Passionate and exuberant, stylish and sexy, Rio de Janeiro has the capacity to enthrall honeymoon couples from beachside to mountaintop.
Known as the cidade maravilhosa (the marvellous city), Rio occupies one of the most beautiful settings in the world.
Unwind on Copacabana Beach – the world’s most famous beach. Copacabana’s white sand beach runs for almost 5km in front of a lively nightlife district and residential suburb.
Or head over to equally famous Ipanema Beach and join the daily fun-filled carnival on this stunning stretch of white sand made famous in the 1960s song The Girl from Ipanema.
The Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) statue, named a few years ago as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, stands on top of Corcovado (Hunchback) peak, providing the famous focal point for Rio’s skyline, dominated by Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf Mountain) towering above the Baía de Guanabara.
Stroll around the narrow cobblestone streets of the historic downtown neighbourhoods of Centro, Lapa and Santa Teresa to discover grand plazas, gold-covered churches and buildings of the baroque, Beaux Arts and Art Deco styles.
Rio de Janeiro offers a choice of must-see attractions for couples celebrating a honeymoon or romantic getaway, including…
Pão de Açúcar — Take the cable car (every 30 minutes) to the breathtaking heights of Rio’s Sugar Loaf Mountain, 396m above Rio and the Baía de Guanabara. Aim to be there at sunset when you can watch the city lights twinkle as day turns to night.
Corcovado — Ride the electrically powered train or take a taxi to the Corcovado (Hunchback) peak. Rising 709m above the Baía de Guanabara, Corcovado is known for its magnificent views over Rio and the famous 38m statue of Jesus, called Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), which stands atop the peak.
Forte de Copacabana — Discover one of the best spots to take the classical photo of Copacabana Beach. Then stroll uphill for photos of Arpoador Park, Ipanema and Leblon beaches. Originally built around 1908 to protect the city from invaders, today Forte de Copacabana is a cultural centre.
Fishermen’s Corner — Beside Forte de Copacabana lies fishermen’s corner, with a tradition of more than 100 years, fishermen still make a living right in the heart of one of Rio’s most urban areas. Fresh fish are for sale at the stand every morning.
Parque Nacional da Tijuca — Take a 15-minute drive from Copacabana to the 120km² tropical jungle of the Parque Nacional da Tijuca, a lush green forest with beautiful creeks and waterfalls, and home to many bird and animal species, including iguanas and monkeys. Don’t miss the Alto da Boa Vista area, the 19th century chapel (Capela Mayrink) or the numerous caves and several waterfalls including Cascatinha Taunay and Cascata Diamantina.
Paquetá Island — Cruise out to the auto-free island of ‘many shells’ in Guanabara Bay. Explore the island by bike or in a horse-drawn carriage. Act like a local and kiss ‘Maria Gorda’ (Fat Maria), a baobab tree, for good luck. There are only twenty of these African trees on Paquetá Island – the only ones in Brazil beside the Baobà in Passeio Público in Fortaleza.
Avenida Atlantica — Stroll along the wide mosaic and beautifully landscaped pavement. Stop for a cerveza (beer), relax, people-watch and enjoy the picture-postcard views.
Copacabana Palace Hotel — If it’s beyond your budget to stay at Rio’s most glamorous hotel, at least take an afternoon tea by the pool or perhaps a meal at the outstanding Cipriani restaurant. The hotel maintains its own staked-out area of the beach and provides guests with umbrellas, towels and bar service.
Lido — Admire the landmark art-nouveau and neoclassical buildings. Many of these buildings have huge five bedroom apartments with only one bathroom and no garage. Others are home to Lido’s bustling nightlife, with some of Rio’s most famous strip clubs and bars. And don’t miss Cervantes, where arguably the best sandwiches in Rio are made!
Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro — Containing Brazil’s most important and impressive collection of modern art, this is a must for art lovers of all ages. Guaranteed to take your breath away.
Museu do Õndio — Explore inside one of Brazil’s most important Indian heritage museums.
Petrópolis — A pretty mountain resort just an hour from Rio. Enjoy peaceful strolls, great museums and mountain hikes in the lush Atlantic rainforest.
