Rio de Janeiro is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, iconic landmarks, and vibrant culture. Those are just part of the several reasons we decided to spend a month in Rio de Janeiro after our time in Portugal before heading to Dubai. Check out our guide to the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro with kids.
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15 Family-Friendly Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro with Kids
One of the great things about being a digital nomad family is that we can take our time. Slow travel is the way to go if you want to travel long-term with kids.
Depending on my work schedule, we explore in the mornings/afternoon, and I work in the late afternoons/early evenings. Instead of trying to rush through everything in a week, we have a month and sometimes more.
We know everyone doesn’t have time to look for the perfect itinerary for exploring Rio with kids, so we did it for you. Here are some of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro with kids.
Visit Christ the Redeemer
Christ the Redeemer is an iconic statue atop Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The once modern-day Seven Wonders of the World stands at a staggering 98 feet tall.
The statue is a representation of Brazil’s culture and faith. On a clear day, you can see it from different points throughout the city.
We wrote a complete guide on visiting Christ the Redeemer with kids. Here is the cliff notes version.
If you want to take the train, purchase your tickets in advance here.
Head to Cosme Velho Station to start your journey. If you are traveling with little ones, take an elevator and escalators to the top, and you can skip the hard work on the way up.
We went on a cloudy day, so we didn’t get the picturesque views, but it was still amazing to see. Our son wasn’t happy about being here (with the bugs and sun), so we didn’t stay too long.
We may go back before we leave to get the full view, but even if we do not get the chance, it was amazing to see another former modern-day Seven Wonders of the World.
Prices for Christ the Redeemer with Kids:
The prices change based on the season or on special days. We visited during the low season, so it was lower than usual. Prices vary from day to day. I am writing this on Mother’s Day here in Rio de Janeiro, and the price is R$117.50 for adults.
- Adults – R$93.50 – R$117.50 depending on the season or national holiday (over 11 years old) $19 – $24 USD depending on the exchange rate
- Children – R$64 (ages 5-11 under 5 years old are free) $13 USD depending on the exchange rate
- Elder – R$32 (60+ years old and Brasilian citizen/resident) $6.50 USD depending on the exchange rate
Discover the Museum of Tomorrow
You cannot visit Rio de Janeiro with kids without stopping at the Museum of Tomorrow (Museu do Amanha). The building, designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, is a beautiful blend of modern and futuristic design.
Its unique shape and curvature reflect the museum’s science, technology, and sustainability values. The amazement doesn’t stop at the design. From hands-on displays to virtual reality, the museum offers a fascinating and educational journey about the world.
This is another learning opportunity outside the classroom. It’s a starting point for teaching your little ones how they can help change the world.
We emphasize doing our part to save our planet. At home, we recycle, use water conservatively, turn off the lights, and buy local ingredients. You are never too young to make a difference.
Most exhibits are in Portuguese, but there are captions parts in English. Our son loved the movie, which is the first part of the exhibit. It’s in Portuguese, but it’s cool to watch, even if you don’t understand the audio.
We recommend going during the week when there are fewer people. On the weekends, vendors outside the museum sell local arts, food, or clothes.
Museum of Technology Prices
- Full Price – R$30 22 and older
- Half Price – R$15 6 to 21 years old (kids under 5 are free)
You can purchase tickets here. If you speak Portuguese, buy your tickets at the museum. For those who do not speak Portuguese fluently, getting your tickets in advance will make your visit easier.
Take the Cable Cars to Sugarloaf Mountain
I couldn’t get the website to work to purchase the tickets in advance, so we arrived early to beat the crowds and buy our tickets. We were the first ones in line, which is an accomplishment because we can’t seem to get out the door on time these days.
There are two mountains, with the first one being Pão de Açucar. When you get to the top, there are breathtaking views of Rio.
If you want to take your experience to the next level, you can take a helicopter ride around the area to see the view from above.
While exploring, we got a sandwich while our son played at the playground. Many workers do not speak English, so you will do a lot of pointing. We wanted to order a ham sandwich with no tomato and got a grilled cheese sandwich.
