What to see in Rio de Janeiro in 3 days

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in brazil (after Sao Paulo) and is famous for its long beaches, lively life, museums and parks.
You will be welcomed by the open arms of the Christ the Redeemer, the gigantic statue on the Corcovado mountain.

Among the most touristic areas and popular districts, in 3 days it is possible to take a walk on the white sand of Copacabana, visit museums and historic buildings, dance the samba and reach the famous Sugar Loaf mountain by cable car.
Here's what to see in Rio in 3 days!


  1. 1 day
  2. 2 day
  3. 3 day
  4. How much does a weekend in Rio de Janeiro cost?
  5. User questions and comments

1 day

1 - Morning: Breakfast, Avenida Atlântica, Leme

The first thing to do to get to know Rio is to walk along Avenida Atlântica, the 4 km long sea route that covers the length of the two districts, Copacabana and Leme.

But first you can treat yourself to one breakfast from Antônia Casa and Café, a few meters from the beach. For coffee, juices and sweets you spend around R $ 15 - € 3,21.

If you came in the summer you can take advantage of a bath in the ocean, being careful not to swim too far out.

2 - Afternoon: Lunch, Pão de Açúcar, Urca

Continuing on foot in the direction of Leme, you will see the famous Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf) mountain in the distance in the Urca district. It is inevitable not to take advantage of the tour in cable car on the mountain peak on the sea and almost 400 m high.

Before the tour stop at eat some fish or meat in one of the many seaside kiosks in the Leme district. In a few minutes, have your meal at Quiosque Chopp Brahma, spending around R $ 30 - € 6,42.

Right next to it is the 538 bus stop, at Praça Almirante Júlio de Noronha, which takes 40 minutes to your destination, Praia Vermelha, from where the cable car departs.
You can buy the ticket on the spot, but it is better to buy it online and skip the line. The price of the cable car ticket starts from around R $ 25 - € 5,35 and the journey takes 2 hours, the service 8:00 to 22:00.
Enjoy the unique panorama, you will have a breathtaking view from above while sitting on the balcony, on which you can stay as long as you want.
The ideal time to go up and enjoy the view is at sunset.

3 - Evening: Dinner, Praia Vermelha

Back at the foot of the mountain you can stroll along the Praia Vermelha, or dedicate yourself to the many sports activities organized on the beach (trekking, climbing, fishing).

For price take a seat at the tables of Terra Brasilis, a restaurant a few hundred meters from the cable car. With R $ 40 - € 8,56 you can eat well and with a mountain view.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 9,2 km / 2 h 3 min
  • Places visited: Copacabana (free), Avenida Atlântica (free), Leme (free), Pão de Açúcar (R $ 25 - € 5,35), Praia Vermelha (free)
  • Rio de Janeiro: ticket for the Sugar Loaf cable car
  • breakfast at Antônia Casa and Café (Get directions); lunch at Quiosque Chopp Brahma (Get Directions); dinner at Terra Brasilis (Get directions).

2 day

1 - Morning: Breakfast, Christ the Redeemer, Tijuca

Wake up early and do it breakfast based on açai, the Amazonian berry, and a wide variety of fruit at the tables of Bibi Sucos, located in Copacabana (R $ 12 - € 2,57).

This energetic breakfast will serve you for reach Christ the Redeemer, the 38 meters high statue located on Corcovado mountain (700 m) and which you can visit aboard the Rack train.

Take the L1 or L14 metro line from Praia de Copacabana and get off after 10 minutes at the Cristo Redentor stop. You then reach the terminus, in Rua Cosme Velho 513, from where you can take the rack train, which travels through the Tijuca forest to reach the summit in 20 minutes.
The ticket cannot be purchased at the moment, so you have to buy it online (R $ 84,36 - € 18,42) or find outlets around Rio.

When you reach the top, the open arms of Christ welcome you, the view is breathtaking and the sun will do the rest. Take lots of pictures!

2 - Afternoon: Lunch, Botanical Garden

Once the tour is over, head to bus stop 581, at Rua Cosme Velho próximo ao 412, and after about 20 minutes get off at Rua Jardim Botanico stop. Up there you can pranzare overlooking the gardens on the terrace of the Puro restaurant (R $ 90 - € 19,59).

After lunch, dedicate yourself to discovery of the botanical garden which is just a few steps away from you.

The park is open until 18pm and admission costs only R $ 00 - € 15,00; it's about a real tropical corner in the middle of the city, where you can admire nature in all its colors.

3 - Evening: Dinner, Rodrigo Freitas Lake

Once out of the park, stop and eat in one of the nearby restaurants, La Bicyclette (spending about R $ 40, € 8,67) and, if you still want to walk surrounded by nature, you cannot miss a walk on the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, illuminated by the romantic evening lights.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 21,6 km / 5 h 26 min
  • Places visited: Rack train with Cristo Rei and Tijuca forest (R $ 84,36 - € 18,42), botanical garden (R $ 15,00 - € 3,25), Rodrigo de Freitas Lake (free)
  • Christ the Redeemer: Christ the Redeemer Rack Train Ticket and Sugar Loaf Mountain Guided Group Tour Tijuca Forest: Small Group Guided Hike
  • breakfast at Bibi Sucos (Get directions); lunch at Puro (Get directions); dinner at La Bicylette (Get directions)

3 day

1 - Morning: Breakfast, Forte de Copacabana, Praca Florano, Cathedral of San Sebastiano

On the last day, dedicate yourself to discovering a place that marked the military history of Rio de Janeiro: the Forte de Copacabana, from which you have an enchanting view of the beaches of Copacabana, Arpoador and Ipanema.
After paying R $ 6 (€ 1,28) to enter the area, why not breakfast in such a particular place? At Cafe 18 do Forte you can enjoy a coffee with a sea view, historic atmosphere and the silhouette of the Sugar Loaf mountain in the distance.

