Top 10 Must-See Attractions in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most vibrant cities on earth and unlike any other – I’m sharing my top 10 must see attractions with you as part of #ThrowbackThursday, though it’s hard to limit it to just 10!

1 – Beaches
Rio’s beaches are legendary – Copacabana, close to Sugar Loaf Mountain, is world renowned and stretches for four kilometers. The Copacabana Palace Hotel is a great place to sit and watch the sunset here. Ipanema is also famous thanks to the Girl from Ipanema song, and attracts a trendy, good looking crowd, whereas the adjoining upmarket area of Leblon tends to appeal to families. In the Barra area, Praia da Barra da Tijuca stretches over 12 glorious kilometers.

Top-10-Must-See-Attractions-In-Rio-de-JaneiroWhilst Arpoador is a surfers paradise and another great place to catch the sunset over Ipanema and Leblon from the rocks.

In health conscious Rio, there are plenty of places to work out on the beach!

Rio de Janeiro Sugar Loaf Top 10 Attractions
2 – Christ the Redeemer
You won’t want to miss a trip on the cog train up to Christ the Redeemer or Corcovado. This Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ was created by Paul Landowski and stands 30 metres tall – that’s without including the 8 metre pedestal. The arms alone stretch 28 metres wide.

Corcovado train
It really is an impressive sight and the symbol of Brazil worldwide. You’re never far away from it in Rio de Janeiro and it’s lit up at night. The statue was struck by lightning in 2008, suffering damage to the fingers and head, but has been restored since.

Christ the Redeemer statue Rio
The views from the top are fantastic – here you can see Lagoa, Rio’s natural lagoon.

3 – Sugar Loaf Mountain
Another must-see, Sugar Loaf Mountain is particularly impressive at sunset so make sure to time your trip for a little before then. It’s a picturesque trip up in the two glass-walled cablecars to the top of this peak, 396 metres above the harbour. The name comes from the 16th century when blocks of sugar were placed in conical moulds of clay to be transported on ships. As these resembled the peak, so the mountain became known as Sugar Loaf.

The panoramic views from here are incredible – you may notice the little white dot slightly to the right of the picture on top of one of the peaks – that’s Christ the Redeemer, still visible from afar.

4 – Urban Rain Forest
Rio is quite unique in that it has an urban rain forest, right in the centre. The Tijuca Forest may well be the world’s largest urban forest, covering 32 square kilometres. It’s located in the mountainous area known as the Tijuca Massif and is actually a man-made reclamation of land on which coffee and sugar had previously been planted. Created by Major Manuel Gomes Archer in the 19th century to protect Rio’s water supply, it’s now home to hundreds of species of wildlife and plants. It was declared a National Park in 1961.

Rio rain forest walk
5 – Foodie Paradise
If you’re a foodie then you’ve come to the right place. Rio is famous for the high quality of its meats and churrascarias or barbecue restaurants such as Porcao. Here you pay a set rate and they then bring you round meat until you place your red token on the top to say “no”!

Porcao Brazil
Don’t forget to sample a bowl of acai ice cream, made from wild berries and utterly delicious.

acai ice cream
You can try it in one of the many sucos or juice bars, on virtually every street corner and with lots of interesting flavours on offer.

suco bar Rio de Janeiro
A visit to Confeitaria Colombo is a must if you have a sweet tooth. This grand cafe dates from the late 1800s and is a great place to sample a pastel de nata or custard tart whilst admiring the decor of stained glass windows and high ceilings.

Confeitaria Colombo Rio de Janeiro
6 -Lagoa, the lagoon
This stunning lagoon is encircled by a 7.5 kilometre path, popular with cyclists and runners. Lagoa itself is also the name of the neighbourhood, one of the most affluent in Rio and the third most expensive in South America. Nearby there are hiking trails where you can get a far-reaching view over the lagoon.

Lagoa Rio de Janeiro view
Or if feeling less sporty, take a duck or swan boat out for a bit of fun.

Lagoa ducks Rio
7 – The Culture
Rio has many interesting museums, including Museu de Arte do Rio which hosts regular exhibitions in a recently renovated space.

Museu de Arte do Rio
Museo de Arte Rio statue
The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel has beautiful gold carvings and a Roccoco style interior.

It’s definitely worth a visit to Copacabana Fort Museum if you’re in the area. Although it’s still an active military base, it is due to host the marathon swimming and triathlon events in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Copacabana Fort Rio de Janeiro
8 – The Historical Centre
Mainly a commercial area, there are some stunning examples of Belle Epoque architecture to be seen here and several museums are close by.

