Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro With Kids
When it comes to travel, our family motto is "If kids live there, kids can visit." So, when a flight deal arose for $340 per person from Miami to Rio de Janeiro during my daughter’s spring break, we jumped on it! With the country waiving visa requirements for US citizens visiting Brazil as of mid-June, it’s the perfect time to plan a family trip there. Here are our suggestions for the best family activities in Rio de Janeiro.
(And, don't forget to book your sightseeing tours and admission to museums using a credit card that rewards you for entertainment spend. That's because, most often, purchases like these code as "entertainment" and not "travel.")
1. Take Samba Lessons
Samba originated in Brazil, so what better place to take lessons? Most kids start dancing immediately when they hear music, so regardless of your child’s age, this is a fun activity for the family. As a bonus, it's a great way to burn off some energy before bedtime -- and an early bedtime for the kids means some alone time for you and your significant other (yes, even on vacation with your little ones). Rio Samba Dancer offers lessons in English as well as an option for a private class if you feel that is best for your family. A one-hour group class is about $20 USD per person.
Related: The Best Credit Cards for Entertainment Spending
2. Take a Cooking Class
Food is the heart of Brazil, and what better way to learn a little bit of the culture than by taking a cooking class? There are two main traditional Brazilian dishes: moqueca fish, and pork and bean feijoada. We learned to make the former. Kids of all ages can enjoy a cooking class at Cook in Rio, and it’s a great bonding opportunity for families. (I'm not sure if I should be worried that my daughters' favorite part of the class was making virgin caipirinhas.) The class cost $19 USD per person.
3. Attend a Fútbol Game at Maracanã Stadium
Whether you’re a fútbol (soccer) fan or not, experiencing a game in Brazil is a great family activity. Brazilians might arguably be the biggest soccer fans in the world (despite stiff competition from Germany) and the energy we felt in Maracanã Stadium is unmatched. We were lucky to catch a match with two of the most popular Brazilian teams, Flamengo versus Fluminense. You can buy tickets to any Flamengo match at the Flamengo Futbol club in Rio. There is no assigned seating when purchasing the lower-priced tickets so be sure to arrive at the stadium as early as possible to get seats together. Ticket prices vary.
4. Hike to Pedra do Telegrafo
There are many hikes that can be done in Rio de Janeiro, but Pedra do Telegrafo (Telegraph Rock) is the most famous due to the amazing “cliff hanging” photos you can take. Before you get scared, there is nothing to worry about -- this “cliff” is really only 3 feet above the ground. Talk about the perfect Christmas card photo to send your family with no explanation! The 1.2-kilometer hike takes the average person 40 minutes one way, but expect to need a few more breaks with younger children. Our 4-year-old was able to hike the entire way on her own, but I recommend using a carrier for younger children, like we did for our 3-year-old. One note: You may need to wait in line to take those iconic photographs. Book a guided tour to Pedra do Telegrafo or take public transportation (a 90-minute to 2-hour trip each way).
5. Enjoy a Beach Day
The beach is always a great family activity. With so many beaches in Rio de Janeiro, the options are endless. While Copacabana is the most well-known, I recommend visiting Macumba or Grumari beach, which are better-suited for families.
6. Visit the Aquarium
Rio is home to the largest aquarium in South America, and it's the perfect activity for a rainy day. With five floors, 28 tanks and 3,000 different animals, it's hard to get bored at AquaRio. The aquarium is open seven days a week, including holidays. Adult admission is about $23 USD and young people between the ages of 3 and 21 get in for about $14 USD.
7. Explore the Botanical Gardens
Jardim Botanico is the perfect place to spend the afternoon with your family. The site is quite large, so if you are traveling with younger children, I recommend using a stroller or carrier. There are so many different types of plants, flowers, and waterfalls to admire. My children especially loved exploring the Japanese Garden as well as seeing all of the monkeys that roam around. If you need a break from smelling roses in the Rose Garden, you can visit the playground. Admission is about $2 USD per person and free for kids 7 and under.
8. Visit Christ the Redeemer
It’s not possible to leave Rio de Janeiro without visiting the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer, considered one of the "New 7 Wonders of the World." Kids will especially enjoy taking the tram to the top, though you can also get there by car or on foot. Admission is about $11 USD for adults and $6 USD for kids. (Those under 6 are free.)
From the food to the music to the amazing culture, there is a lot for families to enjoy in Rio de Janeiro. We hope to return to the country again to visit cities like Bahia and make a trip to Iguazu Falls.
Monet Hambrick is the mom and writer behind The Traveling Child blog where she shares tips on traveling with kids and how to afford travel as a family. Her motto is, “If kids live there, kids can visit.” Follow along with her family adventures on Instagram and Facebook.
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