Rio de Janeiro

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Wondering what to do in Rio de Janeiro if you didn’t come in February or March for Carnival? There are plenty of other classic things to do in Rio de Janeiro.

New Year's Eve, also known as the Reveillon, is another main event, with traditions such as wearing white clothes and making offers to the oceans, for the Iemanja, the goddess of the Sea. The Jardim Botânico is one of the greatest botanical gardens, in both size and reputation, in the world; it has groves of cocoa and rubber trees, as well as giant Amazonian water lilies—some more than three feet across—that float in ponds.

What to do in Rio de Janeiro with kids? Don't miss Mil Frutas, the shop near the Jardim Botânico that has perhaps not a thousand, but more than a hundred flavors of natural ice creams and sorbets. Mil Frutas makes its frozen desserts by hand, when fruits like the tropical jungle cupuaçu and berries from the açaí palm are in-season. Rare flavors range from avocado and pineapple-cilantro to French toast. Scoops are relatively pricey, but you can ask for samples first.

Get to Know that Girl from Ipanema with the mile-long, 300-foot-deep white-sand beach which inspired the song. It has granite peaks and a jungle-covered range as its backdrop, and its palm-tree-lined boardwalk is made for strolling and great people watching. Four blocks inland, however, is Garota de Ipanema, the bar where, legend has it, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinícius de Morais wrote the song “The Girl from Ipanema,” and where you can still hear live bossa nova.

This Oscar Niemeyer-designed theater holds 400 as part of an eight-building cultural complex overlooking Guanabara Bay and Rio. The complex will include a new ferry terminal, Museum of Brazilian Cinema, and - fittingly - the Oscar Niemeyer Foundation.

Skinny pants, diaphanous camis, and slinky tube dresses in eye-popping orange and fuchsia fill the racks at this younger, hipper sister to Brazilian designer line Maria Bonita.

The bar where, legend has it, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinícius de Morais wrote the song The Girl from Ipanema, and where you can still hear live bossa nova.

Above the city's fray in the boho-chic hilltop neighborhood of Santa Teresa sits a tiny shop specializing in native crafts. Loosely woven cotton rugs in sorbet shades are stacked next to 1920's photos of Corcovado Mountain. Also of note: sterling-silver jewelry.

What to Expect: Majestic granite peaks jut from a jungle-covered range to create a spectacular backdrop for this mile-long, 300-foot-deep white-sand beach, which is covered in brightly colored umbrellas year-round.

Brazil's most venerable chocolatier (founded in 1894) is hidden on a narrow street in chaotic Centro. The sweets, coffees, and tropical marmalades come in hand-painted packages, and the soaring frescoed ceilings seem lifted from a Viennese fantasy.

The Marina All Suites Hotel bar is a Technicolor pastiche of ice-blue and orange walls and Jetsons-style bar stools—all occupied by tall, tan, lean, and lovely locals. Try the bar's signature caipiroska, a caipirinha that substitutes vodka for cachaça.

Rio-born-and-bred Bernardo sells strictly contemporary jewelry designs, many in his signature matte finish. Earrings go for about $2,000, but the adorable charms—a teensy rolling pin, a Lilliputian window with real hinged shutters—start at just $90.

Some of Rio's most beautiful—and well-preserved—colonial architecture can be found in these adjacent up-and-coming neighborhoods.

Vast palm-lined avenues lead to groves of cocoa and rubber trees. Giant Amazonian water lilies—some more than three feet across—float in ponds.

Although not quite a thousand, there are more than a hundred flavors of natural ice creams and sorbets at this shop near the Jardim Botânico. Mil Frutas makes its frozen desserts by hand, when fruits like the tropical jungle cupuaçu and berries from the açaí palm are in-season.

Atop one of the city's highest peaks, the world-renowned statue of Christ the Redeemer gives way to 360-degree views. Take the 123-year-old Corcovado train to the summit, or better, hire a taxi and ride the twisting road through the Tijuca rain forest. Halfway up, stop and listen.

Dancer and choreographer Carlinhos de Jesus heads this Rio ballroom dance school, where teachers give instruction in typical Brazilian rhythms like forro, lambada, xaxado, and (of course) samba.

Oscar Niemeyer's architectural masterpiece was completed late in his life—1996—but has the same fantastic improbability and masterful precision of his work of the 60's and 70's.