Rio De Janeiro
As one of the top 10 cities to see on earth, Rio De Janeiro is jammed between ocean and mountain. With all this natural scenery, Rio does exceptionally well using the surrounding terrain to show off one of the most densely populated places on earth. From below, mountains tower above and sheer rock walls force the separation of the city into separate regions. The most famous is Copacabana, one of the worlds best beaches reached by tunnel from the heart of the city. Another region is the city center (Centro) where there are numerous must see sights that don't require a swimsuit or towel. Below is a list of all the sights we saw during our four day stay in Rio De Janeiro. To see all these and have enough beach time, plan a minimum of 5 days. Click the links below for more information on each sight.
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Santa Teresa is a wealthy neighborhood on a hill close to downtown. The interesting streets, homes and views of Rio make Santa Teresa a popular tourist destination. The twisty streets are cobblestone, the trees large & the homes are often mansions.
One of the most iconic rocks in the world, Sugarloaf towers above the beaches of Rio De Janeiro. Pick a nice day, this is one of the best views you'll ever see.
The icon of Rio de Janeiro and one of the must see spots on earth, all visitors must go to the Cristo Redentor.
Copacabana Beach is world famous. The beach is 2.5 mile long, super wide, with a crescent shaped shoreline with rocky cliffs at each end. The beach is so big there is room for tens of thousands of beachgoers.
Ipanema Beach is just minutes away from Copacabana, itís just as nice and considered more upscale and classy. The Travel Channel listed Ipanema Beach as the sexiest beach in the world.
On of the top 10 best botanical gardens in the world, these gardens represent nearly 8,000 species with over 235,000 plants and trees.
The Lagoa is near Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. Here you can find excellent views of the mountains while biking around the lake. A wide paved trail takes walkers, runners and bikers around the entire lake.
The Escadaria Selaron are world-famous steps created by the artist Jorge Selaron. Each step is unique and is made from ceramic tiles sent to Selaron from all over the world. There are 250 steps measuring 125 meters long which are covered in over 2000 tiles collected from over 60 countries around the world.
To experience the history of this famous city, downtown Rio still holds some historic buildings hiding among the tall modern downtown city sprawl. Sights like churches, monasteries, museums, cultural centers, municipal and government buildings, all make for a full day of sightseeing in downtown Rio.
One of the most inexpensive ways to get out and see a bit more of the Rio area is to purchase a one-way ticket to Niteroi. If you don't like the looks of Niteroi, stay on the boat and it will take you back to Centro.
If you are curious what is beyond to the west of Ipanema Beach, a scenic drive on Avenue Niemeyer is an easy taxi ride to the Barra Square Shopping Center. The direct route is through a tunnel but the old road, Avenue Niemeyer hugs the coastline offering very scenic views. The next big beach area is Barra du Tuuca. There you will find the Barra Square Shopping Center. It is Latin America's largest shopping center with more than 500 establishments. The mall is like the largest US malls except the prices are much higher. There are several large food courts, an indoor amusement park, many cinemas and even a bowling area. We killed some time here during a rainy afternoon.
Taxi on Avenue Niemeyer to Barra Square
ATM's are everywhere but not all accept Visa & MasterCard. Be sure to look for the logos on the machine. Bradesco banks and the 24 Bank ATM's work best. Taxis are everywhere but be sure they start the meter when you get going. The Brazilian Real is overinflated so the cost of everything is very high. Unless your currency does well, expect to pay more for everything. Foreign travelers who don't speak Portuguese should expect unfriendliness during most conversations. If you can break the language barrier, most Brazilians are quite nice, but overall they don't seem to appreciate you for not knowing their language and culture. Rio is safe if you keep the basics. In the day, people are everywhere going here and there so you are generally ok. Still, you should walk with purpose from one site to another around town, don't linger. At night, stick to the beach or a few blocks deep, don't go poking around where you don't belong. Use taxies during the night hours to and from tourist locations.
Rio De Janeiro Notes
Santa Teresa Neighborhood
Christ the Redeemer
Churches in Centro Rio de Janeiro
Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Candelaria
Rio de Janeiro from Christ the Redeemer
Rio Botanical Gardens
Parque Garota view
Inside the Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Candelaria
Night view from Sugar Loaf
Views at the halfway station in route to Sugar Loaf