Ramos (in-bay) - inappropriate for bathing
Flamengo (in-bay) - inappropriate for bathing
Botafogo (in-bay) - inappropriate for bathing
Urca (in-bay) - usually inappropriate for bathing
Vermelha (in-bay) - sometimes inappropriate for bathing
São Conrado (oceanic) - sometimes inappropriate for bathing
Barra da Tijuca (oceanic)
Recreio dos Bandeirantes (oceanic)
Abricó (oceanic, nudist beach)
Abricó is the only official nudist beach in the city of Rio de Janeiro,it lies next to Grumari beach. Only accessible by car/taxi. An option is taking the bus numbered 360 (Recreio) that passes along Copacabana/Ipanema/Leblon, and from the end of the line (ponto final) take a cab.
It is also worth visiting the beaches in Paquetá, particularly:
Praia da Moreninha (on the Guanabara Bay, but often not clean enough for swimming)
Cariocas have a unique beach culture, with a code of customs which outlanders (even Brazilians from other cities) can misconstrue easily. Despite what many foreigners may believe, there are no topless beaches. Girls can wear tiny string bikinis (fio dental), but it doesn't mean they're exhibitionists. For most of them, it's highly offensive to stare. Until the 1990s, men and boys wore speedos, but since then wearing Bermuda shorts or boardshorts has become more common, although speedos ("sungas" in Portuguese) seem to now be making a comeback. Jammers are less common but still accepted.
Waves in Rio vary from tiny and calm in the Guanabara bay beaches (Paquetá, Ramos, Flamengo, Botafogo, Urca) to high, surf-ideal waves in Recreio. In Leme, Copacabana, Arpoador, Ipanema, and Leblon, there's a popular way of "riding" the waves called pegar jacaré (pe-GAHR zha-kah-REH; literally, "to grab an alligator"). You wait for the wave to come behind you then swim on top of it until it crumbles next to the sand.
Commerce is common in Rio's beaches, with thousands of walking vendors selling everything from sun glasses to fried shrimp to cooling beverages (try mate com limão, a local ice tea mixed with lemonade, or suco de laranja com cenoura, orange and carrot juice). For food, there is also empada (baked flour pastry filled with meat or cheese) and sanduíche natural (cool sandwich with vegetables and mayo). Vendors typically shout out loud what they're selling, but they won't usually bother you unless you call them. All along the beaches there are also permanent vendors who will sell you a beer and also rent you a beach chair and an umbrella for a few Reais.
Leblon and Ipanema are the most cool beaches. The beaches in Barra and Recreio (Quebra-Mar, Pepê, Pontal, Prainha, Grumari) are the best and cleanest beaches, being the favorite among surfers, paragliders and nautical sports. São Conrado beach is a hang gliders paradise.
In the West Zone you can find some of the best beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Barra da Tijuca's beach is a 17 km sand line of clear waters. Surfers love it, and many people also. The sunset is beautiful, especially during the winter. The beach is relatively safe at night, although development of tourism by big hotels such as the Sheraton have brought with it the inevitable appearance of (discreet but ever present) prostitutes. As you go along you get to Recreio, which is even clearer, and much less crowded. Prainha is now very far away from the crowded Copacabana. Its perfect waves made it famous. It is also on a biological reserve, with restricted car parking spaces. Avoid the weekends and enjoy this between mountains-beauty of the nature on the week-days.
There are many surfing schools all along the Barra beach that hold one and half hour surfing classes. The classes are fairly inexpensive and are mostly populated with locals. Some of the surf instructors do speak English.
