Rio De Janeiro, Brazil | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil, on the South Atlantic coast. Rio is famous for its breathtaking landscape, its laidback beach culture and its annual carnival.

The harbor of Rio de Janeiro is comprised of a unique entry from the ocean that makes it appear to be the mouth of a river. Additionally, the harbor is surrounded by spectacular geographic features including Sugar Loaf 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).

It is a common mistake to think of Rio as Brazil's capital, a distinction it lost on 21 April 1960 when newly built Brasilia became the capital. Beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema, the world's famous statue Christ The Redeemer (Cristo Redentor), the stadium of... Read more

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil, on the South Atlantic coast. Rio is famous for its breathtaking landscape, its laidback beach culture and its annual carnival.

The harbor of Rio de Janeiro is comprised of a unique entry from the ocean that makes it appear to be the mouth of a river. Additionally, the harbor is surrounded by spectacular geographic features including Sugar Loaf 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).

It is a common mistake to think of Rio as Brazil's capital, a distinction it lost on 21 April 1960 when newly built Brasilia became the capital. Beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema, the world's famous statue Christ The Redeemer (Cristo Redentor), the stadium of Maracanã and Sugar Loaf 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.

Sadly, most people also know Rio for its violence and crime. The drug lords and the slums, or favelas, are the tip of very old social problems. The favelas are areas of poor-quality housing, slums usually located on the city's many mountain slopes, juxtaposed with middle-class neighborhoods. But now, with the UPP's (Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora = Pacifying Police Unit) almost all the favelas are safe to go, because the police took the area from the drug dealers, so you can go there for some cultural gathering. A pretty calm and safe favela is "Morro do Pinto". It is so calm that it doesn't look like part of this urban Rio and it is in the center of the city.

The South Zone holds most of Rio's landmarks and world-famous beaches, in an area of only 43.87 square km (17 mi²). Many of them are within walking distance of each other (for instance, the Sugar Loaf lies about 8 km/5 mi 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.

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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil: Port Information

Your cruise ship will dock at the Pier Maua cruise terminal.
To get to Copacabana, you need to take a taxi (a 20 minutes ride).
There is nothing interesting around the port area, so take a cab and go sightseeing.
Note that US citizens need a visa to enter Brazil.

Get around Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

By taxi

A cab is one of the best ways to move around Rio. However, be aware that traffic jams in Rio can be terrible at times. For instance, a taxi ride from Ipanema to the bus terminal Rodoviária Novo Rio normally takes something like 25 minutes, but if you get seriously stuck, it may take 90 minutes instead. Therefore, make sure you have a time margin in case you really can´t afford to be late. Rio taxis are not too expensive on a kilometer basis, especially, if you can share the cost among your party - a cab can usually hold up to four passengers. That said, beware, however, that distances can be quite considerable.

Rio's taxis come in different flavors:

  • Yellow taxis
  • Special service cars
  • Radio taxis
  • Illegal taxis

Yellow taxis are yellow with a blue stripe painted on the sides. In Rio, they are in great supply and are available to wave down at any time of the day or night in the primary tourist and business areas of the city. Throughout the city, there are numerous taxi stands where taxis queue to await passengers. It is preferable to get a taxi from one of these stands as they are typically a bit more reliable as they are associated with that stand. These taxi stands also exist at or near to most hotels as well. The stands range from a formal service with logos (in other words, part of a cooperative). and contact by phone to just a regular group of "freelance" taxi drivers that have come together to serve the spot. Yellow taxis possess of meters, but make sure or ask (just say "Taxímetro?") that these are really turned on.

Special service cars are private cars without identifying markings nor light on top. As they are typically associated with hotels, the doorman will ask whether you would like to use them and will say that they are safer and more comfortable than a regular yellow taxi off the street. Special service cars do not operate from a taxi meter and the drivers are not regulated or controlled. For a certain journey, they can quote whatever price they think is reasonable or that they can get. It is therefore advisable to negotiate (or at least request) the price before starting out.

Radio taxis are usually blue, green, or white. If you want to avoid being ripped off, then it may be worthwhile taking a Radio taxi. These are organized by calling (or your hotel staff calling) one of the about four companies, each serving all of Rio. When calling by phone, the operator indicates a non-negotiable price which does not depend on the time of day or heavy traffic, so that passengers need not worry about being overcharged. Radio taxi services are very reputable, knowledgeable of the city and directions and reliable and have the best/cleanest vehicles. Radio taxis are the safest form of transportation, especially when traveling late at night, or in a less traveled area of town. Due to their high reliability, they are also the best option if you need to be picked up at an exact time (especially at night or early morning). On the downside, Radio taxis are also the most expensive form of transportation.

Generally, taxi drivers in Rio are quite knowledgeable when locating the usual destinations and hotels. However, it is advisable to write down the address of less familiar destinations on a piece of paper to show the driver before you go. This should include the neighborhood (Bairro) such as Ipanema or Copacana or Centro. This is an especially good idea for those who don't speak the language.

You can also ask a cab for a city tour and arrange a fixed price.

For those traveling to Rio for Carnival, 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 Carnival.

By bus

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. There are designated bus lanes in most streets that make travel times shorter. 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. 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).

