Destination insight: Rio de Janeiro
With Brazil being one our top long-haul business destinations, we've found some of the best things to see and do in its second largest city Rio de Janeiro. From the stunning statue of Christ the Redeemer to the tranquil surroundings of Jardim Botânico and the infamous Rio Carnival – it's no wonder Rio is referred to as Cidade Maravihosa, meaning marvellous city!
6 things to see and do in Rio de Janeiro
1. Take the cable car to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain
Taking its name from the traditional shape of Brazil’s main export sugar, a cable car has run to the top of this 395-metre peak since 1912. Experience panoramic views of the city (best seen at sunset), Corcovado and the city's beaches right. You can catch the cable car from Praca General Tiburcio. Get there simply by taking any bus from Centro marked Urca or Praia Vermelha.
2. Visit the Statue of Christ the Redeemer
Head to the top of Corcovado and see the awe-inspiring Statue of Christ the Redeemer. Voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, it's also the largest art-deco statue in the world – standing at 39-metres tall. If you get lost in the city, take a look at his arms as they point north and south! To get to there, take the cog train from Rua Cosme Velho 513. Trains run from 7am to 8pm, departing every 30 minutes. Find out more: www.corcovado.com.
3. Hike up Pedra da Gavea
With its unmistakable flat peak, Pedra da Gavea is the world’s largest coastal monolith rising 842 metres above sea level. Exposed to all the elements the Atlantic has to offer, the vertical side has been eroded to resemble a human face – which some thought had been carved by an ancient civilisation. Surrounded by lush vegetation and native plant species, Pedra da Gavea can be found in the Tijuca Forest National Park. There are regular hikes to the peak, but it is one of the more challenging tours and recommended for those with some experience.
4. Take a tour of the Maracanã Stadium
The undisputed home of Brazilian football, the Maracanã first opened in 1950 and has not only seen the likes of football greats Pelé and Didi play, but has also seen music legends Frank Sinatra, Madonna and the Rolling Stones perform there. Head there for guided tours, where you can see everything from the locker rooms and grandstand to the Tribune Press and the collection of memorabilia. This year, the stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympic Games.
5. Explore the stunning Jardim Botânico
Escape the hustle and bustle of Rio for these tranquil botanical gardens. First founded in 1808 by the Prince Regent Dom João, Jardim Botânico is home to more than 8,000 plant species, including 134 palms. It's also where tea, cloves and cinnamon were brought to first acclimatise. The gardens are open daily from 8am-5pm apart from Mondays when it’s open 12-5pm. Head there early in the morning and catch the monkeys and toucans relaxing in this calming oasis.
6. Party at the Rio Carnival
The Rio Carnival is the biggest and most famous carnival in the world. The main event is the Samba Parade, but make sure you also go to a few balls, join street parties and street band processions in downtown (Centro) and Southern Rio (the Zona Sul), and try a samba school night rehearsal. The Carnival parade takes place every February in the 75,000-seater Sambadrome in a riot of rhythm, colour and outrageous choreography.
Safety in Rio
In the past, Rio has had a bad reputation for crime, but things have come along way in the past few years. That's not to say that it doesn't happen, it does, so it's important, as with any city, to keep alert to your surroundings. Most of it is common sense...
- Avoid wearing expensive jewellery, watches and clothes
- Don't carry large sums of money. Keep mobiles and cameras out of sight and leave your passport and valuables in a safe place. If possible carry a copy of your passport.
- Travel in a group preferably with local friends/colleagues
- Travel by taxi – particularly at night
- Avoid areas known to be dangerous, eg favelas (shanty towns)
For more tips and advice, visit the foreign travel advice website.
How to get there
Most international flights arrive at Aeroporto Antônio Carlos Jobim (also called Galeão), located 15km north of the city centre. Catch a Premium Auto Ônibus into the city, stopping at Flamengo, Copacabana, Ipanema and other neighbourhoods. Buses leave every 30-40 minutes and take around 1-2 hours depending on traffic. Taxis will also take you into the city: Radio taxis charge set fares to Copacabana and Ipanema and take around 45-90 minutes, while yellow-and-blue metered taxis are a cheaper option.
The Rodoviária Novo Rio is the main bus station for the majority of Rio's incoming and outgoing long-distance bus/coach journeys. Located around 2km northwest of downtown, it's open 5am-2am, 7-days-a-week. Please not the Novo Rio terminal is not in the best area, so just go directly inside once you get there by bus or taxi.
Getting around Rio de Janerio
The easiest way to get around is by subway, covering most areas of interest in Centro and Zona Sul. Plus there is an integrated bus system for parts of the city not yet covered by the Metrô. MetrôRio is open daily from Monday to Saturday from 5am to midnight; Sundays and holidays, from 7 am to 11 pm. Tickets can be bought at subway stations or at ATMs. Single tickets cost R$3.70, alternatively buy a pre-paid card (with a minimum credit of R$5) and pay as you go – it will entitle you to discounts at theatres.
Taxis are a relatively inexpensive way to get around Rio and can be hailed anywhere on the street or at taxi stands throughout the city. Radio Taxis offer set fares and are slightly more expensive. Most hotels work with Radio Taxis, so if you don't want to pay extra just hail your own. Be warned, though, driving can be quite erratic and the Highway Code is not always followed!
There are lots of bus routes to choose from, taking you pretty much anywhere in the city. Routes are clearly marked on the front, with stops usually found on the side. They are quite a bit cheaper than taxis, but make sure you have your fare ready when you board.
Also, look out for the orange bikes while you're there – they are part of the SAMBA public bicycle system, similar to our Boris bikes in London.