After the walk in the military area it's time to completely change location. Go to the Praya Copacabana metro stop and from there take line 1 or 4 and get off after about 14 minutes.

You will find yourself at the stop Cinelândia, Santa Teresa district, in the city center. Here you can take a tour of Praca Florano, the square once known for its cinemas, and then reach in just 10 minutes the Cathedral of San Sebastiano, a building known for its particular cone-shaped architecture.

2 - Afternoon: Lunch, Seleron Staircase, Santa Teresa, Museu da Chácara do Céu

Stop at lunch at Cosmopolita, where you can eat grilled fish or meat (R $ 100 - € 21,67).

After having refreshed yourself, another must visit to do in the area is that of spectacular Selaròn staircase.
A few minutes walk from the restaurant, you will find yourself in front of the work begun in 1990 by Jorg Seleròn: ben 215 steps covered with about 2 colorful tiles.

Visit the beautiful neighborhood of Santa Teresa, characterized by narrow streets, irregular houses, murals, in short, art at every corner.

If you are particularly art lovers, take advantage of the visit to the Museu da Chácara do Céu, whose entrance costs only R $ 2 (€ 0,43). The museum houses temporary and permanent exhibitions, illustrations and collections on the history of Brazil.

3 - Evening: Dinner, Circo Voador

For those who want to experiment it is time to try the Amazonian cuisine of the Espirito Santa restaurant, which is only a 10 minute walk from the Museum. For about R $ 50 (€ 10,70) you will eat mainly fish based.

It is now evening, the air is warm, the streets are crowded, there are those who dance the samba and if you want to listen to live music, you can still walk towards the famous Circus Voador, the venue opened in 1982 and that offers both Brazilian and international music.

The place can hold up to 2500 people, and a bit of unbridled fun is what it takes to say goodbye to this cheerful city.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 15 km / 3 h 16 min
  • Places visited: Forte de Copacabana (R $ 6,00 - € 1,28), Praca Florano (free), Cathedral of San Sebastiano (free), Selaròn Staircase (free), Santa Teresa (free), Museu da Chácara do Céu (R $ 2,00 - € 0,43), Circo Voador (free)
  • Rio de Janeiro: Santa Teresa, Lapa and Selarón Staircase Rio de Janeiro: Santa Teresa walking tour
  • breakfast at Cafè 18 do Forte (Get directions); lunch at Cosmopolitan (Get directions); dinner at Espìrito Santa (Get directions)

How much does a weekend in Rio de Janeiro cost?

Rio de Janeiro is not one of the cheapest destinations that exist, however it must be taken into account that once in the city the cost of living is much cheaper than in Italy.

The hotels have variable prices according to the neighborhood and the season, those who want to save can stay in cheapest hostels in the Santa Teresa neighborhood, or in those of the center, where the clientele on business trips is concentrated.

Getting around by public transport alone is cheap enough for just one weekend and it's very convenient either purchase the RioCard prepaid card (R $ 3,00 - € 0,66) that booklet of 10 metro tickets via the official MetroRio website. Another solution is that of rent a bike, also through the online service at a cost of R $ 5,00 - € 1,08 per day.

  • Costs to eat: about € 80,00 per day per person (including breakfast, lunch, dinner)
  • Costs for museums and attractions: about € 28,00 per person following the itinerary we suggest
  • Transportation: about € 40,00 per person (including cable car and rack railway)
  • Hotels, accommodation and b & b: Hotel and b & b starting from € 35,00 per room -
  • Fun: from € 10,00 per person (including snacks, coffee, aperitifs, drinks, ...)
  • Total cost of a weekend in Rio de Janeiro: from € 388,00 per person, excluding return flight

Before leaving: useful tips

  • When to go: the summer period runs from December to March; specifically it could be an unforgettable experience to visit the city on the occasion of the Carnival, held in February - for more info
  • "Galeão" international airport is 20 km from the center of Rio de Janeiro and is also connected with direct flights to Europe, including Rome Fiumicino. Shuttles, local buses and taxis take you to the center within 40 minutes (the cheapest option is the shuttle, tickets from R $ 3,60 - approximately € 0,77), alternatively a private transfer.
    There is also the regional airport "Santos Dumon", reachable on foot from the city center and connected by internal flights to cities such as São Paulo and Brasilia.
  • the best area is Copacabana, the tourist district south of the city center, connected by public transport to the whole city. Here you can sleep in hotels and hostels at variable prices. Alternatively, there are many cheap hostels in the center or in the Santa Teresa neighborhood.
  • Getting around: buses are frequent and very cheap in the south of the city, while they are scarce in other areas, especially after sunset (tickets from R $ 2,20 - around € 0,47). The subway is the means that reaches the places of greatest interest the fastest, from the center to the beaches of Copocabana, Ipanema, Lebon, Santa Teresa, Urca (tickets R $ 4,10 - about € 0,88). An excellent way to get around and fully enjoy the views of the city is to use the bike-sharing services (a day pass costs R $ 5 - around € 1,07).
  • Documents: you must have a passport with a residual validity of at least six months. A visa is not required for stays of less than 90 days.
  • Country security: Tourists are advised to pay the utmost attention when on board public transport, to avoid theft and muggings. Avoid favelas, parks and outlying areas, especially at night. To find out more, consult the official website of the Farnesina.
  • Currency: the Brazilian real, € 1,00 = R $ 4,67.
  • Useful cards: to move more easily on all public transport it is useful to buy the RioCard Bilhete Único Carioca. This is the magnetic card, prepaid and rechargeable, which costs R $ 3,00 - € 0,66. You can buy it in some shops and electronic machines, info on the official RioCard website.

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