Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide
In Rio de Janeiro, every day is a party. Rio, as it's usually called, is a place like absolutely no other in the world. The jet set and glitterati descend here year-round for the white-sand beaches, bass-forward nightlife, and five heady days of Carnival bacchanal celebrations in February or March. But you don't have to be a thong-clad party seeker to appreciate the literal highs of mountainous Rio. The breathtakingly beautiful city is home to landmark sites like the Christ the Redeemer statue and world-class art museums. Sprinkle in beach volleyball matches, samba dancing, and stunning tropical mountains meet azure sea scenery you won't find anywhere else. But there are a few things to keep in mind: Brazil no longer requires a visa for American visitors (you'll pay an airport departure tax instead); the language is Portuguese, not Spanish; and the drug-trafficked favelas are a harsh reality. This Rio de Janeiro travel guide has everything you need to get started planning an unforgettable trip. Ready, set, Rio!
Brasilia Standard Time
Best Time to Go
Rio de Janeiro is a bustling and modern beachfront city, with something for tourists to see and do on and off the sand 12 months out of the year. Weather wise, December through March (Brazil's summer months) and September through November (spring in Brazil) means temperatures in the 70s to 90s and little rain. With Carnival comes crowds in February or March, but that's half the fun. It's no surprise New Year's Eve is another epically popular time to party in Rio.
Things to Know
Currency: Brazilian Real (R$)
Language: Brazilian Portuguese
I don't speak Portuguese: Nao falo portugues.
I'm lost: Estou perdido.
I would like…: eu gostaria
Calling Code: +55 (Brazil) + 21 (Rio)
Capital City of Brazil: Brasilia
How to Get Around
Trains: The three-line subway system, called MetroRIo, is clean, convenient, and safe. This is the best way to get around the city and avoid traffic.
Buses: Cheaper than taxis and trains, but the buses in Rio are crowded and slow.
Taxis: Yellow taxis are widely available—insist the driver turn on the meter instead of haggling over the fare.
Car service: Uber is available in Rio. You'll need internet access on your phone to use the app. From Galeao Airport, Uber departs on the second level.
Things to Do
Neighborhoods to Know
Rio is a sprawling city, but each neighborhood has a distinct vibe. Think of Rio more like a collection of small beach and mountain towns, and it's less overwhelming. Copacabana and Ipanema are obvious beach neighborhoods, but a tram ride up to Santa Teresa is worth it for the boho vibe, ocean views, and samba clubs. Leblon is the neighborhood for pure glitz and glamour and the small footprint means you can check out most of the high end boutiques and chi-chi wine bars in one visit.
Rio is known for its beaches, and thankfully the weather usually cooperates enough to enjoy them year round. January through March sees temperatures in the low 90s—it's too hot to do much of anything besides swim. July, August, and September are the coolest months with lows in the mid 60s, but also the driest. Hurricanes are a rarity in Rio de Janeiro.
Apps to Download
ChefsClub: Find restaurants, bars, and make reservations
Android (not on Android) | iOs