Rio de Janeiro
Known as the “Wonderful City”, Rio de Janeiro offers attractions that have rendered the city international fame. Who has never heard about carnival in Rio, the most amazing popular party in the world? Or who has never heard about Sugar Loaf Mountain and the statue of Christ Redeemer? Or about the beautiful beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, that have inspired musicians from all over the world? Or, also, who has never heard about the Tijuca National Park – the largest urban area natural preservation area in the Country? Rio is all that. And much more.
The city was the Brazilian capital until 1960 – when Brasilia, the current capital, was inaugurated. Because it was the capital, concentrating much power, the city's architectonic traces include luxurious and imposing constructions – that sheltered the nobility and other important personages of those times.
Since the city's weather is hot and pleasant all through the year, Rio does not depend on seasons to attract visitors. Its attractions can be appreciated any time of the year. Whoever visits Rio soon finds out that his/her agenda is always full – that is the pride of the local population.
There is always something to be done in the city, from exhibitions, theater plays, dance and music shows to sports events for all tastes – such as free flying, much appreciated by all those who enjoy strong sensations on board a hang glider floating above the most famous landscapes of Rio. But the Wonderful City has yet a wide range of other attractions to offer, such as cultural centers, numberless museums, churches, famous confectioners', old streetcars and beaches – many beaches.
Besides the millions of visitors that thrive for the landscapes and natural beauties and the wide range of culture and history offered by this especially Brazilian city, a different type of tourist has been increasingly attracted to Rio in the last few years: the business tourist. The capital of the State of Rio de Janeiro is also one of the greatest business centers in the Country, being constantly chosen to host important national and international conferences, congresses and meetings.
New Year’s Eve
In Rio de Janeiro, New Year’s Eve celebration involves the whole city population. Local inhabitants and visitors join to celebrate taken by the same euphoria: to be in Rio. The party, one of the most famous in the world, is held on the famous beach of Copacabana, gathering thousands of people to enjoy musical performances and fireworks – increasingly exuberant year after year.
It is the great explosion of joy in Rio. A party uniting emotions, creativity, plasticity, colors, sounds and much fantasy. It is the greatest popular party in the world. A unique record of the rich cultural melting pot typical of Brazil.
State: Rio de Janeiro
Population: 5,974,081 inhabitants (IBGE 2003)
Area Code: (21)
Brasilia (Brazilian Capital): 1160 km
São Paulo: 430 km
Belo Horizonte: 450 km
Accommodation / Restaurants
Rio offers an excellent infrastructure in terms of accommodations - one of three largest in the country. It offers great luxurious hotels, including some ran by international networks, and also small inns and hostels with more affordable prices. The majority of hotels are located close to the beaches along the southern and downtown areas of Rio.
Among the peculiarities of local cuisine, visitors find the most amazing habit of christening dishes after the names of Ambassadors. Two among the most eloquent examples are “the Osvaldo Aranha filet” and the “Leão Veloso soap”. This is an adaptation of the bouillabaisse from Marseille, a soup with a strengthening effect, which was created by Ambassador Leão Veloso for the Rio Minho restaurant, one of the oldest in town – open since 1884.
How to get there
By Plane: two airports allow access to Rio. The Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport of Rio de Janeiro (“Galeão”), at 20 km from downtown, receives flights from all the largest Brazilian and foreign cities. The Santos Dumont Airport, located at the Guanabara Bay and near downtown, is used only for domestic flights.
By Car/Bus: from Sao Paulo: take the BR 116 (Presidente Dutra Highway) or the BR-101 (Rio-Santos Roadway). From Belo Horizonte: BR 040. From Salvador: BR-101 or BR-324/BR-116/BR-393/BR-040.
By boat: the Port of Rio de Janeiro receives sea cruises that travel along the Brazilian coast.
Alô Rio – Tourism information service (English and Portuguese spoken)
Tel: +55 (21) 2542-8080/ 2542-8004 /0800-7071808
Services available from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 6 pm.
Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport of Rio de Janeiro (“Galeão”)
Add.: Av. 20 de Janeiro - Ilha do Governador
Tel: +55 (21) 3398-4527 /3398-4526 /2288-2155
Santos Dumont Airport
Add.: Praça Senador Salgado Filho - Downtown
Tel: +55 (21) 3814-7070
New Rio Bus Station
Add.: Av. Francisco Bicalho, 01 - Santo Cristo - Rio de Janeiro/RJ
Tel: +55 (21) 2291-5151 / 2263-5828
Arrivals: +55 (21) 2263-4857 / 3213-1800 extension 397
The city hosts the great variety of national and international bank agencies. And the majority of commercial outlets take all major credit cards.
In the city
The Brazilian Academy of Letters
A copy of the Petit Trianon of Paris, this building was erected to host the French pavilion during the International Exposition to celebrate the Centenary of Brazilian Independence. Its annexed hall hosts the Machado de Assis Cultural Space, with personnel objects that belonged to that great Brazilian writer – one of the academy’s founders. It also offers a library with 90 thousand volumes. Guided visits are free on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, at 2 pm and at 4 pm. The library is open from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 6 pm, and the Machado de Assis Cultural Space is open from 1 pm to 6 pm. It is located on Avenida Presidente Wilson, 203, Downtown. Information: +55 (21) 3974-2500.
The Flamengo Embankment (Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes Park)
With 1,200,000 m² of green areas by the sea, the Flamengo Embankment is the result of one of the most beautiful and important landscape projects ever designed by Brazilian artist Roberto Burle Marx. Extending from the Santos Dumont Airport to the Botafogo Cove, the Park offers a wide range of attractions. It offers sports courts, bicycle tracks, cooper trails and aero-modeling courts. The track of Avenida Infante D. Henrique running from the South Zone to Downtown is closed to traffic on Sundays and holidays, from 7 am to 6 pm, considerably enlarging the space available for walks, games and leisure in general in the Park.
Lapa’s Arches (the Carioca Aqueduct)
Built in 1750, with huge double arches, it extends from 64 meters high with a length of 270 meters. It was built to supply Rio’s population with water from the Carioca river springs, coming up from Sta. Teresa hill. It has become a symbol of the bohemian neighborhood of Lapa. And since 1896 it has been used as a bridge for the Sta. Teresa Streetcar. It is located on Praça Cardeal Câmara.
The largest library in Latin America and the eighth largest in the world, with a collection of 15 million publications – a great part of which is available for consultations. Inaugurated in 1910, the building, of neoclassic style, with marble stairs and columns, comprises with the Municipal Theater, the National Museum of Beaux Arts and the Federal Justice Cultural Center a cultural block around the Cinelândia area. Guided visits last 30 minutes and are available from Monday to Friday at 11 am, 1 pm, and 4 pm – while during high tourism season guided visits are available every hour. It is located on Avenida Rio Branco, 219, Downtown; and opens from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 8 pm, and on Saturdays, from 9 am to 3 pm. Information: +55 (21) 2220-9484.
Founded in 1894, this Confectioners’ is a landmark in ostentation typical of Rio’s high society life between the end of the 19th century and start of the 20th century. It still keeps the charm of those times in its Belgian crystal mirrors, in the “straw” chairs and in the rich engravings on wood panels. It serves a “5 o’clock” tea from Monday to Friday, from 5 to 7 pm. It is located on Rua Gonçalves Dias, 32/36, Downtown. It opens from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 8 pm, and on Saturdays, from 9 am to 5 pm. Information: +55 (21) 2232-2300.
Copacabana Palace Hotel
Being under government trust as a Brazilian Historical Heritage (IPHAN), it was one of the first hotels to be built by the sea in the city. Inaugurated in 1923, Copacabana Palace Hotel faithfully reflects the European cultural influence on Brazil at that time, with a sophisticated style of lodging. It eventually became a symbol of Rio, as the favorite of artists, politicians, businessmen and international celebrities. It is located in Copacabana.