Paraty — Situated almost halfway between Rio and São Paulo, this World Heritage site is a beautiful and historic seaside town that had its heyday in the 18th and 19th centuries. Meander around the cobblestone streets, admire the architecture and choose from numerous restaurants for some very fine dining experiences.
Choose the perfect beach for your Rio de Janeiro honeymoon, including famous as well more secluded beaches.
On Rio’s beaches you can buy much anything you want from a skimpy bikini, towels, kangas (sarongs), hats and shades and suntan lotion to peanuts, beer and cookies in adddition to sticks of grilled shrimp, shelled coconuts and even deep-muscle massages.
Known as the world’s most famous beach, Copacabana’s white sand beach runs for almost 5km in front of a lively nightlife district and residential suburb.
The non-stop beach parade of scantily dressed beautiful bodies and smiling faces embodies the heart and soul of Rio’s ‘Cariocas’ culture that thrives on sun, beach, dance, drink and sport.
Crowded daily with friendly people, the wide beach often resembles more of a large sandy park than a beach, with full-size soccer pitches and volleyball courts situated between Avenida Atlantica and the sea.
With something always going on during the day and along the sidewalks at night, the beach has a non-stop party atmosphere: from people checking out the scene, playing volleyball and soccer, to drinking, eating and singing.
The beach is divided into numbered ‘postos’ (lifeguard stations). Those opposite the luxury hotels have their own security guards to protect guests from petty crime. It’s best not to flaunt watches, jewellery or cameras.
The haunt of rich and poor alike, experienced locals typically come to the beach with only bathers, sunscreen and a wrap, which they can either sit or lie on, except for men who are suppose to sit on the hot sand.
Attractions of Cobacabana Beach, include…
• Watch Cariocas turn Cobacabana and Ipanema beaches into a huge sporting carnival with games of volleyball or footvollei (volleyball with no hands) and beach soccer that roll on throughout the day.
• On the beach you can buy almost anything you want, from a skimpy bikini, towels, kangas (sarongs), hats, shades and suntan lotion to peanuts, beer and cookies as well as sticks of grilled shrimp, shelled coconuts and even deep-muscle massages.
• Copacabana Beach is home to Rio’s famous New Year’s celebration – dress in white as the locals do, for good luck.
• One of the best shopping centres in Rio is just a short walk from the beach, as well as movie houses, theatres, fashion and jewellery shops, restaurants and nightclubs.
Join the daily fun-filled carnival on this stunning stretch of white sand made famous in the 1960s song The Girl from Ipanema. The hit was written by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Viní-cius de Morais about ‘the tall and tan and young and lovely girl’ they saw on Ipanema Beach.
Enjoy a caipirinha at the Velloso Bar on Vinícius de Morais Street where the two men watched the unforgettable girl on her daily trip to the beach, then join the golden brown sun-worshippers brushing up their tans.
Stretching almost 3km from the foot of the granite peaks of Pedra Dois Irmãos at the western end of the beach to the Ponta Arpoador at the eastern end, Ipanema is regarded as more sophisticated and relaxed than nearby Copacabana, also offering a family friendly ambience.
Expect to see beach games such as soccer, volleyball and footvollei (volleyball with no hands) – feel free to join in or simply watch. Cool off with a swim or head to the prime surf spot around Praia do Arpoador, a rock formation that separates Ipanema from its famous sister beach, Copacabana.
Rent a surfboard and ride the waves, improve your style with a lesson or just watch the local boys showing-off for the garotas (girls) sashaying along the beach. Join the locals over a beer, caipirinha or fresh coconut water while savouring grilled shrimps from one of the many boardwalk kiosks.
Like Copacabana, Ipanema Beach is unofficially divided into numbered postos (lifeguard stations): posto 9 is a hangout for artists, intellectuals and the young and beautiful; the area around posto 10 is a favourite for families; and the stretch of sand around posto 8 is popular with gay men.
