Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Culture & history

Our most recommended Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Culture & history

Rio de Janeiro: 6-Stop Highlights of Rio with Lunch

1. Rio de Janeiro: 6-Stop Highlights of Rio with Lunch

Start your adventure with a pickup in the morning from hotels located in the South Zone and head towards your first stop at Christ the Redeemer.  Enjoy great jungle views in the minivan ride through the Tijuca Forest that surrounds the Corcovado Mountain. Reach the peak of the mountain and meet the statue of the Christ the Redeemer with its arms right open over the city. Admire the sweeping views and take breathtaking pictures. Head to a nice walk outside the Maracanã Stadium and find out more about the passion of the Brazilians for football. Learn about the samba tradition in Rio by visiting the Sambadrome, the place with the biggest Carnival parade on the planet. Marvel at the beautiful street art of the Selarón Steps, a gigantic mosaic work of the Chilean artist Jorge Selarón. He started dedicating himself to decorate the stairs in the early 90s. The 250 steps have become a monument and an icon of Rio. Stop at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro to revel at the biblical passages on the stained-glass inside it, following a stop for lunch in an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant. With the batteries recharged, there is still one place left.  Head to Urca neighborhood and marvel at the beauty of the Sugarloaf Mountain and be amazed by the cable ride to the top. From 220 meters above sea level take in the breathtaking 360-degree view of Rio de Janeiro, Guanabara Bay, the city of Niteroi, and the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Rio: Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf, & Selaron Day Tour

2. Rio: Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf, & Selaron Day Tour

Discover the landmarks of Rio on a full-day guided tour, including pickup and drop off at hotels in Rio. Start with a visit to Corcovado Mountain. Ride by van to the top or board the train, both through the Tijuca Forest. Then, marvel at the main monument of Brazil, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, as you take in panoramic views of Rio. Next, head towards the mythical Maracanã football stadium and observe its imposing façade. Continue to the legendary Sambódromo where the annual Carnival parade takes place. Visit the modern Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro, influenced by Mayan pyramids. Check out the brightly colored tiles of the world-famous Selarón Steps at Lapa, before enjoying a typical Brazilian steakhouse lunch. After lunch, visit Sugar Loaf. Take the cable car to the top in two stages and see one of the most iconic natural landmarks in Rio.

Rio: Carnival Backstage Tour at Samba City with Cocktail

3. Rio: Carnival Backstage Tour at Samba City with Cocktail

Discover what goes on backstage at Rio's Carnival with this guided walking tour. Watch as preparations are made for the world's most famous parade with this attraction ticket. Wear some authentic costumes and take a Samba workshop before savoring a cocktail.  Be greeted by your guide at Samba City and begin your behind-the-scenes tour. See the carnival factory and find out how the floats and costumes are produced for the parade. Uncover the history of Samba and hear the story of Rio's carnival.  Try on some authentic carnival costumes and get some stunning glam shots. Participate in a Samba workshop with a professional dancer from a Samba school. Finish your tour by sipping on a delicious caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail.

Rio: Olympic Boulevard, AquaRio and Museum of Tomorrow Tour

4. Rio: Olympic Boulevard, AquaRio and Museum of Tomorrow Tour

Take an insightful excursion through Olympic Boulevard, the city's port area that houses the newest of Rio's attractions. Enjoy an informative commentary from your guide and visit the modern Museum of Tomorrow, as well as the AquaRio aquarium, depending on the option you choose. Take advantage of a hotel transfer and head out on your exciting Rio adventure. Visit the Museum of Tomorrow, a technological applied science museum dedicated to exploring and questioning all the possibilities for building the future of the planet and the human race. Take photos of the unusual architecture before walking in to explore the exhibits. Afterward, make a stop at the Kobra Mural, one of the largest graffiti murals in the world, created by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra. Observe five ethnic groups depicted realistically before a colorful background. If you book the AquaRio option, you'll have the chance to visit the largest marine aquarium in South America. See more than 5,000 animals from 350 different species from around the world in 28 saltwater tanks. Get up close and even interact with an immense variety of fish, rays, sharks, and corals.

