how we spent 24 hours in rio

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The sweet smell of warm air and the clear blue sky letting the glorious sun shine down on us – Rio, we love you already! This marks officially our second summer for 2014 (even though it was June and technically still winter in Brazil).

With only 24 hours in Rio, we had to be prepared. Glad to be in our shorts, despite shivering when we left Curitiba in the early hours, we threw off our jackets, pulled out our Havianas from the backpack and slapped those to our feet.

Our two weeks in Brazil was predominantly made up of football so on the day we were flying out, we had a full day in Rio to be “tourists”.

Other than probably waiting in queues for about 3-4 of those hours AND sitting in traffic, gondolas and furniculars for another 2 hours or so. This is how we spent, it actually seeing a few main sights of Rio de Janeiro.

Sugarloaf Mountain

It got its name from a direct Portuguese translation. The mountain looked like a sugarloaf mould…. To get atop Sugarloaf, it requires two cable cars. From the ticket booth, we could get a clear view of the mountain. Great to look at but it is the view from the top that is worth waiting for!

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Copacabana Beach

A beach of that size is just begging to be enjoyed. There was samba music playing, there was people cheering, there was people blowing horns and whistles. Everything is happening – you name it, we saw it! There are vendors selling hats, bags, souvenirs and food (sandwiches from cooler bags, coconut drinks and prawns on skewers). There are bodies littering the beach, sunbathing or building sandcastles, swimming, playing beach soccer or beach volleyball. Everyone wearing not much, we were possibly the two most overdressed on the beach. We are not big on beaches but Copacabana alone has made us want to come back to Rio!

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Christ the Redeemer

We were at Corcovado in the late afternoon. Our tickets for the furnicular were to be at the top by sunset. But thanks to the crowd numbers, we were delayed and so missed seeing Rio during the day and at night which is what we had hoped for. Oh well, we will just have to come back again and see it for ourselves during the day. Not that the views at night was a problem. Far from it…..

A furnicular ride, an elevator ride and 2 escalator rides later, we see the ONE thing that we wanted to see in Rio: the statue of Christ, illuminated at night. What hits us first is the size of it…. Our eyes start at the base of the statue and work up and up and up. Craning our necks, we finally see his outstretched arms. And yes, it does bring a tear to our eyes.


What a magnificent way to end our time in Brazil; standing above Rio at the feet of Jesus! The place is teeming with tourists but we take the time to look out into the city’s lights below and just reflect on how lucky we are to have made it here, to experience one of David’s biggest dreams ever and to see one of the world’s most renowned monuments.



Admittedly, the three things we saw were touristy but all three provided an experience that was unique and memorable to us in their own way! The added World Cup football fever may have also contributed to the atmosphere and the vibe of the city. And we know one thing is for certain, Brazil, you will be seeing us again!

Have you been to Rio de Janeiro? 

Share your experiences.


45 thoughts on “how we spent 24 hours in rio

    abitofculture said:
    December 5, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Some fantastic photos there! Rio has been number 1 on my wish list for too long now. I saw it on a TV travel show when I was younger, and the presenter jumped off one of the hills on a hand glider and landed on a beach. I thought I’ve got to do that one day!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 6, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      Hmmm… we weren’t that adventurous to jump off any hills! 🙂 But we certainly will be coming back for more of Rio one day that is for sure and maybe then we will hang glide!

      Thanks for stopping by – hope you get to Rio one day!

    thegrownupgapyear said:
    December 4, 2014 at 1:22 am

    I love Rio! We were so unlucky when we went to see Christ the Redeemer – it was so cloudy we could only see his feet!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 4, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      Wow – that must’ve been super cloudy! What time of year were you there? We really really really need to go back to Brazil 🙂

    Constance - Foreign Sanctuary said:
    December 3, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    I am amazed that you got to do so much in 24 hours!! The views from Sugarloaf Mountain are just beautiful and your photos of Christ the Redeemer are great as well. I have never been to Rio but hopefully some day I will have a chance to check out the city!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 4, 2014 at 7:43 pm

      Thank you so much! Fingers crossed that you have the chance to visit Rio one day! Our 24 hours really wiped us out on our mammoth flight back home again – so we were so glad we could see what we did and also sleep through our way home!

    Vlad said:
    December 3, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Touristy or not, what matters is that you had a great time! Beautiful pictures, as always, Rio looks like an amazing city. 😀

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 4, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      So very true! We definitely had a great and tiring time! Thanks Vlad for your lovely comment 🙂

    katpegimana said:
    December 2, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Never mind about this concept of “traveller” vs “tourist”…at the end of the day, you were out there to experience it, that’s all it matters! Great post and photos 🙂

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 2, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      Completely agree with you – why waste discussing that debate, huh? We all should just get out there to see the world!