Since we arrived early, there weren’t many people, so our son had space to run, and he took advantage. The playground is a cute area for kids to play before or after ascending to Sugarloaf.
Board the second cable car to get to Sugarloaf Mountain. The ascend is fast. It only took 3 minutes on each cable car, and the ride was smooth.
There isn’t a lot of space, but it’s enough to be comfortable and see the city. Our son loved it. He pointed out everything he could see and was excited to be on top of the world.
When you arrive at the top, there are more restaurants and vendors, but the views are indescribable. There isn’t much to do because the views of the city are the attraction.
My son had some ice cream (expensive), and we hung out for a while. Kids will enjoy the first mountain more because there is more to do, and it’s more space to run around and be a kid.
Sugarloaf Mountain Prices
- Basic Ticket – R$160 (children between 3-12 years old are R$80)
- Fast Pass Ticket – R$260 (children between 3-12 years old are R$130)
- Historic Tour – R$320 (children between 3-12 years old are R$130)
- Backstage Tour – R$320 (children between 3-12 years old are R$130)
- Ecological Tour – R$320 (children between 3-12 years old are R$130)
Relax on the Beach
Rio de Janeiro is full of beaches. You cannot visit Rio with kids without stopping at one of the beautiful beaches.
On our tour with Private Shuttle in Rio, we stopped at lesser-known local beaches. These beaches are pristine and practically empty during the week.
There is a beach only accessible by swimming or kayaking. The beach is guarded/owned by the military, and it’s breathtaking.
The sand is white, and there are virtually no waves, so it’s great for a family picnic if you can get there. We got a good view of the military beach on our hike to telegraph rock.
Unfortunately, our four-year-old had a fit about not wanting to go to the beach, and the current was too strong to get in the water.
The most popular and well-known beaches are Copacabana and Leblon, but we recommend visiting some of the local beaches:
- Vermelha Beach
- Barra da Tijuca
- Vidigal Beach
- Grumari Beach
- Macumba Beach
- Arpoador Beach
Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon
The Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon is where locals spend their weekends. The lagoon is a fun place for kids to play, cycle, and relax.
We went to the lagoon today and had fun. It’s the perfect place for families to spend a sunny day together.
There are many things to do, such as family bicycling, running, soccer, skateboarding, playing with toys, and renting a swan paddleboat.
Take a Boat Ride in Guanabara Bay
We wanted to take a boat ride in Guanabara Bay, but my work schedule for our last two weeks in Rio is hectic. The day we had the boat trip planned, it rained for three days straight.
Although we didn’t do this activity, it’s a great way to see Rio de Janeiro with kids. See Sugar Loaf Mountain and Copacabana Beach from a different perspective, and get a break from the sun
Hike Pedra do Telégrafo
Today is May 15th, and I am updating this post after spending the morning hiking to Telegraph Rock. You can see, based on the photos, it is breathtakingly beautiful.
We woke up at 5 am to hit the road by 6 am, and it’s been a long day. The good news is, our four-year-old hiked the entire thing by himself.
If you are visiting Rio de Janeiro with kids and are an outdoors family, it’s a must. You not only get to see some mindblowing views but there are also beautiful beaches inside the park.
The best way to visit Telegraph Rock with kids is by using a guide. We thought about trying ourselves, and we are glad we didn’t.
Getting there alone is a hassle, with many Ubers not wanting to drive an hour to the park. We used this company, and our guide was phenomenal.
Since it is a private tour, we went a little off-script. Our toddler was having a meltdown because we woke him up early to go to the trail, so we opted for a Brazilian steakhouse instead of the beach.
Let’s get back to the tour. This hike is not for the faint of heart. It is not overly hard, but you will need to climb steep hills and rocks. If it recently rained (the last few days), it will be slippery, so bring proper hiking shoes.
The trail is shaded, so the sun will not be beaming on your head on the way up. You may even be fortunate enough to see some monkeys as we did on the way up.
