If you plan on attending the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, make sure to leave room in your itinerary to check out some of the most fascinating, “must see” attractions in Rio. Your visit will not be complete if you don’t. Here are some of our favorites.
Christ the Redeemer – The Statue of Christ the Redeemer (or Cristo Redentor) is located on top of Corcovado Mountain at 2300 feet above the city. In 2007, the iconic statue was voted as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Christ the Redeemer is also the world’s largest art deco statue and measures 130 feet in height with an arm span of 98 feet. The magnificent sandstone and concrete statue was unveiled in 1931. The statue provides some excellent views of the city especially on clear days. Visitors can take the cog train to the top of Corcado or reach the statue via taxi, or bus.
Corcovado Mountain – This mountain was originally named Pinaculo da Tentaco or the Pinnacle of Temptation by the Portuguese settlers. Later on, it was renamed Corcovado for its distinct hunchback shape. The mountain is located inside the Tijuca Forest National Park. At 2300 feet, the Corcovado Mountain towers over the city of Rio. Aside from its magnificent natural beauty, the mountain is also noted for being the foothold of Christ the Redeemer. The roads which were originally built for the railroad are still used to provide access to the top of the Corcovado Mountain. Travellers can also take the electrical train which carries around 360 people up and down the mountain every 60 minutes. Bear in mind that transportation tends to get very busy during peak hours.
Sugarloaf Mountain – Sugarloaf is a world famous natural landmark. It is one of the most recognized attractions in the city of Rio. It is named for its shape with soil that resembles a type of refined sugar used in the 19th century. Sugarloaf Mountain is a great place for urban rock climbing with the historic Guanabara Bay at its base. The mountain is 1299 feet in height and can be accessed via the cable car which was installed in 1912.
Ipanema Beach and Copacabana Beach – The famous Copacabana Beach is a must to visit when in Rio. The beautiful crescent shaped beach features warm sand, sunbathing travellers, various vendors and musicians. There are several sidewalk cafes for visitors to grab a drink and a bite. The beach is especially lively in the evenings. The Ipaneba Beach is another beautiful beach that stretches for about 1.25 miles and is much cleaner in comparison to Copacabana. This lovely beach is the perfect destination for a relaxed, romantic evening.
Escadaria Selarón – The famous stairway, also known as Selarón’s Staircase, was refurbished by Jorge Selarón, a painter and sculptor who migrated from Chile. He settled in Rio in 1983 and began renovating the steps in 1990. Regardless of his losses, this became a labor of love for the artist. He eventually resorted to accepting donations from the locals and tourists to complete the staircase which consists of 250 steps that span for 125 meters, connecting the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods. Aside from its size, the Escadaria Selarón has been a favourite for many visitors because of its fascinating décor. These steps are decorated with over 2000 colorful tiles from various countries. This attraction is widely popular and has been featured in National Geographic Magazine, music videos, travel shows and even Fanta commercials. Recently, the colorful steps also appeared in “The Passion Unites Us” – Rio’s video bid for the 2016 Olympics.
Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro – The Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro is considered to be the heart of the city. Dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the magnificent 19th century church is one of the most important historical structures in the city. Featuring Rococo style interiors with stunning wood carvings, white walls and golden trimmings, the church definitely has a regal air. The Portuguese Royal Family used the church as the Royal Chapel and then the Brazilian Imperial Family has used it as the Imperial Church. Located on the Rua Primeiro de Março, the church is accessible for free from 8am – 6pm from Monday to Friday.
Walking & Riding tours – Touring the city of Rio is one of the best ways to learn about the city. Walking tours are offered at many establishments all over Rio where visitors can get together with locals or other travellers to explore the city. These tours may cover various interests such as historical attractions, evening bar crawls or even Segway tours if you prefer not to walk. Visitors can even choose from horseback riding tours and bicycle tours to cover more ground and to enjoy a novel experience. Some walking tours are offered for free with a request for a donation at the end.