The 5 best excursions to discover Rio de Janeiro and its surroundings

vue sur Rio

How to visit Rio de Janeiro and where to go from Rio de Janeiro? Find the best excursions to immerse yourself in this fantastic city and the beauties that surround it.

With its carnival, famous beaches and Christ the Redeemer watching over every corner of the city, Rio de Janeiro is a destination that many dream of. As South America’s largest country, Brazil offers a wealth of treasures and attracts travellers from all over the world. And although Rio de Janeiro is not the country’s capital, it’s an essential stopover on any trip to Brazil.

Because Rio de Janeiro is a bustling city, full of life, with many attractions, mixing urban activity with important corners of nature. Believe us, Rio won’t leave you indifferent! Take advantage of your stay in Rio to explore the many wonders of the surrounding area. In this article, you’ll find 5 excursions to discover Rio de Janeiro and its surroundings.

Day trip to Rio de Janeiro

Excursion d’une journée à Rio de Janeiro

Photo credit: Viator

  • 👍 Number of participants: 19 maximum
  • Duration: 8h
  • 💙 We like: the guide’s anecdotes about all these mythical places

Don’t want to miss out on all that Rio has to offer? Then let us guide you on this tour of Rio de Janeiro’s must-sees. First of all, you’ll start your day’s sightseeing with a visit to the legendary Copacabana beach. Although highly urbanized, the cobblestone streets and rolling hills that surround it still retain their charm. Your guide will tell you all you need to know about this mythical spot. You’ll then continue along the coast to Rio’s other famous beach: Ipanema. Located next to Copacabana, it nestles at the foot of verdant mountains, giving it a unique character.

After that, it’s time for a change of scenery! You’ll still be in Rio, yet you’ll find yourself in the middle of the Parque Nacional da Tijuca forest. This is the route up to the mythical Christ the Redeemer. This monumental statue overlooks the city from Corcovado Hill and has been included in the list of the New 7 Wonders of the World. It’s sure to impress both you and the many travellers who flock here every day. What’s more, from here you can enjoy a sumptuous panorama of Rio.

Once back down, your guide will show you two emblematic sites for Cariocas: the Maracana stadium and the Sambadrome ! The latter is where the fabulous Rio Carnival parades take place every year. You can even don costumes from previous editions for a photo opportunity. Afterwards, you’ll continue to explore the city’s iconic landmarks, again with your guide’s explanations. During the tour, you’ll also have lunch in a Brazilian steakhouse restaurant to sample the local flavors. You’ll then finish your tour with a cable car ride to the top of Sugarloaf. Up there, you can admire the view over the whole of Rio, with Christ in the distance and the beaches you visited earlier in the day.

Boat trip to Rio de Janeiro

Excursion en bateau à Rio de Janeiro

Photo credit: Viator

  • 👍 Number of participants: 10 maximum
  • Duration: 3h
  • 💙 We like: caipirinhas and unlimited drinks in front of these landscapes

Discover Rio de Janeiro from a different angle: from the ocean! Embark on a cruise in Guanabara Bay and on the high seas to enjoy multiple viewpoints of the city and its magnificent surroundings. Here, the only watchword is « relaxation »! Unwind with a caipirinha, Brazil’s favorite cocktail, made with cachaça and lime. Other drinks and snacks are available to suit all tastes.

From the canopy, away from the crowds, you can contemplate the emblematic Sugar Loaf with its distinctive shape, as well as Christ the Redeemer, which dominates the city. You’ll also pass ancient fortresses and museums such as the Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Niteroi and the Museu do Amanha, both of which boast atypical architecture. You’ll also have the chance toadmire Rio’s many beaches, including the famous Copacabana. From your sailboat, you’ll have a front-row seat to appreciate the city’s exceptional location, nestled among the hills that have remained untouched. It’s a chance to discover Rio in a different way, in a relaxed setting far from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Explore Rio with a photographer

Explorez Rio accompagné d’un photographe avec Viator

Photo credit: Viator

  • 👍 Number of participants: 6 maximum
  • Duration: 8h
  • 💙 We love: superb souvenir photos in these grandiose landscapes

Spend an exceptional day in Rio with a local guide and professional photographer. He’ll take you on a day trip to some of the most photogenic spots on the planet. While you’re comfortably seated in his jeep, your guide will take you to the beautiful beaches around Rio de Janeiro, where the locals swim and surf. You’ll no doubt be impressed by the intimacy and wildness of many of them, despite their proximity to such a big city.