Overall, is it worth it? I would say absolutely. Our son was so proud of himself, and the views are gorgeous.
Related Post: Best Hiking Boots for Toddlers
See a Futbol game at Maracanã Stadium
Soccer fans must see a match at Maracanã Stadium. It’s the most popular and well-known stadium in Brazil. Although I am not a soccer fan, even I know Brazil is known for being phenomenal at futbol.
Throughout the city, there is street art dedicated to some of the most well-known and talented Brazilian futbol players. The schedule changes, so check here to see the match dates.
Tour the Botanical Garden
We have been to several botanical gardens in over 15 countries, but the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro is by far the best one we’ve visited.
We are traveling to Singapore next month. The Garden by the Bay is on our itinerary, so I am sure it is a worthy opponent for the best botanical garden.
You may think, why would kids want to visit a garden but it is so much more. It’s the perfect place to spend an entire morning learning and basking in the beauty of mother nature.
To make botanical gardens more educational, we spend the upcoming week learning about plants, photosynthesis, and insects. Education came to life when he saw several plants from our lessons, including carnivorous plants, which he was excited to see.
We even saw a few hummingbirds. I tried to get a picture, but they were moving so fast my phone didn’t have time to focus.
This garden is massive, so if you do not have time for everything, here are exhibits you must see while visiting the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden with kids.
- Children’s Playground
- Orchid Garden
- Fountain of the Muses
- Vista Chinesa Viewpoint
Learn about Favelas
Favelas are informal buildings in neighborhoods throughout Rio de Janeiro. They are home to a significant portion of the city’s population, with estimates suggesting that nearly 20% of Rio’s residents live in favelas.
The living conditions in these neighborhoods are less than ideal, with limited access to basic necessities, such as clean water and sanitation.
Favelas have become known due to high crime rates, although many have undergone significant improvements in recent years thanks to the introduction of tourism.
With the introduction of tourism, many residents of favelas now offer tours to these neighborhoods and give back to the community.
Favelas are a crucial part of Rio de Janeiro’s cultural fabric, with vibrant communities and unique architecture that reflect the city’s diverse history and identity.
We opted not to visit a favela with our four-year-old because he is too young to understand the conditions. We plan to return when he is a little older to explore the Amazon, so he will visit a favela when he is seven or eight.
If you have older kids and teenagers, this is a must while exploring Rio de Janeiro with kids. Sometimes you need to give your kids a dose of appreciation because there are people struggling in this world.
TikTok isn’t so important when faced with the reality of other people’s struggles.
Our time in Santa Marta was a dose of reality. It made me appreciate how privileged we are to have the opportunity to live our dream life.
The cable car was down for maintenance, so we had to take the stairs to the top. I loved learning about the history of favelas, dating back to the colonization of Brazil by Portugal.
My wife stayed with Mrs. Denise and learned to make a Brazilian meal. They walked about her life in the favela.
It’s heartbreaking to know the government knows of all the problems. Government officials have failed to do anything to help the people who make Rio de Janeiro what it is.
Explore Tijuca National Park
Tijuca National Park is a natural wonderland in Rio de Janeiro. It is one of the largest urban forests in the world, covering nearly 20 miles.
The park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including over 350 species of birds, monkeys, and other animals. Visitors can explore the hiking trails, ponds, caves, waterfalls, and stunning vistas at no cost.
Tijuca National Park is an important ecological reserve. If you want to hike Corcovado to Christ the Redeemer, you start at Tijuca National Park.
Today is Mother’s Day (2023), and we just got home from Tijuca National Park. The park wasn’t our initial destination, but we were surprised by what we saw.
We planned to visit Parque Lago, but we took a wrong turn somewhere, and I am glad we did. Before getting to the trails, we saw a monkey in a tree eating a banana.
I was able to talk our four-year-old into walking through the cave using my phone as a flashlight. It was so cool to walk through and see the inside.
After the cave, we walked up a trail to a waterfall and a pond. Since we didn’t have the proper attire, we decided to turn around and head to the playground.
