One Day in Rio de Janeiro Itinerary – Top things to do in Rio, Brazil

Rio De Janeiro is one of those not-to-be-missed destinations full of fun and beauty. From pristine sandy beaches to fascinating attractions and beautiful sky views, there’s really something for everyone in this magnificent city. The unique geography of Rio de Janeiro gives it an unforgettable backdrop, with beautiful rain forests and pristine seas framing your setting. If you’re there for just one day, don’t worry. There is plenty to do and see in this spectacular place, but be warned – if you go, you will definitely want to come back soon!

One day in Rio de Janeiro Itinerary

Guest post by Catherine Wiley

What’s The Best Time To Visit Rio?

The best time to visit Rio is between December and March, since the weather is hot and sunny. It’s warm enough that you can hit the beach, with a low chance of rain. Of course, the heat and the climate of the city make the weather in Rio de Janeiro great all year round, but this period will provide the best option.

Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro

The temperature between January and March is around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but if you’d prefer a more mild climate, the autumn temperature of April will be a better fit, or spring in November when the temperature is a cool 70 during daytime. If you’re looking to visit during the famous Rio de Janeiro carnival, this five-day festival brings thousands of people to the streets, so be aware of this is you’re not a fan of crowds.

Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro

A Few Facts About Rio De Janeiro

The city of Rio de Janeiro (literally meaning “river of January”) was named after being discovered by its Portuguese founders on the 1st of January and has a population of over 6 million people. It is a city that has a lot of illegal housing, as there are up to 1000 slums (favelas) in the area which contain most of Rio’s Samba Schools. Every year, Rio hosts one of the biggest carnival parties in the world which attracts around 400k new visitors.

Street of Rio de Janeiro
Street art, Rio de Janeiro

One Day In Rio De Janeiro Itinerary

If you’re wondering how on earth you could fit Rio in one day, it’s certainly possible. Follow some advices by GearExpertGuides for the best things you can do in Rio.

Top Things To Do In Rio De Janeiro

Start Your Day at Ipanema Beach

Going to the beach is one of the most important things to do in Rio, so why not join some of the locals down at Ipanema Beach in the morning? Wake up and start the day by heading down to Zona Sul, a neighbourhood most famous for many of Rio’s beaches, including Copacabana, Leblon and Ipanema. If you fancy a quiet dip in the sea, then the earlier the better. After baking in the sun for a while, you can catch a game of Futevolei, Brazil’s equivalent of volleyball, or relax with a beer at one of the many pubs nearby.

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro
Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Author: Alejandro, Source: Flickr
Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro
Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Author: Alejandro, Source: Flickr

Have An Early Afternoon Drink and Snack

Walk down from Ipanema to Leblon and marvel at the incredible view of the Dois Irmaos mountains by your side. Once you get to Leblon, reward yourself with a cool drink and a snack at Bar Bracarense. It’s always a packed spot and particularly great for craft beer. Everything is always done to a T and there are some great tasting local bar nibbles to try.

Leblon, Rio de Janeiro
Leblon, Rio de Janeiro, Author: Alejandro, Source: Flickr

Head Up To Sugarloaf Mountain

Head on up to the top of “Pao de Acucar” or Sugarloaf Mountain, one of the true wonders of the city. From here, you will be able to marvel at the breathtaking views from this mountain that juts right out of the bay and rises high up above Rio. You can either take a cable car ride or hike up to the top depending on how up for a hike you feel, but it’s pretty accessible.

View from Pao de Acucar, Rio de Janeiro
View from Pao de Acucar, Rio de Janeiro

Visit Christ The Redeemer

This is truly one of the wonders of the world and a must-see if you’re in Brazil. The Rio de Janeiro Jesus statue stands 125 feet tall and stretches out over the city at an elevation of 2300 feet. It’s a wonderful place to visit – a cultural and religious symbol that rests atop the Corcovado Mountain in Tijuca National Park, with a stunning view of the city. There are a lot of options for getting up there, but the easiest is to take an electric train. You won’t be disappointed!

Christ The Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro
Christ The Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro
Christ The Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro
Christ The Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro

Spend Your Afternoon In The City Centre

Take the metro downtown to see some of the historical wonders of the city centre. You can see all the major attractions, from the Catedral de Sao Sebastiao to the Municipal Museum.

Catedral de Sao Sebastiao, Rio de Janerio
Catedral de Sao Sebastiao, Rio de Janerio
Catedral de Sao Sebastiao Interior, Rio de Janerio
Catedral de Sao Sebastiao Interior, Rio de Janerio, Author: Edgardo W. Olivera, Source: Flickr

Depending on what you fancy, there are numerous sightseeing spots – for a bit of culture you can pop into the Museu de Arte do Rio in the Port Zone, which showcases a number of exhibits in a complex of both historic and modern architecture. While you’re walking around, you might want to pop into Granado in the centre which sells a wide variety of local handmade cosmetics, powders, lotions and creams, which can make for great souvenirs. Make sure you bring some comfortable shoes because you will be walking a fair few blocks!

