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3 Days in Rio de Janeiro Things to Do Where to Stay and Must Sees

Rio de Janeiro is a vibrant and diverse city in Brazil that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, rich culture, and exciting attractions. If you’re planning a trip to Rio, here are some travel tips to help you make the most of your visit:

  1. Safety: Rio has a reputation for being a dangerous city, so it’s important to take precautions while exploring. Stick to tourist areas, avoid walking alone at night, and be wary of pickpockets.
  2. Language: Portuguese is the official language spoken in Rio, so it’s helpful to learn some basic phrases before your trip. However, many locals in tourist areas speak English.
  3. Transportation: Rio has a reliable public transportation system that includes buses, metro, and taxis. Uber is also available in the city and is a convenient way to get around.
  4. Currency: The official currency in Brazil is the Brazilian Real. It’s a good idea to exchange some money before your trip or withdraw cash from ATMs in the city.
  5. Weather: Rio has a tropical climate, so be prepared for hot and humid weather, especially in the summer months. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses.

Top Rio de Janeiro Sites and Monuments / Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro

  1. Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor): One of the most iconic landmarks in Rio, Christ the Redeemer is a massive statue of Jesus Christ that overlooks the city from the peak of Corcovado Mountain. The best way to reach the statue is by taking a scenic train ride up the mountain. Website: https://www.cristo.redentor.br/
  2. Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar): Another famous peak in Rio, Sugarloaf Mountain offers breathtaking views of the city and Guanabara Bay. Take the cable car to the summit for panoramic vistas. Website: https://www.bondinho.com.br/
  3. Copacabana Beach: One of the most famous beaches in the world, Copacabana is a lively stretch of sand lined with bars, restaurants, and shops. Relax on the beach, take a stroll along the boardwalk, or try your hand at beach volleyball. Website: https://www.rio.com/rio-travel/rio-de-janeiro-beaches
  4. Ipanema Beach: Another popular beach in Rio, Ipanema is known for its beautiful scenery, vibrant atmosphere, and world-class surfing. Don’t miss the sunset over the Maracanã Stadium: If you’re a sports fan, a visit to Maracanã Stadium is a must. This iconic venue has hosted some of the biggest soccer matches in history and offers guided tours for visitors. Website: https://www.tourmaracana.com.br/
  5. Tijuca National Park: For a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, head to Tijuca National Park, the largest urban rainforest in the world. Explore hiking trails, waterfalls, and wildlife in this natural oasis. Website: https://www.parquenacionaldatijuca.rio/
  6. Lapa Arches (Arcos da Lapa): These impressive white arches are a historic landmark in Rio and were once part of an aqueduct. Today, the arches serve as a popular meeting spot and are surrounded by bars, restaurants, and live music venues. Website: https://www.riodejaneiro.com/blog/rio-de-janeiro-attractions-the-lapa-arches/
  7. Selarón Steps (Escadaria Selarón): This colorful staircase in the Lapa neighborhood is a work of art created by Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón. The steps are decorated with Jardim Botânico (Botanical Garden): For nature lovers, a visit to the Jardim Botânico is a must. This lush garden is home to a wide variety of plants, including rare orchids, bromeliads, and giant water lilies. Website: https://jbrj.gov.br/
  8. Santa Teresa neighborhood: Known for its bohemian vibe and colonial architecture, Santa Teresa is a charming neighborhood in Rio that is perfect for exploring on foot. Wander the cobbled streets, visit art galleries, and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere. Website: https://www.rio.com/rio-travel/santa-teresa

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Best Hotels in Rio de Janeiro / Where to Stay in Rio de Janeiro

Best Rated Rio de Janeiro Hotels priced over $200 per night:

  1. Belmond Copacabana Palace: Luxury hotel located on Copacabana Beach.
  2. Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro: Stylish hotel with stunning views of Ipanema Beach.

Top Hotels in Rio de Janeiro priced between $100 to $200 per night:

  1. Arena Copacabana Hotel: Beachfront hotel with modern rooms and a rooftop pool.
  2. Windsor Excelsior Copacabana: Upscale hotel with ocean views and a rooftop terrace.

Best Rio de Janeiro Hotels priced between $50 to $100 per night:

  1. Ipanema Inn Hotel: Cozy hotel in the heart of Ipanema, close to the beach.
  2. Hotel Atlantico Travel Copacabana: Affordable hotel with a central location in Copacabana.

Best Reviewed Rio de Janeiro Hotels priced below $50 to $30 per night:

  1. Hotel Carioca: Budget-friendly hotel in downtown Rio with basic facilities.
  2. Hotel Othon Palace: Budget option with ocean views and easy access to Copacabana Beach.

Top Budget Hotels in Rio de Janeiro priced below $30 per night:

Day by Day Itinerary for 3 Days in Rio de Janeiro

Day 1:

  • Visit Christ the Redeemer and enjoy the panoramic views of the city
  • Explore Sugarloaf Mountain and take in the stunning sunset over Rio
  • Relax on Copacabana Beach and soak up the sun

Day 2:

  • Take a guided tour of Maracanã Stadium and learn about Brazil’s soccer history
  • Discover the beauty of Tijuca National Park through a nature hike
  • Enjoy a leisurely evening in Santa Teresa neighborhood, sampling local cuisine and exploring art galleries

Day 3:

  • Visit the Botanical Gardens and marvel at the diverse plant species
  • Explore the colorful Selarón Steps and admire the artistic mosaic
  • End the day with a night out in Lapa, enjoying the vibrant nightlife and live music

This itinerary will give you a taste of the best that Rio de Janeiro has to offer, from iconic landmarks to natural wonders and lively neighborhoods.

I hope this travel guide helps you plan a memorable trip to Rio de Janeiro! Enjoy your stay in this beautiful city.

For more about Brazil, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and other destinations in Brazil, read the travel tips and see all travel stories, videos, photos and writing on Rolling Coconut’s Travel section.

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