Travel Guide to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

Rio de Janeiro is a vibrant place full of culture, great food, and beautiful beaches! When picking a time to visit don't forget their summer months are from December to March, so expect hot, humid weather with frequent rain showers. But if you want to experience New Year's Eve or Carnaval, this is the time to do it! Otherwise I'd plan a trip in April/May or October/November for perfect beach weather. Here are some tips to help you plan your adventure:


 
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Visa

Travelers from North America, Europe, and Australia will need to obtain a visa before arrival! Make sure you check if your home country requires one. They are typically around $80-160 and should be applied for at least 1 month before your scheduled departure date. This chart from the Brazilian Embassy will tell you which type of visa you need, if at all, and the amount of time it will allow you. This page shows the prices for each country, and has all of the requirements.


Where to stay

Rio is split up into multiple zones, or neighborhoods, so you want to stay in the South Zone! This is the area closest to all the main tourist attractions like Copacabana beach and Sugar Loaf mountain. There are numerous hotels that are all beachfront where you can easily walk down to Copacabana beach or catch a taxi up to Sugarloaf Mountain to see Christ the Redeemer!


What to do

1. Sugarloaf Mountain

The most iconic thing in this city is the Christ the Redeemer statue, so obviously this is #1 on the list. You can pay to take a cable car up sugarloaf mountain and get beautiful views of the beaches and mountains on your way up. When you're at the top admire the statue with all of the city below it. The statue is much bigger than you think it is, it's incredible!


2. Copacabana Beach

The next most iconic thing for this city is the grey and white waved tiled walkways that line Copacabana beach! Walk along these sidewalks, stopping at the MANY beach bars for some Caipirinhas (Brazil's signature alcoholic beverage) and soak up the sun with gorgeous views around you.



3. Leblon

If you like high-end shopping, this is the place for you! It's full of upscale restaurants and high-end shopping, and there are a lot less people. If you'd prefer to spend more money in return for less people around you, this is the spot for you to hang out, shop, and enjoy the beautiful beach scenery.


4. Ipanema

This is the main tourist area with a ton of restaurants, bars and shopping, but the prices are quite high. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in Rio and has a great farmer’s market on the main square. There is also a Hippie Market on Sundays, where you can buy lots of handcrafted local goods.



5. Arpoador

This is a great spot in between Ipanema and Copacabana. It's famous landmark is a large rock that many people go to watch sunrise or sunset. It is definitely worth a quick stop!


6. Botafogo Bay

This area doesn't have it's own beach, but it does have breathtaking views of Sugarloaf mountain which are worth a stop! There are a lot of local restaurants and laidback bars, so come here to enjoy cheaper food with great views.


Tips

Be careful of pickpocketers! They are very tricky here. Local girls will pretend to be drunk and "fall" on guys, when really they are pickpocketing them and run away. Rio can be sketchy in some neighborhoods, especially at night, so just be sure to always carry things close to you and have zippers on your bags!


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