Rio de Janeiro is a beautiful coastal city in Brazil, known for the massive and identifiable landmark of Christ the Redeemer set atop Mount Corcovado, and for its famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. The granite peak of Sugarloaf Mountain is also recognizable with cable cars running to its summit and the exquisite views it offers of Guanabara Bay. And, of course, Rio is also known for the world’s largest and most flamboyant street celebration — Carnival!
The city offers an abundance of attractions and tour options, amazing nightlife, and stunningly beautiful landscapes and cityscapes. But there are several things you should know before you go. So here are some pro tips for visiting Rio de Janiero.
Best Time to Visit
Rio has a tropical climate. The best time to visit is during the summer season, between January and March. However, daytime temperatures during the summer can often surpass 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit. For more moderate temperatures, consider visiting during April and May, which is Brazil’s autumn, or during October and November, which is springtime. During these times, visitors can expect daytime temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s with evening temps in the 60s Fahrenheit. This makes for great beach weather and is perfect for exploring.
The currency in Brazil is called the Real (BRL). Here is a quick conversion from US$ to R$:
|US$ 1||R$ 5.05|
|US$ 5||R$ 25.23|
|US$ 10||R$ 50.46|
A vacation in Rio is not cheap; however, you can tailor your experience to your budget.
To give you an idea of some typical prices: A 12 oz bottle of Coke or Pepsi: R$ 4.71, a 12 oz bottle of water: R$ 2.77, and a regular cappuccino: R$ 6.53
Generally, tipping is not compulsory nor is it expected from the locals. Service charges (around 10 %) are added to hotel or restaurant bills at the end. Additional tips can be given just to appreciate excellent service or to round up the bill to a whole number. Also, it is not obligatory to give tips to taxi drivers. However, taxi drivers round up the fare as a tip for their services. Special or radio taxis do not use typical taximeters and always charge more than the original amount.
The tap water is safe to drink in Rio; however, it doesn’t taste good. Bottled water is recommended for drinking.
Safety and Security Tips
Despite that Rio is a beautiful and heavily traveled city, visitors still need to be concerned about safety, especially while traveling on foot. It is necessary to take precautions while walking in crowded areas. Due to the poverty in the surrounding areas of the city, the crime rate is undeniably high. Some tips to remember include:
- Never leave your luggage unattended in a crowded area or one that is known as a tourist area.
- Try to schedule your sightseeing during the daytime hours, including city tours and attractions.
- Avoid traveling alone, especially at night. If possible, take a local friend along if you plan to roam the streets.
- Similarly, it is not wise to use public transportation at night. Areas like subway stations should be avoided. The safer option is to call a reputable taxi company.
- Avoid flaunting money or any expensive items in crowded areas. Do not carry valuable items like cameras, branded watches, and credit cards. Leave them in your hotel safe. And, if possible, try to dress like a local Brazilian so you can avoid standing out as a tourist.
- If you need to use an ATM, it is advisable to use one located inside a building, such as a bank or shopping center as there usually will be on-site security. One of the safest places to use the ATM is at the airport.
- Stay alert for pickpockets and bag snatchers. Ask your hotel concierge if there is any nearby favelas or gang action you need to be aware of, and about specific areas to avoid.
Buses are the cheapest means of transportation in Rio. Local buses (locally known as Frescao) run on major city routes and frequently during peak hours. They are safe during daytime hours and are helpful for sightseeing. However, marked yellow seats are for seniors and pregnant women. Tourists should not use them.
The subway (locally known as the metro) is another good choice for traveling to major city areas where one can even use special subway buses. Local vans are also available in the city. If you choose to walk, it is important to know that there is a lot of jaywalking in Rio and you need to be cautious of scooters and motorcycles.
Rio’s residents mainly speak Portuguese. There are very few English-speaking people in the city; therefore, it is important to know a few key phrases when visiting. However, in addition to this, we recommend accessing Google Translate on your smartphone, downloading a reliable translation app, or investing in a set of Timekettle Translation Earbuds.