More than a postal card, the Christ Redeemer statue was deservedly elected by the city’s population as the "The Wonder of Rio". From the height of its 38 meters – plus Corcovado Hill’s height of 710 meters - the Christ is an image of faith and sympathy characteristic of Rio’s and Brazilian people. The monument – which celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2001 - was inaugurated on October 12th 1931, a day was in which Brazilians celebrate Our Lady of Aparecida (national patron). Elevators and escalators take visitors to the statue’s base. The statue weighs 1,145 tons. Going up by a small train takes around 20 minutes and goes along the Corcovado Railway – inaugurated by Brazilian Emperor D. Pedro II in 1884.
Access by car has been allowed, but each vehicle passenger must pay a small fee to the local Ibama (Brazilian environmental agency) post, at Paineiras (at the Hill’s foot). Another option is to park the car in Paineiras, to avoid traffic jams, and go on a 3-km walk to get to the statue – or pay for a ride in of the accredited vans. Access is available on Rua Cosme Velho. The train runs every day, from 8:30 am to 6 pm. Information: +55 (21) 2558-1329.
Tijuca National Park
To go on a tour along sinuous roads and to visit the attractions may take a whole day. As the largest natural preservation area in an urban area in the country, the Park is 20 km away from downtown. It is divided into three nucleuses – the Tijuca Forest, the Carioca Hill and the Gávea Stone/Bonita Stone. Its flora was devastated at the end of the 19th century to give way to coffee plantations. Reforestation brought back plants species of the Atlantic Woods such as “ipês”, “jequitibás”, “jacarandas” and “sapucaias”.
At the Carioca Hill nucleus, besides the famous Corcovado Hill, its attractions are the Dona Marta, Vista Chinesa and Mesa do Imperador belvederes. In the Tijuca Forest there are trails, the Taunay Small Waterfall, the Mayrink Chapel, the Açude Museum and the Solidão Sugar Mill. On two Sundays every month, the Park’s administration offers guided tours for free. In 2004, the Park incorporated new areas, including the Lage Park and a region known as Covanca-Pretos Forros, with 4.4 million square meters, although visits are not allowed in that area. For information on guided tours: +55 (21) 2492-2253, extension 24.
The Copacabana Fortress
Built in 1914, with the purpose of reinforcing Guanabara Bay’s defense, the Copacabana Fortress was the scenario for the “Lieutenants’ Movement” (an political upheaval in Brazilian history) in 1922. It offers visitors many historical curiosities and also a branch of the famous Colombo Confectioners’. Its collections of guns, varied military and historical objects and panels are part of the Brazilian Army’s Historical Museum. It is located on Praça Cel. Eugênio Franco, 1, Copacabana. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 8 pm. Information: +55 (21) 3201-4049.
The Nossa Senhora da Candelária Church
Located in the financial downtown district, in an area rich in cultural venues, the Candelária Church is impressive due to its grandiosity. Built during the 18th century, its plant was designed in the shape of a Latin cross, with internal marble lining, front wall made of cut-stone masonry, doors with bronze works and the church’s history painted in internal murals. It is one of the most beautiful churches in Rio de Janeiro. It is located on Praça Pio X, Downtown. It opens daily: from Monday to Friday, from 7:30 am to 4 pm, on Saturdays, from 9 am to noon and on Sundays, from 9 am to 1 pm. Information: +55 (21) 2233-2324.
The São Francisco das Penitências Church
Built between 1657 and 1772, it is one of the most beautiful exemplars of Baroque art in Brazil. Put under government trust in 1938 and restored in 2001, the church exhibits many of the works of Francisco Xavier de Brito, a Portuguese artist who influenced the works of Aleijadinho – the most famous Brazilian baroque artist, who lived in the State of Minas Gerais in the 18th century. Access to the church is available by elevator or stairs, from Largo da Carioca, near the Sto. Antônio Cloister. It is open to visitors from Tuesday to Friday, from 9 am to noon and from 1 pm to 4 pm. It offers guided tours. Information: +55 (21) 2262-0197.
