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Carnival bloco |©  André Lobo/Riotur/Flickr
Carnival bloco |© André Lobo/Riotur/Flickr

20 Things To Do In Rio De Janeiro In 2017

Picture of Sarah Brown
Updated: 8 January 2017
The new year offers a 365-day clean slate to color in with new experiences and different activities. Rio de Janeiro has a dizzy mix of endemic traditions and quirky events that make this city superbly special. Add these to your bucket list of experiences for 2017 that you have to try when in Rio this year.

Project Summer Fitness Challenge

It’s not just the heatwave that takes over Rio when the summer arrives; Projeto Verão (Project Summer) embraces the city, too. Getting a beach body to Rio’s standards (toned, strong, tanned) is taken very seriously and gym memberships rocket alongside the steadily rising temperatures. With such an outdoor culture, take the plunge and join in with the fitness vibe; there are plenty of sports and activities to enjoy.

Join In A Carnival Parade

Brazil’s largest Carnival is in Rio and offers the perfect excuse to join a samba school, don an extravagant costume and get in line with the floats that amble down the sambodromo corridor like an outrageous, loud catwalk. Pack your stamina for hours of samba and dancing.

Take A Day Trip To The Beer Factory

Just an hour bus journey from Rio’s city center is a small city named Petropolis. The whole town is riddled with fascinating historical heritage (it used to be the hometown of the king) but there is also the highly stimulating and interactive factory tour of the Bohemia brewery, which includes free samples and a trip to the store after to stock up on Brazilian beers.

Do A Series Of Hikes

Rio de Janeiro is filled with rocky peaks that offer some wonderful hikes that range from 30 minutes up to two hours from bottom to top. The five must-dos for 2017 are Pedra da Gavea, Dois Irmãos, Pedra Bonita, Corcovado and Pedra Telegrafo.

Have A Wine And Oyster Night

Bar Canastra in Ipanema hosts its famous oyster night every Tuesday. This tiny bar has no room to sit inside, so the tables spill out onto the pavement and the street. This night is so popular that people arrive up to half an hour before it opens and don’t think twice to pull up a seat on the curb to drink wine and eat oysters. Their rosé wine is perfect with the oysters, and all the wine is made in Brazil.

Bar Canastra, Edifício Paranoá – R. Jangadeiros, 42 – G – Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil +55 21 99656 1960

Do A Half Marathon

If a half marathon has been on your bucket list for ages, now is the time to do it. Rio de Janeiro’s Annual International Half Marathon in August has some of the world’s most stunning backdrops to keep you motivated whilst running. It starts in São Conrado and follows the coastline up to Flamengo, so you’ll be running next to the likes of Leblon and Copacabana beaches. There is also the full marathon, too, for the brave.

Party At A Bloco

During Carnival, visiting a bloco is a must and almost unavoidable experience in Rio; they are everywhere! A bloco is a big street party that follows a slow-moving truck that blasts out music while the crowd follows. Now is the time to dust off your fancy dress and prepare yourself for a day of drinking, dancing, socializing and having fun.

Eat A Load Of Brazilian Sweets

Brazilian desserts and sweets are unmissable and will soften a spot in any sweet-lover’s heart. Go to Confeitaria Colombo in Rio’s downtown with its regal interior that has the desserts to match. Stock up on strawberry tarts, egg-custard tarts that taste straight from a bakery in Lisbon, brigadeiros, passionfruit tarts, lime pies and all the other sweets that taste just as heavenly as they look.

Take The Ferry To Niteroi And Visit The Fish Market

The ferry departs from Rio’s city center and slowly ambles along the water over to neighboring city Niteroi. Enjoy the sea breeze as you pull up at Niteroi’s shores before heading over to the local fish market. Here, you can browse through the day’s catches, pick the fish you want to eat and take it to a local restaurant that will cook it fresh and seasoned in minutes.

