Touchdown in RDJ and you’ll struggle to not feel overwhelmed by the sheer size of this city. There’s no definitive centre to it either, and with its lake, mountains and endless beaches, it can take a few days just to get your head around the place – and this can eat into your precious time.

Whether you’re in Rio for a work induction week or entertaining friends and family on their first trip to visit you, here are a few tried and tested places to check out by day , including a few tips for where (and what) to eat.

Christo Redentor (££) Parque Nacional da Tijuca – Alto da Boa Vista, +55 21 2558-1329

The obvious item to tick off the Rio list, and not without good reason. Views over the city are incredible and the journey up the mountain is an attraction in itself. Choose a clear day for visiting the towering statue of Christ, and head for the Corcovado area of town where the funicular station is. Buses or taxis will both get you there cheaply, wherever your start point. Funiculars make the leafy, vertiginous twenty minute journey up the Corcovado Mountain. It’s well worth booking your journey in advance online: on busy days trains will be fully booked for a couple of hours at best. Tickets cost around £12 each, and include entrance to the site itself. Lunch at the top is inexpensive, and the views are priceless.

Copacabana £ Avenida Atlantica

Another must-see on your Rio trip. Copacabana beach dominates the coastline of one portion of the city, flanked by Ipanema beach and the Sugar Loaf Mountain. Teeny tiny swimwear is the order of the day here, and Cariocas (Rio locals) arrive with very little in the way of beach baggage, so leave the enormous beach bag at home – and your enormous bikini bottoms! Rent a couple of chairs and a brolly, and bring your beach towel. The sea isn’t geared towards swimmers, so have a paddle in the waves, grab a coconut from one of the beachside bars, and enjoy the people watching. Ipanema is also fun, and quiet clean Barra beach is superb for surfing.

Hippie Fair Ipanema £ Praça General Osório

On a Sunday afternoon head for Praça General Osorio for this famous Brazilian shopping experience. A great chance to find presents to send home as well as an opportunity to furnish your new place with knick knacks, artwork and furniture. There are a few great leather stands here with bean bags, pouffes and rugs on sale cheaply, as well as some lovely wooden furniture sellers. Furniture and household items can be surprisingly expensive in Brazil, but markets like these tend to be much cheaper.

Porcão Churrascaria ££ Rua Barão da Torre, 218, +55 21 3202-9150

Along with the Feijoada (traditional gut-busting Brazilian meal consisting of stewed meat, rice and beans), a churrascaria is a must during your stay in Rio. Essentially a fixed price BBQ, waiters will come to your table with skewers of all sorts of delicious-looking meats. If you fancy a bit, they’ll carve some onto your plate. You’ll be given a coin to display by your plate – the red side means ‘No more’ and the green side means ‘Hit me’. Porcão Rio’s comes highly recommended, and costs around £33 per person. Wear something with elastic.

Botanical Gardens £ Rua Jardim Botânico, 1008, +55 21 3874-1808

An enchanting escape in the hubbub of the city, the gardens are found north of the lake and cost a few quid to get in. Tall tall palm trees create a lovely shade as guests wander between ponds, lawns and leafy avenues. Check out the orchid house, and have a juice in the friendly garden café. See if you can spot Christ with his arms outstretched between the tops of the palm trees. On a cloudy day he will appear and disappear eerily!

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Lapa £ Steps Selarón

Bohemian Lapa is a district worth visiting during your stay, and from here you can reach the picturesque Santa Teresa district, too. Home to the much-pictured colourful steps known as Escaradia Selaron (made popular with the kids in Snoop Dogg’s ‘Beautiful’ music video), Lapa is actually rather quiet by day but high-octane buzzing by night. The Escadaria Selaron will be fairly busy with tourists during the daytime, but not completely mobbed. Keep your eyes on your belongings here but do take the time to explore the stunning steps properly – they’re entirely covered in fascinating intricate tiles, mirrors and ceramics. Every square inch tells a story.