By subway

The Metrô Rio is safe, quick, clean, comfortable, air-conditioned and has much better signage than most transport in Rio, making the lives of foreign tourists easier. It operates

  • 05:00 to 24:00 Mondays to Saturdays
  • 07:00 to 23:00 Sundays
  • 00:00 to 24:00 during Carnival

There are two lines (see map), Line 1 (Orange) and Line 2 (Green). Between the stations Central and Botafogo, they share the same route. On weekends and holidays, transfer between the two lines is only at Estácio station as Line 2 only runs from Pavuna to Estácio.

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 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 metro 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. The minibuses on these lines are officially called Metrônibus and Metrô na Superfície (literally, Subway on Ground), but actually, they are just ordinary buses in special routes for subway commuters. You can buy tickets for these buses from the normal ticket windows at your departure metro station - just ask for expresso (pronounced "eysh-PREH-sso", not "express-o"). This ticket must be kept after crossing the turnstile to the metro. When you leave the destination subway station after the metro ride, give the ticket to the bus driver who shall be waiting in the bus stop just outside of the station. If you don't have an expresso metro ticket, you may use the expresso buses all the same, at the cost of a regular bus ticket.

Recently, the last car of each train has been marked with a pink window sticker to indicate that during rush hours this car may be used by women only. This policy, aimed to avoid potential harassment in crowded trains is sometimes considered unnecessary as women have been using Rio's subway for hassle-free everyday travel since long.

By car

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 program of traffic management. Between 07:00 and 10:00 on weekday mornings the traffic flow of one highway 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 highway closest to the beach is closed to allow pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders, skaters, and others to exercise.

By bike

Rio de Janeiro is the perfect city to discover by Bike. In the last five years, the city improved its bike lane infrastructure from 100km to almost 400km. The bike lanes are well maintained and extensive - you can bike all the way from Leblon to Centro on dedicated bike lanes along the coast.

There is a public system called Bike Rio. You can use their mobile app to register, pay, find nearby stations, and withdraw the bike. You can only withdraw bikes by calling a special number or via the app. The advantage of this is that you can sign up and withdraw a bike instantly using your phone. Unlike most public bike systems, you don't need to go to their office are waiting for a key to be delivered in the mail. The disadvantage is you must have a phone with mobile internet or credit to make calls every time you want to withdraw a bike. So if your phone's battery is dead or you're out of data/calling credit, you can't withdraw a bike.

By scooter

In the last couple of years, it has become common to use scooters in Rio de Janeiro. Several rental agencies exist to serve this demand. Travelers that are used to riding motorbikes will find it very comfortable and convenient to zip around Rio de Janeiro on a scooter. It gives an extra dose of liberty and autonomy to visit touristic spots a little bit further away, such as Vista Chinesa, Prainha, or Largo do Boticário.

  • Happy Moto

On foot

Rio is a fantastic walking city. There are several tour companies available like RealRio Tours and Rio Cultural Tours that will show you the most famous sites in Rio de Janeiro, and some of the 'hidden' local neighborhoods often unexplored by tourists. Nearly all tour guides in Rio are fluent in English, but of course, it is best to confirm that before you sign up.

What to see in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil


Even the most seasoned tourist will find the beaches here quite amazing. They are wide and clean, with soft white sand. The main beaches from Leme to Barra have plenty of services for the beach goers, including free showers at the beach, wet trails to walk on cool sand, clean pay toilets, life-savers and police, tents and chairs for rent, soft drinks and alcoholic bars, food.

The beaches are from East to West (Downtown outwards):

  • Ramos (in-bay) - inappropriate for bathing
  • Flamengo (in-bay) - usually inappropriate for bathing
  • Botafogo (in-bay) - inappropriate for bathing
  • Urca (in-bay) - usually inappropriate for bathing
  • Vermelha (oceanic) - Mostly appropriate for bathing
  • Leme (oceanic)
  • Copacabana (oceanic)
  • Arpoador (oceanic)
  • Ipanema (oceanic)
  • Leblon (oceanic)
  • São Conrado (oceanic) - sometimes inappropriate for bathing
  • Barra da Tijuca (oceanic)
  • Recreio dos Bandeirantes (oceanic)
  • Grumari (oceanic)
  • Abricó (oceanic, nudist beach)

Abricó is the only official nudist beach in the area of Rio de Janeiro, it lies next to Grumari beach. Only accessible by car/taxi. An option is taking the bus numbered S-20 (Recreio) that passes along Copacabana/Ipanema/Leblon, and from the end of the line (ponto final) take a cab, for a travel time of almost 2 hours.

It is also worth visiting the beaches on the island Paquetá, particularly:

  • Praia da Moreninha (on the Guanabara Bay, but often not clean enough for swimming)

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, then wearing Bermuda shorts or trunks became more common. Speedos ("sungas" in Portuguese) and square leg suits are now 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 sunglasses or bikinis 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), sanduíche natural (cool sandwich with vegetables and mayo) and middle eastern food (Kibbehs and pastries). 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.

The beaches in Barra and Recreio (Quebra-Mar, Pepê, Pontal, Prainha) were favored by surfers and hang-gliders until the 1980s, but now they are outnumbered by the middle-class and nouveau riche from the suburbs and also West Zone favela residents, such as now world-famous Cidade de Deus (City of God, made famous in the eponymous film).



