7 Free Things to Do in Rio De Janeiro

The crowds enjoy the picturesque beach in Rio de Janeiro
Gonzalo Azumendi / Getty Images

The amazing city of Rio de Janeiro is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Brazil. While there are plenty of ways to really splash out on a luxury vacation in Rio, it is certainly not necessary for enjoying yourself while there.

Stretching your budget may include staying in a hostel and eating inexpensively, but it shouldn't mean having a lack of things to do. There are a wealth of activities that you can enjoy during your visit to Rio and this list can help you plan ahead so you can maximize your savings.

Relax on the Beach

The beaches of Rio are at the heart of the social scene in the city, and laying a towel on the sand, soaking up the sun and watching everything going by is completely free. The Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are the most popular, and here you can watch games of beach football or volleyball, while swimming and surfing are also popular activities that you can enjoy if you bring your swimsuit and board.

Hike the Tijuca Forest

Within the city of Rio, the Tijuca Forest is legendary for its wonderful range of footpaths and areas to explore, while it is also an interesting place to explore where you can spot rare plants and some of the rare wildlife there.

The land was previously used to grow coffee and sugar, but the thirty-two square kilometers of forest was replanted in order to provide Rio with a good clean supply of drinking water. This is an amazing place to explore, with some great sculpture, beautiful forested areas and some lovely fountains and gardens too.

Visit the Centro Cultural Banco

Sponsored by the Bank of Brazil, this wonderful art museum is one of the most popular attractions in the city and is located in a wonderful art-deco building that was designed by Francisco Joaquin Bethencourt da Silva. The center is home to a regularly changing range of exhibitions and art installations and offers a great platform to some of the best artists in the country.

Explore the City's Artistic Side in Lapa

Known as a bohemian area of the city, Lapa is a fantastic vibrant area to visit and explore and has attracted many artists and performers, which means there are plenty of galleries and public art installations in the area. If you are looking to enjoy the nightlife of the city, Lapa is also one of the best districts for bars and clubs too!

See the Catedral Metropolitana

This cone-shaped building is one of the most impressive modern buildings in the city and was designed in a modern style referencing the pyramids that were built by the Mayan people. Inside this amazing building, there is space for up to 20,000 worshipers, and there are four huge stained glass windows that offer remarkable religious depictions in these spectacular surroundings.

Take in a Horse Race

One of the most interesting things that you can do in Rio is to head over to the Jockey Club, and while the stands may not be filled to the rafters, it is actually a very interesting place to watch the racing. You can watch from two areas of the stands for free, or there are paid areas of the stadium where you can enjoy a meal while placing a bet or two is also possible if you fancy a flutter.

Stroll the Leafy Streets

This popular area of the city is a middle-class area of the city that grew around the Santa Teresa Convent, and in the nineteenth century, the area was very much in vogue with the upper class of the city, while there are still some impressive mansions located around the area. The tree-lined streets and winding roads give the area a much more local atmosphere, and it is a wonderful place to explore with some nice boutiques and coffee shops.