The playground here isn’t as good as the botanical garden, but there was enough space for our son to ride his scooter.
Overall, there is so much to explore in the urban forest. It is one of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro with kids.
Explore the Lapa Neighborhood
Our time in Rio de Janeiro is ending, so we increased our exploring this week. Today, we headed to the Lapa neighborhood to take pictures at the famous Escadaria Selarón.
The stairs are made from thousands of ceramic tiles, making it the perfect place to get a photo. There are tiles from around the world.
A few of our favorites were Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Princess Diana, the rainbow (our son loves anything with colors), and The Simpsons.
If you plan to visit these steps while visiting Rio de Janeiro with the kids, I recommend going during the week and in the morning to avoid crowds.
We were there at 8:45, and there weren’t many people, so we got some great pictures, but when we left around 10 am, other tourists were arriving.
If you are an active family traveling with older kids, a bike tour is your best option to see local life in Rio de Janeiro. Cycling is a large part of the Brazilian culture in Rio de Janeiro.
Note: The stairs are safe, but watch for pickpocketers. This area is a little sketchy, so take extra precautions if you plan to walk around.
We’ve had two failed attempts to visit Parque Lage. The first time we tried was after we left the botanical garden because it was close, but the Uber dropped us off far from the entrance. Our son was cranky, so we left and went home for lunch and said we’d try again.
The second time we visited Parque Lage was on Mother’s Day. I wanted to spend quality time with our little guy and give my wife some well-deserved alone time. He had a lot of energy, so we grabbed his scooter to ride around the park.
Unfortunately, we didn’t find our intended destination, but we ended up at the playground, where he rode his scooter and played with other kids.
We had a good time. There were caves, monkeys, and waterfalls. We’re heading back to the park on Sunday, so I’ll update this post after we explore the park more.
BioParque do Rio
BioParque do Rio is a zoo in Rio de Janeiro. We are always conflicted about zoos, but lack of support isn’t good for the animals.
The animals need to be supported somehow. That money has to come from us. As much as we hate it, releasing captive animals into the wild is dangerous, so zoos are an unfortunate necessary evil (except dolphin/elephant riding).
The zoo has a playground, ziplining, mini boat rides, games, and animals. There is a bird sanctuary and petting zoo for little kids.
While there, he also did the long zipline across the zoo. We weren’t allowed to go with him, so he was a brave big boy and did the zipline alone.
It is stroller friendly for families traveling with smaller ones. It’s a fun family-friendly activity for a day in Rio de Janeiro with toddlers.
In Sintra, there is a place called Anima Park. We took him there a few times to release energy and have fun.
While there, he tried the zipline, and he’s been talking about it ever since. When I stumbled into Lagoa Aventuras, I was excited for him to zipline again.
He tried rock climbing in Costa Rica, but he wasn’t a fan, so we’ve been looking for a place for him to be a little more adventurous.
Lagoa Aventuras is located in Parque da Catacumba and has rock climbing, tree climbing, hiking (to a lookout), kids climbing wall, ziplining, and repelling.
We went today, and our son loved it. It’s the perfect place if you have an adventurous toddler. Kids as young as 2.5 years old can use the mini zipline and climb trees (with a guide 6 ft off the ground).
He had so much fun ziplining that we purchased an additional two rides. The zipline is the perfect size for him.
Bonus: Instagram Worthy Pics (or Reels)
After leaving the Museum of Tomorrow, we strolled down Olympic Blvd to see the famous Mural das Etnias by Eduardo Kobra.
The mural is a celebration of the indigenous people from five different continents. Although it isn’t as vibrant as it once was, it’s a magnificent work of art depicting people who are marginalized.
This stop is a must-see while exploring Rio de Janeiro with kids. The art piece is a great conversation starter and can be a learning opportunity for the entire family. I was interested in learning more about the tribes in the mural, hello National Geographics.
If you are curious, the five tribes are Mursi, Supi, Huli, Kayin, and Tapajos.
