Kid-friendly attractions in Rio de Janeiro
By Maribeth Pjosek-Durkin
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Flickr: Rosino)
Families are discovering an endless array of kid-friendly fun in Rio de Janeiro. It’s more than Carnival parades and parties. Kids can hike through a rainforest, take a cable car ride through the clouds, build cities out of sand, and stand in the shadow of a 120-foot statue. These are just a sampling of the adventures that await families in Rio.
Here are a few fascinating (and unique) attractions and activities in Rio de Janeiro sure to make lasting memories for the whole family.
Copacabana Beach Sand Castles
Sea, sun and sand castles – Copacabana beach has everything families need for a fantastically fun day at the beach. Take surf lessons, soak up the sun and seek out some sensational sand castles. All along the famous Copacabana promenade, amazing artists sculpt colossal castles, giant dragons and sprawling kingdoms – entirely out of sand. One talented sculptor created Corcovado Mountain topped with Christ the Redeemer. Artists are always creating new masterpieces, and some even ask kids to help. TIP: Many beachfront hotels offer beach set-up service, or reserved beach areas complete with chairs, towels and umbrellas. Viewing the sand sculptures is a free activity.
Cable Car Ride to Sugarloaf Mountain
Riding the Rio Bondinho Cable Car (Flickr: Nan Palmero)
The stunning mountaintop views and cool cable cars make Sugarloaf Mountain a “can’t miss” family attraction. Cable car rides are a short, three-minute trip, but the experience is unforgettable. Kids will like that it takes two cable cars to climb up more than 1,200 feet to the top of Sugarloaf. The slow climb is smooth as peanut butter and very kid friendly. The first ride ends at Morro da Urca, where families can walk the Green Path, grab a snack and see older models of cable cars on display. One of the cars is of James Bond fame, ask a guide to point it out. From Urca, families can take a cable car back down or continue up to Sugarloaf. Cable cars depart every 20 minutes. TIP: Outdoorsy families can take a 30-minute hike up to Morro da Urca then ride the cable car to Sugarloaf. The park is open most days from 8am to 7pm. Kids under 6 years are free. Check the website for ticket prices and an interactive map.
Tijuca National Forest
Tijuca Forest (Photo: Halley Pacheco de Oliveira)
Tijuca National Forest is a kid friendly outdoor adventure into one of the world’s largest urban rainforests. The 8,000-acre park offers a wide range of activities. Families with older kids may enjoy some extreme sports, such as hang gliding, rock climbing and repelling. Younger families can seek out quiet picnic areas or follow a leisurely walking trail. Tell the kids to look for curious monkeys who tend to hang out along the walking trails. The dense and expansive jungle is best explored through private or group tours. Check with hotel concierge for recommendations. TIP: Entry to the Tijuca is free, but Corcovado/Christ the Redeemer (located inside the park) does charge admission. The park is open most days from 8am to 5pm. Check the website (Portuguese) for latest information.
Cog Train to Christ the Redeemer Statue
Cog Train to Christ the Redeemer Statue (Flickr: Jorge Láscar)
A must-see attraction for families is Corcovado Mountain and the magnificent Christ the Redeemer Statue. The red cog train makes getting to the mountaintop incredibly fun for kids. As the electric train chugs through lush forests, keep an ear open for howler monkeys, the forest’s noisy inhabitants. Once atop, capture postcard perfect pictures of the panoramic views of Rio. Let the kids marvel at the towering 120-foot Christ statue, which is one of the seven modern wonders of the world. TIP: Go early to avoid crowds, or sign up for a group or private tour. Ticket prices vary during high and low season. Check website for latest prices and hours. Children 5 and under free.
Parque Lage (Flickr: Pedro Botton)
Parque Lage is a relaxing family escape from the bustling city. Once an old sugar mill, the buildings and grounds have been transformed into a peaceful oasis. Stroll down the tree-lined walking paths, explore artificial caves and admire the beautiful greenery. Monkey’s roam the park freely. Remind kids not to chase or touch the monkeys, they are wild after all. The mansion building is now home to the School of Visual Arts of Parque Lage, which frequently hosts free art exhibits. Pack a picnic, or treat the family to lunch at the café. TIP: Guided tours are available and can be arranged prior to a visit. Check the website (Portuguese) for more information. Park is open most days from 8am to 5pm. Admission is free.
Where to Stay: Sheraton Grand Rio Hotel & Resort
Three pools, including children’s pool area, SHERATOONS Kids’ Club and beachfront access make this five-star resort incredibly family friendly. The resort offers an array of daily family activities, check recreation schedules upon arrival. Access to its semi-private beach area is only steps away, no busy streets to cross. Families interested in sightseeing should stop by the concierge, who readily gives suggestions, and even makes reservations for some of the area’s most popular tours. TIP: The resort offers family vacation packages. Check the website for details.
Maribeth Pjosek-Durkin contributed this to MiniTime.