Rio de Janeiro City Tours

An exuberant nature, neighborhoods to fall in love with or iconic monuments. All this is waiting for you in Rio de Janeiro, and you can get to know it through the tours that I am going to recommend if you continue reading. Let's go there!

Rocío Villaescusa

Rocío Villaescusa

11 min read

Rio de Janeiro City Tours

Rio de Janeiro | Raphael Nogueira

From 3 to 8 hours. Depending on how you want to organize your travel days, you will find the perfect time for these tours, which will make you discover all that Rio de Janeiro and its surroundings have to offer in a unique way.

With these tours you will be able to make the most of your time. With them, you can discover the Sugar Loaf and the imposing Christ the Redeemer, go into the jungle in a jeep and feel like a real explorer or stroll through the favelas and see what life is like in them. And there is so much more that Rio de Janeiro has to offer, how could you miss it?

1. Get to know the Santa Marta favela and its famous video clip

Santa Marta slum| ©dany13
Santa Marta slum| ©dany13

If you want to visit a favela neighborhood, and you are a fan of Michael Jackson, this is the tour to choose. With a local guide (who lives in the area itself), you will be able to delve into the history and life of the Santa Marta favela. It is an itinerary that takes about 2 hours and a half and that will allow you to learn about its past and its daily life.

Normally, you will go up to the Laje do Michael Jackson, from where you will enjoy a spectacular panoramic view and you can take some pictures next to the statue of Michael Jackson. And what is a sculpture of this artist doing here? It's easy to explain, have you seen the video clip "They don't care about us"?

Michael chose the Santa Marta favela to film this video, so I recommend you watch it beforehand so you can recognize the places that appear during your visit. It's incredible to think that Michael Jackson was there!

You will also learn first hand about the projects that seek to provide better living conditions in the favela, and you will visit the community daycare center, the neighborhood association and several handicraft stores where you can buy a special souvenir. Undoubtedly one of the best favela tours Rio de Janeiro has to offer.

Interesting facts to choose this tour

  • Price: From 31 €.
  • Duration. 2 hours and a half.
  • Means of transport: On foot.
  • Advantages of this option: If you want to know a favela with a plus of history, this tour is perfect.
  • Disadvantages of this option: If you are not a fan of Michael Jackson, you may find other favela tours more interesting.

Book a guided tour of the favela Santa Marta

2. Discover the art of Rocinha slum

Rocinha favela| ©Carlos Varela
Rocinha favela| ©Carlos Varela

For about 3 hours, you can get an up-close look at life in the Rocinha favela through a guided tour. If you're interested in getting to know a Brazil beyond the tourist or leisure, this tour will give you a real perspective of life in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.

Your local guide is also a resident of the favela itself, and will tell you about the daily life of the community, its challenges and its enormous talent.

You'll love the murals in Rocinha, you can tell that the street artists put their heart and soul into coloring the streets! You will see around you houses painted with intense colors and you will make a stop at the Devil's Trampoline, also known as Gávea Circuit. This place was the scene of car races between 1933 and 1954. Super curious!

You will also be interested to know that the cost of this tour includes a financial contribution that is given to the community of Rocinha, to support its development. In addition, the tour includes round-trip transportation from your hotel in Rio de Janeiro in a comfortable air-conditioned van.

Interesting facts to choose this tour

  • Price: From 34 €.
  • Duration: 3 hours.
  • Means of transportation: On foot.
  • Advantages of this option: To learn about life in the favelas and their street art, this is the ideal tour.
  • Disadvantages of this option: Since it lasts 3 hours, it may be somewhat more complicated to combine it with other activities that day, but if you think it's a good plan, you can fit it well into your travel schedule.

Book your Rocinha favelas tour

3. Sharpen your aim at the Olympic Cauldron and discover the future of science at the Museum of Tomorrow

Olympic Boulevard| ©Riotur.Rio
Olympic Boulevard| ©Riotur.Rio

If when you think of traveling to Rio de Janeiro, you thought of the Olympics, this tour is a must. Explore one of the symbols that identify the city: the Olympic Boulevard!

In addition, this tour will give you the opportunity to visit the Museum of Tomorrow. It may not be well known, but it is super interesting. This museum is the work of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, you'll definitely notice it right away if you know about his other buildings! It's very focused on sustainability and all of its exhibits are geared towards the future of science. You'll be in the museum for about 1.5 hours, and I'm sure you'll be amazed.

