Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil , on the South Atlantic coast. Rio is famous for its breathtaking landscape, its laidback beach culture and its annual carnival. The harbour of Rio de Janeiro is comprised of a unique entry from the ocean that makes it appear to be the mouth of a river. Additionally, the harbor
is surrounded by spectacular geographic features including Sugar Loaf mountain at 395 meters (1,296 feet), Corcovado Peak at 704 meters (2,310 feet), and the hills of Tijuca at 1,021 meters (3,350 feet). These features work together to collectively make the harbor one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World  . Districts Centro including Lapa and Santa Teresa. The city's financial and business center also has many historic buildings from its early days, such as the Municipal Theatre, National Library, National Museum of Fine Arts, Tiradentes Palace, Metropolitan Cathedral and Pedro Ernesto Palace. Zona Sul (South Zone) including Copacabana, Leblon and Ipanema, as
well as the districts along Flamengo Beach. Contains some of the more upscale neighborhoods and many of the major tourist sites, such as the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, and Sugar Loaf and Corcovado Mts . Zona Norte (North Zone). The Maracanã stadium, Quinta da Boa Vista Park with the National Museum the city's Zoo, the National Observatory and more. Zona Oeste (West Zone), a rapidly growing suburban area including primarily the districts of Jacarepaguá and Barra da Tijuca, popular for its beaches. Most of the Olympics in 2016 will be hosted there.
It is a common mistake to think of Rio as
Brazil 's capital, a distinction it lost on 21 April 1960 when newly built Brasilia became the capital. Beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema , the Christ The Redeemer ( Cristo Redentor ) statue, the stadium of Maracanã and Sugar Loaf Mountain ( Pão de Açúcar ) are all well-known sights of what the inhabitants call the "marvelous city" ( cidade maravilhosa ), and are also among the first images to pop up in travelers´ minds, along with the Carnaval celebration. Sadly, most people also know Rio for its violence and crime. The drug lords and the slums, or favelas , are the tip of very old social problems. The favelas are areas of poor-quality housing, slums usually located on the city's many mountain slopes, juxtaposed with middle-class neighborhoods. But now,
with the UPP's ( Unidade de Políci Pacificadora = Pacifying Police Unit) almost all the favelas are safe to go, because the police took the area from the drug dealers, so you can go there for some cultural gathering. A pretty calm and safe favela is "Morro do Pinto". It is so calm that it doesn't look like part of this urban Rio and it is in the center of the city. The South Zone holds most of Rio's landmarks and world-famous beaches, in an area of only 43.87 square km (17 mi²). Many of them are within walking distance of each other (for instance, the Sugar Loaf lies about 8 km/5 mi from Copacabana beach). Most hotels and hostels are located in this part of the city, which is compressed between the Tijuca Range ( Maciço da Tijuca ) and the sea.
There are important places in other regions as well, such as Maracanã stadium in the North Zone and the many fascinating buildings in the Centre. If you plan on staying in Rio for more than a couple of days it would be good to invest in a copy of ``How to be a Carioca``(Priscilla Ann Goslin, Livros TwoCan Ltda, R$32). This is an amusing look at the people of Rio and will help you enjoy the city as well as appear less of a `gringo` when you hit the streets. Rio was founded in 1565 by the Portuguese as a fortification against French privateers who trafficked wood and goods from Brazil. Piracy played a major role in the city's history, and History
there are still colonial fortresses to be visited (check below). The Portuguese fought the French for nearly 10 years, both sides having rival native tribes as allies. For the next two centuries it was an unimportant outpost of the Portuguese Empire, until gold, diamonds, and ore were found in Minas Gerais in 1720. Then, as the nearest port, Rio became the port for these minerals and replaced Salvador as the main city in the colony in 1763. When Napoleon invaded Portugal, the Royal Family moved to Brazil and made Rio capital of the Kingdom (so it was the only city outside Europe to be capital of a European country).
When Brazil became independent in
1822, it adopted Monarchy as its form of government (with Emperors Pedro I and Pedro II). Many historians and Brazilians from other places say cariocas are nostalgic of the Royal and Imperial times, which is reflected in many place names and shop names. In 2009, the city won their bid to host the games of the XXXI Olympics in the summer of 2016. This was the fifth bid by the city, whose 1936, 1940, 2004 and 2012 bids lost.
Rio is one of the country's major transportation hubs, second only to São Paulo.
