Friday 12th of May 2017 12:00AM to 04:00PM at Vivo Rio (Downtown Rio)
Friday 15th of September 2017 12:00AM to 04:00PM at Rock City
Saturday 16th of September 2017 02:00PM to 04:00PM at Rock City
Are you looking forward to the most awaited day of the year to come? If so, don't worry anymore, for the day is almost here! Rock in Rio - Maroon 5, Fergie, Shawn Mendes is around the corner and tickets for this upcoming festival are on sale as of now! Don't hesitate and get your Rock in Rio - Maroon 5, Fergie, Shawn Mendes tickets as soon as possible, for you will without a doubt have an unforgettable experience. You will get to see your favourite artists perform on stage and you will get to sing, dance and jump the whole time with all your friends! You will even get to meet new people! What are you waiting for? Buy your Rock in Rio - Maroon 5, Fergie, Shawn Mendes tickets before they all sell out! Rest assured- you will want to go back!
Sunday 17th of September 2017 02:00PM to 04:00PM at Rock City
Rock in Rio - Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys is finally here! Even better news is that tickets for this amazing festival are finally on sale! So hurry up, get your tickets now and have the best time ever. A festival is always a great excuse to camp with your friends, so besides watching some of the best performances ever and listening to the latest tracks of your favourite artists, get to spend time with your friends and get to meet new people, who also love music. It's certainly a wonderful experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you want to have an unforgettable time, get hold of your Rock in Rio - Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys tickets here and now and join the crowd at Cidade do Rock (Parque dos Atletas).
Thursday 21st of September 2017 02:00PM to 04:00PM at Rock City
Look no further! We have what you need! We have Rock in Rio - Aerosmith, Def Leppard tickets on offer here at StubHub! So if you are a big festival fan, you won't want to miss out on this! Rock in Rio - Aerosmith, Def Leppard is expected to be one of the most popular this year! Previous festivals have been a great success, with tickets selling out in record time. So get yours here and dance with other music lovers at Cidade do Rock (Parque dos Atletas).
Friday 22nd of September 2017 02:00PM to 04:00PM at Rock City
Festival fan, are you? Then you are one lucky duck because the Rock in Rio - Bon Jovi, Tears For Fears tickets you need are available for purchase here at StubHub! Don't miss the opportunity to be a part of the legendary Cidade do Rock (Parque dos Atletas) experience. Buy your Rock in Rio - Bon Jovi, Tears For Fears tickets today and get out to Cidade do Rock (Parque dos Atletas) ready for the experience of a liftime!
Saturday 23rd of September 2017 02:00PM to 04:00PM at Rock City
The great outdoors, the open sky, surviving on what you can find, what can be better than spending a day with nature? Why, spending it with your favourite bands! Yes, festival period is among us mixing all the best things about camping with live music, although the tucker has markedly improved, with the hunt for rabbit now replaced with the hunt for a reputable food vender (a task still considered difficult)! It is with this mentality in mind, that StubHub are now selling Rock in Rio - Guns N' Roses, The Who tickets! Loaded with a remarkable line-up and an atmosphere to boot, Cidade do Rock (Parque dos Atletas) will be brimming with festival goers as Rock in Rio Rio de Janeiro gears up to full swing, so make sure to be there! Buy your Rock in Rio - Guns N' Roses, The Who tickets now here at StubHub!
Thursday 27th of April 2017 12:00AM to 04:00PM at Citibank Hall - Rio de Janeiro
Everyone 12-16 years old must be accompanied by an adult.
Monday 1st of May 2017 08:00PM to 04:00PM at Moviola Bistrô
O quarteto Notre Jam, liderado pelo baixista Bruno Migliari e pelo saxofonista AC, apresenta uma abordagem jazzística da música pop contemporânea através de um repertório de standards modernos arranjados sob uma ótica jazzística, incluindo composições de artistas do cenário pop como Prince, Donald Fagen, Sade, Adrian Belew, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Paul Simon e Stevie Wonder. - todas as segundas-feiras às 20:00 no Moviola.
Saturday 29th of April 2017 01:00PM to 04:00PM at Paróquia São Cosme e São Damião
Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil, on the South Atlantic coast. Rio is famous for its breathtaking landscape, its laid-back beach culture and its annual carnival. The "Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea" has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The harbour of Rio de Janeiro is comprised of a unique entry from the ocean that makes it appear as the mouth of a river. Additionally, the harbor is surrounded by spectacular geographic features including Sugarloaf mountain at 395 meters (1,296 feet), Corcovado Peak at 704 meters (2,310 feet), and the hills of Tijuca at 1,021 meters (3,350 feet). These features work together to collectively make the harbor one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Rio de Janeiro hosted many of the 2014 FIFA World Cup games, including the final. It also hosted the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, becoming the first South American city to host the Summer Olympics.
It is a common mistake to think of Rio as Brazil's capital, a distinction it lost on April 21, 1960 when Brasilia became the capital. Beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema, the Christ The Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) statue, the stadium of Maracanã and Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) are all well-known sights of what the inhabitants call the "marvelous city" (cidade maravilhosa), and are also among the first images to pop up in travelers´ minds, along with the Carnaval celebration.
The South Zone holds most of Rio's landmarks and world-famous beaches, in an area of only 43.87 square km (17 square miles). Many of them are within walking distance of each other (for instance, the Sugarloaf lies about 5 miles from Copacabana beach). Most hotels and hostels are located in this part of the city, which is compressed between the Tijuca Range (Maciço da Tijuca) and the sea. There are important places in other regions as well, such as Maracanã stadium in the North Zone and the many fascinating buildings in the Centre.
Sadly, most people also know Rio for its violence and crime, special with drugs. And social problems, as slums or favelas, areas of poor-quality housing and living; slums usually located on the city's many mountain slopes, juxtaposed with middle-class neighbourhoods.
Rio was founded in 1565 by the Portuguese as a fortification against French privateers who trafficked wood and goods from Brazil. Piracy played a major role in the city's history, and there are still colonial fortresses to be visited (check below). The Portuguese fought the French for nearly 10 years, both sides having rival native tribes as allies. For the next two centuries it was an unimportant outpost of the Portuguese Empire, until gold, diamonds, and ore were found in Minas Gerais in 1720. Then, as the nearest port, Rio became the port for these minerals and replaced Salvador as the main city in the colony in 1763. When Napoleon invaded Portugal, the Royal Family moved to Brazil and made Rio capital of the Kingdom (so it was the only city outside Europe to be capital of a European country). When Brazil became independent in 1822, it adopted Monarchy as its form of government (with Emperors Pedro I and Pedro II). Many historians and Brazilians from other places say cariocas are nostalgic of the Royal and Imperial times, which is reflected in many place names and shop names. In 2009, the city won their bid to host the games of the XXXI Olympics in the summer of 2016. This was the fifth bid by the city, whose 1936, 1940, 2004, and 2012 bids lost.
Rio is one of the country's major transportation hubs, second only to São Paulo.
Four bus lines operated by Real depart from right outside the arrival section of Galeão and Santos Dumont. Buses are air-conditioned and comfy, with ample luggage space. They run roughly every 30 minutes from 5:30AM to 10PM.
There are two types of taxis. As you leave Customs you will see booths of different companies offering their services. These are considerably more expensive (ex: Galeão - Copacabana R$70; Galeão - Ipanema R$99) than the standard yellow taxis that are to be found outside the terminal building but the quality of the cars is generally better. These taxis can often charge double the price of those ordinary taxis from the rank located around one hundred metres from the arrivals exit and should cost you about R$40 (July 2009) on the meter to reach Ipanema or Copacabana or R$50 to Jardin Botanico. The price can go up by R$10 or more if you get stuck in a traffic jam. It is possible to pre-book airport transfers.
Money change facilities are limited and high commissions are charged. Slightly better rates can be obtained, illegally, at the taxi booths but they may want you to use their cabs before changing money for you. In any event, don´t change more than you have to as much better rates are available downtown.
From Europe, TAM Airlines offers direct flights from Paris (daily), London and Frankfurt (both three times a week). Alitalia flies five times a week from Rome, Air France flies twice a day from Paris, British Airways three times a week from London, TAP twice a day from Lisbon and on Fridays and Sundays to Porto, Lufthansa four days a week from Frankfurt, KLM four days a week from Amsterdam and Iberia daily from Madrid. From Africa, Taag connects Rio to Luanda four times a week, and from Asia, Emirates has a daily non-stop flight to Dubai, where is possible to continue to many Asian destinations (also, from Rio this flight continues to Buenos Aires).
From North America, there are non-stop flights to Rio de Janeiro from Charlotte, New York and Miami with either American Airlines or TAM Airlines, Washington, D.C. and Houston with United Airlines, Dallas with American Airlines, Atlanta with Delta Airlines, and Toronto with Air Canada. Travellers from elsewhere in the region have to make a stop in the aforementioned U.S. cities or in São Paulo to get to Rio.
A number of carriers (including TAM, Gol, LAN, TAM Mercosul, Emirates, and Aerolíneas Argentinas) connect Rio de Janeiro to Argentina (Buenos Aires and Cordoba), Venezuela (Caracas), Paraguay (Asuncion), Uruguay (Montevideo) and Chile (Santiago). Avianca and Copa Airlines connect Rio with Bogotá, Lima and Panama City, respectively, offering onward connections to Central America or other South American cities. LAN and Aerolineas Argentinas offer connections from their respective hubs to Australia and New Zealand.
Rio's glorious 3 Central Train Station (Estação Central do Brasil, former: Estação do Campo, Estação da Corte, Dom Pedro II), Praça Procópio Ferreira - Centro (You can get there either by bus or subway (subway is better; get off on Central station, hub for lines 1 and 2). made famous by a movie of the same name. It's worth a visit just to see it. - Serves mostly local commuter lines (SuperVia), so it's unlikely that you'll arrive through here. Five of eight Rio's suburban train lines depart from here. SuperVia Deodoro branch (23km, 40min); SuperVia Santa Cruz branch (Platform 6, fifty five km, seventy five min); SuperVia Japeri branch (Platform 8, sixty two km, eighty three min); SuperVia Belford Roxo branch (Platform #10, thirty one km, less than one hour); SuperVia Saracuruna branch (Platform #12) toward Saracuruna (sixty two km, one hour); - Campo Grande (Platform #2) line and Gramacho line (Platform #13). - More details Zona Norte
The long-distance bus depot, 4 Rodoviária Novo Rio (in the North Zone's Santo Cristo neighborhood, coach buses can get you to the South Zone in about fifteen minutes; local buses take a bit longer. Frescão air-conditioned coaches can be caught just outside the bus station. The coaches connect the station to the city centre and main hotel areas of Copacabana and Ipanema.). Bus companies include Itapemirim, Penha, Cometa, 1001, and Expresso Brasileiro.
Several companies offer bus passes from Rio to the rest of the country. The Green Toad Bus also offer bus tickets online for buses from Rio de Janeiro to Ilha Grande, Paraty, São Paulo, Florianopolis, Campo Grande, Foz do Iguacu and some other destinations in Brazil. They have bus passes to take you to other countries as well.
Ferries (barcas) connect neighbouring Niterói to Rio de Janeiro and arrive at Praça XV (see down), in the city centre.
Rio is connected by many roads to neighboring cities and states, but access can be confusing as there are insufficient traffic signs or indications of how to get downtown.
The main interstate highways passing through Rio are:
Rio de Janeiro possesses an extensive and complex, highly multi-modal public transportation system, adapted to the city's unique topography - large areas covered by mountains surrounded by pockets of densely populated flat lands. Among the public transportation modes, there is subway, heavy rail, light rail, bus rapid transit, local buses, microbuses, cable cars and ferry boats.
The city uses a prepaid transport SmartCard, the RioCard Bilhete Único Carioca, which costs R$ 3.00 (refundable) and gives access to nearly all available public transportation (mostly excluding touristic rides), also offering discounts if the user takes more than one transportation within a 2-hour time period and stays within the Rio de Janeiro municipality. It is very convenient to get a Bilhete Único if you plan to use public transport on a regular basis during your stay in Rio, as it saves you the hassle of constantly figuring out which type of integration ticket to buy. If you stick to subway, heavy rail, bus rapid transit and local buses (not including executive buses), a public transport trip using the Bilhete Único shall cost between US$1-US$ 2.
Buses are still the cheapest and most convenient way to get around the South Zone (Zona Sul) of the city due to the high number and frequency of lines running through the area. For the adventurous or budget traveler, it is worth asking your hotel or hostel employees how to navigate the system or which routes to take to arrive at specific locations. However, you should be mindful of questionable characters and your belongings. By night buses are more scarce, and most lines will usually not be running by the time the bars and clubs are full. Buses start at R$3.80 (Feb 2017); buses with air conditioning charge higher fares. The fare is paid in cash to a controller or the driver inside the bus, by passing through a roulette. There are no tickets, and try to have change/small bills. Some residents and students have a digital pass card. Keep an eye out for pickpockets when the bus is crowded, and don't be surprised if your driver goes a little faster and brakes a little more suddenly than you'd like. Except for minibuses, buses now have two doors: passengers get in through the front door and get off through the back (it was otherwise until 2001-2002).
Some bus stops in the South Zone are equipped with a shelter and a bench, but sometimes, far from tourist areas, they are less obvious and have no signs at all - you might have to ask. As a general rule in most parts of Brazil, buses stop only when you hail them, by extending the arm. If you don't hail and there are no passengers waiting to get off, the bus simply won't stop. The same can be said if you are on the bus wanting to get off at a particular stop. You should know the surroundings or the name of the intersection of the area you are going, or inquire to the employee operating the roulette, so you can signal to the driver that you want to get off, or he may not stop! There are no schedules nor timetables, but there is an invaluable book called Ruas de Rio de Janeiro (The streets of Rio de Janeiro) that has maps of Rio and lists bus routes by bus line. Although it does not list the exact schedule of arrivals and departures, it lists the bus stops, and one an easily orient oneself and navigate the city using it. Usually buses run no less infrequently than every 15 minutes. However, they can run just once an hour or more infrequently late at night or in remote areas of town.
There are a baffling 1000+ bus lines in Rio (including variants), covering nearly all of the city, operated by perhaps a dozen independent operations. (At least 6 operations ply the streets of Copacabana and Ipanema.) The  website contains a catalog of the lines, but is of little help unless you know the line number or can enter exact street names. Many lines differ only a few streets from each other in their itineraries, and some even have variants within the same line. Bus lines with a * or a letter means that this bus has a variant. It means that there may be a bus with the same name, same number, same origin, even same destination but with a complete different route. Lines are numbered according to the general route they serve:
Most popular lines for tourists are 583 and 584 (from Copacabana and Ipanema to Corcovado railway station), as well as 464 and 435 (from Copacabana to Maracanã). Buses 511 (Ataulfo de Paiva) and 512 (Bartholomeu Mitre) are also popular as they take you to Urca for the station to take the cable car up the Sugarloaf mountain. Typically bus drivers and controllers won't understand any foreign language. If you can't speak Portuguese at all, use a map. Trying to speak Spanish is usually not particularly useful.
