Rio de Janeiro Travel & Backpacking Guide
Rio de Janeiro is nicknamed 'Cidade Maravilhosa' which literally translates as 'Wonderful City' and is famous for its breathtaking landscape, stunning beaches and carnival. View our comprehensive Rio travel and backpacking guide with tips, ideas for the best things to see and do and information about itineraries, costs, how to save money, and more!
Activities & Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro
Travel to Rio de Janeiro
Rio is the most popular destination for foreign travelers visiting Brazil and it is easy to see why.
Highlights include visiting beachs and the harbour which is surrounded by spectacular geographic features including the rounded hump of Sugar Loaf Mountain at 1,296 feet high. Other places which you should see include Corcovado Peak topped by the impressive statue of Christ the Redeemer and the rain-forested hills of Tijuca.
Collectively, these landmarks make the harbour one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. But there is a lot more to Rio than just these and we have so many recommendations it's difficult to know where to start.
Watch a football game at Maracana stadium is a must, the atmosphere will be amazing. Going to the top of the Christ Redeemer is another essential to do, there are amazing views across the whole city.
View our Rio de Janeiro destination guide aims to give you all the information you need to have an amazing experience in this amazing country. Find affordable travel and backpacking ideas with advice for amazing things to do and how you can be more than just your average traveller. You can also get recommendations for budget travel tips, advice on places to stay and how visit Rio on a budget.
How to Get to Rio
British Airways are the only airline that fly direct to Rio De Janeiro from the United Kingdom. Other airlines flying to Rio De Janeiro from international destinations include Air France, Alitalia, SWISS, KLM, TAP Air Portugal, United, Emirates, Iberia, Royal Air Maroc, American Airlines, Delta, Avianca, LATAM and Lufthansa. For the best deals and cheapest prices we recommend searching flights on Skyscanner.
Where to Stay in Rio
Rio is an expensive city but you have a lot of choice when it comes to accommodation. There are lots of hotels, hostels, apartments and AirBnB to choose from throughout the city. If you are looking for somewhere cheap to stay, use Hostelbookers or Booking.com to search for budget accommodation and book well in advance to get the best prices.
View our guide to the best hostels in Rio de Janeiro - perfect for budget travellers.
Best Places to Visit in Rio
Here are some of the most essential places you need to add to your itinerary
- The Sambadrome, famous for Carnival
- The Metropolitan Cathedral
- Cinelandia Plaza, such as the Municipal Theatre, the National Library and the National Museum of Fine Arts
- The neighbourhood of Urca, home to Sugar Loaf Mountain where you can take a cable car up Urca hill to see panoramic views of Guanabara Bay, Rio Niteroi and Corcovado hill.
- Copacabana Beach
- Ipanema and Leblon
- The Cosme Velho Train to the statue of Christ the Redeemer & Sugarloaf Mountain
- Botanical Gardens
- Santa Teresa neighbourhood
- Lapa neighbourhood
- Tijuca National Park
- Maracanã Stadium
- Lagoa neighbourhood
- Samba schools
- National Museum of Fine Arts
- Hike to the top of Dois Irmãos (‘Two Brothers’) Mountain
Rio Travel Ideas & Inspiration
Rio de Janeiro Travel Tips
How to Get from the Airport
From the airport or in the city always get the official yellow taxi's which operate a meter system, or agree a price beforehand as there are instances of tourists getting ripped off. From the main airport in Rio you can also catch a bus into the main areas like Copacabana.
Transport & Getting Around
Getting around Rio can be tricky so get a tourist map on arrival or take a guide book which should have a bus map on. In Rio there is a metro, extensive bus system and also taxi's allowing you to get around the city, walking is also recommended but check area safety advice and do not go wandering off in unknown places during night. Getting around Rio by bus is the best way to see the sights, a single ticket costs either 2.50 or 2.75 Riel (approx £1 / $1.50) and is generally safe and easy to use if you know where you are going. Ask the driver to tell you where to disembark if you are not sure where to get off.
Try to learn a few Brazilian Portuguese language phrases this will make the experience of visiting Rio a lot easier, for example learning to ask for directions or how much things cost. You might be surprised how few local people speak English and so have a list of words or a phrase book will come in really useful.
Rio does have a reputation and a pretty shocking crime rate compared to other destinations worldwide but most international tourists encounter no issues. As long as are careful, listen to advice you should be fine. Be sure to buy travel insurance in advance, we recommend World Nomads.