You can also stretch your legs on a hike. Be prepared to walk through the forest for around 40 minutes. Be careful, it’s uphill, but it’s worth the effort! You’ll arrive at Pedra do Telégrafo, a very popular spot from which you can enjoy an exceptional panorama of the ocean and surrounding mountains.

Accompanied by your local photographer, you can create wonderful memories with original portraits on the Pedra do Telégrafo rock. This spot is famous for its spectacular, funny photos from a splendid vantage point. The photographer will put you at ease, and you’ll leave with some superb shots. You won’t regret taking part!

Day trip to Petrópolis

Excursion d’une journée à Petrópolis

Photo credit: Viator

  • Duration: 9h
  • 💙 We love: the originality of this Brazilian tour

Here’s a visit that’s a little different from what we’re used to seeing in Brazil: exploration of the imperial city of Petropolis. This town is located at altitude, so the climate is cooler than in Rio. This day trip from Rio de Janeiro will take you to the most important sites in this city, where the Brazilian emperor lived in the 19th century. This escapade will take you to the superb Saint-Pierre-d’Alcantara cathedral, home to the royal family burial grounds.

You’ll then visit the Imperial Museum, located in Dom Pedro’s summer palace. It’s the kind of building you wouldn’t expect to find in Brazil! This visit will tell you more about the royal family, thanks to the objects that belonged to them. You’ll discover clothes, paintings and luxurious carriages. Enjoy a short stroll through the pleasant gardens surrounding the palace. After the tour, your guide will take you to a small park next door, where you’ll find the Crystal Palace, a magnificent glass-and-steel ballroom. It’s a beautiful building imported from France, and well worth a visit.

Afterwards, you’ll have a few hours on your own to explore the city center at your leisure and enjoy lunch in one of its typical restaurants. During this free time, you’ll have the choice of exploring the interesting home of Santos Dumont, one of the pioneers of aviation. Beer lovers can visit the Cervejaria Bohemia, where a beer that has been very popular in Brazil since 1853 is made.

Day trip to Arraial do Cabo with boat outing

Tour d’une journée à Arraial do Cabo avec sortie en bateau

Photo credit: Viator

  • 👍 Number of participants: 15 maximum
  • Duration: 14h
  • 💙 We like: the boat trip and the beauty of the beaches

Leave Rio de Janeiro for a day and head further north to discover some magnificent beaches! If you’re staying in the south of Rio de Janeiro, your guide will pick you up directly from your hotel for the excursion, and you’ll set off for one of Brazil’s paradise spots: Arraial do Cabo. Once there, you’ll have to face the 255 steps that separate you from the turquoise waters of Prainhas do Pontal do Atalaia beach. With its calm waters, it’s an ideal spot for a swim.

What’s more, your guide will show you a host of natural attractions, including a boat trip. Take this opportunity to admire the coastline with its dense vegetation and translucent sea. The guide will provide you with invaluable information on the details of the region and the sites you’ll encounter. Stroll along dream beaches such as Farol Beach, one of the most famous in the country thanks to its fine sand and the different tones of the ocean. During the day, you’ll also be able to sample Brazilian flavors thanks to a buffet included in the package. If you want to see the beaches for which Brazil is famous, don’t miss this tour of Arraial do Cabo!

With these different excursions, you’re all set to explore the magnificent city of Rio de Janeiro and its surroundings! Which activity interests you most?

Your successful stay in Rio de Janeiro

Dreaming of visiting Rio de Janeiro in Brazil? Check out our articles and tools here to help you plan your trip.

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Where to go out in Rio de Janeiro?

🍴 Attend a samba show and dine at the « Plataforma ».

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