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Rio de Janeiro
—  Municipality  —
The Municipality of
Rio de Janeiro
From upper left: Panorama of Rio de Janeiro, Sugarloaf Mountain, the Downtown, Christ the Redeemer, Arcos da Lapa, Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon and Maracanã Stadium


Nickname(s): Cidade Maravilhosa ("The Marvelous City") or simply Rio
Location in the State of Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is located in Brazil
Rio de Janeiro
Location in Brazil
Coordinates: 22°54′30″S 43°11′47″W / 22.90833°S 43.19639°W / -22.90833; -43.19639
Country  Brazil
Region Southeast
State Bandeira Estado RiodeJaneiro Brasil2.svg Rio de Janeiro
Founded March 1, 1565
 - Mayor Eduardo Paes (PMDB) (2009–2012)
 - Municipality 1,260 km2 (486.5 sq mi)
 - Metro 4,557.3 km2 (1,759.6 sq mi)
Elevation from 0 to 1,021 m (from 0 to 3,349 ft)
Population (2008)
 - Municipality 6,093,472 (2nd)
 Density 4,781/km2 (12,382.7/sq mi)
 Metro 14,387,000
Time zone BST (UTC-3)
 - Summer (DST) BDT (UTC-2)
Postal Code 20000-000
Area code(s) +55 21
HDI (2000) 0.842 – high
Website City of Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro ("River of January", English pronunciation: /ˈɹiːoʊ deɪ ʒəˈnɛəroʊ/; Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈxiu dʒi ʒaˈneiɾu]), commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America,[1][2][3] 6th largest in the Americas and the main tourist destination in the Southern Hemisphere.[4]
The city was the capital of Brazil for nearly two centuries, from 1763 to 1815 during the Portuguese colonial era, 1815 to 1821 as the capital of the United Kingdom of Portugal, and from 1822 to 1960 as an independent nation. Rio is nicknamed A Cidade Maravilhosa or "The Marvelous City." It is considered a Beta World City.[5]

Rio de Janeiro is known for its natural settings, carnival celebrations, samba, Bossa Nova, beaches such as Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. Some of the most famous landmarks in addition to the beaches include the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer ('Cristo Redentor') atop Corcovado mountain, named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World; Sugarloaf mountain (Pão de Açúcar) with its cable car; the Sambódromo, a permanent parade avenue lined with grandstands which is used during Carnival; and Maracanã stadium, one of the world's largest football stadiums. Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Summer Olympics, the first South American city to host the event.[6]



Downtown Rio

Rio de Janeiro lies on a strip of Brazil's Atlantic coast, close to the Tropic of Capricorn, where the shoreline is oriented east–west. The city largely faces south. It was founded on an inlet of this stretch of the coast, Guanabara Bay (Baía de Guanabara), the entrance to which is marked by a point of land called Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcar), a "calling card" of the city.

The Centre "Centro," the core of Rio, lies on the plains of the western shore of Guanabara Bay. The greater portion of the city, commonly referred to as the North Zone "Zona Norte," extends to the northwest on plains composed of marine and continental sediments and on hills and several rocky mountains. The South Zone "Zona Sul" of the city, reaching the beaches fringing the open sea, is cut off from the Centre and from the North Zone by coastal mountains. These mountains and hills are offshoots of the Serra do Mar to the northwest, an ancient gneiss-granite mountain chain that forms the southern slopes of the Brazilian Highlands. The large West Zone "Zona Oeste," long cut off by the mountainous terrain, had been made accessible by new roads and tunnels by the end of the 20th century.

The population of the city of Rio de Janeiro, occupying an area of 1,182.3 square kilometres (456.5 sq mi),[7] is about 6,100,000.[8] The population of the greater metropolitan area is estimated at 11–13.5 million. It was Brazil's capital until 1960, when Brasília took its place. Residents of the city are known as Cariocas. The official song of Rio is "Cidade Maravilhosa."


Jardim de Alah Channel, that connects Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon to the Atlantic Ocean

Rio has a tropical savanna climate (Aw) according to the Köppen climate classification and is often characterized by long periods of rain from December to March.[9] The temperature occasionally reaches over 40 °C (104 °F) in inland areas of the city, and maximum temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) occur on a monthly basis. In the main tourist areas (south side, where the beaches are located), the temperature is moderated by the cool sea-breezes from the Atlantic Ocean.

Along the coast, the breeze, blowing alternately onshore and offshore, modifies the temperature. Because of its geographic situation, the city is often reached—especially during autumn and winter—by cold fronts advancing from Antarctica, causing frequent weather changes. It is mostly in summer that strong showers provoke catastrophic floods and landslides. The mountainous areas register greater rainfall since they constitute a barrier to the humid wind that comes from the Atlantic.

The average annual minimum temperature is 20 °C (68 °F), the average annual maximum temperature is 26 °C (79 °F), and the average annual temperature is 23 °C (73 °F). The average yearly precipitation is 1,086 mm.[10] The minimum temperature recorded was 4.8 °C (41 °F) in July 1928; temperatures below 10 °C (50 °F) are very rare in the city. The absolute maximum reached 46.3 degrees Celsius (114°F) in February 2010.[11] The temperature varies according to elevation, distance from the coast, and type of vegetation. Winter brings mild temperatures and less rain than the summer.

Climate data for Rio de Janeiro
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 43
Average high °C (°F) 32
Daily mean °C (°F) 28
Average low °C (°F) 23
Record low °C (°F) 17
Precipitation cm (inches) 13
Source: Weatherbase[12]


Panoramic view of the Botafogo neighborhood and Sugarloaf Mountain


Attack of French Villegagnon Island in Guanabara Bay by the Portuguese on 15 March 1560
Foundation of Rio de Janeiro in 1565

Europeans first encountered Guanabara Bay on January 1, 1502 (hence Rio de Janeiro, "January River") by a Portuguese expedition under explorer Gaspar de Lemos who was a captain of a ship in Pedro Álvares Cabral's fleet. Allegedly the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci participated as observer at the invitation of King Manuel I in the latter's expedition. The region of Rio was inhabited by the Tupi, Puri, Botocudo and Maxakalí peoples.[13]

In 1555, one of the islands of Guanabara Bay, now called Villegagnon Island, was occupied by 500 French colonists under the French admiral Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon. Consequently, Villegagnon built Fort Coligny on the island when attempting to establish the France Antarctique colony.

The city of Rio de Janeiro proper was founded by the Portuguese on March 1, 1565. Until early in the 18th century, the city was threatened or invaded by several, mostly French, pirates and buccaneers, such as Jean-François Duclerc and René Duguay-Trouin.[14]

Carioca Aqueduct, built in the first half of the 18th century, now used as a tram bridge

In the late 17th century, still during the Sugar Era, the Bandeirantes found gold and diamonds in the neighboring captaincy of Minas Gerais, thus Rio de Janeiro became a much more practical port for exporting wealth (gold, precious stones, besides the sugar) than Salvador, Bahia, which is much farther to the northeast. And so in 1763, the colonial administration in Portuguese America was moved from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro. The city remained primarily a colonial capital until 1808, when the Portuguese royal family and most of the associated Lisbon nobles, fleeing from Napoleon's invasion of Portugal, moved to Rio de Janeiro. The kingdom's capital was transferred to the city, which, thus, became the only European capital outside of Europe. As there was no physical space or urban structure to accommodate hundreds of noblemen who arrived suddenly, many inhabitants were simply evicted from their homes.[15] There was a large influx of African slaves to Rio de Janeiro: in 1819, there were 145,000 slaves in the captaincy. In 1840, the number of slaves reached 220,000 people.[16]

When Prince Pedro I proclaimed the independence of Brazil in 1822, he decided to keep Rio de Janeiro as the capital of his new empire. Rio continued as the capital of Brazil after 1889, when the monarchy was replaced by a republic.

XV Square

Until the early years of the 20th century, the city was largely limited to the neighborhood now known as the historic Downtown business district (see below), on the mouth of Guanabara Bay. The city's center of gravity began to shift south and west to the so-called Zona Sul (South Zone) in the early part of the 20th century, when the first tunnel was built under the mountains located between Botafogo and the neighborhood now known as Copacabana. That beach's natural beauty, combined with the fame of the Copacabana Palace Hotel, the luxury hotel of the Americas in the 1930s, helped Rio to gain the reputation it still holds today as a beach party town (though, this reputation has been somewhat tarnished in recent years by favela violence resulting from the narcotics trade[17]). Plans for moving the nation's capital city to the territorial centre had been occasionally discussed, and when Juscelino Kubitschek was elected president in 1955, it was partially on the strength of promises to build a new capital.[18] Though many thought that it was just campaign rhetoric, Kubitschek managed to have Brasília built, at great cost, by 1960. On April 21 that year the capital of Brazil was officially moved from Rio de Janeiro to Brasília.

Between 1960 and 1975 Rio was a city-state under the name State of Guanabara (after the bay it borders). However, for administrative and political reasons, a presidential decree known as "The Fusion" removed the city's federative status and merged it with the State of Rio de Janeiro, the territory surrounding the city whose capital was Niterói, in 1975. Even today, some Cariocas advocate the return of municipal autonomy.[19][20]

It was announced on October 2, 2009 that Rio would host the 2016 Olympic Games, beating the finalist competitors Chicago, Tokyo, and Madrid.

City districts

The city is commonly divided into the historic downtown (Centro); the tourist-friendly and commercial South Zone (Zona Sul); the residential North Zone (Zona Norte); and the West Zone (Zona Oeste), with the newer Barra da Tijuca district.


(22°54′19.4112″S 43°10′37.6608″W / 22.905392°S 43.177128°W / -22.905392; -43.177128 (Downtown))

Central Business District

Centro (Downtown in American English or CBD in other English use) is the historic centre of the city, as well as its financial centre. Sites of interest include the Paço Imperial, built during colonial times to serve as a residence for the Portuguese governors of Brazil; many historic churches, such as the Candelária Church, the colonial Cathedral and the modern-style Rio de Janeiro Cathedral. Around the Cinelândia square there are several landmarks of the Belle Époque of Rio, such as the Municipal Theatre and the National Library building. Among its several museums, the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts) and the Museu Histórico Nacional (National Historical Museum) are the most important. Other important historical attractions in central Rio include its Passeio Público, an 18th-century public garden, as well as the imposing arches of the Arcos da Lapa, a Roman-style aqueduct built around 1750. A bondinho (tram) leaves from a city center station, crosses the aqueduct (converted to a tram viaduct in 1896) and rambles through the hilly streets of the Santa Teresa neighbourhood nearby.

Downtown remains the heart of the city's business community. Some of the largest companies in Brazil have their head offices here, including Petrobras, Eletrobrás and Vale (formerly Companhia Vale do Rio Doce), the three largest Brazilian corporations.

South Zone

(22°58′27″S 43°11′58″W / 22.974199°S 43.199444°W / -22.974199; -43.199444 (South Zone))

A view of the Copacabana Beach

The South Zone of Rio de Janeiro (in Portuguese: "Zona Sul") is composed of several districts, amongst which are São Conrado, Leblon, Ipanema, Arpoador, Copacabana and Leme, which compose Rio's famous Atlantic beach coastline. Other districts in the South Zone are Glória, Catete, Flamengo, Botafogo and Urca, which border Guanabara Bay and Santa Teresa, Cosme Velho, Laranjeiras, Humaitá, Lagoa, Jardim Botânico and Gávea. It is the richest region of the city and the most famous overseas, and the neighborhood of Leblon in particular has the most expensive real estate in all of South America.

The neighbourhood of Copacabana beach hosts one of the world's most spectacular New Year's Eve parties ("Reveillon"), as more than two million revelers crowd onto the sands to watch the fireworks display. As of 2001, the fireworks have been launched from boats, to improve the safety of the event.[21] To the north of Leme, and at the entrance to Guanabara Bay, is the district of Urca and the Sugarloaf Mountain ('Pão de Açúcar'), whose name describes the famous mountain rising out of the sea. The summit can be reached via a two-stage cable car trip from Praia Vermelha, with the intermediate stop on Morro da Urca. It offers views second only to Corcovado mountain.

One of the highest hills in the city is the 842 metres (2,762 ft) high Pedra da Gávea (Crow's nest Rock) near the botanical gardens. On the top of its summit is a huge rock formation (some, such as Erich von Däniken in his 1973 book, "In Search of Ancient Gods," claim it to be a sculpture) resembling a sphinx-like, bearded head that is visible for many kilometers around.

Hang gliding is a popular activity on the nearby Pedra Bonita (Beautiful Rock). After a short flight, gliders land on the Praia do Pepino (Cucumber Beach) in São Conrado. Since 1961, the Tijuca National Park (Parque Nacional da Tijuca), the largest city-surrounded urban forest and the second largest urban forest in the world, has been a National Park. The largest urban forest in the world is the Floresta da Pedra Branca (White Rock Forest), which is also located in the city of Rio de Janeiro.[22] The Pontifical Catholic University of Rio (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro or PUC-Rio), Brazil's top private university, is located at the edge of the forest, in the Gávea district. The 1984 film Blame it on Rio was filmed nearby, with the rental house used by the story's characters sitting at the edge of the forest on a mountain overlooking the famous beaches.

North Zone

The North Zone of Rio (in Portuguese: "Zona Norte") is home to the Maracanã stadium, once the world's highest capacity football (soccer) venue, able to hold nearly 199,000 people, as it did the World Cup final of 1950. In modern times its capacity has been reduced to conform with modern safety regulations and the stadium has introduced seating for all fans. Currently undergoing renovation, it has now the capacity for 95,000 fans; it will eventually hold around 120,000 people. Maracanã was site for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and football competition of the 2007 Pan-American Games, and will host the final match of 2014 FIFA World Cup and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and football matches of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Besides Maracanã, the North Zone of Rio also holds other tourist and historical attractions, such as 'Manguinhos', the home of Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, a centenarian biomedical research institution with a main building fashioned like a Moorish palace, and the beautiful Quinta da Boa Vista, the park where the historic Imperial Palace is located. Nowadays, the palace hosts the National Museum, specializing in Natural History, Archaeology and Ethnology.

The International Airport of Rio de Janeiro (Galeão – Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport, named after the famous Brazilian musician Antônio Carlos Jobim), the main campus of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro at the Fundão Island, and the State University of Rio de Janeiro, in Maracanã, are also located in the Northern part of Rio.

This region is also home to most of the samba schools of Rio de Janeiro such as Mangueira, Salgueiro, Império Serrano, Unidos da Tijuca, among others. Some of the main neighbourhoods of Rio's North Zone are Tijuca, which shares the Tijuca Rainforest with the South Zone; Grajaú, Vila Isabel, Méier, São Cristovão Madureira and Penha among others.