The Botanical Garden
A true ecological sanctuary. That’s the best way to define Rio de Janeiro’s Botanical Garden - one of the ten most important in its genre in the world. Not only does it host the rarest specimen of Brazilian flora and that of other countries, but it is also an excellent leisure option for children and adults, and a pleasure for all those who love contemplating nature.
Put under government trust by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage bureau (IPHAN) – due to its historical, cultural, scientific and landscaping importance – it has also been internationally acknowledged as a “Live Museum” in the Botanic area and defined by Unesco as one of the most important biosphere reserves. Its collection includes Imperial palm trees from the time of the Garden’s foundation – in 1808 -, greenhouses, orchid rooms, rosebush plantations and a lagoon with water lilies. It also hosts the Pilões House – an old gunpowder factory with archeological excavations – and a greenhouse with insect-eating plants, restored in 2004.
Access for pedestrians is available on Rua Jardim Botânico, 920, and for vehicles on Rua Jardim Botânico, 1008, at Jardim Botânico. It opens daily, from 8 am to 5 pm. For ticket prices and other information: +55 (21) 2279-8426.
The Rodrigo de Freitas Lake
Surrounded by the most fancy neighborhoods in Rio – such as Lagoa, Ipanema, Leblon, Gávea and Jardim Botânico -, encircled by hills and embraced by the Christ Redeemer statue, the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake has become a meeting point for the local population and visitors alike. Connected to the sea by the Jardim de Alá channel, its margins host parks, sports courts, skating rings, an heliport, trails for walks and jogging, a bicycle track, cycling boats and um gastronomical center spread among kiosks that offer from German to Japanese food – including live music at dusk. Near the Lake, visitors find the Catacumba Park, with an outdoor exhibition of 30 sculptures by Brazilian and foreign artists.
The Maracanã Soccer Stadium
Considered by many soccer fans as the “Temple of the Gods”, it is one of the largest soccer Stadium in the world. It was built in 1950 to host the World Cup, and it was designed to welcome 166,369 people. Today, after some restorations, it can receive a crowd of 114,145 soccer fans. Access is available on Rua Professor Eurico Rabelo, gate 16. It is once more under renovation, this time to host the 2007 Pan-American Games. For more information: +55 (21) 2299-2941.
The São Bento Cloister
Works to build the Nossa Senhora de Montserrat Church and the São Bento Cloister were started in 1617, ending in 1669. However, a century later, many restoration works were still undertaken with the purpose of extending and renovating its facilities.
Today - considered a World Heritage Monument by Unesco - the Cloister impresses by the contrasts between the austere style of its front wall, its triangular front façade and the intricate work of golden engravings on inside walls.
Painting works, works of art, the conception of chapels, the aisle ceiling – remaining from the 18th century - and the Gregorian choral chanting charm all visitors to the São Bento Cloister. It is located on Rua D. Geraldo, 68 and entry for pedestrians is available by elevator on, 40. Downtown. The Cloister opens every day: from Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 11 am and from 2 pm to 6 pm; on Saturdays and Sundays, from 11 am. Information: +55 (21) 2291-7122.
The Modern Art Museum
Inaugurated in 1958, the Modern Art Museum (MAM) is located in a privileged area and has a great history to tell. It hosts a collection of four thousand works. It exhibits the Gilberto Chateaubriand collection - with paintings by Anita Malfatti, Tarsila do Amaral, Lasar Segall, Di Cavalcanti and Portinari. Its gardens were designed by Burle Marx and were restored in 2004. It offers also an art cinema, a library and a bookstore. It is located on Avenida D. Henrique, at Flamengo Park. It opens from Tuesday to Sunday: during the week, from noon to 5:30 pm; on Saturdays and Sundays, from noon to 7 pm. Information: +55 (21) 2240-4944.
