Things to do in Rio de Janeiro + 2 Wonders of the World

Rio de Janeiro is a city in Brazil which has 2 of the 7 wonders of the world.  Things to do in Rio De Janeiro;

  • Copacabana and Ipanema beaches
  • Christ the Redeemer – New Wonder of the World
  • Sugarloaf mountain – Botafogo
  • Rio Harbor – Natural Wonder of the World
  • Maracana Stadium
  • Rio Centro
  • Selaron Steps (Escadaria Selarón)
  • Carioca Aqueduct
  • Rio Helicopter Tour

Rio De Janeiro is one of the most expensive cities to stay in South America, Copacabana and Ipanema are the most expensive areas.  Budget areas to stay would be Botafogo or Centro.

Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches

Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro - Ipanema and Copacabana Beach

Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are arguably the most famous beaches in the world.  They are also adjacent to one another so you can walk them one after another.  Be aware that Brazil gets quite hot.  If you don’t want to walk on the actual beaches, there’s a promenade alongside them.  Along the promenade are numerous vendors, selling everything you can imagine.  The most popular products are coconuts or caipirinhas and I suggest you try them.  You’ve probably seen Copacabana Beach on TV filled with stunning girls in bikinis, unfortunately it’s not like this in real life!

Christ the Redeemer – New Wonder of the World

Things to do in Rio De Janeiro - Christ the Redeemer

One of the top things to do in Rio de Janeiro is visit the Christ Redeemer statue.  This is in fact one of the seven new wonders of the world.  You must take a train or minibus up the Corcovado mountain to see the Christ Redeemer.  Once at the top, the Christ Redeemer itself may be quite underwhelming.  As a matter of fact you can see it from all over Rio therefore, why go up at all?  The reward for venturing up the Corcovado mountain are stunning views over Rio.  Finally, other new wonders of the world include Petra, Colosseum as well as the Great Wall of China.

Sugarloaf Mountain – Botafogo

Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro - Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain is located in the Botafogo district of Rio.  I preferred ascending Sugarloaf mountain to Christ the Redeemer.  The main reason is because there is much more space on Sugarloaf mountain.  In addition, the views are not much different, so if you have the choice of one or the other, I recommend Sugarloaf mountain.  What’s more, it’s easier to get to as well.

Rio Harbor – Natural Wonder of the World

Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro - Rio Harbor

Rio is home to one of the natural wonders of the world, Rio Harbor.  There are wonderful views of it from the Christ the Redeemer statue.  Alternatively, you can see it from Sugarloaf mountain or why not visit the banks of the harbor itself!  Other natural wonders of the world include, Paricutin Volcano in Mexico, Grand Canyon in US and the Northern Lights which I saw in Reykjavik.

Maracana Stadium

Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro - Maracana Stadium

The Maracana stadium, along with Wembley Stadium, is arguably one of the most famous football stadiums in the world.  It has hosted 2 World Cup finals, both in 1950 and 2014.  In addition, several concerts have been held here including Sir Paul Mccartney to over 180,000 people!  Today, it’s possible to take tours of this iconic stadium.  Did you know Red Star Belgrade in Serbia also play in a stadium called the Maracana?

Rio Centro + Nightlife

Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro - Rio Centro

Rio Centro has a bad reputation but I felt safe whilst walking around taking photos of the colonial Portuguese buildings.  Having said it is safe, I would avoid visiting quiet areas or visiting on a Sunday when all of Centro is quiet.

There are a few museums in Rio Centro, the most famous being CCBB but who comes to Rio to visit museums?  I stayed in Centro on the weekend and decided to give Rio Scenarium disco a visit.  The bad news is there is a long line waiting to get in on a weekend, the good news is that people sell you cheap drinks in the street whilst you wait.  As a solo male, I had a great night in Rio Scenarium and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a good night out as an individual or as part of a group.  The rule in Brazil is that you must drink Caipirinhas!

Carioca Aqueduct

Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro - Carioca Aqueduct

A neighborhood right next to Centro is Lapa which is famous for its arches known as the Carioca Aqueduct.  I recommend you wait for an iconic yellow tram to arrive before taking your photo!

Selaron Steps (Escadaria Selarón)

Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro - Selaron Steps (Escadaria Selarón)

A top Instagram spot in Rio are the famous Selaron Steps (Escadaria Selarón).  You’ve probably seen a picture of these steps somewhere before.  They’re colorful steps with yellow tiles.  Due to their popularity, good luck taking a photo without another tourist in the background!  Finally, they are located in Lapa which is also famous for its nightlife.

Rio Helicopter Tour

Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro - Helicopter tour

If I was to take a helicopter tour anywhere in the world Rio would be a contender for number one spot.  You have city, jungle, mountains, ocean, beaches, as well as 2 wonders of the world, all in one short trip.  If you do consider to take a helicopter ride over Rio, I recommend you book online in advance for the best price.

How to get from Rio to Salvador

Overnight bus from Rio to Salvador, 30 hours, 292 ReaisOvernight bus from Rio to Salvador, 30 hours, 292 Reais

I took an Aguia Branca overnight bus from Rio de Janeiro to Salvador, it was advertised as a 24 hour journey but took 30 hours.  It was a comfortable bus though and it arrived safely.  The police stopped the bus once on route and checked the passengers hand baggage and identifications so have your ID with you, not under the bus.

