In celebration of the World Cup, we asked travel blogger (and frequent Rio visitor) Elsa Bastos about her favorite free things to do in Rio de Janeiro. Here’s what she recommends in Brazil’s Cidade Maravilhosa!
This gorgeous beach located between Copacabana and Ipanema has fewer waves than most of the city’s beaches, making it easier to swim. This is also a famous scenic spot to watch the sunset; people even clap their hands when the sun goes down.
Most schools have samba rehearsals on weekends, but there are a few that rehearse during the week such as the Salgueiro School. This is a unique experience that allows you to understand all the work behind Carnival, and the thousands of people that participate in the biggest event in town.
This beautiful lagoon is surrounded by gardens and luxurious buildings. The locals come here to jog, cycle, practice water sports, have a drink in one of the clubs, and rent pedal boats. During the holiday season, visitors gather around the lagoon to admire a gigantic floating Christmas tree.
It may seem strange, but it’s true: in the middle of the Atlantic Forest that coexists with the concrete buildings and urban scenery, there are trails that lead to waterfalls. If you’re lucky, you might see monkeys, parrots, and toucans while you are crossing the forest.
Being surrounded by mountains, it’s no wonder that Rio has so many scenic points. You have probably heard about Pão de Açúcar and Cristo Redentor, but there are many others such as Vista Chinesa (Chinese View) at Tijuca forest. This scenic point, which is named for its architecture, is a must!
Selaron’s Steps are the creation of Jorge Selaron at the Lapa quarter. The artist began transforming the steps into works of art in 1990. He used ceramics, paint, glass, and other materials to create a unique and colorful visual effect.
The Real Gabinete Português de Leitura is a majestic library from the 19th century with more than 350,000 volumes. Its amazing architecture was inspired by the Jeronimos Monastery which is one of Lisbon, Portugal’s most famous monuments.
If you follow the boardwalks by the sea at Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon, you will find amazing sand sculptures done by street artists. They do expect you to tip them if you take a pictures of their work, but most of the sculptures definitely deserve it!
On Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm, head to Ipanema’s General Osório square for Brazilian handicrafts and local foods. Even if you don’t buy anything, this is an interesting place to visit and a great spot for people watching.
São Conrado’s Pedra da Gávea is where you can literally learn how to fly. At the hang gliding school, you can hire a professional to take you on a flight over the city – probably the most exciting thing to do in Rio. If you don’t have the guts to jump, just watch the others doing it and admire the stunning view, free of charge.
Previously: 10 Free Things London