If you think Rio de Janeiro is only beaches, think again! Museums, parks, bars, waterfalls, hikes, music… the list of what to do while in Rio is infinite. It’s not by chance that Rio’s nickname is Cidade Maravilhosa. It’s a city that embraces diversity and offers activities for all tastes and styles.

Being a pseudo carioca who has lived here almost my entire life, I confess to being deeply in love with the city. Therefore, I want to share with you my list of 50 essential must dos while in Rio:

  • Stroll through Jardim Botânico before having a few chopps at Baixo Gávea (better known as BG)
  • Dance the samba in Lapa at Bar Carioca da Gema
  • Eat queijo coalho and dance forró at the Feira de São Cristóvão aka Centro Luiz Gonzaga de Tradições Nordestinas
  • Take the children to the Planetarium in Leblon
  • Go cachaça tasting at Academia da Cachaça in either the Barra or Leblon
  • Eat carne-seca at Jobi in Leblon (if you can get a table)
  • Take a tandem hang gliding flight from Pedra Bonita in São Conrado
Tandem hang gliding
  • Spend an afternoon at the Paço Imperial
  • Rent bikes and pedal around the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas
  • Spend a Saturday at the Cobal shopping for organic fruit and veggies
  • Go to a concert at Sala Cecília Meireles
  • Relax while having breakfast at the Parque Lage in Jardim Botânico
  • Eat Biscoito Globo and drink mate limão on Leblon beach
photo: Malena
  • Have your photo stamped on a plate at Pão de Açúcar (corny, but why not?)
  • Look for your apartment or hotel from Corcovado
  • See an art exhibit at MAM (the Museum of Modern Art) on the Aterro do Flamengo
  • Go to a Fla-Flu game at Maracanã
Fla-Flu at Maracaña
  • Listen to a Gregorian chant at the Mosteiro de São Bento on a Sunday morning
  • Drink batidas de coco at Bar do Oswaldo in the Barrinha
  • Go to a Sunday concert at the Theatro Municipal
  • See Getúlio Vargas’ bed at Museu da República (a bit morbid, but why not)
  • Eat moqueca at Bira’s in Guaratiba
  • Give homage to Iemanjá, the goddess of the sea, on Copacabana beach a few days before New Year’s Eve
Homage to Iemanjá
  • Have lunch downtown at Confeitaria Colombo
  • Take the bondinho up to Santa Teresa to visit the Museu Chácara do Céu
  • While in Santa Teresa, eat carne do sol at any of the botecos
  • Visit N.S. da Glória church
  • Get inked in Arpoador at the Galeria River
photo: Malena
  • Have afternoon tea at Forte de Copacabana while watching the lights go on on Av. Atlântica
  • Drink a graviola juice at Bibi Sucos in Leblon
  • Watch a film at Instituto Moreira Salles in Gávea
  • Explore and experience applied sciences of the future at the Museu do Amanhã
  • Check out the ceramics at the Museu de Folclore Edison Carneiro
  • Eat seafood and watch live Brazilian popular music at Casarão Ameno Rosedá
  • Marvel at the books at the the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura downtown
  • Eat chicken hearts and linguiça with molho à campanha and farofa at Galeto Leblon
  • Stroll along the Claudio Coutinho path in Urca at sunset
  • Walk to the waterfall in Paineiras
  • Go to a rehearsal at the Salgueiro Samba School, and dance the samba!
  • Parade with a samba school at the Sambódromo
  • Spend an afternoon on Paquetá Island
  • Dance cheek to cheek at the gafieira Estudantina
  • Climb the Selarón Steps
Selaron steps
  • Enjoy an estupidamente gelada (ice cold beer) at Bar da Urca
  • Eat a risotto at Bar da Dona Maria (Café e Bar Brotinho) in Tijuca
  • Eat casquinha de siri at Prainha, one of the most beautiful beaches in Rio
Prainha beach
  • Visit the Cidade do Samba
  • Climb the trail up Pedra Bonita (the view at the top is worth the sweat)
  • Applaud the sunset at Arpoador
  • Soak in the carioca optimism and be happy!