There are so many wonderful attractions to discover in this historic city. Today is your day of leisure giving you time to explore the city on your own and at your own pace. You may want to unwind and people watch on Copacabana Beach or go shopping at the “Hippie Market” of Ipanema where you will find more than 700 stalls of folk and contemporary art, jewelry, clothing, and crafts. While you are in the neighborhood, make sure to stop at Ipanema Beach.
If you would rather see more of the city, we are offering three optional half-day tours.
Optional DISTINCT Tour Excursions
HALF DAY: Hidden Gems of Downtown Rio -Santa Teresa, Lapa, and the Selaron Steps
Our tour begins with a tram ride across Arocs de Lapa, a picturesque aqueduct to Santa Teresa, one of the prettiest neighborhoods in Rio known for its bohemian vibe. Strolling along the winding cobblestone streets you will be delighted by sidewalk mosaics, historic mansions, eclectic architecture, art galleries, shops, and traditional Brazilian restaurants. We will visit Ruins Park where we will see the mysterious ruins of an ancient mansion that has been turned into an art gallery. A bonus of this visit is the magnificent view of Sugarloaf Mountain from the terrace. Next we will walk down the Selarón Steps, the most colorful flight of stairs that you will ever see. Just one person, Chilean artist Jorge Selarón, created these colorful stairs, 215 steps in all. After traveling to more than 57 countries, Selaron settled in Rio and began tiling the steps in front of his house. In honor of the Brazilian flag, he used yellow, green, and blue tiles interspersed with painted tiles and mirrors as his tribute to the people of Brazil. At the end of the stairs, we will be in Lapa, a district known for its buzzing traditional nightlife, lively bars, and street parties. We will stroll along the Passeio Público, the oldest public park in the South America, to reach Cinelândia Square, an important cultural center. The most significant buildings that surround the square are the Municipal Theater, Biblioteca Nacional, Brazil’s most important library, and the National Museum of Fine Arts. Our final stop is at the opulently decorated Art Nouveau cafe Confeitaria Colombo where we can sample some traditional Brazilian snacks.
HALF DAY: MUSEUM OF TOMORROW, AQUARIUM RIO & OLYMPIC BOULEVARD (morning only).
This morning we will ride along Olympic Boulevard to Porto Maravilha, Rio’s newly revitalized Port area. Here we will find some of the cities newest attractions including our first stop, the architecturally beautiful Museum of Tomorrow that seems to float upon the sea. This innovative cultural space is dedicated to setting an example for the world of how to recover and create modern urban space. Museum exhibits address a number of issues such as population growth, life expectancy, climate change, technological advances, genetic engineering, and bioethics to name a few. There is also an Observatory and temporary exhibitions.
Our next stop is Las Etnias a mural created by Brazilian artist, Eduardo Kobra that lined Olympic Boulevard at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Las Etnias is one of the largest murals in the world stretching over 32,000 feet with five ethnic groups depicted on a colorful background of geometric shapes. Our final stop is at the Rio de Janeiro Aquarium, the largest marine aquarium in South America. Here we will come face to face with 5,000 animals and 350 different species from around the world in 28 saltwater tanks. A highlight is the chance to interact with an immense variety of fish, invertebrates, rays, sharks, and corals.
HALF DAY: RIO NATURE - TIJUCA FOREST AND BOTANICAL GARDEN (afternoon only).
This tour is perfect for nature lovers. On it we will discover the diversity of the flora and fauna found here and brought here. Our first stop is the Botanical Garden in Rio de Janeiro founded in 1808. It is considered to be one of the most important botanical research gardens in the world. Today, the garden is home to over 6,500 species of foreign fauna collected from all over the world set on 350 acres. Visit a greenhouse of more than 2,000 orchids, the Japanese Garden complete with cherry trees, garden houses, ponds filled with Koi, and bridges, and wander in the Sensory Garden of herbal and aromatic plants. Stroll down the magnificent Avenue of 134 Royal Palm Trees planted more than 200 years ago, and see excellent examples of Brazilwood, the tree that gives its name to this country. Marvel at giant water lilies at Turtle Lake and look for the many birds that make their home in this oasis. For a panoramic view, head to Vista Chinesa Gazebo, to catch another view of Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf.
Our next excursion is an adventure in Tijuca National Forest, one of the largest urban forests in the world boasting 30 waterfalls. We will take a short walk to Taunay Waterfall to learn about this sprawling Atlantic Rainforest with its unique flora, fauna, birds, and wildlife. On our return trip to the hotel we will pass São Conrado Beach a favorite haunt of hand gliders that soar over the cobalt blue ocean. (B)