Viewing Rio from top of the 710 m high Corcovado (meaning hunchback) hill with its landmark statue of Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) is a most impressive and truly breathtaking experience. There are superb views of the Zona Sul (Copacabana, Ipanema, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, and Botanical Garden) and inland to the Maracana stadium.

Pedro II ordered the construction of the railroad to Corcovado and, in 1885, a steam train brought the first visitors up the steep mountainside. Some 50 years later, the elegant art deco statue of Cristo Redentor was assembled on site and opened on October 12, 1931. Ever since, Cristo Redentor on top of Corcovado hill is Rios ultimate symbol, receiving over one million visitors a year.

Before going, check the weather, because sometimes the clouds envelop the peak, somedays throughout the day and more often in the late afternoon. On the other hand, afternoons usually have less haze and no backlight when taking pictures in the direction of Pão de Açúcar. At dusk, enjoy watching as the city lights come on and the statue is bathed in golden lights. When there are low clouds, consider going to the Dona Marta lookout by taxi. At 340m the view is not bad either and there are no crowds.

The trip atop Corcovado starts at the base of the Corcovado train in Cosme Velho, Rua Cosme Velho 513. Get here by taxi or take the Metro-Onibus Expresso combination 580 (see above) from Largo do Machado or bus lines 570, 583 and 584 from Leblon, Ipanema or Copacabana. From Downtown, take the lines 180, 422, 497 and 498. After reaching Cosme Velho, there are shuttle vans to bring you up to the entrance.

The most popular way of reaching the top is the funicular train, ascending 20 minutes long through lush vegetation. It operates 365d/a 08h00 - 19h00 every 30 minutes. You can purchase tickets at numerous lotto kiosks and post offices throughout the city or online with the option to reserve a seat for any time between 09h00 and 18h00. The queue for the train, in Cosme Velho, can get rather long. Try going when the morning coach parties have already passed through (and many tourists are having their lunch) or in the afternoon.

Tijuca National Park offers a safe service by Minibus. These can be boarded in Praça do Lido, Copacabana, Largo do Machado, Flamengo or Estradas das Paineiras, next to the former Hotel Paineiras. Tickets can be bought at each of these locations. Prices (as of July 2014) include nonstop van transfer, access to Christ the Redeemer Monument and return trip. Note that the return trip will be to your point of origin; you cannot, for instance, depart from Praça do Lido and then return to Largo do Machado.

There's also a hiking trail that begins at Parque Lage and gets atop (see Hiking and Trekking on the 'Do' section below). Alternatively, you can hike but the last 3km from the funicular station Paineras on a picturesque trail that passes by several waterfalls and the Dona Marta lookout.

Pão de Açúcar

The Sugar Loaf mountain with its smaller companion, Morro da Urca, is another Rio top landmark. Going atop is one of the most popular activities in Rio and a definite must-do. Several vantage points offer magnificent views of the bay, the city center and west to the famous beaches and beyond so that you will get a good idea of the layout of the Marvelous city. Do not make the mistake of thinking you have seen enough once you have seen the view from Corcovado. Try Sugar Loaf at sunset for a truly mind-blowing experience.

The huge vaulted twin peaks of Morro da Urca and Pão de Açúcar are a natural monument, made mostly of 600 million years old granite. The massif is endowed with lush vegetation, a remnant of the forest that once covered all of the bay area. The lucky ones can see toucans, parrots, monkeys, and butterflies flitting through the trees.

Access is by means of an aerial cable car offering magnificent views. Built in 1912, the so-called Bondinho was one of the first cable cars of this type in the world. The Bondinho is used by 2000 people every day and has two sections: the first going to Morro da Urca (220 m high), the second atop Sugar Loaf (396 m). On top, there is well-developed infrastructure like cafes, restaurants, shops, a cinema, and even a helipad.

Take bus 107, 511, 512, or the subway bus 513 from Botafogo to the cable car's base station, the only point to purchase tickets. The gondolas, accommodating 64 passengers each, are in service between 08h10 and 20h00 (way down until 20h40 and free from 19h00).

At the southern foot of Pão de Açúcar is a safe walking trail, the Pista Claudio Coutinho. There, you can stroll along the Atlantic shore or take an unsigned turnoff uphill to the middle station on Morro Urca. The trail starts on the northern end of Praia Vermelha and is open daily 08h00 to 18h00 for free.

Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas

The Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas is large lagoon in the middle of South Zone, with great views to Corcovado and Ipanema and Leblon beaches; you can jog or cycle all the way round; there are skating areas and you can hire little peddle-operated boats.

Maracana Stadium

The Maracana Stadium is the largest football stadium in South America and once the largest on Earth. It has recently been renovated for the 2014 World Cup. Inside is the Soccer Museum.


Arpoador, Barrio Arpoador 22080-050. The beach offers without any doubt one of the most beautiful sunset views in Rio and it's the last place on the beach where the sun's rays emerge, before disappearing into the ocean between the Morro Dois Irmãos two twin cones. Consider the view from the top of the rocky point or terrace Arpoador Inn.  

