Are you planning your trip to Rio de Janeiro? Unsure how to fit all Rio’s top attractions into just two days? We’ve got your back, with our guide on how to spend a weekend in Rio de Janeiro.
We’ve compiled our ideal itinerary for one weekend in Rio de Janeiro to help you make the most our of your limited time in Brazil’s ‘Marvellous City’.
Friday in Rio de Janeiro
If you arrive on Friday afternoon, head straight to Rio’s beaches. Sandwiched neatly between Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, you’ll find Arpoador Rock. Join the crowds on the rocks, with magnificent views over both neighbourhoods, the city skyline and the sunset. When the sun goes down, take a stroll along the beachfront of either Copacabana or Ipanema, choosing from the range of dinner options. Try your first “by the kilo” restaurant or hit one of Rio’s trendy food establishments.
If you’re looking for a party afterwards, it doesn’t get much better than Arcos de Lapa on a Friday night, which turns into a big street party. Be warned: if you’re planning on sampling Brazil’s iconic caipirinha, this local favourite is deceptively strong. Go easy if you want to pack in a full day of sightseeing on Saturday!
If you prefer to stay in Zona Sul area, places like Plataforma Show and Ginga Tropical offer a daily performance of brazilian rythms and culture. Preferring a party? then a Pub Crawl in Lapa will take you to visit several pubs and a Samba dance club
Saturday in Rio de Janeiro
Aim to fit in the bulk of your sightseeing today. If it’s sunny, get a jump start on the crowds and head to Sugar Loaf Mountain or Corcovado, where the giant Christ the Redeemer Statue is perched above the city. After taking in the spectacular views, head down to the shady Tijuca Forest, the largest urban forest in the world. Finally, make your way to the city centre for a tour of Rio’s historical buildings and museums.
To maximise your time and fit in as many Rio attractions as you can, book a city tour. The Rio Full Day Tour visits Rio’s highlights and top attractions, along with an expert tour guide who will fill you in on all you need to know about Rio.
If shopping is on your agenda for your trip to Rio, remember that while the malls are open on Sundays, the majority of street shops are not. Take a half-day Express tour of Rio de Janeiro instead and then spend your afternoon at the city’s best shopping spots. Hit the Rio Sul Mall, one of the largest shopping centres in the city, or head to a more traditional market at the Old Rio Market ( Feira do Rio Antigo), taking place the first Saturday of every month in the Lapa district. If you’re looking for smaller boutique shops, visit the Rua Visconde de Pirajá in Ipanema or Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva in Leblon. Alternatively, swing by the neighbourhood of Santa Teresa for its art galleries and handicraft stores.
End the day by exploring Rio’s legendary nightlife. If it’s pre-Carnival season, attend a samba school rehearsal to get a taste of the world’s biggest Carnival party. Otherwise head to Rio Scenarium, one of the best famous nightlife spots in Brazil. With three floors, this restaurant, bar and club is the perfect place to listen to live music or dance the night away to Rio’s samba rhythms.
Sunday in Rio de Janeiro:
Spend your last day in Rio enjoying what the city is most famous for: its beaches! Grab your sunscreen and hat, rent a beach chair and soak up the sun, sand and waves. You’ll be spoilt for choice when choosing which beach to visit, so read our handy guide to Rio’s best beaches to help you make up your mind.
For those that can’t face lazing on the beach all day, take a cultural trip to the Copacabana fort or add some activity to your day by renting a bike and cycling along the promenade or visiting the city’s parks. If you’re looking for a bit more adrenaline, step up the tempo with a surfing lesson, a hike up Pedra da Gavea, or hang-glide over the city for spectacular views.
Rio has something for everyone, whether you’re a beach bum, history lover, shopaholic or sporty traveller. Don’t try to fit it everything in – tailor your itinerary to your interests to ensure a memorable weekend in Rio de Janeiro.
Finally, keep in mind that Rio sits in a tropical zone and clouds and rain are common year-round. It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast before your visit so that you can choose the sunniest day for activities like Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corcovado that need a clear day for you to fully appreciate the spectacular views!
Rio Nightlife Guide: updated local guide with local events, shows and performances in the city.
Tours and activities in Rio: from city tours to local experiences,book online travel related services in Rio.
Written by: Nicole Eberhard