When I talk about the Olympic Cauldron, I am referring to the famous Olympic torch from the 2016 Olympic Games (also called the cauldron). Well, you will also be able to see it on this tour!

During the tour of these points of interest, where you will be accompanied by your guide, you will be able to see other places such as:

  • Porto Maravilha, the port area of Rio that has become one of the main tourist attractions of the city.
  • Mauá Square, also closely linked to the history of the 2016 Olympic Games.
  • The Church of Our Lady of Candelaria, one of the most outstanding and beautiful churches in Brazil.

In addition, you will have free time to enjoy the Confeitaria Colombo, if you have not yet had the chance to do so in your time in Rio at this point of the trip. You can simply visit it or take the opportunity to have a drink and recharge your batteries.

Interesting facts to choose this tour

  • Price: From 46 €.
  • Duration: 4 hours.
  • Means of transport: On foot.
  • Advantages of this option: If you want to do a cultural and historical tour, this is a must to learn about the recent history of Rio de Janeiro.
  • Disadvantages of this option: If you only have a few days to travel, this tour may not be your priority. You can reserve it for a second trip if you are short on time.

Book this Olympic Boulevard Tour

4. A favela and a hiking trail: the most authentic Rio de Janeiro

Hiking in Rio| ©Elias Rovielo
Hiking in Rio| ©Elias Rovielo

Visiting a favela and hiking in half a day is not a bad plan to get to know a different side of Rio de Janeiro. With this tour, you will explore the majestic Two Brothers Hill, giving you an experience full of contrasts and unforgettable moments.

You will start the trip by entering the Vidigal favela, a neighborhood that reveals the social contrasts of the city and where street art comes alive in every corner. You will learn about the daily life of this community of people with incredible stories as we walk to the top of the Dos Hermanos.

As you ascend the hill, you will encounter breathtaking views, well worth the hike, I assure you! You will see from the Pedra da Gávea, a good place for a hiking trail to the majestic Corcovado mountain, and the famous Rocinha favela. A beautiful viewpoint of the city that not everyone knows.

Since you are going to do a hiking route, you will have transportation to the hotel afterwards, so don't worry about the return trip. All in all, a great plan if you are only going to be in Rio de Janeiro for 3 days.

Interesting facts to choose this tour

  • Price: From 51 €.
  • Duration: 4 hours.
  • Means of transport: On foot.
  • Advantages of this option: Tour less touristic, but more authentic areas of Rio de Janeiro.
  • Disadvantages of this option: If you do not feel like hiking during your trip, it may not be the most suitable tour for you.

Book a tour of Vidigal

5. Tour the Santa Teresa neighborhood on its famous streetcar

RIo Tramway| ©Rodrigo Soldon
RIo Tramway| ©Rodrigo Soldon

You will only need half a day to explore the most emblematic areas of the city of Rio. You will be accompanied by a local guide, who will tell you the most interesting and curious of each corner of these neighborhoods.

You will start with a bohemian atmosphere in the Santa Teresa neighborhood, including a ride on its famous streetcar through the beautiful cobblestone streets. During this tour you will see the Arcos da Lapa, an impressive architectural structure that has become an emblem of the city.

Then, you will have the opportunity to visit the Parque das Ruinas, an old building converted into an amazing cultural space, and the famous Selarón Staircase, whose colorful tiles will make it impossible not to take pictures on it. But there is still more!

You still have to visit the imposing Cinelândia, one of the largest public squares in Rio de Janeiro, check out its imposing architecture! And to finish, enjoy a relaxing moment at the Passeio Público, and don't forget to visit the iconic Confeitaria Colombo café, a place that has witnessed the history of the city.

Interesting facts to choose this tour

  • Price: From 37 €.
  • Duration: 4 hours.
  • Means of transport: Tram.
  • Advantages of this option: Get to know the highlights of the historic center of Rio in the same tour.
  • Disadvantages of this option: If you choose the complete tour of Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf and Selarón, you may have to pass through this area twice.