Jardim Botanico

Jardim Botânico. Open 8 am-5 pm daily. This well kept, magnificent and very lush botanical garden is both a park and a scientific laboratory. Situated east of the lagoon it is one of the most beautiful parks in Rio. With an area of about 137 football fields, it's worth spending a few hours in the haven of sunny beaches, with shady avenues, fountains, statues and ornamental ponds. Emperor John VI founded the Botanical Garden in 1808 as a nursery for herbs, teas, and spices imported from Asia, exclusively for the royal family. In 1822 the garden was opened to the public, with the addition of ponds and scenic trails and the introduction of a wide range of plants. Today is one of the most important botanical gardens in the world, with 8000 species of plants growing in their natural habitats and in greenhouses. Highlights include orchids, bromeliads, ferns, splendid forests of giant bamboo, a collection of medicinal plants, stunning trees which red flowers perched on the same tree and giant cacti. Colorful parrots, hummingbirds, butterflies, and monkeys live in the vegetation. A good place to start your visit is the Grotto Kar Glasl, where you see the giant water lilies in the pond adjacent and can see the statue of Christ the Redeemer in the distance. Best-known is the Avenida das Palmas Imperiais, a long central avenue shaded by 200 imperial palms, huge trees descended from a single planted in the early nineteenth century. They retain some of the original buildings of the garden, the Interpretive Center is located in an old sugar mill. There is also a Japanese Garden and two restaurants with terraces that allow prolonging your visit. Not far from the cafe, you may hear swooshing sounds - look up and you can see small monkeys swinging from tree to tree. If you take the bus, note that Jardim Botanico is also the name of a neighborhood, so make sure you get off at the right spot for the entrance.  

Instituto Moreira Salles

  • Instituto Moreira Salles. 13:00-20:00. This white modern building houses an important collection of Brazilian art, Roberto Burle Marx designed the courtyard and the mural. The foundation created by the wealthy banker occupies the old home of the family clan. Perspectives and refined materials, the building was designed by Olavo Redig, the garden by Burle Marx. It has the best private collection of photography in Brazil (Marc Ferrez). It also holds exhibitions of painting and sculpture. Temporary exhibition hall, always of great interest. Displays a large collection of photographs of the city of Rio de Janeiro. It also has a cinema, library, and cafeteria.


