With its white sandy beaches, soaring mountains and picturesque harbor, it’s no wonder that Rio de Janeiro is known as the marvelous city. Facing the South Atlantic coast, the second-largest city in Brazil is blessed with one of the most beautiful natural settings for a metropolis in the world. The dazzling landscape is just one of the reasons that visitors flock to Rio. During carnival season, the streets fill with music and ornately costumed dancers, attracting revelers from all over the globe. At any time of year, visitors won’t want to miss the top tourist attractions in Rio de Janeiro.
Number 10. Barra da Tijuca Beach
This beautiful beach, which is the longest in Rio de Janeiro, boasts clean white sand and tends to be less crowded and attracts fewer tourists than Ipanema and Copacabana.
Its waters are also said to be cleaner than those two more famous beaches. Barra da Tijuca attracts active beach goers, so you’ll find many kite surfers and body surfers here.
The area surrounding Barra da Tijuca Beach is also the youngest in Rio, having been developed approximately 30 years ago.
Number 9. Lagoa Neighborhood
The Lagoa area is not only the most exclusive neighborhood in the affluent Zona Sul district but is the third-most expensive neighborhood in all of South America.
It is also home to a large lagoon known as the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas.
The four-mile path encircling the lagoon is a favorite spot for joggers and cyclists. Open-air cafés and restaurants along the shore offer stunning views of the lagoon and the beaches beyond.
Number 8. Maracana Stadium
Soccer is by far the most important sport in Brazil and the Maracanã Stadium is one of Rio’s most important landmarks.
It was able to hold nearly 200,000 people when it opened in 1950. In modern times, the capacity has been reduced because of safety considerations, and the introduction of seating for all fans. It was partially rebuilt in preparation for the 2014 World Cup and is currently able to seat 80,000 spectators making it the largest stadium in South America.
Number 7. Tijuca National Park
One of the largest urban forest in the world, the Tijuca National Park covers a huge area of a mostly mountainous landscape.
Visitors can hike to Rio’s highest peak to enjoy expansive views of Guanabara Bay and the city below. Nearly destroyed in the early 1800s by encroaching coffee plantations, much of the forest was replanted by hand in the latter half of the century with as many as nine million trees.
Attractions include the pink Mayrink Chapel and several beautiful waterfalls.
Number 6. Lapa Neighborhood
Located in the downtown section of Rio, the Lapa neighborhood was once the city’s red-light district.
Today, the area is known for its vibrant nightlife. Lined with samba and choro bars, the music and dancing spills out into the street on weekend nights. Most of the architecture dates back to the 1800s, providing a scenic backdrop to all the festivities. It’s the perfect place to meet up with friends to sip caipirinha, the national cocktail made with sugarcane hard liquor and lime. Escadaria Selarón, a set of famous steps connects both the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods.
Number 5. Jardim Botanico
Located to the west of the Lagoa neighborhood, the Botanical Garden houses more than 8,000 species of plants. Built in the early 1800s, the garden features many mature specimens, including avenues of towering palm trees. Visitors flock to the park to view the 600 species of orchids.
The garden includes a number of monuments, fountains and features, including a Japanese garden, a pond filled with water lilies and a museum which displays exhibits that focus on the environment.
Number 4. Sugarloaf Mountain
Rising 1,300 feet above the mouth of Guanabara Bay, Sugarloaf mountain is a monolith of quartz and granite that visitors can crest via a glass-walled cable car known as a “bondinho” or “teleférico.” The cable car departs every 20 minutes from the base of Babilônia hill and climbs to the top of the Morro da Urca hill.
From there, visitors can take a second cable car up to the mountain’s summit.
Number 3. Ipanema
The beach made famous in the bossa nova song “The Girl from Ipanema” in the 1960s remains one of Rio’s most popular tourist spots today. A long, arcing expanse of soft white sand and rolling waves, Ipanema routinely reaches the top of the “Best Beaches in the World” lists year after year.
The beach is bordered by a well-organized grid of shops and restaurants as well as an array of art galleries and clubs. Posts mark off the beach into section; families favor the section between posts 11 and 12 while the area near post 9 attracts dedicated sunbathers and free-wheeling artists.
Number 2. Copacabana
Separated from Ipanema to the west by surfer-favored Arpoador beach, Copacabana has a more active vibe than its equally famous neighbor.
Rio locals, called “cariocas,” always seem to have a game of soccer or volleyball in play, while vendors vociferously hawk their drinks and snacks.
Visitors and cariocas alike love to stroll along the promenade that borders the 2.5 mile long beach. Originally built in the 1930s, the walkway features a wave-like design laid out in black and white stones. Inland from the promenade are closely-packed multistoried hotels and apartments.
Number 1. Christ the Redeemer
Perched atop the 2,330 feet high peak of Corcovado Peak, the statue of “Cristo Redentor” stands with arms outstretched, gazing serenely out over the city. Construction of the statue began in 1922 during the heyday of the Art Deco movement, and the concrete and soapstone statue is considered the largest statue designed in the genre in the world. Most visitors take a vertical cog train to reach the base of the summit.
From there, visitors to the monument once had to climb hundreds of steps to reach the top. Today, elevators and escalators are available to shorten the trip..