Galeão - Antônio Carlos Jobim
International Airport (IATA: GIG , ICAO: SBGL) , Tel: +55 21 3398-5050, fax 3393-2288) is still better known by its old name Galeão International Airport and is situated 20 km (12 mi) north of the city center. International connections to and from GIG include flights to Europe: Lisbon twice a day by TAP Porto on Fridays and Sundays by TAP Madrid daily by Iberia Paris twice daily by Air France Rome five times a week by Alitalia Frankfurt daily by Lufthansa Amsterdam daily by KLM London daily by British Airways
To Africa and the Middle East:
Addis Ababa via Lome by Ethiopian Luanda four times a week by Taag Dubai hub daily non-stop by Emirates
As well as to North America:
New York by American Airlines and TAM Airlines
Charlotte by US Airways Atlanta by Delta Airlines
Dallas by American Airlines Houston by United Airlines, Miami by American Airlines and TAM Airlines Toronto by Air Canada Mexico City by Aeromexico Within Middle and South America there are connections by a number of carriers (including Avianca, Copa Airlines, TAM, Gol, LAN, TAM Mercosul, Emirates, Pluna and Aerolineas Argentinas) to:
Argentina: Buenos Aires , Cordoba Venezuela: Caracas Paraguay: Asuncion Uruguay: Montevideo Chile: Santiago Colombia: Bogotá Peru: Lima Panama: Panama City , While you can sometimes zoom through Immigration and Customs, be prepared for a long wait. Brazilians travel with lots of baggage and long queues can form at Customs, which are usually understaffed. The Tourist Information desk is by the Customs exit in the International Arrivals area of the airport. As you come out of the Customs hall, take a sharp right turn
and you will see it. It is pretty much next to the doors. ATMs are available on the 2nd floor; read notes below regarding ATMs. Money exchange facilities are limited and high commissions are charged. Slightly better rates can be obtained, illegally, at the taxi booths but they may want you to use their cabs before exchanging money for you. In any event, don´t exchange more than you have to as much better rates are available downtown. To leave the airport, there are four options: Premium buses , the BRT Transcarioca buses , taxis or some kind of transfer .
The Premium buses are four bus lines
operated by Real  that depart from right outside the arrival section of Galeão . The buses are air- conditioned and comfy, with ample luggage space. They run roughly every 30 minutes from 05:30 to 22:00. 2018 Aeroporto Internacional do RJ/Alvorada (Via Orla da Zona Sul) runs from Galeão via the main bus terminal Rodoviario Novo Rio , the Carioca metro station and Santos Dumont Airport further along the beachfront of Botafogo , Copacabana , Ipanema and Leblon , and has its terminus at the Alvorada terminal near Barra Shopping in Barra da Tijuca . The full run takes at least 60 minutes, often double that. Tickets are R$ 14.50 (Dec 2015).
2918 Aeroporto Internacional do RJ/Alvorada (Via Linha Amarela ) runs from Galeão airport along the Linha Amarela to the Alvorada bus terminal, via Jacarapaguá (the best spot for taxis) in as little as 35 minutes, traffic allowing. R$ 13.50 (May 2014). 2145 Aeroporto Internacional do RJ/Aeroporto Santos Dumont (Via Seletiva da Av. Brasil/Av. Pres. Vargas) runs from Galeão via the main bus terminal Rodoviario Novo
Rio to Santos Dumont Airport. Tickets are R$ 12 (May 2014).
2101 Aeroporto Internacional do RJ/Aeroporto Santos Dumont (Via
Linha Vermelha e Perimetral) , same as above, along a slightly different route.
There are luggage storage area on all the above Express, A/C buses. Fare will be displayed on the front of the bus and is paid to the driver. Ensure you have change; they don't like changing anything above R$20! Along the bus route you can get off wherever you ask. For the trip from the city to the airport, the buses can be boarded in front of the major hotels or simply flagged down along their route (wave vividly). The BRT system Transcarioca , also called Expresso Alvorado-Galeão is a 24/7 service of fast buses on segregated lanes, inaugurated in June of 2014. The buses have AC and space for luggage and go  from both Galeão terminals (arrivals level) with just one intermediate BRT Transcarioca buses
stop at Vicente de Carvalho (connection to Metrô) to the large Alvorada Bus Terminal in the neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca, 18 km west of Leblon. Tickets must be bought in the cashier inside the airport and are R$ 3.00. The ticket is an RFID public transport card called Bilhete Único Carioca , a pre-paid card that you can recharge later and that will give you access to the metro and buses. The taxi trip into the city centre is rather long and some taxi drivers try to take advantage of foreign tourists that are not familiar with the pricing and options of the local transportation. Scams happen more often outbound to the City and during high tourism periods such as New Years and Carnaval (mid Taxi
to late February). Options from the airport include both yellow taxis and radio taxis. If you are keen to use a radio taxi (prices as of Nov 13: Galeão - Copacabana/Ipanema/Leblon R$99, haggling possible), it is advisable to organize them through the attendants at one of the booths which you will come across immediately upon exiting the customs clearance area. When you walk outside, a wide variety of people will begin aggressively offering taxi services. It's best to decline all offers along the way and walk towards the street, where taxis are lined up along the entire stretch usually grouped together with their own service. Most of the taxis are radio taxis (various colors) but there is usually also a queue of yellow taxis. At
this point, you can select which option or service you prefer and walk up to them to take the next in line. During busy times, there may be a queue at these points to wait in. If you want to take a Yellow cab and want to avoid the touts and scammers, do not exit from the first floor (arrivals), but go down to the departures floor ("embarque"). When you walk outside there, ignore the parked taxi drivers yelling, “TAXI, TAXI, TAXI” as they often charge double the regular metered price. Turn to one side and walk some 30 meters on the sidewalk to get away from them. On the street in front of you there will be many of the standard yellow taxis dropping off passengers at the airport, or driving slowly and looking for a passenger. It’s easy to flag them down
Rio de Janeiro II - airpano
because they’re looking for you, hoping they can get a fare to go back to Zona Sul instead of going back with an empty taxi. You’re helping them out, and they tend to be of the happier, non- airport dwelling variety of taxi driver. Prices by meter (as of 2014) go as R$ 58 to Ipanema (26 min), R$ 63 to Copacabana (28 min), R$ 68 to Jardim
Botanico (31 min), but may go up by R$10 or more if you get stuck in a traffic jam. From Monday to Friday from 07:00 until midday there is often traffic congestion in the lanes from the airport to the city center so that rides leaving the Galeão airport should be expected to last at least over one hour, sometimes well over. Consider using Google Maps to check the expected traffic by the time you will be leaving the airport. It is possible to pre-book airport transfers and a variety of different online companies, such as Rio Airport Transfer and LingoTaxi South America , allow you to book and pay before you leave home. Prices are usually similar to those of Pre-booked Airport Transfer
Santos Dumont Airport ( IATA: SDU, ICAO: SBRJ), Tel. +55 21-3814-7070, fax. 2533-2218 ) is located right next to the city center, by the Guanabara bay. Several airlines, including GOL  , TAM  , Webjet, Azul  and Avianca  offer flights mostly to and from Brazil's largest cities such as:
São Paulo Belo Horizonte Porto Alegre Salvador da Bahia Brasilia
Don't rush off without taking a look inside the original terminal building - a fine example of Brazilian modernist
The Premium bus services described above in the section of the International Airport also serve SDU.