The BRT is a mass rapid transit system based on multiple-car buses running on exclusive lanes, inspired by similar systems in Curitiba, Bogota and Jakarta. There are three BRT lines:
The Metrô Rio subway system is very useful for travel from Jardim Oceânico (in Barra da Tijuca) to Downtown and beyond, passing through the the Zona Sul beaches including Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabana (the extension to Leblon and Barra da Tijuca shall be inaugurated before the 2016 Olympic games). It closes after midnight (24 hours during Carnaval). The air-conditioned subway is safe, clean, comfortable, and quick, and has much better signage, etc., than most transport in Rio, making the lives of foreign tourists easier. There are two main lines: Line 1 (Orange) has service to Ipanema (General Osorio), the Saara district, and much of Downtown, as well as Tijuca. Line 2 (Green) stops at the zoo, Maracanã stadium, and Rio State University. The two lines are integrated between Central and Botafogo, so check the train's destination if you board within the integrated section for a destination in the Zona Norte. A one-way subway-only "unitario" ticket is R$4.10 (Jul 2016). The ticket window will give you a card that you insert in the turnstile; do not pull it out unless you've purchased a multi-trip or transfer pass. Rechargeable IC cards (minimum charge R$5, no deposit required) are also available and definitely worth getting if you'll be in town for a few days.
Since 2003, the Metrô company operates bus lines from some stations to nearby neighborhoods which are not served by the subway system. This is particularly helpful for places uphill such as Gávea, Laranjeiras, Grajaú and Usina. Since the city grew around the Tijuca Range mountains, these neighborhoods will never be served by the subway, but you now can take the integração (connection) minibuses. The company calls it Metrônibus and Metrô na Superfície (literally, Subway on Ground), but actually they are ordinary buses in special routes for subway commuters. You can buy tickets for these - just ask for expresso (pronounced "eysh-PREH-sso", not "express-o") when buying a ticket, then keep it after crossing the roulette (prices range from R$ 2.80 to 4.40, depending on the transfer you want, as of Sep 2010). When you leave the subway, give the ticket to the bus driver (who shall be waiting in the bus stop just outside of the station). If you buy an ordinary ticket, you won't be able to get this bus for free - then it will cost a regular fee.
Recently the last car of each train has been marked women-only with a pink window sticker, in order to avoid potential harassment in crowded trains. Some men, however, are not yet used to this separation (since it is very recent) and many women, who are accustomed to hassle-free everyday travel in Rio's subway, also think the measure is unnecessary. Anyway, if you're a man, avoid getting into trouble with local security staff and stay off the pink-marked cars. Note that the women-only policy for the wagon is valid only in the rush hour.
Eight lines operating. Five of them from Central station (see above). They can be useful exploring the northern and western suburbs and bairros (quarters).
In the areas without subway, trams, SuperVia or BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) use a cab. All legal cabs are yellow with a blue stripe painted on the sides. Taxis not designed like this are special service cars (to the airport or bus stations) or illegal. Rio taxis are not too expensive on a kilometre basis, but distances can be quite considerable. A journey from Zona Sul to the Centro will cost around R$20, and from the airport to Copacabana is around R$50 for example. The car can usually hold four people. You can ask a cab for a city tour, and arrange a fixed price (may be around US$20). Major taxi companies include Central de Taxi, Ouro Taxi and Yellow Taxi.
After getting into the taxi, check to see if the taximeter has been started, it charges R$4.40 (March 2011) for the minimum ride, called bandeirada), and R$1.60 per kilometer. If not, ask the taxi driver to do so. Some taxi drivers may wish to negotiate a fixed price in lieu of using the taximeter stating that they want to help you out and give you a cheaper fare. This is common for taxi drivers queued at tourist stops such as Pão de Açúcar and may be a confidence trick. Keep in mind that the taximeter may give you a better price. When in doubt, use the taximeter. You are the customer and you are in control. If the taxi driver will not comply, leave the taxi and find another.
You may be ripped off by some taxi drivers. If you have any doubt about drivers being completely honest, consider having your route mapped out on your smart phone with Google Maps and GPS turned on and ready to go before entering the taxi. By doing so, you can see if your taxi driver closely follows this ideal route. Remember that Avenida Atlântica switches traffic directions during the day, so Google Maps might get it wrong during the morning or evening hours on that road.
If you want to avoid being ripped off then it may be worth taking a 'radio-taxi', particularly when arriving at the airport. Radio Taxis are usually the blue, green, or white taxis and they do cost a little more than the typical yellow taxi. The advantage of a radio taxi is that you pay a fixed rate regardless of the time of day or if there's heavy traffic etc., this means that you do not risk the price increasing at the drivers discretion.
For those traveling to Rio for Carnaval it's worth using a company that allows you to book and pay in advance, and to try and pay as much in advance as possible as prices tend to increase a few weeks before Carnaval.
Be aware that traffic jams in Rio can be terrible at times. A taxi ride from Ipanema to the bus terminal for instance can take an hour and a half if you get seriously stuck, so make sure you have margins in case you really can´t afford to be late.
Rio de Janeiro is covered by some e-hailing services, Uber being the largest of them. Notable e-hailing services in the city, are:
Traffic within some parts of Rio can be daunting, but a car may be the best way to reach distant beaches like Grumari, and that can be an extra adventure. Avoid rush-hour traffic jams in neighborhoods such as Copacabana, Botafogo, Laranjeiras, and Tijuca, where moms line up their cars to pick up their children after school. Buy a map, and have fun.
Note that Rio has an interesting programme of traffic management. Between 7AM and 10AM on weekday mornings the traffic flow of one carriageway on the beachfront roads of Ipanema and Copacabana is reversed, i.e. all traffic on those roads flows in the same direction, towards the city. Note also that on Sundays the carriageway closest to the beach is closed to allow pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders, skaters and others to exercise.
Abricó is the only official nudist beach in the city of Rio de Janeiro,it lies next to Grumari beach. Only accessible by car/taxi. A cheaper option is taking the bus numbered 360 (Recreio) that passes along Copacabana/Ipanema/Leblon, and from the end of the line (ponto final) take a cab.
It is also worth visiting the beaches in Paquetá, particularly:
Cariocas have a unique beach culture, with a code of customs which outlanders (even Brazilians from other cities) can misconstrue easily. Despite what many foreigners may believe, there are no topless beaches. Girls can wear tiny string bikinis (fio dental), but it doesn't mean they're exhibitionists. For most of them, it's highly offensive to stare. Until the 1990s, men and boys wore speedos, but since then wearing Bermuda shorts or boardshorts has become more common, although speedos ("sungas" in Portuguese) seem to now be making a comeback. Jammers are less common but still accepted.
Waves in Rio vary from tiny and calm in the Guanabara bay beaches (Paquetá, Ramos, Flamengo, Botafogo, Urca) to high, surf-ideal waves in Recreio. In Leme, Copacabana, Arpoador, Ipanema, and Leblon, there's a popular way of "riding" the waves called pegar jacaré (pe-GAHR zha-kah-REH; literally, "to grab an alligator"). You wait for the wave to come behind you then swim on top of it until it crumbles next to the sand.
Commerce is common in Rio's beaches, with thousands of walking vendors selling everything from sun glasses to fried shrimp to cooling beverages (try mate com limão, a local ice tea mixed with lemonade, or suco de laranja com cenoura, orange and carrot juice). For food, there is also empada (baked flour pastry filled with meat or cheese) and sanduíche natural (cool sandwich with vegetables and mayo). Vendors typically shout out loud what they're selling, but they won't usually bother you unless you call them. All along the beaches there are also permanent vendors who will sell you a beer and also rent you a beach chair and an umbrella for a few Reais.
Leblon and Ipanema are the most cool beaches. The beaches in Barra and Recreio (Quebra-Mar, Pepê, Pontal, Prainha, Grumari) are the best and cleanest beaches, being the favorite among surfers, paragliders and nautical sports. São Conrado beach is a hang gliders paradise.
In the West Zone you can find some of the best beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Barra da Tijuca's beach is a 17 km sand line of clear waters. Surfers love it, and many people also. The sunset is beautiful, especially during the winter. The beach is relatively safe at night, although development of tourism by big hotels such as the Sheraton have brought with it the inevitable appearance of (discreet but ever present) prostitutes. As you go along you get to Recreio, which is even clearer, and much less crowded. Prainha is now very far away from the crowded Copacabana. Its perfect waves made it famous. It is also on a biological reserve, with restricted car parking spaces. Avoid the weekends and enjoy this between mountains-beauty of the nature on the week-days. There are many surfing schools all along the Barra beach that hold one and half hour surfing classes. The classes are fairly inexpensive and are mostly populated with locals. Some of the surf instructors do speak English.
There is no shortage of things to do on a rainy day. In addition to a wide range of museums, Rio has many cultural centres, which are run by banks and other organizations and usually host free exhibitions. Details of what is on can be found in the Segundo Caderno section of the daily O Globo newspaper, which provides more detail in a weekly Friday supplement. Also very useful is the Mapa das Artes Rio de Janeiro, which provides detailed bi-monthly listings as well as detailed maps of the city. This is free and can be picked up at most museums.
In addition to Jardim Botânico and Parque Lage, mentioned above, other parks worth a visit are:
Still the greatest reason for visiting Rio seems to be the Carnaval. This highly-advertised party lasts for almost two weeks and it is well known for the escolas de samba (samba schools) that parade in Centro, on a gigantic structure called Sambódromo (Sambadrome). During Carnaval, Rio has much more to offer though, with the blocos de rua, that parade on the streets. There are now hundreds of these street "samba blocks", that parade almost in every neighborhood, especially in Centro and the South Zone, gathering thousands of people. Some are very famous, and there are few cariocas that have not heard of "Carmelitas", "Suvaco de Cristo", "Escravos da Mauá" or "Simpatia É Quase Amor".
The rest of the year, samba shows are popular with tourists, and are held at several venues like Plataforma and Scala. These are expensive and not really representative of Brazilian culture, they present a lot of almost naked women and bad musicians, a tourist trap (much like the real thing.) Much more interesting and genuine, though, are the night practice sessions held by the various samba schools in the months leading up to Carnaval. You will find only a small number of tourists here, and you will be served the best caipirinhas of your trip! These go on into the wee hours of the morning, with the fun really only starting at 1-2AM A good cab driver should be able to hook you up, and cabs will be available to take you back when you are samba-ed out. Salgueiro and Mangueira are good choices, as they are two of the larger samba schools, and are located relatively close to the tourist areas in a fairly safe area.
Note that a change is afoot that may make this genuine experience a thing of the past (or more convenient, depending on your viewpoint) for all but the most savvy tourists. The local government built a complex of buildings (Cidade do Samba) where many of the samba schools are moving their practice halls and float-construction facilities from the gritty warehouses typically located in or near their home favelas. One can expect many more tourists, and shows made-up for the tourists as the tourist bureau milks this facility for all it's worth year-round.
Here is a list of some of the samba schools:
The newest addition for tourists is the Samba City .
Rio was the cradle of three of Brazil's most important musical genres: samba, choro, and bossa nova. In recent years, there has been a boom of traditional samba and choro venues. A lot of them are in the downtown district of Lapa. There are good and cheap nightlife options, where you will see some of the best musicians of the country. Any of the city newspapers provide pointers to the best shows.
If you're not such an anthropological type of tourist, you can check out the same papers for tips on other kinds of music. Being a big city, Rio has big and small clubs that play almost every kind of music. The major mainstream clubs mostly play whatever's on the Radio - which is usually whatever's on the USA radios and MTV - but the underground scene has a lot to offer on Rock, E-Music, Rap and such. The best way to find out about those are the flyers handed or left at hostels, cinema and theater lobbies, nightclub lines, etc.
Rio hosts the country's largest and most popular New Year’s Eve celebrations. The huge fireworks display and music shows attract 2 million people to the sands of Copacabana beach every year. People dress in white for luck and toast the arrival of the new year. It's usual also to have some national and international concerts on the beach for free.
Rio de Janeiro is the main destination for lesbian and gay travellers from all over Brazil and the rest of the world. The city has been chosen as the best lesbian and gay international destination in 2009, and the sexiest gay place in the world in 2010 and 2011.
The Hangliding and Paragliding flights have found in Rio de Janeiro, the ideal land for its high hills and favorable wind. Different from other places in the world, in Rio, the sport could be done in urban areas and landing on the beach! These conditions naturally attract many tourists who get the courage to enjoy a flight. And even the most inexperienced person can flight since there´s no training or special gear needed. Operator:
Not surprisingly, a huge city that has an actual forest within its limits has lots to offer for hikers. It's always advisable to have a local with you when trekking in Rio (Couchsurfing's Rio de Janeiro group usually organizes hikes around the city), as some treks are not very well-marked. Since the early 2000s there hasn't been any reports of violence/burglary on the city's trails (a problem in the 90s), but the rules on the Stay safe section apply as anywhere else in the city. Some of Rio's hiking trails include:
The trek is fairly demanding and steep, and takes about 1h30/2h to complete, but yet very popular among locals - it's normal to see whole families doing it, as well as groups of friends and foreigners. Buy the "Metrô + Metrô Na Superfície" ticket and go to Botafogo. From there, take the metrô bus to the station Hospital da Lagoa, which is close to the Parque Lage. Ask the park's staff or look for signs that say "Trilha" to get to the start of the trail, just behind the ruins of an old house. From there you have two paths: going straight ahead leads to a waterfall that is usually full of families on the weekends (it's a good spot to stop on your way back if you go back the same way), and left leads straight to the main path of the trek. Along the way there are 3 waterfalls (just one you can actually bath in, though) and a small path where you have to hang on to a chain to pass through some rocks. Until this point you will be going up, but always surrounded by forest. The first views of the city will start after the chain (about 1h/1h30 in). Then you get to the train tracks, either follow the rail tracks or the road up to the Christ (another 15 minutes). Views from here on are breathtaking. However, entrance to the monument costs R$22 (Dec. 2014). To go back down, you can get a van for about R$20 or walk about half a mile down to the parking place. Tickets from there only cost about R$10.
This is a short and fairly easy hike, taking about 20/30' to complete, also very popular among locals, specially because you can go up for free then hitch a ride back on the cable car (after 7PM, it's free to return on it). The hike begins at Pista Cláudio Coutinho in Urca, and is very popular among the locals. If you ask the guards they'll point you to the start. It's uphill, but just the first five minutes are really steep and will need you to use your hands. From there on just keep to your left. There are amazing views of Urca and the Guanabara Bay during the final 20 minutes, some of which are angles you don't get from the vantage points above. The trek actually ends on top of Morro da Urca, the smallest of the two. Remember, tickets to get to the final station of the cable car on Pão de Açucar are only sold at the ground station, not at the second station at Morro da Urca.
If you have the money the following operators give you panoramic flights in helicopters:
A number of operators offer tours of Rocinha, the largest and safest Favela in Rio. Many tours are done by outside companies in safari-like buses, which can lead to awkward interactions with the locals. Try to go with someone who lives in Rocinha on a walking tour. It is also possible to arrange tours to other favelas, although Rocinha has a longer history of tourism and is one of the more developed favelas.
