We visited Rio when our boys were 5 and 8 years old. We’d heard Rio with kids wasn’t safe and was crowded, but we found the city and the people to be fun, 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 we LOVED it.
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.
We took the cog train 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!
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.
The views of Rio are spectacular from the top – a must see. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
The 2-mile stretch of sand has stunning views of mountains, beautiful Brazilian people, and endless turquoise water.
Ipanema’s vibrant and fun atmosphere is the place to see and be seen, and we spent hours sitting here people-watching.
Copacabana is often referred to as the world’s most famous beach.
It runs 3 miles along a densely populated residential area of Rio and is always crowded and bustling. It’s filled with coconut water sales people, 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.
Sugarloaf Mountain is a peak rising 396 meters abovce sea-level offering a bird’s eye view of Rio and stunning views of the the surrounding beaches, mountains and forests. Sugarloaf Mountain is one of the top attractions for tourists who visit Rio.
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. Once you reach the top you are greeted with breathtaking 360 degree views of Rio de Janeiro and Guanabara Bay.
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.
Football 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.
The boys were in heaven and spent most days kicking a ball around with Brazilians.
The most popular drink in Brazil (after the caipirinha of course!!) is ‘água de coco’ – coconut water fresh from a young green coconut.
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 the 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!
I’m a travel and health writer, digital and brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two active boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising teenage boys, 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.