Rio de Janeiro architecture
Travessa do Comercio is a street lined with striking old colonial townhouses, many restaurants and bars, making it popular with locals after work.

Rio historical centre mural
downtown Rio
9 – Nightlife
Rio is renowned for its nightlife and Lapa is the place to come if you want to experience Brazilian samba dancing. It can be hard to find a non-touristy place but Carioca da Gema is very authentic and has some excellent musicians performing. Whether a beginner or an expert, don’t hesitate to take to the dance floor.

Carioca de Gema Rio
10 – Wildlife
It’s very easy to spot marmoset monkeys – there are lots of them at the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain and in Copacaban Fort. They originally lived on the Northeastern coast of Brazil but soon spread to Southeast Brazil and are now considered an invasive species there – cute though.

Monkeys in Rio
You may also come across an anteater if you’re lucky.

Or a stork taking in the view over the bay to Sugar Loaf Mountain and the cable car…

All in all, Rio de Janeiro is definitely worth a trip! Have you ever visited? What would you most like to see there?


  • I have always wanted to visit Rio! great photos! looks so dreamy!

    • It’s such a unique place – I want to go back, visit in more detail and then head to Buzios plus the Iguazu Falls!

  • I went last year and Sugar Loaf Mountain was my fave place.

    • Ooh I’ll read your blog post on it, didn’t realise you had been

  • Angela Donava

    Awesome pictures!

    Have a nice evening!

    Angela Donava

  • It looks amazing there! I would love to go


    • You definitely should visit Laura, it’s such a special place with the beach, rainforest and all the animals

  • Wioletta M.

    wow! Such an amazing place! Rio de Janeiro is now on my travel list 😛 thanx for tips what to see there x

  • Angie SilverSpoon

    Ooooh this is so useful to me, I’m really hoping to visit Brazil next year. I’ll have to look at your post again if I do 🙂
    Lots of love,

    SilverSpoon London

    • Leblon is a a great area to stay if you do go, very safe as is Lagoa

  • Lucy

    Rio is somewhere I have always wanted to visit, such beautiful pics. Especially loving the view from Christ the Redeemer breathtaking Lucy x

    • The view was amazing and it was great to see all the wildlife there, wasn’t expecting that!

  • Rio is one of the top places on my wish list 🙂 The places you’ve talked about here look incredible, it just looks like such a vibrant and fun culture

    Rachel xx

    • I love the way that they are so health conscious and sporty, they spend so much time outdoors!

  • Paola

    So dreamy, I would like to visit RIO!!!!!
    Kisses, Paola.


    My Facebook

    • Fingers crossed that you get the chance Paola, it’s amazing – have a great weekend!

  • Ah, take me back! It’s been many years since I visited and I’m gutted I missed out on Sugar Loaf Mountain – ran out of time. I clearly have a *need* to go back!

    • Oh no, what a shame! You definitely need to return. We actually went to see Corcovado twice as it was very foggy the first time, I’m glad we had a week there

  • glowyshoes

    looking at these pictures, makes me wanna go on holidays

    Glowyshoe blog

    • Fingers crossed that you get to go on holiday soon, thanks for stopping by!

  • WhatWouldVWear

    Rio is definitely on my bucket list! Would LOVE to visit!

    I truly hope this day is as beautiful as you are, my dear

    Sending you much love & have a great weekend!!!

    xoxo, Vanessa

    • You could do some amazing shoots there Vanessa, wishing you a very relaxing weekend from London!

  • I love your photography! hopefully, this year ill get to visit Brazil 🙂

    The Fashion Matters- Fashion & Travel Magazine

    • That’s very kind, this was my old camera and the lens had a few marks on it – hope you get to visit this year or next

  • What an amazing city, Suze! I’ve always wanted to go see it and I hope eventually I will. I love the nave of The Church of Our Lady.

    • There were a few beautiful churches that were worth a visit, I think you would love it Anda. Have a great weekend

  • Beach is all I ever want to go right now! I really need to take a break from work and study 🙂

    • Tell me about it, Gail! I’m desperate for a break but I do have a few coming up – hope you get one too

  • What a filled post. I’ve been really wanting to head to Rio de janeiro. I have a couple of friends from there and would love to go to some of their favourite places. Thanks for sharing Suze. x/Madison
    Family Style Dinner

    • It would be even better knowing people there, would love to read about it if you get to go, Madison!