Book a tour of Santa Teresa and Selarón

6. Go deep into the Tijuca rainforest by jeep

Jeep| ©Jeferson Felix
Jeep| ©Jeferson Felix

Rio is much more than just going to a soccer match or walking the streets. Just a short distance away, nature opens its way and offers spectacular sites.

If you choose this tour, 4 hours of adventures in the middle of the rainforest await you. The Tijuca rainforest is considered the largest urban forest in the world, and you can tour it by jeep.

A guide will accompany you at all times, and will show you all the details of this unique ecosystem, home to an amazing variety of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, colorful birds and incredibly colorful butterflies.

But the experience does not end there, as the most interesting point of this tour is undoubtedly the spectacular Vista Chinesa, from where you can admire panoramic views of the famous beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana. The majesty of the rainforest will unfold before your eyes as you enter the untouched nature of the Tijuca National Park, and walk to the beautiful Cachoeira dos Macacos, a waterfall that adds a touch of serenity to this adventure.

Interesting facts to choose this tour

  • Price: From 63 €.
  • Duration: 4 hours.
  • Means of transportation: Jeep.
  • Advantages of this option: Experience nature close to the city.
  • Disadvantages of this option: If you are more of an urbanite than an adventurer, this may not be the tour for you. However, I recommend you try it!

Book your Tijuca Jeep Tour

7. Rio de Janeiro's biggest icons in one tour

Sugarloaf Mountain| ©NFTOMY
Sugarloaf Mountain| ©NFTOMY

How about dedicating 8 hours to discover Rio de Janeiro's most iconic monuments? An exciting day awaits you visiting the iconic Christ the Redeemer, the impressive Sugarloaf Mountain and the colorful mosaic of Selarón. All, starting with a hotel pick-up service so you only have to worry about enjoying every second.

The day usually starts with a visit to the Paineiras Visitors Center, where you will learn about the rich history and cultural importance of the city of Rio. From there you usually go to the famous Christ the Redeemer, inaugurated in 1931 and one of the seven wonders of the modern world. If you want to spend more time there, you can always book a visit just to see the statue.

Next is usually Sugarloaf Mountain, another unmistakable landmark of Rio de Janeiro. You will take the cable car up to Urca Hill and arrive at Sugarloaf, from where you will enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the city.

After these two great icons, there is still more to discover: the bohemian neighborhood of Selarón, where each step is a work of art in itself, composed of the famous colorful tiles. The next thing you can do (if you want to) is to shake your hips at the Sambódromo da Marquês de Sapucaí, the heart of Rio's carnival. Feel the energy of the most famous carnival in the world!

Interesting facts to choose this tour

  • Price: From 56 €.
  • Duration: 8 hours.
  • Means of transportation: Bus and cable car.
  • Advantages of this option: With a single tour you will know the most important icons of the city.
  • Disadvantages of this option: It requires a good planning of your travel time, as it takes quite a few hours.

Book a tour of Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf and Selaron

What are the advantages of taking a guided tour instead of visiting Rio de Janeiro on my own?

Getting to know Rio de Janeiro| ©
Getting to know Rio de Janeiro| ©

First of all, it is important to keep in mind that the guides have a deep knowledge of the history, culture and points of interest of the city, so they will help enrich your experience. In addition, the tours include stops at emblematic places and specific activities, which allows you to make the most of your time during the trip and not have to plan every detail or run the risk of getting lost looking for a point of interest.

Another advantage is the comfort and safety that a guided tour gives you. The guides know the best paths and will avoid less safe places, which is especially important in a city as big as Rio de Janeiro. The tours also give you the opportunity to meet other travelers, who knows if a tour might lead to a new friendship!

How much does a tour of Rio de Janeiro cost?

Money in Euros| ©Ibrahim Boran
Money in Euros| ©Ibrahim Boran

Taking into account the examples I have recommended, you will see that the range of prices is between 30 (like the Santa Marta favela tour) and 60 euros (like the Tijuca jungle tour), approximately. Taking into account that in all of them you will have transportation from the hotel and a guide available, these prices are quite commensurate with the experiences they offer.

In addition, it is a way to optimize the time of your trip, so the tours are a saving in terms of unforeseen events that may arise if you choose to do activities on your own in an unfamiliar city, as in this case Rio de Janeiro.

If you need to adjust your budget or time, choose the number of tours that best suit your trip, so you can enjoy 100% of the experience.