5 Icons You Must See When Visiting Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro (River of January) is the most visited city in Brazil and with good reason. The beauty is everywhere from the favelas to the beaches, top to bottom. When you come to Rio you’ll be whipped up in the bustling city and could be overwhelmed like I was, so here are the 5 icons you must see when visiting Rio de Janeiro!

1. Christ the Redeemer

We all knew this would be number 1, but for some of you that know ‘icons’ but not their names, I’m sure you’ll recognise now what I’m talking about. Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) stands tall and proud atop Corcovado. It is always busy here, but you’ll have your chance to get brilliant photos with the man. The view from here is amazing of the entire city from north to south. There is an elevator as there are steps, but only 220 steps. You may want to ride the elevator up and walk down if you’re not feeling physical. There are buses that run you up and down the hill if you drive to the ticket area or are on a tour.

2. Pão de Açúcar

Sugar Loaf Pão De Açúcar, Rio De JaneiroPão de Açúcar, known to us as Sugar Loaf Mountain, is another way to see Rio at its best! Plus this time you can have Christ the Redeemer in the background of your photo. You ride a cable car with two journeys to arrive at the top. Another crowded platform but it’s always rotating. If you are up there you might have the clouds hit you in the face, literally. Especially as the day begins to turn into dusk. I advise to go up around an hour before sunset, that way you can get day time photos and magical twilight and night photos.

3. Escadaria Selarón & Lapa

The famous steps (Saleron Steps) are located in the area Lapa. Which is a trendy suburb with bars, restaurants and clubs to suit you after a day of exploring. It gets hard to get the stairs to yourself for your notable shot. Patience and timing is the key. Walk around Lapa and be sure to check out the nightlife!

4. Take a Favela Tour

Favelas, Buildings, ShedsThis one will be controversial to a few, as some see it as an invasion of privacy. Favelas are also known as slums, shanty towns or ghetto areas. However, they are an eye opener and these neighbourhoods deserve recognition. They say over 1 million people in Rio live in favelas. The biggest favela is Rocinha and also one of the most developed. Once it didn’t have utilities –  no electricity, sewerage or water systems. Coming soon I will have a post on Favelas and Their History in Rio. I highly recommend taking a tour, I do not advise you to go on your own, this can be very dangerous.

5. Beaches – Ipanema and Copacabana

5 icons you must see when visiting Rio de JaneiroThis is what we came for, save the best till last! The beach is the main attraction for tourists and these two beaches are where you want to be. There will be beach volleyball, cyclists & skateboarders along the esplanades, food and drink carts, cafes and restaurants, music and tonnes of people. The ocean gets rough sometimes. You’ll see a lot of people getting their tan on but not many in the water. The beaches have lots of lifeguard posts that are numbered making it a great way of meeting up with people at the beach.

Of course there is more to do and see in Rio, the city is huge, there are day trips, hikes and other suburbs to check out. These are the must-do’s when you’re planning a visit. Coming soon I will have posts on Safety Advice for Rio and My Experience of the Rio Carnival.

If you have any questions regarding Rio, be sure to contact me.




18 thoughts on “5 Icons You Must See When Visiting Rio de Janeiro”

  1. We actually went up to Christ the Redeemer twice because it was foggy the first day! However it was before the blog and I didn’t know about the Saleron steps at the time so I need to return!

  2. Favela Tours are a really good way to learn about the city and get a better perspective on a new place- I did one in Medellin, Colombia and it really opened my eyes. Great tips!- Thanks so much 🙂

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