Rio de Janeiro: Museum of Tomorrow and Olympic Boulevard

5. Rio de Janeiro: Museum of Tomorrow and Olympic Boulevard

After pickup from your accommodation begin your tour at the Museum of Tomorrow, one of the most highly rated attractions in Brazil. Admire the architecture of the museum from the exterior as you explore the reflective pool and gardens. Enter the building and see the main exhibit, created by physicist and cosmologist Luiz Alberto Oliveira.  The museum studies the future of the world and its possibility for transformation. Explore the five major areas: Cosmos, Earth, Anthropocene, Tomorrow, and Now. Marvel at the experiments and experiences that encourage you to consider the fundamental questions of existence. After exiting the museum, continue to the Olympic Boulevard. The walls measure an area of almost 3,000 square meters in total and were painted for the Rio Olympics in 2016. Get up close to the Ethnicities Mural by Eduardo Kobra, one of the world’s largest piece of graffiti art.

Rio: City Sights Van Tour with Christ the Redeemer

6. Rio: City Sights Van Tour with Christ the Redeemer

Embark on a guided tour of Rio and see important highlights, including Christ The Redeemer and Selaron Steps. Ride a cable car to Sugar Loaf and take in the sunset views overlooking Copacabana Beach. Begin your tour with a visit to the Corcovado Mountain. After a 20-minute drive to the base of the statue of Christ the Redeemer through the Tijuca Forest, enjoy a beautiful view of the city and the surrounding landscape. This 710-meter-tall (about 2,330 feet) statue is Brazil's main monument and a World Heritage Site. Next, head towards the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro and Selarón Stairs before reaching Sugar Loaf by sunset. Located in the Urca neighborhood, it is one of Rio's icons. Board a cable car and ride to the Urca Mount station before continuing on in a cable car to the top of Sugar Loaf. At the top, enjoy the beautiful and panoramic views of Rio de Janeiro. Enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world while overlooking the Copacabana Beach from the top of Sugar Loaf.

Rio: Olympic Boulevard, Museum of Tomorrow & History Tour

7. Rio: Olympic Boulevard, Museum of Tomorrow & History Tour

Begin your tour by being picked up from your hotel and discover the many hidden gems in Rio’s Downtown area with a tour guide. Start at the Valongo Wharf (the latest Unesco World Heritage site in the city) and learn more about the African influence in Brazil. Then head to the Kobra Mural — one of the largest graffiti walls in the world — created by the Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra, to admire the five ethnic groups portrayed in a colorful geometric background. After a few pictures, you will walk along the Olympic Boulevard towards the Museum of Tomorrow. This is a modern and technological science museum dedicated to exploring and questioning all the possibilities for constructing the future of the planet and mankind. Discover its remarkable architecture, and pay a visit to the most visited museum in Brazil. After exploring the future, travel to the past in the Monastery of Saint Benedict, where you will experience the contrast of the simple façade, with the interior covered with golden ornaments, a heritage from the Baroque period. Before heading towards the historical streets of Rio, you will see the Rio 2016 Olympic Cauldron created by the American artist Anthony Howe. You will notice the reflective-kinetic-sphered-structure is a reminder of the Games. At the Praça XV, you will see one of the former headquarters of the Brazilian empire and learn more about important facts of Brazilian history that happened in the area. Your last stop will be at Confeitaria Colombo (closed on Sundays), one of the “must-see cafés” from around the world. Enjoy the opulent art nouveau decorated with huge stained glass, tiles, and mirrors imported from France, Portugal, and Belgium. You can finish your tour tasting one of the Brazilian traditional snacks such as the coxinha de frango (‘little chicken thigh’), or desserts such as the brigadeiro (‘brigadier’) in one of Rio de Janeiro’s most prestigious places at the beginning of the 20th century.