Rio's glorious Central Station , or Central do Brasil , made famous by a movie of the same name, serves mostly local commuter lines (SuperVia  ), so it's unlikely that you'll arrive through here. It's worth a visit just to see it, though, you can get there either by bus or subway (subway is better; get off on Central Station, line 1).
The long-distance bus depot, Rodoviária Novo Rio  , is in the North Zone's Santo Cristo neighborhood. Taxis and
coach buses can get you to the South Zone in about fifteen minutes; local buses take a bit longer. Frescão air- conditioned coaches can be found just outside the bus station. The coaches connect the station to the city centre and main hotel areas of Copacabana and Ipanema. Bus companies include Itapemirim  , Penha  , Cometa  , 1001  , and Expresso Brasileiro  . Several companies offer bus passes from Rio to the rest of the country. The Green Toad Bus  also offer bus tickets online for buses from Rio de Janeiro to Ilha Grande, Paraty, São Paulo, Florianopolis, Campo Grande, Foz do Iguacu and some other destinations in Brazil. They have bus passes to take you to other countries as well.
Rio is connected by many roads to neighboring cities and states, but access can be confusing as there are few traffic signs or indications of how to get downtown. The main interstate highways passing through Rio are: BR-116 , which connects the city to the southern region of Brazil. Also known as Rodovia Presidente Dutra BR-101 , which leads to the north and northwest, and BR-040 , which will take you in the central and western areas.
Ferries ( barcas ) connect neighboring Niteroi to Rio de Janeiro and arrive at
Praça XV, in the city center.
International Charter Group: Yacht charter and sailing, one of the world’s largest yacht charter companies, can take care of all charter requirements, from bareboat to crewed in Rio de Janeiro. Operating from nine offices worldwide (USA, Spain, UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Caribbean, Honk Kong and Dubai). A cab is one of the best ways to move around Rio. However, be aware that traffic jams in Rio can be terrible at times. For instance, a taxi ride from Ipanema to the bus terminal Rodoviária Novo Rio normally takes something like 25 minutes, but if you get seriously Get around By taxi
stuck, it may take 90 minutes instead. Therefore, make sure you have a time margin in case you really can´t afford to be late. Rio taxis are not too expensive on a kilometer basis, especially; if you can share the cost among your party - a cab can usually hold up to four passengers. That said, beware however, that distances can be quite considerable. E.g., a journey from Zona Sul to the Centro is around R$35 and takes approx. 16 min; from the International Airport to Copacabana it's around R$44 / 28 minutes. Rio's taxis come in different flavors: Yellow taxis Special service cars
Radio taxis Illegal taxis
Yellow taxis are yellow with a blue stripe painted on the sides. In Rio, they are in great supply and are available to wave down at any time of the day or night in the primary tourist and business areas of the city. Throughout the city, there are numerous taxi stands where taxis queue to await passengers. It is preferable to get a taxi from one of these stands as they are typically a bit more reliable as they are associated to that stand. These taxi stands also exist at or near to most hotels as well. The stands range from a formal service with logos (in other words, part of a cooperative) and contact by phone to just a regular group of "freelance" taxi drivers that have come together to serve the spot. Yellow taxis possess of meters, but make sure or ask (just say "Taxímetro?")
that these are really turned on. Fares consist of a fee for the minimum ride, called bandeirada (R$4.90 as of 2014) and a per kilometer fee: R$2,35 on Sundays and holidays, any day between 21h00-06h00, any time in December (so called "Bandeira 2") R$1.95 on other times (so called "Bandeira 1") About once every two years, the rate is raised by the city. When this happens (most recently in March 2014), all taxis will put a rate table on the window to convert the meter total to the updated rate. This is necessary as it generally takes about 9 months or so to get the thousands of taxis re- calibrated. Special service cars are private cars without identifying markings nor a light on top. As they are typically associated
with hotels, the door man will ask whether you would like to use them and will say that they are safer and more comfortable than a regular yellow taxi off the street. Special service cars do not operate from a taxi meter and the drivers are not regulated or controlled. For a certain journey they can quote whatever price they think is reasonable or that they can get. It is therefore advisable to negotiate (or at least request) the price before starting out. A good deal would usually be about R$5 more than what a yellow taxi would cost by meter. Radio taxis are usually blue, green, or white. If you want to avoid being ripped off, which is most likely after arrival at the airport, then it may be worthwhile taking a Radio taxi. These are organized by calling (or your hotel staff calling) one of
the about four companies, each serving all of Rio. When calling by phone, the operator indicates a non-negotiable price which does not depend on time of day or heavy traffic, so that passengers need not to worry about being overcharged. Radio taxi services are very reputable, knowledgeable of the city and directions and reliable and have the best/cleanest vehicles. Radio taxis are the safest form of transportation, especially when travelling late at night, or in a less travelled area of town. Due to their high reliability, they are also best option if you need to be picked up at an exact time (especially at night or early morning). On the downside, Radio taxis are also the most expensive form of transportation.
