Are you heading to Rio de Janeiro and don’t know what to do yet? Here’s a To-Do List of awesome activities you can not miss out on in Rio. Make sure to bring your camera. If you don’t walk around like a blind idiot, Rio is not much more dangerous than other cities in Brazil. Stay away from the favelas, don’t fumble out your iPhone on the streets, take cabs when it’s dark and you’re totally fine.
Alright! Are you excited? Here we go …
1. TAKE A CABLE RIDE UP TO SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN (“Pão de Açucar”)
Take a cable car and go up the Sugarloaf Mountain to take some nice pictures of Rio de Janeiro from above. The cable ride costs 72 R$ per Person and includes both cable rides up the mountain (and back of course 😉 ). The picture below was taken at the highest point of the Sugarloaf mountain, right next to the Café you can sit above the clouds.
2. HAVE A COFFEE ABOVE THE CLOUDS
The second cable car ride brings you up to the very top of Rio de Janeiro. You should plan to at least spend half a day up there. There’s a bar on the very top (right hand down) and when you’re lucky the clouds are just below it. You can then actually hang out up there, listen to excellent (!) electronic music and sip on your cocktail above the clouds. Make sure to plan in a whole day and relax for a while.
3. TAKE A PICTURE WITH CHRIST THE REDEEMER
Sneaky Robert Nyman took that awesome picture above and unless he wasn’t in a helicopter I guess he is a fast runner. Unfortunately you are not allowed to fly your drone up there and if you try (grin) the police will be there within 2 minutes. But fortunately Brazilians are very nice people and whilst you get your warning you can take 2-3 pictures while landing 😉
But back to the reason you want to go up that hill. Yeah I know you want that picture! Grab a ticket for 70 R$ and up you go with the tourist train. The “best” time to go is either early in the morning or between 3 and 4pm.
I took the second option and there were barely any people up there. Do you want to know why? It was so damn hot our phones stopped working!! So if you want to get a picture with fewer people lingering up there in a huge selfie orgy, you go between 3 and 4 and sweat to death.
4. RUN DOWN A CLIFF AND PARAGLIDE OVER RIO
YES! Do it! It’s so much fun! That’s what they say, hahaha! If you want to know more about the prices (around 400 R$), how to get there and how much fun it really is, click here to read more about Paragliding in Rio de Janeiro.
5. CHECK OUT RIO’S FAMOUS BEACHES
And check out dudes in speedos way too tight … most men ADORE those speedos in Brazil. My German heart can’t help but laugh at those “white accidents” that show things no-one really wants to see in detail…
Another nice beach I actually like more than Copacabana is Ipanema beach. It is just beautiful. Make sure to put that one on your To-Do List in Rio de Janeiro as well.
6. PARTY IN LAPA
Lapa is the place to go! The music is good, people are in party mood and so should you. Go there, grab a Caipirinha with Passion Fruit or Kiwi and dance the night away. There are also a lot of organised pub crawls in case you want to meet more travellers.
7. GET SOME ACAI
Standard. And awesome. Get one.
It also helps a LOT with hangovers the day after the party.
It will never look as awesome as in the picture above.
8. RELAX ON A RIVER ISLAND
If you want to relax and escape the busy city, just hang out a little bit further south and spend your time chilling on a small island, but still close (enough) to the city. Click here if you want to know how to find the hidden islands in Rio de Janeiro.
9. VISIT THE FAMOUS STAIRS IN LAPA (Escadaria Selarón)
You can either walk up the 215 steps. Or get a quick picture in front of the first five ones and then leave. Up to you. The stairs are covered in 2000 tiles that were collected all over the world. Pretty nice, huh?! Jorge Selaron, the artist spent his whole life tiling up those stairs (can you say that in English? Probably not). He was working like Sisyphus but I like to think at least he had fun. The result is this unique masterpiece of insane dedication, you should definitely not miss out on! Selaron died on his stairs in 2013.
10. CELEBRATE CARNIVAL IN RIO
Hard one. I survived it.
Watch your drinks! I got drugged with “Boa Noite Cinderella” the first night and overslept day one of carnival in a room with friends watching the door. Apart from that carnival was amazing! It was just …… I can’t find the words. Go there once, survive it and never do it again 😉
DO NOT! TAKE A FAVELA TOUR !
Seriously! Don’t be that stupid drunkish “I don’t give a damn” kind of person. Even the pacified favelas are damn dangerous at the moment! Police don’t receive enough salary to not be corrupt, the government doesn’t give a damn about unregistered people in favelas and the education in Brazil is not good for people who cannot afford to go to a private school.
What happens is the development of a society that is either rich or poor and just a few in the middle. This creates tension and you do not want to be the one that gets robbed or shot whilst looking at less fortunate people as if you were in a damn zoo!
- There are shootings every day
- There are dead people in favelas lying in their own blood every week. I have seen pictures I would rather like to forget.
- A police officer told me that some people in the favelas are better equipped with weapons than the police actually is. (My boss got hijacked in São Palo last year and was deported into a favela. The police knew where he was – they damn well knew it and no-one went in!)
- Gangs shot an Italian tourist in the head last year, whilst he was riding through a favela on a scooter. The GoPro on his head was his death sentence. Three more young tourists were said to have been killed last year.
- The murder rate in Brazil is measured by incident. This means if there is an “incident” with 5 deaths it counts as 1 in the statistics.
Don’t be stupid! Watch your stuff. Be cautious. Don’t walk around alone at night and do NOT take a damn favela tour!
(If you happen to know one of the big drug lords in there, you’re safe to go – anything else is mere stupidity!)
If you stick to this, Rio de Janeiro is a beautiful city. I know this sounds bad, but if you are open-minded AND cautious you will see Rio’s beauty in all of its faces.
Jut be careful and don’t force stupid stuff to happen and all will be fine!
And I guess by now no-one wants to visit Rio anymore, hahaha. No, but seriously! It is really safe during the day. Make sure to create your own To-Do List for Rio de Janeiro and hopefully this one inspires you to go and visit one of the most interesting cities in Brazil.