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"Must See and Do" if only spending 3 days in Rio de Janeiro!

edited July 2014
This is a question for our local friends in Brazil and specifically in Rio de Janeiro.

What are the must interesting things to do in Rio de Janeiro if only spending three days there?

Hint: I'm a morning person, enjoy long walks and good coffee. Where do locals hang out? I like doing just a couple of things per day, not interest in seeing it all in one hour, I rather take it easy and enjoy the moment. So, If I have to visit only 5 places in Rio, what would they be?

I did found these articles on the Internet, where they obviously point you to the touristic spots:

I like the last one, frommer's itineraries, although they pack too much in one single day, I rather just visit one or two things per day and enjoy the rest sketching.

Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.... and local point of view.


  • I'm with you Orling - less is more, especially when it's hot and even more so when you need time to sketch.
  • Hello. I live in Rio and i think that Corcovado is a must see. Beautiful view and it´s good to understand the city.
    Some nice spots to visit and sketch: Streets near Praça XV (old town/downtown) - crowded during week;
    Santa Teresa, some nice houses and restaurants, good view;
    Jardim Botânico (Botanic Garden) inside forest and near the mountains. Nice views, some old buildings to skethc and a good Café, La Byciclette.
    Urca: draw boats and a nice Bar. Beach neighbourhood...use a bike...Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabana (popular), than go to Lagoa.
    And more....
    I´m inviting sketchers to draw together before and/or after the USK Paraty.
    Needing any help....
  • Thanks Gerson! I look forward to visiting some of your recommended spots, and also to accidentally bumping into other sketchers there due to your recommendation :-)
  • I'm also going to be in Rio for only about three days after the Symposium, so your recommendations are very helpful! I also like to ride a bicycle, so I'd like to rent a bike and ride/sketch along the beach if opportunity arises.
  • edited July 2014
    Thank you Gerson! this is a pretty good list. Looking forward to it!
  • Great discussion! I will definitely make a list of your suggestions Gerson! Thank you very much!
  • Hey Gerson, I am also organizing sketch meetings on Rio, so let´s keep in talk. I was thinking to create a topic just to organize them.

    I agree with all the places Gerson pointed, but there are so many places, 3 days in Rio are not nearly enough, you need at least 10 to know the city better.

    But as you just have 3, I would recommend that places:

    1) Downtown: where you have the best of Rio´s architecture, from the colonial times (1600) to modern/contemporany architecture. I recommend you to visit these places:

    - Praça XV area (arco dos teles, travessa do comercio, paço municipal).

    - Rio Branco avenue (business center). Stop at Livraria da Travessa bookstore.

    - Cinelândia square (most beautiful ecletic architecture) and surroudings (iconic brasilian modern architecture)

    - SAARA, the open popular market, with an huge collection of popular ecletic architecture.

    - Parque do Flamengo, where you have MAM museum, Santos Dummont airport, Pracinhas monument and the Flamengo park.

    - Lapa and Santa Teresa (Lapa arcs, selaron staircase and Parque das Ruínas)

    Must see: As you like coffee, don´t miss the Colombo bakery/cafe. It is the only one remaining of the "belle époque", really beautiful. image

    I now it is impossible to go to all these in just 3 days, but at least you can choose 3-5 of then. =)

  • Part 2

    Jardim Botânico, Botafogo and Lagoa: green neighborhoods of the city

    - Jardim Botânico: visit the botanic garden and parque lage

    - Botafogo: Botafogo beach (great view), Santa Marta favela

    - Lagoa: you can walk or bycicle while watching beautiful views. I recommend Catacumba park if you like trials.

    - Corcovado: it has an amazing view of the city, but check the weather forecast first. image


  • Part 3

    Copacabana area: beach time!

    - Copacabana: probably the most well know beach of Rio, it is also a very important and busy neighborhood of Rio. Walk on the famous sidewalk, where you find people exercising and practicing sports all day. Go to Copacabana Fort, where you have a complete view of the beach while enjoying a good coffee or sweat.

    - Arpoador: small and charmous beach, go watch the sunset on the rocks, it is a great experience. image

    - Ipanema: attended most by the tourist and beautiful people.

    - Urca: visit the sugar loaf if you can, even if just in the lower mountain. You can make a trial up there for free. This neighborhood also has Praia Vermelha, a tiny beach between mountains and fishing places, where you can find modest boats to expensive yatches and a panoramic view of the Guanabara bay.

