Rio de Janeiro brims with life and culture, music and dancing. For travelers with limited time, the number of sites to see may seem overwhelming. Between natural attractions, historical sites, museums, nightlife, and shopping, Rio de Janeiro has something for everyone. The following sites offer a perfect introduction to the city.
1. Sugar Loaf Mountain
Sometimes the best way to see a city is to step back and enjoy the view. Surging skyward almost 400 feet, Sugar Loaf Mountain is a granite behemoth with superlative views over Rio de Janeiro. A cable car ascends the cliff side throughout the day but for great snapshots and panoramic views, head there at twilight when a purple-rose sun sinks behind the city.
2. Christ the Redeemer Statue
If Rio could be boiled down to one image, many people would agree that the Christ the Redeemer Statue (also known as Corcovado) would be its icon. White arms stretch out across the sky as you ascend the stairs or climb the mountain via train. Recently cleaned, the white facade of the Redeemer looks out over Rio with a majestic presence. Weekday visitors will be rewarded with fewer crowds but even on a cloudy day, a visit to the statue isn’t to be missed.
3. Teatro Municipal
Built in 1909, the Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro is a Parisian-style opera house. Glamor, luxury and decadence emanate through the halls of this theater. From its light-bathed atrium to velvet seats, the building offers visitors a glimpse into Brazilian architecture as well as an opportunity to see a fine arts performance. Each visitor is greeted by the Carlos Gomes statue upon entrance of the property and concert schedules provide an array of entertainment.
4. Sao Bento Monastery
Representing an oasis of peace within the metropolis, the Sao Bento Monastery is a Benedictine compound dating back to the 1640’s. Inside the chapel, red and gold rooms accent a retreat that is both opulent and pensive. Simple pews invite visitors to sit and think while intricate carvings emit tranquility. On Sundays, visitors can experience the exultation of Gregorian chants that are performed onsite.
5. Forte de Copacabana
Fans of stone forts and big canons will love Rio’s Forte de Copacabana. Perched over the sea with grey-tan stones dotted by window lookouts, this fort offers affordable tours through the complex with discounts for children and students. The seaside promenade opens to a breeze with views of Copacabana Beach. A little cafe, Confeitaria Colombo serves light meals for a great lunch at a historic locale.