West Zone

Pan American Village, in Barra da Tijuca

The West Side (in Portuguese: "Zona Oeste") is the region furthest from the centre of Rio de Janeiro. It includes Barra da Tijuca, Jacarepaguá, Recreio dos Bandeirantes, Vargem Grande, Vargem Pequena, Realengo, Padre Miguel, Bangu, Campo Grande, Jardim Sulacap, Paciência and Santa Cruz. Neighbouring districts within the West Zone reveal stark differences between social classes. The area has industrial zones, but some agricultural areas still remain in its wide area. In this zone we found Terra Encantada, an amusement park.

Westwards from the older zones is Barra da Tijuca, a flat expanse of formerly undeveloped coastal land, which is currently experiencing a wave of new construction. It remains an area of accelerated growth, attracting some of the richer sectors of the population as well as luxury companies. High rise flats and sprawling shopping centers give the area a far more American feel than the crowded city centre. The urban planning of the area, made in the late 1960s, resembles that of United States suburbs, though mixing zones of single-family houses with residential skyscrapers. The beaches of Barra da Tijuca are also popular with the city's residents. Barra da Tijuca is the home of Pan-American Village for the 2007 Pan American Games.[23]

Beyond the neighbourhoods of Barra da Tijuca and Jacarepaguá, another district that has exhibited economic growth is Campo Grande. Some sports competitions in the Pan American Games of 2007 were held in the Miécimo da Silva Sports Centre, nicknamed the 'Algodão' (Cotton) Gymnasium, and others in the Ítalo del Cima Stadium, in Campo Grande.


View of Leblon and Ipanema
Satellite view of the city
One of Rio's many beaches

According to the IBGE of 2008, there were 11,513,000 people residing in the Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro. The population density was 6180 people/km² (in the urban area). The last PNAD (National Research for Sample of Domiciles) census revealed the following percentage: 6,152,000 White people (53.43%), 4,039,000 Brown (Multiracial) people (35.08%), 1,274,000 Black people (11.6%), 20,000 Asian people (0.18%), 16,000 Amerindian people (0.14%).[24]

Different ethnic groups contributed to the formation of the population of Rio de Janeiro. Before European colonization, there were at least seven different indigenous peoples speaking 20 languages in the region. A part of them joined the Portuguese and the other the French. Those who joined the French were then exterminated by the Portuguese, while the other part was assimilated.[25]

Rio de Janeiro is home to the largest Portuguese population outside of Lisbon in Portugal.[26][27] After the independence from Portugal, Rio de Janeiro became a destination for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Portugal, mainly in the early 20th century. The immigrants were mostly poor peasants who subsequently found prosperity in Rio as city workers and small traders.[28] The influence of Portugal is still seen in many parts of the city, including architecture and language.

The black community was formed with residents whose ancestors had been brought as slaves, mostly from Angola or Mozambique. The carnival and samba first appeared under the influence of the black community in the city. Today, nearly half of the city's population is black or part black.[29]

As a result of the influx of immigrants to Brazil from the late 19th to the early 20th century, one may find in Rio de Janeiro communities of Jews, Arabs of Lebanese and Syrian origin, Italians, Spaniards, Germans, and people from different parts of Brazil.

Self-reported ancestry of people from Rio de Janeiro, by race or skin color (2000 survey)[30]
Ancestry White Brown Black
European only 48% 6% -
African only - 12% 25%
Amerindian only - 2% -
African and European 23% 34% 31%
Amerindian and European 14% 6% -
African and Amerindian - 4% 9%
African, Amerindian and European 15% 36% 35%
Total 100% 100% 100%

Population growth

Changing demographics of the city of Rio de Janeiro

Source: Planet Barsa Ltda.[31]


Religion Percentage Number
Catholic 60.71% 3,556,096
Protestant 17.65% 1,034,009
No religion 13.33% 781,080
Spiritist 3.44% 201,714
Umbandist 0.72% 72,946
Jewish 0.4% 23,862

Source: IBGE 2000.[32]


Rio de Janeiro Stock Exchange

Rio de Janeiro became an attractive place for companies to locate when it was the capital of Brazil, as important sectors of society and of the government were present in the city. The city was chosen as headquarters for state-owned companies such as Petrobras, Eletrobrás, Caixa Econômica Federal and Vale (which was privatized in the 1990s). After the transfer of the capital to Brasília, in 1960, it kept attracting more companies,[33] especially after the discovery of oil in the Campos Basin, which produces most of the total oil production of Brazil. This made many oil and gas companies to be based in Rio de Janeiro, such as the Brazilian branches of Shell, EBX and Esso. The headquarters of BNDES, an important state institution, is also in Rio de Janeiro. The city is also the headquarters of large telecom companies, such as Intelig, Oi and Embratel. Big multi-national companies such as Coca-Cola, IBM and El Paso also have offices in the city.

Rio ranks second nationally in industrial production[34] and second financial and service center, trailing only São Paulo. The city's industries produce processed foods, chemicals, petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, metal products, ships, textiles, clothing, and furniture. The service sector dominates the economy, however, and includes banking and the second most active stock market in Brazil, the Bolsa da Valores do Brasil. Tourism and entertainment are other key aspects of the city's economic life and the city is the nation's top tourist attraction for both Brazilians and foreigners.[35] Because it was once the national capital, Rio de Janeiro was chosen as the site for the headquarters of many private, national, multinational, and state corporations, even when their factories were located in other cities or states. Despite the transfer of the capital to Brasília, many of these headquarters remained within the Rio metropolitan area, including those of Petrobrás, the state oil company, and the National Economic and Social Development Bank, a federal investment bank.

Downtown of the city

A newer electronics and computer sector has been added to the older industries of metallurgy, engineering, and printing and publishing. Other manufacturing sectors focus on the production of shipyard-related materials, apparel and footwear, textiles, nonmetallic mineral products, food and beverages, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. Construction, also an important activity, provides a significant source of employment for large numbers of unskilled workers and is buoyed by the number of seasonal residents who build second homes in the Greater Rio area. To attract industry, the state government has designated certain areas on the outskirts of the city as industrial districts where infrastructure is provided and land sales are made under special conditions. Oil and natural gas from fields off the northern coast of Rio de Janeiro state are a major asset used for developing manufacturing activities in Rio's metropolitan area, enabling it to compete with other major cities for new investment in industry.

Headquarters of national and international companies at night

As with manufacturing, Rio is an important financial centre, second only to São Paulo in volume of business in financial markets and in banking. Its securities market, although declining in significance relative to São Paulo, is still of major importance. Owing to the proximity of Rio's port facilities, many of Brazil's export-import companies are headquartered in the city. In Greater Rio, which has one of the highest per capita incomes in Brazil, retail trade is substantial. Many of the most important retail stores are located in the Centre, but others are scattered throughout the commercial areas of the other districts, where shopping centres, supermarkets, and other retail businesses handle a large volume of consumer trade.[36]

Major Brazilian entertainment organizations are based in Rio de Janeiro like TV Globo (Globosat, Globo News, SportTv, Telecine, Tv Brazil), NET, Sky and WayBrazil and also some of Brazil's major newspapers: Jornal do Brasil, O Globo, O Dia, and Business Rio. Major international pharmacuetical companies have their Brazilian headquarters in Rio such us Merck, Roche, Arrow, Darrow, Baxter, Mayne, and Mappel.

Rio de Janeiro is the 2nd richest city in Brazil, behind São Paulo and 30th richest city in the world with a GDP of US$ 201 billion.

The per capita income for the city was R$ 20,851 (2006).[37]


Portuguese language is the official national language, and thus the primary language taught in schools. But English and Spanish are part of the official high school curriculum. There are also international schools, such as the American School of Rio de Janeiro, Our Lady of Mercy School, the Corcovado German School, the Lycée Français and the British School of Rio de Janeiro.

Educational institutions

The city has several universities. The Ministry of Education has certified approximately 99 upper-learning institutions in Rio.[38] Some notable higher education institutions are:

Educational system

Primary schools are largely under municipal administration, while the state plays a more significant role in the extensive network of secondary schools. There is also a small number of schools under federal administration, as is the case of Colégio Pedro II and Colégio de Aplicação da UFRJ. In addition, Rio has an ample offering of private schools that provide education at all levels. Rio is home to many colleges and universities.

The Rio de Janeiro State University (public), Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (public) and Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (private) are among the country's top institutions of higher education. The literacy rate for Cariocas aged 10 and older is nearly 95 percent, well above the national average.[39] In Rio, there were 1,033 primary schools with 25,594 teachers and 667,788 students in 1995. There are 370 secondary schools with 9,699 teachers and 227,892 students. There are 53 University-preparatory schools schools with 14,864 teachers and 154,447 students. The city has six major universities and 47 private schools of higher learning.[40]

Tourism and recreation

Rio de Janeiro is Brazil's primary tourist attraction and resort. It receives the most visitors per year of any city in South America with 2.82 million international tourists a year.[41] </ref> The city sports world-class hotels, approximately 80 kilometres of beachland, and the famous Corcovado and Sugarloaf mountains. While the city has in past had a thriving tourism sector, the industry entered a decline in the last quarter of the 20th century. Annual international airport arrivals dropped from 621,000 to 378,000 and average hotel occupancy dropped to 50% between 1985 and 1993. Services for tourists were lacking at the time, and visitors frequently found themselves subjected to a hostile environment: Few workers in the commercial sector could speak any language but Portuguese, beach and city pollution was deterring holidayers, and crime against tourists was increasing. The fact that Brasilia replaced Rio de Janeiro as the Brazilian capital and São Paulo as the country's commercial center has also been cited as a leading cause of the decline. Rio de Janeiro's government has since undertaken to modernise the city's economy, reduce its chronic social inequalities, and improve its commercial standing as part of an initiative for the regeneration of the tourism industry.[42]


Modern Art Museum of Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is the cultural capital of Brazil. Its architecture embraces churches and buildings dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries, blending with the world renowned designs of the 20th. Rio was home to the Portuguese Imperial family and capital of the country for many years, and was influenced by Portuguese, English and French architecture.


There are more than 50 museums in Rio de Janeiro.[43] The principal cultural centers include the Quinta da Boa Vista, the Native Art Museum (primitives, with the largest collection of native paintings in the world),[44] and the Indian Museum.[45]


National Library of Brazil in downtown Rio.

The National Library of Brazil ranks as the eighth largest library in the world. It is also the largest library in all of Latin America.[46] Located in Cinelândia, the National Library was originally created by the King of Portugal, in 1810. As with many of Rio de Janeiro's cultural monuments, the library was originally off-limits to the general public. The first collections of the library were brought to Rio from Lisbon by the Royal Family in 1807. The Royals were fleeing from the French armies and carried with them; close to 60,000 items that had previously been housed in the Royal Library in Lisbon. The Royal Library was destroyed in 1755 by an earthquake.

The most valuable collections in the library include: 4,300 items donated by Barbosa Machado including a precious collection of rare brochures detailing the History of Portugal and Brazil; 2,365 items from the 17th and 18th century that were previously owned by Antônio de Araújo de Azevedo, the "Count of Barca," including the 125 volume set of prints "Le Grand Théâtre de l'Univers;" a collection of documents regarding the Jesuítica Province of Paraguay and the "Region of Prata;" and the Teresa Cristina Maria Collection, donated by Dom Pedro II. The collection contains 48,236 items. Individual items of special interest include a rare first edition of Os Lusíadas by Luis de Camões, published in 1584; two copies of the Mogúncia Bible; and a first edition of Handel's Messiah.[47]


Rio de Janeiro at night

The official song of Rio de Janeiro is "Cidade Maravilhosa," which means "marvelous city." The song is considered the "civic anthem" of Rio, and is always the favourite song during Rio's Carnival in February. Rio de Janeiro is a centre of the urban music movement in Brazil.[48]

Rio was popularised by the hit song "Garota de Ipanema" (The Girl from Ipanema), composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Morais and recorded by Astrud Gilberto & João Gilberto, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald. It is also the main key song of the bossa nova, a musical genre that was born in Rio. A genre unique to Rio and Brazil as a whole is Funk Carioca. While samba music continues to act as the national unifying agent in Rio, Funk Carioca found a strong community following in Brazil. With its genesis in the 1970s as the modern black pop music from the United States, it evolved in the 1990s to describe a variety of electronic music associated with the current US black music scene, including hip hop, modern soul, and house music."[49]

Brazil's return to democracy in 1985 after over 20 years of military authoritarian rule, and the subsequent end of rampant censorship, allowed for a new freedom of expression which promoted creativity and experimentation in expressive culture.[50] Commercial and cultural imports from Europe and North America have often influenced Brazil's own cultural output. For example, the hip hop that has stemmed from New York is localized into various forms of musical production such as Funk Carioca and Brazilian hip hop. Democratic renewal also allowed for the recognition and acceptance of this diversification of Brazilian culture.[51]


After Brazilian independence from Portugal in 1822, Rio de Janeiro quickly developed a European-style bourgeois cultural life, including numerous newspapers, in which most nineteenth-century novels were initially published in serial. Joaquim Manuel de Macedo's A moreninha ("The little brunette" in 1844) was perhaps the first successful novel in Brazil and inaugurates a recurrent nineteenth-century theme: a romantic relationship between idealistic young people in spite of cruelties of social fortune. The first notable work of realism focusing on the urban lower-middle class is Manuel Antônio de Almeida's "Memórias de um sargento de milícias" ("Memoirs of a constable" in 1854), which presents a series of picaresque but touching scenes, and evokes the transformation of a town into a city with suggestive nostalgia. Romantic and realist modes both flourished through the late nineteenth century and often overlapped within works.[52]


Rio Janeiro 's Theatro Municipal is, without a doubt, one of the most resplendent buildings in the downtown area of Rio de Janeiro. Home of one of the largest stages in Latin America and hands down one of Brazil's most well known venues for opera, ballet, and classical music, the Municipal Theater is a showplace that is a must see attraction for anyone visiting this mecca of history and culture. The magnificent building was inspired by the Paris Opera of Garnier, and built in 1905 by the architect Francisco Pereira Passos. The statues on the top, of two women representing Poetry and Music, are by Rodolfo Bernadelli, and the interior is rich with lavish furnishings and fine paintings. Founded in 1909, the Teatro Municipal was designed after the famed opera house in Paris with close to 1,700 seats. It's sumptuous interior includes turn-of-the-century stained glass from France, ceilings of delicate rose-colored marble and a 1,000 pound crystal bead chandelier surrounded by a painting of the "Dance of the Hours." The exterior walls of the building are dotted with inscriptions bearing the names of many famous and significant Brazilians as well as many other internationally known celebrities .[53] Ticket prices range from R$480 (US$270) for a box to R$5 (US$2.80) up in the gods. On Sundays at 11am performances and workshops are run for only R$1 (US$0.55), but, as places are not able to be boooked in advance, the only option is to arrive early and queue up. These performances and workshops are enormously popular with locals, and as such you are unlikely to get a good seat unless you turn up at 9am and are prepared to wait.