Generally, taxi drivers in Rio are quite knowledgeable when locating the usual destinations and hotels. However, it is advisable to write down the address of less familiar destinations on a piece of paper to show the driver before you go. This should include the neighborhood (Bairro) such as Ipanema or Copacana or Centro. This is an especially good idea for those who don't speak the language. You can also ask a cab for a city tour and arrange a fixed price (may be around US$20). For those travelling to Rio for Carnival it's worth using a company that allows you to book and pay in advance, and to try and pay as much in advance as possible as prices tend to increase a few weeks
Taxi transport from/to the International Airport (named Tom Jobim or previously Galeao) is a special situation, see above.
Buses are still the cheapest and most convenient way to get around the South Zone (Zona Sul) of the city due to the high number and frequency of lines running through the area. There are designated bus lanes in most streets that make travel times shorter. For the adventurous or budget traveler, it is worth asking your hotel or hostel employees how to navigate the system or which routes to take to arrive at specific locations.
However, you should be mindful of
questionable characters and your belongings. By night buses are scarcer, and most lines will usually not be running by the time the bars and clubs are full. Keep an eye out for pickpockets when the bus is crowded, and don't be surprised if your driver goes a little faster and brakes a little more suddenly than you'd like. Except for minibuses, buses now have two doors: passengers get in through the front door and get off through the back (it was otherwise until 2001- 2002). Buses cost R$3.80 (July 2016) with no distinction for the few buses with air conditioning. The fare is paid in cash to a controller or the driver inside the bus, by passing through a turnstile. There are no tickets, and try to have change/small bills. Some residents and students have
a digital pass card called Bilhete Único. These days, you can get them easily at Galeão Airport, at both terminals, when you buy a ticket to the BRT bus. The ticket that you get is a Bilhete Único Carioca that also offers you a discount if you have a combined trip with the metro and city bus (you will pay R$ 5.60 instead of R$7.90). Alternatively, you can buy the Rio Card Expresso  which works on the Metro and Buses but with no cost savings on connections. Anyone can buy them easily at Edificio Largo da Carioca at Rua Uruguaiana 10, Level 3. For a card with R$40 credit you only pay $32.50 and moreover when your credit runs out, you hand the card to the bus driver and it counts as a R$ 3.80 fare (only buses, not Metro).
Some bus stops in the South Zone are
equipped with a shelter and a bench, but sometimes, far from tourist areas, they are less obvious and have no signs at all - you might have to ask. As a general rule in most parts of Brazil, buses stop only when you hail them, by extending the arm. If you don't hail and there are no passengers waiting to get off, the bus simply won't stop. The same can be said if you are on the bus wanting to get off at a particular stop. You should know the surroundings or the name of the intersection of the area you are going, or inquire to the employee operating the turnstile, so you can signal to the driver that you want to get off, or he may not stop! Typically bus drivers and controllers won't understand any foreign language. If you can't speak Portuguese at all,
use a map. Trying to speak Spanish is usually not helpful. There are no schedules or timetables, but there is an invaluable book called Ruas de Rio de Janeiro (The streets of Rio de Janeiro) that has maps of Rio and lists bus routes by bus line. Although it does not list the exact schedule of arrivals and departures, it lists the bus stops, and one can easily orient oneself and navigate the city using it. Usually buses run at least every 15 minutes, but it may be just once an hour or more infrequently late at night or in remote areas of town. Google Maps and the Maps app also has the Rio bus system in it, allowing you to plug your location and destination with step-by- step instructions.