CorcovadoThe funicular train up costs R$44 (students from Brazil pay 50% - R$18 but are usually requested to prove showing some ID or document) for a round trip up to Cristo Redentor, and it is definitely worth the view. The queue for the train, in Cosme Velho, can get rather long; you purchase a ticket for a particular departure time (that day only). The trains run every 30 minutes. Try going when the morning coach parties have already passed through, i.e. when most tourists are having their lunch. Don't take the train too late in the day since late afternoon trains may be cancelled if delays throughout the day build up. This is common over holiday weekends. Take a taxi to Cosme Velho, or take the Metro-Onibus Expresso combination (see above) from the Largo do Machado station. If you opt for a taxi to go up instead of the funicular, it's R$20 round-trip to enter the park, then another R$18 or so for the shuttle up to the monument. After dark, be aware that the steep descent down Corcovado in a shuttle can be dangerous since some less-professional park drivers choose to speed down the mountain to create a roller coaster type effect and even turn the headlights off temporarily to thrill the passengers. If this occurs, passengers should tell the driver to stop by shouting "Pare!" (PAH-ree). Report any such conduct to a police officer at the base of the park before you descend to the base of the mountain by taxi. There's also a hiking trail that begins at Parque Lage and gets there (see Hiking and Trekking on the 'Do' section below).
Pão de Açúcar - The Sugarloaf mountains (one taller, the other shorter), Brazil's top landmark, with a two-stage aerial tramway to the top; a definite must see. A ticket is R$53 (the way back is free after 7pm). There is also an unsigned trail leading to the second station where you can pay only R$22 to reach the top. Ask locals for directions. The buses number 511, 512, 591 and 592 and the subway buses from Botafogo bring you to the base station. Do not make the mistake of thinking you have seen enough once you have seen the view from Cristo Redentor. Try Sugarloaf at sunset for a truly mind-blowing experience.
Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas - A large lagoon in the middle of South Zone, with great views to Corcovado and Ipanema and Leblon beaches; you can jog or cycle all the way round; there are skating areas and you can hire little peddle-operated boats.
Streetcar of Santa Teresa - Until recently, you could ride for a few cents to this scenic neighbourhood. The tram is currently closed, after accidents, but it is planned to reopen.
Maracanã - The largest football stadium in South America and once the largest on Earth. It closed for renovations for the 2014 World Cup and reopened in June 2013. There is also a Soccer Museum inside it.
Parque Lage - A small park, once a private mansion, where now a school of fine arts works. Contains some interesting plants and wildlife as well as strange concrete structures that will entertain the kids. The park is the beginning of a hiking trail Corcovado, through sub-tropical rain forest (see Hiking and Trekking under the 'Do' section)
Jardim Botanico - The Botanical Garden, planted in the 1800s. It is both a park and a scientific laboratory. It contains a huge collection of plants from all over the world, not only tropical ones. If you take the bus note that Jardim Botanico is also the name of a neighborhood so make sure you take the right one to the entrance. The admission is R$6. The gardens are well kept and very lush. Not far from the cafe, first you hear swooshing sounds. Look up and you can see small monkeys swinging from tree to tree.
Paço Imperial (1743) - Old Imperial Palace (though impressively modest), colonial architecture (in downtown, next to Praça XV, Fifteen Square).
Casa França Brasil (1820) - French cultural centre, with gallery and video hall (in downtown, next to CCBB).
CCBB - Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (1906) - A cultural centre with gallery, movie theater, video room, library and stages; usually hosts the main exhibitions in town (in downtown). An interesting building with old-fashioned elevators/lifts.
Candelária Church - Neoclassic cathedral (next to CCBB).
Mosteiro de São Bento (1663) - Saint Benedict's Monastery, colonial architecture (in downtown).
Ilha Fiscal Palace (1889) - Located in the Guanabara Bay, next to the Navy Museum
Gloria Church (1739). Small but interesting church reached by a funicular. Nice views. (metro: Gloria)
Palácio Gustavo Capanema - Former ministry of culture, designed by French architect Le Corbusier; though small, it is regarded as an important pioneering in modern architecture (downtown).
Arcos da Lapa (1750) - Lapa Aqueduct, colonial structure that brought water from springs to downtown.
Catedral Metropolitana - a modern, cone-shaped cathedral, designed by Edgar de Oliveira da Fonseca (in Lapa).
São Francisco da Penitência church (1773) - Colonial church.
Teatro Municipal (1909) - City Theater, inspired by the Paris Opéra House (in Cinelândia square).
Biblioteca Nacional (1910) - National Library (in Cinelândia square).
Câmara Municipal - The City Hall, hosts the city council (in Cinelândia square).
Palácio do Catete - The former presidential palace (1893-1960), now hosts a museum of recent history and nice gardens (in Catete).
