Top Attractions to Enjoy near Rio de Janeiro's Cruise Port

Visitors planning to visit Rio de Janeiro by cruise ship are often disappointed to learn that their vessels will not be docking close to the famous beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, but instead in a rather less celebrated district of downtown.

Things are looking up for the area though -  although Rio de Janeiro's docklands were left neglected in recent decades, they are currently the focus of a major regeneration project by the city council, and the gentrification of the area is well underway.

The opening of Rio Art Museum (Museu de Arte do Rio, or MAR) in 2013 was overseen by Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff and is being followed by a steady stream of new cultural centers, bars and restaurants as the area is spruced up for the 2016 Rio Olympics.  

Close by, Cidade da Samba (Samba City) is a purpose-built venue offering visitors the chance to see colorful samba parades year-round. A quick cab ride will take you to Centro, the business heart of the city, and to Lapa, where it is possible to see some of Rio's oldest buildings, as well as to appreciate the colorful Escadaria Selaron (also known as the 'Lapa Steps') and the iconic Arcos da Lapa (Lapa Aqueduct). From here, it is a quick bus ride or steep climb on foot to Santa Teresa, a breezily beautiful hilltop neighborhood whose historic bars - such as the inviting Bar do Gomes - are tourist attractions in their own rights.  

Tijuca National Park
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson


The largest stretch of urban jungle in the world, Tijuca National Park is home to Corcovado mountain and the Christ statue as well as being the setting for some serious outdoor pursuits. While it isn't safe to enter the jungle without a...  Read More



Be sure to set aside time in your schedule to visit this unique, grand-scale artwork in downtown. Named after the Chilean artist Jorge Selaron, who dedicated the last decades of his life to tirelessly working on this 'tribute to the Brazilian...  Read More



Along with the beaches, the Christ statue and Sugar Loaf mountain, another postcard-perfect image of Rio are the mammoth white arches that stand in city's historic center. At night, revelers gather below the arches as a huge street party...  Read More



This Santa Teresa bar-restaurant was opened by a family of Spanish settlers in Brazil in 1919, when it doubled as a grocery store. The official name, Armazem Sao Thiago references this, but for decades this most inviting of watering holes has...  Read More

Santa Teresa
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson


There's more to Rio de Janeiro than its beaches, and the artistic heart of the city can be found up in the jungle-clad hills of Santa Teresa. Here, pastel-colored colonial mansions have been converted into bucolic bars, friendly guest houses,...  Read More



Rio de Janeiro is a spectacularly beautiful city, and visitors arriving in Rio by cruise ship will be wide-eyed with wonder as they take in sweeping vistas of mountains jungles and beaches. The cruise port itself is currently less than...  Read More



Rio Carnival is a once-a-year spectacular, but visitors can experience the glitz and glamour of the carnival parades year-round at this space dedicated to all things samba. The intricate carnival floats, spangly costumes and fleet-footed samba...  Read More



For a taste of Rio's Belle Epoque past, head to this historic cafe-restaurant in downtown Rio. Ornate chandeliers and jacaranda wood mirrors make an elegant setting for breakfasts, brunches and afternoon teas, and this is the ideal place to...  Read More



This impressive domed building in the heart of Rio's downtown 'cultural quarter' was formerly the headquarters of the Bank of Brasil, and today is an arts center hosting visiting exhibitions from big name international artists. There are...  Read More

Museu de Arte do Rio
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson


When this impressive art museum opened its doors in early 2013, it marked a turning point in the ongoing regeneration of Rio's downtown port zone. This once-neglected part of the city is set to become a major arts and nightlife destination over...  Read More


Meet Lucy Bryson

Lucy is a British freelance writer living in Rio de Janeiro since 2007. While there are some things she misses about her home country, the lure of year-round sunshine has proved too powerful to resist.