There are a baffling 1000+ bus lines in Rio (including variants), covering nearly the entire city, operated by about a dozen independent operations. At least 6 of them ply the streets of Copacabana and Ipanema. The website contains a catalog of the lines, but is of little help unless you know the line number or can enter exact street
names. The website VaDeOnibus  contains a route planner: you can enter two addresses and it gives you the bus lines that go between them, including their time tables. Many lines differ only a few streets from each other in their itineraries, and some even have variants within the same line. Bus lines with a * or a letter means that this bus has a variant. It means that there may be a bus with the same name, same number, same origin, even same destination but with a complete different route. Lines are numbered according to the general route they serve:
beginning with 1 – South Zone/Downtown beginning with 2 - North Zone/Downtown
beginning with 3 - West Zone/Downtown beginning with 4 - North Zone/South Zone beginning with 5 - within South Zone beginning with 6 - North Zone/West Zone beginning with 7 and 9 - within North Zone beginning with 8 - within West Zone 583 and 584 from Copacabana and Ipanema to Corcovado railway station 464 and 435 from Copacabana to Maracanã 511 and 512 to Urca, passing near the lower cable car station up the Some of the most popular lines for tourists are:
Sugar Loaf mountain
The Metrô Rio  is safe, quick, clean, comfortable, air-conditioned and has much better signage than most transport in Rio, making the lives of foreign tourists easier. It operates 05:00 to 24:00 mondays to Saturdays 07:00 to 23:00 Sundays 00:00 to 24:00 during Carnival. There are two lines (see map), Line 1 (Orange) and Line 2 (Green). Between the stations Central and Botafogo they share the same route. On weekends and holidays, transfer between the two lines is only at Estácio station as Line 2 only runs from Pavuna to Estácio. A one-way subway-only "unitario" ticket is R$3.70 (May 2015). The ticket window
will give you a card that you insert in the turnstile; do not pull it out unless you've purchased a multi- trip or transfer pass. Rechargeable IC cards (minimum charge R$5, no deposit required) are also available and definitely worth getting if you'll be in town for a few days. Since 2003, the Metrô company operates bus lines from some metro stations to nearby neighborhoods which are not served by the subway system. This is particularly helpful for places uphill such as Gávea, Laranjeiras, Grajaú and Usina. The minibuses on these lines are officially called Metrônibus and Metrô na Superfície (literally, Subway on Ground ), but actually they are just ordinary buses in special routes for subway commuters. You can buy tickets for these buses
from the normal ticket windows at your departure metro station - just ask for expresso (pronounced "eysh-PREH- sso", not "express-o"). Prices range from R$ 3.50 to 4.55 (as of July 2014), depending on the transfer you want. This ticket must be kept after crossing the turnstile to the metro. When you leave the destination subway station after the metro ride, give the ticket to the bus driver who shall be waiting in the bus stop just outside of the station. If you don't have an expresso metro ticket, you may use the expresso buses all the same, at the cost of a regular bus ticket. Recently, the last car of each train has been marked with a pink window sticker to indicate that during rush hours this car may be used by women only. This
policy, aimed to avoid potential harassment in crowded trains is
sometimes considered unnecessary as women have been using Rio's subway for hassle-free everyday travel since long.
Traffic within some parts of Rio can be daunting, but a car may be the best way to reach distant beaches like Grumari, and that can be an extra adventure. Avoid rush-hour traffic jams in neighborhoods such as Copacabana, Botafogo, Laranjeiras, and Tijuca, where moms line up their cars to pick up their children after school. Buy a map, and have fun. Note that Rio has an interesting program of traffic management. Between 07:00
and 10:00 on weekday mornings the traffic flow of one highway on the beachfront roads of Ipanema and Copacabana is reversed, i.e. all traffic on those roads flows in the same direction, towards the city. Note also that on Sundays the highway closest to the beach is closed to allow pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders, skaters and others to exercise. Rio de Janeiro is the perfect city to discover by Bike. In the last five years the city improved its bike lane infrastructure from 100km to almost 400km. The bike lanes are well maintained and extensive - you can bike all the way from Leblon to Centro on dedicated bike lanes along the coast. By bike
There is a public system called Bike Rio  . The price is R$10 per month or R$5 per day. You can use their mobile app to register, find stations, and withdraw bikes. You can only withdraw bikes by using the app or calling a special phone number. This means you can sign up and start using the bikes immediately. It also means you must always have a phone with mobile internet or credit to make calls. You cannot use Wi-Fi or a pay phone. As of early 2016, the system is so-so. Don't expect to find a bike near the beach after dark. There's no way to report damaged bikes, so if you see on the app that a station has one bike left, don't bother walking there because it'll likely be too damaged to use.
In the last couple of years it has become common to use scooters in Rio de Janeiro. Several rental agencies exist to serve this demand. Travellers that are used to riding motorbikes will find it very comfortable and convenient to zip around Rio de Janeiro on scooter. It gives an extra dose of liberty and autonomy to visit touristic spots little bit further away, such as Vista Chinesa, Prainha, or Largo do Boticário.
Happy Moto On foot
Rio is a fantastic walking city. There are several tour companies available like RealRio Tours and Rio Cultural Tours that will show you the most
famous sites in Rio de Janeiro, and some of the 'hidden' local neighborhoods often unexplored by tourists. Nearly all tour guides in Rio are fluent in English, but of course it is best to confirm that before you sign up.
Even the most seasoned tourist will find the beaches here quite amazing. They are wide and clean, with soft white sand. The main beaches from Leme to Barra have plenty of services for the beach goers, including free showers at the beach, wet trails to walk on cool sand, clean pay toilets, life-savers and police, tents and chairs for rent, soft drinks and alcoholic bars, food.
