In this Destination Guide you will find information for : Rio de Janeiro
♦Currency: Real (R$) (BRL)
♦Zone: -2 to -5 GMT
♦Phone Code: +55
♦Best time to visit: February for Carnival
♦Must eat: Churrasco
♦Must drink: Caipirinha
♦Don't miss: Views from "Christ the Redeemer"
Number of times visited: 1
Getting there and transportation: Brazil is the biggest country in South America, therefore getting there is quite accesible from multiple counties in Europe, America and even Africa. The main port of entry is Sau Paulo, and Río de Janeiro. However the country has been developing some other major cities and the infrastructure has improved a lot making it possible to launch international flights from smaller Brazilian cities to other south American destinations and North American major cities.
The national airline is Tam Airlines, already re-branded as LATAM, after it merged. It flies to many European and American destinations direct from Sau Paulo. It's also possible to reach Brazil with many other European and American Airlines having at least one daily flight to either Sau Paulo or Río de Janeiro. Popular airlines to fly to Brazil are Lufthansa, Iberia and Tap Portugal.
The arrival process is pretty straight forward, as all tourists from Europe or America do not need a visa to enter Brazil.
Once in the country you will find that transportation infrastructure is quite far behind, specially between major cities and smaller towns. The best way of travelling through the country is again by air. Local airlines like Gol Líneas Areas, Azul and domestic national carrier, LATAM, offer many flights to every corner of the country. Flights are cheap if booked in advance and are much safer than spending many hours on the road.
Between important cities you can also travel by coaches, thus taking many hours. Some journeys can drive in single lane roads and between smaller towns they can be quite treacherous at times.
Attention!: Travelling domestically in Brazil is safer the more east of the country you are (down the coast line). All the major cities are also in this area, making it easier to travel to. If you travel West or into the dense rain forest you will find conditions of the infrastructure to be very basic or in some cases, precarious. Some areas can be also completely inhabited with a total lack of communication. It's always recommended to check your destinations in Brazil before travelling and taking navigation aid equipment if you plan to venture into the wild side of the country. Often such trips are better made by tours and with local guides.
Attention!: Another thing to consider in Brazil are the famous "fabellas". These are essentially populated areas over the hills near the cities, with very basic construction materials and who's residents are belonging to the lower classes. Unfortunately, there is also lots of gangs, ilegal weapon and drug trafficking and dangerous criminals who hide in the fabellas. It's strongly advised not to venture inside them, unless you are going with a local who can guarantee your safety and knows their way around.
Weather and temperature: The vast size of the country means that Brazil has many different climates and depending which season you travel in or to which area you can experience very different temperature. From tropical and humid all year round in the north of Brazil to cold and windy seasons in the south. Make sure to enquire which weather conditions to expect on arrival and search for information depending on the region to get more precise information.
For the most popular destinations, Río and Sau Paulo it's best to visit during December to March when it´s hot. In addition in February it´s a good time to go for the popular Carnivals. However if you want it cooler then May to July is the best season with milder temperatures.
What to eat and drink?: Reflecting Brazil’s rich cultural mix, its cuisine is similarly diverse and flavoursome. Standards are generally very high, and there are dishes to cater for all tastes and appetites (huge portions in restaurants can usually feed two). European, North American, African, Middle Eastern and Asian foods are widely available in resorts and main cities.
The fruits and plants of the Amazon are widely available, such as the açai berry, served in cafes as a refreshing cool smoothie. Brazil’s African roots are strongest in the northeast, which specialises in spicy seafood stews, enriched with palm oil; while Amazonian freshwater fish are often turned into soups or steamed in palm leaves. Although there is no definitive national dish, the hearty feijoada (a stew of beans, beef and pork) is very popular. There are many traditional dishes and regional specialities which include:
Feijoada: A rich stew of black beans, beef and pork, which can also contain sausage, pigs' ears and tail, white rice, chopped kale and orange slices, and often washed down with a shot of cachaça. Moqueca: Fish or seafood stew from Bahia made with palm oil and coconut milk. Vatapá: Shrimps and chicken in a creamy sauce made of fish oil, coconut milk, and manioc paste, and served with rice. Acarajé: Mashed, deep-fried bean fritters often served with dried shrimps, okra, onions and peppers. Churrasco: Mixed grilled meat served with manioc flour and salad. Fresh fruit: Tropical treats include maracujá, cajú, jabuticaba, goiaba and cupuaçú. Pão de queijo: Cheesy doughballs, a favourite snack at any time of the day; the best are freshly made, light, spongy and deliciously tangy. Bolinhos de bacalhau: Cod fishcakes. Romeu e Julieta: Guava jam and minas gerais cheese, a traditional breakfast favourite.
