10 Ways to Make the Most of Rio's Magnificent Natural Landscape

Rio de Janeiro really puts the 'great' in 'great outdoors'. The city is a dream destination for thrill seekers, sporty types and nature lovers.  The stunning city is home not only to seemingly endless beaches, but it also boasts eye-boggling mountains, and the world's largest swathe of urban jungle in the form of Tijuca National Park. Surfers and bodyboarders hone their skills at the beaches west of the city, while joggers and cyclists speed along the beachfront.

Rio de Janeiro outdoor activities can be as heart-racingly energetic or as soothingly laid back as visitors choose. While a strong undertow at most Rio de Janeiro beaches means that swimming is best left to the locals, there is ample opportunity to learn to surf with skilled instructors in Rio, while pleasant gardens such as Jardim Botanico and Parque Lage provide an opportunity to appreciate the city's magnificent native flora without breaking a sweat.

Hardy souls can hike through the jungle to arrive at legendary statue of Christ the Redeemer, at the peak of Corcovado mountain, while more leisurely strolls will lead visitors past natural pools and waterfalls to viewpoints that take in sweeping vistas over this most dramatically beautiful of citites.

And with a year-round hot, sunny climate, the only excuse for staying indoors is a tropical downpour - when it rains, the locals make a dash for their homes, or the nearest bar. 

Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson

Lagao Rodrigues de Freitas, or Lagoa as it is popularly known, is Rio's beautiful city lake and yet another postcard perfect scene in this city of so many natural wonders. The vast stretch of water is flanked by jungle-clad, cloud-swathed...  Read More

Sugar Loaf (Pao de Acucar)
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson

One of the most famous mountain peaks in the world, Sugar Loaf (Pao de Acucar in Portuguese) scarcely needs an introduction. But while you may be familiar with the tourist board images of the cable car making its dizzying ascent up to the top...  Read More

No trip to Rio would be complete without a trip to see 'the Big Guy', and the views from the feet of this most iconic of statues are truly breathtaking. One of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World, the 'Christo Redentor' stands tall atop...  Read More

While Copacabana wins out as the most picture-perfect city beach in Rio, Ipanema is easily the more chic of the two neighboring stretches of sand. Less flanked by high rise hotels than its neighbor, Ipanema is the ideal place to while away...  Read More

Botanical Gardens
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson

The informal restaurant inside the leafy gardens that give Jardim Botanico its name is one of the most pleasant spots in the city to enjoy a sandwich, salad and a coffee or glass of wine. This shady botanical garden is a must-visit for...  Read More

Costa Verde
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson

Rio de Janeiro´s city beaches are famous the world over, and with good reason. But if you´ve been partying hard during your Rio vacation and are feeling the need for a little rest and relaxation in more tranquil surrounds, the Costa Verde...  Read More

Copacabana Beach
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson

Copacabana beach is famous the world over, and while it's 1950s glamorous heyday is over, it is still a spectacular stretch of sand. The crashing waves, scantically-clad beachgoers and skilled beach soccer players all call the eye, while the...  Read More

This beautiful park, located right next door to Rio de Janeiro's famous Botanical Gardens, is largely overlooked by tourists. More fool them, as the park is home to one of the most spectacular builldings in the city, framed by the figure of...  Read More

Some 40-minutes bus or cab ride away from Ipanema and Copacabana, this scenic beach is a popular hangout for surfers and body boarders. Although packed at weekends and on public holidays, it is usually blissfully quiet during the week. The...  Read More

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. It isn't advisable to enter the jungle without a...  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.