Best Places to Stay and Must-see Attractions in Rio de Janeiro

There are many reasons why Rio de Janeiro is also known as ‘The Wonderful City’. Amazing views, sun-kissed beaches, and a skyline that includes Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer are enough to convince most people to book a trip to Rio.


The local government has recently announced another reason to go to Rio: the city aims to become the first digital nomad hub in South America. Check out this ultimate guide to discover the best attractions and where to stay in Rio de Janeiro and get ready for a memorable experience.

Arcos da Lapa Rio de Janeiro

The best neighborhoods to stay in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro has four districts: Center, West Zone, North Zone, and South Zone. Each one of these districts is composed of distinct neighborhoods. In the Center, you will find plenty of historic buildings and museums. Some of Rio’s iconic attractions are also located here, such as the Lapa Arches and the traditional trams of Santa Teresa.


The West Zone is a business district with modern skyscrapers and fancy malls. The most famous neighborhood is Barra da Tijuca, which has great attractions such as beaches and a lagoon. You can also visit the Pedra Branca State Park here.

Pão de Açúcar Río de Janeiro

The busiest district is the North Zone, where you will find some of the oldest neighborhoods in Rio, including Irajá and Madureira. There are plenty of tourist attractions here, such as Maracanã Stadium, Tijuca National Park, and Brazil’s oldest museum — the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro.


For iconic views of Rio de Janeiro, go to the South Zone. That’s the place to be if you want to visit Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon beaches. The must-see attractions here are Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, Morro Dois Irmãos, and Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon.

Where to stay in Copacabana

Rio’s most recognized neighborhood: Copacabana is the perfect place to stay. In Copacabana, you will be within walking distance from the beach and top attractions, such as Fort Copacabana and the statue of the Brazilian writer, Carlos Drummond de Andrade.


Elza Paradise Escape

This Casai apartment is located between Posto 1 and Posto 2. This is the perfect location to enjoy the calmness of Leme beach without missing all the buzz of Copacabana.


Gal Sunny Flat

Here you are less than five minutes away from Copacabana beach and the iconic promenade of Atlântica Avenue.

Where to stay in Ipanema

This neighborhood had inspired famous Bossa Nova songs — for example, Girl from Ipanema. You will find locals and tourists in Ipanema due to its strategic location between Copacabana, Leblon, and Lagoa. There are great restaurants and bars here, in addition to the most famous spot to enjoy the sunset in Rio, Arpoador.


Buarque Relaxing Stay

Take advantage of this well-located condo to stay close to some of Rio’s top attractions: Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon and Ipanema Beach (near Posto 8).


Morais Beach Suite

Stay just one block away from Ipanema Beach and less than 15 minutes from the trendy Leblon beach.

Copacabana Beach

Must-see attractions in Rio de Janeiro


Rio de Janeiro has plenty of incredible attractions that appeal to all types of travelers. Check below our suggestions of beaches, parks, museums, restaurants, and more to make the most of your stay in the city.


The most beautiful beaches in Rio de Janeiro


The beaches in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro are split into 12 stops called postos. Leme Beach is in Posto 1, and Copacabana is between Posto 2 and Posto 6. Ipanema Beach is the one between Posto 7 and Posto 10. The last two stops, Postos 11 and 12, are where you will find Leblon Beach.


Even though this division might sound complicated at first, it will help you to get around. You will find tourists from all over the world in the famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. 

Leblon Beach

If you’re looking for locals, go to Leblon. This trendy beach is where you can find many Brazilian celebrities. On the other hand, the calm vibe of Leme Beach is perfect for those traveling with kids.


The South Zone also includes other beaches outside the 12 stops, such as Botafogo, Urca, and Aterro do Flamengo. You can find less crowded beaches in the West Zone, especially in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood.


However, if you’re looking for an idyllic beach that only locals go to, visit the nearby city of Niterói. Itacoatiara Beach, for example, has incredible views and crystal clear waters that attract many surfing enthusiasts. 

Favorite parks and hiking trails in Rio de Janeiro

In Rio de Janeiro, you will find the third largest urban forest in the world, Tijuca National Park. This 9,000 acres park has caves, hiking paths, waterfalls, and top tourist attractions, such as Pedra da Gávea and Corcovado. If you want to explore the jungle without all the hassle of a day-long hike, visit Primatas Waterfall, an easy 30 minutes trail path.

To appreciate the local nature from a safe distance, go to Parque Lage. This park has a beautiful Roman palace and astonishing views from Sugarloaf Mountain. You can enjoy the landscape while having brunch at Plage Café.


We also recommend a visit to Quinta da Boa Vista, in the São Cristóvão neighborhood. This park was the official home of the Portuguese Royal Family in Brazil until the 19th century. Be amazed by the beautiful architecture. Walk around the well-curated gardens designed by Auguste Glaziou. Other top attractions to include on your bucket list are the Botanical Garden and Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon.

Top Museums to visit in Rio de Janeiro


Rio has traditional neighborhoods that invite you to travel back in time. Explore the Portuguese architecture and excellent museums in the city center. Stumble around the historical buildings in Largo dos Guimarães and jump on a classic yellow tram in the Santa Teresa neighborhood. Nearby, at Lapa, you can find one of the most instagrammable places in Rio — Escadaria Selarón. The colorful stairway represents a tribute to Brazil painted by the artist Jorge Selarón.