The beaches are from East to West (Downtown outwards):
Ramos (in-bay) - inappropriate for bathing Flamengo (in-bay) - usually inappropriate for bathing Botafogo (in-bay) - inappropriate for bathing Urca (in-bay) - usually inappropriate for bathing Vermelha (oceanic) - Mostly appropriate for bathing Leme (oceanic) Copacabana (oceanic) Arpoador (oceanic) Ipanema (oceanic) Leblon (oceanic) São Conrado (oceanic) - sometimes inappropriate for bathing
Barra da Tijuca (oceanic) Recreio dos Bandeirantes (oceanic) Grumari (oceanic) Abricó (oceanic, nudist beach) Abricó is the only official nudist beach in the area of Rio de Janeiro; it lies next to Grumari beach. Only accessible by car/taxi. An option is taking the bus numbered S-20 (Recreio) that passes along Copacabana/Ipanema/Leblon, and from the end of the line (ponto final) take a cab, for a travel time of almost 2 hours. It is also worth visiting the beaches in the island Paquetá , particularly: Praia da Moreninha (on the Guanabara Bay, but often not clean enough for swimming) Cariocas have a unique beach
culture , with a code of customs which outlanders (even Brazilians from other cities) can misconstrue easily. Despite what many foreigners may believe, there are no topless beaches. Girls can wear tiny string bikinis ( fio dental ), but it doesn't mean they're exhibitionists. For most of them, it's highly offensive to stare. Until the 1990s, men and boys wore speedos , then wearing bermuda shorts or trunks became more common. Speedos ("sungas" in Portuguese) and square leg suits are now making a
comeback. Jammers are less common but still accepted.
Waves in Rio vary from tiny and calm in the Guanabara bay beaches (Paquetá, Ramos, Flamengo, Botafogo, Urca) to
high, surf-ideal waves in Recreio. In Leme, Copacabana, Arpoador, Ipanema, and Leblon, there's a popular way of "riding" the waves called pegar jacaré (pe-GAHR zha-kah-REH; literally, "to grab an alligator"). You wait for the wave to come behind you then swim on top of it until it crumbles next to the sand. Commerce is common in Rio's beaches, with thousands of walking vendors selling everything from sun glasses or bikinis to fried shrimp to cooling beverages (try mate com limão , a local ice tea mixed with lemonade, or suco de laranja com cenoura , orange and carrot juice). For food, there is also empada (baked flour pastry filled with meat or cheese), sanduíche natural (cool sandwich with vegetables and mayo) and middle eastern food (Kibbehs and
pastries). Vendors typically shout out loud what they're selling, but they won't usually bother you unless you call them. All along the beaches there are also permanent vendors who will sell you a beer and also rent you a beach chair and an umbrella for a few Reais. The beaches in Barra and Recreio (Quebra-Mar, Pepê, Pontal, Prainha) were favored by surfers and hang- gliders until the 1980s, but now they are outnumbered by the middle-class and nouveau riche from the suburbs and also West Zone favela residents, such as now world-famous Cidade de Deus (City of God, made famous in the eponymous film).
Viewing Rio from top of the 710 m high Corcovado (meaning hunchback ) hill with its landmark statue of Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) is most impressive and a truly breathtaking experience. There are superb views of the Zona Sul (Copacabana, Ipanema, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and Botanical Garden) and inland to the Maracana stadium. Pedro II ordered the construction of the railroad to Corcovado and, in 1885; a steam train brought the first visitors up the steep mountainside. Some 50 years later, the elegant art deco statue of Cristo Redentor was assembled on site and opened on October 12, 1931. Ever since, Cristo Redentor on top of Corcovado hill is Rios ultimate symbol,
receiving over one million visitors a year. Before going, check the weather, because sometimes the clouds envelop the peak, some days throughout the day and more often in the late afternoon. On the other hand, afternoons usually have less haze and no backlight when taking pictures in the direction of Pão de Açúcar. At dusk, enjoy watching as the city lights come on and the statue is bathed in golden lights. When there are low clouds, consider going to the Dona Marta lookout by taxi. At 340m the view is not bad either and there are no crowds. The trip atop Corcovado starts at the base of the Corcovado train in Cosme Velho, Rua Cosme Velho 513. Get here
by taxi or take the Metro-Onibus Expresso combination 580 (see above) from Largo do Machado or bus lines 570, 583 and 584 from Leblon, Ipanema or Copacabana. From Downtown, take the lines 180, 422, 497 and 498. After reaching Cosme Velho, there are shuttle vans to bring you up to the entrance. The shuttle van costs R$25 return (2015 Feb). The most popular way of reaching the top is the funicular train, ascending 20 minutes long through lush vegetation. It operates 365d/a 08h00-9h00 every 30 minutes. A round trip ticket is R$51 (students from Brazil and the elderly pay 50% but are usually requested to prove showing some ID or document). You can purchase tickets at numerous lotto kiosks and post offices throughout the
city or online  with the option (R$5) to reserve a seat for any time between 09h00 and 18h00. The queue for the train, in Cosme Velho, can get rather long. Try going when the morning coach parties have already passed through (and many tourists are having their lunch) or in the afternoon. Tijuca National Park offers a safe service by Minibus  . These can be boarded in Praça do Lido, Copacabana (R$41/R$51 depending on season), Largo do Machado, Flamengo (R$41/R$51) or Estradas das Paineiras, next to the former Hotel Paineiras (R$22/R$32). Tickets can be bought at each of these locations. Prices (as of July 2014) include nonstop van transfer, access to Christ the Redeemer Monument and return trip. Note that the
Tim Maia Cycle Route - Agência Brasil. (CC BY 3.0 BR).
