Rio de Janeiro, Brazil cruises
A land bursting with natural beauty, exhilarating energy, golden beaches, and urban vibrancy, a cruise to Rio de Janeiro is certainly an unforgettable experience.
The outstretched arms of the world-famous Christ the Redeemer welcome you to a city rich in culture and a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, aromas, and tastes that invigorate the senses. From mountain peaks to lush emerald rainforests – the dramatic landscape is a postcard-perfect backdrop for the vibrant city that stretches out before it.
Rio de Janeiro port guide
Nestled in a picturesque bay on the southeast coast of Brazil lies the port of Pier Maua. As you cruise into the shimmering azure waters of Guanabara Bay, be swept away by your first glances of Sugarloaf Mountain as it rises dramatically from beneath the waves.
Just a short distance away lies the heart of Rio de Janeiro, where bustling Brazilian charm meets aesthetic splendor. Spend your day exploring the dramatic landscapes around Rio de Janeiro, discovering unique boutiques along the vibrant city streets, or perhaps relaxing on the iconic Ipanema beach. Sample all kinds of South American delicacies and mingle with the locals, or find a spot to dance or simply listen to the energetic sounds that provide the intoxicating heartbeat of the city.
Top landmarks and sights in Rio de Janeiro
From iconic monuments to silky sands, the landmarks and sights of Rio de Janeiro are plentiful.
Christ the Redeemer
Instantly recognisable and famous the world over, the towering Christ the Redeemer statue sits atop the summit of Corcovado Mountain. A symbol of Rio, the summit of the 125-foot-tall statue provides panoramic views across the city and the landscape beyond. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hike to the peak, or you can take a leisurely ride in the funicular if you prefer.
Tijuca National Park
Home to Corcovado Mountain and the unmissable Christ the Redeemer statue, Tijuca National Park is the largest stretch of urban jungle in the world. A spectacular spot for nature lovers, visitors can take a dip in one of the many natural pools and waterfalls that pepper this lush area of greenery, and explore the park’s panoramic hiking trails.
Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches
Over two and a half miles of warm, golden sands – Copacabana Beach is a sun-seekers paradise. Why not take a stroll along the unspoilt shoreline before enjoying a refreshing cocktail or two? Ipanema well and truly embodies Rio’s iconic beach culture, with visitors and locals alike taking to the sands for an afternoon spent basking in the sun or dipping in the warm, blue waters.
Arcos da Lapa
A hot spot within the city’s historic center, these mammoth white arches are a monument to Rio’s bohemian heritage. Also known as The Carioca Aqueduct, this colonial masterpiece - the largest in Brazil - welcomes partygoers from across Rio after the sun goes down. Surrounded by bars and clubs pouring the hypnotic sounds of samba, favela funk, and pagode into the street, this area comes alive with hundreds of stalls every Friday night, selling all manner of treats from fresh-baked pizzas to north-eastern acarajé (bean and onion cakes).
Things to do in Rio de Janeiro
Whether you’re an avid explorer or a seeker of a more laid-back atmosphere, there is something for everyone in Rio.
Take in the views atop Sugarloaf Mountain
Named for its unique shape, Sugarloaf Mountain sits at the entrance to Guanabara Bay, welcoming guests to the city. At 1,296 feet, the peak of this natural monument is reachable by cable car, and views from the top are nothing short of spectacular. With a birds-eye view over the city, you’ll also be treated to a perfect view of Christ the Redeemer standing proudly in the distance.
Experience La Lapa
Buzzing nightlife, boutique shopping, and a taste of carnival life await in the enticing neighborhood of La Lapa. Bars and restaurants line every block, while Feira Rio Antigo offers a range of unique antique and vintage shops to peruse for that unique souvenir.
Indulge your senses at the Botanical Garden
Step away from the busy city and into an urban oasis in the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden. A 19th century masterpiece, the gardens provide a tranquil paradise, swathed in color and natural beauty. Here, you can stroll through perfectly manicured gardens, observing thousands of varieties of tropical palm trees and delicate orchids, among other plants.
Explore Santa Teresa
Nestled within jungle-clad hills, Santa Teresa is the artistic heart of the city. Pastel-colored colonial mansions now house bucolic bars, artists’ studios, and some of the best restaurants in Rio. With picture-perfect views across the bay, Santa Teresa’s cobbled streets play host to craft fairs and street samba, all surrounded by breathtaking architecture.
Visit Lapa steps
Linking the bohemian neighborhoods of Lapa and Santa Teresa, this grand-scale artwork is a unique and awe-inspiring tribute to the Brazilian people. Appearing in music videos and attracting art lovers from around the world, the stairs are named after Chilean artist Jorge Selaron, whose distinctive artworks are interlaced with the brightly colored tiles that make up the stairwell.
Enjoy the Rio Carnival
Carnival festivities in Brazil date back to 1723 and are famous the world over, often being referred to as ‘the greatest show on earth’. If you are lucky enough to visit Rio in February or March, you may get to experience the samba-driven celebration when the city comes alive with dancing, music, food, and pageantry unlike any you’ve seen before.
Eating and drinking in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is a melting pot of regional tastes and flavors, making for some truly unique and delicious cuisine.
A staple in any Brazilian meal is rice and beans, flavored with garlic and salt and often served with chicken or beef. While this traditional meal may seem basic, it holds a depth of flavors and is widely available around Rio – with each family-run restaurant perfecting its own recipe. Another favorite is feijoada, a hearty and traditional black bean soup, often served with beef or pork and topped with cheese for a filling meal.
Meat lovers will want to pay a visit to a churrascaria, or Brazilian BBQ steakhouse. These restaurants serve tender, juicy cuts of meat, grilled on huge skewers and sliced off directly onto your plate, at your table.
You’ll also find no shortage of delicious street foods to try, such as pão de queijo (cheese bread), churros, stuffed tapioca tacos, and empanadas.
Shopping in Rio de Janeiro
Downtown Rio is a treasure trove of shops, boutiques, and markets. Each Sunday, you’ll find an arts and crafts fair in Ipanema, while in Santa Teresa you’ll find a number of vintage stores and antique shops interlaced with souvenir stores and stalls selling local produce.
Getting around, Rio de Janeiro transport
The center of Rio de Janeiro, where you’ll find many of the major sights and attractions, is very walkable, as are the smaller neighborhoods. Having said this, if you’d prefer to take taxis you’ll find no shortage of yellow cabs, which are a very popular way to navigate the city. Uber also operates in Rio.
The city also has an excellent public transport system, with buses and metros extending to all areas of the city. There is also a tram system which is easily accessible from the main cruise terminal.
Rio de Janeiro port facilities
In 2016, the Rio de Janeiro port, Pier Maua, underwent a massive renovation in preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games. It is within walking distance of downtown Rio, and boat trips to Ipanema are available from the port. You’ll find food trucks, a new square, and many other attractions just a short walk from the pier.
Rio de Janeiro Quick Tips
The official currency of Rio de Janeiro, and wider Brazil, is the Brazilian Real. Card payments are widely accepted throughout the city, however it can be useful to carry some cash for smaller transactions such as at street food vendors. You’ll find plenty of ATMs to withdraw cash, or you can buy local currency on your Cunard ship.
Tipping in Brazil is not expected and is typically only given for exceptional service. However, some restaurants will include a 10% gratuity in your bill, and tipping for great service is always appreciated in hotels, bars, and for taxi drivers or tour guides.
Rio de Janeiro boasts a tropical climate, with a rainy season between December and April and a dry season between May and November. Temperatures vary little across the year, with the warmest temperatures of around 28°C falling in the rainy season.