Across the street sit mansions and restaurants protected by armed security guards. Ipanema’s expensive neighbourhood is packed with bars, clubs and world-class shopping boutiques. Browse for fine fashion, explore the Sunday market for cheap leather goods, jewellery and local bric-a-brac or check out the Babilônia Feira Hype at the Jockey Club in Gávea.
On Sunday, the beachfront Avenida Vieira Souto is closed to traffic and given over to strollers, skateboarders and roller bladers – perfect for a spot of people watching over a caipirinha.
Shares the beach with Ipanema – the border is the Jardim de Ala (Allah’s Gardens). Leblon is one of the best areas to stay or live in Rio.
Schools, movie theaters and theaters, nightclubs, concert halls, and some of Rio’s best restaurants and bars are among its attractions.
Enjoy this less-crowded golden-sand beach with fine scenery, a degree of isolation and a landing strip for the hang gliders who leap from the nearby peaks.
For surfers and said to be the best in Rio, particularly around the Barraca de Pepê (Pepe’s Shack). Beyond Barra lies Grumari, a lovely small beach set in a lush nature reserve.
(Kings’ Cove) – Breathe in the fresh sea air at this picturesque beach resort, located on the hilly Costa Verde peninsula about a two-hour drive south of Rio.
Here the ocean is fringed with tropical forest, golden sandy beaches, small fishing villages and more than 365 islands. The region is known for its many beaches and biodiverse Ilha Grande, the largest island.
The island’s main village, Vila do Abraão, offers a choice of restaurants, bars and the St. Sebastian Church at its heart.
Discover more than a dozen sandy coves in this beach haven for Rio socialites, just two hours drive north of Rio on the Cabo Frio peninsula.
It’s best not to flaunt watches, jewellery, or cameras: The haunt of rich and poor alike, experienced locals typically come to the beach with only bathers, sunscreen and a wrap, which they can either sit or lie on, except for men who are suppose to sit on the hot sand.
Topless bathing on Rio’s beaches is a big no-no; and is actually illegal.
Postos (lifeguard stations) along Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are open daily from 8am to 8pm. They offer first aid, changing and toilet facilities for a charge of BR1. Postos, numbered 1 through 11, start at Leme Beach and end in Leblon Beach.
Rio de Janeiro offers an excellent range of accommodation options to suit the majority of honeymoon budgets, including the following 5-star hotels…
Belmond Copacabana Palace
Location: Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
Ave nightly price: AUD558 per room
Description: The elegant 5-star Belmond Copacabana Palace offers luxurious rooms with marbled bathrooms and panoramic ocean views, located on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana Beachfront. Services include a wellness spa and 3 gastronomic restaurants. The spacious rooms at the Belmond Copacabana Palace are individually decorated with English antique furniture and original artworks. All offer king-size beds, free use of internet and a free pair of Havaianas flip flops. Some include private balconies with panoramic city or ocean views. Guests can enjoy a daily breakfast served in Pérgula restaurant, which also offers Brazilian specialties and fresh seafood delicacies. Breakfast can also be served in-room and additional charges apply. Top Italian dishes are served in Cipriani restaurant and a selection of drinks are available at the Copacabana Piano Bar. The new MEE Restaurant offers Pan Asian cuisine, with a menu created by the chefs Kazuo Harada and Rafael Hidaka. A large selection of Japanese Sakes is also available.
Miramar Hotel by Windsor
Location: Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
Ave nightly price: AUD287 per room
Description: Located right across from the famous Copacabana Beach, the Miramar Hotel by Windsor features a green granite pool and a modern gym. This pet friendly, design hotel offers butler service and free WiFi. Guests can start the day admiring the beautiful beach view while savoring a rich breakfast. Decorated in grey tones, each room here comes equipped with air conditioning, a flat-screen cable TV, safe and minibar. The private bathroom includes toiletries and a bathrobe. Many shops, grocery stores, restaurants, bars and nightclubs are close to Miramar by Windsor. Beach service is available with towels, chairs and parasols. Guests can have a drink at the rooftop bar or enjoy the hotel's restaurant. Copacabana Fort is 700 metres from the Miramar Hotel whilst Lagoa Stadium is 3.8 km away. Santos Dumont Airport is at a distance of 11.7 km, while Galeão International Airport is 25 km away.
