10 Fun Things to do in Rio de Janeiro that Only Locals Know
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10 Fun Things to do in Rio de Janeiro that Only Locals Know

7 min read

Jul 16, 2015


By Jason Mayo

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Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 02:17 pm

Things to Do in Rio

When getting ready to travel to Rio de Janeiro on a Brazil vacation, I’m sure you will be ready for the Ipanema & Copacabana beaches, Christ the Redeemer statue, and Sugar Loaf Mountain. You are probably also prepared for a little samba dancing and some classic Brazilian style barbecue. However, read our insider’s guide to Rio de Janeiro and you’ll discover so much more! Here are our top 10 things to do in Rio de Janeiro.

1. Try Exotic Fruits at a Juice Bar

A visit to the juice bars in Rio is absolutely necessary when you’re touring the city or need something refreshing after sunbathing on the beach. You will walk by one on nearly every street corner and think to yourself, “I wonder if this place has good juice?” The answer to your question is yes, they are all incredible! Rio de Janeiro is known for its exotic fruit.

Very popular fruit juice is made with maracujá or passion fruit. This refreshing drink is loved by tourists and locals and Brazil is the largest exporter of it in the world. If you feel like having something with more bubbles, try Brazil’s favorite sparkling beverage, made from the red Amazonian Guaraná berries. However, nothing beats a pineapple juice walking down Ipanema beach. Or for something fun, try a kiwi caipirinha, the country’s national cocktail!

tropical drink rio
fruit market in south america

Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 02:17 pm

2. Play Soccer on the Beach

Working out is a big part of Brazilian culture! Especially in Rio de Janeiro. Rio is one of the most fitness-oriented places in the world. Everywhere you turn, there are runners, bikers, surfers, bodybuilders, volleyball players, etc. There are outside gyms along the beaches every 100 meters or so! Jump into a game of volleyball, football (soccer), paddleball, and more while walking along the beach! If you are active, you’ll fit right in!

Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 02:17 pm

3. Eat an Acai Bowl

Not to get too far into the Brazil food theme, but Acai is that important to share. Dubbed the “superfood” by the Brazilians because of the antioxidant qualities, it is made from a plant in Brazil and is very similar to ice cream. If you’ve had Acai where you’re from, I can promise you that it is better in Rio. It gives that pineapple juice a run for its money!

acai fruit
creamy acai bowl with a side of nuts

Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 02:17 pm

4. Visit the Arpoador Rock Formation

Another 15 minutes west of the Forte along Copacabana Beach brings you to the jutting rock formation Arpoador, Portuguese for “harpoonist”, as the natives used to hunt whales from this point. Arpoador is the apex joining Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, with views in both directions.

Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 02:17 pm

5. Go Beyond the Copacabana Beach

After exploring Copacabana beach, consider jumping into Rio’s modern, efficient & fast Metro to return to one of Copacabana’s three stops OR continue to the historic downtown: alight at Cinelândia, home to Rio’s legacy of grand cinemas, cultural parks & plazas, and the Teatro Municipal, Rio de Janeiro’s eclectic Paris-inspired opera house. Your tour of Rio de Janeiro could include a performance of one of the great European masterpieces or a world-class classical concert in a unique location.

opera house in rio
cathedral in rio

Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 02:17 pm

6. Stargaze at Copacabana Beach

Your tour of Rio de Janeiro is not complete without a view of Copacabana by night: Finish your day at one of the kiosks on the beachside of Avenida Atlântica. “Deck Zero-Nove”, across from the Copacabana Palace Hotel, has a simple yet diverse menu, a short selection of South American wines and local beers, and the best nighttime views of this historic luxury hotel, harking back to its golden heyday when Carmen Miranda was a regular guest. Picture the starlet on her hotel balcony as the moon slowly melts into the Atlantic.

Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 02:17 pm

7. Celebrate Carnival

This is hardly an insider’s tip, but Carnival influences Rio in many ways. The city stops for it and the Brazilians let go for the entire month. There are plenty of Carnival Rio Tours that include all of the famous attractions the city has to offer, including the party of the year. If you are looking for the biggest spectacle in the world, Carnival is the place for you!

view of the rio carnival parade
drummers at rio carnival

Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 02:17 pm

8. Take a Dip in the Best Pool in the City

This tip is for the people looking for the best pool in all of Rio de Janeiro. The good news is that you can easily have access to it, the bad news is that it comes at a price. It is the Belmond Copacabana Hotel’s pool and is one of the most famous and luxurious places in all of Rio. But speaking of beauty, this pool adds to the beauty and luxury that Rio is known for. And you are just across the street from Copacabana beach!

Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 02:17 pm

9. Take the Tram Around Santa Teresa

Everyone knows about Ipanema & Copacabana, but Santa Teresa is a bit of a gem in the city. Located on a hill, it provides some of the best views of the city. It’s also a unique place to explore during the day. It also has one of the more interesting landmarks in the city called the Selaron Steps where many celebrities have visited and posed for pictures.

famous painted steps in rio
yellow tram on santa teresa hill

Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 02:17 pm

10. Slip-on a Pair of Havaianas

The classic, simple sandals are arguably the best brand out there and they originated in Brazil! Rio is the perfect place to buy a pair and wear them around. They offer hundreds of colors and styles at unbeatable prices.

Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 02:17 pm

11. Explore the Botanical Gardens

This is a beautiful destination in the middle of Rio de Janeiro. Rio is known for its beauty in its geography, culture, and people. The gardens can be included in this list of beautiful things. The incredible botany, art, and general aesthetics of the gardens make it worth spending a whole day here, but a couple of hours will give you a good taste.

statue near a pond in the botanical gardens
pretty archway in botanical gardens

Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 02:17 pm

12. Go Dancing in Lapa

Another great neighborhood in Rio, this is where you can find nightlife. If you are interested in seeing Rio at night, this is the place to go. This is definitely not for everybody, but if you are looking for a party, this is where you can find it!

Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 02:17 pm

13) Take a Morning Walk along Copacabana Beach

Join frolicking dogs and morning joggers for a pre-breakfast stroll along the uncrowded beach any time of the year. Get up early for a 7 am stroll along Copacabana’s 4 km (2 ½ miles) u-shaped beach, with a changing panorama along the way, including views of Sugar Loaf Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer statues. A buffet of breakfast cakes, tropical fruits, and hearty meats awaits you back at your Rio hotel.

aerial view of copacabana
up close view of copacabana

Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 02:17 pm

14. Discover the Forte de Copacabana

At the other end of Copacabana, the Forte de Copacabana, the relaxed military outpost and lifeguard training center hosts an interesting military museum as well as a more sophisticated café, with views of the entire beach with Sugarloaf in the background.

Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 02:17 pm

15. Climb to the Top of Leme Rock

After enjoying the beach, climb to the top of the “rock of Leme” for a panoramic view of Copacabana & Praia Vermelha (“red beach”), as well as Sugar Loaf Mountain, looming over you just hundreds of meters away. Entrance (weekends only, nominal fee) is through the Forte de Leme, the military outpost anchoring this end of Copacabana. The walk up is relatively gentle and is shaded by tropical vegetation.

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