Top Things to See in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro's unique location between the mountains and the sea has landed its spot as arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Historically the getaway spot for celebrity and elite jetsetters, you'll find that today Rio is more than just sun, sand, and beautiful people. Below you'll find the top 8 must-visit places in the second biggest town in Brazil.
Sugarloaf Mountain
Standing at the height of four hundred meters above Rio de Janeiro, the quartz & granite mountain is the city's most famous landmark. You can walk up the first part of the mountain (about a 45 minute trek) and take a break at some of the shops and restaurants at the halfway point. Then use a cable car to get to the top. From there, you can feast your eyes on the entirety of Rio and the surrounding landscapes, and enjoy a drink or two. Make sure to go when the skies are clear, as you won't be able to see anything with clouds. If you want some truly unique and gorgeous photos, go just before sunset to see the city and sea bathed in a beautiful golden light.
Tijuca National Park
Tijuca presents travelers a chance to lose themselves in the wild as well as to conquer Rio's highest mountain – Pico da Tijuca. Whether you choose to do a Jeep tour or brave the hike on your own, your trek into the "lung of Rio" will be a memorable one. Make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and bug repellent, and plan ahead so that you can return before dark. Among other attractions, you can find the Mayrink Chapel decorated with murals by the renowned artist Candido Portinari, and the one-hundred-foot-tall Castatinha Waterfall.
Cristo Redentor
The statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Peak is one the most well-known cultural icons of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. The soapstone and concrete monument symbolizes Christianity worldwide and is listed as one of the new 7 Wonders of the World. Take the train up the mountain on a sunny day for the best experience, or take a local bus up and down if you're on a budget. Because this is the most popular attraction in Rio, be patient - there will be lots of crowds waiting in line and taking selfies, but it is absolutely worth it!
Escadaria Selaron
Created by the globally-famous artist Jorge Selaron, these stairs are the newest landmark on the city's map. A total of 250 steps are decorated with various mosaics, mirrors, and tile designs from countries and cities around the world, attracting thousands of tourists every year. Because this is such a popular attraction, go early in the morning or later in the day to get the best photo opportunities and avoid the crowds. There is a little park with ruins nearby to explore, as well as restaurants, vendors, and shops surrounding the stairs.
Jardim Botanico
Rio de Janeiro's Botanical Garden is a home to about eight thousand different plants. Regardless of whether or not you're a gardener or a plant lover, be prepared for a special treat in the form of six hundred kinds of orchids, an 800 meter walkway of royal palm trees, a Japanese garden, a cactus collection and more. Be sure to take plenty of water and bug repellent, as it can be quite humid in the gardens. However you can take shelter in the shade of the palms and have a picnic, and take beautiful photos.
Tourists that prefer to bathe in the hot Brazilian sun are advised to head straight to the Copacabana Beach. The area is also home to the famous Copacabana Hotel, and surrounded by restaurants, shops, hotels and bars. Rio de Janeiro is one of the few cities in the world that can boast of having a pristine sand beach right at its center, however this is not an ideal place for laying on the sand and relaxing as it is quite crowded. There's a lot to see along this 2.5-mile long promenade, at all times of the day or night - football games, runners, beach volleyball, vendors, surfing, live musical performances and more.
Santa Tereza
If you want to experience an authentic Rio away from the beach scene, check out the quaint, bohemian Santa Tereza district. Constantly filled with artists and vendors, the neighborhood's winding roads offer some unforgettable street art, galleries, old mansions, and views of the city. Here you can find the Museu Chacara do Ceu, which contains pieces by Picasso and Matisse. Stick to the main road near the tram line or get a local guide to take you off the beaten path.
São Bento Monastary
This monastery complex, located above the harbor, was built at the beginning of the 17th century. It may not be the most famous sight in Rio, and it can be a bit tricky to find due to its drab outer appearance, but inside is an astonishing example of baroque art - it is draped with gold and beautiful carvings, definitely a well-preserved masterpiece of Old Brazil. You can also find the works of Ricardo do Pilar and his magnum opus: Christ of the Passion.
All in all, Rio de Janeiro is a city that offers a mixture of architectural landmarks, nature, beaches, and breathtaking city views. There is something for everyone to be found in Rio, if you only look for it.

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