return trip will be to your point of origin; you cannot for instance depart from Praça do Lido and then return to Largo do Machado. If you opt for a taxi to go atop, expect to pay R$20 round-trip to enter the park, then another R$18 or so for the shuttle up to the monument. Along the way, views onto the city are better than from
There's also a hiking trail that begins at Parque Lage and gets atop (see Hiking and Trekking on the 'Do' section below). Alternatively, you can hike but the last 3km from the funicular station Paineras on a picturesque trail that passes by several waterfalls and the Dona Marta lookout. The Sugar Loaf mountain with its smaller companion, Morro da Urca, is another Rio top landmark. Going atop is one of the most popular activities in Rio and a definite must-do. Several vantage points offer magnificent views of the bay, the city center and west to the famous beaches and beyond, so that you will get a good idea of the layout of the Pão de Açúcar
Marvelous city . Do not make the mistake of thinking you have seen enough once you have seen the view from Corcovado. Try Sugar Loaf at sunset for a truly mind- blowing experience. The huge vaulted twin peaks of Morro da Urca and Pão de Açúcar are a natural monument, made mostly of 600 million remnant of the forest that once covered all of the bay area. The lucky ones can see toucans, parrots, monkeys and butterflies flitting through the trees. Access is by means of an aerial cable car offering magnificent views. Built in 1912, the so-called Bondinho was one of the first cable cars of this type in the world. The Bondinho is used by 2000 years old granite. The massif is endowed with lush vegetation, a
people every day and has two sections: the first going to Morro da Urca (220 m high), the second atop Sugar Loaf (396 m). On top, there is well-developped infrastructure like cafes, restaurants, shops, a cinema and even a helipad. Take bus 107, 511, 512, or the subway bus 513 from Botafogo to the cable car's base station, the only point to purchase tickets. They are R$62 (50% discount available for elderly citizens, persons with special needs, students, persons in the age group 6-21 years); since December 2013 there are no ticket variants any more, like single, return, first section only, etc.. The gondolas, accommodating 64 passengers each, are in service between 08h10 and 20h00 (way down until 20h40 and free from 19h00)  .
At the southern foot of Pão de Açúcar is a safe walking trail, the Pista Claudio Coutinho . There, you can stroll along the Atlantic shore or take an unsigned turnoff uphill to the middle station on Morro Urca. The trail starts on the northern end of Praia Vermelha and is open daily 08h00 to 18h00 for free. The Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas is large lagoon in the middle of South Zone, with great views to Corcovado and Ipanema and Leblon beaches; you can jog or cycle all the way round; there are skating areas and you can hire little peddle- operated boats. Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas
The Maracana Stadium is the largest
football stadium in South America and once the largest on Earth. It has recently been renovated for the 2014 World Cup. Inside is the Soccer Museum .
Arpoador , Barrio Arpoador 22080- 050,  . Beach offers without any doubt one of the most beautiful sunset views in Rio and it's the last place on the beach where the sun's rays emerge, before disappearing into the ocean between the Morro Dois Irmãos two twin cones. Consider the view from the top of the rocky point or terrace Arpoador Inn.
Jardim Botânico ,  . Open 8am- 5pm daily. This well-kept, magnificent and very lush botanical garden  is both a
park and a scientific laboratory. Situated east of the lagoon it is one of the most beautiful parks in Rio. With an area of about 137 football fields, it's worth spending a few hours in the haven of sunny beaches, with shady avenues, fountains, statues and ornamental ponds. Emperor John VI founded the Botanical Garden in 1808 as a nursery for herbs, teas and spices imported from Asia, exclusively for the royal family. In 1822 the garden was opened to the public, with the addition of ponds and scenic trails and the introduction of a wide range of plants. Today is one of the most important botanical gardens in the world, with 8000 species of plants growing in their natural habitats and in greenhouses. Highlights include orchids, bromeliads, ferns, splendid forests of
giant bamboo, a collection of medicinal plants, stunning trees which red flowers perched on the same tree and giant cacti. Colorful parrots, hummingbirds, butterflies and monkeys live in the vegetation. A good place to start your visit is the Grotto Kar Glasl, where you see the giant water lilies in the pond adjacent and can see the statue of Christ the Redeemer in the distance. Best- known is the Avenida das Palmas Imperiais, a long central avenue shaded by 200 imperial palms, huge trees descended from a single planted in early nineteenth century. They retain some of the original buildings of the garden; the Interpretive Center is located in an old sugar mill. There is also a Japanese Garden and two restaurants with terraces that allow to prolong your visit.
