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Our Top 5 Must-See Rio de Janeiro Attractions


by GoWithGuide travel specialist:Pia V.

Last updated : May 23, 20247 min read

Things To Do

Welcome to Rio de Janeiro! Brazil's famous carnival city is a huge metropolis built right on the coastline. Lined by stunning beaches and lush rainforest, and hosting the largest Carnival celebration in the world, the "Marvelous City" certainly lives up to its nickname.


With a population of over 6 million people and a pace of life that never seems to let up, Rio de Janeiro can feel intimidating to a visitor. A vibrant metropolis like this is best explored with a knowledgeable private guide who will make your visit completely hassle-free, ensuring nothing gets lost in translation and all the logistics run smooth throughout. Here are the top 5 must-see attractions you should definitely include in your itinerary!


Christ the Redeemer


Christ the Redeemer is an important symbol of Brazil, its culture, and Christian faith. It is also one of the most famous statues in the world. This impressive monument is built on top of Corcovado Mountain in Tijuca National Park, which borders Rio de Janeiro. From its 700-meter-high vantage point, the 30-meter-tall statue gazes over the bustling city. 


The hundred-year-old statue was built between 1922 and 1931 using concrete and soapstone. Since its creation, this imposing figure has become one of the most photographed sites in the country. The statue was also included in the 2007 list of the New 7 Wonders of the World and is said to attract nearly 2 million visitors a year. The most popular way to reach the statue is by hopping aboard the quaint Corcovado Tram, which will take you from Rio's Cosme Velho neighborhood all the way up to the summit. Spaces are limited, so make sure to book your tickets beforehand to avoid missing out!


Sugarloaf Mountain


Sugarloaf Mountain is another scenic elevation adjacent to Rio de Janeiro. This granite and quartz mountain is around 400 meters tall. It is positioned at the opening of the Guanabara Bay, right on the precipice of the Atlantic Ocean. The stone formation has become famous for the beautiful views it provides, as well as the cable car which takes you to the top. Riding the glass-sided cable car is an experience in itself, with the 1,400-meter-long route providing 360-degree views overlooking Rio de Janeiro and its tropical surroundings. 


There are in fact two cable cars to take and two summits to visit at Sugarloaf Mountain. The first summit is Morro da Urca, followed by the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain. Both summits offer spectacular vistas overlooking Rio de Janeiro. The summits also offer plenty of amenities, from restaurants to shops and beyond, so you can comfortably take your time and really drink in the views.


Ipanema Beach


Ipanema Beach - the mere mention of this name is bound to bring a familiar melody to your mind. The 1962 song "A Girl from Ipanema" propelled this beautiful Brazilian beach to the world stage. Ever since, Ipanema Beach has been one of the most famous attractions in the country. The beach is about 3 kilometers long and features beautiful white sand. It is incredibly popular with locals and visitors alike, particularly during the weekends.


Ipanema is a great place to soak up Rio's coastal ambiance and tropical lifestyle. You will find people playing beach volleyball, having a picnic, and simply soaking up the sun. There are also plenty of restaurants and cafés for grabbing a bite to eat near the beach. Don't leave before you catch a photo of the beach with the mountains known as the Two Brothers looming in the background!


Botanical Garden

Halley Pacheco de Oliveira, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


The Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden is a lush green oasis located in the heart of the city. This is a great place to explore Brazil's unique plant life without having to trek through a rainforest. Located in the city's Southern Zone, the botanical garden is said to be home to a whopping 6,500 different species. The gardens span about 54 hectares of land and also house several greenhouses.


One of the most famous attractions is the park's entrance, which is lined by two 750-meter-long lines of palm trees. Make sure to stop here to snap some photos! All in all, the park is said to house a staggering 900 different varieties of palm trees. Besides the diverse flora, the park area is dotted with beautiful fountains, ponds, bridges, and statues. This makes for a very relaxing day spent surrounded by nature.


Selaron Steps


The Selaron Steps are arguably among the most famous steps in the world. Since their creation in the 1990s, they have also become one of the most photographed spots in Rio de Janeiro. The steps are 125 meters long and feature 215 steps, connecting the neighborhoods of Lapa and Santa Teresa in the city's central district. The tile-covered steps are famous for their colorful design and international influences, with tiles having been sourced from countless countries from around the world.


