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Must See on a Weekend in Rio de Janeiro

I was born in Brazil and moved to the US at age 12.

Unfortunately it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I started exploring Brazil outside of my hometown. The fun, the lively culture, the tasty food and the party loving people made my latest experience in Brazil so memorable.

When visiting Rio de Janeiro we only had a weekend to explore, as I was there for work, so narrowing down an itinerary that made sure we saw all the best things in this beautiful city was very difficult.

Getting around can be time consuming with the amount of traffic, EVERYWHERE.

Always up for a challenge, we got it done!

Here are the “must see” on a weekend in Rio de Janeiro.

Christ the Redeemer/ Cristo Redentor

If you can only see one thing in Rio, it should be the Christ the Redeemer.

The statue has become an icon in the city of Rio de Janeiro and the country of Brazil. Thousands of people from all over the world visit the statue daily.

Here’s our lessons learned:

  • To beat the crowd, try and get there early.

  • There is no need for a guided tour.

  • But here is where we went wrong, we did not book our tickets ahead.

SO, again, Book Your Tickets Early!

After standing in a 20-minute line to buy our tickets, we realized our visit time was almost 2 hours out because they space them out so it's not too crowded during your visit.

Unfortunately, there is not much to do within walking distance other than a small flea market, so booking your tickets ahead is a must.

Here are some links to purchase your tickets:

and to skip the line

Once you take the cable car up the 2,300-foot (710-meter) perch, grab a drink on your way to the statue and enjoy the view. Ideally, plan to be there for about 2-3 hours to enjoy everything.

(Check out our REEL!)

Sugarloaf Mountain/ Pão de Açúcar

This is one of the most beautiful attractions in Rio de Janeiro. Sugarloaf peak rises 396 meters, towering above its surroundings, and it holds one of the most breathtaking views in Rio de Janeiro. Millions of tourists visit sugarloaf every year to experience the gorgeous views of the mountains, beaches and forests.

Tickets are sold at the station for $30, about R$150 reais

Also, although open from 8AM to 9PM, be warned, the last ticket is sold at 7:50PM.

If interested in shopping, wait till reaching Sugarloaf Peak. There will be some shops at the base station but more for you to see and purchase at top.

The first leg of the trip is a cable car ride to the top of Urca Mountain.

This first stop will give you an amazing view of Copacabana, Christ the Redeemer, Niteroi Bridge and Guanabara Bay. You will also find some gift shops and a little informational theater.

The second and final leg is to the top of Sugarloaf. Here you will find a 360-degree view of Rio de Janeiro. You can sit and enjoy the view from one of the food shops or walk the trails.

Try and wait until sunset and I promise you will see an unforgettable view.


After visiting Sugarloaf, you can visit the iconic Copacabana Beach. This is a great option for a evening stroll or some food exploring and sit down for a nice dinner and drinks.

I highly recommend a stop at the Copacabana Palace to check out this beautifully laid out ocean front hotel, and it's tasty food! This hotel, also iconic, is a part of Rio’s history.

If you missed the sunset at Sugarloaf, this is an amazing alternative to watch it while enjoying a Caipirinha (Brazilian’s favorite drink made with Cachaça).


This famous beach attracts large crowds of sunbathing fans. If it sounds familiar, it's the inspiration for the famous song “The Girl from Ipanema”.

This is an amazing place to spend the morning at the beach and visit one of the many upscale restaurants on the charming Rua Garcia d’Avila.

There you can have lunch and visit one of the many art galleries. If you decide to come here at night, there is also amazing nightlife in this part of town. 💃🏽🕺🏽

Selaron Steps/ Escadaria Selarón

This set of world-famous steps is the work of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selaron who claimed this to be his tribute to the Brazilian people. (our REEL)

Once you arrive you will be amazed at how authentic this area is. It's filled with restaurants with outdoor seating and caipirinha stations on the road, and even Acai shops!

Everywhere you go, you will hear music playing (video link), and tons of tourists appreciating this vibrant work of art.

This area is so rich with Brazilian culture and is a great chance to experience its extremely authentic cuisine. We spent our time having street food and browsing the shops on the side of the road for souvenirs and flags to take home.

One weekend isn’t enough to see everything in a city as large as Rio de Janeiro. Hopefully with these tips, you can fit in as much as possible and truly experience what everyone has been raving about.

If you want to relive the experience, our day-by-day story highlights the whole trip!

Our Dope Life Continues.


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