  • Parque Lage. This small park attracts by its history and romance of the place. Acquired by an English lord in 1809 it was transformed into a landscaped park, then it changed of the owner a wealthy industrialist. To the joy of his wife, the singer Gabriella Bezanzoni Lage, he built a beautiful mansion that today is the school of fine arts. Concerts and shows are organized regularly. The courtyard houses a coffee, there are strange concrete structures to entertain kids and the park has remnants of Atlantic Forest with some interesting sub-tropical rain forest plants and wildlife. The park is the beginning of a hiking trail to Corcovado (see Hiking and Trekking under the 'Do' section).  
  • Museu de Arte Contemporânea Niteroi (MAC). 10:00-18:00. The Museum of Contemporary Art, opened in 1996 and accommodating temporary exhibitions of modern art, is across the Guanabara Bay in the city of Niterói, accessible by ferry or the 13 km long bridge President Costa da Silva. The museum occupies one of the most impressive and best-known buildings by famous architect Oscar Niemeyer. His masterpiece of modern architecture features curved lines that evoke Rio's rounded peaks and, due to its circular shape suspended on a thin stand, reminds a UFO. From the patio and the restaurant inside, there are panoramic views across the bay to Rio and over Niterói's coastline to the historic colonial fortress of Santa Cruz.  
  • Monasteiro São Bento. 07:00-18:00. This amazing seventeenth-century Benedictine monastery and its church stand on a hill in the center of the city. Despite the simple exterior of the church, its interior is filled with extravagant gold leaves.
  • Real Gabinete Portugues da Leitura. 09:00-18:00. Founded in 1837 by a group of Portuguese immigrants, this gem neogothic surprised by the elegance of its facade and its high altitude room full of thousands of books. With a church atmosphere, where the light is filtered by colorful stained glass windows, readers try to study interrupted by a fleet of onlookers. Founded by Portuguese immigrants in 1837, the Manueline style building. The interior is a wood library with coffered ceilings and carved columns. It houses the largest number of Portuguese authors outside Portugal, with over 350,000 volumes of the XVI, XVII, and XVIII.
  • Ipanema. M 20:00-01:00. It is the most modern neighborhood of Rio beach since 1964 when Morales Vinicius wrote The Girl From Ipanema about a beautiful woman he saw on the beach. The beautiful people still frequenting the stylish bars and clubs Ipanema. 
  • Copacabana. One of the most famous beaches of Rio, Copacabana stretches from Morro de, leme hill to the north-east to Aproador rocks in the south-west. The year-round resort, best known for celebrating New Year's Eve. Before the construction of the tunnel connecting the area with Botafogo in 1982, Copacabana was untouched bay with picturesque dunes. At the time of construction in the Copacabana Palace was more than 30,000 residents. Today it is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.  
  • Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco da Penitência. Tu-F 09:00-12:00 and 13:00-16:00. At the entrance, a small museum houses the statues used during Ash Wednesday procession including the statue of St. Louis Louis XIII dress. Work of Manuel and Francisco Xavier de Brito, the exuberant gilded wood decoration of the church (1700-1737) is one of the masterpieces of Brazilian Baroque art. The Apotheosis of San Francisco, located in the ceiling of the church, is a work of Caetano da Costa Coelho, is the first example of perspective representation of Brazil. The layout of the Rua Carioca, on the north side of the monastery and Largo da Carioca, dates from 1741, when the Franciscan monks gave the land to the city for construction of a hospital. 
  • Biblioteca Nacional. M-F 10:00- 17:00 Sa Su 12:30-16:30. With the bibliographic and documentary heritage of Brazil, the National Library since 1876 that called that, is in the city center, on the corner of the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro. It is the largest library in Latin America and the seventh largest in the world. With more than 8 million pieces, one of your responsibilities is to preserve, promote and upgrade parts. Guided tours, you need to make an appointment for another day, you can not do the same day visit. We recommend calling before you go to schedule, or if you want to get to know only the lobby can go directly.
  • Jockey Clube Brasileiro. M-F 07:00 as 22:00, Sa Su 07:00-21:00. Covers 640,000 meters and is the largest racecourse horseracing Brazil. There is also the Veterinary Hospital Octavio among others. Has a capacity of 70 thousand people with parking and security. The open area of the jockey, and is valued for parties, concerts, etc. Recommend be sticking programming jockey. 
  • Toca do Vinicius livros e musica. M 20:00-01:00. A small store cds and books on bossa nova, on the same street which bears the name of the store is this amazing space where you can remember or imagine how those times were. An environment that breathes bossa nova. 
  • Bairro de Santa Teresa. Rickety old trams go up to Santa Teresa, the artists favorite area, with a more refined style than Lapa. This neighborhood is a magnet for tourists, with museums, galleries, restaurants and magnificent views.
  • Theatro Municipal. Since its opening on July 14, 1909, the building, inspired by the Opera Garnier in Paris, was the pride of the city. The new theater is located, with the intersection of Avenida Rio Branco, and is modeled on the Parisian avenues style. Designed by the architects Francisco de Oliveira Passos, a Brazilian, and the French Albert Guilbert, the building has a room with a capacity of 2360 seats (32m high) and a scene of 28m deep. The onyx staircase at the entrance is decorated with chandeliers and statues. In the ancient underground restaurant, there are bas-relief ceramics of Mesopotamian inspiration form and charming decoration. 600 people work in the theater that hosts an orchestra and a ballet company. In 2009, for the centenary, the theater received a major remodeling. 
  • Parque Nacional da Tijuca. 08:00-19:00. This magnificent national park embraces the city with its lush forests. Its excellent walks and trails offer some of the best views of the city. Tijuaca contains the highest peaks of the river and is one of the largest urban parks in the world. Most of the park was repopulated in the nineteenth century. This land so fertile was deforested during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to make way for sugar and coffee plantations. After several disastrous landslides, the authorities decided to restore the original landscape and prompted a massive restoration campaign between 1861 and 1888, a total of 130,000 copies were planted.
  • Centro Cultural Justiça Federal. 
  • Bossa Nova e Companhia. M 20:00-01:00. In the old alley Garradas, it is the store where you have a variety of library records and scores of bossa nova. The owner bought the corner store in 2006, which also owns the Lair Vinicius. It is extremely, almost three times the Toca do Vinicius. An amazing store if you remember the old days, or even know about Brazilian popular music, stories, songs, and books. A good idea if you want to spend a whole afternoon looking for books. Attendees are excellent and know indicate a good book. I highly recommend it.  
  • Fundação Oscar Niemeyer. Fundação Oscar Niemeyer, Roberto Silveira Memorial Center, Teatro Popular e Terminal de ferry de Charitas Oscar Niemeyer Foundation; JK Square, the monument to Roberto Silveira, popular theater, the Charitas barge terminal, and MAC. In JK Square, you can see a sculpture of Oscar Niemeyer and JK sitting on a bench in the square and a tent designed by Niemeyer. Waterways Charitas station has two thousand square meters. The living room has panoramic shipping 700 square meters of glass. The area has convenience stores, restaurants and a beautiful view of the harbor and Guanabara Bay. One of the highlights of the season is the water line and the construction of a pier on piles. 
  • Prédio da Petrobas. Built in 1969, is the headquarters of the state oil company. A 26 flat concrete and steel building. It was designed by Roberto Gandolfi, with metal feet and hollow pillars allowing Roberto Burle Marx to make hanging gardens. All this makes this building is one of the most interesting. The plot design was a national competition conducted by the Institute of Architects of Brazil (IAB)  

Close Praia do Diabo, the best surf spot in Rio. Beginners watch out. Discover this amazing place at the end of the walkway of Ipanema beach, from this cliff you will see the most amazing sunset in Rio de Janeiro.


