There are plenty of activities to keep kids amused in Rio: sandy fun on the beach; bike rides around Lagoa; aerial cable-car rides; boat trips and rainforest walks; and plenty of great treats – fresh juices, ice creams and pastries – along the way.
Need to Know
- Admission At most sights, kids under 13 years pay half-price; those under five or six typically get in for free.
- Attitudes Brazilians are very family-oriented; you'll be welcomed with open arms at most restaurants. High chairs are readily available.
- Accommodations Many hotels let children stay for free, although the age limit varies.
South America's biggest aquarium has hands-on areas for kids.
- Ilha Fiscal
A Cinderella-esque castle, reached by short boat ride.
- Quinta da Boa Vista
- The Bonde
Ride the little yellow streetcar up to Santa Teresa, and enjoy the views along the way.
You'll find fruit markets all across town; they're the perfect spot to assemble a picnic, while sampling delicacies you may not find back home.
Astronomic fun and stargazing.
- Agua de Côco
Drink coconut water straight from the nut at beachside kiosks.
- Pão de Queijo
This small, round, cheese-filled bread is available at any juice bar.
- Pastel de Nata
Sample these tasty custard tarts at beautiful art deco Confeitaria Colombo.
Try creamy açaí and many other juice flavors.
- Jardim Botânico
These verdant gardens offer a fine break from the sun on a hot day. Explore a lily-filled pond, a playground, a cafe and shaded walking trails.
- Parque Lage
About 1km northeast of the Jardim Botânico, Parque Lage has extensive walking trails, plus a playground, a small fish pond and a good outdoor cafe; it's also a great spot to see monkeys.
- Floresta da Tijuca
At this vast wilderness northwest of the Zona Sul you can take short or long hikes, enjoy picturesque views and take a dip in a waterfall.
- Cristo Redentor
Most kids will get a huge kick out of the steep cog train that takes visitors through dense forest to the massive Christ the Redeemer statue.
- Pão de Açúcar
The journey by aerial gondola to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain is probably the best part of the experience for kids; afterwards, you can walk to the small, pretty beach of Praia Vermelha.
If traveling with younger kids, check out Baixo Bebê Leblon. The family-friendly beach area between postos (posts) 11 and 12 in Leblon has a netted-off play area with slides.
Older kids will find lots to see and do on the beach: football and volleyball games, boogie boarding and stand-up paddling, and sampling snacks from roaming food vendors.
At Parque dos Patins, on the west side of Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, you can hire bikes, scooters, tricycles, toys and huge family-size pedal bikes for a spin along the lakeside path.
On the east side of the lake, at Parque do Cantagalo, you can hire pedal boats for a glide around the lake (in a swan boat, no less).
If you're around in December, pay a visit to the lake at night, when a giant floating Christmas tree lights up the lakeside.
Near the east side of Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas you'll find Parque da Catacumba, which is a great spot for older kids. The outfit known as Lagoa Aventuras has a zipline, a rock-climbing wall, treetop walks and rappelling (abseiling). There are also short but steep hiking trails that take you to a lookout with pretty views over the lake.
Older kids might enjoy a boat ride out on the bay. For a full-day outing you can take the ferry to Ilha de Paquetá. Once you're on the car-free island, you can get around by bicycle or horse-drawn carriage. There are also shorter cruises most days, as well as the ferry to Niterói, which offers great views of the bay.