To discover the modern architecture of Rio, go to the Boulevard Olímpico on the Ancient Port. The buildings created for the 2016 Summer Olympics follow a contemporary art style. You will be amazed by the impressive design of the Museum of Tomorrow and the colorful graffiti of the local artist Eduardo Kobra. To find out more about Brazilian art, visit the Museum of Modern Art (MAM), located 15 minutes away by car.

Bondinho do Pão de Açúcar_Rio de Janeiro
Sugar Loaf mountain at sunset

The best views of Rio de Janeiro


Here you will find our recommendations with the best spots to enjoy the city’s landscape. Even if you don’t have the time to visit them all, don’t worry — Rio is such a beautiful city that you will encounter breathtaking views whenever you are.


Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain is a must-see attraction in Rio. You can get there by cable car or bondinho, as locals call it. Established in 1912, this is one of the first cable cars in the world. The trip from Urca to Sugarloaf Mountain doesn’t take long; once you arrive there, you’ll be amazed by the panoramic views of Guanabara Bay. Located 396 meters above sea level, you can have a privileged view of Copacabana beach and also the Christ the Redeemer statue. Local tip: visit it later in the afternoon to experience one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.

Cristo Redentor Rio de Janeiro

Christ the Redeemer


The statue of Christ the Redeemer was elected one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the ultimate symbol of Rio de Janeiro and a must-see for first-time visitors. The statue of Jesus Christ is located 709 meters above sea level, on the top of Corcovado Hill. Built in 1931, it is 30 meters high. You can take a selfie with the statue or just appreciate panoramic views of Guanabara Bay and Sugarloaf Mountain.


Sunset at Arpoador


The small rocky beach of Arpoador is between Ipanema and Copacabana. It might not catch your attention during the day, but it certainly will at sunset. All Cariocas go there to appreciate the sun dipping into the sea. You might even hear an enthusiastic applause for the sun’s elegant performance. 

Fort of Copacabana


This military fort is on Posto 6, the last stop of Copacabana beach. Inside the fort, you will find a history museum and also the traditional cafe Confeitaria Colombo. Take your time to appreciate the sea views accompanied by delicious sweets or a caipirinha with friends.


Best restaurants and bars in Rio de Janeiro


You will find several options of restaurants and bars in Rio de Janeiro. We highly recommend Empório Jardim IMS as this cafe has been elected 11 times in a row as the best place for breakfast in the city. If you prefer to take your morning coffee with ocean views, book a table at Arp in the Ipanema neighborhood. Another option is Talho Capixaba bakery in Leblon, where you can find homemade bread and delicious sweets.


After spending your morning at the beach, head to Braseiro da Gávea or Boteco Rainha at Leblon for a casual lunch. If you want to taste the traditional Brazilian barbecue, our suggestion is the trendy Assador. Located in the Aterro do Flamengo neighborhood, you will be able to enjoy a delicious meal while appreciating the views of Guanabara Bay.

Rio is popping up with Michelin-starred restaurants, such as the French bistrot Chez Claude in Leblon and the Italian Pici Trattoria at Ipanema. We also recommend the pizzeria Coltivi in Botafogo for a casual dinner. For an authentic dining experience, book a table at Dida Bar e Restaurante or Afro Gourmet. Both restaurants serve African cuisine combined with local flavors.  


Top places to enjoy the nightlife in Rio de Janeiro


There are several neighborhoods to enjoy Rio’s vibrant nightlife. At the South Zone, head to Dias Ferreira Street in Leblon. Here you have plenty of options, such as the tapas bar Venga! and the Italian snack bar Stuzzi. We highly recommend the creative cocktails of Garoa Bar e Lounge inspired by the different trails of the Camino de Santiago in Europe.


For the ultimate night-out experience, go to Lapa. There are great bars, nightclubs, and concerts in this bohemian neighborhood. To explore the famous Brazilian samba, you can visit Pedra do Sal, known for its authentic outdoor samba performances every Friday night.

Is Rio de Janeiro dangerous?


As in many big cities around the world, some neighborhoods are safer than others. Location is essential for a safe stay in Rio. In addition to that, you can follow some guidelines to avoid unnecessary risks:


  • During the day, opt for cycling over public transportation. This city is so beautiful that you will prefer to enjoy the views by bike
  • Don’t leave your belongings unattended on the beach when you go for a swim.
  • Avoid using expensive items that could call unnecessary attention to you. This includes jewelry, expensive watches, and professional cameras.
  •  Keep your belongings closer to you in public spaces, such as in bars and restaurants.
  • Avoid walking on the streets at night, especially if you’re alone. Take an Uber or a 99 instead, even for short distances.
  • Be aware of your surroundings before picking up your phone or wallet.
  • Under no circumstances accept a ride from strangers. If you’re lost, ask for directions in a store or restaurant and, if necessary, ask them to call a taxi for you.

Cariocas are very welcoming. By following these simple precautions, you will be able to make the most of your visit to the city. 

Are you looking for a place to stay in Rio de Janeiro? Discover luxury apartments in the best neighborhoods with Casai. Book your high-end stay today.