The 2016 Olympic games in Rio will be one of the biggest events in the sporting calendar. The city is blessed with great weather, long meandering beaches, and an infectious party atmosphere. If you are lucky enough to be attending, here are 20 things to do in Rio while at the Olympics.
1. Copacabana Beach
There are many beautiful beaches in the world but none can compare with the vibrant atmosphere of Copacabana Beach. Running 4 kilometres along the side of downtown Rio, it’s always full of happy, fun-loving locals. Here you will be able to relax in the sun, take part in an array of sporting activities, or simply sample the delights of local restaurants.
2. Christ the Redeemer
Overlooking the city from the summit of Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer is an imposing and stunning statue. Made from reinforced concrete and sandstone, it stands 130 ft. tall. On a clear day, the views are breathtaking and it should be one of the first places you visit upon arrival in Rio.
3. Rio Scenarium
For those who enjoy the nocturnal life, Rio Scenarium is for you. The premier nightspot is famous for its Samba, as well as a wide range of antiques on display throughout its three floors.
4. Parque Lage
If you are looking to slow the pace down a little, take a stroll through Parque Lage. Situated at the base of Floresta da Tijuca, it offers English-style gardens and picturesque lakes. It is a quiet place to relax and enjoy a coffee or meal.
5. Sugar Loaf Mountain
Sugar Loaf Mountain is an iconic destination giving you panoramic views of Rio. If you have a head for heights, then you can travel up on one of the many cable cars. With a stop halfway up, you’ll be able to see views of Guanabara Bay and the Rio-Niteroi Bridge.
6. Tijuca National Park
Covering 32 square kilometres, Tijuca National Park is the largest urban rainforest in the world. When you hit the summit, you’ll be greeted with spectacular views; and it’s the ideal place for hikers. There is plenty of local wildlife on show, including ocelots and howler monkeys.
7. Escadaria Selaron
If you are an art lover, you mustn’t miss the opportunity to visit Escadaria Selaron. The famous brightly coloured steps are the creation of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selaron, who covered the steps in colourful mosaics.
8. Ilha de Paqueta
If you’re looking to escape the city for the day, then Ilha de Paqueta is the perfect destination. There is a relaxing ambience, and with no cars on the island, transport is by foot. The locals are welcoming and the scenery is befitting of the location.
9. Jardim Zoologico
The zoo in Rio is situated at Quinta da Boa Vista, and for animal lovers is the place to be. With a huge variety of mammals, birds and reptiles all indigenous to Brazil, the zoo features a large walk-through aviary.
10. Mosteiro de Sao Bento
With such a religious heritage, visiting one of Rio’s many churches is a must. Mosteiro de Sao Bento is known for having excellent views over the city. The interior is decorated in gold and is filled with a number of historical treasures. The high mass on a Sunday includes a choir of Benedictine monks singing Gregorian chants.
11. Bazar Centro do Saara
If you know where to look, Rio can be a great place to grab a bargain. There are many boutique shops about, particularly in the areas of Ipanema and Copacabana. For the savvy shopper, head downtown to the indoor markets at Uruguaiana and the shops in the area known as Saara.
Venturing back into Rio’s nightlife, the Fosfobox is a club hidden beneath a shopping centre and is near to the metro. The club plays a wide variety of music, from modern day to funk and glam rock.
13. The Maze
If you want to combine great music with a great view, then head to The Maze. Situated inside one of the local favelas, this tiny house hosts regular Jazz nights and is always packed with locals and tourists. If you are looking for quality music and a great bar, make sure this is on your list.
14. Maracanã Stadium
No trip to Brazil would be complete without a visit to the Maracanã Stadium, particularly if you can get inside for either a tour or a live football match. It will be the venue for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympics and, with such a rich history, is certainly one for avid sports fans.
15. Theatro Municipal
If you love the theatre, the Theatro Municipal is a must-see. The stunning building is located in the city centre and is the home of Rio’s opera, ballet and orchestra. The best way to experience the building and amazing architecture is with a 45-minute guided tour.
16. Museu Historico Nacional
If you’re visiting a country for the first time, it is always nice to learn about the history. The Museu Historico Nacional is the best place to do this. It contains relics that are important to Brazil’s history, from its founding to the early days of the republic.
17. Ipanema Beach
Another one for beach lovers. If you enjoyed the splendour of the Copacabana, Ipanema shouldn’t disappoint either. If you are a keen surfer, you’ve come to the right place; in between Ipanema and Copacabana lies Arpoador, Rio’s popular surfing location. Just be careful of the strong undertow. Also home to the large gay community in Rio.
The adrenaline junkies will not want to miss Rioxtreme. Experience Rio from an aerial viewpoint by paragliding or hang-gliding over it. Taking off from a ramp in the Tijuca Forest, you will have views of the coast and Pedra da Gavea, before touching down 20 minutes later on Pepino Beach.
19. Rio de Janeiro Cathedral
Wonder at the incredible architecture of the Rio de Janeiro Cathedral. It can be found in the city centre and features four beautiful rectilinear stained glass windows, which run from floor to ceiling.
20. Copacabana Palace Spa
Finish off your trip to Rio in style and treat yourself to a little pampering at the Copacabana Palace Spa. Here you will be able to relax and enjoy a massage or beauty treatment. It will be well deserved if you’ve managed everything on this list!
Rio hotels for 2016 olympics
Rio has some amazing hotels to offer, from 5* boutiques to great little hostels in the favelas. I’ve previously stayed at Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro which I highly recommend, mainly for it’s killer-view rooftop (see below). The hotel is set in the exclusive area of Zona Zul, close to all the main attractions Ipanema beach and the area feels very safe.
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