Itamaraty - Former presidential palace (1889-1893) and foreign office; now hosts a museum of South American diplomacy, a library and the UN information offices in Brazil (in Downtown, next to the Central station).
Palácio Guanabara - Former palace of the Imperial Princess, now governor's office; eclectic architecture; not open to public (in Laranjeiras).
Art Deco. Rio is a major centre for the Art Deco style of architecture. Indeed, the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado is considered a classic example of Art Deco work. There are numerous buildings in Copacabana and elsewhere that employ this style.
There is no shortage of things to do on a rainy day. In addition to a wide range of museums, Rio has many cultural centres, which are run by banks and other organizations and usually host free exhibitions. Details of what is on can be found in the Segundo Caderno section of the daily O Globo newspaper, which provides more detail in a weekly Friday supplement. Also very useful is the Mapa das Artes Rio de Janeiro, which provides detailed bi-monthly listings as well as detailed maps of the city. This is free and can be picked up at most museums.
Museu Histórico Nacional (National Museum of History) - A museum of Brazilian history stretching from colonial to imperial times; big collection of paintings, and artifacts (downtown).
Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts) - Includes large paintings from Academicist and Neoclassical Brazilian artists, as well as many copies of European sculptures (downtown, Cinelândia square).
MAM - Museu de Arte Moderna (Museum of Modern Art) - The second most important contemporary art museum in Brazil, after MASP (downtown, next to Santos Dumont airport). Modernist architecture spreading over almost the sea.
Museu da Imagem e do Som (Image and Sound Museum) - For researchers about Brazilian film, radio, and broadcasting industry (downtown).
Museu Naval (Navy Museum) - Located downtown not far from the ferry terminal. (www.mar.mil.br/dphdm/)
Museu do Carnaval (Museum of Carnaval) - History of Brazilian carnival and parades (in downtown, next to the Sambódromo).
Museu Chácara do Céu - An important collection of South American modern art (in Santa Tereza).
Museu da República (Museum of the Republic) - Hosted on the former presidential palace, this museum hosts permanent exhibitions about recent Brazilian history (from 1889 on); one of main features is the room where president Getúlio Vargas shot himself in 1954 (in Catete).
Oi Futuro (Formerly Centro Cultural Telemar) - Formerly Museum of Telephone, it now hosts a fine gallery with temporary exhibitions of digital art or art with interactive medias; it is sponsored by the local phone company (in Catete).
Museu Internacional de Arte Naïf (International Naïf Art Museum) - In Cosme Velho, next to Corcovado rail station.
Museu Carmem Miranda (Carmem Miranda Museum) - About this Brazilian actress and singer (the lady with pineapples-and-bananas hat), the national icon in the 1940s and 50s (in Flamengo).
Museu do Índio
(Museum of the Indian
) - A small museum with a collection of Brazilian Indian (povos indígenas
) photographs, paintings, artifacts and other craft (in Botafogo
). Very popular with local schoolchildren, but has much for adults as well.
Museu Nacional (National Museum) - Actually, it's the Natural History museum, with dinosaur fossils and lots of mounted tanned animals; go there if you want to see a jaguar without getting into the jungle; it was formerly the Emperor's Palace (in São Cristóvão, just next to the Zoo).
Museu do Primeiro Reinado (First Reign Museum) - A museum about the reign of Emperor Pedro I (1822-1831), but with a modest collection (in São Cristóvão).
Museu Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins (Astronomy Museum) - Also has an observatory (in São Cristóvão).
Museu do Trem (Train Museum) - A modest collection of 19th century engines, train cars and streetcars (in Engenho de Dentro).
Museu Aeroespacial (Aerospace Museum) - Located in Campo dos Afonsos (in the suburbs).
Museu Casa do Pontal - The most important collection of popular arts and crafts (in Recreio dos Bandeirantes).
In addition to Jardim Botânico and Parque Lage, mentioned above, other parks worth a visit are:
Parque do Flamengo, also known as Aterro do Flamengo.
Campo de Santana
Quinta da Boa Vista
Parque Nacional da Serra dos Órgãos