Rio de Janeiro

When in Rio, don't be afraid to follow the tourist trail—the major attractions really are "must-sees." Contrary to tourist-board images, the sun doesn't always shine on the city, so when it does, make the most of it. If the skies are clear, waste no time in heading for Cosme Velho to visit the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado mountain, or to Urca to make the cable car ascent to the peak of Sugar Loaf. Time-pressed travelers will find that whistle-stop city tours are a good way to see many attractions in one day, while those lucky enough to spend a week or more here can afford to take a more leisurely approach. Cloudy days are a good time to visit the attractions of leafy Lagoa and Jardim Botânico and the breezily bohemian hilltop neighborhood of Santa Teresa. The historic buildings, museums, and cultural centers of Centro, Catete, Glória, and Lapa are ideal rainy-day options.

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  • 1. Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil

    Centro

    What was once the headquarters of Brazil's oldest bank is now an enormous cultural space in downtown Rio. With areas designated for cinema screenings, expositions,...Read More

  • 2. Escadaria Selarón

    Lapa

    After traveling the world and living in more than 50 countries, Chilean painter Selarón began working in 1990 on the iconic tile staircase that is...Read More

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  • 3. Parque Lage

    Jardim Botânico

    This lush green space down the road from Jardim Botânico was acquired by Antônio Martins Lage Jr., whose grandson, Henrique Lage, fell head-over-heels in love...Read More

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  • 4. Praia de Copacabana

    Copacabana

    Maddening traffic, noise, packed apartment blocks, and a world-famous beach—this is Copacabana, or, Manhattan with bikinis. Walk along the neighborhood's classic crescent to dive headfirst...Read More

  • 5. Praia de Grumari

    Grumari

    A bit beyond Prainha, off Estrada de Guaratiba, is Grumari, a beach that seems a preview of paradise. What it lacks in amenities—it has only...Read More

  • 6. Praia de Ipanema

    Ipanema

    As you stroll this world-famous beach you'll encounter a cross section of the city's residents, each favoring a particular stretch. Families predominate in the area...Read More

  • 7. Biblioteca Nacional

    Centro

    Corinthian columns adorn the neoclassical National Library (built between 1905 and 1908), the first such establishment in Latin America. Its original archives were brought to...Read More

  • 8. Centro Cultural Laurinda Santos Lobo

    Santa Teresa

    This pink mansion houses Santa Teresa's small Museu do Bonde (Bonde Museum), dedicated to Rio's trolleys, and the exhibition covering the history of the city's...Read More

  • 9. Convento do Santo Antônio

    Centro

    The Convent of St. Anthony was completed in 1780, but some parts date from 1615, making it one of Rio's oldest structures. Its baroque interior...Read More

  • 10. Floresta da Tijuca

    Alto da Boa Vista

    Surrounding Corcovado is the dense, tropical Tijuca Forest, also known as the Parque Nacional da Tijuca. Once part of a Brazilian nobleman's estate, it's studded...Read More

  • 11. Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Glória do Outeiro

    Glória

    The aptly named Church of Our Lady of the Glory of the Knoll (Church of Glory for short) sits on top of a hill and...Read More

  • 12. Largo do Guimarães

    Santa Teresa

    Much of the activity in close-knit Santa Teresa takes place around its village-like squares, among them Largo do Guimarães, a social hub that frequently hosts...Read More

  • 13. Museu Casa de Rui Barbosa

    Botafogo

    Steps away from Botafogo metro station is a museum in the former home of the 19th-century Brazilian statesman, writer, and scholar Rui Barbosa, a liberal...Read More

  • 14. Museu H.Stern

    Ipanema

    Hans Stern started his gem empire in 1945 with an initial investment of about $200. Today his company's interests include mining and production operations, as...Read More

  • 15. Museu Villa Lobos

    Botafogo

    A grand colonial building set in spacious gardens is the setting for this museum dedicated to the life and works of Heitor Villa-Lobos, Brazil's best-known...Read More

  • 16. Oi Futuro Flamengo

    Flamengo

    This slick, ultramodern exhibition space also houses Rio's Telecommunications Museum. The museum itself delivers a unique multimedia adventure—lots of monitors, blinking lights, and media artifacts....Read More

  • 17. Paço Imperial

    Centro

    This two-story building with thick stone walls and an ornate entrance was built in 1743, and for the next 60 years was the headquarters for...Read More

  • 18. Palácio Tiradentes

    Centro

    The Tiradentes Palace contains a permanent exhibit describing its history as the seat of the Brazilian parliament before Brasília was built in the late 1950s....Read More

  • 19. Parque do Flamengo

    The landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx designed this waterfront park that flanks the Baía de Guanabara from the Glória neighborhood to Flamengo. Frequently referred to...Read More

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  • 20. Praia da Barra

    Barra da Tijuca

    Some cariocas consider the beach at Barra da Tijuca to be Rio's best, and the 18-km-long (11-mile-long) sweep of sand and jostling waves certainly is...Read More

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