  • Paço Imperial (1743) - Old Royal and Imperial office where order were sent, and formal inquiries with the monarch took place, colonial architecture (in downtown, next to Praça XV, Fifteen Square). Nice quiet restaurant inside.
  • Casa França Brasil (1820) - French cultural center, with gallery and video hall (in downtown, next to CCBB).
  • CCBB - Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (1906) - A cultural center with gallery, movie theater, video room, library, and stages; usually hosts the main exhibitions in town (in downtown). An interesting building with old-fashioned elevators/lifts.
  • Candelária Church - Neoclassic cathedral (next to CCBB) is a fine piece of art.
  • Mosteiro de São Bento (1663) - Saint Benedict's Monastery, colonial architecture (in downtown).
  • Ilha Fiscal Palace (1889) - Located in the Guanabara Bay, next to the Navy Museum
  • Gloria Church (1739). Small but interesting church reached by a funicular. Nice views. (metro: Gloria)
  • Palácio Gustavo Capanema - Former ministry of culture, designed by French architect Le Corbusier; though small, it is regarded as an important pioneering in modern architecture (downtown).
  • Arcos da Lapa (1750) - Lapa Aqueduct, a colonial structure that brought water from springs to downtown.
  • Catedral Metropolitana - a modern, cone-shaped cathedral, designed by Edgar de Oliveira da Fonseca (in Lapa).
  • São Francisco da Penitência church (1773) - Colonial church.
  • Teatro Municipal (1909) - City Theater, inspired by the Paris Opéra House (in Cinelândia square).
  • Biblioteca Nacional (1910) - National Library (in Cinelândia square).
  • Câmara Municipal - The City Hall, hosts the city council (in Cinelândia square).
  • Palácio do Catete - The former presidential palace (1893-1960), now hosts a museum of recent history and nice gardens (in Catete).
  • Itamaraty - Former presidential palace (1889-1893) and foreign office; now hosts a museum of South American diplomacy, a library and the UN information offices in Brazil (in Downtown, next to the Central station).
  • Palácio Guanabara - Former palace of the Imperial Princess, now governor's office; eclectic architecture; not open to the public (in Laranjeiras).
  • Art Deco. Rio is a major center for the Art Deco style of architecture. Indeed, the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado is considered a classic example of Art Deco work. There are numerous buildings in Copacabana and elsewhere that employ this style.


There is no shortage of things to do on a rainy day. In addition to a wide range of museums, Rio has many cultural centers, 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.


  • Museu Histórico Nacional (National Museum of History) - A museum of Brazilian history stretching from colonial to imperial times; big collection of paintings, but poor in artifacts (downtown).
  • Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts) - Includes large paintings from Academicist and Neoclassical Brazilian artists, as well as many copies of European sculptures (downtown, Cinelândia square).
  • MAM - Museu de Arte Moderna (Museum of Modern Art) - Opened in 1948 is the second most important contemporary art museum in Brazil, after MASP in Sao Paulo (downtown, walking distance to Santos Dumont airport). Modernist architecture spreading over almost the sea. Not to be confused with MAC (Museu de Arte Contemporânea) located just across the bay in Niterói. Both are worth a visit.
  • Museu da Imagem e do Som (Image and Sound Museum) - For researchers about Brazilian film, radio, and broadcasting industry (downtown).
  • Museu Naval (Navy Museum) - Located downtown not far from the ferry terminal.
  • Museu do Carnaval (Museum of Carnival) - History of Brazilian carnival and parades (in downtown, next to the Sambódromo).
  • Museu Chácara do Céu - An important collection of South American modern art (in Santa Tereza).

South Zone

  • Museu da República (Museum of the Republic) - Hosted on the former presidential palace, this museum hosts permanent exhibitions about recent Brazilian history (from 1889 on); one of the main features is the room where president Getúlio Vargas shot himself in 1954 (in Catete).
  • Oi Futuro (Formerly Centro Cultural Telemar) - Formerly Museum of Telephone, it now hosts a fine gallery with temporary exhibitions of digital art or art with interactive medias; it is sponsored by the local phone company (in Catete).
  • Museu Internacional de Arte Naïf (International Naïf Art Museum) - In Cosme Velho, next to Corcovado rail station.
  • Museu Carmem Miranda (Carmem Miranda Museum) - About this Brazilian actress and singer (the lady with pineapples-and-bananas hat), the national icon in the 1940s and 50s (in Flamengo).
  • Museu do Índio (Museum of the Indian) - A small museum with a collection of Brazilian Indian (povos indígenas) photographs, paintings, artifacts and other craft (in Botafogo). Very popular with local schoolchildren, but has much for adults as well.
  • Museu Villa-Lobos, Rua Sorocaba, 200 - Botafogo, ☎ +55 21 2266-1024 ( M-F 10:00-17:30. A modest collection about Brazil's most important composer.

North Zone

  • Museu Nacional (National Museum) - Actually, it's the Natural History Museum, with dinosaur fossils and lots of mounted tanned animals; go there if you want to see a jaguar without getting into the jungle; it was formerly the Emperor's Palace (in São Cristóvão, just next to the Zoo).
  • Museu do Primeiro Reinado (First Reign Museum) - A museum about the reign of Emperor Pedro I (1822-1831), but with a modest collection (in São Cristóvão).
  • Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins (Astronomy Museum) - Also has an observatory (in São Cristóvão).
  • Museu do Trem (Train Museum) - A modest collection of 19th century engines, train cars and streetcars (in Engenho de Dentro).
  • Museu Aeroespacial (Aerospace Museum) - Located in Campo dos Afonsos (in the suburbs).

