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The Traveller's Magazine
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Spent your entire travel budget on World Cup football tickets but still want to get the real Rio experience? There’s plenty to see and do in this Brazilian city without needing to dig to the bottom of your purse. Here’s our guide to experiencing Rio for free.

Explore the great outdoors

Beaches – Rio is home to some of the best beaches in the world. Copacabana Beach is the most famous and a great place to pass the afternoon playing beach volleyball or making sand castles. Ipanema Beach and Leblon Beach attract younger crowds while Macumba Beach is a good choice if you want something a bit more secluded.

Urban forests – Rio de Janeiro is home to the largest urban forest in the world, Tijuca Forest and is home to a host of native birds, animals and trees. While there are guided tours, a lot of the trails are easily to explore on your own for free, just be sure to stick to designated pathways because it’s really easy to get lost here.


Mountains – There is some great hiking right within the city limits, a great asset to the city. Trek to the top of Corcovado Mountain where the Christ the Redeemer statue stands. From there views of Tijuca Forest National Park and the bays are incredible. Sugarloaf Mountain is also great for hiking.

City Sights

Rio de Janeiro is a city with plenty of natural beauty and a city with plenty of urban pleasures too, from free museums to cultural centres, street art and more.

Centro Cultural Bando do Brasil (CCBB) – This was the first bank built in Brazil but today it’s a museum and cultural centre with a cinema, exhibition space, theatre, library, bookshop and cafe.

Rui Barbose Museum – This museum is free only on Sundays so plan your trip to this 19th century home accordingly. The house is a fine example of 19th century architecture and interior design but also aims to preserve the legacy of Rui Barbosa, a Brazilian politician and writer.

National Library of Brazil – The National Library was inaugurated in 1910 and contains an impressive collection of things like letters written by Princess Isabel and copies of the first newspapers ever printed in the country.

The Selarón Steps – One of the city’s most unique sights is located in Lapa, the Selarón Steps. Local artist Jorge Selarón built the steps to pay tribute to Brazilians everywhere. The artist began replacing the tiles on the stairs one by one in 1990 and today it’s an incredible mosaic of colour and design. It’s really something beautiful.


Planning a holiday in Brazil for 2014?

Like to travel for free? We’ve created dozens of free city guides on the Traveller’s Blog from Venice to Vancouver, Paris to Hong Kong.

Imgs: markgee6, soldon,  / Flickr cc.

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