Free Attractions in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro, the Wonderful City, gets each visitors head spinning on all the opportunities of what to do in the city. But sometimes the big touristic attractions tend to be expensive to visit, and you might end up thinking if they’re worth it or not.
But Rio is a perfect city for the ones travelling on a budget as well! Lots of free or very cheap sights, events and things to do. Read about the best Free Attractions in Rio de Janeiro!
THE MAJOR ATTRACTIONS OF RIO DE JANEIRO FOR FREE
Of course, when you visit Rio, you’d probably like to visit the major sites of the city. Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf mountain are attractions known all over the world! As these sights are extremely popular, they tend to be a bit expensive as well. But pay attention here, there are ways to visit these places for free or at least much cheaper!
The cable car ticket to the Sugarloaf costs R$110, but if you decide to hike until the first mountain (Urca Hill) and then take the cable car, the entrance is half price! You can also just visit the first mountain, admire the views from there and then walk down the same path completely free! Here‘s a blog text that explains you how to do it!
CHRIST THE REDEEMER
To visit Christ the Redeemer, unfortunately there’s no way to do it completely free, but there are some ways to save a bit. First of all if it is not high season, try to go during the week, since the entrance tickets are more expensive on weekends and high season.
You have a few options getting in there. The train, minivan or a taxi/uber. The prices vary between R$65 to R$75. There is also a hike, between Parque Lage and Christ the Redeemer, and if you arrive to the Christ hiking, you only need to pay the entrance fee (around R$25).
If you decide to hike, go in a group and don’t bring much valuable belongings, since some muggings have been reported on that trail. Check the details of all the options of how to get to Christ Redeemer!
CULTURAIS AND HISTORICAL SIGHTS
The downtown of the city there’s a lot of interesting things to see if you want to walk around. Take a look at some of these attractions that can be easily found and visited:
Colombo Bakery is historical, with one former architecture, where a lot of decisions of the future of Brazil were made by the important people and politicians that always visited it. It’s worth knowing and tasting some delights!
Lapa Arches is the famous aqueduct that was built in the colonial period of the city and responsible for much of the city’s water distribution during this period. A very interesting work and a famous tourist spot of Rio de Janeiro. Completely free, it is only worth mentioning the issue of security in the area. Avoid being in the square where the arches are located without company and at times of little movement.
The Selarón Staircase is the most famous in Brazil and is in the city of Rio de Janeiro and very close to the Lapa district in the city center. The work was decorated by Chilean artist Jorge Selarón and is the largest work of art made by a single person outdoors. Who doesn’t want a photo in this place?
The National Library is the biggest Library of Latin America, and is among the 10 biggest ones of the world! The archive contains more than 9 million books! Visit the library for free from Monday to Friday.
ROYAL PORTUGUESE CABINET OF READING
Another amazing library that’s not to be missed in Rio is the Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading. That’s a library containing the largest amount of Portuguese texts outside of Portugal. The building itself is worth checking out because of it’s very special neo-gothic style architecture.
CHURCHES IN THE CITY CENTER
You could easily spend days just visiting the churches of Rio. Most likely you’re not going to spend your time in Rio only visiting churches, but here’s a few of them you should really explore.
CANDELÁRIA CHURCH AND SÃO BENTO MONASTERY
Candelária is a massive church close by the Olympic Boulevard. It’s very dramatic, and inside you’ll find an enormous roof painting. São Bento Monastery has a beautiful church, which is completely covered in gold. Located on the hilltop close by Mauá Square, so it offers nice views of the Museum of Tomorrow and the Docks Area of Rio.
METROPOLITAN CATHEDRAL OF RIO DE JANEIRO
Last but not least, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio is a must visit! From outside, if you don’t know, you can’t really guess that it’s a cathedral. Looks more like a Mayan Pyramid. But once you go in, you’ll get the idea. Pay much attention to the detailed windows, full of colors and catholic symbols.
CULTURAL AND HISTORICAL SIGHTS ALMOST FOR FREE
TIP: Want to see some of the most famous spots in the city, with a lively group and being accompanied by someone who will explain the history and details of each of these places? Our Free Walking Tour Downtown and Lapa is the perfect opportunity!
FREE WALKING TOUR RIO DE JANEIRO
Rio has a rich history and especially the downtown area hides many secrets and curiosities. To discover better the city center of Rio, join daily to our Free Walking Tour Downtown & Lapa.
We will explain you about the history and current situation of the city, give you good tips for your stay and show a bit of real Rio de Janeiro and you will also visit one of Rio’s major attractions: Selaron Stairs. And the best thing is, that there is no fix price for this tour, so at the end everybody pays as much you think the experience was worth it! A suggestion of fair values for this type of tour is around R$ 20,00 to R$ 50,00 per person. Click here to see all the information about our Rio de Janeiro Free Walking Tours!
Rio has several interesting cultural attractions and museums, but most of them have a small entrance free. But if you’re budget is really tight, don’t worry, all the museums also have one day in a week when the entrance is for free! So keep an eye open for these days!
