Rio de Janeiro is a city which inspires awe, desire, and maybe a little fear when its name is motioned. Sure, it has its moments, but the two weeks I spent there before and during carnival was some of the most fun I have had throughout South America.
The Carnival was easily my most favourite time in Brazil. Being there at the right time can be a little tricky for people. Luckily though, there is so much more to see and do in Rio De Janeiro you won’t even know you missed the Carnival.
Although I rushed things a little bit with the onset of Carnival, a week to 10 days is a perfect stay in Rio De Janeiro and just enough time to see and do everything on this list plus much more. But if you have very limited time, check this Rio De Janeiro itinerary for 2 days.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Firstly, let me guide you through some of the basics of Rio De Janeiro so your time there will be a little smoother. I most definitely recommend Uber, it’s super safe and much cheaper than the cabs and it was available day and night. Perfect for making your way around the streets and especially back from the beach in the evenings.
Rio Airport is located about 15 minutes’ drive from Lapa the main backpacker hangout, while Copacabana and the beach areas are perhaps a further 10 minutes’ drive.
WHAT ARE THE TOP RIO DE JANEIRO TOURIST THAT YOU MUST NOT MISS
For the basis of this article, we will pretend that you are in Lapa and any distances or times are based from here. Anyway, that’s enough, let’s get into the fun stuff.
ROCINHA FAVELA TOUR
This is one of a few tours I have done in South America which resulted in a heated discussion with other travellers about the merits of visiting a poor/dangerous area.
Favelas have a bad reputation and what these tours do is dispel these myths and show that its ordinary, everyday people living and working in a unique environment.
The favelas can be seen from all over the city as they climb the huge mountains around Rio De Janeiro. Like the Pablo Escobar tours in Colombia enterprising locals have built a business around the notoriety.
With our guide, we explored the narrow walkways, towering buildings and met some excited locals along the way. Yes, we saw some bullet holes and a large police presence but at no time did I feel unsafe.
We also got to see where some of the tour company’s money went as they have built a large play area and kindergarten for children in the neighbourhood. The children would otherwise not be able to get an education.
An eye-opening experience and one of the more unique things that you can do in Rio.
The tours can be organised through the reception of most hostels and hotels and it cost $30. The bus and guide will pick you up and drop you back to your accommodation so no need to worry about the logistic aspects of the trip.
CLIMBING MORRO DOIS IRMAOS
This next adventure also involves a Favela but on a much smaller scale. My day hiking Dos Hermanos was probably one of the most fun and entertaining out of my whole time in Rio De Janeiro and should be done. Not hungover though like the group I was with.
As I was smart and didn’t want to feel ill I stayed in bed and mustered the group early the next morning. The excursion took about six hours in total but was definitely worth it.
The day started by getting an Uber to Vidigal, A favela located close to Copacabana beach. At the entrance to Vidigal, you will find a group of moto-taxis who will take you to the top of the Favela for 5 real. I wouldn’t attempt to walk it as it is super steep.
From here there is a football pitch you must walk around the find the path up the rest of the mountain. The hike itself took about 2/ hours.
But the views are breath-taking and so is the hike. As you can see from the pictures. I highly recommend doing the hike before mid-day as the heat can be a little overwhelming.
After getting a little rest and plenty of pictures we descended from the mountaintop and made our way through Vidigal all the way back to Copacabana. Coming down was far easier than going up.
There are plenty of stores, restaurants and kiosks throughout Vidigal, so you can always stop for a bite to eat just like we did. In total including the Uber, it cost no more than 20 Real for the incredible day hiking.
ATTEND A BLOCO
Okay, Blocos are usually associated with Carnival. They are essentially roaming block parties; large groups of people follow whoever or whatever is playing music.
During Carnival, I discovered that these take place all year round but build up as it comes closer to carnival season.
If you have the chance of attending a Bloco is definitely an exciting experience. The parties usually consist of a lot of fancy dress for both male and females and a whole lot of dancing. Obviously, they are a little crazier during carnival. Some of the largest Blocos will have over a million people.
Dress to impress when attending a Bloco. I had no idea it would be some extravagant.
They can be themed parties, so everyone is dressed similar such as the Super Mario party of the superhero theme. It’s a great way to get a little taste of carnival without having attended.
If you can’t find a Bloco then a night out in Lapa is probably the closest thing you can attend. Plenty of fun can be had and as it’s a tourist location is relatively safe.
VISIT THE BEACHES
Finally, you must, of course, visit the beaches of Rio De Janeiro. They are some of the most beautiful in South America and that’s is coming from a person who doesn’t particularly like beaches. Try and get there early in the day as some of the prime spots will be taken and you will be left scouring for a spot.
It’s almost impossible to get the perfect solo beach shot in Rio De Janeiro as they are all quite busy but it’s a great place to relax for a few hours and truly enjoy your time.
Copacabana is, of course, the largest tourist trap but there are plenty more to discover once you arrive. Again, Uber is the best way to get to any of the beaches or you can go by metro. It was quite busty during carnival so we decided not to use it while we were there.
I hope that you found this Rio De Janeiro tourist attractions that you must not miss the article useful. But remember to enjoy Rio, experience the amazing people, colourful night-life and stunning views all across the city.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Eoin is an Irish blogger who has been on the road since 2013. On his blog he focuses on outdoor adventures and the struggles of creating an online business. He can usually be found in Ireland or South America. Follow his journey on dollysquest.com or on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
All photos in this post are copyrighted to dollyquest.com, unless stated – A Mary Road used them with permission