There is way more to be seen in Rio de Janeiro than Sugar Loaf, Christ the Redeemer Statue and Copacabana Beach.
Without a doubt, you can't go to Rio and not visit these three sites. However, in addition to those, you can visit sites that are not as famous, but yet worth a visit.
One of the areas in Rio de Janeiro with a high concentration of attractions is downtown. The area nowadays serves mainly as the business district, but it was once the heart of the city, hence all the colonial architecture.
Here are two of the many sites that can be visited in downtown Rio de Janeiro.
The Saint Sebastian Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro
Most Brazilians are Catholic — Brazil is the country with the highest number of Catholics in the world.
In Rio de Janeiro, Catholics are also the majority (followed by Protestants), and the main Catholic church in Rio de Janeiro is the Saint Sebastian Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro.
This cathedral is different from most churches for one main reason: it does not look like a typical church at all.
In fact, the architecture was inspired in the Mayan pyramids of Mexico. At the time of construction in the 1960's, many Catholics did not like how the main church in the city was going to look.
Do not underestimate its looks seen from the outside, though, since this church is very impressive as seen from the inside, featuring four huge stained glass windows from top to bottom.
Most visitors are surprised by what they see upon entering the monument.
Colombo Café is not the oldest café in Rio, but old enough (1894) to be worthy not only of a visit, but a seat at one of the many tables in the main room.
Highlights include the enormous mirrors shipped from Belgium, as well as the stained glass ceiling.
In addition, the pastries, the savouries, the coffee, and other delicacies should be tasted on site or taken away.
If you make it to Colombo Café don't miss one unique and delicious item recently added to the menu: the caipirinha pastry.
If you happen to visit on a Saturday, and you're into fine dining, have lunch on the first floor, where feijoada is served, the national dish.
About the Author: Madson, a native Brazilian, has been working as a Rio de Janeiro tour guide since 2004. Since then, he has guided more than 4,500 visitors from more than 40 nationalities on his private tours. Get in touch with him on RioPrivateTours.com