Rio de Janeiro Information, Activities and Attractions
Rio de Janeiro is an inspiring city of contrasts. Impossibly steep granite mountains jut out of the ocean between glorious stretches of golden sand, impeccable colonial buildings nestle in between modern glass skyscrapers and green forests tumble down hillsides into densely populated residential areas.
It is a city high on life, a city of beach worship, football, Samba and Carnival. And high above all this fun and frivolity stands Rio's ever-present, iconic landmark, the statue of Christ the redeemer.
The continuing strength of foreign currencies against the Brazilian Real and the national football team's success in the World Cup have both helped to make Brazil and Rio in particular, an increasingly popular and affordable year-round destination. As well as the city's well-known landmarks of Corcovado and Sugar Loaf mountains, Rio boasts a wealth of attractions and activities, plus great food, music and entertainment.
Situated in southeast Brazil, on the natural port of the Bahia de Guanabara (Guanabara Bay), Rio is a city of over 10 million people squeezed between the ocean and the mountains. The cidade maravilhosa (marvellous city) is a melting pot of cultures and people in varying degrees of wealth or poverty. In Rio, the rich and poor live together and the exclusive areas stand in contrast and close proximity to the slum areas or favelas. Rocinha is the oldest and the largest favela in Rio. It began with just a few houses in the 1950s and now has a population of 160,000. Today it is more like a city within a city!
But no matter what their background or economic standing, the Cariocas, as the citizens of Rio are known, are characterized by passion and enthusiasm for life, which is very clear to see during Rio's famous annual Carnival.
It has taken 500 years for Rio to transform itself into one of the world's greatest cities. On 1 January 1502, Portuguese explorers sailed into Guanabara Bay and named it Rio de Janeiro (River of January), under the mistaken impression that it was an enormous river mouth. The French attempted to gain control of the bay in 1555, but were finally evicted by the Portuguese in 1567.
History,Culture and Museums in Rio de Janeiro
If you are curious about Brazilian historyand Rio de Janeiro culture, passing through its former capitol is a true lesson. Taking a walk in downtown Rio de Janeiro is like going back in time with high concentration of beautiful antique architecture telling the tale about Rio de Janeiro culture and history from its origin by the Portuguese in 1502 until today.
Rio de Janeiro early history and Brazil Chronology
Rio de Janeiro history and chronology beginning with the Portuguese expedition mistakenly assuming the beautiful Guanabara bay for a River around 1502 on New Year’s day, hence the name "Rio de Janeiro"
Brazilian independence, second part of Rio de Janeiro history
The year turns 1700 and the second part of Rio de Janeiro history begins. The important events that led to Brazilian independence. Brazil history.
Getulio Vargas, man of the people or corrupt dictator?
Adored and hated by the people of Brazil, Getulio Vargas was overthrown twice and finally killed himself in the Presidential Residence rather than face the call for his resignation.
Through its journey, Rio has remnants from a past among Indians, from the Imperial period and also from its recent years as a republic state. Each of the monuments and old squares of Rio de Janeiro has a place in Brazilian history.
Historical places worth visiting
Praça XV or XV Square in Rio de Janeiro
Praca XV marks an important historical era in Rio de Janeiro colonial time. Here you can even today witness remains of Dom Pedro, emperor of Brazil
Fiscal Island in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Adrift in the Guanabara Bay, Fiscal Island is one of the few remaining icons of Brazil’s Emperor Dom Pedro II. A must see for all tourists to Brazil.
History of Arcos do Telles and Rio de Janeiro’s first witch Haunting, captivating and tragic; the history of the Arco do Telles, the last stone arch in Rio de Janeiro, epitomizes the culture of Brazil in the late 1700’s.
Praça Tiradentes: Executed Traitor hailed as National Hero
Rio de Janeiro’s famous Praca Tiradentes, also known as Tiradentes Square, pays homage to both Brazilian theatre and the executed leader of the Minas Conspiracy of 1789.
Cinelandia: Parisian Cafes & Amazing Architecture in Rio!
Cinelandia; the culture of Paris, the heart Brazil! Lined with sidewalk cafes and Art Deco architecture, located on the Rio Branco, Cinelândia is a must see!