  • Part 4

    Others places I love:

    - Catete/Flamengo/Largo do Machado: first neighborhoods of the South zone, they keep lots of buildings of the 1800s. Guinle park and Catete park are lovely, romantic style.

    - São Cristovão / Tijuca: 2 neighborhoods of the North zone, the first one still keeps the old look while the second one is one of the busiest and important residential area of the city. Maracanã stadium, Quinta da Boa Vista park and São Cristovão pavilion.

    - Madureira: birth place of the samba, where the true Cariocas lives. The most important, busy, cheapest and craziest shopping place of Rio, you have 2 trains stations, 2 important samba schools (Portela is the best one to visit), the popular market (you can buy anything for small prices) and Madureira Park (second biggest, opened 2 years ago, the only one of the region).

    Hope I have helped you Orling and more people that want to visit Rio and have a full experience. I will have the week-off from work to meet people on Rio and on Paraty, so I want to do some tours and sketch.

    Sorry for the mistakes, I typed this very fast. If you still have any doubts just ask me. See you. =)
  • Thank you for great recommendations, Thais! Yes, I wish I could stay and sketch more than three days in Rio. While I am still looking for an area in Rio to stay, it seems that Copacabana has a lot of hotels to choose from (probably because it is busy and full of tourists). My coworker from Brazil also recommends visiting Sugar Loaf and Leblon area for relaxing, so I'll look into that as well. Thanks again!!
  • These are awesome suggestions Thais, thank you very much!
  • Shiho, I recommend Copacabana area because of the localization and goog range of transportation, 3 subway stations and bus to everywhere. Ipanema and Botafogo are also good options. Don´t go to Barra da Tijuca, it is very far, bad transportation and a lot of traffic.
  • Thanks Thais. Great suggestions. I think you are right, we need a discussion for sketching meetups in Rio :)
  • These are excellent suggestions, Thais! Thank you for taking the time to upload all those photos! So, I will only spend about 30 hours in Rio, arriving Sunday morning and leaving Monday evening. If I can only visit 2 or 3 places, what would you recommend? I'm staying at Atlantis Copacabana hotel, Rua Bulhões Carvalho, near Parque Garota de Ipanema.
  • Well seattlesketcher, as you don´t have much time try to do things next to your location and using the subway. Choose the best day according to the weather and your mood. Day 1 - Ipanema and/or Copacabana beach at morning, visit the Forte de Copacabana on the afternoon for a great view and watch the sunset on Arpoardor rocks. On the night you can stay on Copacabana sidewalk next to the beach, chatting maybe with others sketchers and enjoying the place and the weather. Day 2 - Botanic garden on the morning, than enjoy a good walk on Lagoa and go to Sugar Loaf or Corcovado on the afternoon. If the weather is good it is really a good experience to go at 16hs and waits till the sunset. Pay a lot of attention with the traffic on Monday.
  • Thank you, Thais. That's perfect!
  • Hi everyone!
    For further information about Rio, take a look on this link (PDF).
    And thank Thais Lima for your kind help!
  • Thank you Eduardo, great guide! Look forward to that sunset from either Corcovado or Sugar Loaf!
  • So many exciting possibilities!! :-) Does anyone know if there will be some kind of communication method for symposium participants to stay in touch the week after the symposium (or even the days before) so that small group events might be organized? Will this forum be used that way? Or FB? Or. . . ?

    - Tina
  • I would love to sketch from Corcovado and/or Sugar Loaf. After that I will go wherever everyone else wants to go :) How will we get in touch?
  • I vote on whatsapp, I think it is the easiest way.
  • edited August 2014
    Thais, I'm not sure my phone will work in Brazil, unless on a free wifi, which means I can't access whatsapp. Maybe whatsapp and the FB page?
  • Talking about myself, I have only one afternoon to sketch in Rio, I want to sketch Ipanema beach.
    As to communication method, like Sue mentioned, when I can access to free wifi, I prefer using FB or visit this this forum.
  • I recommend using this forum! We are already here.
  • Okay so, lots of wonderful ideas! Thank you Thais for putting this together. Could we settle on a meetup location and time? Is anyone interested in meeting at 9:00 am Sunday Aug 24 in the Praça XV area?
  • edited August 2014
    Brenda, I´m sure there are others that would like to join in on Sunday morning, but I think you´ll have to start a new thread to find any takers. This thread is so long and if you start reading at the top it´s hard to know that someone is trying to organize something at the bottom. ;)

  • thais on another thread recommended not going downtown on a sunday so I will join her on sunday at 10:00 at Botafogo station. I hope others will join too!
  • I've started collecting this information on a map here
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