West Zone

  • Museu Casa do Pontal - The most important collection of popular arts and crafts (in Recreio dos Bandeirantes).


In addition to Jardim Botânico and Parque Lage, mentioned above, other parks worth a visit are:

  • Parque do Flamengo, also known as Aterro do Flamengo.
  • Parque Guinle
  • Campo de Santana
  • Quinta da Boa Vista
  • Parque Nacional da Serra dos Órgãos

What to do in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil


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 13:00-14:00. 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 savviest 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:

  • Mangueira, Rua Visconde de Niterói, 1072, Mangueira, ☎ +55 (21) 3872-6786 (, fax: +55(21) 2567-4637). Rehearsals every Sa, 22:00.  
  • Salgueiro, Rua Silva Teles, 104, Andaraí, ☎ +55 (21) 2238-9258 ( Rehearsals every W, 20:00.  
  • Acadêmicos da Rocinha.

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 in 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.

Gay Travels

Rio de Janeiro is the main destination for lesbian and gay travelers 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.

Brazil has an extensive and functional treating of AIDS. Anti-retrovirus drugs are freely distributed on the public healthcare system.


Brazilians value family above all else. Large extended families are very common, and thus social functions such as weddings and reunions tend to be large. It is not uncommon for children and young adults to live with their immediate family until marriage.

Hang gliding and paragliding

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:

  • Sky Center (21) 2437-4592 / 7817-3526

Hiking and Trekking

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 report 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:

  • Parque Lage - Corcovado

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 groups of friends doing it and of course foreigners. 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 and the road, which you can follow up to the statue of Christ (another 15/30 minutes). Views from here on are breathtaking. The entrance fee for pedestrians is 12 Real. You can either go back the same way or take the 'trem' (22 R for the ride down). Perhaps there are other options.

  • Sugar Loaf

This is a short and fairly easy hike, taking about 30 to 45 minutes to complete, also very popular among locals, especially because you can go up for free then hitch a ride back on the cable car (after 6 pm, it's free to return on it). The hike begins at Pista Cláudio Coutinho in Urca. If you ask the guards they'll point you to the start. It's uphill, but just the first twenty minutes are rather steep, though the trail is very good (like a staircase). Once you reach a saddle 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. You have to buy a ticket for the cable car if you want to go up the other hill. Most people walk back the same way they came.

Panoramic flights

If you have the money the following operators give you panoramic flights in helicopters:

  • Cruzeiro Taxi Aéreo 
  • Helisight 
  • Ds Taxi Aéreo

Favela (Shantytown) tours

A number of operators offer tours of Rocinha, the largest (but not the safest) 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.

What to eat and drink in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil


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.

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.

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.

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 plenty of options in Rio de Janeiro.

Because of 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.

Travelers 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 has 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'". 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" (Thank you) from all the staff. For the best Big Bi's experience, try the Tangerina ao Limão juice along with the famous Bauru sandwich. Finish it all off with an açaí to go. Perfect. Big Bi's has a few branches dotted around Copacabana and Ipanema.

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.

Some different flavors:

  • Coxinha - 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). 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 (paw-djee-KAY-zhoo; 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.
  • Guaraná - 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).
  • Açaí - 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.

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 or are eaten with knife and fork (such as pizza), also 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.



  • Caipirinha, a drink made of cachaça (a Brazilian liquor made of sugarcane juice), lime, sugar and ice cubes.
  • Fresh Fruit juices


  • Botequims (pronounced 'boo-chi-KEEN'), also well known as botecos are quite unpretentious bars with simple appetizers and lots of ice-cold chope (draft beer). They can be found everywhere and are almost inseparable from the carioca lifestyle. Try Bracarense (85, José Linhares street, Leblon), one of the most traditional.
  • Juice bars can also be found on nearly every corner for refreshing juices in the often hot and muggy city. Choose from dozens of freshly squeezed fruit juices - mix two or three fruits together or simply try the freshly squeezed orange juice. For a delicious Brazilian special try the açaí, a smoothie made from a deep purple fruit from the Amazon.
  • Kiosks along the boardwalk at Copacabana and Ipanema beach stay open all night.
  • Devassa offers well-crafted microbrews, a tropical take of English style ales. Besides their São Paulo branch, they have nine locations in Rio, including Leblon (Rua General San Martin 1241, 021-2540-6087) and Jardim Botânico (Av. Lineu de Paula Machado 696, 021-2294-2915).

Samba clubs

Samba clubs are live music bars with great atmosphere where locals go for dancing and meeting people. When in Rio, don't miss visiting one. 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 high fee, so take good care of it. There are countless samba clubs in the town, a couple in the Zona Sul, but most in Rios the nightlife district, Lapa.

Rave clubs

Rio has some good options for clubbers. You'll be seeing lots of flyers talking 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 offer DJs of other styles. The night in Rio is pretty much divided between mainstream and underground.

Mainstream would be such "raves" and big electronic festivals, as well nightclubs like Bombar (Leblon and Barra da Tijuca), Baronetti (Ipanema) and Melt (Leblon) 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 especially "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. 

Though with far fewer 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. 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.