Do A Favela Tour

Visit a local favela in a safe environment and experience life in a favela. Not only is it an opportunity to see unique architecture and meet the friendly residents, it’s also a good way to squash any preconceptions or prejudices against these communities, which are not always the gang-riddled places as shown in films or media.

Drink An Amazing Coffee

Brazil is the largest producer of coffee and the second largest consumer of coffee in the world, yet finding a decent cup of coffee is surprisingly hard and is something of a challenge for many tourists. However, Curto Café excels in the coffee department and is a must-visit for 2017. With a counter rigged up in the corridor of a small shopping mall and a distinct lack of comfy sofas, it may not be much to look at, but that’s where the charm lies; everything is focused on the coffee. The menu is limited to cappuccinos, espressos or a bag of coffee beans, but that seems to allow the baristas to concentrate better on the flavor. The biggest quirk here, though, is that you pay what you want. There are no fixed prices — you simply pay what you feel is worth it.

Curto Café, Edifício Garagem Menezes Cortes – Av. Erasmo Braga, 278 – Quiosque 47 – Centro, Rio de Janeiro +55 21 98255 7424

Go Stand-up Paddling

Stand-up paddling is a great way to get out on the ocean a bit and is easy enough for it to be accessible to anyone. It can be a strenuous exercise if you build up some speed or it can be a relaxing and peaceful escape. Just paddle out a little beyond the waves and float around on the sea. Next to Copacabana Fort by Posto 5 is a great spot; keep an eye out for the occasional turtle breaking the surface for the air!

Drink Caipirinha On The Beach

Head down to Posto 8 in Ipanema and spend the day in the sun drinking caipirinhas on the beach. Listen out for a famous local female beach vendor that is well-known for her distinct cries of ‘Sanduiche Natural’ (naturally-made sandwiches) and pass the day away by people-watching, drinking, sunbathing and watching the spectacular sunset.

Go To A Jazz Night At Pedra Do Sal

Pedra do Sal is known for its samba nights on Mondays but has recently added jazz nights to its legendary calendar that will bring the best of Rio’s jazz to the city’s street. Go to enjoy an understated, friendly atmosphere with some ear-pleasing symphonies.

Eat Tapioca

Tapioca is a common street snack that is a must-try. It’s cassava flour fried that binds together without any oil and is perfect as a gluten-free option. Eat it filled with cheese and ham, cheese and tomato or go for the sweet option of strawberry and Nutella or banana and cinnamon.

Experience Rio Gay Pride

One of the biggest events in Rio after Carnival and New Year, Gay Pride in Rio is outrageous, fun and unmissable. Huge floats roll down Avenida Atlantica next to Copacabana which attracts loud, colorful and liberal crowds. Rio welcomes all sexual orientations, which helps to pull in large crowds from all over the world to its Gay Pride Parade.

Go Paragliding

See Rio from one of the best viewpoints hundreds of feet above the ground by taking the plunge off the tip of Pedra Bonita and paraglide over the marvelous city. Pay a little extra to get a video that records the whole experience.

Listen To A Roda De Samba

One of the most traditional things to do this year in Rio is to watch and dance to a roda de samba, which is a live samba band playing spontaneously in a venue. One of the best spots is at Rua da Ouvidor in Rio’s city center where the band plays in the streets and can be attended for free. See their blog to see dates as they are sporadic throughout the month.

Go To The Salon

Going to the salon is a regular weekly task for a Brazilian and not left for a special occasion. Embrace this habit and spend the day pampering Brazilian style. Be sure to book in for the full manicure, pedicure and if you’re feeling brave, the classic Brazilian wax. It’s much cheaper than other countries and not just for women; men get manicures and waxes, too.

Eat A Burger

Don’t let the food truck craze in Rio pass you by and be sure to enjoy the city’s current incredible gastronomic revolution. The  food trucks are dotted all around the city and provide gourmet hamburgers, hot dogs, Mexican food, churros, Brazilian sweets and homemade Brazilian beers.