You may hear stories about people being invited by locals to visit their home in a favela. If you receive such an invitation do think carefully about it and perhaps ask around about the person that has invited you. Many of the favelas are rife with drugs and guns so think carefully about how much you trust the person that is inviting you. A search on the Internet may reveal some accounts of tours others have taken. A visit like this will obviously be more authentic than a book tour and could be the highlight of your visit to Rio; on the other hand you are taking a risk. Also consider that Favelas are normal neighbourhoods in Rio and not a zoo.
For tourists there are many interesting things to learn. Why not take a rainy day in town to have samba (the national rhythm) classes or capoeira, a mix of dance and fighting created by the then enslaved African community. Is not as hard as outsiders may think, and it's original and fun. At Casa Rosa Cultural, an antique house in Laranjeiras neighborhood, they offer special classes for the beginner tourists.
If you are staying in Brazil for an extended time, major universities offer Portuguese courses for foreigners, usually for a very low price and with high educational standards.
When shopping in street commerce, always bargain; this can lower prices considerably. Bargaining in stores and malls, though, is usually impolite. But naturally merchants won't bargain unless you ask, especially if you are clearly a tourist. To tourists, items can easily be overpriced by a factor of 20% especially in highly informal markets such as Saara or on the beach.
Great bargains can be had on Brazilian-made clothing, as well as some European imports. Most imported items, however, such as electronics, tend to be insanely expensive due to protective import duties. For example, you will find digital cameras sell for about twice what they sell for in Europe or the U.S.
Store managers in Rio often speak some English, as this gains employees an almost-automatic promotion. But "some" can be very little, so it is useful to learn at least some very basic Portuguese. Just knowing basic greetings, numbers, and how to ask directions and prices will get you at least a "B" for effort, and despite finding that store clerks may know more English than you Portuguese, it can still come in handy to know a bit of the language. Don't be afraid to resort to writing numbers, pictures, or resorting to pantomime. Shop assistants will often tap out prices for you on a calculator. Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in Brazil, with American Express to a significantly lower degree. But beware that many stores will accept either Visa or MasterCard, but not both! If you carry only one, look for the sign in the store window before attempting to buy.
A great choice of gift, since they do not take much space in the suitcase back home, are bikinis, a trademark from Rio for its quality and fashion style.
Shopping malls can be found all over town, with the cheaper ones in the Zona Norte like Shopping Tijuca and Shopping Iguatemi and popular upscale shopping malls concentrated in the Zona Sul like Shopping Rio Sul and Shopping Leblon and São Conrado Fashion Mall and BarraShopping in Zona Oeste.
Organic food arrived in the Brazilian supermarkets but if you want to support local small scale farmers you might consider the following fairs of Circuito Feiras Organicas Carioca:
Ipanema, Praça Nossa Senhora da Paz, de 7h às 13h
Tijuca, Praça Afonso Pena, de 7h às 13h | LEBLON, Praça Antero de Quental,de 7h às 13h
Bairro Peixoto, Praça Edmundo Bittencourt, de 8h às 13h | GLÓRIA, Rua do Russel, de 7h às 13h | JARDIM BOTÂNICO, Praça da Igreja São José da Lagoa, de 7h às 13h
In Rio de Janeiro you can probably find something to fit any craving. A good approach to local food is "comida a kilo" - buffet style restaurants where you pay by the weight of the food on your plate. An excellent place to go with your friend or even with your partner is the Fellini restaurant. Located in Leblon, the place has a "pay for what you eat" buffet, with really good and beautiful food. Great for all tastes, it has even Asian food on the menu- approximately R$5 per 100g. More information available online . Another one is Ming Ye, Rue do Lavradio 106, near Lapa. Ming Ye offers a wide range of Chinese stir-fry and delicious sushi, as well as Brazilian dishes for cheaper prices (around R$3 per 100g).
Don't miss the Brazilian most famous dish, the feijoada (fay-zho-AH-da), a black bean stew filled with big chunks of meat, like sausages, pork and beef. Along with the "feijoada", you also get some colorful side dishes that come with it, such as rice, cassava (roasted manioc), collard greens, fried pork rinds, and some orange slices, to sweeten things up a bit. This is bonafide, authentic carioca culinary excellence, almost worth the trip alone! Best while sipping down a "caipirinha".
For the hungry, nothing beats a good rodízio (all-you-can-eat service). These are available in numerous types, although the most well-known are the churrascaria, all-you-can-eat grilled meats. Marius, in Leme has arguably the best churrascaria in town. Porcão has 5 restaurants around Rio, whereas Carretão has a good and cheap(er) rodizio. At various restaurants around town, you can also find rodízio style dining featuring seafood, pizza, or various appetizer-style snacks. The defining element of rodízio is that unlike an all-you-can-eat buffet, the servers continuously bring skewers of various meats.
If you like meat but want an alternative to the rodizios, a good place to eat at is Filé de Ouro (Rua Jardim Botânico, 731, Jardim Botânico; phone: +55 21 2259-2396; see Google Maps for directions). The place is simple and cozy. During the weekends there are usually big lines, but the steak is delicious. Try "Filé à Oswaldo Aranha", with toasted garlic.
Brazil has the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan, and sushi has become widely popular in Rio too. If you are a sashimi and sushi lover, you will find a great deal of options in Rio de Janeiro. If you are in Ipanema or nearby, a great tip is Benkei, that has an "all you can eat" buffet, with high quality products, great environment and staff for nice prices.
As a former ex Portugal colony, Brasil has maintained many influences of this country on its culinary. Therefore you will find great authentic Portuguese restaurants in Rio. A good option, from the localization to the ambiance, and naturally the food, is the CBF Restaurant, in the Tiradentes Square, a lovely area full of antique architecture.
In Leblon, the best choice is the hip and contemporaneous Zuka where chef Ludmila creates many original recipes. In Ipanema, Zazá Bistrô is a trendy, sexy and exotic place with great South Asian dishes. Good to go as a couple.
Because its huge coast, many Brazilian specialties are in the seafood area. They are very rich in shrimps, lobster, calamaris, shellfish, clams, mollusks and many other tasty fishes. So, once in this land, don't miss the opportunity to order those lovely dishes. An option of restaurant very well known is Azul Marinho which is located below the building of Arpoador Inn, in Arpoador, very close to Ipanema. However, expect to pay at least R$100 per person, and set menus go about R$120 per person, excluding drinks.
The highest recommendation for a decently priced superb meal is at Sobrenatural, that has the some of the freshest fish in Rio. Go on Monday, Wednesday or Friday, when they have live samba and chorinho music by renowned artists. Try their moqueca dishes. It is located at Rua Almirante Alexandrino, 432 Santa Teresa.
For sophisticated people who enjoy simple life, Via Sete is in the heart of Ipanema, on Garcia D'Ávila. This grill restaurant offers a great bang for the buck: from their veranda you get to people-watch pretty Brazilians. There you can enjoy tasty wraps and sandwiches.
Felice is one of those tasteful places you can just hang out all day and all night: it has a great breakfast, a healthy lunch, varied gourmet ice-cream flavours at the palour, and a hip sunset after hour vibe. St.Tropez inspired dinner menu with a fair cost benefit and a lounge crowd after 11PM.
Travellers with fatter pockets may also splash out a bit at the Dias Ferreira street in Leblon, Rio's up-and-coming restaurant row.
There are many places to get pizza and lots of restaurants also offer pasta.
Rio is also famous for its pastries and street food, heritage from Portuguese and old European culture. In most cafeterias (lanchonete; lun-sho-NETCH) you can have a pastel (pahs-TELL) or salgado (saw-GAH-do; local pastry) for less than R$2. Typical pastries are coxinha (ko-SHEEN-ya; chicken nugget shaped like a chicken leg), and unique Rio's joelho (zho-EH-lyo; rolled dough filled with ham and cheese). Also try pão de queijo (pawn-deh-KAY-zho; cheese baked dough), typical from Minas Gerais but very common in Rio as well, and tapioca (typical from Bahia), a kind of crepe made out of manioca flour.
For drinking, ask for guaraná (gwa-ra-NAH; soda made from the seed of an Amazon fruit, also available as a strong drink), mate (MAHTCH; sweet ice tea; not like Rio Grande do Sul or Argentina's hot and sour mate), água de coco (ah-gwa-djee-KOH-ku; natural coconut water) or caldo de cana (caw-do-djee-KAH-na; sugarcane juice). There is also a common fruit called açaí (ah-sah-EEH), with a dark-purple pulp out of which are made juices, and ice-creams. Typical cariocas eat it like cream in cups or glasses, mixed with granola, oats or other flakes. The best place for such drinks are one of a number of Rio's open juice bars. Very often, these are located on street corners and have long, curved bars offering you juices from pretty much every fruit you can imagine. The best option is a small chain of juice bars called "Big Bi's". The juices are astounding value alongside their good selection of salgados and sandwiches. Their açaí is one of the best in terms of value and taste and the staff are excellent. On top of all this, if you leave a tip, you get a big "Obrigado" from all the staff. For the best Big Bi's experience, try the Tangerina ao Limão juice along with the famous Bauru sandwich for a total of a mere R$13. Finish it all off with an açaí to go. Perfect. Big Bi's has a few branches dotted around Copacabana and Ipanema, one of which is on the corner of Rua Santa Clara and Rua Barata Ribeiro in Copacabana. If you then cross the road of Rua Barata Ribeiro, you will land at an exquisite ice cream parlour.
There are many specialized "health food" shops that offer an incredible variety of rich meat and vegetable sandwiches, plus an awesome variety of fruit juices, many of them delicious and usually unknown by foreigners. Among them are graviola, fruta do conde, jaca, açaí, guaraná, pitomba, mango, coconut, orange, lemon, papaya, melon, etc. (they make it as you ask and all food is 100% organic and fresh. The meal is often prepared as you wait, so you can ask them to mix whatever fruit you want and create a customized mix if you like). You must try açaí and guaraná, Amazon fruits which are famous to be the strongest energizers and anti-oxidants of the world. They also offer Brazilian snacks (including many Italian and Oriental delicacies), and other simple but delicious things to eat. I never got enough of them! These shops usually are cheap and hang many fruits at the entrance or somewhere visible to display their quality.
Warning: look for clean places, as hygiene can be poor in many street shops.
If your palate is homesick for more familiar tastes, Rio has most of the fast-food chains found around the world (McDonald's, KFC, Domino's, Outback, Subway, Pizza Hut and Burger King). Bob's and Habib's are the biggest national fast food chains.
Many foods that in other countries are simply picked up in the hands and eaten, are either eaten with knife and fork (such as pizza) or are picked up by wrapping a napkin around the food so that it is not touched with the hands (such as sandwiches). You will undoubtedly notice napkin dispensers on the tables in most restaurants for this purpose.
Leaving a club or a bar, late in the night? The best option is Cervantes in Prado Júnior Street, in Copacabana. It closes only with the sun raising. The menu is composed by big sandwiches, with whatever you want: ham, salami, cheese, tenderloin and so on, with one home special ingredient: a big pineapple slice. It's a tropical taste to the end of your night. Look out for the legendary "Penguin Waiter", who've been working there forever. You won't have a problem to find out who he is.
Being in Rio and not going to one of the countless samba live music bars, certainly you've missed a lot on your trip. In Lapa, the nightlife district of Rio, there are many nice bars with great atmosphere where locals go for dancing and meeting people. There are a couple of them in the Zona Sul as well. Most of these bars work with a kind of consumption card, which is handed to you when you enter. Everything you consume is marked on this card, and losing it means you'll have to pay a really high fee of sometimes more than R$200,00! So take good care of it.
For those who like to go clubbing, Rio has some good options. You'll be seeing lots of flyers and talk about "raves" Usually Rio's raves are devoted to trance, which is pretty popular, especially with the upper-class youngsters, though some electronic parties do have good djs and live acts from around the world. The night in Rio is pretty much divided between mainstream and underground.
Mainstream would be such "raves" and big electronic festivals, as well a nightclubs like Zax Club (Barra da Tijuca), Baronetti (Ipanema) and Boate Praia (Lagoa) that are devoted to pop, dance and variations of house and trance. Those are not, however, places you go for the music. They are usually packed with "patricinhas" (tanned, long soft-haired girls with gym-built bodies) and specially "pitboys" (upper/middle-class boys, known for having various degrees of martial arts training and a certain tendency for violence). Yes, fights are one of the major problems with the mainstream clubbing scene in Rio. It's also fairly expensive. You'd be expecting to pay between R$30 and R$50 to get in a club (girls pay less, but all those clubs will have an f/m proportion around 1/3) and between R$50 and R$100 for a "rave" or electronic music party being held at spots like the Marina.
Though with far less options, the underground clubbing scene is more available and interesting than the mainstream. Most of the underground clubs are on Zona Sul and offer different parties for each day of the week. The underground club scene has a more diverse public, from goths to punks also with strong hedonistic tints. It's very gay-friendly and most of the parties and clubs have almost the same m/f proportion. It is also far cheaper than the mainstream clubs, with tickets starting as low as R$5 and not going further up than R$25. Some good alternative clubs are Fosfobox (Copacabana), Dama de Ferro (Ipanema) and Casa da Matriz (Botafogo).
For a real "carioca" experience, try Mariuzinn Copacabana. Brazilian Funk and electronic music, with an eccentric crowd. It just finishes when the last dancer gives up. Which means early in the morning. It will be an unforgettable experience.
In the Zona Sul, you will find Rio's fanciest and most popular hotels along the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, but there are lots of small, cheap, clean hotels around Flamengo and Catete. The street in front of the strip of tourist hotels in Copacabana can be seedy, due to both garishly-dressed tourists, and a few opportunistic locals ready to take advantage of them. The apart-hotels in Ipanema are a much more pleasant alternative, being both better appointed and in a nicer neighborhood with fewer tourists.
Accommodation in the lower Centro can be convenient for business travellers. The surrounding areas, however, are far from pleasant at night, being nearly deserted and lacking decent restaurants and leisure options. The central Santa Teresa neighbourhood, however, is quite departed from the city centre life and has plenty of pleasant bed and breakfasts and a significant nightlife.
Given Rio's rise as a fashionable destination with creative and fashion people, some hotels that cater to the design-conscious crowd have also been popping up at the most upscale neighborhoods. The city also has a large selection of apart-hotels, which provide apartment-style accommodations with kitchen facilities. Private condominium apartments can also be rented short-term at reasonable rates, and can be found on the internet. This is probably a preferable means of finding one of these than the notes that will be passed to you by anonymous persons on the street. These apartments generally have a one-week minimum, or two weeks during Carnaval or New Years holidays.
Accommodation in Rio is probably Brazil's most expensive. There is a relative shortage of hotel rooms on the cheaper range and booking in advance is recommended. Moreover, prices for most accommodation can more than triple during New Year's and Carnaval. Those are very busy periods and booking well in advance is recommended. Note that most hotels in tourist areas will only sell 4-day packages and charge in advance - even if you want to stay only for a couple of days during those events. Other than those, the busiest month is January - summer holidays in Brazil.
