Families visiting Rio de Janeiro as part of a cruise holiday will find themselves docking at one of the world's most exciting cities for children and adults alike. Known to Brazilians as the Cidade Maravilhosa - or "Wonderful City" - Rio is a city that never fails to enchant. Half a day is a short time to appreciate all that Rio has to offer family visitors, so don't dawdle at the cruise port if you want to enjoy the beaches and favorite city landmarks.
Rio de Janeiro is a fantastic city for families — Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson
Cruise ships calling at Rio de Janeiro dock close to the center of the city, but while there are some interesting sights downtown, the must-see attractions are a cab ride away. Waste no time in hailing one of Rio's abundant yellow taxis and heading to the beach.
The legendary beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana are great places to play ball games, splash in the waves or just take a stroll. While Ipanema is arguably the more fashionable option, Copacabana is closer. Ask your taxi driver to take you to the stretch of Copacabana known as Leme.
This is the closest point to the cruise port, and it's popular with families. It also has the benefit of a fantastic close-up view of Sugarloaf. Children can have great fun testing their soccer prowess against the famously skillful locals or just jumping in and out of the waves (although stick to the shallow end, and don't enter the water if the red flag is flying on the beach).
Grab a bite to eat at one of the many beach kiosks: pizza, burgers and other kid-friendly options are all available, alongside more typically Brazilian dishes such as fried sardines - known as 'chicken of the sea.' Wash it down with a cooling, hydrating coconut water. Kids will love the novelty of drinking it straight from the coconut through a straw.
After a quick refueling pit stop, it's decision-making time. Time-pressed visitors will have a tough time deciding whether to take the cable car ride up to the peak of Sugarloaf or to ride the funicular railway up the jungle-clad slope of Corcovado mountain to see the legendary Christ statue - officially one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World.
Both have great appeal to all ages, but for the best photo opportunities, head for the iconic Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado. You'll need to take another cab to the pretty Cosme Velho neighborhood, and from here you can make the ascent by van or by funicular railway. The latter is without question the funnest option, but expect lengthy queues. Families that are really pressed for time may be able to book organized tours that include a trip to the statue as well as the beaches. You'll miss out on a fun train ride through the jungle, but you'll save valuable time.
However you choose to visit the statue, be prepared to marvel not only at the mammoth statue itself, but also at the sweeping vistas that unfold from the foot of the Christ.