Outdoor & Road Trip

A weekend in Rio de Janeiro: A 3-Day Itinerary

If you’ve been wanting to explore Rio but don’t know where to start, then squint no remoter than this Rio de Janeiro travel guide: we have put together the perfect itinerary so that your three days in Rio are filled with heady experiences and unforgettable places. With this itinerary, you will get to explore the weightier of Rio de Janeiro, from beaches to landmarks and all the vibrant municipality culture in between — all of the weightier things to do in Rio de Janeiro (within a short time frame, as you could hands fill up a whole month of your life here, expressly during Rio de Janeiro Carnival).

Rio de Janeiro, known by Brazilians as Cidade Maravilhosa (Wonderful City), is a paradise of stunning beaches, vibrant culture and unique attractions. Whether you’re looking for venture or relaxation, Rio has something to offer everyone – and if you only have three days to explore this incredible city, we have the perfect itinerary for your weekend getaway to Rio de Janeiro. As a Brazilian national, I’ve been to Rio over eight times and have come up with this 3-day itinerary to help you make the most of your weekend in Rio de Janeiro.

This 3-day Rio De Janeiro itinerary will take you to the city’s must-see attractions, including historical places, beaches, and viewpoints like Sugarloaf mountain, Corcovado and the Christ Redeemer statue, Selaron stairs, Ipanema waterfront and Copacabana beach. You will moreover have time to explore some of the city’s cultural attractions like the Lapa Arches, Botanical Gardens, and the Parque das Ruinas — plus a few subconscious gems that only locals know about.

Before moving on to the rest of this Rio de Janeiro travel guide, let’s imbricate some of the basics, like the weightier time to visit Rio de Janeiro, where to stay in Rio de Janeiro and how to get virtually in Rio de Janeiro.

A weekend in Rio de Janeiro: A 3-Day Itinerary
A weekend in Rio de Janeiro: A 3-Day Itinerary

The weightier time to visit Rio de Janeiro

The weightier time to visit Rio de Janeiro is during the summer months (December-March). I don’t often recommend visiting places in peak travel months, but there is honestly nothing like experiencing Rio in summer. It’s just the perfect time to visit Rio de Janeiro considering that’s when this magical municipality comes alive! December is when you get the most special wipe sunsets over the ocean (before the sun moves and sets overdue the Morro dos Dois Irmaos); in January, you get to be in Rio for NYE, and by February and/or March, it’s Carnival, and there is so many street parties, sambas, and events to go to. So if you’re looking to get the weightier of Rio, then the weightier time to go is during the summer months! Be warned, temperatures do reach virtually 40c some days, and Rio is a very humid city, so prepare to sweat.

However, if anything or everything I mentioned whilom sounds like too much, then Rio is moreover a municipality you can visit scrutinizingly all year round. Rio temperatures are very summery during their winter months, circa 15-18c, making it a pleasant temperature to travel in during off-peak or shoulder seasons. Prices for walk-up and flights will moreover waif quite a bit, so this is a good option if you want to get increasingly zinger for your buck!

How to get to Rio de Janeiro

Rio has two airports: Santos Dumont (SDU) and Galeão International Airport (GIG). Both are relatively tropical to the municipality centre, but GIG is farther away.

Public transportation from both airports, such as taxis, buses and shuttles, is available. Reaching downtown Rio takes well-nigh 45 minutes by taxi from GIG and 15-20 minutes from SDU.

Getting virtually in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is a relatively easy municipality to get around. The most popular way to get virtually the municipality is by foot, uber, metro and tram.

As a foreigner, uber is the most cost-beneficial transport to take virtually the municipality if travelling short (40mins) distances. However, traffic can get quite heavy at unrepealable times of day (rush hour, without heavy showers and during carnival). So depending on where you’re going, the metro could be faster, cheaper and increasingly reliable.

A metro ticket financing R$ 6.50 for a single ticket. You can find all the metro prices here. Rio has introduced contactless payment for the metro system so you can simply use your travel vellum or phone to pay.

A tram ticket financing R$ 4.05 for a single ticket. These need to be bought at the machines at the tram stops. These machines don’t take credit cards, so you’ll need some mazuma with you to purchase it and top up.