Motels, that you will see mainly on the outskirts of the city, are not motels in the North American sense. Rather, they are places you go with your lover for a few hours. One famous motel, overlooking the Sheraton in Leblon, was taken over by the US Secret Service when George Bush Sr stayed at the Sheraton. It is not recorded whether heart-shaped beds, mirrors on the ceiling and on-tap porno movies affected their work!
If hostel life is more your style, they are easy to find in Rio. The more expensive ones boast locations that are short walking distance to either Ipanema or Copacabana beach. However if you prefer to stay in Lapa, Glória, Catete, and Botafogo, there are many other choices available. Hostelling has become increasingly popular in Brazil, and many of them are located at walking distance from hot spots. Beware, however, not to be taken to any fraudulent scheme - you might end up being robbed. Look for accredited places with Youth Hostelling International and similar franchises.
To experience Rio from another point of view, there's also the opportunity to stay in various hostels in one of the favelas. Due to presence of many police units (called Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora, UPP), it is reasonably safe to stay in some favelas. Ask your hosts about the actual situation, though. See for example Zona Norte for a stay in the Complexo do Alemão.
Rio is vulnerable to epidemics of dengue fever, particularly during the late summer months of February and March. If an epidemic occurs, be sure to take the appropriate precautions by using insect repellant and, if you happen to be staying at a place with a balcony, make sure there is no standing water around. Use sunblockers, especially in your face and shoulders, to avoid having a bad experience with sunburns. Any common drug store sells a variety of sunblockers, and even cocoa butter lip sticks, to avoid having little cuts after dry lips.
Here is a list of medical clinics and hospitals in Rio de Janeiro that accept international traveler´s health insurance:
It is important to note that while the following information may panic you and also make you question whether to go or not to Rio, most visitors to the city have a great time with no incidents.
Still, Rio can be dangerous. As a traveler, even if you don't leave the "Zona Sul" (which include Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Gávea, Jardim Botânico, Flamengo, Laranjeiras, Botafogo, Urca) or Western Suburbs (Barra, Recreio), you may experience a palpable tension over security.
Generally, tourists (also called "gringos," which is not derogatory but means "outsiders") and teenagers are considered "easy" targets for criminals. Day-to-day living has also been affected by this. For example, regular banks all have fortress style security doors and armed security men. Rio can be a dangerous city and it is wise to follow these rules even if they seem exaggerated.
In order to fully enjoy your trip the traveler should pay attention to simple things. Avoid the downtown area, especially Saara, after dark. Although downtown is a relatively safe place during the day, after-dark all the people who work there have already gone home. If you are going to a theater or a show, it's all right; but do not wander in those dark streets by night. Go to Ipanema beach, all lighted and policed during the night, though even there is not entirely safe for tourists who look obviously like tourists.
On Sunday, most shops are closed and their security guards are absent, so the neighbourhood Centro is not safe in the daytime. Also, even the bigger streets in Copacabana are less safe after dark so the beach walk is probably the best option.
Should you find yourself being mugged, the normal advice applies:
Don't resist or do anything to aggravate the muggers. Try not to stare in their faces as they might think you are memorizing their appearance. Eyes to the ground is probably your best bet. Let them take anything they want (keep your arms limp). Afterwards, leave the scene quickly but calmly (don't run in panic screaming for the police).
In the morning, especially before the police arrive, if you are walking or jogging on, Copacabana should be considered unsafe. Even with people around, joggers are popular targets for mugging. If you plan on jogging make sure not to wear anything that may tempt a mugger (watch, iPod etc.) and if you can, wait until after 10AM.
When in downtown during the rush hour, be aware of pickpockets as in any other big city centre. The difference in Rio is that the pickpocket can often be a bit violent: one of them pushing you forward in the bus or to the ground in the street while another one takes your wallet and runs away. It's not that usual or as bad as it sounds, but try to avoid being in real danger by reacting strongly as these guys often operate in armed groups (2-5 people), some unnoticed by you.
In the area around Copacabana beach (and maybe in the city centre), the tourist should be aware of a shoe shining scam. The tourist will be approached by a shoeshiner and to his astonishment discover a large, dirty blot on his shoes (which is actually shoe polish or mustard but looks like quite something else). The tourist is typically shown to a chair and has his shoes or sandals cleaned in the best manner. Only after this service is rendered, the outrageous price of somewhere around R$1000 or more is revealed. At this point, muscular friends of the shoeshiner typically appear to "oversee" the completion of the transaction.
The subway is fairly safe, so it is recommended to use it if you want to go from one place to another. Although you may be used to taking the handy and good trains in Europe or even in North America to go across many places, you won't need to take a train in Rio. If you do, it can be a fairly nice trip to the suburbs or a chaotic journey to a bad neighborhood in a train where people sell all kinds of weird stuff, where everyone will look at you in a way you will feel you are an alien, about to be mugged. Buses on the South Zone are fairly safe as well, but, in the city centre, they can be quite crowded. Inside a bus, being mugged is always a threat: less so but still possible in the South and tourist zones. Always remember that Bus 174 movie. It happens so often that they don't even go to the news (only homicides or big cases where the police got involved such as this Bus 174 go to the news). In the subway, it is quite unlikely though, which is one extra point to the subway!
Don't walk around with lots of money in your pocket. ATM's are everywhere (prefer the ones inside shopping centres) and credit/debit cards are widely accepted. But don't walk around without any money: you may need something to give to the bad guys in case you are mugged. Not having money to give a mugger can be dangerous as they may get angry and resort to violence. An excellent idea is to buy a "capanga" (literally meaning bodyguard), that is, a small frontal unisex pouch, normally used to carry your wallet, checks, money and car keys.
Avoid wearing jewelry or other signs of wealth (iPods, fancy cell phones/mobiles, digital cameras, etc.) if possible, at any time of the day, as these attract attention. Thieves have been known to run past targets and tear off necklaces, rings, and earrings without stopping. Earrings are particularly dangerous as tearing them off often harms the owner.
There are around 700 favelas in the city and most of them can potentially be unsafe in Rio: and there is always one near you (by a couple of miles or just a few yards). These are easily recognized by their expansive brick walls, and are often on a hillside. The slums grew from being impoverished neighborhoods but are now large areas ruled by drug lords. If you want to keep your nice vision of Rio, you don't need to go there. However, some favelas are amazingly huge, and a new experience for some—there are some travel agencies who take people on tours there. If you want to go, pay one of those agencies. NEVER go to a favela by yourself or with an unknown guide. The tour operators have "safe-conduct pacts" with the local drug dealers. If you don't have one, you'll be in BIG trouble. You'll most likely be approached by the drug baron's guards and asked what you are doing there (and these guys typically don't speak English). If you don't have a good reason (and you probably don't), the consequences could be dire. Don't count on the police to help you, as they don't like to enter the favela either, except in special circumstances, though most likely they will check if you are carrying any drugs upon leaving the favela.
In Brazil, every state has two police forces: the Civil (Polícia Civil) and Military (Polícia Militar). Only the latter wear uniform (in Rio, it is navy blue). The city of Rio also has an unarmed Civil Guard, dressed in khaki. Policemen can usually be trusted, but corruption in Brazil is still rampant and a few officers may try to extort you or demanding a little bribe. When this happens, it is usually very subtle, and the officer may typically say something about "some for the beer" (cervejinha). If you are not willing, refuse and ask for another officer. Don't ever try to bribe a policeman on your own—most of them are honest and you might end up in jail.
The local emergency dial number is 190.
At night, especially after traffic has died down, you may hear what sounds like fireworks and explosions. This is not as menacing as it sounds, though it is still indicative of somebody up to no good. These are often firecrackers set-off as signals in the favelas. It might mean that a drug shipment has arrived and is in-transit or that the police are making a raid into the favela. It is a signal to gang operatives who act as lookouts and surrogate police to be extra-vigilant. However, real shoot-outs may occur, especially on weekends. If you are on the street and you hear a shooting, find shelter in the nearest shop or restaurant.
For your safety, cross at the crosswalks, not closer to the corner, and watch for cars regardless of traffic lights.
Carjacking can be a threat too, especially if you are outside the tourist areas and after dark. It is perfectly acceptable (even if exactly legal) not to stop at the traffic lights if there is nobody else on the street and you feel it's okay to go (if there are no other cars). You will see even police doing this. Some major motorways such as Linha Amarela (Yellow Line: connects the west zone(Barra da Tijuca) to the north zone - may be your way to Norte Shopping for example) and Linha Vermelha (Red Line - the main connection from the International Airport) are strongly avoided late at night. Both motorways are surrounded by favelas, so carjacking is usual and shoot-outs may occur between rival drug lords or between drug lords and the police. If you rent a car, be aware of all these issues. As a tourist, it may be better not to rent one anyway, as if you get lost and go to a bad neighbourhood (and again, there will always be one near you), you will most likely be in trouble.
If you want to go to a traditional escola de samba (samba school), Mangueira is a good place. This is close to a favela, so you should go with a guide accordingly. If you do have a trustful Brazilian friend that can take you, that's excellent. Ask the friend to take you to Maracanã as well to watch a football (soccer) match! Yet exercise great caution if you go by yourself especially if two of the local Rio teams are playing (Flamengo, Fluminense, Botafogo, and Vasco). These matches can be very exciting but also very dangerous especially if between Flamengo and Botafogo or Vasco. If it looks like the team for which the fans around you are cheering is losing, it is wise to leave the stadium before the match ends. You don't want to be in the middle of a very angry bunch of football fans when they all cram out of the stadium.
The Rio Times is the only English language news publication dedicated to the English speaking foreign community living and traveling in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They have been publishing weekly online since March 2009, covering Rio Politics, Business, Real Estate, Sports, Entertainment, Travel, as well as offer Classifieds and a daily Rio Nightlife Guide.
“On the eighth day, God created Rio.”
It doesn’t take long to understand why cariocas love to say so. Palm fringed beaches bookended by iconic granite morros, the world’s largest urban forest, and one infamous statue of Christ perpetually watching over the city. One of the most geographically blessed cities I’ve had the privilege to visit, it’s hard not to believe that whatever or whomever created this universe, they had a soft spot for Rio de Janiero.
And so did I, long before I first set my own eyes on the city. When I was cleaning out boxes of old college notebooks and projects last summer, I came across detailed ramblings about a fantasy semester in Brazil scribbled in the margins of many a class note. More recently, my mom took on a similar project purging my sister and my’s grade school stockpiles, and came across a report I’d done when tasked with researching any continent – I’d lovingly selected South America. For years, when asked what destination topped my bucket list, I barely had to hesitate.
For as long as I’ve loved travel, Brazil was a tornado force of a desire, with Rio at the eye of the storm. That’s a lot for one city to live up to, regardless of how marvelous it may be.
Originally, as this dream began to take shape in reality, I hoped to spend two full weeks in the city. Later, as I negotiated with Heather, my travel copilot, and accepted how much else of the country I wanted to see, that time was pared down to just one week.
I was determined to make the most of it.
By the time we arrived in the Cidade Maravilhosa, we had partied at Tomorrowland in Itú, fallen for the biggest baddest city in Brazil in São Paulo, been charmed by Paraty, and got lost in wild Ilha Grande. We were ready for Rio.
After careful consideration, Heather and I had chosen to split our time in Rio between two different digs – kicking things off at a hostel in Botafogo, and then later moving to an Airbnb near Copacabana beach (get $35 off your first booking!) We bit off a lot before we’d even arrived, booking several tours and creating an exhaustive itinerary. We were so excited we were practically powerless to do otherwise, despite being fully aware of how burnt out we’d be by the end of the week. We even skipped one tour we’d pre-payed for, a favela nightlife tour – pretty much unheard of from this penny pincher — because we were too exhausted and hungover to make it.
In one week, we crammed in a sunrise tour of Cristo Redentor, a DIY photo safari of Lapa and Centro, hang gliding over São Conrado, a walking tour of Santa Marta favela, a sunset at Aproador, a night out in Ipanema, two beach days, a street art tour, a trip to Jardim Botânico, and sunset at Pão de Açúcar. We literally loved every single one of these activities and I’ll be writing in more detail about each of them.
Even so, we left with much not crossed off our lists. Rio is a big, sprawling city with so much to see and do — it could take weeks, or months, or a lifetime to explore. I think one of the biggest struggles for any do-and-see-it-all-er heading to Rio will be accepting that in this city, that would be an impossible mission.
There’s a famous comparison that Rio is Brazil’s Los Angeles and São Paulo, Brazil’s New York. After being well and truly and very unexpectedly swept off my feet by São Paulo, I couldn’t help but see why.
While what I loved about Rio did remind me of what I love about Los Angeles — the beach! — a lot of what I didn’t like about Rio reminded me of what I don’t like about Los Angeles – namely, urban sprawl and charmless seediness.
The rivalry between the Cariocas (people from the city of Rio de Janeiro) and Paulistas (residents of São Paulo) is an intense one, just like that between residents of the US’s largest east and west coast cities. To state the obvious, Rio wins by a landslide when it comes to setting. The city’s natural beauty is unrivaled, and the ocean it’s surrounded by is its number one draw.
Experiencing this city’s unique beach culture was the highlight of my time in the city, so much so that I’ll be dedicating a whole post to it coming up — stay tuned! While we were visiting in Brazil’s autumn, we found the beaches pleasantly buzzing.
The weather, our busy itinerary and a few unexpected wrinkles in our plan (hello, last minute work assignment and Heather going to the hospital) meant we spent less time there than we would have liked to, and so I dream of returning one day in the summer to spend a whole week doing not much more than beach bumming.
Beaches aside — and I admit, it’s a rather important factor to put aside — I was surprised to find myself favoring São Paulo in many other categories. Through my eyes, São Paulo had an undeniably chicer, hipper vibe. The art scene was a bit more sophisticated, the restaurant scene a bit more diverse and trendy, and transportation was more accessible (though traffic in both cities was insane).
The more I travel, the greater emphasis I have placed on food. After really swooning over the restaurant scene in São Paulo, especially for Heather as a vegetarian, we were a little disappointed in Rio’s — though I was warned. That said, we did find a few gems. We fell in love with hip Meza in Bogafoto (we went for both dinner and Sunday brunch – with a bubbles bar!) and bohemian Zaza in Ipanema, and made three different trips to cute Oficina Gelato. Yet overall, we were super grateful for the kitchen in our Airbnb – it meant we could cook a few meals, eat takeaway in comfort and not rely on eating every meal out at a restaurant.
Getting around in Rio was a bit of a struggle at times. Traffic was intense and destinations were quite spread out. Due to the language barrier we used Uber exclusively for cab needs — get a free ride of up to $20 with Uber here — but even then we did run into some issues with drivers getting lost and taking ridiculous routes. We spent ages attempting to use the city’s municipal bike program but it requires a local SIM card to unlock the bikes. Heather had one but I didn’t, and so that was out.
The best thing we did for ease of movement was simply splitting our time in two different areas of the city and creating a logical itinerary around those two bases. This allowed us to walk quite a bit, which is always my favorite way of getting around a new city. Next time, I’d love to try using the metro.