The Selaron Steps (or Escadaria Selarón in Portuguese) were the passion project of Chilean artist Jorge Selarón. He started repairing the stairs located close to his house during the 1990s and over the years, the project became an obsession. Before his death in 2013, Selarón was constantly working on the staircase, making it an ever-changing work of art. Today, the Selaron Steps feature over 2,000 tiles, many of which have been donated by foreign visitors. Try to see if you can spot a tile from your own home country!


And there you have it - our top 5 attractions to visit in Rio de Janeiro! Of course, this is just a small taste of all the wonders this beautiful and vibrant city has to offer. If planning your itinerary feels overwhelming, and you'd rather just leave it to the experts, you're not alone. 


Our experienced local guides have helped countless visitors navigate the Marvelous City, introducing them to the most important landmarks of the city, as well as pointing out all the hidden gems tucked in between. Are you curious to see what this looks like in practice? Check out our private tours of Rio de Janeiro to get inspired!

Rio de Janeiro Tour Guide - Marcelo C.

Marcelo C.


Hi! My name is Marcelo I´am a Tour Guide in Rio de Janeiro,Brazil. Working for more than 35 years with tourism and hospitality industry, as a travel agent, tour operator and many years as a Hotel Concierge, I am prepared to offer you a personalized itinerary and provide the best experience in Rio. So, See You in Rio?                                                                                                                                  

Sao Paulo Tour Guide - Mohamed amine E.

Mohamed amine E.


Hi! I'm Mohamed-Amine Please call me Amine. I was born in Morocco but have worked and living in Brazil for nearly 20 years. I'm very familiar with the many sightseeing spots and attractions of the Country thanks to my long-term life experience in this city. Brazil is a fascinating and picturesque country visited by more then 10 millions tourists every year. I have guided many foreign tourists as an English & French-speaking tour guide for the past lasts years. So after serval years I decide to open my own travel Agency to make people discovering this wonderful country through tailor made guided tours. I like to make people happy. Moreover, I am interested in Brazilian history, culture, and geography, and I also like intercultural exchanges! I can show you the best of Brazil not only popular historical sites and relics but also hidden spots which only locals know. I always enjoy guiding every tourist with my best hospitality. When you have a chance to visit Brazil, please contact me anytime and join one of my tours!                                                                                                                                 

Rio de Janeiro Tour Guide - Kelly T.

Kelly T.


I have a background MA in Arts Management at the University of Oregon in the USA and I am a professional tour guide since 2014 in Brasil. I am passionate about nature, culture and the arts. I am an ever adventurous person, always looking forward to connect with diverse cultures and valuing their traditions. I seek and invite you to try out the unexpected, to feel the flavors and vibes, to experience live music, the scents of coffees and cachaças’ spirit, fresh food, and the lush scenery of Rio. Come experience our cultural ancestry through nature and material and immaterial traces. I live each moment with enthusiasm and I share it with people who want to live the same, worshiping life with passion and connecting with others. Storyteller, arts educator and tour guide, three main activities that Kelly Tavares, born and raised in Rio, has been practicing for years. Photography, art and traveling three hobbies she has cultivated since graduation at the School of Fine Arts of Brazil. I am a Community Cultural Producer, multicultural facilitator and language teacher, three professional activities which have been part of my life since graduation from the University of Oregon, USA. I work with love for the causes I believe and I will share unforgettable moments in Rio, through authentic experiences, mixing present and past, personal and cultural history, and a bit of everything you can imagine. I have been running presentation and livestreamed virtual tours for two years already, having developed and used different transmedia methods, such as audio guides, virtual livestreamed and multimedia presentations to showcase and present Rio de Janeiro.                                                                                                                                  

Rio de Janeiro Tour Guide - Guilherme G.

Guilherme G.


Hello ! I'm Guilherme, from Rio de Janeiro! I am a Tour Guide and I am also a musician. I love my city, nature, beaches, history and the surprises that Rio has to offer! My tour always has music, information and friendliness!! I'm waiting for you here!                                                                                                                                 

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