Teatro Municipal: World Class Opera, Ballet and Music in Rio
While in Rio de Janeiro, a must see is a performance at the Teatro Municipal, Brazil’s largest and grandest stage!
Rio de Janeiro National Library, the largest in Latin America
Rio’s National Library ranks in the world’s top ten. Browse the rare works of many authors, artists and musicians in one of Brazil’s most historic locations
Residence of the govenor, Laranjeiras Palace remains original
An extensive restoration of the Laranjeiras Palace, the official seat of the state government has returned to the palace to its former splendor. A must see!
Arcos da Lapa or Carioca Aqueduct; Where the Samba Never Sleeps!
Brazil’s famous arches, Arcos da Lapa. History, Culture and the Samba rule Lapa. A must see for all visitors to Rio de Janeiro.
Santa Teresa, a world of its own in historic Rio de Janeiro
Santa Teresa has it all. Bars, history and the famous culture of Brazil all rolled into one neighborhood. You’ll spend weeks seeing everything there is to see!
Explore Catete Palace: where Rio's history and culture is reborn
Visit Catete Palace, Brasil’s original seat of power, now a museum rife with rare art and a wide selection of information about Rio’s history and culture.
Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB), culture meets finance
Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, or CCBB, preserves its artistic culture and Rio’s financial history with exhibits, expositions, and film.
The Sambodromo, the only place to be for Carnival!
To experience Carnival at its finest, you’ve got to be at The Sambrodomo, host to the nationally televised Samba School Competition.
Museums in Rio de Janeiro
At the Fine Arts Museum in Rio even the building is art!
Located in Cinelandia, the Fine Arts Museum in Rio de Janeiro boasts over 16,000 works of art. A wonderland of history and culture that can’t be missed.
Natural and Artistic Beauty Encompass Casa do Pontal Museum
The intoxicating gardens and many cultural artifacts of Casa do Pontal arouse both the mind and spirit. Take a trip outside of Rio de Janeiro.
Aerospacial Museum, Rio de Janeiro; Home of the "Demoiselle"
A favorite among children and adults, Rio de Janeiro’s Aerospacial Museum is an aviation buffs dream! Replica planes reflect the history of aviation in Brazil
Chacara do Ceu: Brasil's famous 'Mansion in the Sky'
Visit Chacara do Ceu for the most impressive view of Rio de Janeiro that you may find. 360 degrees of Rio’s breathtaking skyline and Guanabara Bay.
Beauty at the Modern Art Museum (MAM) in Rio de Janeiro
Devastated by fire, rebuilt by volunteers, the Modern Art Museum survives to become one of Rio de Janeiro’s most popular attractions for visitors and residents alike.
In the heart of the Tijuca forest, discover the Museu do Acude
Come enjoy the trappings of fine culture and artwork amongst the history at Museu do Acude.
The National Historic Museum is one of Brazil's finest!
Housed in one of Brazil’s oldest buildings, the National Historic Museum is a tribute to the economic and social aspects of Brazil’s history.
Visit the very first Inhabitants of Brasil at the National Museum
Home of over a million items, the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is a scientist’s dream.
The Indigenous Museum: exploring native art in Brasil
Literally step into Brasil’s Native Culture at the Indigenous Museum.
Learn the Secrets in Brazil's Cultural Navy Museum
The Cultural Navy Museum brings to life the history of Brazil’s Navy with tours and artifacts.
The Eva Klabin Foundation, a collectors Dream Come True
The beautiful and wealthy estate of the Eva Klabin Foundation houses one of Brazil’s finest collections of antique furniture and Chinese artifacts
MAR : Museu de Arte do Rio
MAC : Museur de Arte Comtemporêano em Niteroi
Museu do Amanhã na Praça Mauá
Churches of Rio de Janeiro
Gloria church traces of Rio de Janeiro imperialism
A voyage into the Gloria church in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Back into the ancient times and forgotten history
Catedral Metropolitana de Sao Sebastiao Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Come back in time to understand the history of Catedral Metropolitana de Sao Sebastiao, a controverse church architecture in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sao Francisco da Penitencia Church; all the gold in Brazil!
Brimming with culture, history and more gold than you can imagine, The Sao Francisco da Penitencia Church in Rio de Janeiro is definitely worthy of a visit!
Sao Bento Monastary
Gregorian chants are performed on Sundays at this Benedictine complex, which was completed in 1641 and contains a spectacular church altar.