One of the pleasant surprises of Rio was how comfortable we felt as two women traveling alone. While we were constantly — like literally, constantly — warned by everyone we encountered to be careful with our cameras, we were vigilant and cautious and had zero issues and really felt surprisingly safe and secure throughout our time in the city.
Frankly, overall we felt this was all throughout Brazil, but it was most poignant in Rio, where multiple viewings of City of God had prepared me to be relieved of all my belongings within moments of stepping onto the streets. It was a nice surprise.
Bottom line? We had a blast. But we were also so busy – and rounding the corner of travel burnout – that we didn’t leave much time to just soak up the magic of the place, which Rio requires quite a bit of.
I look forward to returning someday and putting less emphasis on tours and attractions (only because I’ve now seen them – I don’t regret a single one) and focusing instead on soaking up the beach culture, my absolute favorite aspect of the city, enjoying some of the nightlife, which we regretfully missed out on aside from one over-indulgent night, and attempting some of the beautiful urban hikes and beginner surf breaks I learned about in the area.
I hope I don’t have to wait too long for that return. In the meantime, I can’t wait to share more details from our week in Rio de Janeiro.
Have you been to Rio? Did it live up to your expectations? What part of my trip are you most excited to read about?
Many thanks to Heather for the beautiful portraits she took of me throughout this post!
There are two attractions that are pretty much non-negotiable must-sees for more travelers to Rio — the Cristo Redentor statue, also known as the Christ Redeemer statue, and Pão de Açúcar, also known as Sugarloaf Mountain. Heather and I were no exceptions, and planned to make both a priority during our one week in Rio de Janeiro.
However, we chose to check off each in what I considered especially spectacular fashion.
As a professional photographer and a professional blogger, it pretty much goes without saying that photos are a top priority for Heather and I when we travel (but I went ahead and said it anyway, just in case.) Which is why, despite being very distinctly not morning people — at least not setting-the-alarm-for-before-sunrise-morning-people — we enthusiastically signed on for a Viator Exclusive: Early Access to Christ Redeemer Statue Tour. Photos of Rio’s top attraction without hundreds of our fellow tourists loitering in the background? I could get up early for that.
And so on our first morning in Rio de Janeiro, we sprung out of bed, grabbed our cameras, and set off to meet Jesus — and maybe let him take the wheel (please tell me I have at least one country music fan in this crowd).
Photo by Heather Holt
We were mildly irritated by the three different phone calls back and forth that were required to confirm our tour, but at this point we had grown at least mildly accustomed to the daily miscommunications that were a fact of traveling in Brazil for us. We were also a little bummed that our hostel in Botafogo wasn’t within the pickup zone, which required us to travel in the opposite direction of our final destination in order to reach the designated meeting point for those not on the pickup list, but we just rolled with it.
At 7am, we were scooped up from the meeting point in Copacabana and on our way. Our tour guide Solomon switched seamlessly between English, Portuguese and Spanish for the mini-bus full of travelers from around the Americas, and we settled in for the ride up to Corcovado Mountain.
We reached the ticket gate about ten minutes before the attraction’s opening time, and remarked on the chill at 2,300 feet above sea level — bring a cardigan, friends! As soon as the clock struck 8:00am, we were on the very first official park shuttles from Paineiras (private vehicles cannot go past this point).
When we reached the top, we had the choice of climbing the 220 steps to the top or hoping on the elevator. Heather and I were not shy about practically sprinting onto the elevator in our attempt to be first to the top — and it worked! We probably had a good three or four minutes before the rest of our group appeared, and then another five or six more before another bus-full showed up. It might not sound like much, but if you’re shutter-ready, you can get drool-worthy travel shots in a matter of seconds. When it comes to having one of the world’s top attractions to yourself, every minute matters! We were pretty lucky that things stayed low key the entire hour or so we were onsite.
Photo by Heather Holt
Photo by Heather Holt
When we were finally able to momentarily chill and cede our perfect shot spot for others the snap away at, Solomon filled us in on the history of the iconic statue. Constructed in 1931 from concrete and sandstone and named one of the Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, the statue was bigger in our minds than it was in reality — we both remarked we though it would be bigger! Apparently, we don’t have a concept of what 130 feet tall with a 98 foot arm span really translates to.
GoPro fail // Photos by Heather Holt
The morning, like many in Rio, was foggy, giving the city below us an other-worldly feel — but making it somewhat tricky to photograph. Still, the morning light was perfect for photographing the statue, as well as taking portraits in front of it. And of course that was that whole “escaping the crowds” thing going on too — which was made even more successful by the fact that we came on a weekday.
If you still want to beat the crowds and the heat but your priority is taking photos of the view, you might prefer to come in the late afternoon.
Photo by Heather Holt
About as crowded as it got // Photo by Heather Holt
When Solomon finally summoned us we’d had plenty of time to snap statue selfies, soak up the view and enjoy the morning air. We opted to take the steps back down to basecamp, and after getting the okay from our guide, grabbed a morning tea and snack from the overpriced onsite cafe… which we immediately had to frantically chug/inhale because we were told we couldn’t bring them on the shuttle with us. Ha! Cue us asking Solomon why he encouraged us to get hot beverages when we knew we couldn’t bring them onboard and we had to leave urgently that moment, and filing it away in our “We Literally Never Knew What Was Going On Ever in Brazil” folder.
Would I recommend this tour? I’m going to skip yes and just go straight ahead to DUH. Despite some of the logistical hassles, we were just giddy with happiness at at the swoon-worthy photos and exclusive experience we walked away with. I often find myself seized with stress at big crowded tourist attractions, and it was so dang nice to just saunter around the place like had rented the place out for a small private party of ourselves and a dozen friends.
One thing to keep in mind is you will not be taking that cute little cog train up the mountain. We didn’t read the tour description very well and were a little disappointed, so just be aware of the trade-off when booking. A minibus might be little less glamorous than a train car (and a lot more motion sickness inducing, so prepare for that if needed) but in my opinion the compromise is well worth it.
Back at the base of the mountain, it was time to go our separate ways. The tour actually offers an optional upgrade in which you can visit Sugarloaf on the same day, which is awesome for those with limited time, though because we had a whole week we decided to save that for another outing.
Plus, we had big plans for the rest of the day. We decided to forgo our ride back to south Rio and instead take advantage of being up in the north to do a little DIY walking tour of Lapa and Centro using my trusty guidebook to lead the way.
Next stop? Escadaria Selarón! This expansive piece of open-air, public installation art is the brainchild of Chilean-born Jorge Selarón. Began in 1990, the steps lie between the bohemian neighborhoods of Lapa and Santa Teresa, and are a popular draw for art-lovers from around the world.
Wandering the steps, I was reminded me of similar mosaic installation projects I’ve seen in Philadelphia and in Utila — each the inspiring work of one dedicated artist. This 215 steps that make up this constantly evolving work of art are covered in tiles from over sixty countries, many of them gifts once Selarón’s project became widely known — in the early days, he scavenged tiles from trash and construction sites and sold paintings to fund the work. Selarón once claimed that “this crazy and unique dream will only end on the day of my death,” a quote that felt omniscient in retrospect when he was found dead under mysterious circumstances at the top of the stairs.
While many arrive, take a quick glance around, snap a few photos and then leave, Heather and I spent ages on the steps. We moved slowly, admiring the various tiles and excitedly pointing out to each other the ones from destinations we ourselves had visited. We also did some wonderful people watching — the homes along the stairs are still very much occupied, and it was fun to imagine what it must be like to walk along art every day to make it to your front door.
If you want people-free photos on the steps, you’ll have to follow one of my favorite photography tips: be patient. Still on a roll from our successful morning at Cristo Redentor, we were relentlessly persistent while waiting for those brief moments when the steps cleared so we could frame the shots we envisioned. As you can see from Heather’s behind-the-scenes shot below right, it was no easy feat.
But the portraits we took of each other in front of the most famous section of the stairs were well worth the wait.
Photo by Heather Holt
Photo by Heather Holt
One of the things I love about traveling with Heather is seeing how different the world looks through her lens! One thing this chick excels at is portrait photography. Generally, I am far too shy and too nervous to take portraits when I travel, but Heather comes from a journalist background and really makes magic happen when she points her camera at someone. How beautiful are these portraits of the people of Selarón steps?
After spending so long at the steps we basically became honorary locals, it was time to wander on. We meandered over to the nearby Arcos da Lapa, an aqueduct dating back to the 1700s. A local landmark, the aqueduct was architecturally impressive, but we didn’t linger long in the nearly abandoned square. Both of our guards were up and we later agreed that this square was one of the few places in Brazil that we felt uneasy.
Luckily it was a relatively short walk to our next stop, Catedral Metropolitana Church. Our guidebook had a long list of Rio churches to explore, but this one stood out to us as the one must-see. Built in 1976 after over a decade of construction, the cathedral is a textbook example of ultra modern, brutalist architecture. Though we both felt there was a very strong spaceship inspiration going on, we later read the true muse for the cathedral was the Mayan pyramids.
Next up, we made our way to the Theatro Municipal, a stunning theater built in 1905 to mimic the Paris Opera. Though we skipped the guided tours of the ornate interior, we loved admiring the building from the outside, which truly did feel like a piece of France plopped down in the middle of a South American street.
After wandering by a few more museums, churches, and busy downtown streets, we could wait no longer for lunch. We decided to dine at one of Brazil’s famous per kilo buffets, settling on The Line. Bursting with color and set along a busy, narrow alley, we exercised literally zero self control at the buffet and piled our plates as high as can be before nabbing ourselves two outside seats. For both our heaping plates and drinks below, we paid just 40BRL, or about $11 — not a bad deal in pricey Brazil.
Most tourists head to the Christ the Redeemer statue, but few stick around the explore Lapa and Centro during the day. I can’t recommend more highly to start your day with Viator Exclusive: Early Access Tour, and then take advantage of your location and strategically spend a few hours exploring Rio’s under appreciated downtown.
It was the perfect day. We experienced a very, very different side of Rio than what we saw in the southern zone — and both left so glad we set aside time to explore here. And with a dash of patience and the help of the perfect tour, we captured it beautifully in priceless photos.
What’s your secret for getting crowd-free travel photos?
I am a member of the Viator Ambassador initiative and participated in this tour as part of that program. This post contains affiliate links for which I earn a small percentage of any sale made at absolutely no cost to you. Thank you for supporting Alex in Wanderland!
Hang gliding in Rio de Janiero was just one of those things I had to do. Back when I was a distracted student sketching maps of Brazil in the back of my math notebooks, I must have come across a guidebook or an early blog post that highlighted it as a top attraction — because while I can’t pinpoint where or when I first heard about it, hang gliding in Rio de Janiero has been a must in my mind for as long as I can remember.
Lucky for me, Heather was enthusiastically onboard. She was also, with very little convincing, wiling to wear matching Brazilian flag leggings with me. This is why I love Heather.
This wasn’t my first time testing gravity — I’ve been parasailing on Maui, hot air ballooning in Laos, sky diving on Oahu and helicoptering and prop-plane-ing all over the show. But it was my first time hang-gliding, and I have the nervous-yet-hilarious GoPro shots to prove it.
No, this is not the face of a girl who’s totally sold on the idea of running off a cliff.
Little time had passed since we were whisked from our hostel doorstep to the white sand beaches of São Conrado, the epicenter of hang gliding in Rio de Janiero. A strip of shops form a neat row, and we were directed into the appropriate one to sign waivers, pay about $10 in fees, and get matched up with an instructor. Then we were back in the van, winding our way up to the launch point in Tijuca National Park, the largest urban forest in the world.
Although I was incredibly impressed with how organized, efficient, double-checked and safety-focused the whole affair was, the idea of flinging myself off a mountain was starting to seem suspect. Despite of, or perhaps because of, the expression on my face, I was the first one called forward to fly, and after receiving the world’s shortest briefing — which literally consisted of “keep running until you don’t feel the ground under your feet anymore” — I started to sprint.
And soon I couldn’t feel the ground any more.
The adrenaline rush of the launch was overwhelming, but within moments my heart-rate returned to something resembling normal and I was struck how peaceful it was, up there among the clouds.
While I admired the view, my instructor expertly navigated us using the wind. That’s the beauty of tandem — you pretty much have your own private air chauffeur and you can just kick back and focus on making thumbs up signs and flashing peace fingers at the camera. (Why, Universe, why is must this be my default?)
Rio de Janiero has no shortage of incredible views, but these were particularly impressive. Not only could we make out our friend Christo Redentor in the distance, but we also had front row seats for Pão de Acuçar, the lush Mata Atlantica forest, and of course the white sands of several of the city’s most famous beaches.
We also had a poignant vantage point of Rio’s infamous gap between extreme poverty and opulent wealth. In one direction, we gazed at the infamous Rocinha Favela; in other, the ocean-front mansions of São Conrado. If you do want a voyeuristic look at the houses (and pools!) of Brazil’s rich and famous, you can’t ask for a better bird’s eye view.
The final challenge? Landing. Again, on my part it involved little more than simply running till I was told not to. For an “adventure sport,” I was sure taking it easy up there.
And then we were back on land — or sand, rather. While my instructor took care of our harnesses and rig, I ordered up two fresh coconuts and waited to cheer Heather’s landing on.
She rocked it! Once reunited, we giddily recounted every moment of our experiences, and gave ourselves some serious high-fives for checking another adrenaline rush off our travel wish lists.
Unfortunately, we soon encountered our one and only complaint about the tour we’d booked. We carefully selected a package that said “photos and videos included,” and technically, there were some photos and videos included, our instructors explained to us while we perfected our mutual RBFs. The gliders are set up with two GoPros, and the included photos and video clips are from only the front camera. The side camera shots will run you an extra 100R (around $32USD). Also, they give them to you on a DVD unless you pony up 20R (around $7 USD) extra for a USB or memory card.
Considering we were traveling with approximately twenty-seven USB sticks and memory cards between us, we were pretty annoyed we hadn’t been given a heads up in order to bring our own. And we were extremely irritated that the photography exclusions weren’t clear when we booked. I begrudgingly paid for the extra photos, which to his credit my instructor gave to me on memory card that he didn’t charge me for to smooth out the situation.Considering it was a very experience experience, being nickeled-and-dimed at the end didn’t feel good. It definitely left a bitter taste in our mouths to feel like we’d been mislead, so if you’re heading to Rio and booking a hang gliding package, just clarify exactly what’s included before hand.
Three hours later, we were back where we started on the steps of our hostel. Our photo frustrations aside, I loved this experience and would recommend our tour package. The ease of transportation (our driver offered to drop us at Ipanema or Copacabana beaches if we preferred, which was lovely), the efficiency with which we got up and off the mountain and the high safety standards all left us impressed.
After so many years of anticipation, and so many other amazing adrenaline-inducing experiences in between, it would have been easy to be let down by this one. But nope, hang gliding in Rio de Janiero lived up to every math class I ever daydreamed about it through.
As I told Heather that morning… it’s a beautiful day to leap off a cliff!
I am a member of the Viator Ambassador initiative and participated in this tour as part of that program. This post contains affiliate links for which I earn a small percentage of any sale made at absolutely no cost to you. Thank you for supporting Alex in Wanderland!
