An unmistakable landmark from the top of Corcovado and a breathtaking view as you leave the tunnel, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas is largely used by locals as a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Visitors to Rio generally take advantage of the wonderful water-side walk and bike path along with the public tennis, volleyball courts, the baseball diamond and the soccer grounds. At night, the lagoon's banks are flooded with a constellation of kiosks that offer a plethora of local delights. That complemented with some catchy live music makes for a truly memorable experience.
Pão de Açúcar or Sugarloaf Mountain is Rio's most visited landmark. Soaring above the clouds, this mountain peak is connected to the city below by two cable cars that climb to the peak. At a height of 396 meters (1299 feet) above Rio, the mountain offers panoramic views of the Guanabara Bay with its curving coastline, the towering Christ the Redeemer statue, and the Corcovado Mountain. At sunrise and sunset, light envelopes the horizon and spreads over the city below, creating a mesmerizing view that's hard to beat.
Built in 1762 as an arsenal, the Museu Histórico Nacional was also a military prison until 1922, when it was converted into an exhibition center for the celebration of 100th anniversary of the independence from Portugal. Here you will find objects and models that retrace the history of Brazil since its discovery, with special attention to the slavery period and the sugar cane industry.
The best place to visit to get an idea of what Rio once looked like, with miles of tropical rain-forests, walking trails, stunning views of the city, waterfalls, creeks and greenery. At this huge urban reserve, it only takes about 20 minutes to immerse yourself in nature. Serious hikers can climb to the summit of Pico da Tijuca, while others can simply enjoy the waterfall, Cascatinha Taunay, at the Alto da Boa Vista.
At 710 meters (2329 feet), this hunchback mountain is where the Christ Redeemer statue stands with outstretched arms. At night, the 30-meter (98-foot) statue seems to float as if it were a guardian angel for the city. Of course it will be crowded with many tourists, but, nothing can prepare you for the view you will witness. Stand with the statue at your back, and to your left is the soccer temple Maracanã and the northern districts. Straight ahead in the distance is Niterói with its snaky bridge and Rio's other must see, the hump of the Sugarloaf. To the right is the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in the foreground, and Copacabana and Ipanema beaches further out.
Named for the vibrant Ipanema neighborhood it's located in, Ipanema Beach truly embodies the Brazilian spirit that inspired the Bossa Nova song "The Girl from Ipanema". Sparkling white sand stretches as far as the eye can see and the Dos Hermanos (Two Brothers) mountains form a picturesque backdrop. Rio's tropical weather means plenty of Sun, and the beach draws crowds of Brazilians and visitors looking to relax here. Each of Ipanema's postos or zones has a unique spirit, from the vibrant Posto 9 with its party vibe to the surf-friendly Posto 7. Beach culture at its best, Ipanema offers something for every visitor. Due to the forceful undertow, it's best to swim with caution.
Once upon a time a prominent railway station, the Estação Leopoldina today lies unused, closed, and empty. Opened in 1897, this railway station was built in the honor of the Barão de Mauá, and quickly became, and remained, an important commuting line till 2004, when it was closed. You will not see any flurry of tired and exhausted feet, running to catch a train home or to work here anymore, as the station has become more or less a depot. However, occasionally, the station is opened for special events, be it a concert, an exhibition, fair, an so on.
While most visitors to Rio stick to the affluent Zona Sul (South Zone), the north has plenty of attractions too. A good case in point is the Museu do Primeiro Reinado, a splendid building that was home to the Marquess of Santos during the 1800s. Today, the space is home to a museum that showcases furniture and other artifacts from Rio's belle epoque, alongside artworks from the likes of Taunay, Fachinetti and Stalloni. The rooms themselves, with their ornate furnishings, decadent chandeliers and impressive porcelain and glassware collections, are veritable works of art in their own right. The house is set in pleasant gardens that make a nice place for a relaxing stroll in the shade on a hot day. As the North Zone is less geared to tourism than the South Zone, visitors might want to take a taxi from the metro to the museum.
Located in Feira de Sao Cristovao (Centro Luiz Gonzaga de Tradições Nordestinas), which is home to several craft shops, clothes and shoe stores, eateries and bars, the Bazar da Cantoria offers good entertainment to all from Fridays to Sundays. After a dose of the Northeastern culture in the vibrant Feira de Sao Cristovao, this place with more than 8,000 songs is the ideal place to unwind if you love karaoke. Unleash the singer in you and display your skills to your friends in this affable venue. Enjoy your time with drinks and appetizers that are reasonable.
This social project in downtown Rio celebrates the best of local talent in the fields of drama, sport and dance, and allows both children and adults to indulge in their passion for the arts. The cultural center hosts some impressive theater and dance productions, including kids' shows, and also holds regular free cinema screenings. You'll need to take cabs to and from the location as it's a little off the beaten track, but it is well worth a visit.
A non-profit organization with a difference, Circo Crescer e Viver aims to transform lives and communities through teaching circus skills to children and young adults. Residents of some of the city's most deprived neighborhoods are trained in everything from fire-eating and stilt-walking to trapeze artistry, and the results are quite spectacular. Circo Crescer e Viver has a permanent home in a vast circus tent in downtown Rio, where regular shows are staged. Circus performances are given a typically Brazilian flair with lots of samba sounds and funky dancing in between the acts, and it is clear that performers and directors alike have put their heart and soul into the performances. With some truly jaw-dropping set pieces, it is equally clear that the project has uncovered some exceptionally talented circus artists.
Funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Centro de Artes Calouste Gulbenkian is a melting pot of diverse arts and one can find many forms being promoted through the various courses taught here. The center features a library and also conducts various exhibitions and cultural events. It also hosts many theatrical performances and has activities throughout the year. To gain an insight into Brazilian culture, this is a good place to head to.