10 blissful things to do in Rio that will make you happy
There are many things you can do and see in Rio. Read more to see the selection of the ones we enjoyed most and that we found affordable.
Table of Contents
See the sunset from Arpoador Rock
This is a must if you are in Rio! The rock is located at the end of Ipanema beach, towards Copacabana and anyone can climb on it in order to enjoy the best sunset in the city.
Of course, it is great on a sunny day but we weren't that lucky - however, the panoramic view was splendid even if it was cloudy.
Sunbathe & Swim in Ipanema Beach
You cannot go to Rio without going to the beach. There are chairs and umbrellas on the hot sand that you can get for around R $15 (~2.8 USD / 2.6 EUR), and there are plenty of shops and beach vendors that offer all sorts of food and drinks, from water to caipirinhas, from ice cream to fried prawns, anything you want, you’ll surely find there.
Tip 1: Beware of pickpockets. Try to leave valuables at your accommodation and just bring small amounts of cash. However, if you cannot separate yourself from your phone, it's better to carry it in a waterproof pouch so that you don't leave it behind if you go swimming.
Tip 2: At Ipanema beach, there are some strong currents in the water. For example, during the sunset, we witnessed at least 5 people who got caught in the currents and couldn't get out. Luckily, there are coast guards but it is better to be extra cautious anyway. Do not get close to the rocks as the currents are even stronger there and try to swim in the places the locals swim - they know better.
Try a Feijoada Brasileira
This is one of the traditional dishes in Rio, and you shouldn't miss it. The feijoada is a stew made out of black beans, different types of sausages, and pork meat. It usually comes with rice, kale, and farofa (a crumble made with yucca flour).
Visit Christ the Redeemer
You shouldn't miss the opportunity to see one of the New World’s Seven Wonders. This is a truly impressive structure and you can enjoy some wonderful views of the city while at the top.
Try a Picanha Brasileira
This was one of our favorite foods in Rio. Picanha is made out of a specific portion of the beef, just above the tail - as the connected fat cap doesn't melt during cooking and it gives a tastier flavor to the meat. The portions are huge and the steaks come accompanied by farofa, french fries, salad, and rice.
Enjoy a traditional Caipirinha
We don't know about you, but we found these drinks truly delicious in Rio. They don't compare at all with the caipirinhas we tried in other countries. They can have any flavor - strawberry, maracuja, pineapple, lime. Beware though: they are strong!
See the favelas
We believe that favelas are a huge part of the Brazilian culture and way of living. If you are afraid of visiting one by yourself, which we don't recommend due to high levels of crime, try a guided tour in one of the safer favelas.
We stayed in Favela Cantagalo while we were in Rio, you can read more about our experience.
Try some healthy açai
You'll find many places in Rio that sell açai - a superfood grown in Latin America. You'll find it in the form of a sorbet topped with fruits and granola. Above all, it is a healthy dessert.
Drink a copa de caldo de cana
Caldo de cana is a drink made out of the stems of sugarcane and it is the perfect relief for the hot days of summer! It has a yellow-green color, it is sweet and always served very cold.
Experience the Carnival
We have been very lucky to visit Rio during the Carnival. Therefore, if you are too, we recommend getting tickets to the Sambadrome to see the official parades or go party with the blocos (block parties). It is a truly unforgettable experience.
Tip: If you do plan to go to Rio during the Carnival, book your tickets way in advance as prices in Rio can rise up to 4 times.