This is but a small number of excellent hikes around Rio de Janeiro. Let it inspire you to strap on your boots and escape the city, enjoy the fresh air and views of the coast.
Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.
Sugar Loaf is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Rio de Janeiro. Avoid long lines for the cable car and hike. You will see the stunning landscape that includes Botafogo cove, Copacabana beach and the entrance to the Guanabara Bay. For photographers, this is the best viewpoint for sunset shots over Rio.
The statue of Christ the Redeemer is the largest and most famous Art Déco sculpture in the world. It is considered as New Seven Wonders of the World.
To get to the statue, grab a train that leaves from the Cosme Velho neighborhood. There’s also licensed vans in Largo do Machado and Praça do Lido square. To avoid overpriced transportation (38 and 65 reais) you can take the trail that starts at Parque Lage. The entrance to the Corcovado statue will cost you then 24 reais. The trail might be challenging but it is well equipped with metal chains and steps. You will definitely feel satisfied completing this hike.
To get to his trail take the bus, Tropical 4 to the last stop and change to bus 448. The hike is very steep. You have to register before entering the trail. The coast of the carioca South Zone can be seen from one side, while the imposing Pedra da Gávea looms over, and the immense Barra da Tijuca, with its skyscrapers and large beach, can be found on the right. You can also rent a hang glider in Pedra Bonita and enjoy a flight over the Atlantic Ocean.
One of the city’s most famous landmarks, the Dois Irmãos mountain, is a common background of photos taken on the beaches of Ipanema and Leblon. The trail that goes to the top of the mountain begins at the Vidigal community in São Conrado. From the beginning, you can take in a beautiful view of the beach in São Conrado and the Cagarras Islands. Take rests and use the time to take some pictures and catch your breath. You will be awarded by the breathtaking view of the city, which includes the South Zone. Don’t forget to buy some açai to cool down.
Pedra de Gávea is part of the Tijuca National Park. To get to the summit, Cabeça do Imperador, you’ll find a trail through the Atlantic Forest. It’s a route for experienced climbers. It is a good idea to hire a professional guide and be physically prepared for this hike. Take a lot of water and lunch with you. From the top of the mountain, it is possible to have a view over the city and Maciço da Tijuca.
Pico da Tijuca is the highest mountain in the Tijuca Forest, with an altitude of 1.022 meters. To get to its summit, you have climb a 117 step staircase which is carved into the rock. The trail starts in Praça Afonso Viseu square, near the entrance of Sector A of the Tijuca National Park. Enter the forest from the neighborhood Alta da Boa Vista, in Rio North Zone. At the beginning of the hike, you’ll come across the Cascatinha Taunay waterfall, the largest waterfall in the park. The trail has a slight slope and is enclosed by trees throughout the entire hike.
Pedra do Telégrafo is located in Barra de Guaratiba, West Zone of Rio de Janeiro. The region is about 50 km away from the Center. The trail to the Pedra do Telégrafo starts at Praia Grande in Barra de Guaratiba, known as the Camino dos Pescadores.
It is a very popular place during the weekend and you might need to wait in order to take a photo. If you have the opportunity visit this stop during a weekday.
This beach is very popular among surfers. On the light 30-minute trail, you can climb to the top of the Tartaruga Rock, which offers amazing views of the coastline. To get to the trail, go to the Parlon Siqueira street in Barra de Guaratiba. This trail is considered mild and does not require high physical fitness.
The journey from Jardim Botânico to Vista Chinesa is not long if you travel by car or taxi, around 10 to 20 minutes. The road is very good and paved. Although the climb is steep, it is common to find many cyclists and pedestrians. It has two waterfalls, Gruta and Macacos. The monument was built in the early twentieth century as a tribute to the Chinese who brought the tea to Brazil.
The Parque da Cidade was opened in 1976 and has a lookout spot that offers a spectacular view of the coast, the neighborhoods of Niteroi and Guanabara Bay. The park is open from 8:00 till 18:00 (19:00 during summer time).
This hike is will take three days between nearby towns Petropolis and Teresopolis. It’s approximately 30 km and deep within the mountain range Parque Nacional da Serra dos Órgãos. It’s one of the most beautiful hikes with breathtaking scenery. While it might be a challenging hike, the efforts are definitely worth it. Along the way, there are two camping spots where tents and facilities can be rented.
To visit a favela or not to visit a favela: it’s a controversial decision many travelers to Rio will ponder at some point or another.
Critics call it poverty tourism, proponents say it de-stigmatizes and brings income to marginalized communities. Even amongst my own peers, there’s discord. Friends from South Africa have made me cross my heart that I’ll never take a township tour, and some of my Brazilian friends strongly discouraged me from visiting a favela as well. Their concerns were not for my safety, but rather that tourists create a “human zoo” by paying to ogle at the darkest side of economic inequality. That, I wanted no part of.
And yet, pretending favelas don’t exist also seemed cruel in its own way. I desperately wanted to be educated, to be exposed, to experience multiple sides of Brazil. After much research and reflection, Heather and I decided we were going to visit a favela in Rio de Janeiro — and that the most respectful way to do so would be to take a walking tour with a small, locally owned company. (Big, drive-by tours in armored vehicles were out from the get go, obviously.)
There are many favelas in Rio. We chose to visit Santa Marta for several reasons. First, it was literally within walking distance of our hostel in Botafogo, and we were eager to explore the neighborhood we were staying in. Second, as artists, we were magnetically drawn to the popular mural project at the base of the favela and were excited to see it in person. Third, we found a locally-owned, ethically-run and reasonably priced walking tour with Tour Santa Marta.
We met our guide at a petrol station across the street from Santa Marta. We were pleased to learn we’d lucked out with a private tour, which meant we’d have no distractions from the bajillion questions we were planing to pepper our guide with.
And Pedro was more than happy to answer them. When he first approached us, we did a double take at how young he appeared to be. Later, when Pedro was flipping through his backpack I noted several textbooks, and he confirmed he was attending university nearby using his earnings from tour guiding. Based on his amazing English, I could only imagine his studies were going well.
Pedro explained we’d start the tour with a ride up to the top of the favela via cable car, and wind our way slowly back down on foot. Chiago, the owner of the small tour company, met us briefly to say hello and invite us to stop by his home in the favela on our way back.
As we approached the cable car, I noticed a small piece of street art and reached for my camera, only to realize I’d made the day’s massive face-palm: I left the battery charging back in our hostel room. To my surprise, Pedro translated that Chiago was a photography aficionado and had offered to quickly run home to see if he had a spare on the same size. A favela-dweller with a dSLR camera collection? Our misconceptions were already being broken down.
After an initial bout of the blues I realized it was perhaps a blessing in disguise. Heather, with her journalism background, is much more comfortable and skilled at taking photos in sensitive situations. Frankly, I’d been stressing even before we arrived. Freed from my discomfort and my obligation to take photos, I could focus fully on the experience. So with the exception of a few iPhone snaps, full credit for the photos in this post go to the talented Heather Holt.
As we disembarked from the cable car, a gift from the government to the favela upon pacification, we marveled at the amazing views over the city. Pedro laughed when we commented what high real estate prices vistas like this would command in the US, and countered that the top of the favela was actually traditionally the least desirable, as pre-cable car, it was a difficult slog up the steep hill on foot.
Santa Marta was the first of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas to be pacified back in 2008. Pacification refers to the government’s plan to wrest control of the favelas from drug dealers and gangs and hand it to a special police force known as the UPP, or the Pacifying Police Unit in English. The results have been mixed, but in Santa Marta, once one of the most violent slums in Rio, it’s almost impossible not to see the changes as positive.
Favelas have been a part of life in Rio since the late 1800’s. The word favela comes from the favela tree, a plant that, ominously, causes skin irritations to all those who come in contact with it. The moniker stuck for the communities mushrooming up all over Rio, populated by former slaves, poverty-stricken squatters, and soldiers who had nowhere else to go.
With 22% of Rio’s population living in them, favelas are an unmistakable facet of Brazilian life. At 8,000 residents, Santa Marta is on the small side.
Pedro’s fascinating stories were regularly paused to greet friends and acquaintances as we walked. From tiny tots calling his name and running over to ask for help finding their cats to the local barber stopping him to discuss football scores, it truly felt that Pedro knew every single person in Santa Marta.
And we weren’t left out. One of my favorite moments of the day was when we walked by a street-side barbecue and an older gentleman called Pedro over to try some, and translated through him his absolute insistence that Heather and I have a taste as well. With Heather being a vegetarian, I thought it only polite to eat enough for both of us!
Pedro explained that Chiago had created the tour company to change the conversation on favelas. Born and raised in Santa Marta, he wanted to show the world the energetic, vibrant community that he loved and continues to live in to this day by choice.
That spirit we were starting to understand was introduced to many in the world when Michael Jackson and Spike Lee traveled to Santa Marta in 1996 to film scenes for Jackson’s controversial music video They Don’t Really Care About Us. The government initially opposed the project and they pushed forward regardless, hiring residents as extras in the video and making Jackson a hero to the community in the process. Pedro proudly showed us the football field where Jackson’s helicopter had landed for filming, and the mural and statue the community built in his honor after.
Around the statue there were a handful of ramshackle souvenir-shops with locally-produced art and gifts, as well as a few small bodegas and snack shops.
Knowing that Santa Marta was the first pacified favela and continues to be one of the safest in the city, I frankly didn’t have any security-related qualms whatsoever about visiting. However, we got a serious reality check when, moments after stepping into a local shop to browse, we heard shouting and commotion out the door. While the owner of the shop smiled and tried to distract us, our hearts pounded as we pressed our faces to the window and saw military police with assault rifles aggressively shoving a local resident to the ground.
Just drug related, Pedro later assured us.
It was a reminder that yes, Santa Marta was once one of the most violent slums in the city and many people died here in bloody shootouts. In one of the most poignant physical symbols of change, bullet holes still dot the colorfully painted walls of a former day care center, now HQ for the Pacified Police Unit.
As our heart rates returned to normal we continued to ply Pedro with questions. In turn, he volleyed them right back at us, asking everything about where we live, what we studied, our travels, and beyond. Soon it felt like we were being shown around by a friend.
That feeling was only reinforced when we arrived at Chiago’s house. He offered us juice and showed us photos of famous visitors he’d welcomed to the favela, big names from Madonna to Vin Diesel to Alicia Keys and beyond. I marveled at how lucky we were to be seated in that cozy living room, invited guests in world that seems so mysterious to so many.
As we continued our descent down the hill, I reflected on how the day was different from my expectations.
I’d read so many posts from my fellow travel bloggers about their favela experiences before arriving that frankly, they’d all started to run together in my head and I’d even started to feel blasé about the entire experience. After reading about nightclubs and hostels opening in some favelas, and the growing concerns of gentrification, I think I half arrived expecting some sort of hip facsimile of Bushwick. Um, yeah, guys — I’m guessing you don’t need a spoiler warning for this, but Santa Marta is no Brooklyn.
So while many visitors to favelas seem to have their eyes opened to the fact that these are tight-knit, supportive communities with a lot to be proud of, I kind of already went in expecting that. Instead, what humbled me were the bullet-hole riddled reminders of gun violence, the relentless smell of open sewage, and walking paths carved out of mountains and rivers of garbage. Having just come from a morning of hang-gliding over some of Rio’s plushest ocean-side manors in São Conrado, it was quite the contrast. I’ve been exposed to poverty many times in my travels. And yet, my eyes were wide open to it here.
The further down we traveled in the favela, the more “cleaned up” it felt. Soon, we were almost back down at sea level, and we found ourselves face to face with the mural project that had partially inspired us to visit Santa Marta in the first place.
Just look at this beautiful work! The project was pioneered by two Dutch artists who lived in the favelas for some time and eventually hired local youths to bring their paint-swatch daydreams to life. The project energized and made proud the local community, Pedro assured us with a smile. In fact, the same favelas that residents were once dying, literally, to get out of, have become desirable real estate that some are actually moving into by choice.
Earlier I mentioned that Santa Marta was within walking distance of our hostel. Santa Marta is in Botafogo, which felt like an entirely different city than the one we’d later experience in Copacabana and Ipanema. We loved our time there and I was sad to learn that our hip hostel, Oztel, has permanently shuttered — so I won’t be writing a full review of it. Admittedly, we had several issues there that in retrospect didn’t look promising for its future, but shucks — isn’t it cute?
Had we had more time at Oztel, I would have happily returned to the base of the Santa Marta for dinner or drinks. We’d actually booked a favela nightlife tour for later in the trip to see yet another side of favela life — with a different company — but had to cancel due to travel burnout and the worst hangovers of our lives (ugh). While I can no longer recommend Oztel specifically, I highly recommend considering a few nights in Botafogo, which is the perfect base for exploring Santa Marta.
Favela tourism, I predict, will only continue to grow. If you are coming to Rio, I gently encourage you to do some research to find the right fit for you. I never feared for my safety, just for the possibility that I was being unintentionally disrespectful or voyeuristic — however my concerns were quickly assuaged upon arrival.
I believe Chiago had amazing intentions of supporting his family and his community when he started this business, and that Pedro is a fabulous tour guide and all around cool dude to hang with. He even invited us to a football match the next evening with his friends, which we regretfully had to decline because we had other plans. How many tour guides have you ever had that are so friendly?
So, do you need to do a tour? We did see two girls who appeared to just be wandering around without a guide, which in Santa Marta is totally possible to do. However, we felt the most respectful way to visit was to be led by a member of the local community, and had we just gone for a stroll we never would have left with such an informed understanding of the social and economic dynamics of the neighbhood.
Tour Santa Marta offers two hour tours twice a day, at 10am or 2pm, for a minimum of two person, at a cost of 100R per person ($32USD).
What I took away from this experience, in addition to a profound respect for people who manage to live with dignity regardless of their external circumstances, was a reminder that the world is so very small. From Brazil to Bangkok to Brooklyn, gentrification brings both the blessings of stability and de-marginalization but also the curses of scrutiny and rising prices, and people everywhere are just trying their darndest to find a balance between the two.
Only time will tell what the future holds for the community of Santa Marta. But in this present moment, I feel grateful for the opportunity to have been welcomed into it, if only for an afternoon.
What do you think? Would you visit a favela in Brazil?
Thank you again to Heather Holt Photography for the photos in this post. We paid full price for our tours and I was not compensated for this review.
Making the spontaneous decision to cancel our trip to Iguaçu Falls was the quite possibly best call I made in all of Brazil. Within seconds of deciding to skip our flights and spend two leisurely extra nights in the State of Rio de Janeiro instead, I felt a weight lift off of me. But I still had one major decision left to make: where to spend the last leg of my trip, after Heather’s departure left me solo.
I’d been waffling big time. I fully intended to make a decision before I ever arrived in Brazil, but kept putting it off and putting it off until literally less than twenty-four hours before Heather’s departure. After a blissful bonus night in Buzios, we’d decided to spend our last night and day together in style — splurging on a night in a beachfront hotel in Copacabana. For about $80 each we’d have a rooftop pool overlooking the beach, a fancy hotel gym, a lavish hotel breakfast, and welcome champagne — sold! We’d never actually made it to Copacabana Beach over our previous week in Rio, favoring Ipanema instead, so we were excited to see what all the fuss was about.
