Brazil: 6 Things To Do In Rio With Kids

We visited Rio de Janeiro when our kids were 5 and 8 years old. We’d heard that traveling to Rio with kids wasn’t safe and that it was crowded. But we wanted to see for ourselves.

We found the city and the people to be fun, generally safe, and very kid-friendly. Now, granted, we were not clubbing in the Lapa neighborhood (a place that makes Mardi Gras look like afternoon tea), but we managed to get a sense of the culture, the beaches, the Brazilian lifestyle, and our whole family LOVED it.

Here are our 6 Things To Do In Rio de Janeiro With Kids!

First things first, the kids wanted to dress like locals so we found some yellow and green Brazilian football shirts. Both boys chose Kaká. They literally would have worn them every day, but we managed to find a sink-wash rotation that worked.

1. Visit Christ the Redeemer

This iconic statue is a bucket list item for many, and most certainly was at the top of ours. At nearly 30m tall, Christ the Redeemer is the world’s largest Art Deco sculpture and weighs 1,145 tons.

He keeps a watchful eye on life below, and has been voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

de Janeiro brazil - christ the redeemer
He watches over the whole of Rio de Janeiro

We took the cog train (like a funicular) to the statue as it was the most scenic route, climbing slowly up the Corcovado mountainside through the green forest of the Tijuca National Park.

When we reached the top, we had the option of taking an elevator or 222 steps up to the statue. Given the number of Caipirinha’s we had the night before, I made the executive decision we’d all climb the steps.

The view from the top was indescribable. Magnificent and unbelievable. I didn’t realize the statue was so large that you are sometimes higher than the planes!

de Janeiro, brazil - view from christ the redeemer
The views from the visitor centre are incredible but are even more spectacular once you ascend to the statue. You can take steps or an elevator to the top, and we opted for the steps to soak in the different views. The top gets extremely crowded and sometimes makes it difficult to take pictures, so I’d suggest trying to arrive as soon as the statue opens.

rio - christ the redeemer with kids

The views of Rio are spectacular from the top – a must see. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

rio brazil christ the redeemer

2. Ipanema Beach

Ipanema, the place made famous by the ’60s song “The Girl from Ipanema,” was named by The Travel Channel as the sexiest beach in the world. It was very busy, and very scenic.

The 2-mile stretch of sand has stunning views of mountains, beautiful Brazilian people, and endless turquoise water.

copacabana beach in RioIpanema’s vibrant and fun atmosphere is the place to see and be seen, and we spent hours sitting here people-watching.

3. Copacabana Beach is fun when you visit with kids!

Copacabana is often referred to as the world’s most famous beach. It’s right next to Ipanema beach.

Ipanema vs Copacabana sidewalk patterns

You might not even realize it’s a different beach, except the patterns on the sidewalks are different.

copacabana beach in rio de janeiro
The days would often start out foggy, and in the afternoon the clouds would lift to reveal brilliant blues skies

Copacabana runs 3 miles along a densely populated residential area of Rio and is always crowded and bustling.  It’s filled with coconut water salespeople, street vendors, pick-up games of beach soccer and of course beautiful people to watch as you soak in the sun.

The iconic waved boardwalk design, girls in tiny bikinis, and striking landscape, make for a classic Brazilian experience. I have to be completely honest however, I was a little shocked at the crowds, old food, and trash on the beaches and in the water. But the kids has a blast, played some beach futebol, and made a lot of new friends.

rio de janeiro with kids - ipanema beach

4. Sugarloaf Mountain and Cable Car

Sugarloaf Mountain is a peak rising 396 meters abovce sea-level offering a bird’s eye view of the entire city of Rio. At the top, you’ll see stunning views of the surrounding beaches, mountains and forests. Sugarloaf Mountain is more of a huge granite rock than a mountain, but it’s one of the top tourist attractions in Rio. Luckily, it didn’t feel as touristy as we thought it would! Both the cable car ride and the views were simply spectacular.