Location: Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
Ave nightly price: AUD267 per room
Description: The 5-star Windsor Atlântica is ideally located across from the blue waters of Copacabana Beach. It features an elegant spa and a rooftop pool, both with splendid sea views. Guests can enjoy local and international specialties at the award-winning Ristorante Alloro, as well as a 24-hour room service. Windsor Atlântica offers bright, sophisticated rooms with air conditioning, a TV and a minibar. They are elegantly styled with wooden furniture, contemporary décor and warm, natural tones. Most rooms feature scenic ocean views. A popular buffet breakfast is served every morning with fresh fruits and pastries. The spa at the hotel has a variety of treatments, and there is a second swimming pool for guests to use. They are also welcome to exercise or have a sauna session in the fitness centre. Charming shops, restaurants and lively bars are found just 2 blocks away from this hotel. The Beach Volleyball Arena is located 100 metres from Windsor Atlântica, whilst Copacabana Fort is 3.2 km away. Santos Dumont Airport is 9.6 km away, while Galeão International Airport is at a distance of 27.6 km.
Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro
Location: Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro
Ave nightly price: AUD229 per room
Description: Boasting an an outdoor pool and spa centre, Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro is strategically located in the heart of Barra da Tijuca, nested between the ocean, the lake and the mountains, just across the street from Reserva Beach. The hotel has a sauna and fitness centre with a Yoga Studio. Guests can enjoy a meal at one of the three restaurants. Free WiFi is available throughout the property and private parking is available on site. Each room at this hotel is air conditioned and has a TV. Some rooms have a seating area to relax in after a busy day. Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while looking out at the sea, the lake or garden. All rooms have a private bathroom. For your comfort, you will find bath robes and a hairdryer. There is a 24-hour front desk, a cash machine and shops at the property. Beach service is available and offers chairs, parasols and towels. João Havelange Olympic Stadium – Engenhão is 17 km from Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro, while Riocentro Conventions Centre is 9 km from the property. The nearest airport is Santos Dumont Airport, 26 km from Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro.
Hilton Barra Rio de Janeiro
Location: Jacarepagua, Rio de Janeiro
Ave nightly price: AUD154 per room
Description: Located in the heart of Rio de Janeiro’s lively Barra da Tijuca district, Hilton Barra Rio de Janeiro features a rooftop swimming pool offering picturesque lake views, a well-appointed fitness centre and a restaurant serving regional and international cuisine. Cream-coloured, guestrooms and suites come with Nespresso coffee machine and elegant décor for guests to unwind. The private bathrooms boast free L’Occitane toiletries and a hairdryer. Some room categories offer free WiFi access included. Guests can order 24-hour room service in the comfort of their room. At Hilton Barra Rio de Janeiro, guests can benefit from a 24-hour business centre. This 5-star hotel is situated 2 km from Barra Olympic Park, 5 km from RioCentro Convention Centre, 11 km from Tijuca Forest National Park and 300 metres from Metropolitano Mall. Galeão International Airport and Santos Dumont Airport are 30 km away.
The best time to visit Rio de Janeiro for a beach holiday is from April to October, when temperatures are generally pleasant, with little or no rain. Rio de Janeiro is regarded as a year-round destination.
Rio de Janeiro enjoys a tropical climate, with a relatively cool season from May to October and a hot, humid and rainy season from December to March, with November and April as intermediate months.
For more climate info: Rio Weather Guide…
Rio de Janeiro, or simply Rio, is located on the western shore of Guanabara Bay on Brazil's Atlantic coast.
The city is divided into the historic center (Centro), the tourist-friendly South Zone (Zona Sul), the residential North Zone (Zona Norte), and several districts in the West Zone (Zona Oeste), including Santa Cruz, Campo Grande and Barra da Tijuca district.
The most convenient route to Rio is by air to Rio de Janeiro–Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport (GIG), popularly known by its original name Galeão International Airport, located about 20km (12mi) north of downtown Rio de Janeiro.
More information on how to get to Rio de Janeiro…
Latest update: Rio de Janeiro: 1 September, 2022