The Olympics start in less than a month, and for many tourists they represent an opportunity to explore a new destination: Brazil. The Games are based in the city of Rio de Janeiro, the second-largest Brazilian city and the country’s primary tourist destination. Though we recommend you journey out to other parts of the vast country during your time there, here are seven things to do in Rio when you’re not at a sporting event (or watching one at a local bar).
Fun Things To Do During The Rio Olympics
1. Visit Christ the Redeemer
Known as one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World,” the Christ the Redeemer statue, an Art Deco-style monument to Jesus Christ, stands 98 feet tall on a peak of the Corcovado mountain. Christ the Redeemer is a symbol for Christianity around the world, but even if you’re not Christian, the size and location of the monument are a marvel.
2. Explore Tijuca National Park
While visiting Christ the Redeemer, take some more time to explore its surroundings — the Tijuca Forest, a tropical rainforest and the largest urban forest in the world. The beautiful park features trees, waterfalls, mountains and more than 350 species of fauna. You can hike around the area or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, engage in activities such as rock climbing and hang gliding.
3. Journey to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain
Another of Rio’s standout natural features is Sugar Loaf Mountain, a standalone peak above the harbor at Guanabara Bay. It is arguably the best way to see the city, particularly at sunset. If you’re a rock climber, you can climb Sugar Loaf. Otherwise, you can take two cable cars to the top that offer 360-degree views of the surroundings.
4. Soak up the sun at one of Rio’s beaches
Brazil is known for its beautiful beaches — some of which have been immortalized in song. Go to Ipanema Beach (subject of “The Girl from Ipanema”) a beautiful sand beach in a wealthy neighborhood of the city that is also home to nice restaurants, hotels and art galleries. Or, visit Copacabana Beach (of “Copacabana”), arguably Brazil’s most famous beach. The more than 2-mile stretch of sand always has a lot going on, including runners, sand sculptors, and of course, vendors selling coconut water.
5. Walk around the Jardim Botânico
Rio de Janeiro’s famed botanical gardens, the Jardim Botânico, is 340 acres of peaceful, tranquil flora. Visitors can choose from three guided tours (which either go on foot or on an electric car), each centered around one of three themes: the arts, the history of the garden, and the “noble trees” in the garden. The gardens are also a site for cutting edge research on botany and ecology.
6. Learn to cook Brazilian food
Brazil is known for its delicious food, especially its meats, and many foodies flock to Rio specifically to taste the cuisine. If you’d like to go beyond eating in a restaurant, however, sign up for one of the many cooking classes offered in the city and taught by local chefs using traditional methods.
7. Learn about history and culture at Rio’s museums
Though it can be easy to get caught up in the natural wonders of Rio de Janeiro, take some time to explore the history and culture of the city as well through its many museums. The Museu Histórico Nacional, housed in the colonial arsenal, houses historical relics of the country. Instituto Moreira Salles is a cultural center that focuses on photography, literature, and music. Museu de Amanhã is an interactive science museum that tries to predict the future.
This article was written by Isabella Sayyah.