Carnival in Rio, famous for its samba school parade, they compete every year in LIESA
2008 Carnival


Carnival, or Carnaval, from Latin "Carnevale", is an annual celebration in the Roman Catholic tradition that allows merry-making and red meat consumption before the more sober 40 days of Lent penance which culminates with Holy or Passion Week and Easter. The tradition of Carnival parades was probably influenced by the French or German courts and the custom was brought by the Portuguese or Brazilian Imperial families who had Bourbon and Austrian descents. Up until the time of the marchinhas, the revelry was more of a high class and Caucasian-led event. The influence of the African-Brazilian drums and music was more noticeable from the first half of the 20th century. Rio de Janeiro has many Carnival choices, including the famous samba school (Escolas de Samba) parades in the sambadrome exhibition center and the popular blocos de carnaval, street revelry, which parade in almost every corner of the city. The most famous ones are:

  • Cordão do Bola Preta: Parades in the centre of the city. It is one of the most traditional carnavals. In 2008, 500,000 people attended in one day.[54]
  • Suvaco do Cristo: Band that parades in the Botanic Garden, directly below the Redeemer statue's arm. The name translates to 'Christ's armpit' in English, and was chosen for that reason.
  • Carmelitas: Band that was supposedly created by nuns, but in fact is just a theme chosen by the band. It parades in the hills of Santa Teresa, which have very nice views.
  • Simpatia é Quase Amor: One of the most popular parades in Ipanema. Translates as 'Friendliness is almost love'.
  • Banda de Ipanema: The most traditional in Ipanema. It attracts a wide range of revellers, including families and a wide spectrum of the gay population (notably spectacular drag queens).

In 1840, the first Carnaval was celebrated with a masked ball. As years passed, adorned floats and costumed revelers became a tradition amongst the celebrants. Carnaval is known as a historic root of Brazilian music.[55]

New year

Every December 31, 2.5 million people gather at Copacabana Beach to celebrate New Year's in Rio de Janeiro. The crowd, mostly dressed in white, celebrates all night at the hundreds of different shows and events along the beach. It is the second largest celebration only next to the Carnival. People celebrate the New Year by sharing chilled Champagne with total strangers. It is considered good luck to shake the Champagne bottle and spray around at midnight. Chilled Champagne adds to the spirit of the festivities.[56]

Largest New Years celebration in Brazil takes place on Copacabana beach

Entrance is free, peace is absolute, and security is guaranteed. There are four kilometers of fireworks exploding in the sky. The people, mostly dressed in white, coming from the four corners of the world, bid farewell to the year that is ending and toast the arrival of the new year. People from all social classes, side by side, in peace, in manifestations that mix magic and devotion. They boast one of the largest fireworks displays in the world lasting about 22 minutes and illuminating the beauty of Copacabana Beach in various colors. Hotels and restaurants present the most varied party options, with menus prepared by great chefs or tropical buffets. Always entitled to the greatest attraction: the magnificent fireworks display at midnight, which illuminates the sky in different forms and colors. Stages are erected the length of the beach where live shows take place. It is undoubtedly the greatest open-air party in the world.[57]

Cultural events

Rio has an extensive nightlife scene. Clubs like Baronneti, Hideaway, Icy, Nuth, Zero Zero,The Week and Catwalk are some of the country's and world's best known and frequented by celebrities such as Madonna,[58] Ronaldo, Calvin Klein, Mick Jagger, and Naomi Campbell.[59]



The City of Rio de Janeiro is served by the following airports:

Public use

  • Galeão - Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport: used for all international and most of the domestic flights. Since August 2004, with the transfer of many flights from Santos-Dumont Airport, Rio de Janeiro International Airport has returned to being one of the main doorways to Brazil. According to data from the official Brazilian travel bureau, Embratur, nearly 40% of foreign tourists who visit Brazil choose Rio as their gateway, meaning Galeão Airport. Besides linking Rio to the rest of Brazil with domestic flights, Galeão has connections to more than 18 countries. It can handle up to 15 million users a year in two passenger terminals. Located only 20 km (12 mi) from downtown Rio, the international airport is served by several quick access routes, such as the Red Line "Linha Vermelha" and "Linha Amarela" Yellow Line freeways and Brazil Avenue "Avenida Brasil," thus conveniently serving residents of the city's southern, northern and western zones. There are special shuttle buses linking Galeão to Santos-Dumont, and bus and taxi service to the rest of the city. The airport complex also has Brazil's longest runway at 4,000 m (13,123.36 ft), and one of South America's largest and best equipped cargo logistics terminals.[60]
  • Santos Dumont Airport: used mainly by the services to São Paulo, some short- and medium-haul domestic flights, and general aviation. Located on Guanabara Bay just a few blocks from the heart of downtown Rio, during the 1990s Santos-Dumont began to outgrow its capacity, besides diverging from its specialization on short-hop flights, offering routes to many destinations in Brazil. For this reason, in late 2004 Santos-Dumont returned to its original condition of operating only shuttle flights to and from Congonhas Airport in São Paulo, along with regional aviation. The passenger terminal is presently undergoing extensive renovation and expantion to offer more convenience and comfort to users of the Rio-São Paulo shuttle service.[61]
  • Jacarepaguá Airport: used by general aviation and home to the Aeroclube do Brasil (Brasil Flying club). The airport is located in the district of Baixada de Jacarepaguá, within the municipality of Rio de Janeiro approximately 30 km (18 mi) from the city center. Baixada de Jacarepaguá lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pedra Branca and Tijuca rocky massifs. The airport is bordered on the north by Jacarepaguá Lagoon, on the south by the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Biological Reserve (Bosque da Barra), and on the east and west by land owned by third parties.[62]

Military use

Transport system

In Rio de Janeiro, buses are the main means of mass transportation. There are nearly 440 municipal bus lines serving over four million passengers each day, in addition to intercity lines. Although cheap and frequent, Rio's transportation policy has been moving towards trains and subway in order to reduce traffic congestion and increase capacity. Driving in Rio de Janeiro, as in most large cities of Brazil, might not be the best choice due to the large car fleet. The city is served by a number of expressways though traffic jams are very common.[63]


Rio de Janeiro has two subway lines (Metro Rio) with 42 kilometres (26 mi) and 32 stations plus several commuter rail lines. Future plans include building a third subway line to Niterói and São Gonçalo, including an underwater tunnel beneath Guanabara Bay to supplement the ferry service currently there.[64] The Metro is Rio's safest and cleanest form of public transport.[65] The two lines serve the city seven days a week. The first line runs from General Osório in Ipanema to Saens Peña in Tijuca. The second line runs from Botafogo, sharing ten stations with the first line, terminating at Pavuna in northern Rio. The Metro runs services from 05:00 to 24:00, Monday to Saturday, and from 07:00 to 11:00 on Sundays and public holidays. People can buy tickets for the Metro at train stations and can either buy single tickets or a book of ten or rechargeable cards. People can also buy tickets for the Metro at buses that make connect places far from the Metro. An integrated Metro and bus ticket for a single journey is available and is known as a Metro/Bus.[66]


Santa Teresa tram over the aqueduct arches

Rio de Janeiro has the oldest operating electric tramway, now mainly used by tourists and less by daily commuters. The Santa Teresa Historic Tramway or bondinho, has been preserved both as a piece of history and as a quick, fun, cheap way of getting to one of the most quirky parts of the city. The tram station is near Cinelândia and the Municipal Theatre. Trams leave every half an hour between 6am and 11pm. A ticket is just BR$0.60 (US$0.35), one way or return, and people pay as people go through the barrier to the right of the entrance. The Santa Teresa Tram (known locally as the "bonde") in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro commenced electric operation in 1891, replacing horse-drawn trams and expanding the horse-drawn route. At this time the gauge was altered to 1,100 mm (43.31 in), which remains the case today. The tram cars which are currently in operation are Brazilian-built, are of the cross-bench open sided design, and are fitted with trolley poles.[67]


The city has 74 km (46 miles) of cycle paths that, wherever they exist, are very much preferable to riding in the city's traffic. Most paths run alongside beaches and extend intermittently from the Marina da Glória, Centro, through Flamengo, Copacabana and Ipanema, to Barra da Tijuca. Six km (4 miles) of cycle paths traverse the Tijuca National Park.[68]


Typical yellow taxi of the city

Yellow taxis operate with a meter and can be hailed on the street. The flag (bandeira) indicates the tariff and usually reads 1. However, after 21:00, on Sundays, holidays and in December the tariff will be 2, which indicates a price hike of about 20%. Taxis are fairly priced, although some late-night drivers might quote excessive fixed prices. People should check that the meter is reset and indicates the correct tariff. There is a minimum fare, plus a charge per kilometre. Tourists are strongly advised to only use taxis that have an official identification sticker in the window. Special taxis (either blue or red) operate from the airports. Payment is by pre-paid vouchers, which are available at airport kiosks. Radio taxis are safe and reliable but 30% more expensive than yellow taxis.[69]


In Brazil, most interstate transportation is done by road. A large terminal for long-distance buses is in the Santo Cristo neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. There are also two port facilities for cargo and passenger ships (Rio de Janeiro and Sepetiba port). Rio has roads to all neighbour States. Some roads (like Via Dutra, to São Paulo, and a stretch of the BR-101 which covers the Rio-Niterói bridge) were chartered to private enterprises. The quality of the highways improved much, but was accompanied by a significant increase of the toll fees. From São Paulo: take the BR-116 (Presidente Dutra Federal Highway) or the BR-101 (Rio-Santos Federal Highway). From Belo Horizonte: BR-040. From Salvador: BR-101 or BR-324/BR-116/BR-393/BR-040.


City buses are moderately priced and cost about R$ 2.35 to ride. They come in both non-air conditioned (R$ 2.35) and air conditioned versions (R$ 2.40 - R$ 2.70). The system may be relatively safe by day bit less so at night .[71][70]

There is also another type of local bus called the "Frescão." This bus runs on a route from Centro through Botafogo, Copacabana, Ipanema and to Leblon (and vice versa). It is more upscale/comfortable and is air conditioned and costs R$ 3.50. However, it is only available during the week. The buses also run more frequently during the rush hours in the morning and evening. Going in the direction of Centro (Downtown), the bus can be flagged down on the beach road (Buses with plaques showing "Castelo"). Coming from Centro, the bus starts off from the Menezes Cortes garage and runs on a road parallel to the beach (but one or two blocks in). It runs on Barata Ribeiro through Copacabana, Prudente de Morais through Ipanema and Av. General San Martin through Leblon. Executive buses cover the whole city constantly throughout the week and may be safer and easier for non-locals to use. The price does vary depending on the distance; for example, it is not the same price to go to Copacabana from Downtown as to go to Barra da Tijuca or Recreio from Downtown.[71]

Ferry boat

The sister city to Rio and on the other side of Guanabara Bay is Niterói. Many people who live in Niterói and commute to Rio de Janeiro to work. There are several ferry services that operate between the Rio Centro (XV Square) and Niterói (Centro and Charitas). There is a traditional boat as well as several "fast cat" hydrofoil boats. One of the city neighborhoods is Paquetá island, which can only be accessed by ferryboats or hydrofoil boats. The ferryboat to Paqueta leaves every hour, from early in the morning until around midnight.


A Brazilian navy Aircraft carrier in the Port of Rio de Janeiro, in 2007

The Port of Rio de Janeiro is Brazil's third busiest port in terms of cargo volume, and it is the center for cruise vessels. Located on the west coast of the Guanabara Bay, it serves the States of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Espírito Santo. The port is managed by Companhia Docas de Rio de Janeiro. The Port of Rio de Janeiro covers territory from the Mauá Pier in the east to the Wharf of the Cashew in the north. The Port of Rio de Janeiro contains almost seven thousand meters of continuous wharf and an 883-meter pier. The Companhia Docas de Rio de Janeiro administers directly the Wharf of the Gamboa general cargo terminal; the wheat terminal with two warehouses capable of moving 300 tons of grains; General Load Terminal 2 with warehouses covering over 20 thousand square metres; and the Wharves of Are Cristovao with terminals for wheat and liquid bulk.

At the Wharf of Gamboa, leaseholders operate terminals for sugar, paper, iron and steel products. Leaseholders at the Wharf of the Cashew operate terminals for roll-on/roll-off cargoes, containers, and liquid bulk. In 2004, the Port of Rio de Janeiro handled over seven million tons of cargo on almost 1700 vessels. In 2004, the Port of Rio de Janeiro handled over two million tons of containerized cargo in almost 171 thousand TEUs. The port handled 852 thousand tons of wheat, more than 1.8 million tons of iron and steel, over a million tons of liquid bulk cargo, almost 830 thousand tons of dry bulk, over five thousand tons of paper goods, and over 78 thousand vehicles. In 2003, over 91 thousand passengers moved through the Port of Rio Janeiro on 83 cruise vessels.[72]


São Paulo: 430 km (270 mi)
Belo Horizonte: 450 km (280 mi)
Vitória: 521 km (324 mi)
Curitiba: 852 km (529 mi)
Florianópolis: 1,144 km (711 mi)
Brasília: 1,160 km (720 mi)
Campo Grande: 1,444 km (897 mi)
Porto Alegre: 1,553 km (965 mi)
Salvador: 1,730 km (1,070 mi)
Recife: 2,338 km (1,453 mi)
Fortaleza: 2,805 km (1,743 mi)
Belém: 3,250 km (2,020 mi)


On October 2, 2009, the International Olympic Committee selected Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.[73] This is the first time that the city advanced to the Candidature phase of the bidding process, after failed attempts in 1936, 2004 and 2012.[74] Rio would become the first Brazilian and South American city to host the games.[74] In July 2007, Rio successfully organized and hosted the XV Pan American Games.

