How to Travel to Rio De Janeiro

Tips and tricks to enjoy your trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Brasil)


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    From the international airport (GIG), you can take a bus to downtown and then a subway or taxi to your destination. Taxis are faster, but more expensive.
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    Learn the pronunciation of the name of your hotel in Brazilian Portuguese. You could spend ten minutes trying different variations of the word "Everest" until you stumble upon "Ever ESS Chi".
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    Must sees include: Forte de Copacabana, Teatro Municipal, Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf), and the beaches of Ipanema, Leblon and Copacabana. Take a side trip to Petropolis, to enjoy a more colonial flavor.
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    If you're on a budget, eat at the buffet restaurants, known as "restaurantes por kilo". There is usually a large variety of food options and the prices are reasonable and charged by the kilo. It is very easy to find an excellent meal in Rio, just look for the crowds. One good bet is the Bar Lagoa near Ipanema's lagoon.
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    Learn basic Portuguese phrases. In general, Brazil is not like Mexico, the Caribbean or other resort destinations. English is not readily used and American tourism is not their largest source of income; Europeans are, and many come from Portugal, and know the language well. Use the weeks prior to the flight to learn 50 phrases and practice!
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    Surf the Internet to learn about things to do in Rio. Go to the Maracana stadium, visit museums such as the Museum of Modern Art (MAM), Museum of Rio (MAR) or The Rio Bay Museum, which looks like a flying saucer. Visit Jardim Botanico (Botanical Gardens), or sample the wild nightlife in Lapa, etc. in Nitéroi is also worth a visit.
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    There are many things to do in Rio, or you can just lay out on the beach all day. Remember, Rio as a city is as populous as NYC with just as much variety. If you can't find something to do in Rio then you're not really trying.
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    Do not swim in any beaches near the city fewer than 5 days after a rain, as all the sewage from the favelas (ghettos) runs down from the hills. That being said, nice beaches to surf: Arpoador, near Ipanema rocks; Prainha is a bit away from the center. If are looking for serious wave action in a safe beach (not as touristy), try Itacoatiara in the Nitéroi suburb.
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    Watch out for small gangs of two-to-five juveniles roaming around, who may accost you with a knife. Keep your distance from them and be prepared to run, or kick the knife from their feeble hands. They are looking for the weak and feminine. Use just a cheap Chinese watch and carry a spare wallet with a few bucks, to hand to them, then run! If you are mugged, contact the tourist police (DEAT) immediately; often these kids are caught and your items may be returned.
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    If you plan a trip by car on your own, carefully plan your trip and bring a GPS with a current Brazil map. Take a wrong exit on the road and you could end up in a favela.


  • If you want crowded places and nightlife, choose a hotel in the "Zona Sul" (Leme, Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon). In general, Ipanema and Leblon are the safest areas to stay and visit.
  • In the summer, you can enjoy daylight on the beach until 08:00 PM.
  • Most ATM's in Brazil will accept foreign debit or credit cards. Look at the back of your card and find matching logos on the machine. All major international banks also operation in Rio. Withdrawing money from ATM's is almost always cheaper than exchanging cash at the airports.
  • It's easy to find people in Rio de Janeiro who speak English, but it is helpful to know some basic Portuguese words and phrases.
  • Condoms are called "camisinha" (like camisiña, in Spanish), other items like toothpaste are easier to explain/get.
  • If you're looking for "sex wax" paraffins for your surfboard, ask for "Parafina". It will help you avoid an embarrassing situation if the store clerk is female.
  • You can try "Motels", but they are quite kinky but funny. You can get a bed, with mirrors, sauna, swimming pool with cascades, jacuzzi... Worth a try?
  • If you want some peace at the beach and some nightlife you can choose a hotel in "Barra da Tijuca".


  • Friendly girls of Copacabana are usually prostitutes. Exercise caution.
  • Don't go topless on beaches, police arrest people who do that.
  • Don't bring valuables to the beach, just a few reais for beer/soda/ice cream and keep an eye on your money.
  • Always be careful when you cross a street. At night, traffic lights are quite ignored and pedestrians are NOT given right of way!
  • Ask the hotel how much your taxi ride should be before you leave as drivers may "Take you for a ride" like in any city.
  • If hotel clerk tells you about private taxis for your security, most of the time, it will cost you twice as much for no good reason. Private taxis are relatives of hotel employees looking for easy money.
  • Sexual tourism is not promoted and child exploitation is extremely illegal. All hotels have cameras in elevators and public areas to discourage this behavior.
  • Avoid homeless children in the streets, they will see that you are a tourist and will rob you!
  • Don't drink water from the tap or from your shower, use a straw when you drink a soda.
  • To blend in, dress simply and leave touristy clothes at home. Don´t wear socks with sandals. Do not wear fancy jewelry.
  • Keep your personal belongings with you at all time; Rio is a big city so be smart.
  • Don not hesitate to use a taxi at night even if it is a short trip.
  • Avoid the center of Rio at night. Most establishments are closed in the evenings (and 100% are closed on weekends) because it is mostly a business center.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, most Rio crime victims are unaware of danger until it happens. The best way to become a victim is to behave like one.
  • If someone tries to steal your belongings, don't try to resist. Your life worth more than this expensive camera of yours!

Things You'll Need

  • Real (plural: reais) (local currency) Bills less than R$50 are recommended (nobody likes to make change for big notes);
  • Sunblock;
  • sunglasses;
  • Digital camera with batteries and big memory cards; also, do yourself a favor and upload your pictures at an Internet cafe if possible, cheap insurance if the camera gets stolen.

Article Info

Categories: South America