National Historical Museum
The architectonic complex became a museum in 1922, during the Presidency of Epitácio Pessoa, and hosts a priceless collection with 275 thousand pieces, including paintings, guns, royal carts, furniture and rare objects – such as the plumed pen used by Princess Isabel to sign the Áurea Law, which abolished slavery in Brazil. The Museum is located on a 18 thousand m² land and occupies three separate buildings erected at different times: the Train House, from 1762; the Royal Arsenal, from 1822; and the Annexed Building for military quarters, from 1835. It is located on Praça Mal. Âncora, Downtown. It is open to visitors from Tuesday to Friday, from 10 am to 5 pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays, from 2 pm to 6 pm. On Sundays, the entrance is free. For more information: +55 (21) 2550-9224.
International Museum of Naïf Art
Naïf art – “naïf” means “naive”, in French – is made by self-learnt artists, without much technical skills, The museum hosts the works of 520 national and foreign artists with the predominance of live, strong colors and irregular, abstract traces. It is considered as one of the largest collections in its genre in the world. It is located on Rua Cosme Velho, 561, at Cosme Velho. It opens from Tuesday to Friday, from 10 am to 6 pm, and on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, from noon to 6 pm. Information: +55 (21) 2205-8612.
The National Museum of Beaux Arts
It hosts rarities from Brazilian artists such as Victor Meirelles, Rodolfo Amoedo, Pedro Américo, Almeida Jr. and Eliseu Vasconcelos – works that comprise the largest collection of Brazilian art from the 19th century. This institution also keeps a much-prized collection of foreign paintings, including Italian baroque paintings, landscapes by Dutch painter Frans Post and paintings by French Eugène Boudin. Rooms are divided by themes and there are always excellent temporary exhibitions. It is located on Avenida Rio Branco, 199. It opens from Tuesday to Friday, from 10 am to 6 pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays, from 2 pm to 6 pm. For ticket prices and other information: +55 (21) 2240-0068.
The Catete Palace – the Republic Museum
It hosts the Republic Museum and what used to be the headquarters of the Brazilian Republican government 1897 and 1960, the Catete Palace; with a neoclassic architecture, with granite and rose marble façade and white-marble engraved portals. 18 Brazilian Presidents lived and worked there and it witnessed some of the most events in the Country’s history – such the Brazilian decision to enter both Great World Wars and the dramatic suicide of President Getúlio Vargas. Turned into a museum after the Capital Federal moved to Brasilia, the museum offers an intense cultural agenda and offers also a bookstore, a bar, a restaurant, a souvenirs store and a beautiful garden. Located on Rua do Catete, 153, at Catete, the Museum opens from Tuesday to Friday, from noon to 5 pm, and on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, from 2 pm to 6 pm. Information: +55 (21) 2558-6350.
The Sugar Loaf Mountain Cablecar
Conceived in 1908, by Brazilian engineer Augusto Ferreira Ramos, and inaugurated on October 27th 1912, the Sugar Loaf Mountain cablecar celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2002. As the first cablecar to be installed in Brazil and the third in the world, it is one of the most important icons of tourism in Rio, and has become one of the city’s trademarks. Since it was inaugurated, the cablecar has already transported more than 31 million tourists. During high season, daily attendance reaches three thousand people. Access is available on Avenida Pasteur, 520, at Urca. The ride is available from Sundays to Thursdays, from 8 am to 10 pm, and on Fridays and Saturdays, from 8 am to 8:30 pm. Information: +55 (21) 2546-8400.
Quinta da Boa Vista
The park is part of the Solar da Boa Vista, the royal residence of Brazilian emperors between 1822 and 1889 – the year the Republican Government was established in Brazil. It extends over an area of 155 thousand square meters, provided with a garden in 1869 according to a project designed by French landscape artist Auguste Glaziou. By entering through the side gates, visitors walk along Sapucaias Alameda and its romantic design, with the original lakes, grouts and nooks of such imperial gardens. The Quinta’s long gardens host the National Museum and city’s Zoo, including also playgrounds, sports courts, picnic hides and restaurants. It offers guided tours and free gardening lessons on weekend. Located in São Cristóvão, it opens daily, from 7 am to 6 pm. Information: +55 (21) 2234-1609 and 2234-1574.