As a unstipulated rule of thumb, if you’re staying lanugo Copacabana and Zona Sul (“South Zone”), you’ll be getting virtually by foot or by uber. If you want to throne to the old centre of town (Lapa and Santa Teresa), it’s easier to use the metro and tram system.

Where to stay in Rio de Janeiro

Depending on your upkeep and preferences, there are many places to stay in Rio de Janeiro. There is a selection of hostels for those travelling on the cheap, plus some unconfined mid-range options such as AirBnBs or hotels with sea views. However, if you are a traveller travelling on, a budget, then peak season might still be on the expensive side, plane for hostels. Rio de Janeiro is quite a difficult municipality to find upkeep accommodation, but my biggest tip is to typesetting in whop and squint into Airbnb! These tend to be the most cost-efficient options when looking for where to stay in Rio de Janeiro.

As this is just a weekend itinerary for Rio de Janeiro, the only region I’d recommend staying at is Zona Sul, virtually Ipanema, Copacabana, Lapa and Santa Teresa.

If you’re looking for a hostel, you’ll want to trammels out the hostel accommodations in Rio de Janeiro below:

  • Che Lagarto Ipanema
  • Che Lagarto Copacabana
  • Ipanema Waterfront Hostel
  • Mambembe Hostel
  • Selina Copacabana
  • Selina Lapa

And for mid-high-range hotels, trammels out the ones below:

  • Miramar by Windsor Copacabana
  • Riale Vilamar Copacabana
  • Guest House Bianca
  • Mercure Rio Boutique Hotel Copacabana

Without remoter ado, here are The weightier things to do in Rio De Janerio.

A 3-day itinerary for Rio de Janeiro: The Weightier Things To Do in Rio De Janeiro

Day 1 in Rio De Janeiro

Rio can be an intimidating city, so day one should be well-nigh getting to know it and finding your feet a bit. And there’s no largest way of getting to know your way virtually than with your feet! So for your first worriedness of the day, join the self-ruling walking tour in Lapa & Downtown Rio. This is a 3-hour walking tour that will take you through some of Rio’s most iconic landmarks and attractions, such as the Arcos da Lapa and Selaron Steps.

After the tour, walk up to Santa Teresa, an old neighbourhood with its unique culture, for lunch. It has wilt a hub for those looking for up-and-coming restaurants and gastronomy lovers. There is a wide variety of cuisines here. Still, as this is a neighbourhood where the first Italian immigrants settled, there are many Italian restaurant options, but moreover many Botecos (this is a type of restaurant that Brazilians go to for traditional Brazilian supplies and drinks). The street where most restaurants are located is rua do Lazer. Take a walk up the street and just take your pick! Some of the most popular restaurants are:

  • Bar do Mineiro
  • Cafe do Alto
  • Adega do Pimenta
  • Mô Cafe

Here you can moreover find art galleries, craft shops and much more, so it’s a pleasant neighbourhood to walk around.

I will requite you two options for the rest of the afternoon: either remain in Santa Teresa and throne to Parque das Ruinas, an old house turned into a park with a wonderful view of the city. It is moreover home to a small amphitheatre, where you can shepherd interesting cultural events or concerts. See what’s on here. Alternatively, make your way when through the centre of town to make your way to Museum do Amanha (Museum of Tomorrow). The Museum of Tomorrow is one of the most iconic futuristic buildings in Rio and is located directly on the waterfront. The museum focuses on sustainable development, showcasing unique ideas that could shape our future environment. It was one of the weightier museums I’ve been to in a long time, and I highly recommend it. Tickets forfeit R$ 30, and you can buy them online on this website. The last entry is at 5 pm, so ensure you get there at least 20 minutes surpassing latter time to guarantee you’ll get in.

Day 2 in Rio De Janeiro

Early start for day 2, but it’ll be worth it as you’ll visit one of the most iconic locations in Rio: The Christ Redeemer! This is arguably one of the weightier things to do in Rio de Janeiro and arguably one of the weightier things to do in Brazil.