Drinks: Caipirinha is a major drink and famous around the world, it's called Cachaça in it's basic form, made by Fiery sugarcane spirit and often mixed with sugar, crushed ice and limes to make a caipirinha cocktail.
Chopp: Draught beer; Brahma is the most popular brand.
Batida: Another, equally potent cocktail, made of concentrated fruit juices mixed with cachaça.
Brazilian wine: Try white wines from Santa Catarina and quaffable red Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon varieties from Bahia.
Guaraná: Popular fizzy drink made with energy-giving extract from an Amazonian plant.
Transportation: Rio is very well developed and transportation is very effective. Even more since the 2016 Olympic Games where held here.
Getting from the airport is easy by getting a bus which brings you to the city centre and also continues down the famous Copacabana beach. (from the airport you can't access the metro, you need to take a bus to the nearest station, Vicente de Carvahlo).
Within the city you can also travel by bus and underground. Fares are cheap and the service is effective. Note that there are cars or section of trains reserved only for women.
Once you get out of the central and popular areas it's perhaps more tricky to get public transport unless you can go by taxi.
Note that getting up to the Christ the Redeemer is only possible to go by car.
Below you can find a map for the Metro and nearby tourist areas.
Weather and temperature: In Rio's summer (December to February), temperatures can reach 40ºC or more. When the heat is on, tourists should follow the Brazilian example and hit the beach rather than rush around. These months are also peak season, everything being more expensive.
Rio’s winter (June to September) is never that cold, with temperatures rarely going below 17°C. Rainfall is at its lowest in winter, especially in July and August, when you might only expect half a dozen days with rain over the month.
What to see and do: Rio offers a wide range of activities, both natural impressive scenery as well as amazing monuments like the famous,Chris the Redeemer, one of the wonders of the world. Below you can find the most important and the details:
Christ the Redeemer: is a statue that was built as a symbol of Brazilian Christianity. In 1850, the idea of building a religious monument was first suggested by a Catholic Priest. It wasn't until 1920 when a group petitioned for support to build a landmark statue that it became a reality.Today, Christ the Redeemer is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. Religious symbol, tourist attraction or just a great viewpoint, there are many reasons for visitors to make their own pilgrimage up Corcovado to see Christ.To get there you can have 3 options, by Cog train, van (or licensed taxi) or hike.
By Cog Train, it's the most scenic route, climbing slowly up the Corcovado mountainside through the lush forest. You can pre-book tickets online and avoid the general queue. The trains depart every half hour from the station at Cosme Velho, and the journey to the top takes 20 minutes.The cost is R$56,00 (low season) R$68,00 (high season), including round trip and entrance to Christ the Redeemer.
Another option is by vans, tours depart from both Largo do Machado,and Copacabana. They will take you all the way to the top and the price includes your entrance ticket. Shuttles start at 8am and you can purchase tickets online. However this option is less expensive.Cost: R$ 40.00 (low season) R$ 50.00 (high season) approximately. It is possible to take a taxi part of the way up Corcovado to Paineiras, but you’ll have to take a van for the last stretch. Be aware that there is no set fee for taxi rides up the mountain, so always ensure the meter is turned on!
Naturally you can also walk to the top of the mountain, taking about 2-3. It's not recommended in the heat though. The best views are better in the morning, with the position of the sun behind, to take pics of the statue and avoid the peak times at midday or early afternoon. Going in September is a good month, not too hot and avoid the weekends.
