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Top Excursions in Rio de Janeiro

Christ the Redeemer
Christ the Redeemer statue overlooks Rio de Janeiro. Credit: Wikimedia

Well known and well-loved as one of the world’s foremost venues for massive parties and sporting events, Rio de Janeiro is one of Brazil’s most spectacular cities.

Apart from the city’s beaches and wonderful parties, many visitors go for the exploration. There are several exciting outdoor activities, including city tours, hiking, trekking, as well as nature and eco tours. Five major excursions include some of the mentioned activities.

1. Christ the Redeemer Statue

Christ Redeemer is a monumental statue of Christ with outstretched hands, sitting at the summit of Corcovado Mountain and overlooking the city. On route to the monument, often by train, visitors will pass several sites of interest including then Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and the Cosme Velho Train cog station.

From the station, most guests take the ride up to the top, through the dense Tijuca rain forest to the 38 meter tall (125 foot) statue. Once there, with a panoramic view from the top, the guide will show the group spectacular sights of Rio and the surrounding countryside.

Most tour operators offer with this excursion round-trip transfer to most hotels in São Conrado, Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabana, a professional tour guide and prepaid train ticket.

2. Sugar Loaf City Tour

This tour typically begins with a short trip to downtown Rio. In this case, travellers will pass by the Sambodrome and finally stop at the Metropolitan Cathedral, an attraction in its own right. Once in the vicinity, they will have a chance to explore additional places of interest including the traditional Cinelândia Square with its historical buildings.

From the square, travellers are then taken to the neighborhood of Urca, home of the famous Sugar Loaf. From Urca, the cable car journey all the way to the top begins. Along the way, panoramic views of the beautiful views of Guanabara Bay and its islands as well as other sites create a natural appeal. After riding the cable car back down, passengers are returned to their hotels.

3. Rainforest Jeep Adventure

While the streets of Rio may offer all the amenities of a common concrete jungle, just a few steps from the paved roads is the thriving oasis of Tijuca, the world’s largest urban rainforest and home to hundreds of species of plants and wildlife.

This tour offers the adventurous traveller the chance to hike the trails and interact with this amazing ecosystem. Undoubtedly, there will be an extensive array of plants and animals to spot and admire.

4. Old Rio de Janeiro Half-Day Walking Tour

Tours of Old Rio are often held in the evenings when the old roads are calm and offer that sense of history and truly show the elements of heritage.  The tour is often undertaken by foot and lasts for about four hours.

Many aspects of the town have historical significance from the narrow cobblestone streets to the superb baroque buildings. Several other specialized and important sites include the Sao Bento Monastery and the Imperial Palace. While walking, the tour guide will bring the city alive through stories of events of the past ages.

5. Santa Marta Tour

Santa Marta is a neighborhood famous for being the setting for a Michael Jackson video. Because of this, a flagstone that was used for the clip now houses a statue to the pop star. It is in Beco do Curió beside a church of Assembly of God.

Visitors to the area will have a chance to visit the actual place where the video was shot as well as interact with locals.

Whether it’s enjoying the adrenaline rush of those exciting attractions or gaining unforgettable insights into Rio and its history, the aforementioned excursion options are some of the best in the city. For the experienced traveller, many will prove eye openers as interesting peeks into a whole new way of life.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
February 17, 2020

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