The Roberto Burle Marx Cottage
Extending over an area of 3,600 m², one of the most important landscapes artists of our times, Roberto Burle Marx, left this attraction as priceless legacy to the city and to all those who love an fight for nature protection and preservation. Marx’s cottage, located in the town of Guaratiba, hosts a collection of 3,500 specimen including national and foreign plants – many among which now face extinction –, which, added to the a fabulous collection of art works, a library with more than 2,500 books and a busy agenda of cultural activities, have turned into an almost obligatory visiting point for children, adults and researchers from all corners of the world. In the year 2000, it was put under government trust by the National Historical Heritage bureau (IPHAN). Visitors must book visitations in advance, and are free of charge. It is located on Roberto Burle Marx Road, on Barra da Guaratiba Road, 2019. For reservations and other information: +55 (21)2410-1412.
The Municipal Theater
In the heart of Cinelândia, downtown, near the National Library, the National Museum of Beaux Arts and to the Pedro Ernesto Palace, the Municipal Theater of Rio demands a visit not only for its architectonical design but also for the grandness and beauty of its interior décor. The noblest materials employed to build the Theater have turned it - with capacity to 2,200 people -, into a true temple of culture. On orchestra rehearsal days, guided tours may be cancelled. Entry is available on Rua Manuel de Carvalho, Downtown. It is open from Mondays to Fridays, from 10 am to 6 pm, and on Saturdays, from noon to 4 pm. For other information: +55 (21) 2299-1711.
This is, no doubt, the most famous meeting point in Rio de Janeiro and one of the most celebrated beaches in the city – and the world! Its ten-block length includes “soccer-volley” courts, fitness exercise equipment and, at each lifesavers post, there are public toilettes and showers to wash sand and salty water off. It also hosts many events such as the Beach Volley World Championship.
With plenty drinking and snacks bars, it is much appreciated for a late-afternoon cold beer. The beach’s wide stretch of sand extends from Avenida Princesa Isabel to the Copacabana fortress. Copacabana hosts one of the most famous New Year’s Eve parties in the Country, with fireworks and free music shows.
This is a calm beach, with good infrastructure for sports and a bicycle track. It is 1,3-km long and is separated from the beach of Ipanema by Jardim de Alá – a channel connecting Rodrigo de Freitas Lake to the sea.
It is a small beach with strong waves, one of the most favorite among surfers. Hills surrounding the beach still keep stretches of the original rich Atlantic forest.
Environmental conservation area with many cliff walls and very brave seawaters. Grumari’s left corner is also known as Abricó.
Between the Copacabana Fortress and the corner of Rua Francisco Otaviano and Avenida Vieira Souto. It is famous for the huge stone that separates Copacabana and Diabo beaches from the beaches of Ipanema and Leblon. Up on the stone visitors enjoy one of the most beautiful views in Rio, with the Dois Irmãos Hill on the background. It is much appreciated by surfers.
With string waves, Pepino beach used for hang-gliders’ landing, as they take flight from the neighboring Gávea Cliff.
Barra da Guaratiba
An urbanized beach, it stretches from the near coastline to Restinga da Marambaia marsh. This beaches gives access to trails leading to desert beaches, such as Inferno, Perigoso and Meio beaches. It offers guided walks. Information: +55 (21) 9111-3763.
Barra da Tijuca
Long and urbanized, with strong waves with some dangerous stretches not recommended to inexperienced swimmers. Much appreciated by surfers.
It extends over a stretch of Barra da Tijuca beach just across Rua Noel Nutels, much appreciated by young boys and girls. This beach’s name celebrates a world free flying champion called Pedro Paulo Carneiro Lopes, “Pepê” – who died in a hang-gliding accident in 1991.
An urban beach, it is quite polluted. It offers a beautiful view of Corcovado Hill and Sugar Loaf Mountain.
With calm waters, this beach is also quite polluted. It offers visitors a view of fancy boats at Glória Marina.
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