Um, this spontaneous-and-indulgent-decision-making thing? Amazing! The rooms at our hotel, PortoBay Rio, were nothing special — but the views? Worth every real we’d payed for them.
Over bubbly on our rooftop pool, Heather and I went over options for my next move. Together we’d tackled São Paulo, Paraty, Ilha Grande, Rio, and Buzios — and now I had all of Brazil to choose from. In fact, I even considered flying down to Argentina and spending a week with a friend of my sister in Buenos Aires (too cold, I determined in the end.) Slowly I dismissed several of my other ideas. Another week in Rio in a lively hostel? (Actually, I was eager to check out somewhere new.) A trip to the contemporary art wonderderland of Inhotim and the colonial mining towns of Minas Gerais? (Didn’t seem like the most fun place to travel solo.)
Finally, I narrowed my options down to three and turned to my Facebook page for advice. And y’all did not let me down! I got tons of great feedback when I asked for help deciding between these three:
• Brasilia: I’ve always been fascinated by the architecture of Brazil’s capital city, and it was incredibly cheap and simple to get to.
• Jericoacoara and the Lençóis Maranhenses: My heart was telling me to go here, despite the fact that it was logistically difficult, expensive, and pretty much as far away as I could get from Rio. But this beach girl just loved the idea of saying goodbye to Brazil on the sand!
• Bonito and the Pantanal: It was best time of the year to go to these top wildlife spotting destinations, though they are expensive destinations and mildly logistically difficult to plan. Mostly I was drawn by the freshwater diving possibilities.
Now guys, I have to confess something to you. I tried to change my flight to go home early. It’s no secret that I was really struggling with some of the miscommunications and frustrations we’d faced in Brazil, and so for the first time in years and years of being full-stop obsessed with travel, I tried to just throw in the towel on a trip and head back to New York to see my family. Brazil had turned out to be way more overwhelming than expected, and I just wasn’t sure I could do it without Heather to at least laugh along the way with.
In the end, the ticket change fee was over a thousand bucks and so price pretty quickly knocked that out of the running. Looking back, I am so, so grateful I couldn’t change that ticket — because what came next ended up being the highlight of the trip.
Photo by Heather Holt Photography
Photo by Heather Holt Photography
Photo by Heather Holt Photography
In the end, one thing made the decision for me: the fear of loneliness.
I’d been warned that Brazil was a tricky place to travel solo if you don’t speak Portuguese, as most hostels are filled with domestic travelers (very cool if you do speak the local language!) and Brazil is skipped over by many backpackers who are scared off by the higher prices and more stringent visa requirements than those of neighboring countries.
I kind of brushed off those reports before arrival, but over time I was bowled over by how accurate they were for us, as well. Listen, I love my solo travels — but I have never been more grateful to have Heather by my side! The more I looked into Brasilia and Bonito, the most convinced I was that I’d end up feeling quite isolated and spend my trip more or less completely in my own company. In some cases, that would be exactly what I was looking for. In this particular moment though, it just sounded lonely.
I booked a flight for less than twenty-four hours later to Fortaleza, Brazil — the gateway to Jericoacoara.
Photo by Heather Holt Photography
Photo by Heather Holt Photography
To celebrate my decision, we headed down to the beach!
One thing I wasn’t celebrating? The price of my flight. Brazil is not very conducive to spontaneous travel — flight prices were extremely reasonable when I was researching a few months out but absolutely skyrocketed closer to departure date, leaving little room to wing it. One of the things that really pushed me to cancel the Iguassu Falls trip was that I waited too long to book a flight away from the falls, and by the time I really needed to make a decision on where to go next, they were just painfully astronomically priced! As in literally, the day before we cancelled I started looking up flights and actually burst into tears. And um, yeah, considering the distances between Iguassu and anywhere, anything but air travel was an automatic no.
Flights from Rio were luckily a bit more reasonable but also had gone way, way up since my initial searches. Thankfully I had the resources available to stretch myself but it definitely would have been better — from a financial perspective, anyway — to book ahead. If you want flexibility in Brazil, it appears you really will have to pay for it.
Photo by Heather Holt Photography
Once again, I felt a massive relief after making my choice. I think I felt like because I’m a scuba diver, I should go to Bonito. Because the flights were cheap, I should go to Brasilia. Instead I chose the least practical, most expensive and most logistically difficult option of going to Jericoacoara.
But dang, it just felt right to follow my heart.
Photo by Heather Holt Photography
Photo by Heather Holt Photography
Photo by Heather Holt Photography
After a beautifully lazy day spent beach and poolside, we headed out to toast to the last night of our trip with tapas at Zot. Unfortunately I am a full-blown failure at reading restaurant’s opening hours, and we soon found ourselves wandering the streets looking for a stand-in. Lo and behold, we stumbled onto El Born, another absolutely fabulous tapas restaurant that our Barcelonian friend confirmed via my live-text stream of our meal was incredibly authentic.
Granted, we didn’t do much with our final 24 hours in Rio. But in contrast to our jam-packed first week, it was bliss. Personally, I wildly preferred hip Ipanema to more touristy Copacabana, but they are both beautiful stretches of sand. Our treat-yourself-palooza was the perfect end to the latest chapter in Heather and I’s globetrotting friendship!
And with a long, sad goodbye hug, I was off to tackle Northern Brazil — solo!
Considering a trip to the land of caipirinhas? Consider accommodation where you’ll have a kitchen in which to whip up your own. Airbnb exploded in popularity in Brazil in preparation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and then again ahead of the 2016 Olympics, a shift that continues to benefit travelers — especially those headed to big cities.
Want to get $40 off your first Airbnb booking? Click here!
Airbnb has its perks everywhere around the world, but in Brazil in particular I found it had quite a few advantages over traditional hotels.
For one, laundry — I was warned ahead of my trip by several bloggers that laundry service was hard to come by in Brazil, and boy, were they right. Unlike hostels in Europe and Southeast Asia, not a single hostel and even several hotels I stayed at in Brazil did not offer a laundry service of any kind. Some offered to point me in the direction of a local laundromat, but my days were quite busy and setting aside a full one to do a wash and dry just didn’t fit into the itinerary. So having access to a washing machine occasionally along the way of our trip was essential. (A Scrubba washbag would have been a good back up in-between.)
Also, much of Brazil can be fairly challenging to travel for those with special dietary needs — vegans will certainly find themselves occasionally frustrated in this meat and cheese laden land. Solution? Having a kitchen at hand! Even without any special circumstances beyond a light case of picky eating, I enjoyed having some breaks from eating out on such a long trip.
Finally, I personally found Brazil to be at times overwhelming to communicate in. If you don’t speak Portuguese, an Airbnb can be a nice place to retreat, recharge, and get ready for your next round of talking tango. For our six week trip through Brazil, Heather and I rented Airbnbs in São Paulo and Rio de Janiero, and scoured listings for every destination we visited in the country. Here are a few of my favorites!
São Paulo had, hands down, the best selection of Airbnbs I’ve seen… anywhere! I was astounded at the amount of super trendy, wildly affordable apartments in some of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods, like hip Vila Madalena and charming Vila Mariana. I suppose I shouldn’t have been so surprised; considering São Paulo is the art and design capital of the country, it makes sense its residents would have some pretty well-done dwellings. Based on the amazing and diverse listings I favorited, I feel like any traveler to São Paulo would be crazy not to check out Airbnb listings.
Heather and I ended up renting a colorful one bedroom in Vila Madalena to recover from the Tomorrowland Brazil festival in. We’d originally rented a similarly styled apartment at a lower rate, but when the host cancelled at the last minute, Airbnb happily provided us enough credit to upgrade to this listings. Between the pool, the gym, and the comfy couch, we didn’t want to leave! The hosts were generous and kind, and we left rested and refreshed after two short nights. Starting at $96 per night.
Looking for something a bit more affordable? Check out this contemporary studio in the heart of the same neighborhood, starting at $53 per night.
Overall, the Airbnb selection in Rio was a bit dated compared to São Paulo’s slick listings, and in the Southern beach zones, the majority were located in Copacabana as opposed to hipper Ipanema.
That said, I was beyond obsessed with the charming and chic loft we ended up booking for three nights by the beach. Again our host was communicative and helpful, and we relished the opportunity to play house for a few days between hotel-hopping. Rates start at $85 per night.
Another listing we considered was a small but sweet studio in Copacabana starting at $60 per night.
Not a beach bum? Check out this colorful and artsy offering in Lapa, starting at just $40 per night.
Like Paraty, Ilha Grande doesn’t have a huge selection of Airbnbs. Most are rooms in pousadas or guesthouses rather than freestanding apartments. One incredibly unique exception? A charming ramshackle houseboat floating in Vila de Abraão Bay. Heather and I nixed it due to the lack of electricity and wifi, but for travelers not running online businesses, it might be the perfect fit! Starting at $82 per night.
In a vast sea of drab corporate hotels, Airbnb stands out as an exciting option in Brasília. While most apartments won’t be featured on design blogs anytime soon, I did find one great deal with style in spades. I didn’t end up making it to Brasília on this trip, but when I return I’d love to hit up this modern and cute studio for just $36 per night.
Do you look for rental apartments when you travel, or do you still stick to hotels and hostels?
I read once that local of Rio often say “tenha uma boa praia,” or “have a good beach” over the much more standard translation for “have a good day.” It’s a culture-revealing phrase not unlike Thailand’s famous “gin khao reuyang?”, a way of asking “what’s up?” which literally translates as “have you eaten rice yet?”
In much of Brazil, the beach isn’t a place you go for a few hours on vacation. It’s a lifestyle. I was warned ahead of time that Rio in particular has a strict beach etiquette and rules that had to be heeded — luckily when it comes to all things sand and sea, I’m a quick learner.
Despite wildly overscheduling my trip and visiting in autumn, when Brazil’s beaches are lightly buzzing but not overblown with people, I managed to hit the beach in Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro, Buzios, and Jericoacoara. Here are a few strict rules I learned along the way — the rare kind that are more fun to follow than to break.
The frumpy schlep of coolers and chairs and endless beach supplies is a major faux pas in Brazil. A towel in particular is considered a horror-inducing no-no. A canga (the Brazilian term for a sarong), some cash, and maybe a volleyball are basically the only acceptable items to take — anything else you need can be supplied on the sand.
Cangas are fabulous alternatives to towels — they can be worn as cover-ups walking to and from the beach, they can be laid out on the sand to lie on, they can be used as scarves and towels and a million other purposes in a pinch. In my mind, they are a travel essential! They also make for amazing gifts and souvenirs — Ilha Grande in particular was a fun place to shop for a few.
In Brazil, tops stay firmly on – regardless of how small – but another body type entirely is on display. You can’t talk about Brazilian beaches without talking about butts. Women of every age and every size subscribe to the “suns out, buns out” line of thinking, and men don’t stray far behind with their own sunga swimsuits, a kind of modified speedo that would leave most American men recoiling in horror. Why put any extra fabric between your body and the beautiful sun, sand and sea, the thinking seems to go?
I quickly purchased several teeny, cheeky bikini bottoms for myself after receiving several stare-downs for wearing a fralda (or “diaper”, as Brazilians refer to the more full-coverage American bikini). Believe it or not, wearing more modest American styles is apt to draw even more attention than a teeny tiny thong — you’ll stand out as a gringa and some say make yourself more of a target for petty crime from those who target tourists!
While I felt seriously self-conscious at first letting my cheeks and inhibitions fly, I just looked around the beach for inspiration — Brazilian women appear unburdened by the body-hang ups that plague many other cultures, and I marveled at the confidence that strutted down the sand in so many different shapes and sizes.
One government worker from Brasilia who I met while she was vacationing in Jericoacoara told me she dreamed of visiting Miami, but the horror of wearing an American bathing suit had stopped her so far. I am afraid people will look at me in my bikini, but, I just cannot wear that diaper! I cannot!
Brazilians are known as some of the sexiest people on the planet and having shared the sand with them, I feel like I now know their secret — it’s confidence! It speaks to the major difference in our cultures that I uploaded and deleted the following photo so many times, wondering if it was inappropriate to post on my own dang travel blog, even though it’s a beautiful photo that I love taken by one of my closest friends — because the wrong square inches of skin are showing. In Brazil, a grandmother wouldn’t bat an eye wearing these bikini bottoms to the beach with her family. I love this aspect of Brazilian culture!
It’s almost considered rude to bring your own food to the beach in Brazil. Acai cups, caipirinhas, seasoned cheese on a stick, iced tea, puffed crisp Globo and empanada vendors will walk along the beach calling our their offerings and you simply wave them over if interested. Eating out is incredibly expensive in Brazil and so sitting on the beach and grazing on snacks all day is not only fun, it’s also a great way to balance out the pricy dinner you might go out for later.
The very cool thing that I loved was that unlike in other countries where you apparently sign a blood oath to make a purchase if you so much as accidentally make eye contact with a beach vendor, the Brazilian ones were fairly low key and didn’t mind if we called them over to take a look and then decided not to buy. Everything was low-key and done with a smile. (We did encounter one over-aggressive bikini salesman who had a hard time hearing no in Copacabana, but he was the exception to what seemed to be the chilled out rule.) Normally I loathe beach vendors but in Rio they were one of my favorite things about the city.
The other beach cities I visited didn’t necessarily have the roaming vendors walking around, but they did have little stands where you could grab any snack you’d need.
In Rio especially, all sand is not made equal. The city’s main southern beaches stretch across over five miles of shoreline and are divided by 12 postos, or numbered lifeguard stations. These are for more than just giving directions; they are for finding your tribe. There is a saying in Brazil that you can tell everything you need to know about a person by three things: their favorite soccer team, their favorite samba school, and which posto they lay their canga at.
While Copacabana is the most widely-known to foreigners, it’s far from the hip place to be among Cariocas, or Rio residents. We spent an afternoon on touristy Posto 4 in Copacabana but far preferred the trendy, see-and-be-seen Posto 9 in Ipanema, where we spent two beach days in Rio. Certain Postos denote gay beaches, family beaches, and beyond.
Each posto is lined by barracas, semi-permanent beach bars where you can buy fresh coconut water, cold beer, and more caipirinhas, and also hire beach chairs and umbrellas. I was particularly enamored with Barraca Uruguay at Posto 9, both for the lively atmosphere of the easy-on-the-eyes crowd and the fact that the employees were primarily from Uruguay and Argentina, which meant we could chat in Spanish.
Because there’s never a bad time to be at the beach. We were pretty amazed that even on a Monday in May, the beaches of Rio were pretty darn busy. While summer (December-February) is certainly the most popular time for Brazil’s beaches, don’t expect to ever have the popular ones to yourself. But no worries — that’s part of the fun!