On October 30, 2007, Brazil was chosen as the official host of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Rio de Janeiro is one of the host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and the final is most likely to be held at Maracanã Stadium.[75]

The most popular sport is football. Rio de Janeiro is home to five traditional Brazilian football clubs: América Football Club, Botafogo, Fluminense, Vasco da Gama and Flamengo, the latter according to a national survey and to FIFA numbers, is the team with the largest number of supporters in the world.[76]

Other notable sports events in Rio include the MotoGP Brazilian Grand Prix and the world beach volleyball finals. The raceway in Jacarepaguá was the site for the Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix from 1978 to 1990 and the Champ Car event from 1996 to 1999. WCT/WQS Surfing championships were contested on the beaches from 1985–2001. The Rio Champions Cup tennis tournament is held in the spring. As part of its preparations to host the 2007 Pan American Games, Rio built a new stadium, Estádio Olímpico João Havelange, to hold 45,000 people. It was named after Brazilian ex-FIFA president João Havelange. The stadium is owned by the City of Rio de Janeiro, but it is rented to Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas for 20 years.[77] Rio de Janeiro has also a multi-purpose arena, the HSBC Arena.

The Brazilian dance/sport/martial arts capoeira is very popular. Other popular sports are beach football, beach volleyball, beach American football, surfing, kitesurfing, hang gliding, motor racing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, recreational sailing, and competitive rowing. Another sport that is highly popular in beaches of Rio is called "frescobol" (pronounced [freskoˈbɔu̯], or matkot), a type of beach tennis. Rio de Janeiro is also paradise for rock climbers, with hundreds of routes all over the town, ranging from easy boulders to highly technical big wall climbs, all inside the city. The most famous, Rio's granite mountain, the Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcar), is an example, with routes from the easy 3rd grade (American 5.4, French 3) to the extremely difficult 9th grade (5.13/8b), up to 280 metres.

Miécimo da Silva Karate complex

Horse racing events are held Thursday nights and weekend afternoons at the Jockey Club. An impressive place with excellent grass and dirt tracks, it runs the best horses in the nation for your pleasure. Hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro started in mid-1970s and quickly proved to be perfectly suited for this town, because of its geography: steep mountains encounter the Atlantic Ocean, which provide excellent take-off locations and great landing zones on the beach.

One of the most popular sea sports in the city is yachting. The main yacht clubs are in Botafogo area that extends halfway between Copacabana and the center of town. Though the most exclusive and interesting is probably the Rio Yacht club, where high society makes it a point to congregate. Most yacht clubs are open to members only and gate crashing is not easy. Copacabana is also a great place to do surfing as well as "Arpoador of Ipanema" beach and "Praia dos Bandeirantes." The sea at these beaches is rough and dangerous, the best surfers from Brazil and other sites of the world come to these beaches to prove themselves.[78]

Social exclusion

BOPE policemen training

There are significant disparities between the rich and the poor in Rio de Janeiro.[79] Although the city clearly ranks among the world's major metropolises, a large proportion of the city's inhabitants live in poverty. The poorest of the areas are the slums and shanty towns known as favelas. The slums are often crowded onto the hillsides, where sturdy houses are difficult to come by. On the other hand, the Brazilian Government are making vast investments in this areas, as a part of the PAC (PAC - Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento, or GAP - Growth Acceleration Program) aimed in improve inhabitants life quality and decrease the violence level.


Rio has high crime rates, especially homicide, in poor areas controlled by drug dealers.[80] As of 2007, the homicide rate of the greater metropolitan area was nearly 30 victims per week, with the majority of victims falling to mugging, stray bullets or narcoterrorism.[81][82] In 2006, 2,273 people were murdered in the city giving it a murder rate of 37.7 cases for every 100,000 people.[83] According to federal government research,[84] the city itself ranks 206th (out of a total of 5,565) in the list of the most violent cities and municipalities in Brazil and first in total number of firearm-related deaths. Between 1978 and 2000, 49,900 people were killed in Rio.[85] The urban warfare involves drug-traffic battle with police fighting against outlaws, or even corrupt policemen on their side. In 2007, the police allegedly killed 1,330 people in the state of Rio Janeiro,[86] an increase of 25 percent over 2006 when 1,063 people were killed. As a comparison, police throughout the United States killed 347 people during 2006.[87][88]

On December 3, 2009, Consultancy of Rudolph Giuliani, from New York City, was hired for help in the security of the city and of the state.[89]

Human development

View of Pedra da Gávea in Gávea Neighborhood

The human development of Rio varies greatly by locality, reflecting the spatial segregation and vast socioeconomic inequalities in the city. In 2000, there are neighborhoods with very high human development indexes equal to or greater than the indexes of some Scandinavian countries, but also those in the lower range in line with, for example, North Africa.[90]

Top neighborhoods and localities

Neighborhoods and localities in last place [91][92]

Notable Cariocas

Aerial view of Rio
Pedro Ernesto Palace
Botafogo Neighborhood

Cariocas, as residents of Rio de Janeiro are called in Brazil, have made extensive contributions to Brazil's history, culture, music, literature, education, science, technology etc. – particularly when Rio de Janeiro was the federal capital and a great hub of Brazilian growth and innovation in all these areas. Some famous cariocas, who were born in Rio, are:

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Rio de Janeiro's is twinned with:[93][94][95][96][97][98][99][100][101][102][103][104][105][106][107][108][109][110]

  Americas   Europe   Asia and Africa
Mexico Mexico City, Mexico Turkey Istanbul, Turkey Philippines Batangas City, Philippines
Nicaragua Managua, Nicaragua Russia Saint Petersburg, Russia Japan Kobe, Japan
Venezuela Caracas, Venezuela Poland Warsaw, Poland[111] Tunisia Tunis, Tunisia
Chile Puerto Varas, Chile Portugal Santo Tirso and Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal South Korea Seoul, South Korea
Bolivia La Paz, Bolivia Spain Barcelona, Madrid, and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain Palestinian territories Ramallah, Palestinian National Authority
United States Miami, United States France Montpellier, France Nigeria Lagos, Nigeria
United States Oklahoma City, United States United Kingdom Liverpool, United Kingdom People's Republic of China Beijing, China

See also


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  2. ^ De Jenairo is thee capital of Brazil. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
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  14. ^ History of Rio
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  16. ^ A África civiliza
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  57. ^ Rio New Year facts
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  90. ^ (in Portuguese) (PDF) HDI. Rio, Brazil: PNUD. 2000. ISBN 85-240-3919-1. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  91. ^ Índice de Desenvolvimento Humano Municipal (IDH-M) 2000. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  92. ^ Human Development Report 2007/2008 - Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World. Copyright © 2007 by the United Nations Development Programme, 1 UN Plaza, New York, New York, 10017, USA. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  93. ^ Sister cities
  94. ^ Sister cities
  95. ^ Sister cities
  96. ^ Sister cities
  97. ^ Sister cities
  98. ^ Sister cities
  99. ^ Sister cities
  100. ^ Sister cities
  101. ^ Sister cities
  102. ^ Sister cities
  103. ^ Sister cities
  104. ^ Sister cities
  105. ^ Sister cities
  106. ^ Sister cities
  107. ^ "Barcelona internacional — Ciutats agermanades" (in Catalan). © 2006-2009 Ajuntament de Barcelona.,4022,229724149_257215678_1,00.html. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  108. ^ Madrid city council webpage "Mapa Mundi de las ciudades hermanadas". Ayuntamiento de Madrid. Madrid city council webpage. 
  109. ^ Sister cities
  110. ^ Sister cities
  111. ^ "Miasta partnerskie Warszawy". Biuro Promocji Miasta. 2005-05-04. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Rio de Janeiro is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — consider printing them all.
For other places with the same name, see Rio de Janeiro (disambiguation).
Rio de Janeiro, The Marvelous City
Rio de Janeiro, The Marvelous City

Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil, on the South Atlantic coast. Rio is famous for its breathtaking landscape, its laidback beach culture and its annual carnival.

The harbor of Rio de Janeiro is comprised of a unique entry from the ocean that makes it appear as the mouth of a river. Additionally, the harbor is surrounded by spectacular geographic features including Sugar Loaf mountain at 395 m (1,296 feet), Corcovado Peak at 704 m (2,310 feet), and the hills of Tijuca at 1,021 m (3,350 feet). These features work together to collectively make the harbor one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World [1]).

Rio de Janeiro will host many of the 2014 FIFA World Cup games, including the final, and the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, becoming the first South American city to hold either the Summer or Winter Olympics.

  • Centro including Santa Teresa. The city's financial and business center also has many historic buildings from its early days. The most important ones are: The Municipal Theater, The Tiradentes Palace, The Metropolitan Cathedral and The Pedro Ernesto Palace.
  • Zona Sul (South Zone) including Copacabana, Leblon and Ipanema. Contains some of the more upscale neighborhoods and many of the major tourist sites, such as the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, Sugar Loaf and Corcovado Mountains.
  • Zona Norte (North Zone). The Maracanã stadium and more.
  • Zona Oeste (West Zone), a rapidly growing suburban area including primarily the districts of Jacarepaguá and Barra da Tijuca, popular for its beaches! Most of the Olympics in 2016 will be hosted there.
Sugar Loaf mountain
Sugar Loaf mountain

It is a common mistake to think of Rio as Brazil's capital. It was this until April 21st 1960 when Brasilia became the capital. Beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema, the Christ The Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) statue, the stadium of Maracanã and Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) are all well-known sights of what the inhabitants call the "marvelous city" (cidade maravilhosa), and are also among the first images to pop up in travelers´ minds, along with the Carnaval celebration.

Sadly, most people also know Rio for its violence and crime. The drug lords and the slums, or favelas, are the tip of very old social problems. The favelas are areas of poor-quality housing, slums usually located on the city's many mountain slopes, juxtaposed with middle-class neighborhoods.

However, Rio is not only about Carnaval, beaches, favelas, tourist attractions, and entertainment. It is the home of a world class research institute, IMPA: Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics, offering cutting edge mathematics and economics research opportunities.

The South Zone holds most of Rio's landmarks and world-famous beaches, in an area of only 43.87 square km (17 square miles). Many of them are within walking distance of each other (for instance, the Sugar Loaf lies about 5 miles from Copacabana beach). Most hotels and hostels are located in this part of the city, which is compressed between the Tijuca Range (Maciço da Tijuca) and the sea. There are important places in other regions as well, such as Maracanã stadium in the North Zone and the many fascinating buildings in the Center.

If you plan on staying in Rio for more than a couple of days it would be good to invest in a copy of ``How to be a Carioca``(Priscilla Ann Goslin, Livros TwoCan Ltda, R$32). This is an amusing look at the people of Rio and will help you enjoy the city as well as appear less of a `gringo` when you hit the streets.

Though modest and small, the Paço was the office of the King of Portugal and Brazil's two Emperors.
Though modest and small, the Paço was the office of the King of Portugal and Brazil's two Emperors.

Rio was founded in 1565 by the Portuguese as a fortification against French privateers who trafficked wood and goods from Brazil. Piracy played a major role in the city's history, and there are still colonial fortresses to be visited (check below). The Portuguese fought the French for nearly 10 years, both sides having rival native tribes as allies. For the next two centuries it was an unimportant outpost of the Portuguese Empire, until gold, diamonds, and ore were found in Minas Gerais in 1720. Then, as the nearest port, Rio became the port for these minerals and replaced Salvador as the main city in the colony in 1763. When Napoleon invaded Portugal, the Royal Family moved to Brazil and made Rio capital of the Kingdom (so it was the only city outside Europe to be capital of a European country). When Brazil became independent in 1822, it adopted Monarchy as its form of government (with Emperors Pedro I and Pedro II). Many historians and Brazilians from other places say cariocas are nostalgic of the Royal and Imperial times, which is reflected in many place names and shop names. In 2009, the city won their bid to host the games of the XXXI Olympics in the summer of 2016. This was the fifth bid by the city, whose 1936, 1940, 2004, and 2012 bids lost.

Get in

Rio is one of the country's major transportation hubs, second only to São Paulo.

Distance from some capitals:

  • International and most domestic flights land at Galeão - Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport (better known as Galeão International Airport) (IATA: GIG) (ICAO: SBGL), Tel: +55 21 3398-5050 (fax 3393-2288). This airport is 20 km away from the city center and main hotels. While you can sometimes zoom through Immigration and Customs, be prepared for a long wait. Brazilians travel with lots of baggage and long queues can form at Customs, which are usually hopelessly understaffed.
  • Santos Dumont Airport (IATA: SDU) (ICAO: SBRJ), Tel. +55-21-3814-7070 (fax. 2533-2218). Gets flights only from São Paulo and a few other domestic destinations. Located right next to the city center, by the Guanabara bay. Airlines that service Santos Dumont are: GOL [2], Varig [3], TAM [4], OceanAir [5], and Team [6]. Don't rush off without taking a look at the inside of the original terminal building, which is considered a fine example of Brazilian modernist architecture.

An air-conditioned bus service operated by Real [7] departs every 20-30 minutes from 5:30AM to 10PM and runs between both airports, the main bus terminal and further along the beachfront in Botafogo, Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon, and has its terminus at the Alvorada terminal near Barra Shopping in Barra da Tijuca. The full run takes at least 60 minutes, often double that. Single tickets are R$ 6.50. The bus has plenty of luggage space and is comfy. A smaller bus, also by Real [8], same price, runs every 30 minutes directly from Alvorada to Galeão airport along the Linha Amarela in as little as 35 minutes, traffic allowing.

There are two types of taxis. As you leave Customs you will see booths of different companies offering their services. These are considerably more expensive (ex: Galeão - Copacabana R$70; Galeão - Ipanema R$80) than the standard yellow taxis that are to be found outside the terminal building but the quality of the cars is generally better. These taxis can often charge double the price of those ordinary taxis from the rank located around one hundred metres from the arrivals exit and should cost you about R$40 (July 2009) on the meter to reach Ipanema or Copacabana or R€50 to Jardin Botanico. The price can go up by R$10 or more if you get stuck in a traffic jam. It is possible to pre-book airport transfers. Rio Airport Transfer [9], allow you to book and pay before you leave home for a similiar price as you would pay at the airport.

Money change facilities are limited and high commissions are charged. Slightly better rates can be obtained, illegally, at the taxi booths but they may want you to use their cabs before changing money for you. In any event, don´t change more than you have to as much better rates are available downtown.

From the US, there are non-stop flights to Rio de Janeiro only from Washington, D.C. with United Airlines, Houston with Continental Airlines, Miami with American Airlines, and Atlanta with Delta Airlines. From New York, Dallas, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco and most of the rest of theUSA, you have to make a stop in the aforementioned U.S. cities or in São Paulo to get to Rio.

TACA connects Rio de Janeiro with Lima, with onward connections to Central America or other South American cities.

From Europe, Air France flies twice a day from Paris, British Airways three times a week from London, TAP twice a day from Lisbon and Porto, and Iberia daily from Madrid and Barcelona.

By train

Rio's glorious Central Station, or Central do Brasil, made famous by a movie of the same name, serves mostly local commuter lines (SuperVia [10]), so it's unlikely that you'll arrive through here. It's worth a visit just to see it, though, you can get there either by bus or subway (subway is better; get off on Central station, line 1).

