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Best experiences:

Rio Carnival

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

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Bucket List Experience
Giant float made from dragons on the parade route

The world’s biggest party – a stadium parade with fabulous floats, music and sequinned samba dancers, and dozens of street parties and balls.

Adult price: £10

Best for ages 13+

Duration: 5 days

When: February or March

Frequency: annually

Statue of Christ the Redeemer

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

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Bucket List Experience
Close up looking up of the Christ under blue sky up close

This iconic, art deco beauty, the symbol of South America, watches out over Rio from high on Corcovado Mountain. The panoramic views from the statue’s feet are dazzling.

Best for ages 13+

Rock climbing and abseiling on Sugarloaf Mountain

Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Region, Brazil

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Bucket List Experience
Rocks and cliff faces through jungle forestry

Rock climb and/or abseil Rio’s most famous landmark, with spectacular bays, beaches and mountains as a backdrop.

Adult price: £35

Min age 13

Best for ages 13+

Duration: 5 hours

Sugarloaf Mountain

Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Region, Brazil

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Bucket List Experience
City under mountains from a distance across bay

Rio’s most famous mountain crouches like a sphinx over a perfect half-moon bay. Stunning views of the Redeemer, Copacabana Beach and central Rio. Unmissable.

Best for ages 4+

Helicopter flights over Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

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Bucket List Experience
Helicopter flights over Rio de Janeiro

One of the world’s best helicopter flights, over Rio’s spectacular scenery and including a face-to-face encounter with Christ the Redeemer.

Adult price: £50

Best for ages 10+

Duration: 30 mins

Tour a favela

Rio de Janeiro , Southwestern Region, Brazil

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Bucket List Experience
Favelas fill horizon of urban Rio

Get a deeper understanding of Rio life with an insider tour of its famous favelas, Rio’s famous slums.

Adult price: £25

Best for ages 13+

Tijuca National Park

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

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Bucket List Experience
Dense forest greenery

Rio’s lush urban rainforest climbs over the mountains that surround the Christ statue and Atlantic beaches, affording some of the world’s most beautiful urban views. Excellent for hiking, biking and wildlife-spotting.

Best for ages 4+

Rio’s best beaches

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

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Bucket List Experience
Long sandy beach with built up shorefront

Life’s a beach – and that’s never truer than in Rio – but not all beaches are equal. Here are our recommendations…

Copacabana Beach

Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Region, Brazil

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Bucket List Experience
Sandy beach with tourists and city in backgound

This world-famous 4km crescent is the epicentre of Rio’s beach scene and the perfect place for beach sports and people-watching. It;’s not great for swimming – water quality is especially poor when the tide comes in.

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Samba dancing in Lapa

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

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Bucket List Experience
Man and woman embrace in dance

Samba is the sound and rhythm of Rio, and Lapa is its heartland neighbourhood. Dance the night away in one of the buzzing samba clubs.

Min age 18

Best for ages 18+

Duration: -

Hang glide off Bonita Rock

Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Region, Brazil

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Bucket List Experience
Glider takes off from mountain top

Hang-gliding heaven from atop a giant rock monolith, and out over rainforest, bays and beaches. One of the world’s greatest hang-glides.

Adult price: £120

Min age 14

Best for ages 14+

Duration: 3 hours

Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

Lily pads on pond water

Once the Emperor’s private retreat, these gardens brim with rare plants and are a haven for birds and butterflies

Best for ages 4+

Ipanema Beach

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

Waves crashing on busy sandy beach

Rio’s prettiest, chicest ocean beach, is watched over by the impressive Dois Irmaos mountain that sits behind. The water is cleaner, and the crowd more exclusive the further south you go, where Ipanema Beach merges into the more upscale Leblon Beach.

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Rio de Janeiro’s must-see architecture

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

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Bucket List Experience
Modern building rises above tree canopy

Oscar Niemeyer’s home city and Brazil’s former capital preserves some wonderful colonial and modernist buildings hidden in acres of undistinguished concrete apartment blocks.

Best for ages 18+

Hike up Tijuca Peak

Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Region, Brazil

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Bucket List Experience
Hike up Tijuca Peak

Breathy and breathtaking rainforest hike to the highest peak in Rio de Janeiro’s urban mountain range, stopping at Tijuca National Park’s waterfalls on the way.

Best for ages 13+

Duration: 4 hours

Hike to Telegraph Rock

Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Region, Brazil

young woman at the Pedra do Telegrafo, Barra de Guaratiba, Rio de Janeiro

Beautiful and little-visited 2-hour coastal walk in southern Rio, through wildlife-filled rainforest to pristine Grumari Beach.

Best for ages 13+

Duration: 4 hours

Hike up Gavea Rock

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

Forested mountain top with sea and sky in backgroung

This half-day hike through a wildlife- and waterfall-filled rainforest ends with a scary summit scramble. It rewards, though, with the best views in Rio. Guided rock climbs are also on offer.

Best for ages 18+

Duration: 6-8 hours

Walk the Pista Claudio Coutinho

Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Region, Brazil

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Bucket List Experience
Rocks and cliff faces through jungle forestry

A wonderful rainforest and beach walk that winds around Morro da Urca hill next to Sugar Loaf mountain, offering myriad beautiful mountain and ocean views.

Best for ages 8+

Duration: 45 mins (one way)

Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

Modern building rises above tree canopy

Brazilian star-modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer’s most famous Rio building sits sentinel over Guanabara Bay like a giant concrete flying saucer. Inside, the ‘MAC’ houses the main collection of Brazilian artist Joao Sattamin, plus works by other Brazilian artists like Aluisio Carvao, Dionisio Del Santo and Lygia Clark.

Best for ages 18+

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Football lessons on Ipanema Beach

Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Region, Brazil

People play football sandy beach

Pelé da Praia has been teaching locals and tourists Brazilian football tricks on Ipanema beach for more than a decade. One-to-one tuition and group classes available. Contact him at peledapraia1@hotmail.com.

Adult price: £15

Min age 8

Best for ages 8+

Duration: 1-2 hours

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Confeitaria Colombo

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

Large hall with yellow ceiling lights

Glittering with mirrors, and with gorgeous art deco galleries illuminated by a vast ceiling skylight, this traditional Portuguese coffee house in the city centre is the perfect coffee spot, and a must for lovers of architecture.

Best for ages 18+

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Metropolitan Cathedral

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

Pyramidal high-rise tower

Even if you’re not religious, this landmark cathedral is worth a stop to admire the building alone. A towering brutalist cone, its dark, cavernous interior is lit with long strips of iridescent modernist stained glass.

Best for ages 18+

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Watch a local football match

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

Large stadium in urban landscape

Experience the passion of a match in the city that considers itself the world capital of football.

Adult price: £15

Best for ages 13+

Duration: 4 hours

When: Weekly

Frequency: weekly

Selaron Steps

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

Brightly painted cobbled stairs in street

An Instagram favourite, these colourful mosaic steps were created by Chilean immigrant Jorge Selaron. Visit the bottom end in Lapa (off Rua Joaquim Silva) – the upper reaches in Santa Teresa lie close to a favela and are unsafe.

Best for ages 4+

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Fiscal Island

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil

Fiscal Island

This neo-Gothic Verdigris-covered fantasy palace, built during the days of the Empire of Brazil, is Rio’s former customs house. It’s now a small naval museum that you can visit. Tours depart from the nearby Navy Cultural Centre.

Adult price: £15

Best for ages 18+

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