Rio de Janeiro is a city of many contrast when it comes to landscape and population. While one part of the inhabitants lives the rich life near the famous beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, the other half lives in Favelas in the mountains.
Having spent 2 days in Rio, here are 7 sights in Rio de Janeiro you cannot miss when visiting.
Christ the Redeemer
One of the most famous sight in Rio by far is Christ the Redeemer. It is one of the 7 world wonders and some people only visit Rio in order to visit the Christ statue.
Cheapest way to get to the Christ
There are multiple ways to get there, such as by foot, bike, rental car etc. However, the cheapest and most convenient option (other than by foot) is to take an Uber (taxi) until Paineiras (parking lot). From there, you only walk around 50m and arrive in the visitor center where you can purchase your ticket.
Don’t get ripped off by expensive offers in the city center who take you to the Christ. It is fairly cheap to do it on your own.
PS: If you have never used Uber before, you can use the code “ja2a3w” and get a discount for your first rides. Only works for newbies though.
How much does it cost to visit the Christ
In order to give you an estimate, we paid around 20RS (5-6€) with the Uber to get to the parking lot. The entrance for the Christ was 30RS (7-8€) as it was low season in June. It may cost around 40RS in high season.
What to expect at the Christ statue
It doesn’t really matter if it is high or low season, you can always expect a big crowd on a fairly small platform. Everyone is trying to get the best photo by laying on the floor or posing in a funny way. I actually enjoyed watching all those people.
If you want to escape the crowds, you would need to wake up early and be one of the first visitors at 8am. This is entirely up to you!
Depending on what hour of the day you are going, it can be very hot, so take your sunscreen or hat. There is not really a lot of shadow to hide from the sun.
Finally, if you got your photo you will also be rewarded with an amazing view over Rio’s landscapes with mountains, beaches, favelas and everything that makes this city so diverse.
Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf mountain)
The sugarloaf mountain is said to have the most amazing panoramic view over the city and therefore belongs to one of the popular sights in Rio de Janeiro. Apparently, you have an even better view than from the Christ.
In order to get there, you will need to take 2 cable cars. They are made out of glass, so that you can already enjoy a 360° view while going up. The cable cars leave every 20 minutes and it only takes around 3min to get up/down
How much does it cost to visit Pão de Açucar
There are two options how to get up the sugarloaf mountain. Either you take two cable cars from the very bottom (Morro da Babilõnia) to the very top for around 55RS (approx.15€), or you walk up yourself and only take the 2nd cable car at Morro da Urca for around 25RS (approx. 6-7€).
Since the sugarloaf mountain is located in Urca, you can either take an Uber to the bottom of it or a bus. There are two bus lines that bring your there: 511 to “Ataulfo de Paiva” and the 512 to “Bartholomeu Mitre”.
Personally, I didn’t visit the sugarloaf mountain as I was already satisfied with the view from the Christ and was on a low budget. However, should I return to Rio again, I would probably visit it.
Another very famous sight in Rio de Janeiro are the Selaron Steps. These steps were actually made by an artist who was born in Chile and claimed it as “my tribute to the Brazilian people”
There are 215 steps covered in more than 2000 tiles from over different 60 countries. The artist Selarón mainly chose the colors of the Brazilian flag being blue, green and yellow. Simply beautiful!
It is important to know that those steps are located in the city center, Lapa area, which is not meant to be the safest. Therefore, I recommend to visit during the day.
Ipanema and Copacabana beach
There is not much to say other than enjoy. For your own safety, don’t take valuable things. I didn’t even take my phone, just some cash to buy some coconut water.
If you visit Ipanema beach, you can go to Pedra do Arpoador and enjoy the beautiful sunsets in the evening.
Since the most famous favelas of Brazil are in Rio, you might be interested in doing a favela tour. Not only will you support the locals living there, but also get an insight about how they built everything from scratch, the main problems and how they make a living.
Just around the corner of the Selaròn Steps in the Lapa district, you will find another famous sight in Rio, called the Carioca Aqueduct (Arcos da Lapa), very impressive arches.
They were built in the 18th century to transport water from the river Carioca to the city. There is a big open space in front of the arches, where people meet in the late afternoon to practice Capoeira (Brazilian form of martial art).
SAFETY: As beautiful as the Lapa area is, it is not the safest place. I recommend going there only during day light and strictly to the tourist places. Even during the day, you will meet creepy faces, so watch your stuff carefully.
One sight in Rio de Janeiro you cannot miss is Parque Lage. First of all, it is free to visit. Second of all, you can take a beautiful photo with Christ the Redeemer in the background or simply enjoy a coffee.
The park itself is not huge, so you can go for a quick walk as well, escaping the busy city life.
Transportation and Safety in Rio
Since most of the places are apart from each other, you will need a way to get from A to B. I recommend using metro or Uber to do so as those are the safest options.
Around the beach area (Ipanema/Copacabana), you are fine to go by foot. Nevertheless, watch your stuff closely and look around you before taking a selfie, just to make sure.
Finally, Lapa area is super beautiful and even more by night. However, I recommend doing all activities there by day as this is a very unsafe area. Try to stick to mainly touristic places in this area.