By bus

The long-distance bus depot, Rodoviária Novo Rio[11], is in the North Zone's Santo Cristo neighborhood. Taxis and coach buses can get you to the South Zone in about fifteen minutes; local buses take a bit longer. Frescão air-conditioned coaches can be caught just outside the bus station. The coaches connect the station to the city center and main hotel areas of Copacabana and Ipanema. Bus companies include:

By car

Rio is connected by many roads to neighboring cities and states, but access can be confusing as there are insufficient traffic signs or indications of how to get downtown.

The main interstate highways passing through Rio are:

  • BR-116, which connects the city to the southern region of Brazil. Also known as Rodovia Presidente Dutra
  • BR-101, which leads to the north and northwest, and
  • BR-040, which will take you in the central and western areas.

By boat

Ferries (barcas) connect neighboring Niteroi to Rio de Janeiro and arrive at Praça XV, in the city center.

The Corcovado mountain (with the Jesus statue on top) can be seen from nearly all of the city.
The Corcovado mountain (with the Jesus statue on top) can be seen from nearly all of the city.
To get to the Cristo one had to climb hundreds of steps, however it is possible nowadays to use an elevator and escalator.
To get to the Cristo one had to climb hundreds of steps, however it is possible nowadays to use an elevator and escalator.

By taxi

A cab is one of the best ways to move around Rio. All legal cabs are yellow with a blue stripe painted on the sides. Taxis not designed like this are special service cars (to the airport or bus stations) or illegal. Rio taxis are not too expensive on a kilometer basis but distances can be quite considerable. A journey from Zona Sul to the Centro will cost around R$20, for example. The car can usually hold four people. You can ask a cab for a city tour, and arrange a fixed price (may be around US$20). Major taxi companies include Central de Taxi, Ouro Taxi and Yellow Taxi.

After getting into the taxi, check to see if the taximeter has been started, it charges R$4.30 (December 2008) for the minimum ride, called bandeirada). If not, ask the taxi driver to do so. You may be ripped off by some taxi drivers. Avoid the blue, green, and white taxis as they tend to charge considerably more for the same ride.

Be aware that traffic jams in Rio can be terrible at times. A taxi ride from Ipanema to the bus terminal for instance can take an hour and a half if you get seriously stuck, so make sure you have margins in case you really can´t afford to be late.

By car

Traffic within some parts of Rio can be daunting, but a car may be the best way to reach distant beaches like Grumari, and that can be an extra adventure. Avoid rush-hour traffic jams in neighborhoods such as Copacabana, Botafogo, Laranjeiras, and Tijuca, where moms line up their cars to pick up their children after school. Buy a map, and have fun.

Note that Rio has an interesting programme of traffic management. Between 7AM and 10AM on weekday mornings the traffic flow of one carriageway on the beachfront roads of Ipanema and Copacabana is reversed, i.e. all traffic on those roads flows in the same direction, towards the city. Note also that on Sundays the carriageway closest to the beach is closed to allow pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders, skaters and others to exercise.

By bus

Buses are still the cheapest and most convenient way to get around the South Zone (Zona Sul) of the city due to the high number and frequency of lines running through the area. For the adventurous or budget traveler, it is worth asking your hotel or hostel employees how to navigate the system or which routes to take to arrive at specific locations. However, you should be mindful of questionable characters and your belongings. By night buses are more scarce, and most lines will usually not be running by the time the bars and clubs are full. Buses start at R$2.20 (August 2009), but some buses with air conditioning charge higher fares. The fare is paid in cash to a controller or the driver inside the bus, by passing through a roulette. There are no tickets. Some residents and students have a digital card for free pass. Keep an eye out for pickpockets when the bus is crowded, and don't be surprised if your driver goes a little faster and brakes a little more suddenly than you'd like. Except for minibuses, all buses now have two doors: passengers get in through the front door and get off through the back (it was otherwise until 2001-2002).

The South Zone of Rio is best served by bus, but taxis are cheap.
The South Zone of Rio is best served by bus, but taxis are cheap.

Bus stops in the South Zone are often equipped with a shelter and a bench, but sometimes, far from tourist areas, they are less obvious and have no signs at all - you might have to ask. As a general rule in most parts of Brazil, buses stop only when you hail them, by extending the arm. If you don't hail and there are no passengers waiting to get off, the bus simply won't stop. The same can be said if you are on the bus wanting to get off at a particular stop. You should know the surroundings or the name of the intersection of the area you are going, or inquire to the employee operating the roulette, so you can signal to the driver that you want to get off, or he may not stop! There are no schedules nor timetables, but there is an invaluable book called Ruas de Rio de Janeiro (The streets of Rio de Janeiro) that has maps of Rio and lists bus routes by bus line. Although it does not list the exact schedule of arrivals and departures, it lists the bus stops, and one an easily orient oneself and navigate the city using it. Usually buses run no less infrequently than every 15 minutes. However, they can run just once an hour or more infrequently late at night or in remote areas of town.

There are 831 bus lines in Rio, but while they cover nearly all of the city, they might seem confusing to visitors, especially foreigners. Many lines differ only a few streets from each other in their itineraries, and some even have variants within the same line. Bus lines with a * or a letter means that this bus has a variant. It means that there may be a bus with the same name, same number, same origin, even same destination but with a complete different route. Lines are numbered according to the general route they serve:

  • beginning with 1 - South Zone/Downtown
  • beginning with 2 - North Zone/Downtown
  • beginning with 3 - West Zone/Downtown
  • beginning with 5 - within South Zone
  • beginning with 6 - North Zone/West Zone
  • beginning with 7 and 9 - from Rio to neighboring cities (Niterói, Duque de Caxias, Nova Iguaçu etc.)
  • beginning with 8 - within West Zone

Most popular lines for tourists are 583 and 584 (from Copacabana and Ipanema to Corcovado railway station), as well as 464 and 435 (from Copacabana to Maracanã). Buses 511 (Ataulfo de Paiva) and 512 (Bartholomeu Mitre) are also popular as they take you to Urca for the station to take the cable car up the Sugar Loaf mountain. Typically bus drivers and controllers won't understand any foreign language. If you can't speak Portuguese at all, use a map. Trying to speak Spanish is usually not particularly useful.

A detailed scheme of Rio's subway lines with stations and integração (connection) bus lines.
A detailed scheme of Rio's subway lines with stations and integração (connection) bus lines.

The Metrô Rio [17] subway system is very useful for reaching areas from Copacabana to Downtown, although the rest of Zona Sul is not particularly well-served and it closes after midnight (it opens 24x7 during Carnival). It is the only totally safe transport in Rio. The air-conditioned subway is clean, comfortable, and quick, and in 2006 it received bilingual Portuguese-English signs, maps, and a loudspeaker system to make the life of millions of foreign tourists easier (sometimes in a low volume and difficult to understand or they just forget to announce, so pay attention as if you rely only on the speaker you can miss your station). There are two main lines: Line 1 (Orange) has service to Copacabana, the Saara district, and much of Downtown, as well as Tijuca. Line 2 (Green) stops at the zoo, Maracanã stadium, and Rio State University. The two lines intersect at Estácio station.

Since 2003, the Metrô company operates bus lines from some stations to nearby neighborhoods which are not served by the subway system. This is particularly helpful for places uphill such as Gávea, Laranjeiras, Grajaú and Usina. Since the city grew around the Tijuca Range mountains, these neighborhoods will never be served by the subway, but you now can take the integração (connection) minibuses. The company calls it Metrônibus and Metrô na Superfície (literally, Subway on Ground), but actually they are ordinary buses in special routes for subway commuters. You can buy tickets for these - just ask for expresso (pronounced "eysh-PREH-sso", not "express-o") when buying a ticket (price is R$ 3.00 as of June 2007), then keep it after crossing the roulette. When you leave the subway, give the ticket to the bus driver (who shall be waiting in the bus stop just outside of the station). If you buy an ordinary ticket, you won't be able to get this bus for free - then it will cost a regular fee.

Recently the last wagon of each train has been marked women-only with a pink window sticker, in order to avoid potential harassment in crowded trains. Some men, however, are still to get used to this separation (since it is very recent) and many women, who are accustomed to hassle-free everyday travel in Rio's subway, also think the measure is unnecessary. Anyway, if you're a man, avoid getting into trouble with local security staff and stay off the pink-marked wagons. Note that the women only policy for the wagon is valid only in the rush hour.

Rio subway stations

Line 1 (Orange)

  • Praça General Osório (contruction began in February 2007) - to Ipanema Beach
  • Cantagalo (in Copacabana) - to Arpoador and the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon ("Lagoa")
  • Siqueira Campos (in Copacabana) - to Copacabana beach, and coaches to Ipanema, Leblon, and Gávea
  • Cardeal Arcoverde (in Copacabana) - to Copacabana and Leme beach and Rio Sul mall
  • Botafogo (in Botafogo) - to Botafogo beach, Botafogo Praia Shopping mall, and indie/art movie theaters; connection (integração) bus to Urca/Sugar Loaf and Jardim Botânico.
  • Flamengo (in Flamengo) - to Flamengo beach, Guanabara Palace (governor's)
  • Largo do Machado (in Laranjeiras) - connection (integração) bus to Corcovado, where is the Christ, the redeemer statue
  • Catete (in Catete) - to Catete palace (former presidential building, now Museum of the Republic)
  • Glória (in Glória) - to Our Lady of Glory cathedral
  • Cinelândia (in downtown) - to main square downtown, with National Library, City Hall, Municipal Theater (Rio's Opera house), Museum of Modern Art and Odeon movie theater. To Lapa (Bohemian district).
  • Carioca (in downtown) - Santa Teresa tram station, downtown offices
  • Uruguaiana (in downtown) - to popular market
  • Presidente Vargas (in downtown) - to downtown offices
  • Central (in downtown) - to Central do Brasil rail station, Itamaraty Palace (foreign ministry)
  • Praça Onze (in downtown) - to Sambódromo, the samba parade venue during Carnival
  • Estácio (in downtown) - to Line 2
  • Afonso Pena (in Tijuca)
  • São Francisco Xavier (in Tijuca)
  • Saens Peña (in Tijuca) - to Tijuca forest trail (way up!)

Line 2 (Green)

  • Estácio (in downtown) - to Line 1
  • São Cristóvão (in São Cristóvão) - to the Rio Zoo and Feira de São Cristóvão, typical market and fair with food, drinks and craft from Brazilian Northeastern culture
  • Maracanã (in Maracanã) - to Maracanã football stadium
  • Triagem (in Mangueira) - to Mangueira, the most famous favela and samba school
  • Maria da Graça (in Maria da Graça)
  • Del Castilho (in Del Castilho) - to outlet clothes mall Nova América
  • Inhaúma (in Inhaúma)
  • Engenho da Rainha (in Engenho da Rainha)
  • Thomaz Coelho (in Thomaz Coelho)
  • Vicente de Carvalho (in Vicente de Carvalho)
  • Irajá (in Irajá)
  • Colégio (in Colégio)
  • Coelho Neto (in Coelho Neto)
  • Acari/Fazenda Botafogo (in Acari)
  • Engenheiro Rubens Paiva (in Engenheiro Rubens Paiva)
  • Pavuna (in Pavuna)
Copacabana sidewalk
Copacabana sidewalk
Ipanema and Leblon beaches
Ipanema and Leblon beaches
  • Ramos (in-bay)
  • Flamengo (in-bay)
  • Botafogo (in-bay)
  • Urca (in-bay)
  • Vermelha (in-bay)
  • Leme (oceanic)
  • Copacabana (oceanic)
  • Arpoador (oceanic)
  • Ipanema (oceanic)
  • Leblon (oceanic)
  • São Conrado (oceanic)
  • Barra da Tijuca (oceanic)
  • Recreio dos Bandeirantes (oceanic)
  • Grumari (oceanic)
  • Abricó (oceanic, nudist beach)

Abricó is the only official nudist beach in the city of Rio de Janeiro,it lies next to Grumari beach. Only accessible by car/taxi. An option is taking the bus numbered S-20 (Recreio) that passes along Copacabana/Ipanema/Leblon, and from the end of the line (ponto final) take a cab.

It is also worth visiting the beaches in Paqueta, particularly:

  • Praia da Moreninha (on the Guanabara Bay, but often not clean enough for swimming)

Cariocas have a unique beach culture, with a code of customs which outlanders (even Brazilians from other cities) can misconstrue easily. Despite what many foreigners may believe, there are no topless beaches. Girls can wear tiny string bikinis (fio dental), but it doesn't mean they're exhibitionists. For most of them, it's highly offensive to stare. Until the 1990s, men and boys wore speedos, but since then wearing bermudas or boardshorts has become more common, although speedos ("sungas" in Portuguese) seem to now be making a comeback. Jammers are less common but still accepted.

Waves in Rio vary from tiny and calm in the Guanabara bay beaches (Paquetá, Ramos, Flamengo, Botafogo, Urca) to high, surf-ideal waves in Recreio. In Leme, Copacabana, Arpoador, Ipanema, and Leblon, there's a popular way of "riding" the waves called pegar jacaré (pe-GAHR zha-kah-REH; literally, "to grab an alligator"). You wait for the wave to come behind you then swim on top of it until it crumbles next to the sand.

Commerce is common in Rio's beaches, with thousands of walking vendors selling everything from sun glasses to fried shrimp to cooling beverages (try mate com limão, a local ice tea mixed with lemonade, or suco de laranja com cenoura, orange and carrot juice). For food, there is also empada (baked flour pastry filled with meat or cheese) and sanduíche natural (cool sandwich with vegetables and mayo). Vendors typically shout out loud what they're selling, but they won't usually bother you unless you call them. All along the beaches there are also permanent vendors who will sell you a beer and also rent you a beach chair and an umbrella for a few Reais.

Along Copacabana and Ipanema-Leblon there are ´´postos´´ (lifeguard watchtowers with toilets and changing facilities). Posto 6 is unaccountably missing, although it is generally considered to be opposite Rua Francisco Sá when Cariocas arrange to meet on the beach. Although beaches are often considered a plural, democratic space, there are still some informal (and not too strict) "social area" divisions. In the South Zone, Copacabana attracts many tourists (foreign and national). Soliciting for prostitution is also present there, even in daylight. Ipanema is the major beach for the middle-class, and specifically the Posto 9 section (watchtower #9) is preferred by left-wing, intellectuals, artists, journalists and similar beach-goers. You can easily walk into a politician or someone famous there. The area close to the Farme de Amoedo street in Ipanema is known to attract the gay crowd of the city that show off openly their sexuality. The beaches in Barra and Recreio (Quebra-Mar, Pepê, Pontal, Prainha) were favored by surfers and hang-gliders until the 1980s, but now they are outnumbered by the middle-class and nouveau riche from the suburbs and also West Zone favela residents, such as now world-famous Cidade de Deus (City of God, made famous in the eponymous film).