  • Rio de Janeiro isn’t at the top of my travel list, though this post has certainly pushed it up a few places haha. I’ve heard wonderful things about their beaches and I’d love the opportunity to see the art deco statue of Jesus Christ, that would be quite the experience after seeing it featured in so many travel documentaries over the years 🙂

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice x

    • If going back to Brazil I’d want to go to the Amazon and the Falls but it’s good to have a few days in Rio to see the main sights

  • Aisha

    This is not my kind of place that I would like to visit but from your photos is really really beautiful !! x


    • Interesting as quite a few have said that, I think the tourist board has some work to do with bloggers to promote it more 😉

  • Em Catch52

    Spot on list! I was in Rio 3 years ago and unfortunately had an awful experience but its such a beautiful city

    Em x Catch52

    • I’m intrigued, Em – I hear it can be a bit dangerous in parts but luckily for us we were fine

  • Danielle

    I have always wanted to go to Brazil. I have met some Brazilian people, and they are so friendly. Rio de Janeiro is in the list of cities I would love to visit. Your photos are beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

    • You’re right, they’re really friendly and welcoming – glad you liked the photos and have a great weekend Danielle

  • I’ve always wanted to visit Rio de Janeiro…the mountains and the beach look absolutely amazing! Thanks for sharing this!

    • It really was fantastic, the beach goes on and on, and we did quite a few treks to work off all the food!

  • Kelly M

    The content of your blog is just always fantastic!! I love it. This is looks amazing I need to get myself to RIO! That epic Jesus statue, Sugarloaf Mountain, the Urban Rainforest and amazing wild life are all the apples of my eyes! Such a fun one to read. Thank you for sharing.


    • Thanks so much Kelly, I always enjoy reading yours. Rio is incredible! Nowhere else quite like it – have a lovely weekend

  • Such a useful blog post Suze! I have always wanted to go to Rio, this is just added motivation! I love it 🙂

    Ash | Liakada

    • That’s very kind Ash, if I was visiting now then I’d do lots more restaurant recommendations but it was great fun putting this together

  • Serena Reale

    Amazing one day i will go to this Amazing Place
    Beautiful photo

    • I certainly hope that you get to visit, Serena, thanks for stopping by

  • nicoleta buru

    I never have been there. Latin America is a virgin land for me so far.

    Look forward to get there next year +_+



    • Ooh lucky you, I’d love to return to Latin America as that’s the only country there I’ve been to so far

  • Thanks for the beautiful photos of Rio! It looks so beautiful. I did not really know what it looked like. This is really eye opening. Love the statue it is so impressive. 🙂
    Michele xx

    • That statue is so enormous, I love the way you can see it from wherever you are in Brazil and it seems to be reaching out to you!

  • Selena

    Brazil is one of the destinations I’ve always wanted to visit, and now you’ve made me want to go even more! The photos are beautiful, very colourful.
    Amazing post, really looking forward to the next one! xx

    • Thanks very much Selena, I’m glad you liked them and looking forward to checking out your blog

  • From all Rio beaches I loved Ipanema – secure and really cool :). Acai is soooooo delicious!!!! They also mix acai with cereals and eat it for breakfast – I loved this one (I forgot the name of that mix).

    • I wish acai was as nice outside of Rio but here in London you can usually only get acai powder, not quite as good!

  • Great recommendations! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I always wanted to visit Rio de Janeiro


    • It’s so worthwhile visiting, Alyssa – there’s a carefree vibe that I’d love to bottle and bring back to London!

  • Beautiful places dear,

  • I LOVE Rio, so thanks for this trip down memory lane! I could really do with a nice cool Acai Bowl right now… 🙂

    Polly xx
    Follow Your Sunshine

    • Acai just doesn’t seem as good in London! I could do with a fresh bowl from Brazil too

  • Emily Ray

    Eep, absolutely love this as I am looking to go to Rio next year and I had no idea there was so much to see there. Currently looking up flights again to see if there are any cheaper deals! x

    • There really is tonnes to see, I’d recommend at least 4 days if you can Emily

  • Alfredo Ciano

    Fantastic Guide to Rio !!! My Dear Friend LuxuryColumnist ( a Curiosity : What is Your Real Name ? ) the Post is Marvelous !!! Congratulations , ByeBye & Lots of Fun !!!

    • Thanks very much Alfredo, that is very kind – my name is Suze!

  • Lovingaforeigner

    As a Brazilian myself, I am impressed how knowledgeable you are about the city! Glad you had you had a great time whilst there.

    • Oh that’s so kind, I visited before the blog so didn’t take any notes but luckily it was a very memorable trip. Lucky you to be from Brazil


    Beautiful photographs! Impressive really…

    • Thanks very much, it’s my old camera and it had a big blob on the lens that I only realised later but a few came out alright

  • Rio has been high up on my list of places to go for a long time now. Hoping to make it there soon!

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