City Guide: Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most interesting destinations out there. While the city might be known for its beaches, there’s a lot more to see in Rio. Read in this city guide, why Rio de Janeiro is the perfect mix of a cultural and recreation destination!

For my visit to Rio de Janeiro, I decided to stay at Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro and the Caesar Park by Sofitel. Both hotels are located at Ipanema Beach, which was the location I started exploring the city from.

Rio de Janerio Ipanema Beach

Ipanema Beach

You’ll see in this city guide that Rio de Janeiro is quite a large city, making it challenging to explore it one or two days. Thus, I’ll focus on the highlights, so you get an idea of what’s worth visiting in the city!

Ipanema and Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro

If you’re coming to Rio de Janeiro, there’s no denying that you are in for the beaches! To be honest, nobody can fault you for that as both, the Ipanema Beach and the Copacabana Beach are incredibly beautiful for a city beach.


While the Ipanema Beach feels a little more exclusive and naturally beautiful, the Copacabana Beach with the skyline and the Sugar Loaf in the background just is a special place.



While you’ve surely heard of the two beaches before reading this city guide, you might not be familiar with Pedra do Arpoador, which is a cliff between the two beaches.


It feels like a small natural reserve and is a great spot for pictures and even some climbing. You definitely shouldn’t miss out on this one when visiting either Ipanema Beach or Copacabana Beach.

Sugar Loaf & Cable Car in Rio de Janeiro

Personally, I always thought that the Sugar Loaf Cable Car was just going from the city to the Sugar Loaf. Yet, the Sugar Loaf Cable Car in fact goes from the valley station to the Morro da Urca first.

Rio de Janeiro Sugarloaf Cable Car

Sugarloaf Cable Car

From there, you can take another cable car to the Sugar Loaf. While this may seem like an annoying stop, the Morro da Urca is actually beautiful as well and offers stunning views of the city.


Thus, I’d recommend not only focusing on visiting the Sugar Loaf, but also the Morro da Urca. You can take any cable car anyways, so there’s no need to rush. Besides the views (which are also incredible when an airplane is landing at the city airport), the mountains offer rich greenery and wildlife.


I’d say that the Morro da Urca and the Sugar Loaf are spots to spend two or three hours in total. If you decided to walk from the Sugar Loaf in the direction of the city, there are several interesting buidlings on the way.


These include the Instituto Benjamin Constant, Museu de Ciencias da Terra and the Universidad do Brasil. If you walk for one kilometer or so, you’ll also find yourself at a metro station.

Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro

Thinking of the landmark of Rio de Janeiro, the Christ the Redeemer Statue most likely comes to your mind. You can actually spot the statue from several high points in the city or you can get up there by a small rack railway or a bus.

Rio de Janeiro Trem de Corcovado

Trem de Corcovado

Sadly, when we arrived at the station of the Trem de Corcovado, which goes up to the Christ the Redeemer Statue, it got very foggy. Thus, we were told that the rack railway wouldn’t go up for quite some time.


As we didn’t have too much time, we decided to skip it due to the bad conditions. Yet, you may take your chance when visiting Rio!

City Center of Rio de Janeiro

People have warned me to get to the city center of cities like Sao Paulo or Lima… and they’ve warned me to go to the city center of Rio de Janeiro. Well, they couldn’t hold me back as you can see in this city guide.

Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan Cathedral

Metropolitan Cathedral

Personally, I felt very safe in the city center of Rio de Janeiro, even with a DSLR camera. Plus, the city center is actually totally worth seeing. There are not only several fascinating churches including the unique Metropolitan Cathedral, but you can also find tons of more interesting historic buildings.


These include, among others, the Theatro Municipal Rio de Janeiro, the Obelisc, the Carioca Aqueduct and the Biblioteca Nacional.


In the immediate city center, there are also the Museum of Modern Art and the futuristic Petrobras Building. Further to the North-East of the city center, you can find the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro and the beautiful Candelária Church.


At the harbour, you can also spot the interesting Ilha Fiscal, which looks truly unique.

Bottom line Rio de Janeiro

Visiting Rio de Janeiro was amazing. Even though there’s a lot more to see, my first impressions were very nice. The beaches are stunning, the Sugar Loaf feels like a real escape from the city and the city center has tons of interesting historic buildings and makes you feel like you’re in Europe.


Safety wasn’t an issue during my visit, but you should always be careful when in South America. Nevertheless, I’d highly recommend visiting Rio de Janeiro!

Have you been to Rio de Janeiro? Anything to add to this city guide?

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