This is probably fits int he “duh” category for most travelers, but don’t go swimming in the sea and leave your stuff unattended. Brazil’s crime problem is pretty notorious so I’m guessing most travelers don’t need to hear this, but it does warrant a warning. If you’re really blending in with Brazilians, you brought next-to-nothing to the beach (kudos!) but if you’re like me and can’t resist bringing your phone and camera, too, ask a trustworthy-looking neighbor to watch you things while you go for a dip.
It’s common practice in Brazil and as a bonus, is a great way to get your feet wet with Brazil’s notoriously social beach vibes (see what I did there?)
I’d read before my trip that Brazilians almost never read or listen to music with headphones in at the beach. Well, they can do what they want but I’m going to read my darn magazine, I thought, stubbornly throwing an old issue of Afar into my tote en route to Ipanema.
Yeah, no. I didn’t crack a single page. The beaches of Rio are alive in a way that you just can’t look away from. Impromptu fútball games, flirty chats with the barraca boys, beach vendor picnics…. who could read when there’s so much to do and see?
I suddenly understood the disdain for towels and personal beach chairs. Some beach-goers, I noticed, more or less spend the whole day standing. If they aren’t already engaged with someone, they are scanning the crowd and checking out the scene. It’s one of the most hyper-social situations you can be in, and the people-watching is unmatched.
Heather and I weren’t even being particularly outgoing; with our busy schedules our beach days did double duty as our hangover days and we were still just soaking it all in and getting into the Rio groove. Yet one day, we had a long, in-depth conversation with an empanada entrepreneur around our age who plopped down on the sand to answer our questions about the legalities of beach selling, and on another it only took two trips to our barraca for coconut waters before I was politely asked for my phone number by a cute Argentinian who intended to take me on a date. Some things are worth skipping the next chapter in your beach read for!
Don’t leave, the party is just getting started! Sunset on the beach in Brazil is, quite simply, a must. In Ilha Grande, we booked a hostel on the water so we’d never miss one. In Rio, we took it in at Aproador where a huge crowd had gathered to watch surfers and sip caipirinhas delivered by an enterprising local with a cooler. In Jericoacoara, it was a nightly ritual for the entire town.
. . .
It’s no secret that in many ways I found Brazil to be a frustrating and challenging country. And yet all that seemed to melt away when I was by the sea — I left Brazil completely enamored with its unique and special beach culture.
As much as I loved the tours I went on and the attractions I took in, I vowed that my next trip will involve summer, and include about four times as many unscheduled days to do nothing but plop my bare bum on the beach and watch the Brazilian world go by.
So Brazilians — and Brazil lovers! — tell me what I missed!
Of course, a few days baking in the Brazilian sun hardly make me a cultural anthropologist — please forgive me any misinterpretations of the local culture, and feel free to set me straight in the comments if I’ve erred!
We have been in your shoes!We wanted to visit Rio De Janeiro and got lost into spending tens of hours looking for valid information at Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor and on the Internet. And then, we couldn't put it all together, to create a perfect plan for visiting Rio De Janeiro in 3 Days.Guidora is the only publishing house building Travel Guides for you, like no other does.We provide exact 72 hour plans with only one and best choice on where to stay, what to eat, what to see. It's an easy travel path that you just follow and spend the 3 best days of your life in Rio De Janeiro!If you are wondering What to Do in 3 Days in Rio De Janeiro and What are the Best Things to See, look no further!We have built an excellent 72 hours plan for Rio De Janeiro, with information on what to do every hour of the day. All the information provided is by local experts and travel bloggers. Since they live in Rio De Janeiro, or travel there often, they know the best that the city has to offer to you.By getting this travel guide to Rio De Janeiro, you will get:- Exact information on what is the best hotel to stay in Rio De Janeiro, so that you will be in the best area of Rio De Janeiro for all activities, without breaking the bank.- Exact information on what to do every hour of the day.- Where to Eat: What are the best restaurants that locals go to. - What dishes to try. A simple culinary guide with the top 10 dishes and drinks.- Where to go out in the evening. Only the top suggestion for each day for one bar or a club.- How to move from the airport to the hotel with the most budget friendly way.- What museums and sights to see. What tourist traps to avoid.- How to transport with bus, tram or metro. Detailed names of the bus numbers and the station names you will use.- Best things to do in each one of the 3 days. By getting this guide, you will feel like having your best friend in Rio De Janeiro, showing you around. It will save you time and money in a stress-free way. It will help you to enjoy the best days of your life in the magnificent town of Rio De Janeiro!Guidora's Rio De Janeiro in 3 Days Travel Guide, is your entry ticket to the most accurate advice on what are the best things to do in Rio De Janeiro in 72 hours. It includes a detailed 72 hour plan from the first moment you will arrive in the airport of Rio De Janeiro, until the moment you leave this amazing town.Inside Guidora's Rio De Janeiro in 3 Days Travel Guide: A 72 hours plan starting every day at 08:00 until late in the evening, with details on what to do every hourFull-color maps and images throughoutAll the Maps are available in Google Maps, to help you navigate Rio De Janeiro easy, through your smartphone.Best-kept secrets on shopping, dining, going out in the eveningInsider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spotsEssential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices 4 Day Trips that you can do from Rio De Janeiro, if you want to extend your stay. Information in this Rio De Janeiro travel guide is up-to-date as in 2016.Get this Guide Now and enjoy your trip to Rio De Janeiro!Authors: Written and researched by Guidora's team of travel bloggers and local experts in Rio De JaneiroAbout Guidora: Guidora is a startup that solves the problem of "What exactly to do in a destination in +72 hours". Guidora provides well-researched travel itineraries, written by local experts and local guides. Guidora operates an online travel itinerary marketplace at http://www.guidora.com and holds
55 Secrets you’d never find out about RIO DE JANEIRO!Welcome to the most Complete Rio de Janeiro 2016 Travel Guide for Tourists made by locals! Here Is a Preview of What You'll Learn Inside...♥55 Unique activities to do when you are in town♥Best places to eat in town♥Best local Markets♥Best Parks and Good Views♥Best Museums and Cultural activities ♥Best Bars and Clubs♥Best Nature Spots♥Best things to do in Rio de Janeiro - Brazil♥ Much, much more!* * *FREE GIFT INSIDE * * * If you are heading to the wonderful city of Rio de Janeiro anytime soon this book will give you an insight of the best places and most unique places to see where you will mingle with the locals and get to see and do the activities as one of them.We have prepared a unique BUCKET LIST with the 55 most unique experiences you can have in Rio de Janeiro Most people don't even take the time to prepare themselves in advance, and just wish for the best once they have arrived! Most people aren't aware of some of the most amazing places Rio de Janeiro can offer... And it'd be such a pity to miss them! That's precisely why we desperately need the RIGHT travel guide first. Don’t arrive to Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and follow the crowds of Tourists. With this exclusive travel guide made by locals you will be finding about the places that don’t come on Lonely Planet’s or are listed on Trip Advisor where thousands of tourists head daily. It took lots of time to incorporate the tips and hacks that ended up shaping this travel guide! And now, we are willing to share those secrets with you! We will tell you where you should go, eat, sleep, and of course, party! We know you won't just settle for average boring travel guides! We know you are looking for something better; something unique that will truly help you down the road: a book with real life tips, recommendations, useful travel hacks and data... everything you may need in your trip. You've just found what you were looking for! Our goal is simple. we will give you a complete and detailed Bucket list with MAPS to all the locations to make sure you won’t get lost in the amazing city of Rio de Janeiro transforming your trip into absolutely amazing experience. We will help you simplify your path, showing you exactly where the best places are. ♥ Download Your Copy Right Now! ♥Just Scroll to the top of the page and select the Buy Button. TAGS: travel to rio , travel guides Rio de Janeiro, adventure in Rio de Janeiro, trip to Rio de Janeiro, Rio Brazil, Rio de Janeiro hotels, Rio de Janeiro market, Brazil guide, holidays in Rio de Janeiro, day trip to Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro Brazil, things to do in Rio de Janeiro , Rio de Janeiro map, Rio de Janeiro lonely planet, carnival rio de janeiro, olympics 2016, olympics Rio de Janeiro
Lonely Planet Accessible Rio de Janeiro is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and which places have accessibility features. Try surfing and samba with local disabled people's organizations, explore the lively nightlife scene and take in amazing beach views from Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain), all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Rio de Janeiro and begin your journey now!
Inside Lonely Planet Accessible Rio de Janeiro:Full-color maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - accessibility features, hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - cuisine, sport, favelas, local life Over 20 color maps Covers Maracana Football Stadium, Copacabana Beach, Barra da Tijuca, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, Ipanema, Leblon, Gavea, Jardim Botanico, Lagoa, Copacabana, Leme, Botafogo, Humaita, Urca, Flamengo, Centro, Praca Maua, Santa Teresa, Lapa, Western Rio and more.
eBook Features: (Best viewed on tablet devices and smartphones)Downloadable PDF and offline maps prevent roaming and data charges Effortlessly navigate and jump between maps and reviews Add notes to personalize your guidebook experience Seamlessly flip between pages Bookmarks and speedy search capabilities get you to key pages in a flash Embedded links to recommendations' websites Zoom-in maps and images Inbuilt dictionary for quick referencing
The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Accessible Rio de Janeiro, our most comprehensive guide to accessible travel in Rio de Janeiro, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less traveled.
Looking for more information on Brazil or Rio de Janeiro? Check out Lonely Planet Brazil for a comprehensive look at all the country has to offer, or Make My Day Rio de Janeiro, a colorful and uniquely interactive guide that allows you to effortlessly plan your itinerary by flipping, mixing and matching top sights.
Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.
About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveler community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travelers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.
Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher
Lonely Planet Rio de Janeiro is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Samba the night away in Lapa, people-watch and sip sunset cocktails on Ipanema Beach or get up close to Christ the Redeemer and marvel at the panoramic view of Rio; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Rio de Janeiro and begin your journey now!
Inside Lonely Planet Rio de Janeiro:Full-color maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, music, football, architecture, outdoors, beaches, dance Free, convenient pull-out Rio de Janeiro map (included in print version), plus over 26 color maps Covers Ipanema, Leblon, Gavea, Jardim Botanico, Lagoa, Copacabana, Leme, Botafogo, Urca, Flamengo, Centro, Cinelandia, Santa Teresa, Lapa, Zona Norte, Barra da Tijuca, Western Rio and more
The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Rio de Janeiro, our most comprehensive guide to Rio de Janeiro, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less traveled.Looking for just the highlights? Check out Make My Day Rio de Janeiro, a colorful and uniquely interactive guide that allows you to effortlessly plan your itinerary by flipping, mixing and matching top sights. Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet Brazil for a comprehensive look at all the region has to offer.
Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.
About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveler community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travelers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.
The restaurants found in this guide are the most positively reviewed and recommended by locals and travelers. "TOP 500 RESTAURANTS" (Cuisine Types). American, Arabian, Argentine, Australian, Brazilian, Chinese, European, French, German, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Latin American, Mediterranean, Mexican, Northern Brazilian, Peruvian, Portuguese, Spanish, Tex-Mex, Thai and many more options to visit and enjoy your stay.
Newly revised, updated, and redesigned just in time for the 2016 Olympic Games.
True to its name, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Rio de Janeiro covers all the city's major sights and attractions in easy-to-use "top 10" lists that help you plan the vacation that's right for you.
This newly updated pocket travel guide for Rio de Janeiro will lead you straight to the best attractions the city has to offer, from visiting the iconic Cristo Redentor statue to experiencing the Carnival parade at the Sambodromo to soaking up the atmosphere on the famous Copacabana Beach.
Expert travel writers have fully revised this edition of DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Rio de Janeiro.• Brand-new itineraries help you plan your trip to Rio de Janeiro. • Expanded and far more comprehensive, new laminated pull-out map now includes color-coded design, public transportation maps, and street indexes to make it even easier to use. • Maps of walking routes show you the best ways to maximize your time. • New Top 10 lists feature off-the-beaten-track ideas, along with standbys like the top attractions, shopping, dining options, and more. • Additional maps marked with sights from the guidebook are shown on inside cover flaps, with selected street index and metro map. • New typography and fresh layout throughout.
You'll still find DK's famous full-color photography and museum floor plans, along with just the right amount of coverage of the city's history and culture. A free pull-out city map is marked with sights from the guidebook and includes a street index and a metro map.
The perfect pocket-size travel companion: DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Rio de Janeiro.
Series Overview: For more than two decades, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides have helped travelers experience the world through the history, art, architecture, and culture of their destinations. Expert travel writers and researchers provide independent editorial advice, recommendations, and reviews. With guidebooks to hundreds of places around the globe available in print and digital formats, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides show travelers how they can discover more.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: the most maps, photographs, and illustrations of any guide.
Everything a single guy needs to know before his first trip to Rio de Janeiro. Want to get with as many sexy Brazilian girls as possible? Then be sure to read this. It breaks down the best areas of town to stay, where to go, and what to do. This isn't the safest city around so choosing the right spots to stay are imperative. The more you know the better your trip will be and this book can get you fully prepared.
Brazil Travel Guide All men have heard about the sexy secrets of Brazil but finding them out for yourself can be difficult on your own. Outside of seedy backpages written in Portuguese knowing where to go to meet the right girls can be difficult, knowing who you can trust is impossible, and making sure you stay safe can be daunting. Internet forums will speak in codes and never give you the right information, other travel guides skirt around the topic, and all the juiciest tips to be found aren’t in English. This is where this Brazil travel guide for men comes in. Written in plain English you will be walked through Brazil’s sex scene and given advice and tips for finding the best spots and clubs in some of Brazil’s most beloved cities and tourist destinations. Get a rundown on the best time of year to visit Brazil to meet girls, the most cost effective way to scout different venues, and which cities to hit up on your tour. Discover the many different venues available to you on the Brazil scene. From the samba-swirling girls on the dancefloors of a boite, to the luxurious and stress-free goddesses in Brazil’s termas, to a cheerful quickie with a chica in one of the coveted massage parlors. Your choices are nearly endless and once the lingo has been deciphered you will be able to get exactly what you want wherever you are. Find in-depth guides to the scenes in Fortaleza, Recife, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo. From the rainforests, to the mountains, to the harbors Brazil has a rich variety of things to offer and this Brazilian travel guide will give you the keys to them all. Get in and around the main beach cities, discover the best beach fronts and locations for meeting freelance girls, find the vibrant red light districts, and stay safe in a recommended love motel. Read about the latest bars, clubs and termas, and get a low down on the most recent prices and what you can expect to pay. How do these places work? How do you approach a girl? How do you haggle? Find out the answer to all of these questions and more with a handy phrasebook and a guide to seducing Brazilian women and making the most of the time you spend with them. Make sure you stay safe with advice on staying on the right side of the law, avoiding dangerous areas, and keeping away from potential scams. Brazil is the land of fantasy and if you can think of it then you can do it with one of the girls here. Not only can all of your dreams come true, but in the future you’ll be left dreaming of Brazil. So get out your Speedos, lay down that beach towel, and start sipping on fresh coconuts while you learn the ways of Brazil and prepare for the time of your life.
Temperature: 68°F / 20°C
Air pressure: 1019 hPa
Windspeed: 5.1 m/s