Rio de Janeiro: Downtown Walking Tour

8. Rio de Janeiro: Downtown Walking Tour

Depart from the meeting point we go to Downtown Rio de Janeiro. The historic center of Rio de Janeiro is surrounded by centuries-old roads and buildings that show important periods in Brazilian history, from the time of the monarchy up to Brazil becoming a republic. Delve into 500 years of Brazilian history with a visit to the XV de Novembro Square. Admire the architecture of ALERJ building, Paço Imperial, and do Carmo Convent. Walk past the dos Teles Arch and see its winding alleyways. Follow your tour guide to Candelária Church and learn about its importance to the city. Then, discover hidden treasures in the architecture of the Brazil Bank Cultural Center, or as locals call "CCBB". Admire the contrast between old and modern by walking down the street to Cinelandia Square. Explore political and cultural buildings in the area, such as Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro, National Library of Brazil, National Museum of Fine Arts, and City Council of Rio de Janeiro. Revel at the architecture of Colombo's Bakery, one of the main landmarks of the city's, and have a snack. Finish your tour at a subway station in Downtown Rio, and choose to return to your hotel or continue exploring the region on your own.

Rio de Janeiro: Historic Rio and Santa Teresa Half-Day Tour

9. Rio de Janeiro: Historic Rio and Santa Teresa Half-Day Tour

Following pickup from your accommodation, head to the historic center of Rio de Janeiro. Consisting of centuries-old buildings and roads, the historic center of Rio best illustrates the most important chapters of Brazil’s history.  See the contrast of new and old architecture at XV de Novembro Square. Continue to Cinelândia Square until you reach the famous Carioca Aqueduct (Arcos de Lapa) in Lapa. Admire the historic beauty as you continue to Santa Teresa by car. Enjoy the winding narrow streets and colorful buildings of bohemian Santa Teresa, famous for its bars, galleries, ateliers, and the 19th-century Santa Teresa tram. From the top of Santa Teresa Hill, enjoy some of Rio’s finest views and look across Guanabara Bay.  Take in the panoramic views of the city from the Parque das Ruínas, located in the ruins of an old mansion belonging to Laurinda Santos. The mansion has been partially restored and is now used as a cultural center hosting various exhibitions and events.

From Rio de Janeiro: Niterói Day Trip

10. From Rio de Janeiro: Niterói Day Trip

After pickup, sit back and relax during the 1-hour drive from Rio to Niterói. Take the opportunity to snap some photos as you cross Guanabara Bay. Learn about the old capital of Rio state and how the name comes from the indigenous Tupi language. Make your first stop in downtown Niterói and visit the Niemeyer Way, a series of works by the renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer. Sites such as the Oscar Niemeyer Popular Theatre, Oscar Niemeyer Foundation, and Roberto Silveira Memorial extend for 11km in the coastal neighborhoods of the city. Continue on to Juscelino Kubitschek Square. Head to Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, known locally as ‘the MAC’ and the highlight of this day trip. Revel at the interesting and inventive shape of what is considered one of the greatest works by Niemeyer. See contemporary art inside the museum. Make a quick stop at São Pedro Fish Market to finish off the tour. See where most restaurants buy their fresh fish and seafood. Finally, be dropped off back at your accommodation in Rio.

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Frequently asked questions about Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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What are the best day trips and excursions from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil?

The best day trips and excursions from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are:

Petrópolis

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What people are saying about Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 1,789 reviews

Picked up from hotel and travelled between sights in a modern air conditioned 20 seater small coach, which was great. Guide was charming and knowledgeable. It was a great way to see lots of Rio top sights. Sugarloaf cable cars and views were the highlight for us. Lunch stop was in a great local canteen with a wide range of fresh food.

Just amazing! From the moment we were greeted at our hotel to the moment we said goodbye we had an amazing day. Our tour guide was just the best and made the entire trip, well informed, friendly, helpful, always in sight if you needed anything and made us feel very safe and relaxed! Thank you again!!

Amazingly organizer trip. All the tickets were there already so we did not have to wait in line. Juan was an excellent guide and took care of all members of his group.

Excelente servicio, el guía Adonai muy amable y servicial, la pasamos grandioso. Gracias

Amazing tour around Rio, thank you so much to Priscilla and Antonio