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. Christ the Redeemer

    Cosme Velho

    Rio's iconic Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) statue stands arms outstretched atop 690-meter-high (2,300-foot-high) Corcovado mountain. It wasn't until 1921, the centennial of Brazil's independence...Read More

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  • 2. Corcovado

    Cosme Velho

    There's an eternal argument about which city view is better, the one from Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf) or the one from Corcovado. In our opinion,...Read More

  • 3. Museu de Arte do Rio

    Centro

    Rio's once run-down port zone is now the focus of a major investment and regeneration program, and the 2013 opening of the Museu de Arte...Read More

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  • 4. Pão de Açúcar

    Urca

    The indigenous Tupi people originally called the soaring 396-meter (1,300-foot) granite block at the mouth of Baía de Guanabara pau-nh-acugua (high, pointed peak). To the...Read More

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  • 5. 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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  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Forte de Copacabana and Museu Histórico do Exército

    Copacabana

    Copacabana Fort was built in 1914 as part of Rio's first line of defense, and many original features, such as the thick brick fortification and...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. Museu Chácara do Céu

    Santa Teresa

    The collection of mostly modern works at this museum was left—along with the hilltop house that contains it—by one of Rio's greatest arts patrons, Raymundo...Read More

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  • 13. Praia de São Conrado

    São Conrado

    West of Leblon, Praia de São Conrado sits empty during the week but is often packed on weekends and holidays. The strand of soft sand...Read More

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  • 14. Praia do Arpoador

    Arpoador

    At the point where Ipanema Beach meets Copacabana, Praia do Arpoador has great waves for surfing. They're so great that nonsurfers tend to avoid the...Read More

  • 15. Praia do Botafogo

    Botafogo

    Though it's pretty, Botafogo Beach doesn't attract swimmers and sunbathers. Locals joke that the fish here come ready-coated in oil for frying, but don't let...Read More

  • 16. Praia do Leme

    Leme

    Leme Beach is a natural extension of Copacabana Beach to the northeast, toward Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf). A rock formation juts into the water...Read More

  • 17. Praia Vermelha

    Urca

    Right at the foot of Sugar Loaf, this sheltered, rough-sand beach (the name means "red beach," a reference to the distinctive coarse sand here) is...Read More

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  • 18. Recreio dos Bandeirantes

    Recreio dos Bandeirantes

    At the far end of Barra's beachfront avenue—the name of the street was changed a few years back to Avenida Lúcio Costa, but locals still...Read More

  • 19. São Conrado

    The juxtaposition of the "haves" and "have nots" couldn't be more stark, or more startling, than it is in São Conrado, where mansions and expensive...Read More

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