5 Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro — Brazil’s Most Tourist-Filled City


Marvelling at the breathtakingly beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro on a tropical paradise’s idyllic beach is one thing, yet experiencing its vibrant metropolis will have you captivated. Travellers seeking an adventure not found on beaches should venture into this bustling metropolis that boasts unparalleled nightlife and dining experiences – as well as historical landmarks like the world famous statue of Christ the Redeemer!

Discover Rio de Janeiro like a local and enjoy these five activities that are ideal for taking advantage of your time in this vibrant city.

1. Get to know the city’s history

Rio de Janeiro’s historic center is rife with reminders of its tumultuous past – from its native inhabitants’ triumphs over Spain and Portugal to more recent political convulsions.

The city’s colonial core, the Grã-Rio district, is a veritable time machine: Don’t miss out on exploring the bustling markets and bustling lanes where you can experience firsthand its tumultuous history like no other!

For instance, if you pop into ‘SLUMS’, an exhibition dedicated to Rio’s slave labor communities; or ‘CEMIG’, which highlights the contributions of African descendants – it will be hard not to feel moved by this pivotal yet oft forgotten part of our nation’s legacy.

2. Discover Rio’s floating gardens

If you’re visiting Rio during the nascent season (between January and March), you can observe a veritable profusion of orchids blooming amidst Rio’s renowned greenery. These ephemeral botanic gardens are afloat in Guanabara Bay and can be spotted from atop Sugar Loaf Mountain; they’re adorned with cascades of waterfalls and splendor that lasts only months before disappearing into receding waters.

Unfortunately, these spectacular floating gardens come under threat due to pollution, strangling development along its shores, as well as invasive species such as hydrilla infesting the water. Despite this setback though, it is still possible to visit them at various times throughout each year!

To learn more about Rio’s aquatic parks and the fascinating flora therein, head on over to your nearest National Institute for Space Research (INPE) station. In addition to maintaining an informative website providing comprehensive information on their 3 floating gardens situated within Guanabara Bay – Búzios, Lagoona and Lagoa Mirim – visitors may enjoy free entry while they last!

3. Take a walking tour of Dolce Vita

If you’re seeking a taste of Rio’s vibrant nightlife and other exotic flavors, then consider embarking on one of the city’s renowned walking tours.

On my own Dolce Vita tour, I embarked on a journey through the ritziest neighborhoods in town: São Conrado, Leblon and Ipanema Beach, where I was shown off some tantalizing tastes from their exclusive fine dining establishments. The ultimate ‘Dolce Vita’ experience!

4. Visit a casa de samba (samba house)

If dancing and music are among your favorite activities, it’s worth seeking out a local samba school. These typically take place on the last weekend of every February for an annual event known as Carnaval.

The two most prominent events in Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival festivities are the Sambódromo (Sambadrome) and São João (St. John) parades. During the former, revelers cram into the city-center arena to demonstrate their talent across a variety of varied formats; while during the latter those who have been chosen to compete in chariot processions will thread their way through downtown streets adorned with elaborate floats and creating quite a spectacle along the way!

If you’re interested in exploring more than one school during your visit, it is advisable to research which ones are open – some may not even be offering public performances at all times due to security concerns stemming from past incidents such as when members of a rival group shot up a samba school in 1995 resulting in five deaths and numerous injuries of its own.

5. Hang out with Cuiabá’s famous street dogs

If you’re drawn to colorful characters, it may not be a bad idea to traverse the streets of Cuiabá; here lurk some of the most remarkable pets in South America.

Cuiabá is renowned for its street dogs – affectionately referred to as ‘Queijos’ due to their droopy ears and hefty frames. These pups roam across town without fail, often escorted by one or two human companions while they romp in search of food.

So how do these animals fare? According to the BBC, well-fed street dogs are radiantly healthy specimens with a lifespan similar to many cats!

Where to stay in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is a city that caters to both business travelers and leisure tourists, offering an array of accommodations from within its bustling metropolis.

Rates start at USD $90 per night or under; however, prices can skyrocket during the summer high season – from March through May. Residencies such as Castelao B&B offer unbeatable value for money with prices starting at around USD $60! While boutique hotels such as Hotel Style Art and Design are also available for USD $140-$300 per night depending on what level of luxury you desire.

If seeking an authentic experience in Rio, consider one of these exciting options: bed-and-breakfasts (USD $15-$65) or small hotels (USD $25-$100+). Midrange establishments like these are often more affordable than their equivalents in other parts of the world yet still offer amenities suitable for even long stays.


As you explore Brazil, don’t forget about its vast array of adventures. From trekking through the Amazon rainforest to visiting one of the 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country; there are countless choices for travelers keen on experiencing different facets of this vibrant nation.

With so many amazing places to visit and activities to partake in, it may be impossible to fit everything into a single trip. If you’re interested in experiencing more than just Rio for yourself, consider extending your stay or even taking a journey across the entire country!

More on Brazil

Brazil sees a wealth of vibrant coastal cities, lush interior rainforests; there is no shortage of sights to behold. From indigenous cultures to wildlife sanctuaries, this country offers an abundance of opportunities for exploration beyond its biggest metropolitan areas.

Rio de Janeiro is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations in all of Brazil, but don’t overlook some of its smaller neighbors!

Natal and Porto Alegre are both worth seeking out – as well as São Paulo. The former is a city steeped in history and culture while the latter is home to what has been deemed the world’s most progressive metropolis.

If your interests run toward adventures beyond sightseeing, then relax with some contemplation at Favelas Unveiled or visit an exciting destination like the Hub of Discovery in Minas Gerais’ Ituiutaba National Park!


Don’t miss out on a single sightseeing opportunity! With so many to choose from, there’s no better way to experience the magnificence of Rio de Janeiro than by taking in its many sights. From lush landscapes and captivating landmarks to ancient churches and bustling squares; this city offers up an abundance of fascinating sights worthy of exploration!



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