If you have just a week to spend in Brazil — and you don't want to spend too much time traveling between destinations — this 7-day itinerary to Rio de Janeiro and Ilha Grande is ideal. The journey offers an unbeatable mix of sightseeing, outdoor adventure, and relaxation, starting in Rio with a full-day city tour that takes you to Corcovado, Sugarloaf Mountain, and key historic sites. After a hike in the rainforest of Tijuca, you'll catch a boat to nearby Ilha Grande, seemingly a world away from the bustle of "the Marvelous City." Spend the second half of the trip boating, sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, hiking, and relaxing on the tropical island before heading back to civilization to catch a flight out.

Highlights

  • Visit Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain
  • Tour Rio's historic sites and natural monuments
  • Hike to panoramic vistas in the Tijuca Forest
  • Boat around the gorgeous landscapes of Ilha Grande
  • Relax on world-class beaches on a tropical island

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Rio de Janeiro & Explore Rio de Janeiro
Day 2 Take a Full-day Tour of Rio Rio de Janeiro
Day 3 Hike in the Tijuca Forest Rio de Janeiro
Day 4 Boat to Ilha Grande Ilha Grande
Day 5 Cruise Around the Island Ilha Grande
Day 6 Relax on the Beach  Ilha Grande
Day 7 Depart Brazil - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Rio de Janeiro & Explore

Copacabana Beach

Welcome to Brazil! When you arrive at the airport in Rio de Janeiro, your guide will be waiting to take you to your hotel in Copacabana. You'll soon start to understand why Rio de Janeiro has been called the "Wonderful City" or "Marvelous City" for over a century. The city's unique beauty, rich culture, and geographical diversity — characterized by dramatic mountains, tropical forests, and stunning beaches — provide the perfect setting for adventurous travelers.

Go on a tour around the commercial and historic center of the city. With a guide, explore urban highlights on foot, including the Metropolitan Cathedral of São Sebastião and the Saara neighborhood. Visit Lapa, a bohemian enclave full of life, art, and music. It's home to the famous Escadaria Selarón, also known as the "steps of Lapa." This brightly painted staircase, the handiwork of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón, is one of the most photographed spots in the city. Stop to try delicious juices made from fresh tropical fruit. You'll also stop for something to eat at Confeitaria Colombo, one of the oldest and most historic restaurants in Brazil. Take some to relax on the beach in Copacabana or Ipanema before getting some rest at your hotel. 

Day 2: Take a Full-day Tour of Rio

Sugar Loaf
The cable car ride to Sugarloaf Mountain

Today a full-day city tour will take you to visit Rio's main attractions and natural monuments. Start with a trip up to Corcovado, where the statue of Christ the Redeemer — it's considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world. The tour will continue towards lush Tijuca Forest, then to Maracanã Stadium to learn about the history of the World Cup finals in 1950 and 2014. Next, you'll see the Sambadrome, which is the stage of the Samba School Parades performances during Rio de Janeiro's Carnival. Have lunch at a renowned steakhouse. Then you'll ride to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain on a cable car. You will visit Morro da Urca, then end the tour by visiting the most famous beaches in the city: Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon.

Day 3: Hike in the Tijuca Forest

Pedra Bonita view
Pedra Bonita view

Spend more time exploring the Tijuca Forest today. You'll start at the base of Pedra Bonita, taking in views over Morro Dois Irmãos, São Conrado Beach, and Favela da Rocinha. Then you'll hike along the Pedra Bonita trail to the summit. From the top, you can see Pedra da Gávea, the beach of Barra da Tijuca, and the immense Tijuca Forest. This natural lookout point is one of the best places to photograph the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Coming back down the Pedra Bonita trail, the tour continues towards Vista Chinesa, a stylized pavilion that was built between 1902 and 1906 to pay tribute to the Chinese who brought tea to Brazil. The structure, made of bamboo and cement, is strategically positioned for an incredible panoramic view. It is possible to see several sights from this angle, including Christ the Redeemer, Guanabara Bay, Sugarloaf, Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, and the beaches of Ipanema and Leblon. Finish the tour in Cachoeira do Horto with a refreshing waterfall swim.

Day 4: Boat to Ilha Grande

Vila de Abraão
Arriving on the island

You'll leave Rio this morning after breakfast. A private driver will meet you at the hotel in the morning to drive you to Conceição de Jacarei, a two-hour ride along the Costa Verde — the "Green Coast." Enjoy the tropical vegetation as you drive on the road today between the ocean and the mountains. Once you arrive, board a ferry for the 20-minute crossing to the island of Ilha Grande, where you will be met by your hosts and your luggage brought up to your pousada, or guesthouse, for you. The rest of the afternoon is yours to relax, walk along the picturesque beach at Dois Rios, and dine on fresh Brazilian-style seafood.

Day 5: Cruise Around the Island

Boating around Ilha Grande

An adventure on the water awaits! Today you'll enjoy a breathtaking tour around the island. You will explore the south coast, surrounded by the open sea, where the most pristine and sparsely populated beaches are located. There are five stops along the way: Caxadaço, Parnaioca, Aventureiro, Meros, and Maguariquessaba, where you'll have lunch. Parnaioca is a large beach featuring a river that flows into the sea, forming a small lagoon. Aventureiro is famous for its coconut tree — featured on many postcards of Ilha Grande — and Meros and Maguariquessaba are like natural aquariums. They're ideal places for snorkeling, as you can observe corals, fish, turtles, and starfish.

Day 6: Free Day in Ilha Grande

Vila do Abrãao
Vila do Abrãao on Ilha Grande

The last full day of the trip is yours to spend as you like. Depending on the weather, you could hike to the waterfall at Feiticeira or climb the peak of Pico do Papagaio, the highest point of the island. It's also possible to go on a kayaking or boating excursion to the Lagoa Azul or Lagoa Verde. Alternatively, you can walk to Lazareto's Ruins, just 10 minutes' walk from the village pier. Finish your day relaxing on the beach before the trip ends tomorrow.

Day 7: Depart Brazil - End of Trip

Sugar Loaf at dawn

Today the trip comes to a close. You'll head to the airport to catch a flight out. Safe travels!

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