There is also Praia de Ramos in the Guanabara Bay, a popular destination. There the Government built an artificial pool on the sand (piscinão). This area is not recommended for foreigners to visit.

The Maracanã stadium, once the largest on Earth.
The Maracanã stadium, once the largest on Earth.
  • Corcovado [18] - The train up costs R$36 for a round trip up to Cristo Redentor, and it is definitely worth the view. The queue for the train can get rather long. Try going when the morning coach parties have already passed through, i.e. when most tourists are having their lunch.
  • Pão de Açúcar - The Sugar Loaf mountains (one taller, the other shorter), Brazil's top landmark, with an aerial tramway to the top; a definite must see. A ticket up is R$ 44. There is also an unsigned trail leading to the second station where you can pay only R$ 22 to reach the top. Ask locals for directions. The buses number 511, 512, 591 and 592 and the subway buses bring you to the base station. Do not make the mistake of thinking you have seen enough once you have seen the view from Cristo Redentor. Try Sugar Loaf at sunset for a truly mind-blowing experience.
  • Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas - A large lagoon in the middle of South Zone, with great views to Corcovado and Ipanema and Leblon beaches; you can jog or cycle all the way round; there are skating areas and you can hire little peddle-operated boats.
  • Maracanã - The largest football/soccer stadium in South America and once the largest on Earth.
  • Parque Lage - A small park, once a private mansion, where now a school of fine arts works. Contains some interesting plants and wildlife as well as strange concrete structures that will entertain the kids. The park is the beginning of a path up Corcovado, through sub-tropical rain forest.
  • Jardim Botanico - The Botanical Garden, planted up in the 1800s. It is both a park and a scientific laboratory. It contains a huge collection of plants from all over the world, not only tropical ones. If you take the bus note that Jardim Botanico is also the name of a neighborhood so make sure you take the right one to the entrance. The admission is $4. The gardens are well kept and very lush. Not far from the cafe, first you hear swooshing sounds. Look up and you can see small monkeys swinging from tree to tree.[19]
Although located across Guanabara Bay, one of Rio's best views (one that includes both the Christ and the Sugarloaf in your camera frame) can be seen from this Museum in Niteroi, a neighboring city only 15 minutes away from downtown Rio by ferry boat.
Although located across Guanabara Bay, one of Rio's best views (one that includes both the Christ and the Sugarloaf in your camera frame) can be seen from this Museum in Niteroi, a neighboring city only 15 minutes away from downtown Rio by ferry boat.
  • Paço Imperial (1743) - Old Imperial Palace (though impressively modest), colonial architecture (in downtown, next to Praça XV, Fifteen Square).
  • Casa França Brasil (1820) - French cultural center, with gallery and video hall (in downtown, next to CCBB).
  • CCBB - Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (1906) - A cultural center with gallery, movie theater, video room, library and stages; usually hosts the main exhibitions in town (in downtown). An interesting building with old-fashioned elevators/lifts.
  • Candelária Church - Neoclassic cathedral (next to CCBB).
    Inside Candelária cathedral, in downtown.
    Inside Candelária cathedral, in downtown.
  • Mosteiro de São Bento (1663) - Saint Benedict's Monastery, colonial architecture (in downtown).
  • Ilha Fiscal Palace (1889) - Located in the Guanabara Bay, next to the Navy Museum
  • Gloria Church (1739). Small but interesting church reached by a funicular. Nice views. (metro: Gloria)
  • Palácio Gustavo Capanema - Former ministry of culture, designed by French architect Le Corbusier; though small, it is regarded as an important pioneering in modern architecture (downtown).
  • Arcos da Lapa (1750) - Lapa Aqueduct, colonial structure that brought water from springs to downtown; now used by the one remaining tram line(in Lapa).
  • Catedral Metropolitana - a modern, cone-shaped cathedral, designed by Oscar Niemeyer (in Lapa).
  • São Francisco da Penitência church (1773) - Colonial church.
  • Teatro Municipal (1909) - City Theater, inspired by the Paris Opéra House (in Cinelândia square).
  • Biblioteca Nacional (1910) - National Library (in Cinelândia square).
  • Câmara Municipal - The City Hall, hosts the city council (in Cinelândia square).
  • Palácio do Catete - The former presidential palace (1893-1960), now hosts a museum of recent history and nice gardens (in Catete).
  • Itamaraty - Former presidential palace (1889-1893) and foreign office; now hosts a museum of South American diplomacy, a library and the UN information offices in Brazil (in Downtown, next to the Central station).
  • Palácio Guanabara - Former palace of the Imperial Princess, now governor's office; eclectic architecture; not open to public (in Laranjeiras).
  • Art Deco. Rio is a major center for the Art Deco style of architecture. Indeed, the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado is considered a classic example of Art Deco work. There are numerous buildings in Copacabana and elsewhere that employ this style.


There is no shortage of things to do on a rainy day. In addition to a wide range of museums, Rio has many cultural centers, which are run by banks and other organizations and usually host free exhibitions. Details of what is on can be found in the Segundo Caderno section of the daily O Globo newspaper, which provides more detail in a weekly Friday supplement. Also very useful is the Mapa das Artes Rio de Janeiro, which provides detailed bi-monthly listings as well as detailed maps of the city. This is free and can be picked up at most museums.


Aerial view of downtown Rio and surroundings where most historic buildings and museums can be found.
Aerial view of downtown Rio and surroundings where most historic buildings and museums can be found.
  • Museu Histórico Nacional (National Museum of History) - A museum of Brazilian history stretching from colonial to imperial times; big collection of paintings, but poor in artifacts (downtown).
  • Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts) - Includes large paintings from Academicist and Neoclassical Brazilian artists, as well as many copies of European sculptures (downtown, Cinelândia square).
  • MAM - Museu de Arte Moderna (Museum of Modern Art) - The second most important contemporary art museum in Brazil, after MASP (downtown, next to Santos Dumont airport). Modernist architecture spreading over almost the sea.
  • Museu da Imagem e do Som (Image and Sound Museum) - For researchers about Brazilian film, radio, and broadcasting industry (downtown).
  • Museu Naval (Navy Museum) - Located downtown not far from the ferry terminal.
  • Museu do Carnaval (Museum of Carnival) - History of Brazilian carnival and parades (in downtown, next to the Sambódromo).
  • Museu Chácara do Céu - An important collection of South American modern art (in Santa Tereza).

South Zone

  • Museu da República (Museum of the Republic) - Hosted on the former presidential palace, this museum hosts permanent exhibitions about recent Brazilian history (from 1889 on); one of main features is the room where president Getúlio Vargas shot himself in 1954 (in Catete).
  • Oi Futuro (Formerly Centro Cultural Telemar) - Formerly Museum of Telephone, it now hosts a fine gallery with temporary exhibitions of digital art or art with interactive medias; it is sponsored by the local phone company (in Catete).
  • Museu Internacional de Arte Naïf (International Naïf Art Museum) - In Cosme Velho, next to Corcovado rail station.
  • Museu Carmem Miranda (Carmem Miranda Museum) - About this Brazilian actress and singer (the lady with pineapples-and-bananas hat), the national icon in the 1940s and 50s (in Flamengo).
  • Museu do Índio (Museum of the Indian) - A small museum with a collection of Brazilian Indian (povos indígenas) photographs, paintings, artifacts and other craft (in Botafogo). Very popular with local schoolchildren, but has much for adults as well.
  • Museu Villa-Lobos, Rua Sorocaba, 200 - Botafogo, +55 21 2266-1024 (), [20]. M-F 10AM-5:30PM. A modest collection about Brazil's most important composer. Free entrance.  edit

North Zone

  • Museu Nacional (National Museum) - Actually, it's the Natural History museum, with dinosaur fossils and lots of mounted tanned animals; go there if you want to see a jaguar without getting into the jungle; it was formerly the Emperor's Palace (in São Cristóvão, just next to the Zoo).
  • Museu do Primeiro Reinado (First Reign Museum) - A museum about the reign of Emperor Pedro I (1822-1831), but with a modest collection (in São Cristóvão).
  • Museu Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins (Astronomy Museum) - Also has an observatory (in São Cristóvão).
  • Museu do Trem (Train Museum) - A modest collection of 19th century engines, train cars and streetcars (in Engenho de Dentro).
  • Museu Aeroespacial (Aerospace Museum) - Located in Campo dos Afonsos (in the suburbs).

West Zone

  • Museu Casa do Pontal - The most important collection of popular arts and crafts (in Recreio dos Bandeirantes).
Quinta da Boa Vista, a park where Rio's Zoo and The National Museum are located.
Quinta da Boa Vista, a park where Rio's Zoo and The National Museum are located.
Road leading to the Serra dos Órgãos Nat'l Park. This specific mountain is called Dedo de Deus (Portuguese for God's Finger).
Road leading to the Serra dos Órgãos Nat'l Park. This specific mountain is called Dedo de Deus (Portuguese for God's Finger).

In addition to Jardim Botânico and Parque Lage, mentioned above, other parks worth a visit are:

  • Parque do Flamengo, also known as Aterro do Flamengo.
  • Parque Guinle
  • Campo de Santana
  • Quinta da Boa Vista
  • Parque Nacional da Serra dos Órgãos
Samba School parade at the Sambodromo during Carnival
Samba School parade at the Sambodromo during Carnival

Still the greatest reason for visiting Rio seems to be the Carnaval. This highly-advertised party lasts for almost two weeks and it is well known for the escolas de samba (samba schools) that parade in Centro, on a gigantic structure called Sambódromo (Sambadrome). During Carnaval, Rio has much more to offer though, with the blocos de rua, that parade on the streets. There are now hundreds of these street "samba blocks", that parade almost in every neighborhood, especially in Centro and the South Zone, gathering thousands of people. Some are very famous, and there are few cariocas that have not heard of "Carmelitas", "Suvaco de Cristo", "Escravos da Mauá" or "Simpatia É Quase Amor".

Sambodrome at night. Here thousands spend the night dancing, singing and celebrating their favorite samba school (comparable to soccer teams) till dawn.
Sambodrome at night. Here thousands spend the night dancing, singing and celebrating their favorite samba school (comparable to soccer teams) till dawn.

The rest of the year, samba shows are popular with tourists, and are held at several venues like Plataforma and Scala. These are expensive and not really representative of Brazilian culture, they present a lot of almost naked women and bad musicians, a tourist trap (much like the real thing.) Much more interesting and genuine, though, are the night practice sessions held by the various samba schools in the months leading up to Carnaval. You will find only a small number of tourists here, and you will be served the best caipirinhas of your trip! These go on into the wee hours of the morning, with the fun really only starting at 1-2 A.M. A good cab driver should be able to hook you up, and cabs will be available to take you back when you are samba-ed out. Salgueiro and Mangueira are good choices, as they are two of the larger samba schools, and are located relatively close to the tourist areas in a fairly safe area.

Note that a change is afoot that may make this genuine experience a thing of the past (or more convenient, depending on your viewpoint) for all but the most savvy tourists. The local government built a complex of buildings (Cidade do Samba) where many of the samba schools are moving their practice halls and float-construction facilities from the gritty warehouses typically located in or near their home favelas. One can expect many more tourists, and shows made-up for the tourists as the tourist bureau milks this facility for all it's worth year-round.

Here is a list of some of the samba schools:

  • Mangueira, Rua Visconde de Niterói, 1072, Mangueira, +55(21) 3872-6786 (, fax: +55(21) 2567-4637), [21]. Rehearsals every Saturday, 10PM.  edit
  • Salgueiro, Rua Silva Teles, 104, Andaraí, +55(21) 2238-9258 (), [22]. Rehearsals every Wednesday, 8PM.  edit
  • Acadêmicos da Rocinha [23].
  • Beija-Flor [24].

The newest addition for tourists is the Samba City [25].


Rio was the cradle of three of Brazil most important musical genres: samba, choro, and bossa nova. In recent years, there has been a boom of traditional samba and choro venues. A lot of them are in the downtown district of Lapa. There are good and cheap nightlife options, where you will see some of the best musicians of the country. Any of the city newspapers provide pointers to the best shows.

If you're not such an anthropological type of tourist, you can check out the same papers for tips on other kinds of music. Being a big city, Rio has big and small clubs that play almost every kind of music. The major mainstream clubs mostly play whatever's on the Radio - which is usually whatever's on the USA radios and MTV - but the underground scene has a lot to offer on Rock, E-Music, Rap and such. The best way to find out about those are the flyers handed or left at hostels, cinema and theater lobbies, nightclub lines, etc.

New Year’s Eve celebrations

Rio hosts the country's largest and most popular New Year’s Eve celebrations. The huge fireworks display and music shows attract 2 million people to the sands of Copacabana beach every year. People dress in white for luck and toast the arrival of the new year. It's usual also to have some national and international concerts on the beach for free.

Hang gliding and paragliding

The Hangliding and Paragliding flights have found in Rio de Janeiro, the ideal land for its high hills and favorable wind. Different from other places in the world, in Rio, the sport could be done in urban areas and landing on the beach! These conditions naturally attract many tourists who get the courage to enjoy a flight. And even the most inexperienced person can flight since there´s no training or special gear needed. 2437-4592 to 7817-3526 Sky Center Operator included:

Sky Center [27]

Panoramic flights

If you have the money the following operators give you panoramic flights in helicopters:

  • Cruzeiro Taxi Aéreo [28]
  • Helisight [29]

Favela (Shantytown) tours

The following operators offer tours of Rocinha (Warning: NEVER go on your own). This is often considered an awkward journey by locals, as you will probably go there in a safari like car.

  • Favela Architectour, [30]. Run by community residents and proceeds benefit local NGOs.
  • Paulo Amendoim, ph: +55 (21) 3322-8498, +55 (21) 9747-6860, (email:
  • Marcelo Armstrong ph: +55 (21) 3322-2727, (email: [31]
  • Be a Local , ph: +55 (21) 9643-0366 [32]. R$65 for a three hour tour on the weekend (Oct. 2007).
  • Aurélio Rio Guide - Rio de Janeiro Tours, ph: +55 (21) 8370-2135 , [33], (email: [34]). Run by Aurélio, who grew up in the Favela, went to France and speaks English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.