Rio de Janeiro with kids - sugarloaf mountain

To reach the top, you have to take two cable cars. The first one takes you to the top of Urca Hill which is 220 meters above sea level, and the second cable car takes you to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain.

Kids at the top of sugarloaf mountain cable car

Once you reach the top you are greeted with breathtaking 360-degree views of Rio de Janeiro and Guanabara Bay.

sugarloaf mountain views

See the city or Rio and the beaches from sugarloaf mountain

Rio - mountain and beaches from sugarloaf mountain
You can see Christ the Redeemer in the background

We were in awe of the views as we hiked along the trails at the top of the mountain – honestly, these were the most incredible views we have ever seen.

Warning: If heights are not your cup of tea, you might want to skip this… you are VERY high and VERY exposed to nature.

The two boys on sugarloaf mountain. Brazilian soccer shirts were dirty that day.

5. Football

Football (futebol in Portuguese) is the most popular sport in Brazil and is the epitome of Brazilian culture.

You see kids and adults playing football on the streets, on futsal courts, on the boulevards, and there are endless pick up games of beach soccer on the beaches. As well as soccer-volleyball where players use their bodies to kick or bounce the ball back and forth over a net.

kids playing beach football / soccer

The boys were in heaven and spent most days kicking a ball around with Brazilians.

6. Fresh Coconut Water

The most popular drink in Brazil (after the caipirinha of course!!)  is ‘água de coco’ – coconut water fresh from a young green coconut. It wasn’t hard to get the kids to love coconut water.

fresh coconut water

There are two different types of stands: the ones that open the coco with a machine that drills a hole in the top. And the more authentic stands where the coconut seller chops the top off a young coconut with a machete and sticks a straw inside the coconut.

Once we finished the delicious fresh coconut water, we took the coconut back to the seller who quickly opened up the coconut with a machete so we could enjoy the delicious coconut flesh. Yum!

Kids wearing their Brazilian national football team shirts
I had to capture this moment as they were for once getting along!  😉

Rio with Kids: Hidden Gems and Insider Secrets

Traveling to Rio de Janeiro with your kids can be an unforgettable adventure. Here are five tips to make your family trip to Rio even more special.

Explore Beyond the Famous Beaches: While Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are must-visits, Rio has many other beautiful, lesser-known beaches worth exploring. Prainha Beach is a small, secluded beach surrounded by rainforest, offering a more relaxed vibe. It’s a good spot for families looking for a quieter beach experience away from the crowds.

Take Advantage of Free Museum Days: Many of Rio’s museums offer free admission on certain days of the week. For instance, the Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR) offers free entrance on Tuesdays, while the Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow) is free on Tuesdays as well. It’s a cost-effective way to immerse your family in Brazilian culture and history.

Picnic at the Botanical Garden: The Jardim Botânico (Botanical Garden) is a peaceful oasis in the middle of Rio. With over 6,500 species of plants, beautiful themed gardens, and plenty of open spaces, it’s an ideal spot for a family walk or picnic. You’ll also find interesting wildlife, like monkeys and exotic birds.

Discover Rio’s Street Art Scene: Rio is home to an incredible street art scene, with colorful murals and graffiti that tell stories of the city’s culture and history. Take a walking tour of neighborhoods like Santa Teresa and Lapa to see works by local and international artists. It’s a free, outdoor gallery experience that offers great photo opportunities and a chance to see a different side of Rio.

Use the Metro to Avoid Traffic: Rio has traffic. A lot of traffic. And if you’re rented a car, parking can be a hassle.  We used a guide and driver to get around. But, city’s metro system is also an efficient and affordable way to get around to reach major attractions.

Remember to embrace the laid-back Brazilian lifestyle, be open to new experiences, and, most importantly, enjoy the time with your family in this stunning city.

Have you been to Rio with kids?

Let me know in the comments below, and join me on Instagram and Twitter!

About The Author

Samantha

I’m a travel and health writer, digital brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising an active family, life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.

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