Sugarloaf: It's a mountain which stands out in Rio, with a peak that rises 396 meters high and presents a bird’s eye view of Rio de Janeiro from the mouth of Guanabara Bay. More than a million tourists visit Sugarloaf every year to enjoy a breathtaking view of surrounding beaches, mountains and forests.Ascent is made in two stages: first to the top of Urca Hill, travelling from Praia Vermelha to a height of 220 meters above sea level and then the cable car goes all the way to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain. To get there get bus 513 or 581 to Praia Vermelha. The best time to visit is at Sunset.
Beaches: what's a trip to Rio without visiting the famous beaches! Capacabana, Ipanema and Leblon are the famous beaches where to get that ideal tan, relax on the sand and enjoy the weather and even admire some amazing Brazilian bodies around you!
Other attractions: Botafogo and Flamengo may lack the fame of Ipanema and Copacabana, but these neighbouring middle class area are home to lively nightlife, some fabulous restaurants. and are within easy reach of Rio's famous beaches thanks to their metro stations. Sugarloaf mountain is close by, and there's a huge mall nearby.
Centro, Rio's downtown may lack the allure of the beaches, but there's plenty here which is worth a visit. Rio's oldest streets can be found here, along with the best museums and galleries in the city. Centro is best avoided on Sundays, when it is dangerously deserted.Urca: In contrast to the rest of Rio, Urca is a gentile neighbourhood located right at the foot of Sugar Loaf mountain. Despite its big name attraction, Urca remains pleasingly free of high rise hotels, and home to handsome historical buildings.Cable cars make the dizzying ascent from the base in Urca itself, stopping first at the smaller Morro da Urca before climbing to Sugar Loaf's peak.
Nightlife: Río is a heaven for those seeking fun and entertainment after the sun goes down.Popular bars and clubs are plentiful in Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon and Barra. If you not staying in any resorts, then the best places to check out the local offering is in the downtown, Lapa, has some of the best live music venues. Lapa lies at the heart of Rio´s historic center, and the buildings here are some of the oldest in the city. Rua da Lavradio is a street flanked by tall and handsome colonial buildings, most of which now function as antiques stores or bar-restaurants. Nearby, the Arcos da Lapa (Lapa Arches) are an eye-catching former aqueduct and an iconic image of bohemian Rio.
Club entry fees often include a drink consumption card, usually with a minimum purchase required. Keep hold of this card or face a steep charge. There are numerous restaurants, cafes and bars open all day and they stay open till late at night. Normally clubs open quite late at night, so it's better to eat late, drink late and then party late till the early hours of the morning. Majority of the places offer very traditional Samba and Caribbean music but today you can find other clubs which offer international music and numerous styles can be found from Jazz clubs to House-Techno clubs and dance floors.
Brazil is also very opened minded, and it's easy to find clubs and bars for all sexual orientations. It's very popular to visit Rio as well during Gay Price weekend when the whole city bursts into colour, music and events. Rio pride takes places at the beginning of November.
Accommodation: Rio caters for every pocket, from stylish 5* Hotels and resorts to budget accommodation Hotels and Hostels. Depending on your style of travel, you can choose to just stay at the beach and have organised tours to show you everything and even be entertained at your hotel with exotic dances and Samba music. On the other side, be more of an explorer and do it yourself. Naturally the second option is more appealing to many travellers and staying in Rio somewhere not so expensive is very easy to find. Good reviewed Hotels and close to transportation are the keys you need to look for. The closer to the beach the more expensive, but rooms can be found at €25 a night in small Hotels, within reach of the beach. Don't safety in Brazil is very important to look out for.
It's always recommended to lock luggage, do not leave things lying around in the room and when out in the street, to down-dress with the basics, or wearing less garments. Weather is usually hot so going around in shorts and t-shirt should not be a problem for most tourists.
Recommended areas are close to Ipanema/Leblon/Copacabana.
Recommended duration: Rio offers multiple entertainment options. The length of stay can vary if you wish to relax more in the beaches and soak up the local atmosphere. But if you plan only to do the essential tourism,then a 3 night stay in Rio is enough.