Known as the “Marvelous City”, Rio de Janeiro is one of the most vibrant and popular cities in Brazil. It is best known for its iconic 38m (125ft) Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado, the granite peak of Sugarloaf Mountain that is accessed by cable cars, and its Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.

Rio’s raucous Carnaval festival, featuring parade floats, flamboyant costumes, and samba dancers, is considered the world’s largest and attracts nearly a million visitors over the long weekend in February.

Travellers to the city wouldn’t dream of missing these must-see tourist points – nor should they. However, Rio has other hidden treasures loved by locals that are often overlooked by visitors.

Largo do Boticário

The charming Largo do Boticário is a square in the Cosme Velho neighbourhood of the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil featuring large, neo-colonial houses and Atlantic Forest vegetation.

The colourful houses are mostly abandoned, but Number 32 is still in excellent condition and has a permanent art gallery and a beautiful venue for tailor-made events.

The Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading

The impressive Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading, located in the centre of the city, is a massive library as well as a showcase of paintings and other pieces of Portuguese culture.

Rising three-stories above the central study area on each wall, the massive library contains the largest collection of Portuguese texts outside of Portugal itself, including includes rare original manuscripts, singular works of literature, and unique proofs.

Parque Lage

Parque Lage is a public park featuring a gorgeous former mansion that is now an art school, located at the base of the Corcovado mountain.

The mansion has been featured in the music videos of Pharrell Williams, Snoop Dogg, and the Black Eyed Peas, yet it remains a hidden gem in Rio. It’s known for attracting couples who enjoy romantic strolls through the gardens.

Rio de Janeiro Cathedral

The massive, concrete, cone-shaped Rio de Janeiro Cathedral has very little in common with traditional churches. Shaped like an ancient Mayan pyramid and rising up 96m (315ft) from the heart of the city, it’s impossible to miss.

The sloped walls of the cathedral are covered with small, square, windows in a honeycomb-like fashion that rise 64m (210ft) from floor to ceiling. Four stained-glass windows meet at the top of the cathedral to form a cross that functions as an impressive skylight.

Ilha Fiscal

The Ilha Fiscal is an island in Guanabara Bay, bordering Rio’s historic city centre, and its beautiful fairytale-like palace was the site of the last grand ball before the revolution in the 1800s.

Now a museum, visitors can enjoy guided tours of the lounges, the tower, and the permanent exhibits of the palace. The island also offers an impressive view of the bay, Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer, and downtown Rio.

Prainha Beach

The beautiful Prainha Beach is a smaller isolated surfer beach a short drive southwest from the city. Located in an unspoiled and protected area and surrounded by hills covered with tropical rainforest, it is possibly the most beautiful beach in Rio.

There are some kiosks where visitors can buy snacks, sandwiches, and juices, but the area is still quite secluded, and while it can get crowded on weekends, it's very quiet during the week. There is also a small outdoor restaurant that overlooks Prainha Beach from the cliff on the southwest end – a short walk up from the beach.

Mangueira’s Palacio de Samba

The vibrant Mangueira’s Palacio de Samba is one of Rio’s oldest samba schools and has won 19 Brazilian Carnaval parade competitions.

Rehearsals for its magnificent Carnival performance occur between September and February, and this is open to the public every Saturday night during that time. The party there is lively, contagious, and filled with friendly samba dancers in colourful, sensual costumes.

Getting there

Various airlines offer daily flights from London to Rio de Janeiro, and the ticket prices are cheapest at about 49 days before departure, with midday flights from Heathrow Airport to Rio de Janeiro–Galeão International Airport offering the best prices on the route.

For a hassle-free trip to the Rio de Janeiro, remember to pre-book a hoppa airport transfer to get you to your beachfront resort. Hoppa is the world’s top specialist in smooth, reliable transfers, and every one of our partners stands by our promises – to be there when we say we will, to give you a safe driving experience, and to clearly confirm your pick up details.


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