When we visited Brazil for the World Cup this year I was delighted to be able return to Rio de Janeiro, a city I visited in 2007 and have wanted to return to ever since. There is something magical about Rio, nestled as it is between a majestic coastline and rugged mountains. Rio is obviously home to some very iconic sights such as Copacabana beach, the Sugarloaf Mountain, and the Christ the Redeemer statue, all of which are definitely worth a visit, but having already seen these sights I wanted to find some alternative things to do instead.

alternative things to do in Rio sugar loaf mountain

The stunning Sugarloaf coated in mist and clouds

alternative things to do in Riocable car to sugar loaf mountain close up

Sadly you won`t be the only tourist to visit it

alternative things to do in rio de janeiro christ de redeemer

Rio is a city full of contrasts. On the one hand you have high-rise office buildings spread all over the city and on the other you also have the many people struggling to make ends meets in Rio`s (in)famous favelas. The first favelas in Brazil appeared in the late 19th century as places where former slaves with neither land nor work lived. Fast-forward a number of decades and Brazil`s last census showed that 6 percent of the Brazilian population still live in slums. So of the 190 million Brazilians, almost 11.4 million live in favelas with a lack of many public services such as sewage systems, electricity, or running water. We went on a favela tour in Rio which was a very eye opening experience. If you decide to go on such a tour make sure you go with a sensitive, reputable company as otherwise there is a danger that these tours can turn into human safaris, but if well run they can actually benefit local communities too.

alternative things to do in Rio view from sugar loaf mountain

alternative things to do in Rio favela tour

One of the many favelas in Rio

alternative things to do in Rio favela tourLapa and Santa Teresa are both districts we weren`t able to see on our last visit, yet they are both incredibly beautiful, historic areas of Rio. Santa Teresa for example is home to Escadaria Selarón, the famous steps covered in mosaic tiles. They are the work of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón and are a tribute to the people of Brazil. Lapa is an area with an amazing street art scene and as a big fan of street art I could have wondered down all of the little alleys in search of street art all day long.

alternative things to do in rio de janeiro lapa and Escadaria Selarón

The artist has worked on this project for over 20 years

alternative things to do in Rio Escadaria Selarón

alternative things to do in Rio street art

Some of the amazing Street art that can be seen in Lapa

alternative things to do in Rio street artalternative things to do in rio street art 2

So these are just two alternative things to do in Rio. What do you think? Have you, or would  you like to, visit Rio?

About Tammyonthemove

Tammy & Chris are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football. Find out why they stopped pushing pens around the British civil service to travel the world on their blog.

21 Thoughts on “Alternative things to do in Rio de Janeiro

  1. We’ve never been to Brazil but would very much like to do so. Especially after reading your excellent alternative recommendations. Thanks, guys.
    Gran Canaria Local recently posted…Hotel El CaboMy Profile

  2. Fantastic post Tammy. I haven’t been to Rio yet, but would love to visit one day. I find the street art you found along Santa Teresa stunning; unlike any other of what I’ve seen elsewhere in major cities. There were some pretty cool areas in Philadelphia that I found, but nothing like this. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
    Ron | Active Planet Travels recently posted…My Never-Ending Quest for the Perfect LifestyleMy Profile

  3. Brazil is probably the first country I ever fantasized about traveling to. But I have yet to make it there. Everything about Rio intrigues me — the Christ the Redeemer statue, the favelas, and that street art!! So basically I need to go there ASAP!
    Justine recently posted…5 Quirks About Living in JakartaMy Profile

  4. I’m going to Rio in 3 weeks so this post couldn’t have come at a better timing! I’m so gonna visit Santa Teresa and Lapa, these both sound like my kind of places!
    kami recently posted…Guest Post: Tbilisi Goes ArtsyMy Profile

  5. Hii Tammy, Great Post
    Rio de Janeiro is one the perfect destination for tourist, I also recommended must visit at least once. Copacabana beach and the statue of Christ the Redeemer both are unbelievable place.
    Razia Sheikh recently posted…5 Best Things to do in Dubai Desert Safari My Profile

  6. Very beautiful stairs, I bet the place gets full with tourist crowds. The stairs are rather popular nowadays.

  7. Hey Tammy/Chris – nice post. And some great photos, especially from Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf. And I’m happy you guys had a great time, enough to come back even. But honestly, I find Rio/Brazil to be among the most overrated tourist destinations anywhere. And those images of Santa Teresa bring back our own memories of being there…and it looks just as dirty and full of graffiti as when we went.
    Love your blog – but this is one destination we’ll never agree with.
    Frank (bbqboy)

  8. We just weren’t able to make Brazil work out for our South American adventure. I would love to go, and in some ways am happy we didn’t go, so that we can just save one big trip for exploring!
    Emily recently posted…My BirthdayMy Profile

  9. This is really a great article and a great read for me. It’s my first visit to your blog and I have found it so useful and informative. Thank you

  10. I live in Rio and i agree with the “Rio is a city full of contrasts”! The city is amazing, very beautifull and there is some danger around it.

    Your post is really helpfull in find alternative to do in RJ! Congrats!
    Roberto recently posted…O Preço de um Detetive Particular: Quanto Custa?My Profile

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