Olympic Boulevard is also home to several landmarks, including the AquaRio Aquarium and the Rio Art Museum. It’s a great place to spend a sunny afternoon.
Here are some other places to get amazing Instagram photos:
- Metropolitan Cathedral
- Teatro Municipal
- Mirante Dona Marta
- Selaron Steps
- Lapa neighborhood (street art)
- The places mentioned above have some beautiful places for photos
Is it Safe to Travel in Rio de Janeiro with Kids?
When we decided to spend two months in Brazil, safety was a concern. As tourists (and non-Porteguese speakers), we are ignorant of the day-to-day happenings in Brazil, so we increased our usual precautions.
Although we cannot tell you about the overall safety in Rio de Janeiro, we can share our experience.
We’ve been in Brazil for two months, spending a month in Sao Paulo and another month in Rio de Janeiro. In comparison, we feel safer in Rio. People are more relaxed and willing to help in Rio de Janeiro.
I like to think of it in terms of New York City versus Los Angeles. There is a different vibe when you have beautiful weather and live near the ocean.
Overall, we haven’t experienced any safety concerns in Rio. Here are a few tips/precautions to stay safe while visiting Rio de Janeiro with kids.
Tips for Staying Safe in Rio de Janeiro with Kids
We took a tour of Telegraph Rock on Monday, and our guide talked about Brazil and some of the safety concerns. There are portions of Rio that are not safe.
He advised against going to the North side of Rio de Janeiro, but most tourists have no reason to be in that area. That is where there is a lot of violence and gang wars against the police.
Here are a few tips/precautions to stay safe while visiting Rio de Janeiro with kids.
Share your location
One safety measure we always take, no matter where we are, is sharing our location with someone back home. Sharing your location is a great way to reassure my family back home.
Location sharing also puts my mind at ease when my family goes out without me (when I have meetings or need to work). My wife shares her location with her mom, and I share mine with my best friend and sister.
There is a feature on Uber that allows you to share your location with someone (even if they do not have the app). We also use that when we split up (because we have too many damn bags).
Watch your phone
There is a large black market for cell phones here in Rio de Janeiro. Do not flash your phone too often or in busy areas. If you want to take a quick picture, do it, then put it back in your (front) pocket or keep it attached to your wrist.
People are known to ride by and grab phones from unsuspecting tourists. Cell phones are a big market, so don’t make yourself a target, even in the car. If you plan on using your phone in an Uber, make sure the window is up, and your phone is away from the window.
If your phone gets stolen, you are up a creek without a paddle because electronics in Rio de Janeiro are more expensive than in the US and Europe.
Do not put anything in your back pockets
Like in Europe, pickpocketing can be a problem in Rio de Janeiro. Do not put anything in your back pockets.
It is easy to bump into you in a crowded area and grab your wallet or phone. Put everything in your front pockets.
Avoid Favelas (unless you are on a tour with locals)
We highly recommend a favela tour. They help you get a better understanding of the history, the people, and they help the local community.
Never visit a favela alone, even if you have gone on a tour. There are favelas that are mild (no gang wars), but it is not safe for outsiders to visit without a local (especially if you do not know Portuguese).
Use the crosswalk
This may seem obvious, but traffic in Rio de Janeiro is hectic. Many motorbikes split lanes and cars unexpectantly switch lanes without warning.
The best way to stay safe is to always use the crosswalk.
Should I visit Rio de Janeiro with the Kids?
Yes! You should absolutely visit Rio de Janeiro with your kids. It is a beautiful city full of culture and history.
Before we arrived, we were concerned for our safety, but since being here, we haven’t been unsafe.
As our guide said, the Rio we see on the news is only part of the story. Much like the US, the entire country isn’t violent and dangerous, but there are some parts that aren’t safe.
Rio de Janeiro is no different from other major cities. We are glad we came to Rio. The city has become one of our favorite places.
Take the necessary precautions (using our tips above) you will be safe in Rio de Janeiro.
We plan on returning to Brazil when our son is a little older to explore the Amazon and see other parts of this beautiful country.