Salvador to Fortaleza

2019-01-16T18:27:04+00:00October 28th, 2016|Brazil, South America|24 Comments


  1. Christopher James March 8, 2017 at 11:34 am - Reply

    Rio de Janeiro to Salvador, now that’s a trip I wouldn’t mind taking. Nicely done on this post! Though 30 hours on a bus does sound a bit brutal!

  2. Suzanne March 30, 2017 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    I have a question. While you were there, did you hear a lot of bossa nova on the streets? I have this terribly cliched vision in my head of hearing The Girl from Ipanema while strolling down Ipanema Beach.

    • James Smith March 31, 2017 at 2:04 am - Reply

      I actually put this song on my running list for my evening run on Ipanema beach! I don’t think I heard it anywhere else though, having said that they probably play it in the tourist cafes!

  3. Zinara March 30, 2017 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    The helicopter tour photo of Rio looks beautiful. From Rio to Salvador sounds like a dream trip of mine. I don’t think I’d be able to survive 30 hours on a bus though. Zinara x

  4. Jennifer March 30, 2017 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    Even though Rio is a modern city, there is something very classic about it. Reminds me of Ernest Hemingway (maybe he hung out there). It’s on my bucketlist to ride in a helicopter, so this may be the place to do it!

  5. Natalie March 30, 2017 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    Rio is a such a BIG sounding adventure destination! I’m not sure about taking the kids….would you consider it a family friendly location? Would LOVE to see the Christ the Redeemer!!

    • James Smith March 31, 2017 at 2:01 am - Reply

      I’d take my 3 year old daughter to Rio, she’d love the beaches. I think she would run around wild up with the Christ Redeemer though!

  6. Anastasia Sofia Jones March 30, 2017 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    I’ve taken some long bus trips in my time but 30 hours is pretty long. How are the seats inside the bus? Do they recline? My bus rides in South America were all excellent but I haven’t travelled much in Brazil yet. The reclining seats were common in South America and made the journeys so much more manageable, I was pretty surprised. Would love to spend more time in Brazil though, for sure. Especially Rio and to see Christ the Redeemer.

    • James Smith March 31, 2017 at 1:57 am - Reply

      Hi Anastasia, the buses in Brazil are just as good as in the rest of South America, cama, semi cama etc..

  7. Jean March 30, 2017 at 10:02 pm - Reply

    Oh this looks like a fun trip. We’re off to Sth America this year and didn’t consider going to Rio or Salvador. But with how easy the bus is maybe we will now. Thanks for such an informative post.

  8. Nadine March 30, 2017 at 11:55 pm - Reply

    I always wanted to go to Rio but I was never sure about safety. Could tip to avoid Centro during Sunday I didn’t know that it is more quite then. Sounds like you had a good trip and the colonial buildings in the picture look amazing

  9. Rhiannon March 31, 2017 at 12:07 am - Reply

    I’m definitely with you on Christ the Redeemer! Looking at it from below, all the way down in the city with it looming over you is SO much better than being up close. When you’re right next to it, it is what it is – just a statue. But from below it’s symbolic and almost mystical.

  10. Gary March 31, 2017 at 1:38 am - Reply

    Isn’t it amazing how so many things look better from far away, like the Redeemer statue. You want to get up close and touch them, but they’re actually better from a distance. We agree that a helicopter tour of Rio would be amazing. There is just so many great sights close together.

  11. Urska March 31, 2017 at 11:54 am - Reply

    Rio de Janeiro was always on my dream list and according to your adventure I really have to visit it!

  12. Hitch March 31, 2017 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    RIo de janeiro and all brasil is on my bucket list since a long time 🙂
    Thanks or the ID tip, I can easily forget stuff like that 🙂

    Keep up the good work 🙂

  13. Paul and Carole April 2, 2017 at 8:12 am - Reply

    Useful post for visiting Rio. 30 hours on a bus though wouldn’t fancy that, maybe we are getting too old lol!

  14. Tony April 3, 2017 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Stunning city, it looks amazing and I would love to visit it one day – have never been to South America yet though! A helicopter tour does sound incredible – the 30 hour bus ride less so! Thanks for sharing

  15. Garth April 4, 2017 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    Gerat post James, will pin this as we want to go to Rio one day! I can imagine the view from the statue must be awesome, thanks for the tips

  16. Carmen Baguio April 5, 2017 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Having just come back from Rio, I love all of your pictures! I agee with your recommendation, you have to drink Caipirinhas!

  17. Viktoria April 5, 2017 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    Gonna visit all the spots you’ve mentioned when I come to Rio! Awesome:)

  18. Oana April 6, 2017 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    Great post, I still have to cross this off my bucket list. The picture with the Rio Harbor is just WOW, I can stare at that view for hours. Will pin this for future reference. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Sid April 7, 2017 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    Wow! The helicopter tour sounds great! Is it very expensive?

  20. David McClane May 12, 2017 at 4:34 am - Reply

    That 30 hour bus ride would be an absolute killer! Salvador is on my list for my next trip to Brazil! Some good tips in here, especially mentioning the Lapa nightlife, it was by r the best place that I went out in Rio!

  21. Lisa August 22, 2017 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    I’d really like to visit Rio, and its harbor one day, despite the bad press. I think you’re right about Christ the Redeemer, it probably looks better from a distance because it’s so huge. I can’t believe the ride to Salvador took 30 hours, but then Brazil is a huge country. You really have been everywhere, not jealous at all!

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