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Bucket list experience:

Large stadium in urban landscape
Last updated: 09 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Alex Robinson

The beach, carnival and football are Rio’s passions, but if locals had to choose just one, it would probably be the beautiful game.

Watching a match – in the national stadium Maracanã, or at local teams Flamengo, Botafogo, Fluminense or Vasco – is an unforgettable experience: the roar from the huge crowd, the pounding of samba drums, the colours and costumes swirl together to create an atmosphere so charged it raises the hairs on the back of your neck – especially at a local derby or a match between the national team and arch-rivals Argentina.

Price from: £15
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: +
Frequency: weekly
When: Weekly
Duration: 4 hours

Getting there & doing it

This is something you definitely need to organise through a tour operator. Buying tickets and negotiating Brazilian football stadiums is tricky, even if you speak Portuguese and know Rio.

An organised tour will last about 4 hours. Tour operators will organise this for you and collect and drop off at hotels and hostels in the city centre and zona sul beaches. It’s also possible to do a designated tour of the iconic Maracanã stadium without seeing a game.

When to do it

The national Brazilian championship, involving the biggest clubs, runs from May to December. Inter-state matches are played from January to April. International matches are played year-round.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Mama Ruisa

Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Region, Brazil[4.9 miles]

Chic, discreet boutique hotel in a stunning hillside setting away from the beach, with wraparound views of Rio.

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Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil[6 miles]

Good-value hipster hotels in upcoming Botafogo with Christ and Sugarloaf views from rooms and the rooftop bar

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Windsor Excelsior

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil[8 miles]

A 5-star location at 2-star prices – for great value and views, this Copacabana beach tower is hard to beat.

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Hotel Copacabana Palace

Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Region, Brazil[8 miles]

Rio’s iconic, grand dame hotel has wonderful character, is steeped in history and has a choice beach location.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Rio de Janeiro

Southeastern Region, Brazil

Heaven for healthy hedonists – hang glide, surf or hike by day, relax on the beach and party all night. Then, of course, there’s that carnival…

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Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

Hike up Tijuca Peak

Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Region, Brazil[2.5 miles]

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+ | Free | 4 hours

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Rio Carnival

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil[3.4 miles]

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

Best for ages: 13+ | £10 | 5 days

Statue of Christ the Redeemer

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil[4.8 miles]

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: 18+ | Free

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Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

Pyramidal high-rise tower

Metropolitan Cathedral

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil[5.1 miles]

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+ | Free

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Brightly painted cobbled stairs in street

Selaron Steps

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil[5.2 miles]

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+ | Free

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Large hall with yellow ceiling lights

Confeitaria Colombo

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil[5.3 miles]

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: 13+ | Free

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