For tourists there are many interesting things to learn. Why not take a rainy day in town to have samba (the national rhythm) classes or capoeira, a mix of dance and fighting created by the then enslaved African community. Is not as hard as outsiders may think, and it's original and fun. At Casa Rosa Cultural [35], an antique house in Laranjeiras neighborhood, they offer special classes for the beginner tourists.

If you are staying in Brazil for an extended time, major universities offer Portuguese courses for foreigners, usually for a very low price and with high educational standards.

  • Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro[36]
  • Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) [37] - Offers courses at various levels in Portuguese for Foreigners [38]. R$428 for one semester, or R$214 if you're a regular student at UFRJ.
  • Universidade Federal Fluminense [39] (located in Niterói)
  • Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) [40] - Its courses Portuguese for Foreigners [41] are popular, but a bit pricey at R$1632 per semester for the beginner's levels.
  • Goethe-Institut [42]
  • Instituto Brasil-Estados Unidos [43]
  • Cultura Inglesa [44]
  • Instituto Cervantes [45]
  • Aliança Francesa [46]
  • Instituto Nacional de Matemática Pura e Aplicada (IMPA) [47] - the National Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics. A center with an international renown for scientific excellence and superb working conditions in Mathematics. You can take any course for free. The summer courses (Jan-Feb) are very popular and there is even the possibility of getting some modest funding for the summer.



Banks do Money Exchange but only the bigger branches and major currencies. There might be a commission. Better rates can be found at shops with the sign ´´Cambios`´ which base their rates on a semi-official ´´Parallel`` rate, which is slightly higher than the commercial rate and thus better than you will get with a credit card or ATM. These are usually found on the main commercial streets, i.e. Avenida Nossa Senhora de Copacabana, one block from the Copacabana sea front, and Rua Visconde de Pirajá, two blocks from the Ipanema beach. Rates vary, so ask around. The shop offering the best rate today may not offer the best rate tomorrow so if you are changing money more than once ask around again.

  • Moedas Moedas, 7 Setembro 88 (A numismatic shop in a little shopping mall downtown). Changes almost any type of currency. Even unexchangeable Paraguaian Guaranis. The rate can be quite bad for less common currencies. No commission.  edit
Colonial buildings next to modern skyscraper in downtown Rio.
Colonial buildings next to modern skyscraper in downtown Rio.

When shopping in street commerce, always bargain; this can lower prices considerably. Bargaining in stores and malls, though, is usually impolite. But naturally merchants won't bargain unless you ask, especially if you are clearly a tourist. To tourists, items can easily be overpriced by a factor of 20% especially in highly informal markets such as Saara or on the beach.

  • A typical Brazilian hammock shouldn't be more than R$20-30 but they can sell for up to US$150.
  • A beer on the beach should cost around R$3.00
  • A caipirinha can be had for the same price (around R$3.00-R$4.00) and you get a great show as the ingredients are produced from a cooler and lime slices muddled before your eyes
  • You can get coconut water for R$2.00-3.00
  • For trinkets, your best bet is the "hippie fair" in Praça General Osório in Ipanema every Sunday.
  • For a sterile norte-americano-style shopping experience, head to the malls in Barra da Tijuca.
  • For a cheap price, head to Norte Shopping in Del Castilho (the 456 or the 457 bus can leave you in front of it. Take them at Praça General Osório in Ipanema) or to the Nova América Outlet Shopping in Del Castilho too (take the subway and leave it on Del Castilho Station. It has a passage to the shopping mall).

Great bargains can be had on Brazilian-made clothing, as well as some European imports. Most imported items, however, such as electronics, tend to be insanely expensive due to protective import duties. For example, you will find digital cameras sell for about twice what they sell for in the U.S.

Store managers in Rio often speak some English, as this gains employees an almost-automatic promotion. But "some" can be very little, so it is useful to learn at least some very basic Portuguese. Just knowing basic greetings, numbers, and how to ask directions and prices will get you at least a "B" for effort, and despite finding that store clerks may know more English than you Portuguese, it can still come in handy to know a bit of the language. Don't be afraid to resort to writing numbers, pictures, or resorting to pantomime. Clerks will often tap out prices for you on a calculator. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Brazil, with American Express to a significantly lower degree. But beware that many stores will accept either Visa or Mastercard, but not both! If you carry only one, look for the sign in the store window before attempting to buy.

A great choice of gift, since they do not take much space in the suitcase back home, are bikinis, a trademark from Rio for its quality and fashion style.

For local crafts store, a great choice is PÉ DE BOI, [48] in Laranjeiras neighborhood. A lovely store with many great gift ideas. There are two floors, the first one composed of items that are for sale, such as pieces made from wood, ceramic and fiber fit to decorate any living room space. The second floor is where they sometimes have art exhibits, usually related to Brazilian history, culture or customs from various regions that are distinctly scattered throughout the country. If you're looking for a souvenir to take back home, this is the place to go.

Another lovely choice of handcraft is BRASIL & CIA, [49], a store which the biggest concern is to keep the Brazilian identity in all that its sold. They privilege artists who didn’t become any kind of art education and have difficulties to sell their art.

Rio has several malls (shopping centers, just like this, in English), most of them in the South and West Zones. Everything there is normally more expensive than in street shops, but safety and comfort might worth if you don't feel like walking too much.

  • Rio Sul - The biggest mall in the South Zone, located just between Copacabana and the Sugar Loaf.
  • Botafogo Praia Shopping - Located in the Botafogo beach area facing the Sugar Loaf and Guanabara Bay; has a nice view and a belvedere on the rooftops; it is sometimes called just "Shopping Botafogo", but don't take it for Rio Sul, which is also located in Botafogo neighborhood.
  • Barra Shopping - The biggest mall in the city and arguably the largest in Latin America.
  • New York City Center - Next to Barra Shopping, has multiplex movie theaters, American-like restaurants including Outback Steakhouse and TGIF.
  • Norte Shopping - The biggest in the North Zone.
  • Nova América Outlet Shopping - Find cheapest stores for clothing and typical Brazilian wear; can be easily reached through Del Castilho subway station (Line 2).

A good shopping guide to Rio you have on [50], there you will find tips on anything from buying trainers to finding farmers markets.


In Rio de Janeiro you can probably find something to fit any craving. A good approach to local food is "comida a kilo" - buffet style restaurants where you pay by the weight of the food on your plate. An excellent place to go with your friend or even with your partner is the Fellini restaurant. Located in Leblon, the place has a "pay for what you eat" buffet, with really good and beautiful food. Great for all tastes, it has even Asian food on the menu. More information available online [51].

Don't miss the Brazilian most famous dish, the feijoada (fay-zho-AH-da), made with black beans and pork. It is typically served city-wide on Saturdays. An specialized restaurant that serves nothing but the traditional an authentic Brazilian feijoada, is Casa da Feijoada, in Ipanema. Definitely a must try for any tourist in the wonderful city. Feijoada is a black bean stew filled with big chunks of meat, like sausages, pork and beef. Along with the "feijoada", you also get some colorful side dishes that come with it, such as rice, cassava (which is roasted manioc), collard greens, fried pork rinds, and some orange slices, to sweeten things up a bit. This is bonafide, authentic "Carioca (term used for anything deriving from Rio)" culinary excellence, almost worth the trip alone! Best while sipping down "caipirinia", a drink made from lime juice, sugar and alcohol ("cachaça"), good stuff.

For the hungry, nothing beats a good rodízio (all-you-can-eat service). These are available in numerous types, although the most well-known are the churrascaria, all-you-can-eat grilled meats. Marius [52] has arguably the best churrascaria in town. Porcão [53] has 5 restaurants around Rio, whereas Carretão [54] has a good and cheap(er) rodizio. At various restaurants around town, you can also find rodízio style dining featuring seafood, pizza, or various appetizer-style snacks. The defining element of rodízio is that unlike an all-you-can-eat buffet, the servers continuously bring food to your table of various kinds. In addition, the Monchique Churrascaria is an excellent choice for a rodizio buffet restaurant. As well as it's extensive buffet, waiters constantly come to your tables with wide selections of grilled meats for you to try if you wish. The price is somewhere around R$22 (around $11 or £7) and it is on the main street in the Copacabana area of the city, Avenida Nossa Senhora de Copacabana.

If you like meat but want an alternative to the rodizios, a good place to eat at is Filé de Ouro (Rua Jardim Botânico, 731, Jardim Botânico; phone: 55 (21) 2259-2396; see Google Maps for directions). The place is simple and cozy. During the weekends there are usually big lines, but the steak is delicious. Try "Filé à Oswaldo Aranha", with toasted garlic.

Brazil has the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan, and sushi has become widely popular in Rio too. If you are a sashimi and sushi lover, you will find a great deal of options in Rio de Janeiro. If you are in Ipanema or nearby, a great tip is Benkei [55], that has an "all you can eat" buffet, with high quality products, great environment and staff for nice prices.

As a former ex Portugal colony, Brasil has maintained many influences of this country on its culinary. Therefore you will find great authentic Portuguese restaurants in Rio. A good option, from the localization to the ambiance, and naturally the food, is the CBF Restaurant, in the Tiradentes Square, a lovely area full of antique architecture.

In Leblon, the best choice is the hip and contemporaneous Zuka, [56] where chef Ludmila creates many original recipes. In Ipanema, Zazá Bistrô [57] is a trendy, sexy and exotic place with great South Asian dishes. Good to go as a couple.

Because its huge coast, many Brazilian specialties are in the seafood area. They are very rich in shrimps, lobster, calamaris, shellfish, clams, mollusks and many other tasty fishes. So, once in this land, don't miss the opportunity to order those lovely dishes. An option of restaurant very well known is Azul Marinho [58], in Arpoador, very close to Ipanema.

The highest recommendation for a decently priced superb meal is at Sobrenatural, that has the some of the freshest fish in Rio. Go on Monday, Wendesday or Friday, when they have live samba and chorinho music by renowed artists. It takes place at Rua Almirante Alexandrino, 432 Santa Teresa.

For sophisticated people who enjoy simple life, Via Sete [59] is in the heart of Ipanema, on Garcia D'Ávila. This grill restaurant offers a great bang for the buck: from their veranda you get to people-watch pretty Brazilians. There you can enjoy tasty wraps and sandwiches.

Felice [60] is one of those tasteful places you can just hang out all day and all night: it has a great breakfast, a healthy lunch, varied gourmet ice-cream flavours at the palour, and a hip sunset after hour vibe. St.Tropez inspired dinner menu with a fair cost benefit and a lounge crowd after 11PM.

Travellers with fatter pockets may also splash out a bit at the Dias Ferreira street in Leblon, Rio's up-and-coming restaurant row.

There are many places to get pizza and lots of restaurants also offer pasta. Be warned! Pizza is not at all like Italian pizza, the main difference being that fresh sliced tomatoes are used rather than canned or cooked tomatoes. Brazilian pasta is best avoided; the pasta quality is low, it is always overcooked and the sauces are usually horrendous. Stick to local foods!

Rio is also famous for its pastries and street food, heritage from Portuguese and old European culture. In most cafeterias (lanchonete; lun-sho-NETCH) you can have a pastel (pahs-TELL) or salgado (saw-GAH-do; local pastry) for less than R$2. Typical pastries are coxinha (ko-SHEEN-ya; chicken nugget shaped like a chicken leg), and unique Rio's joelho (zho-EH-lyo; rolled dough filled with ham and cheese). Also try pão de queijo (pawn-deh-KAY-zho; cheese baked dough), typical from Minas Gerais but very common in Rio as well, and tapioca (typical from Bahia), a kind of crepe made out of manioca flour.

For drinking, ask for guaraná (gwa-ra-NAH; soda made from the seed of an Amazon fruit, also available as a strong drink), mate (MAHTCH; sweet ice tea; not like Rio Grande do Sul or Argentina's hot and sour mate), água de coco (ah-gwa-djee-KOH-ku; natural coconut water) or caldo de cana (caw-do-djee-KAH-na; sugarcane juice). There is also a common fruit called açaí (ah-sah-EEH), with a dark-purple pulp out of which are made juices, and ice-creams. Typical cariocas eat it like cream in cups or glasses, mixed with granola, oats or other flakes. The best place for such drinks are one of a number of Rio's open juice bars. Very often, these are located on street corners and have long, curved bars offering you juices from pretty much every fruit you can imagine. The best option is a small chain of juice bars called "Big Bi's". The juices are astounding value alongside their good selection of salgados and sandwiches. Their açaí is one of the best in terms of value and taste and the staff are excellent. On top of all this, if you leave a tip, you get a big "Obrigado" from all the staff. For the best Big Bi's experience, try the Tangerina ao Limão juice along with the famous Bauru sandwich for a total of a mere R$13. Finish it all off with an açaí to go. Perfect. Big Bi's has a few branches dotted around Copacabana and Ipanema, one of which is on the corner of Rua Santa Clara and Rua Barata Ribeiro in Copacabana. If you then cross the road of Rua Barata Ribeiro, you will land at an exquisite ice cream parlour.

There are many specialized "health food" shops that offer an incredible variety of rich meat and vegetable sandwiches, plus an awesome variety of fruit juices, many of them delicious and usually unknown by foreigners. Among them are graviola, fruta do conde, jaca, açaí, guaraná, pitomba, mango, coconut, orange, lemon, papaya, melon, etc. (they make it as you ask and all food is 100% organic and fresh. The meal is often prepared as you wait, so you can ask them to mix whatever fruit you want and create a customized mix if you like). You must try açaí and guaraná, Amazon fruits which are famous to be the strongest energizers and anti-oxidants of the world. They also offer Brazilian snacks (including many Italian and Oriental delicacies), and other simple but delicious things to eat. I never got enough of them! These shops usually are cheap and hang many fruits at the entrance or somewhere visible to display their quality.

Warning: look for clean places, as hygiene can be poor in many street shops.

If your palate is homesick for more familiar tastes, Rio has most of world-class fast food chains (McDonald's, KFC, Domino's, Outback, and a few Subway and Pizza Hut shops) except for Burger King and International House of Pancakes. Bob's and Habib's are the biggest national fast food chains.

Many foods that in other countries are simply picked up in the hands and eaten, are either eaten with knife and fork (such as pizza) or are picked up by wrapping a napkin around the food so that it is not touched with the hands (such as sandwiches). You will undoubtedly notice napkin dispensers on the tables in most restaurants for this purpose.

A great suggestion for anyone wanting to learn how to cook Brazilian dishes, while eating and drinking during the lessons is to participate in a Cook in Rio´s Brazilian cooking lessons in English. Learn some of the most fun and delicious Brazilian meals and drinks, like cassava sticks, shrimp moqueca, batida de coco, caipirinhas and pe de moleque peanut brittle. Every day from 11am to 4pm. Ideal for cloudy or rainy weather. Cook In Rio

Rio de Janeiro is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.

