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10 Things to Do: Rio de Janeiro

There is plenty of non-Olympics adventure to be had in Brazil's picturesque coastal metropolis.
Stephen Kurczy

Even if you're not competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics - which goes for most - host city Rio de Janeiro offers plenty of sporty activities that anyone can join. Along with beach games like soccer, volleyball and footvolley (a combination of the two), challenges from sea to mountaintop await the adventurous.

1. Climb Pão de Azucar

Most people ride the bondinho (cable car) to the top of this iconic egg-shaped peak beside Guanabara Bay; but for real exercise, scramble up to the 1,300-foot-tall summit (guides start at $70 through Climb in Rio).

2. Ride a wave

Follow the barefooted cariocas to the rocky outcropping between Copacabana and Ipanema known as Arpoador, an inner-city surfing mecca with floodlights for those who prefer riding after dark. Take lessons through a beach vendor, or rent a board ($20 a day).

3. Hop on a slackline

For a total-body workout, join slacklineers on the beaches of Flamengo and Copacabana and practice balancing, bouncing and flipping on ropes tied between coconut trees.

4. Trek through a rain forest

Covering approximately 12 square miles, the Tijuca National Park is said to be the world's largest urban forest. This palm-fronded jungle draws hikers of every skill level. Take a cab or bus to the main entrance at Alta Boa Vista (free entry).

5. Bike Rio

With nearly 300 miles of bike paths and new lanes established for the Olympics, Rio claims to be one of Latin America's best cities for urban pedaling. The bike-sharing program SAMBA has 60 stations in the South Zone ($1.50 per day).

6. Stand up paddleboard

Known by its acronym SUP, this cross between surfing and paddling gets you away from the crowds and into the open water. The most popular spot is near the Posto 6 lifeguard station in Copacabana,

7. Soar over the city

For a bird's eye view of Rio, hang glide from Pedra Bonita in Tijuca National Park to a soft landing on the beach at São Conrado, approximately 1,700 feet below. (A tandem flight with instructor costs about $200; expect additional fees and limited availability during the Olympics.)

8. Hike Dois Irmãos

A short but steep 2.3-mile hike to the summit of the higher of the "Two Brothers" ends with a breathtaking panorama of Rio. The free public trail starts behind a soccer field at the top of Vidigal, which is accessible by foot, bus or moto-taxi (50 cents) from the base of the favela.

9. Roll beachside

Join the roller-skaters and skateboarders who take over Rio's beach-hugging avenues on Sundays and holidays, when the streets are closed to vehicles. Advanced skaters can test their skills on the steep road from the Vista Chinesa viewpoint, which hosts regular downhill skateboarding competitions.

10. Leap into the abyss

Even if jumping off a cliff in a wingsuit isn't your thing, it's still a thrill to see BASE jumpers dive from the 2,769-foot-peak of Pedra da Gavea. There are no agencies for BASE jumping, but a mountaineering guide will take you to the summit ($157 for two with Rio Adventures).

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Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.

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