Museu de Arte do Rio, Rio de Janeiro
Museu de Arte do Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Author: Marcio Okabe, Source: Flickr

Have a Bite To Eat at Confeitaria Colombo

This is a top-quality bakery you will surely want to visit, with wonderful stained-glass windows, a viewing gallery and enormous Belgium mirrors. This place has been visited by the artists and intellectuals of Rio since 1894 and has a wide variety of treats to dine on, for instance, the iconic Brule tart. If you head upstairs to the Christopher restaurant, however, you can dine on their magnificent  à la carte dinner menu.

Confeitaria Colombo, Rio de Janeiro
Confeitaria Colombo, Rio de Janeiro, Author: A C Moraes, Source: Flickr

Hop In a Taxi and Head Up To Santa Teresa

This one-of-a-kind neighbourhood is totally artsy and really feels disconnected from the rest of Rio. It’s more like a separate village and has some of the best views of the city and interesting converted colonial architecture – what used to be mansions are now an array of bars, art studios and restaurants. There’s plenty to keep you entertained throughout the evening here.

Street at Santa Teresa
Street at Santa Teresa
Escadaria Selarón in Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro
Escadaria Selarón in Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro, Author: Petr Dvorak, Source: Flickr

Dance The Night Away At Carioca Aqueduct

Round off your one day in Rio de Janeiro by visiting this charming and historic neighbourhood – undoubtedly THE go-to place for a dancing party. The full-of-life vibe continues way into the night, and there are plenty of street food vendors and cheap drinks to help you out. Some of the best spots to go are Mofo, Carioca Da Gema and Rio Scenarium, which has even made it into the top 10 bars in the world.

Carioca Aqueduct
Carioca Aqueduct

Where To Stay In Rio De Janeiro

There is a variety of options for Rio de Janeiro hotels that you can choose, just be aware of the busiest times because this will significantly impact the price. Around the time of the carnival, it can be difficult to find an affordable place to stay, and you may want to think about booking flights in advance. It is quite easy to get into town from Rio airport, only 20 km from the city centre and a half an hour’s drive away.

PortoBay Hotel

PortoBay hotel

Avenida Atlântica,1500, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro

If you’re really looking to live it up in style while in Rio, take a look at PortoBay hotel. It’s right up on Copacabana offering you breathtaking views of this sensational city right by the front door. There is an on-site swimming pool, free wifi, 117 apartments and much more. You know you’re really at a great location when you see how close it is to the beach and the city centre. Perfect for soaking in the sun with a subtle sea breeze.


Che Lagarto Hostel Ipanema

Che Lagarto Hostel Ipanema

Rua Paul Redfern, 48, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro

If you’re on a budget or prefer meeting people, Che Lagarto Hostel Ipanema is ideal for backpackers and features 21 fully air-conditioned guestrooms with self-catering facilities, hot showers, free wifi and much more. All the rooms are kept spotless and clean, plus the location is a very short distance from the coast. If you like to party, you’ll be sure to meet some other people here who like it too!


Day Trips From Rio De Janeiro

National Parks

Nature Lovers Unite! Any outdoor type would love to explore this vast green expanse of rainforest. Covering over 8000 acres, Tijuca National Park is a highly biodiverse area with over 1600 species of plant and 350 species of animal, mammal, bird, amphibian and reptile life. There are also terrific waterfalls and vantage points to glance over breathtaking views of the city. If you’d like a relaxed picnic or a hike, visit the forested sector. If you’re a fan of some adventurous activities like rock climbing or hang gliding, there are plenty of places to do this too.

Parrot at Tijuca National Park
Parrot at Tijuca National Park

Favela Tours

These neighbourhoods are iconic and offer an interesting perspective of the city. You’ll really see how the locals live here and all the hustle and bustle they face every day. Favela Rio de Janeiro walking tours are a fairly controversial subject because some see it as “poverty tourism”, and one should respect the culture first and foremost. If you want to take a walking tour around, you should be aware of your safety and always travel with a reputable tour group – never go into the area on your own.

Extra Tips For Visiting Rio De Janeiro

It’s good to know that if you want to get around, you’ll have to call the bus just like you would a taxi. Along with the bus, the Metro is also very clean and safe to use, so do make the most of it! The locals advise against drinking tap water, so make sure not to do so – it’s best to purchase bottled water instead, just to be safe. There are still a lot of places that won’t accept certain cards, so do try and take money out with you, for instance when you arrive at the airport.


One day in Rio de JaneiroRio de Janeiro itinerary

Have you been to Brazil before? Do you have any tips for travelling there? We’d love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts with us below.

Make sure you have everything you need

What to pack for your next trip?

Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.

Catherine Wiley

Catherine Wiley has been a travel writer for the last four years for the Freelance Journal, she’s also been lucky enough to work for the Gear Magazine where she was the lead editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.