Street party

Thursday to Saturday nights see the party from the bars and clubs in Lapa extend into the street. People play and dance to Samba, Choro (soft rhythm with flutes and mandolin), Reggae and Hip Hop, as well as ballroom music (gafieira), but not to Pop or Rock (except for some underground, which doesn't happen often or in the same place, but usually in some less known places of Lapa). While drinks are sold in the bars and clubs, vendors roam the streets wearing coolers full of beer for cheaper prices. Be sure not to bring valuables, as there are a lot of pick-pockets operating in the area.

Spectator Sports

Watching a football (soccer) match at Maracanã can be very exciting, but also very dangerous. The atmosphere gets hottest when two of the local Rio teams are playing (Flamengo, Fluminense, Botafogo, and 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.

Shopping in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil


Banks do Money Exchange but only the bigger branches and major currencies. There might be a commission. Better rates can be found at shops with the sign ´´Cambios`´ which base their rates on a semi-official ´´Parallel`` rate, which is slightly higher than the commercial rate and thus better than you will get with a credit card or ATM. These are usually found on the main commercial streets, i.e. Avenida Nossa Senhora de Copacabana, one block from the Copacabana sea front, and Rua Visconde de Pirajá, two blocks from the Ipanema beach. Rates vary, so ask around. The shop offering the best rate today may not offer the best rate tomorrow so if you are changing money more than once ask around again.

  • Moedas Moedas, 7 Setembro 88 (A numismatic shop in a little shopping mall downtown). Changes almost any type of currency. Even unexchangeable Paraguaian Guaranis. The rate can be quite bad for less common currencies. No commission.  


Machines have different features, listed in Portuguese above the machine, and do not all return money for foreign cards. The features can vary between machines at the same bank. If you are trying to use a foreign card look for Visa/Mastercard logos on the terminals themselves and international banks (HSBC, Citi) as the best starting points. Also beware that in Rio specifically, most ATMs are closed between 22:00 and 6:00 (10 pm and 6 am) so plan accordingly. ATMs from Banco do Brasil works with most foreign Visa cards. Note that if you are withdrawing cash using a foreign card, commission may be added without any warning on the screen. You may not realize that commission has been added to your transaction until you get your receipt at the end of the transaction! 


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.

Safety in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Stay healthy

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 lipsticks, to avoid having little cuts after dry lips.

Stay safe

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 includes 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 neighborhood 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). Afterward, 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 10 AM.

When in downtown during the rush hour, be aware of pickpockets as in any other big city center. 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 center), 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. 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 in the South Zone are fairly safe as well, but, in the city center, 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 centers) 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 some 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. They were known for being ruled by drug lords prior to a concerted effort by the Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora. For the more adventurous, some favelas are amazingly huge, and a new experience for some—there are some travel agencies who take people on tours there. The tour operators have "safe-conduct pacts" with the local drug dealers. If you try to get a tour without using one of those agencies think carefully about whether your guide is reputable. Despite the pacifying efforts, most favelas do not have a permanent police presence, so there is often no recourse for a traveler who is ambushed by a drug baron's guards.

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 demand 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 not 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 neighborhood (and again, there will always be one near you), you will most likely be in trouble.


Language spoken in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

The official language of Brazil is Portuguese, spoken by the entire population (except for a few, very remotely located tribes). Indeed, Brazil has had immigrants from all parts of the world for centuries, whose descendants now speak Portuguese as their mother tongue.

Brazilian Portuguese has a number of pronunciation differences with that spoken in Portugal (and within, between the regions there are some quite extreme accent and slang differences), but speakers of either can understand each other. However, European Portuguese (Luso) is more difficult for Brazilians to understand than the reverse, as many Brazilian television programs are shown in Portugal. Note that a few words can have a totally different meaning in Brazil and Portugal, usually slang words. An example of this is "Rapariga" which in Portugal means young girl, and in Brazil means a prostitute.

English is not widely spoken except in some touristy areas. Don't expect bus or taxi drivers to understand English, so it may be a good idea to write down the address you are heading to before getting the cab. In most big and luxurious hotels, it is very likely that the taxi fleet will speak some English. If you are really in need of talking in English, you should look for the younger people (-30 years), because they, generally, have a higher knowledge of the language and will be eager to help you and exercise their English.

Spanish speakers are usually able to get by in Brazil, especially towards the south. While written Portuguese can be quite similar to Spanish, spoken Portuguese differs considerably and is much harder to understand. Compare the number 20 which is veinte (BAYN-teh) in Spanish to vinte (VEEN-chee) in Brazilian Portuguese. Even more different is gente (people), pronounced "HEN-teh" in Spanish and "ZHEN-chee" in Brazilian Portuguese. Letters CH, D, G, J, R, RR, and T are particularly difficult for Spanish speakers to understand, and that's without even considering the vowels. Often confusing to Spanish, even English speakers, is the pronunciation of the letter "R" in the beginning of most words. Common first names such as Roberto, Ronaldo and Rolando are not pronounced as you would think: the "R" is pronounced as "H". Thus you would say Hoberto, Honaldo and Holando. If you address Ronaldo with perfect Spanish pronunciation, he most likely will look at you in confusion and wonder what or who you are speaking to.


3:15 am
May 28, 2022


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