of the buildings and a splendid view overlooking Guanabara bay, Pão de Açúcar and Christ the Redeemer not to mention a swimming pool and Jacuzzi on the panoramic terrace.

A perfect place for a romantic stay or to get another view of the city. You will be enchanted by the little residential streets winding up the mountain side with their fine villas. An ideal atmosphere for quiet walks in peaceful surroundings.

A beautiful room in Altos de Santa Teresa.

Hotel Miramar by Windsor (Superior)

The Miramar hotel is in a good location on the last part of the “Orla Carioca” on the Copacabana beach in the smarter quarter of Rio. It has classic mixed with contemporary styled rooms which are spacious and comfortable and decorated by a well known stylist. They will please even the most demanding visitors.

You will find all the amenities of a top quality hotel and fine common areas too, with an infinity pool and rooftop bar. A perfect hotel for those used to a certain level of service and who want comfort and style above all.

Double room in hotel mirimar by windsor.

Copacabana Palace (Luxury)

A stay at the Copacabana Palace is a privilege. Surely the most famous palace in Latin America, it is a world reference in hotels. Setting foot in this hotel is to experience real Brazilian glamour.

The services and unique atmosphere make for an exceptional stay. A place for those looking for the very best for their stay in Rio de Janeiro!

The upmarket Copacabana palace.

Double room prices:

Standard category: 2 persons $612 /pers 4 persons $441 /pers
Superior category 2 persons $803 /pers 4 persons $632 /pers

Low season price of the current year, given as an indication and not a quote.

 Complete your Rio de Janeiro vacation with a nearby seaside destination!

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