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Free Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

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Updated: November 6, 2017

One of the most attractive cities in the world, Rio de Janeiro, has various incredible sights. But unfortunately, to visit these sights might be a little bit expensive. But don't worry, if you're travelling on a budget, Rio is still full of places to discover! Read here about marvelous Free Things to do in Rio de Janeiro!

Free Museum Day - Free Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Rio is full of interesting museums, and most of them charge an entrance fee between R$10 - R$20. But if you plan a little bit ahead, you can visit most of the museums for free! I'm referring to the free museum days, which normally are either Tuesdays or Sundays, depending on a museum. 

Museum of Tomorrow, the newest museum of Rio, was a project for Rio 2016 Olympic Games. This massive, interactive and one of a kind museum works with solar energy! A science museum, that handles themes such like sustainability, climate change and the history of our planet. This museum is free on Tuesdays! 

When you visit Museum of Tomorrow, it's wise to take an advantage and visit the Art Museum of Rio (MAR) as well! They are located just 300 meters from each other. Tuesdays in here is also free entrance!

Sunday is another good day to visit some museums of the city. If you like history, even a little bit, make sure you visit the National History Museum. History of Brazil since pre-colonial period until today explained with pictures, objects and texts! Visit for free on a Sunday!

The Fine Arts Museum in Cinelandia, is home for more than 70 000 objects of art, like paintings, sculptures, drawings, documents and books. It's the most important Brazilian art museum from the 19th century.  The collection includes art that the Portuguese king John VI left here when returning to Portugal in 1821! Visit Fine Arts Museum on a Sunday, to save the entrance fee for something else!

Free Walking Tour - Free Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Getting to know the culture and history of the city, shouldn't be a privilege for only the ones that can afford joining a guided tour! It should be for everyone, that has interest, not depending on the budget! That's why Free Walking Tour is such an amazing invention! Discover different parts of the city lead by "walker", learn about history, curiosities and get good tips of where to spend your time here in Rio! At the end of the tour, contribute the amount you think it was worth it!

Free Walking Tour Rio de Janeiro Centro & Lapa happens every day from Monday to Saturday at 10:30 AM. Just show up at Carioca Square and look for the walkers on a red t-shirt! We will talk about the colonial and imperial times of Brazil, focusing the period while the Royal Portuguese family was here in Rio! 

Were you already familiar with the fact, that the Portuguese colonialists were the "kings of slave trade", and approximately 5 million Africans were shipped to Brazil during 350 years? And that many of Brazilian national patrimony, such like, samba, capoeira or feijoada were born because of slavery?  Join us every Monday and Thursday afternoon at 3:30 PM to our Free Walking Tour Rio de Janeiro African Heritage & Docks Area

Copacabana and Ipanema are surely familiar neighborhood for everyone visiting Cidade Maravilhosa. But do you know where the name Copacabana comes from? And how going to beach became famous in Rio? Join to the Free Walking Tour Rio de Janeiro Copacaba & Ipanema every Wednesday & Sunday, to learn this and many other curiosities about these picturesque neighborhoods!


Nightlife - Free Things to do in Rio de Janeiro 

Rio's nightlife is not to be missed! The night here is very casual, and in most parties you are not expected to be dressed fancy. The party scene is pretty wide, and like in any big city, it might feel a bit difficult find the best spots! Rio is very easy going city, here in my opinion, some of the best parties are on the streets! This is where anyone can join, and always for free!

Pedra do Sal is a historical place, it's the birthplace of samba and the Carnaval Carioca.  Today, it gets packed of people every Monday night after 7 PM. Local samba fanatics and tourists gather to enjoy live music, dance, drink cheap caipirinhas and taste street food! It's a must Carioca experience, so if you're in Rio on a Monday night, don't forget to go!

Another, more famous street party is the one in Lapa every weekend. Starting on a Thursday night, every weekend night Lapa's streets are full of party. Lapa is very diverse, and here you can decide whether you want to spend your night drinking R$5 caipirinhas on the street, or go inside to a nightclub. 

Discover the Nature - Free Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is a home for the biggest urban forest of the world! This means good things for the ones that enjoy hiking, waterfalls and wildlife! The natural attractions of Rio,  you can visit for free and on your own! I really love hiking, so I'm going to share with you some of my favorite trails!

If you're looking for an easy hike, but still a place that offers stunning views of the city, head to Pedra Bonita. Located close by São Conrado neighborhood, it's very accessible with public transportation! Just take the metro until São Conrado and from there continue by bus number 448. This bus leaves you 10 minutes walking distance from the starting point of the trail! The hike itself takes approximately 30 minutes, and the viewpoint looks over the South Zone of Rio, as well as Barra da Tijuca!

On a very hot summer day in Rio, the temperature might get as high as 45 degrees. Then in my opinion, the best idea is to escape the city life into the forest and refresh yourself on a waterfall. And believe me, from Rio's city center you don't need to travel very far to do this! The best option is Cachoeira do Horto, which is inside Tijuca's National Park, close by the Botanical Gardens. Getting there is easy! Just take the bus number 409 towards Horto, and travel until the last stop. Then follow the paved road by foot for 20 minutes, and you have arrived! This waterfall is actually a complex of many waterfalls, so if the first one you see is very crowded, follow the path for ore 10 minutes and you'll arrive to the second one!

Of course we can't forget Rio de Janeiro Beaches. There is nothing like lying on the sand, relaxing and drinking a caipirinha or a coconut water. My favorite beaches, that are  accessible by public transportation, in Rio are Leme beach and Barra da Tijuca beach. Leme is how we call the small neighborhood just before Copacabana e Barra da Tijuca is a new neighborhood of Rio, where beaches are usually not that busy. 

About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Follow On Instagram | Canden is a historian & tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the producer of the podcast, Tour Guide Tell All. She is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city since 2011. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has traveled to over 28 countries and every US State but Hawaii. She homeschools her 2 children by exploring the plethora of museums in DC.
Updated: November 6th, 2017
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