Those unmissable tours you need to do to make the most of your trip to Rio de Janeiro, the main tourist destination in Brazil

When we think of this destination, we immediately envision beautiful beaches and iconic sights. But the city and the state as a whole have many other options, and from the beauties and history of the mountain region to the places where popular culture reigns, there are many things to do during your stay. When in doubt, you can start with these 12 cool things to do in Rio de Janeiro.

The options for what to do in Rio de Janeiro that we have selected here give priority to diversity, ideal for those traveling in a group, to please whatever the taste of each one. So everyone will find their tour unforgettable. Put all the tips on your agenda and enjoy the best of Rio de Janeiro:

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Islands (Angra dos Reis)

Photo: Daniel Souza Lima / Wikimedia Commons

Angra dos Reis is the perfect destination for those who love the sea. Its islands have a huge number of beaches bathed by very clear waters and offer various types of activities: diving to discover the rich marine life, boat trips fueled by pirate stories and much more.

Despite its proximity to the capital, its beaches are still quite deserted and are among the cool things to do in Rio de Janeiro: each one of them yields moments of relaxation and unbelievable photos.

mountain cities

Photo: Sesc Rio / Wikimedia Commons

Here, the dive is in history. Petrópolis stands out in the Serrana Region, the city that is the showcase of all the tradition of our monarchy and is even more charming in winter, when its German influence is even more evident, with unforgettable gastronomic options.

For those who like beer, the beer circuit is a must. With luck, you can schedule your visit to the city during a craft beer fair and pay homage to tradition by visiting the first brewery in Brazil, Bohemia, installed in the city in the 19th century.

The region is rich in mountains, has more than 130 km of amazing trails, waterfalls and camping sites. The Serra dos Órgãos Park is a must and is, without a doubt, among the cool things to do in Rio.

Parque Lage

cool things to do in rio de janeiro

Photo: Caioviniciuscosta / Wikimedia Commons

A mixture of culture with a lot of nature, Parque Lage is home to native forest, Atlantic Forest and, at the same time, offers a large garden in a romantic European style. It also has the majestic Imperial Palms, lakes, artificial islands, caves and lots of fun for the family. A suggestion: enjoy your outdoor area for an unforgettable picnic.

Parque Lage is well known for its 19th century mansion, which serves as a space for many artistic events throughout the year and where the School of Visual Arts operates, which served as a location for many films and video clips. It has a bistro that serves organic meals. A complete experience!

Lapa neighborhood

Photo: Mariahaversa / Wikimedia Commons

The neighborhood in the central area of Rio can be summed up in one word: bohemia. The nightlife of its streets is famous for mixing tourists and cariocas around its gastronomy and cultural traditions that always include lots of music.

Explore the street stalls and the samba and chorinho houses. If your musical style is less traditional, there are also nightclubs with a focus on current pop and funk music. For all tastes!

Christ the Redeemer

cool things to do in rio de janeiro

Photo: Jorge Morales Piderit / Wikimedia Commons

Going to Rio de Janeiro and not visiting Christ the Redeemer is unthinkable, because even though it is a tourist spot that is always full of visitors, the tour does not disappoint. You can reach the most famous statue in the country by train or by van and either way, both the Christ and the landscapes that will be available from the top of Morro do Corcovado are worth the adjective: they are divine.

Sugar Loaf

Photo: Vanessa Marques / Wikimedia Commons

Nobody will deny: one of the coolest things to do in Rio de Janeiro is the mandatory tour to the Sugarloaf Mountain, because setting foot on that iconic rock formation is validating your trip to the city.

Traveling to its highest point on the more than famous cable car is fulfilling an exciting tradition. Gradually, the most classic and beautiful landscapes of its beaches and hills are stunning.

Copacabana beach

cool things to do in rio de janeiro

Photo: bisonlux / Flickr Wikimedia Commons

Here, more is more: Copacabana is the most famous beach in all of Rio de Janeiro. It is where the arrival of the New Year is celebrated, it is where great concerts take place and it is also where, every day, cariocas and tourists renew their love for the sand and the sea.

Copacabana offers a complete structure: in addition to its hotel chain, its waterfront has some of the best restaurants in the city, as well as a bike path, bars and lifeguard stations with showers, all available also at night.


Photo: Rafaelkatz / Wikimedia Commons

Neighboring Ipanema, in the south of Rio, Praia do Arpoador is one of the coolest places to visit in the city. The place is a traditional point for surfing and surfers, with waves suitable for the practice of the sport.

But if you prefer to stay on land, you can enjoy another tradition at this small beach: climb the easy trails that lead to Pedra do Arpoador and admire the landscape and the sunset.

Viewpoint Dona Marta

cool things to do in rio de janeiro

Photo: Rodrigosilvestri / Wikimedia Commons

In the search for best point to see the most beautiful landscapes in Rio, Mirante Dona Marta is one of the coolest tours that Rio has to offer. By car, you can get there from Cosme Velho and continue along the path that leads to Cristo Redentor. You can go on foot, taking the inclined elevator that leaves the top of Favela Santa Marta and following a trail (easy) for about 40 minutes.

The Mirante Dona Marta is over 360 meters high and from it you have a very particular view of postcards such as Sugarloaf Mountain, Morro da Urca, Maracanã and Flamengo Cove.

Flying Circus

Photo: Disclosure

This is a special tour for music lovers. The Circo Voador stage, since the 80s, has launched bands and musicians that became great successes, but the house did not stop in time and continues, to this day, programming shows for all lovers of Brazilian music and pop rock.

Quite logically, Circo Voador is another respected “inhabitant” of the biggest bohemian neighborhood in Rio: its definitive location is behind Arcos da Lapa.

Lakes Region

cool things to do in rio de janeiro

Photo: Leonardo Shinagawa / Wikimedia Commons

The beaches of the Lagos Region are so close to the city of Rio de Janeiro that they are a favorite destination for cariocas for a basic weekend trip, and if it is good for the “locals”, it is clear that this region is one of the best places to visit. cool things to do in Rio de Janeiro.

Búzios, Arraial do Cabo and Cabo Frio are mandatory destinations there.


cool things to do in rio de janeiro

Photo: Florian Höfer / Wikimedia Commons

Paraty is another one of those destinations where natural beauty marries architectural beauty. Its Historic Center, with colonial mansions and churches, is worth walking through its streets paved with “pé de moleque” stones.

The city has about 60 beaches, many of them only accessible by schooners, and the island circuit that invites diving and fishing. On the mainland, its forests hide many waterfalls and historic trails.

Now, it's time to plan your trip with enough time to be able to do these 12 cool tours in Rio de Janeiro with the certainty that there is much more to discover.

» Places to visit in the city of Rio de Janeiro
» Guide to Museums in the City of Rio de Janeiro
» Viewpoints to discover in the city of Rio de Janeiro
» Transcarioca Trail, 180 km circuit that crosses the city of Rio de Janeiro

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