BANCO DO BRASIL CULTURAL CENTER
Banco do Brasil Cultural Center is an exhibition center that hosts monthly changing art exhibits. You can visit the expo free, and they also have a cheap cinema and theater.
ANOTHER FREE ACTIVITIES
We couldn’t miss the beaches on our list of free attractions of Rio de Janeiro. When thinking of Rio de Janeiro, the beaches are one of the first things coming in mind for most people. Rio has several world-famous beaches, such as Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. Join our Copacabana and Ipanema Free Walking Tour to explore deeper these neighborhoods and this tour also has the same system as our previous Walking Tour!
Copacabana beach is really famous and the perfect place for a walk. At Copacabana neighbourhood you can also visit the Copacabana Fort at Posto 6, it’s a place really important history and an amazing view of the beach.
Copacabana Fort offers options for those who wish to have a coffee enjoying the view of the beach, in one of the units of Colombo Bakery that is there or even complete meals in the other restaurant installed in the space. The Fort has free admission on Tuesdays and every day from 18h to 19h30. Enjoy!
IPANEMA AND ARPOADOR SUNSET
In Ipanema, besides the very crowded beach, there is a very famous place to admire an incredible sunset. Have you heard of sunset at Arpoador? Do not miss the opportunity to enjoy this moment. It is worth taking a walk on the waterfront or renting a bike and getting to know the area.
BOTAFOGO – LOOKOUT AND GARDEN
You may not have thought that the Botafogo neighborhood can offer activity options. There you have the option of visiting the Pasmado Lookout, with a beautiful view of the Sugar Loaf and the beachfront. Access is recommended by car and offers free parking.
Still in the neighborhood we can find the House of Rui Barbosa, the space works as a garden, exhibition center, research, conservation and is very nice to spend a few hours there.
URCA AND THE WALL OF URCA
By Botafogo you can access to Urca, neighborhood where is located the Sugar Loaf, with variety of transport for the attraction. A very carioca program is to have a beer in Mureta da Urca (Wall of Urca), with very typical food and with the wonderful sunset view in a privileged area.
LEBLON – LOOKOUT AND NATURAL PARK
Leblon has a much quieter beach than the previous ones, as it is a more traditional neighborhood of the city. On the beach you have more comfortable space options for children and leaves parents much more peaceful! Due to the proximity of Two Brothers Hill, the view of the sunset is also spectacular from this point.
In the neighborhood, you can meet the Leblon Lookout. The lookout is a good choice for beautiful photos and you have a view of the entire length of Leblon Beach, Ipanema to Arpoador.
It does not stop there! Very close to the Leblon Lookout has the Two Brothers Cliff Municipal Natural Park, a place little explored by tourists. Look what opportunity to explore an almost secret area, haha! The site is a green conservation area, with a play area for children, a multi-sport court, gardens and a trail for the more adventurous.
BARRA DA TIJUCA
Besides these three beaches, we highly recommend visiting some of Rio’s less known beaches as well. Barra da Tijuca beach is the longest beach in Rio, with almost 18 km of length! Take the metro until last stop (Jardim Oceanico) and you’re 10 minutes walking distance from the beach!
BOSQUE DA BARRA
Bosque da Barra is a walking option for quieter days, with playgrounds, trails, walking or biking space, seeing the animals and it is also possible to have a picnic on a lake located in the area.
Feeling more adventurous? You should definitely visit the “wild beaches” of Guaratiba. Take the public transportation until Barra de Guaratiba, which is located about 40km from Downtown Rio. From there start an easy level hike until Praia do Perigoso, which is the first of four wild beaches.
In 40 minutes time you’ll arrive to a picturesque beach, crystal blue ocean and white sand. These beach is never going to be extremely crowded, because the only access is by foot, or by taxi boat. You can visit all four beaches in one day if you leave early in the morning.
FREE NATURAL ACTIVITIES
Rio de Janeiro is home for two of the biggest urban forests of the world! Tijuca National Park is a huge forest in the heart of Rio. There you’ll find hundreds of different hiking paths, viewpoints and waterfalls. And the entrance to the park is free! To most of the sections, you can arrive with public transportation in less than an hour from downtown Rio.
HIKES AND WALKS
Probably two most popular hikes in Rio are Pedra Bonita and Two Brothers Hill. Both of them are in the southern zone of Rio, and the access is very easy. The paths are relatively easy, Pedra Bonita being the easier from these two.
And the views from the top are breathtaking! If you feel like getting off the beaten path, you’re hiking option could be Pico da Tijuca, which is the second highest peak of Rio (1022m), from there you’ll have a privileged view of the city. We recommend you to go with a group of locals, who know the area or have a look on Free Hiking Rio.
On a very hot day, is a nice idea to have a refreshing bath in one of Rio’s waterfalls. The easiest access is to Horto Waterfall, which is located close to the Botanical Garden. It’s better to go during the week, since weekends here tend to be extremely busy. Also, go with locals or someone who knows the area.
Parque Lage is a beautiful park close by Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon. There you can see some wildlife, mostly monkeys and birds. It’s a nice place for relaxing stroll, and mostly on weekends they also host different cultural events in the park as well.
What about that? Did you like our tips? Enjoy your vacation in the city!