Either typesetting yourself onto a tour with a tour guide or simply make your way your own way to Christ Redeemer. There are four ways to get to the Christ Redeemer:

  1. By van – simply find the nearest pick-up point (Largo do Machado, Praça do Lido or Paineiras), typesetting your tickets online (R$ 117 in upper season and R$ 95 in low season) and make sure you sign up for the primeval pickup time 8 am. Tickets are misogynist to buy online here.
  2. By train – pre-book your tickets online (R$ 109,50 in upper season, R4 87,50 in low season), and throne to Cosme Velho train station for the first train that departs at 8 am. You can buy tickets online here.
  3. By uber or taxi – this is for those who are eager to write-up the first train or vans that victorious to be at the queue for 8 am to stave crowds or people. You’ll still need to pay for a van or train ticket as there are no separate tickets for the christ.
  4. Tour operators – these are organised tours that have their own private van that takes travellers up to the Christ. These tours often include other locations like Mirante da Dona Marta and/or the Sambodromo
A weekend in Rio de Janeiro: A 3-Day Itinerary

From 8-9am, take the time to explore the christ redeemer, take postcard pictures, and enjoy the view from the top. The views from here are definitely breathtaking, but there’s flipside viewpoint relatively tropical by that I had to include in this Rio de Janeiro travel guide: Mirante da Dona Marta (Dona Marta viewpoint).

Even if you haven’t booked a tour that includes a visit to this viewpoint, you can still make your way there yourself. It just ways a bit of a back-and-forth if you want to make your way when lanugo with your van/train ticket. Take an uber to the drop-off point of the viewpoint, and it’s just a short walk from there. The views are incredible! What I love the most well-nigh this particular viewpoint is that you can see an unrestricted view of Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) and Gloria Bay. This is probably one of my favourite spots in Rio and, in my opinion, one of the weightier things to do in Rio de Janeiro. 

After a morning of view on views on views, you’ve probably worked yourself up an appetite, so the next stop for the day is brunch! And not any brunch, brunch at Parque Lage in Jardm Botanico (Botanical Gardens). Parque Lage is a trappy mansion with large unshut grounds and gardens near the Botanical Gardens. You can see their menu and website here. Plane though the sideboard is technically in the botanical gardens, you don’t need to buy a ticket to the Botanical Garden to eat there (but you’ll soon learn this Rio de Janeiro Travel guide will take you to the Botanical Gardens anyway!).

As a big brunch fan, having brunch at Plage Sideboard is one of the weightier things to do in Rio de Janeiro! The location is epic, the menu is delicious, and it’s definitely insta-worthy! It’s first come, first serve, so be ready to queue.

After a big brunch and a full morning, there’s still much of the day left to explore. Take an hour or two of the afternoon to explore the Botanical Gardens. This is simply one of the weightier things to do in Rio de Janeiro. The main attractions within the park are the orchid and cactus greenhouses and the ‘imperial’ palm trees that stretch up to 40 metres high!

Tickets for foreigners forfeit R$ 67, and students can get half-price tickets. Naughty tip: if you’re in a group with Brazilians or plane just flipside Brazilian, you can struggle to buy a Brazilian resident ticket for R$ 27. No one at the archway really asked for documentation.

The rest of the afternoon is yours to enjoy by the beach! Either Copacabana or Ipanema beach. As a Brazilian native, my favourite urban waterfront is Ipanema; it’s a increasingly trappy waterfront and lesser tourists. The weightier “posts” to stay at are between Posto 9-11.

Grab a chair and umbrella, sit when and relax and order yourself a caipirinha. Oh, and definitely try the pursuit foods that they sell on the beach:

  • Queijo coalho na brasa (a type of cheese grilled with oregano)
  • Chá matte
  • Milho (corn a on cob)
  • Açai

*If you had to Copacabana, be sure to throne to Copacabana Palace Hotel as the weightier gelateria in town has a store under the hotel; it’s tabbed Momo Gelato. There is moreover one near Leblon if you’re in Ipanema, but it’s a few streets up from the beach.