      Thanks for reading and for leaving us your comment 🙂

    the eternal traveller said:
    December 2, 2014 at 7:33 am

    Tourist v Traveller…sometimes it’s good to be a bit of both. You really managed to get a taste of Rio. Well done. I have one question…how did they get that cable car station up there?

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 2, 2014 at 8:16 am

      And a very good question at that! Let’s just say, the same way they get cable car stations to any of those obscurely small and high places 🙂

      The definition of tourist and traveller are subjective and depending on the situation we all cross over to one or the other! The only time we get a little frustrated is when tourist (or traveller) become disrespectful, act inappropriately or believe they are entitled to something because they have travelled so far and wide to see or do something!

    sophierose233 said:
    December 2, 2014 at 3:42 am

    Now that is a way to spend 24 hours in Rio! Great photos too!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 2, 2014 at 8:02 am

      Thank you 🙂 It was a very busy 24 hours and we were totally wiped out on the flight home – which was good! We also squeezed in a traditional Brazilian churrasco dinner too.

    Sha said:
    December 2, 2014 at 3:06 am

    I think it’s fine being tourists when traveling, I do it all the time! Haha…but I would love to visit the beach, if only to be able to tell people I’ve been on THE copacabana beach in rio..hehe..😄

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 2, 2014 at 8:04 am

      Yeh, we agree…. being tourists while travelling is fine. But when tourists start behaving inappropriately or disrespectfully – that is when we want to separate ourselves as being one of those “tourists”.

      Ahhh… Copacabana is definitely one we want to go back to even though we are not beach people ourselves!

    backpackerlee said:
    December 2, 2014 at 12:59 am

    Sugar Loaf, Christ the Redeemer, Copacabana…so awesome! I would love to visit them all! Rio is (apart from maybe Santiago 😉 ) my fave city in South America. I know what you mean about them all being touristy sites, but it must be great to check off on your bucket list.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 2, 2014 at 8:13 am

      Definitely a thrill to have been able to see them all…. in our flying trip visit in Rio!

      We are yet to visit Chile, but one of these days we will get there & get to experience Santiago 🙂

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. Where now and where to next for you?

    Sarah Ferguson said:
    December 2, 2014 at 12:46 am

    I haven’t been, but I would love to go! I have been to Ecuador, but I definitely think I need a return trip to South America sometime sooner rather than later!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 2, 2014 at 8:11 am

      Now Ecuador is a place we only managed to “duck” into as well. We had a week on the Galapagos and only several hours in Quito. There is so much more we want to see there… and the rest of South America!

      Let’s hope both you and us get to see more of the region sooooooon 🙂

        Sarah Ferguson said:
        December 3, 2014 at 7:30 am

        Definitely! I did the Galapagos and then got into the mountains in Ecuador (with some Quito time thrown in). I’d love to do a rain forest trip – my dad has been way up the Amazon fishing, and it sounds absolutely amazing.

          wisemonkeysabroad responded:
          December 4, 2014 at 7:45 pm

          Oooooh wow! We did the Amazon on the same trip in Peru. It was a rather unique experience… I (Le) couldn’t sleep the first night with all the outside noises etc…. Definitely out of my comfort zone but it was an experience we will remember. But even after that, we do want to go back to the jungle from the Brazilian side 🙂 Maybe one day….

    Packing my Suitcase said:
    December 2, 2014 at 12:42 am

    Wooow, Im impressed with how much you managed to do in 24 hours!! Great job!! And you were very lucky with the weather, in particular with the blue sky 😀 amazing!!
    Dont worry, the things you visited were touristy, but it is a must in Rio, especially if you have such short time there! I hope you guys go back someday and stay longer to explore much more 😀
    Great post and photos!! I miss my country 😀

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 2, 2014 at 8:10 am

      Ahh…. we had absolutely amazing weather 🙂 And we enjoyed every minute of it! We really can’t wait to go back for more – Brazil is such a cool country.

      We have to admit – we sometimes do LOVE the touristy stuff but we do cringe at the crowds as well as the “typical”-ness of it. However, when we only have 24 hours… got to make the most of it!

      Hope you have been well… what’s next planned for you??

