Whether you’re just visiting the city or happen to be a true Carioca, I’m sure you’ll find some surprising tidbits on the Free Walking Tour through the Historic Center of Rio de Janeiro. Come along and I’ll share this experience with you!

It’s true that Rio’s biggest draw is the stunning landscape created by the combination of its beautiful beaches, hills, forest and parks.

However, it’s undeniable that there’s also a rich cultural and architectural heritage that has been built up since the times of imperial Brazil and continued through the period when Rio was the capital of the country.

This rich and extensive heritage can be explored during the Free Walking Tour through the Historic Center of Rio de Janeiro.





Walking Tours



I’m a big fan of walking tours, and whenever I travel, I always make sure to join one.

Firstly, because it’s a way to get to know the place, led by someone who lives in the city and who will share facts that I couldn’t discover on my own and in real time.

Secondly, because it’s a low-cost activity. And I’m always looking for a way to save money. Especially on international trips!

The term “Walking Tour,” widely used abroad, refers to walking routes, usually lasting two or three hours, aimed at exploring the historical and cultural part of a destination.

Well, taking this idea into consideration, I thought: why not join walking tours in my own city?

After all, I live in Rio de Janeiro, a destination where many people dream of spending their vacations!

So, lately, I’ve been taking part in many walking tours. Some of them are even Free Walking Tours!

Though it’s important to mention that “Free Walking Tour” doesn’t mean it’s supposed to be completely “free”. After all, these tours are generally led by accredited tour guides, who work on a “praise-based payment” system.

So, although it’s not mandatory (or there’s no minimum price), at the end of the tour, it’s polite to leave a tip, depending on your level of satisfaction.



Walking Tours through the Downtown Areas of Major Cities



The downtown areas of major cities can be intimidating, as they generally aren’t very tourist-friendly.

On weekends, they can be quite empty, which might give you a sense of insecurity about exploring on your own without knowing exactly where you are.

During the week, you have to cope with the hustle and bustle of people caught up in their work routines. So, sightseeing on your own can be pretty stressful.

And this applies to any metropolis: whether you’re visiting Rome, Madrid, Tokyo, New York, São Paulo and so on.

I try to think back to any capital city I’ve visited, and my memory is always the same: a sea of impatient people trying to dodge tourists!

While some try to contemplate, absorb, and learn, others just want to get from point A to point B. That’s why, at times like these, taking part in a guided tour makes all the difference!

And even though I’ve walked the route countless times, it was only by participating in the Rio Historic Center Walking Tour that I was able to calmly appreciate what the frenetic pace of the city tends to hide.




Rio Historic Center Walking Tours



There are several companies that offer walking tours through Downtown Rio de Janeiro, and they can vary depending on the theme.

Some focus, for example, on the era of Imperial Brazil or the period of the First Republic. There are many different itineraries available. Among them, the Sacred Tour, which focuses on historic churches and monasteries.

Or, the African Heritage & Samba at Pedra do Sal Tour, which highlights the contributions of different African peoples to the Carioca culture and the origins of Samba.

Regarding the Free Walking Tour through the Historic Center of Rio de Janeiro, there are two formats.

The first is the Free Tour through the Historic Center of Rio and Lapa. The second is the Free Tour through the Historic Center of Rio.

Both are very similar and start basically from the same area, even sharing some points in their itineraries.

Choosing between the two of them will depend on your availability, as they depart on alternating days and times.

However, it’s important to note that nowadays the first option offers more days and times.


How to Join the Rio Historic Center Free Walking Tour?



The Rio Historic Center Free Walking Tour is offered by Civitatis, a partner of Turista FullTime, and operated by a local company.

In order to join the tour, you need to book in advance.

There’s no need to print the confirmation. Just show up at the designated meeting point on the appointed day and time, give your name, and you’re all set to join. It’s all very easy and convenient.

Book HERE your Rio Historic Center Free Walking Tour!



Itinerary of the Rio Historic Center Free Walking Tour



The Rio Historic Center Free Walking Tour starts at Cinelândia Square, right in front of the main entrance of the iconic Municipal Theater.

Naturally, throughout the journey, all the highlights are presented, and many interesting facts are discussed.



On the way to Confeitaria Colombo, one of the most anticipated stops, the Walking Tour passes through Largo da Carioca, a bustling area in the center of Rio.



That’s where the guide starts sharing various interesting facts about the main buildings nearby (including the impressive National Library), before moving on to the next tour stop: the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian of Rio de Janeiro.


Rio Historic Center Walking Tour stop at he Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian of Rio de Janeiro


And, although there isn’t time for a visit, it’s interesting to note that two buildings of immense historical value are located there: the Convent of Santo Antônio (1620) and the Church of São Francisco da Penitência (1736).


Rio Historic Center Free Walking Tour stop at Convent of Santo Antônio and the Church of São Francisco da Penitência


So, if you have time, you might consider returning to explore them on your own.

The second-to-last stop of the tour is at the Church of Our Lady of Carmo, the former cathedral where the Portuguese royal family attended mass.


Rio Historic Center Free Walking Tour stop at Church of Our Lady of Carmo


The official end of the tour takes place at Largo do Paço, where the former residence of the Portuguese Royal Family is located.

I say official because, at least in the walking tour I participated in, the guide invited everyone to go to a traditional restaurant in the vicinities.

Of course, everyone paid for their own meal, but I found it to be a very nice gesture nonetheless!


Practical Information



The Rio Historic Center Free Walking Tour lasts two hours and it’s available in English and Spanish.

Access to the meeting point for the start of the tour is very straightforward, as Cinelândia is a metro station on lines 1 and 2.

Moreover, taking the metro in Rio is safe, easy, and the best alternative to ensure your mobility and provide simple and affordable access to many tourist attractions.

Especially those located in the Downtown and South Zone of the city. Keep this tip in mind!


Walking Tours in other parts of Rio


If you have more time in the city and want to take other walking tours, I strongly recommend the Copacabana and Ipanema Walking Tour. It’s a great experience, which I’ve already talked about in another post here on the blog!

Another excellent alternative in town is the Free Tour in Santa Teresa Neighborhood, the most bohemian part of the city.

This amazing region offers a combination of modernity and past, cute cobblestone streets and spectacular views of Christ the Redeemer statue  and of the city center of Rio de Janeiro.

Last but not least, you can join a Walking Tour in the Urca Neighborhood, one of the most famous in town. After all, that is where you will take the cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain.

This tour will offer a combination of culture, leisure (also maybe a pinch of adventure!) as you’ll have a chance to pay a visit to Vermelha Beach and the beginning of the Pista Cláudio Coutinho Walking Trail.

This path offers beautiful viewpoints and leads to the first hill of the Sugarloaf complex. So, if you have extra time, you can do it by yourself when the walking tour is finished.


Plan your stay in Rio with Turista FullTime


As you may know, I am a travel agent and run my own company. So, if you fancy an experience like this one or any other tour in Rio and surroundings, you can count on me to organize every single detail for you.

All you have to do is to contact me using this form below and we can start planning an unforgettable trip for you!


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