Keep your vision on the time, though, as you’ll want to make your way to Arpoador well-nigh 45mins surpassing sunset so you can get the weightier spot on the rocks to watch the weightier sunset in Rio! It’s a literal show, and everyone claps the minute the sun goes down!

Day 3 in Rio De Janeiro

One of the most popular things to do in Rio is paragliding. If this is something you’ve wanted to do, then this is the morning to do it (albeit this depends on the winds), but most tour operators have morning and afternoon slots. It financing anywhere between R$ 650- R$ 800 reais to take a flight, but everyone says it’s so worth it! Below are some tour companies you can get in touch with to typesetting your paragliding experience:

  • Asa Delta Brasil
  • Rio Centro Voo Livre

Paragliding takes place in São Conrado, which is well-nigh a 40-minute momentum from Ipanema beach; it’s the waterfront on the other side of Morro dos Dois Irmaos.

If paragliding isn’t your thing, but you want to do something venturesome and outdoorsy, there’s moreover a hike you could take for sunrise: the Morro dos Dois Irmaos hike. This is a 2-3hr hike (there and back) and is quite steep, so it’s an easy-moderate hike. This hike has to be washed-up with a guide as the path isn’t that obvious, and the hike starts at the favela do Vidigal. There’s one guide I know who takes travellers on this hike. You can WhatsApp Alexandre here. (Obs. I’m unsure of his level of English, but he can probably recommend English-speaking guides!).

A weekend in Rio de Janeiro: A 3-Day Itinerary

7. Make the most of the nightlife

If both of the options whilom sound like too much, then one of my favourite things to do on a Sunday morning in Rio is to go for an early morning walk virtually the Lagoa or Ipanema sidewalk. On Sundays, the road is sealed to cars and unshut to the public to walk, ride their bikes and skateboard!

Most of your last day should be spent enjoying the ocean by the beach. This is literally one of the weightier things to do in Rio de Janeiro, as the beaches there are Caribbean-like, and the vibe is just on-point. The urban beaches in Zona Sul are wondrous and easy to get to, so either throne when to Ipanema/Copacabana or, if you finger like subtracting flipside waterfront to your list, Praia Vermelha or Praia do Leme. 

If you fancy heading a bit remoter out, then heading to Praia da Barra da Tijuca is a unconfined option for you to spend your last day. Barra is well-nigh an hour’s car ride from Copacabana/Ipanema area. This waterfront is popular amongst surfers, kites and windsurfers. Praia da Barra stretches for 6km, one of the cleanest beaches in Rio. Like the Postos, in Ipanema, Kiosks are points of reference at the beach. Kiosk 8 is a popular point and a good zone to wiring yourselves for the day.

If surfing is your thing, then I’d recommend heading a little bit remoter up the tailspin from Barra to Prainha. This is the point of surfing, and several surf schools rent surfboards and offer lessons. The waterfront is moreover stunning and much quieter than other beaches, so not only for surfers!

As you can see, all you’ve got to do on your last day is take your pick of what waterfront you want to go to, and that’s you for the day.

The only other thing to leave time for is to take the subscription car to Pão de Açucar (Sugar Loaf Mountain). Sugarloaf Mountain is an iconic symbol of Rio and cannot be left ou this Rio de Janeiro travel guide! Tickets forfeit R$ 150, and the last entry is at 6:30 pm in the summer months, you can purchase tickets directly via their website here. As there are usually queues, victorious circa 45mins surpassing the last entry to ensure you can get on!

And there you have it! A full-on 3-day itinerary in Rio de Janeiro. From hiking in the early morning to paragliding and sunset walks withal the beach, it’s a municipality that has tonnes to offer and is the perfect destination for a weekend yonder (and a longer trip!).

That’s all for this Rio de Janeiro travel guide; I hope your time in Rio de Janeiro is as wondrous as mine was! Enjoy the beaches, music, vibes and venture – you won’t regret it!

explore SOUTH AMERICA on THE blog here

Have you been to Rio de Janeiro?

What are your top things to do in Lençóis Maranhenses? Anything you’d add to this Brazil skillet list?

Love as unchangingly and happy adventuring… 

Did you find this post helpful? I’d love you to share it for me.

Pin and save this blog post for later…