Located in the city of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. It was built and decorated during a long period (1775 to the end of the 19th century) and combines a Baroque façade with a Neoclassical and Neo- Renaissance. The Candelária Church (Portuguese: Igreja da Candelária) is an important historical church in Renaissance inner decoration.
The chucrh was the site of several significant moments for the contemporary history of Brazil, such as the seventh-day mass of high school student Edson Luís de Lima Souto, and a protest of the Diretas Já campaign attended by over a million people. The area around the church was the site of the Candelária massacre of July 23, 1993, which brought worldwide attention to the issue of police brutality toward street children in Brazil.
Places to See in Rio de Janeiro
Corcovado – Christ the Redeemer
Every year, over 300,000 people visit the statue of Christ using the centenary Corcovado Train, the oldest tourist ride in the country. Once at the top, the huge white statue of Christ the Redeemer pays homage to Rio’s religiosity, and has become a symbol of the City and of its people, receiving all visitors with its arms open.
In addition to the wonderful stretch of beach with great surf and umbrellas, gorgeous people to watch, you can wander through the fashionable streets to discover chic boutiques, trendy restaurants and hip cafes. On Sundays, there is a hippie market in Praça General Osório where handcrafts, clothes and souvenirs from Rio can be found.
One of the most famous beaches in the world, Copacabana has the mountains and city behind it and is definitely Rio. Sit at one of the many restaurants along the beachfront to enjoy a batida or caipirinha, or take a stroll on the famous and often imitated Burle Marx designed sidewalks. In summertime, go early as it may be hard to find a spot on the sand. Also, take note that the currents are deceptively strong. A perfect place to eat, drink, relax and people watch.
Carnival is perhaps the largest event in Rio, with venues scattered around town. The highlight is the spectacular samba school parade, a rich and colorful exhibition of 14 groups each day along the street, and the Sambadromo, with seating for the 70,000.
Pão de Açúcar – Sugar Loaf Mountain
One of Rio's most famous landmarks, it's the best place to view the city, sea and mountain ranges. Take the funicular ride up for a glorious view of the Guanabara Bay, Botafogo beach to the North and Copacabana to the South, with the city spread in between. Be sure to check out the old open-air cable car on display that was used in the '30s. There are vendors selling coconuts and juice, as well as a food and refreshments stand.
Pedra da Gávea
Located between São Conrado and Barra da Tijuca, Pedra da Gávea is a granite rock that rises 842 meters above sea level. Originally used as a lookout for ships in the Atlantic, it's now popular with rock climbers and those who want to see the glyphs carved into the rock.
Bonde de Santa Teresa
This cable car is all that remains of what used to be the principal form of transportation in the city. Starting in Lapa, by the Cathedral, cross the towering viaduct to Santa Teresa. Then you have the option to take the ride all the way to the top of the hill, or get off to see the Museu da Chácara do Céu. The views from the top rival those of Corcovado and Sugar Loaf.
Arcos da Lapa
An engineering and architectural construction work that symbolizes Rio de Janeiro’s colonial period. It was inaugurated, as reported, in 1750, under the government of Ayres de Saldanha and administered by the engineer José Fernandes Alpoim. It was built in order to end the problem of the constant lack of water in Rio de Janeiro towards the end of the XVIII century.
Parque Nacional and Floresta da Tijuca
The best place to visit to get an idea of what Rio once looked like, with over 46 square miles of tropical rain forest, walking trails, stunning views of the city, waterfalls, creeks and wonderfully varied greenery. This is the largest urban reserve in the world and it only takes about 20 minutes to immerse yourself in nature. Serious hikers can climb to the 3320 feet summit of Pico da Tijuca, while others can simply enjoy the 115 feet waterfall, Cascatinha de Taunay, at the Alto da Boa Vista.
Monumento Nacional aos Mortos da II Guerra Mundial
Located at Avenida Infante Dom Henrique, 75, Parque do Flamengo, this monument is dedicated to those who lost their lives in the WWII European theater of war, especially in Italy. The monument includes a small museum with military artifacts from those dark years, a mausoleum and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and is guarded by the three Armed Forces. Entry is free.
New Year Eve on Copacabana Beach
Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas
Paragliding in São Conrado