        Packing my Suitcase said:
        December 3, 2014 at 1:41 am

        It makes happy to know you like my country 😀 I hope you go back someday and spend more time. You can’t miss the Northeast of the country, where I come from… lots of amazing beaches 😉

        Thank you I am really well 🙂
        Im spending New Years Eve in Tuscany, in the middle of the vineyards nearby Siena. Then in January Im going to Brazil to visit my family for a couple of weeks 😀
        What about you? Thinking of the next stops?

          wisemonkeysabroad responded:
          December 3, 2014 at 7:07 am

          Wow!! Sounds so wonderful what you have planned. Actually, we don’t have any international trips planned yet. We are off on a road trip to Melbourne in April for a wedding. We have a few short trips around the state planned but that is about it.

            Packing my Suitcase said:
            December 3, 2014 at 7:24 pm

            Its already awesome! Australia is amazing and soooo big like Brazil, Im sure there will be awesome trips for you within the country 😀 and post about them, because I really like your country 😀

            wisemonkeysabroad responded:
            December 4, 2014 at 7:42 pm

            Awwww… thanks Allane! We will be sure to try and get some Aussie posts up here when we can squeeze some in 🙂

            Packing my Suitcase said:
            December 5, 2014 at 3:23 am

            Yaaay, sounds like a great plan 😀

    Dan McElroy said:
    December 2, 2014 at 12:00 am

    I’m hoping to make it to Rio next year sometime. Thanks for the ideas and I like this idea for an article. It’s surprising how often you have a short amount of time to explore a city. I’m thinking of writing a post on “24 hours in Hong Kong” one of these days … anyway, great job and thanks for the info! I want to go to Rio sooner now 🙂

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 2, 2014 at 8:06 am

      Hey Dan! Thanks for reading and for your comment! Glad to hear that you liked the post…. we are yet to do HK so will be keen to see how you suggest we spend 24 hours there 🙂
      Hope you get to Rio one day real soon and we hope we get to go back again too!! Have a good week!

    whichwaynow101 said:
    December 1, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Nothing wrong with being a tourist! What a great experience for you and to cram it all into 1 day. Great photos!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 1, 2014 at 9:14 pm

      Absolutely NOTHING being wrong with a tourist when it comes to sight-seeing. The age-old question: tourist VS traveller, right??!

      Thanks so much for reading and for your lovely words!

    Shikha (whywasteannualleave) said:
    December 1, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I went to Rio earlier this year and completely agree these things are must sees regardless of how touristy they are! We were staying on the copacabana and I felt equally overdressed 😀

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 1, 2014 at 9:13 pm

      Next time, we are definitely staying in Rio for a little bit of the vibe over a few days 🙂 With all “touristy” things, we think they are “touristy” for a reason – when things start getting tacky – that is when we draw the line! But……. it is worth experiencing or seeing things once before ruling it out 🙂
      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

    maverickbird said:
    December 1, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Wow. Your post got me going Mmmmm.. I so miss Rio. Want to go there NOW.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 1, 2014 at 9:11 pm

      Well, you know what we would say! We would say… just go for it 🙂 Thanks for reading!

    prior said:
    December 1, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    what a fantastic 24 hors – wowwwwwww

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 1, 2014 at 9:10 pm

      Yeah, we were TOTALLY wiped out on the flight back home! It was a good thing we wore ourselves running around Rio… hehehehe

    Gypsy Bev said:
    December 1, 2014 at 11:53 am

    What beautiful scenery. My grandson recently sent me a picture of the Christ of the Andes also on his recent visit there. He works for an airline and enjoys traveling – like his gypsy grandmother.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 1, 2014 at 9:10 pm

      Well, a lucky grandson you have! We need to find a job in tourism so that we can travel more ….. Brazil is truly a beautiful place to visit even though we saw less than 0.0001% of it 😉 Thank you for dropping us a line!

    Elizabeth said:
    December 1, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Lovely photos, yes I’ve been to all these places, and I miss very much, the heat, the people, the food….. everything, it’s a fabulous country, and Rio a city ‘maravilhosa’. I wish I could be there now, not in this cold weather here in Canada.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 1, 2014 at 9:09 pm

      Oooh… how cold is it in Canada at the moment? We are ramping up into summer now so it is good and bad. We love the sunshine but the high temps can get pretty stifling! We would love to experience a white Xmas one year 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

    LyndaS said:
    December 1, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Sadly, no I have not been to Brazil, let alone South America.

    Thanks for sharing your amazing pictures. Until I go on my own, I will live vicariously through your site. 🙂

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 1, 2014 at 9:07 pm

      Hi Lynda! Thank you for your compliment of our photos 🙂 Brazil is so massive, we definitely need to go back for some more! Hope you are well!

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