Besides, the colours, costumes, dancing and music, it is also a truly citywide party taking place in every shape and form in every corner of Rio!

There are many things to do during Carnival, but there is no need to get overwhelmed. You might like to view Rio Carnival tour packages and let a company book you the ultimate experience. 

We’ve listed the best things to do during Carnival in Rio to make sure you make the most of the spectacular event.


1. Book Sambadrome Tickets

The Sambadrome (or Sambódromo) is the huge venue where Rio’s top samba schools compete. The parades are the most formal aspect of Carnival.

There are a number of Carnival parade tickets to choose from, depending on your budget. The first two nights of Carnival see the smaller samba schools compete, while the main contender’s take to the ‘drome on Sunday and Monday.

The following Saturday, you can catch the winners as the top 5 schools parade again for the Champion’s Parade.

This is highly recommended to see one of the worlds best Carnivals up close. 


2. Take Part in a Parade

Rio Carnival parade

You don’t just have to watch the parade – you can actually take part! Book a parade ticket with a costume, giving you the chance to dress up and show your dancing skills through the Sambadrome with one of the samba schools, alongside the members and other guests. Don’t worry, you don’t need to have great samba skills – just a big smile and good vibes!


3. Attend a Carnival Ball

For a special night during Carnival, attend one of the many Carnival Balls. There are a number to choose from, from the cheap and the infamous, to the really expensive crème de la crème, Copacabana Palace’s Magic Ball, the ball of choice for the rich and famous.

Rio Scala nightclub hosts a number of balls throughout Carnival, including the famous Gay Gala Ball. Costumes are not mandatory for all the balls, but they’re so much more fun if you dress up!


4. Join the Crowds at a Block Party

Rio Carnival street party

The most infamous part of Rio’s Carnival: the block parties, or blocos.

How do they work? A carnival street band plays, usually from a truck or float, and people follow behind, joining in as they proceed along a route, dancing, drinking and having a ball. They take place all over the city, but some of the biggest happen downtown, such as Cordão do Bola Preta.

Other popular blocos include Monobloco in Copacabana, Banda de Ipanema in Ipanema, and Suvaco do Cristo in Jardin Botânico. Check the Carnival Program for the time and location of each street parade. Alternatively just hit the streets – it won’t be long before you find a party!


5. Samba All Night at Samba Land

Samba band Brasil

A big open space in Praça Onze, near the Sambadrome, Samba Land hosts a number of musicians and live concerts, as well as number of food stalls and plenty of space to dance. If you’re heading to the Sambadrome, stop off here first to get into the spirit, and if you’re not, this is a great place to catch some of the Sambadrome energy and dance the night away.


6. Party at the Lapa Arches

Arcos de Lapa in the Lapa neighbourhood is known year round for its great street parties on Friday nights, so they know how to have a good time during Carnival. You can duck into one of the many bars and clubs around here, or spill out on the streets, surrounded by delicious barbecue stands, cheap drinks and an amazing atmosphere.


7. Visit Christ the Redeemer

Use your time in Rio to visit one of the most iconic sights in the city: the giant Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado Mountain. Take the Cosme Velho train up, take a taxi or minibus to the top, hike, or go as part of a tour. Just make sure you pick a sunny day with no clouds to get the full experience.


8. Relax on the Beach

Copacabana beach

Once you’ve partied the night away, you’ll need some down time relaxing. And what better way to do that than on the beach.

Head to one of Rio’s most popular like Copacabana and Ipanema if you want the ongoing Carnival atmosphere. These are two essential places to see in Brazil.

Alternatively, head to one of Rio’s other great beaches to beat the crowds.


9. Escape Outside the City

Praia do Pouso, Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

For a truly relaxing break from the madness and debauchery that is Carnival, head outside the city to one of the tropical paradises, such as Búzios or Ilha Grande which are among the most beautiful islands in South America.

Book a day tour outside of Rio and spend a day recharging, then return ready to start partying again! Some companies offer rewarding volunteer programs in Brazil which are a great way to give back.


10. Take a Sightseeing Tour or Hike

Morro Dois Irmãos - Vidigal, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, Brasil

Looking for an alternative experience in Rio de Janeiro?

Get to know the other side of the city by venturing into the hillside favelas, where the social conditions are entirely different to the glitz of Leblon and Ipanema.

Or you do a hiking tour where you can get some of the most amazing skyline photos of Rio. One of the most popular trips is to Morro Dois Irmãos, above the Vidigal favela, the views are stunning (as seen in the photo above).

Lots of Brazil tours offer trips in Rio, and along with a guide, you will gain a greater insight into the culture and life in the favelas, and connect with locals on an authentic favela tour.


Book Your Trip to Brazil for Carnival

However you spend your time in Rio during Carnival, you will no doubt have an incredible time, filled with infectious samba beats, warm sun, feathers and glitter, friendly people and many a party. Excited? You should be! Get you Rio Carnival tickets now!

By Nicole Eberhard


Whether you are planning a dream holiday, go backpacking in South America or a Brazil gap year or backpacking adventure, or just want to experience the worlds greatest party, you will absolutely love Rio Carnival! If you don't know any of the local language its recommended to pick up the basics, you could study online or check out Portuguese language courses in Rio de Janeiro.