Rio de Janeiro in 48 hrs

It’s big, busy and can be little overwhelming if the city life is not your thing. But, surprisingly enough, Rio de Janiero has become one of my favourite cities in South America to explore — the people, the scenery, the energy.

Rio de Janeiro is a coastal city made up of the beaches from Copacabana and Ipanema. If nothing I enjoy more, I truly appreciate the option being able to skip between beaches in a short space of time.

There is so much to do, to see and to eat! If you are ever in a rush (possibly on your way to other cities in Brazil), I’ve curated a guide on how to see the best of Rio in 48hrs.

Where to Stay 

The views over Rio de Janiero are endlessly breathtaking. All the blues and hues. Aforementioned, Rio is big and sprawling but to be in the midst of everything, you can simply check into Praia Ipanema Hotel right on the hit strip of the Ipanema beach. This is only walking distance away from the beach. Also, to add to the scenery,  it has an infinity pool that overlooks the city and with the “Morro Dois Irmaos” mountain in the backdrop.

Average pricing: $150 per/night


Praia Ipanema Hotel

Cafe O’ Clock 

Rio de Janiero is not big on coffee drinking, in fact, Brazil on a whole is not a hub known for its coffee culture. But thanks to a few coffee shop owners, that is now changing. If you are in the mood to grab a quick cup of espresso or to slow it down a bit for a French Press in between sightseeing, be sure to visit Sofá Café. Located in Copacabana; a block behind the Copacabana Palace Hotel, the fairly new cafe is known for it’s colourful, quirky vibes and with choices of iced-cold coffees. A rare find in the ever so warm temperatures of Rio.


Sofá Café (Vivi na Viagem‏)

Spend the morning at Christ the Redeemer

Aside from being one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World“, Christ the Redeemer is a pretty legendary tourist attraction for a reason. I was quite impressed when I first visited in 2014. Mount on the top of the Cocorvado Hill, the 38 meters statue is the number one tourist attraction in Rio, not to mention in Brazil.

Trying to visit here can be tricky. I suggest you go in the early morning/early afternoon as getting tickets can be difficult. You can also try to purchase online here: Trem do Corcovado 

Also, with being over 610 meters above sea level the weather can be quite unpredictable.

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Christ the Redeemer (Elizeu Dias)

Sunset at the beach in Ipanema 

I revisited Brazil in 2 years ago as I was a Volunteer for the 2016 Olympics. Surprisingly, this time around, I was a bit more flexible and had more time to fully enjoy some of the best sunsets the coast had to offer. Carve out an evening for the beach and let it stretch into the golden hour. You can also share your beach time between Copacabana, though Ipanema is where you get the best sunsets.


Ipanema Beach (Flickr)

Views from the Sugarloaf Mountain

One of my favourite spots to be when visiting Rio. A cable car takes you up to the Sugarloaf Mountain where once again another location for panoramic views over the city. In the backdrop, you are also able to see Christ the Redeemer on the highest point.

I have visited both in the afternoon and for the sunset. If you would like to visit for the evening sunset, bring a jacket. It gets really windy and cold once the sun is going down.

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Sugarloaf Mountain ( SecretEscapes)

Where to Eat:

Espiritu Santo: typical Brazilian Cuisine. Eat like a Carioca! 🙂

Djalma Burger Bistrô: you can’t go wrong with homemade burgers and wine.  

Sofá Café: one of my obvious choices for cafe and a light sandwich. 

Curto Cafe: another recommended cafe to name. 


Thanks to Agustín Diaz for allowing me to use his photo as the cover.

Happy Travels!

Read next: A Guide to New York City

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