Not far from the cafe, you may hear swooshing sounds - look up and you can see small monkeys swinging from tree to tree. If you take the bus, note that Jardim Botanico is also the name of a neighborhood, so make sure you get off at the right spot for the entrance. Admission is R$6. Instituto Moreira Salles ,  . 13:00-20:00. This white modern building houses an important collection of Brazilian art, Roberto Burle Marx designed the courtyard and the mural. The foundation created by the wealthy banker occupies the old home of the family clan. Perspectives and refined materials, the building was designed Instituto Moreira Salles
by Olavo Redig, the garden by Burle Marx. It has the best private collection of photography in Brazil (Marc Ferrez). It also holds exhibitions of painting and sculpture. Temporary exhibition hall, always of great interest. Displays a large collection of photographs of the city of Rio de Janeiro. It also has cinema, library and cafeteria. Parque Lage ,  . This small park attracts by its history and romance of the place. Acquired by an English lord in 1809 it was transformed into a landscaped park, then it changed of owner a wealthy industrialist. To the joy of his wife, the singer Gabriella Bezanzoni Lage, he built a beautiful
mansion that today is the school of fine arts. Concerts and shows are organized regularly. The courtyard houses a coffee, there are strange concrete structures to entertain kids and the park has remnants of Atlantic Forest with some interesting sub-tropical rain forest plants and wildlife. The park is the beginning of a hiking trail to Corcovado. Museu de Arte Contemporânea Niteroi (MAC) ,  . 10:00-18:00. The Museum of Contemporary Art opened in 1996 and accommodating temporary exhibitions of modern art, is across the Guanabara Bay in the city of Niterói, accessible by ferry or the 13 km long bridge President Costa da Silva . The museum occupies one of the most impressive
and best known buildings by famous architect Oscar Niemeyer. His masterpiece of modern architecture features curved lines that evoke Rio's rounded peaks and, due to its circular shape suspended on a thin stand, reminds an UFO. From the patio and the restaurant inside there are panoramic views across the bay to Rio and over Niterói's coastline to the historic colonial fortress of Santa Cruz. Monasteiro São Bento ,  . 07:00- 18:00. This amazing seventeenth century Benedictine monastery and its church stands on a hill in the center of the city. Despite the simple exterior of the church, its interior is filled with extravagant gold leafs. Real Gabinete Portugues da
Leitura ,  . 09:00-18:00. Founded in 1837 by a group of Portuguese immigrants, this gem neogothic surprised by the elegance of its facade and its high altitude room full of thousands of books. With a church atmosphere, where the light is filtered by a colorful stained glass windows, readers try to study interrupted by a fleet of onlookers. Founded by Portuguese immigrants in 1837, the Manueline style building. The interior is a wood library with
coffered ceilings and carved columns. It houses the largest number of Portuguese authors
outside Portugal, with over 350,000 volumes of the XVI, XVII and XVIII. Ipanema ,  . M 20:00-01:00. It is the most modern neighborhood of
Rio beach since 1964, when Morales Vinicius wrote The Girl From Ipanema about a beautiful woman he saw on the beach. The beautiful people still frequenting the stylish bars and clubs ipanema. Copacabana ,  . One of the most famous beaches of Rio, Copacabana stretches from Morro de, leme hill to the north-east to Aproador rocks in the south-west. Year-round resort, best known for celebrating New Year's Eve. Before the construction of the tunnel connecting the area with Botafogo in 1982, Copacabana was an untouched bay with picturesque dunes. At the time of construction in the Copacabana Palace was more than 30,000 residents. Today it is one of the most
densely populated areas in the world.
Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco da Penitência ,  . Tu-F 09:00-12:00 and 13:00-16:00. At the entrance, a small museum houses the statues used during Ash Wednesday procession including the statue of St. Louis Louis XIII dress. Work of Manuel and Francisco Xavier de Brito, the exuberant gilded wood decoration of the church (1700- 1737) is one of the masterpieces of Brazilian Baroque art. The Apotheosis of San Francisco, located in the ceiling of the church, is a work of Caetano da Costa Coelho, is the first example of perspective representation of Brazil. The layout of the Rua Carioca, on
the north side of the monastery and Largo da Carioca, dates from 1741, when the Franciscan monks gave the land to the city for construction of a hospital. Biblioteca Nacional ,  . M-F 10:00- 17:00 Sa Su 12:30-16:30. The National Library, on the corner of the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro, is the largest library in Latin America and the seventh largest in the world. Jockey Clube Brasileiro ,  . M-F 07:00 as 22:00, Sa Su 07:00-21:00. Covers 640,000 meters and is the largest racecourse horseracing Brazil. There is also the Veterinary Hospital Octavio among others. Has a capaciade 70 thousand people with parking and security. The open
area of the jockey, and is valued for parties, concerts etc.. Recommend be sticking programming jockey. Toca do Vinicius livros e musica ,  . M 20:00-01:00. A small store CDs and books on bossa nova, on the same street which bears the name of the store is this amazing space where you can remember or imagine how those times were. An environment that breathes bossa nova. Bairro de Santa Teresa ,  . Rickety old trams go up to Santa Teresa, the artists’ favorite area, with a more refined style than Lapa. This neighborhood is a magnet for tourists, with museums, galleries, restaurants and magnificent views. Theatro Municipal ,  . Since its
opening on July 14, 1909, the building, inspired by the Opera Garnier in Paris, was the pride of the city. The new theater is located, with the intersection of Avenida Rio Branco, and is modeled on the Parisian avenues style. Designed by the architects Francisco de Oliveira Passos, a Brazilian, and the French Albert Guilbert, the building has a room with a capacity of 2360 seats (32m high) and a scene of 28m deep. The onyx staircase at the entrance is decorated with chandeliers and statues. In the ancient underground restaurant, there are bas-relief ceramics of Mesopotamian inspiration form and a charming decoration. 600 people work in the theater that hosts an
orchestra and a ballet company. In 2009, for the centenary, the theater received a major remodeling. Parque Nacional da Tijuca ,  . 08:00-19:00. This magnificent national park embraces the city with its lush forests. Its excellent walks and trails offer some of the best views of the city. Tijuaca contains the highest peaks of river and is one of the largest urban parks in the world. Most of the park was repopulated in the nineteenth century. This land so fertile was deforested during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to make way for sugar and coffee plantations. After several disastrous landslides, the authorities decided to restore the original landscape