Yes, the signs of poverty are everywhere. But the thing I noticed the most, as we rode on motorbikes through Rocinha’s steep, winding streets, was how friendly the people were. An 89-year-old man invited us onto his roof at one point (for a fee, which we gladly paid) to admire the magnificent views of the city and ocean.
Christ the Redeemer opens at 7:40 a.m., and I suggest visiting as early as possible on weekday mornings to avoid the biggest crowds. Keep in mind, as Christ the Redeemer is the most popular tourist attraction in Brazil, you won’t be able to enjoy it by yourself. Crowds of varying sizes arrive throughout the day, but it gets most crowded in the late morning and early afternoon. Keep that in mind if you’re looking for photo opportunities!
Early History of Rio de Janeiro
Elsewhere in the garden, you’ll find 200-year-old imperial palm trees and jackfruit trees. Living among the trees are marmosets, which are an invasive species, but also incredibly cute. Check them out the next time you’re in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!
The famous beach is part of a larger neighborhood called Copacabana Beach, where you’ll find a number of restaurants, hotels, apartment buildings, bakeries, and shops. It’s reminiscent of many European cities I’ve visited in the past, like Lisbon. But at night, the 24-hour area comes alive with a whole new energy as the street food vendors set up their stalls!
Often thought of as the most magical destination in an already alluring country, Rio de Janeiro is very much a city of contrasts. Located on Guanabara Bay in the state of Rio de Janeiro in southern Brazil, the city, commonly referred to as Rio, is known for its iconic imagery. From its raucous Carnival festival to its exemplary beaches to its world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue, Rio de Janeiro has long been a captivating travel destination. And while many of the top things to do in Rio de Janeiro take full advantage of its aesthetic beauty, it’s worth noting that Rio is also a foodie paradise!
Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22020-040
Tacacá do Norte
My Time in Rio de Janeiro
Alto da Boa Vista, Rio de Janeiro – RJ
One of the great things about the restaurant is that they offer more than just Brazilian barbecue, as you’ll also find fish, sushi, and salads on their menu. And if you’re not familiar with the various cuts of meat, no worries. On their placemats is a diagram that shows the cuts of meat they recommend.
You can reach the statue in several ways, including by train, by bike, by hiking, and by climbing. If you have the time, biking, hiking, or climbing are great ways to have a unique experience, but if not, I suggest taking the van. Just follow the road up the mountain, through Tijuca Forest, to the pickup point at Barra da Tijuca. From there, the van will take you the rest of the way for 40 BRL, or roughly .70.
At the reception pickup point, you can buy tickets to Christ the Redeemer. My party of three spent 105 BRL, or about USD, before riding the van up the rest of the way.
Visit Christ the Redeemer
There are multiple ways to get to the top, including hiking and climbing, but the funicular is the fastest and safest. A ride on the funicular, which dates back to 1912, costs 120 BRL, or roughly USD.
Facing Flamengo Beach and Sugarloaf Mountain in the picturesque Flamengo area is another of Rio’s top steakhouses, Assador Rio’s. The elegant, waterfront restaurant features a huge dining hall with a unique design and stunning architecture. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a heavy, meaty meal with friends or family!
Flamengo, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 20021-140
Together with the herbs and chicken, it’s one of the best chicken dishes I’ve ever eaten! I truly believe it should be everyone’s list of things to do in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Wash it all down with some of their sweet and smooth cachaca!
One of the first things that often come to mind when people think of Rio are the bright, vibrant colors often associated with the city. In the Santa Teresa neighborhood, not far from the Carioca Aqueduct, is arguably the city’s most colorful attraction, Escadaria Selarón.
Tickets, Gift Shop, and Restaurant
+55 21 3874-1808
There are many hotels just feet from the ocean at Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches, but if you’re looking for one that’s comfortable and centrally located, I suggest the Yoo2 Rio de Janeiro by Intercity. This designer boutique hotels is one of the top accommodations in Rio and has 143 rooms spread across 12 floors.
It sounds cliché, but my time in Rio de Janeiro really was a dream come true. I’d wanted to explore the city since I first started traveling. Despite hearing scary stories of violence and crime from others, I finally made it happen in December of 2020. What I found as I explored the city with my guides Guilherme and Rafa of Rio4Fun and Rio4Food blew my mind. Instead of crime and violence, I found a rich and complex city full of beautiful culture, mouthwatering food, and fascinating contradictions.
If you’ve ever wanted to try a Brazilian take on a Vietnamese classic, head over to Tacacá do Norte. This small diner sells a local version of pho, the famous Vietnamese soup, that contains shrimp, manioc flour, tapioca gum, and greens.
Christ the Redeemer
From the upscale, heavily-touristed beaches and attractions to the tight, claustrophobic alleys of the meager Rocinha favela, every step I took in Rio was a deeper look into a complicated and often misunderstood city. I had some of my favorite food experiences in months in the city and found myself in awe more times than I can count. These are the top things you must do in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Rua Conde de Bernadotte, 26
Near the garden’s entrance is a street food vendor selling dulce de leche churros. They’re the perfect snack to enjoy as you explore the grounds and take in the beauty around you.
They also have beer, but in all honesty, the main attraction here is the stunning view of the city and ocean below.
Arguably the tastiest item on their menu is their baked chicken, which they douse with a rich and citrusy garlic-onion-orange sauce. The sauce is tangy and potent, and the mix of the acidic oranges, garlic, and onions is a masterclass in balancing flavors.
+55 21 2225-7329
Dine at Nova Capela Bar e Restaurante
Check out the Top 15 Things to Do in Florianópolis, Brazil
Go on a Street Food Tour of Copacabana Beach
Check out the Top Things to See and Do in São Paulo, Brazil
Try Feijoada at Academia da Cachaça
Try Brazilian Pho at Tacacá do Norte
BONUS: Try Acaraje
Steakhouses are a dime a dozen in Brazil, but if you want to eat some of the highest quality meat in town, head over to Churrascaria Palace. This steakhouse in the famed Copacabana Beach neighborhood dates back to 1951 and also offers dishes from all over the country.
If you’re looking for a laid-back spot to just chill out and relax, try Jardim Botânico, also known as the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden. The garden dates back to 1808 and is known for its extensive collection of over 6,500 species of plants and its stunning landscapes.
While you’re there, you can also have an açaí bowl or a craft beer. I suggest their Cerba export, which is a crisp lager with a nice, crafty taste. The beer and pho combination is hard to beat!
+55 21 2018-3235