Known primarily for its beaches, natural landscape and festivals, Rio is nevertheless a culturally and historically rich city with many things to see.

Serving as the capital of Brazil for almost 200 years (and the entire Portuguese empire during the Napoleonic wars), Rio has been one the biggest cities in the Americas. Let’s take a look at the best parks and museums located in the Wonderful City.

Museum of Tomorrow (Museu do Amanha)

Inaugurated in 2015, this futuristic looking museum is located next to Rio’s waterfront. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, it contains steel wings with solar panels that move along with the sun, providing a sustainable energy source for its dependencies.

The museum holds permanent and temporary science and technology collections, with expositions dedicated to cosmology, human history and the future. There are many interactive pieces and games that will surely impress you.

The enchanted one (A Encantada)

Located in the nearby Petropolis, A Encantada is a museum located at the former home of Brazilian inventor aviation pioneer Santos Dumont. Built in 1918 on a steep hill, the picturesque residence features some of Dumont’s inventions.

For example, he developed the first shower system with hot water, powered by alcohol. It has single-step stairs for better space management, and features an observatory deck on the rooftop. Curiously, there is no kitchen, as Santos Dumont had all his meals delivered by a nearby hotel.

Botanical Garden

Founded in 1808 by King John VI of Portugal after the capital was transferred to Rio, it was originally intended for the acclimatization of imported spices belonging to the royals. In 1822, after the independence, it was finally opened to the public. This 350-acre park is located at the base of the Corcovado Mountain, where the Christ the Redeemer statue is located, and contains over 6,000 different plants and trees, including almost 1,000 palm tree species.

The Botanical Garden also contains over 140 different bird species that can be easily spotted when visiting. This is also an important scientific research institute in Brazil, that have developed many studies and the identification of different plants and trees in the country, including one of the largest botanical libraries in the world.

Please note that even though that it is an open area, smoking is prohibited in the Botanical Garden. A good alternative is to carry nicotine pouches along, which can provide smokeless and tobacco-free nicotine absorption while there.

Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC)

Even though this one is not located in the city, instead in the neighboring Niteroi, the MAC is one of the most distinctive buildings in the region. Conceived in 1996 by the world-renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer, it attracts visitors from all over the world to see its contemporary art collection in its UFO shaped building.

The MAC’s permanent collection includes pieces from some of the most influential Brazilian contemporary artists, such as Tomie Ohtake, Frans Krajcberg, Abraham Palatnik and Mira Schendel, who have made important contributions to Experimentalism, Concretism and Neo-concretism artistic movements.