  • Botequim (pronounced 'boo-chi-KEEM') also well known as boteco - These quite unpretentious bars with simple appetizers and lots of ice-cold chope (draft beer) are everywhere and are almost inseparable from the carioca lifestyle. Try Bracarense (85, José Linhares street, Leblon), one of the most traditional.
  • Juice bars - Of particular note for an often hot and muggy city are the refreshing juice bars, found on nearly every corner in the city. Choose from dozens of freshly squeezed fruit juices - mix two or three fruits together or simply try the freshly squeezed orange juice. For a delicious Brazilian special try the açaí, a smoothie made from a deep purple fruit from the Amazon.
  • Caipirinha, a drink made of cachaça (a Brazilian liquor made of sugarcane juice), lime, sugar and ice cubes.
  • Kiosks along the boardwalk at Copacabana and Ipanema beach stay open all night.
  • Devassa. Nine locations in Rio (and one in São Paulo), including Leblon (Rua General San Martin 1241, 021-2540-6087) and Jardim Botânico (Av. Lineu de Paula Machado 696, 021-2294-2915). Well-crafted microbrews, a tropical take of English ale styles.  edit


  • Lapa - A good bet for Thursdays, several bars and clubs, but the party is in the street. There you will find people dancing and playing Samba, Choro (soft rhythm with flutes and mandolin), Reggae and Hip Hop, as well as ballroom dancing (gafieira), but no Rock (except for some underground, which doesn't happen often or in the same place, but usually in some less known places of Lapa) or Pop music. While drinks are sold in the bars and clubs, vendors also roam the streets wearing coolers full of beer for even cheaper prices. It can also be a very exciting and packed place on Friday and Saturday nights. Be sure not to bring valuables, as there are a lot of pick-pockets operating in the area. Don't take it for the neighborhood with the same name in São Paulo, which is totally different.
  • Canecao. Apart from the really big names, who perform in Maracana or on the beach, the main venue for Brazilian music and visiting stars is Canecao. This is at Av. Wenceslau Brás, 215, close to the tunnel that connects the Sugar Loaf to Copacabana. [61]
  • Bar do Tom, Rua Adalberto Ferreira 32, Leblon hosts lesser names, mainly performing Brazilian music.
  • Vinicius, Rua Vinicius de Moraes 39. A small bar with nightly Bossa Nova shows.[62]
  • Classical concerts are mainly performed at Sala Cecilia Meireles, Largo da Lapa 47, Lapa. [63]

Samba Clubs

Being in Rio and not going to one of the countless samba live music bars, certainly you've missed a lot on your trip. In Lapa, the nightlife district of Rio, there are many nice bars with great atmosphere where locals go for dancing and meeting people. Most of these bars work with a kind of consumption card, which is handed to you when you enter. Everything you consume is marked on this card, and losing it means you'll have to pay a really high fee of sometimes more than R$200,00! So take good care of it.

Below is a list of some of these clubs:

  • Carioca da Gema - Lapa, Rua Mem de Sá 79 - Mondays through Saturdays. Located in a nice old house from the 1900s, this place always has good samba groups playing. One of the best days is on Monday nights when on stage you can see one of the most powerful voices of samba, the singer Richah, with his group playing old carnaval songs. Fun guaranteed! For more info (in portuguese)
  • Casa Rosa - Laranjeiras, Rua Alice 550 - Fridays through Sundays. This place is quite special: back in the 60's, 70's and 80's it used to be a well known exclusive brothel, so that's why it is named Casa Rosa. The big pink eclectic style mansion was closed for several years and after a face-lift restoration now houses the officially known Centro Cultural Casa Rosa. Sundays are the best day to go there, specially because they do a great combination of serving the national dish of Brazil - Feijoada - with samba. There are always nice local musicians, and the atmosphere is laid back and friendly. Get there early since the music starts at 07:00pm and they stop serving the feijoada at around 9:00pm. Dress down. Entrance fees: R$25,00 including Feijoada; if you had already enough of the black beans and don't want to eat it, fee is R$20,00 after 07:00pm and R$10,00 before 07:00pm. For more info (in portuguese)
  • Clube dos Democráticos - Lapa, Rua Riachuelo,91 - Wednesdays through Saturdays. Clube dos Democráticos was founded in 1867 and is one of the first carnaval groups of Rio. Nowadays the great ballroom of the beginning of the 20th century houses one of the best places to dance brazilian rhythms specially samba, in Rio. Best populat days are Wednesday and Thursday, on wednesday is the day of Forró (a brazilian rhythm from Northeast really popular throughout the country) and on thursday the traditional samba. Both days are awesome, if you're looking contact with a genuine brazilian atmosphere where people dance all night long, even if you don't know any step of the ballroom samba, you'd be mostly invited to dance and teached by the locals. Inexpensive big beer bottles and caipirinhas.
  • Beco do Rato - Lapa, Rua Joaquim Silva, 11 - Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. This is in fact not a club but a street party. This place was a quite small and hidden beer and beverage deposit store. After a changing in the administration this place changed into a bar, offering good quality live music, quickly it attracted more and more people and nowadays turned into one of the nicest street parties in Rio. Laid-back atmosphere typical from Rio, outdoors, samba, beer and surrounded by historical buildings in this old forgotten spot of Lapa. On tuesdays is "roda de samba" samba players sitted around a big table and people around singing and dancing, nice day to come, get early around 21:30. On thursdays nights, chorinho is played (old style instrumental samba), nice to see the old school players doing their best there, a bit of Buena Vista. And on Fridays is the busiest day, with samba till 03:00am. For more info (in portuguese).
  • Rio Scenarium - Lapa, Rua do Lavradio 20 - From Tuesdays through Saturdays. Surely one of the most beautiful and well known samba clubs in Rio de Janeiro. Was once elected by the english newspaper The Guardian as being one of the top 10 bars in the world. Nice décor, filled with antiques, paintings, medieval armors, old bycicles, etc. in a amazing 19th century old warehouse. Three floors, on the first floor the main stage, second floor is a annex where sometimes another band plays or is a DJ playing, mostly brazilectro (mix of eletronic music with brazilian songs). Fridays and Saturdays are the busiest nights and sometimes specially in the summer there are pretty long lines, my advice to get early (around 22:00) to avoind it. Bring a valid ID/passport (copy is also accepted) to get in. By the entrance you get a comsuption card ( don't loose it all!) and you pay your comsuption and entrace fees at the cashier before leaving the building. Dress up. More info:


For those who like to go clubbing, Rio has some good options. You'll be seeing lots of flyers and talk about "raves", but those aren't the same as European ones. Usually Rio's raves are devoted to trance, which is pretty popular, especially with the upper-class youngsters, though some electronic parties do have good djs and live acts from around the world. The night in Rio is pretty much divided between mainstream and underground.

Mainstream would be such "raves" and big electronic festivals, as well a nightclubs like Bombar (Leblon and Barra da Tijuca), Baronetti (Ipanema) and Melt (Leblon) that are devoted to pop, dance and variations of house and trance. Those are not, however, places you go for the music. They are usually packed with "patricinhas" (tanned, long soft-haired girls with gym-built bodies) and specially "pitboys" (upper/middle-class boys, known for having various degrees of martial arts training and a certain tendency for violence). Yes, fights are one of the major problems with the mainstream clubbing scene in Rio. It's also fairly expensive. You'd be expecting to pay between R$30 and R$50 to get in a club (girls pay less, but all those clubs will have an f/m proportion around 1/3) and between R$50 and R$100 for a "rave" or electronic music party being held at spots like the Marina.

  • Melt (pronounced meelch by locals) - Leblon, Rua Rita Ludolf 47A - Thursdays - this 2-story club sports an upscale bar downstairs and a dance club upstairs.
  • Bombar Leblon, good club.

Though with far less options, the underground clubbing scene is more available and interesting than the mainstream. Most of the underground clubs are on Zona Sul and offer different parties for each day of the week. The underground club scene has a more diverse public, from goths to punks also with strong hedonistic tints. It's very gay-friendly and most of the parties and clubs have almost the same m/f proportion. It is also far cheaper than the mainstream clubs, with tickets starting as low as R$5 and not going further up than R$25.

  • Clandestino [64] Copacabana- Rua Barata Ribeiro, 111. A European-style underground club: dark, dungeony and has a basement with a compact dance floor. What´s cool is that every Friday is Black Friday, which is when Brazilians and foreigners get down to hip-hop, Brazilian funk and other types of "black music". A great place to meet people. International beers and mixed drinks. They´ve got rock n´roll parties called Benflogin and also eletronic partiers like LBF and Partiers Angels.
  • Fosfobox, Rua Siqueira Campos, 143 - Copacabana, [65]. "Fosfo" as it's nicknamed by the goers has a strong Saturday rock-oriented party. Young, trendy crowd with djs playing mostly indie rock, discopunk and electro-rock. After 4 am it has a more electronic after-party. Different parties happen on Fridays, but it's usually electronic, with favorite genres being electro, house and minimal. Other nights are usually more electronic also, but has had Rock parties also on Thursdays. On Tuesdays there's a dub/reggaeton party.
  • Casa da Matriz, Botafogo, [66]. Rua Henrique Novaes, 126. An 18th century house turned into a two-floor nightclub. Because the walls of the original structure are all there, it is regarded as small. It has a weekly schedule that never changes. On Fridays there's a Brazilian music party (Brazooka) which is must-go in town. On Saturdays, there's rock on the first floor, with occasional appearances by local and even foreign bands (Paradiso). On Mondays has a very indie and prestigious rock party (Maldita), though never a really crowded one (except on Holidays).
  • Dama de Ferro - Rua Vinicius de Moraes, 288 - Ipanema [67]. Electronic-only club, with two floors. Mostly has electro, minimal and house parties, with well-known DJs from Rio, Brazil and foreigners. A "must" with the electronic-loving gay community. (00), located in Gávea.
Sunset at Arpoador, best in Rio
Sunset at Arpoador, best in Rio

While Rio's fancy hotels are along the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, there are lots of small and cheap, but clean, hotels around Flamengo and Catete.

The street in front of the strip of tourist hotels in Copacabana can be seedy, due to both garishly-dressed tourists, and a few opportunistic locals ready to take advantage of them. The apart-hotels in Ipanema are a much more pleasant alternative, being both better appointed and in a nicer neighborhood with fewer tourists.

Accommodation in the city center can be convenient for business travellers. The surrounding areas, however, are far from pleasant at night, being nearly deserted and lacking decent restaurants and leisure options. The central Santa Teresa neighbourhood, however, is quite departed from the city centre life and has plenty of pleasant bed and breakfasts and a significant nightlife.

Given Rio's rise as a fashionable destination with creative and fashion people, some hotels that cater to the design-conscious crowd have also been popping up at the most upscale neighborhoods. The city also has a large selection of apart-hotels, which provide apartment-style accommodations with kitchen facilities. Private condominium apartments can also be rented short-term at reasonable rates, and can be found on the Internet. This is probably a preferable means of finding one of these than the notes that will be passed to you by anonymous persons on the street. These apartments generally have a one-week minumum, or two weeks during Carnaval or New Years holidays.

Accommodation in Rio is probably Brazil's most expensive. There is a relative shortage of hotel rooms on the cheaper range and booking in advance is recommended. Moreover, prices for most accommodation can more than triple during New Year's and Carnival. Those are very busy periods and booking well in advance is recommended. Note that most hotels in tourist areas will only sell 4-day packages and charge in advance - even if you want to stay only for a couple of days during those events. Other than those, the busiest month is January - summer holidays in Brazil.

Motels, that you will see mainly on the outskirts of the city, are not motels in the American sense. Rather, they are places you go with your lover for a few hours. One famous motel, overlooking the Sheraton in Leblon, was taken over by the US Secret Service when George Bush Snr stayed at the Sheraton. It is not recorded whether heart-shaped beds, mirrors on the ceiling and on-tap porno movies affected their work!


If hostel life is more your style, they are easy to find in Rio. The more expensive ones boast locations that are short walking distance to either Ipanema or Copacabana beach. However if you prefer to stay in Lapa, Glória, Catete, and Botafogo, there are many other choices available. Hostelling has become increasingly popular in Brazil, and many of them are located at walking distance from hot spots. Beware, however, not to be taken to any fraudulent scheme - you might end up being robbed. Look for accredited places with Youth Hostelling International and similar franchises.

  • Walk On The Beach Hostel [68] at Rua Dias da Rocha, 85 - +5521.25457500 - Walk on the Beach Hostel is located in a quiet and safe area hidden inside Rio's most exciting spot: Copacabana. The hostel is just a few steps away from shops, restaurants, cafés, buses, metro and the fantastic Copacabana Beach. They provide low-priced rooms and the facilities you need, all in a nice and cozy environment where you can relax at the lounge or party at the bar. ().
  • CabanaCopa Hostel [69] at Travessa Guimarães Natal, 12 - +5521.39889912 - Located 3 blocks from the beach, 1 block from the metro station Arcoverde and next to a beautiful natural park, CabanaCopa is a brand new, unique hostel in Rio de Janeiro. A large colonial house, fully renovated in the safest part of Copacabana, with clean and spacious ensuite dorms, excellent social areas and a friendly and helpful staff. ().
  • Casa Carioka Rio Hostel [70] at Rua Emilio Berla, 180 - +5521.37342235 - Casa Carioka is a hostel for backpackers and travellers in Copacabana, located 4 blocks from the beach and 2 blocks from Cantagalo Metro station. It's run by a fellow backpacker who knows what you need, what you're interested in and where you need to be to get the most out of your time in Rio de Janeiro. Breakfast, kitchen, laundry, WiFi, security lockers and hot showers are all provided. Tours can also be arranged to all the main tourist attractions. Casa Carioka Rio Hostel (Hostel in Rio de Janeiro), Rua Emilio Berla, 180 (Near Cantagalo Metro station), +55 (21) 3734 2235 (), [71]. (,Rio de Janeiro Hostel) edit
  • Che Lagarto Copacabana [72] at Rua Anita Garibaldi, 87 - +5521.22562776 - Another hostel a mere three blocks from the beach, this branch of Che Lagarto is nearly faultless. The staff are incredible and the atmosphere is "party if you want to"; as opposed to the "party" hostels where you can get no sleep, this place allows you to sleep even when others are partying! The facilities are excellent with good internet, Wi-Fi, a decent bar and an interesting pool table. The dorms are of an excellent standard and get cleaned everyday by possibly the best cleaning team in South America. The private rooms are of an absolutely exceptional standard, but are quite a bit more expensive. Discounts are offered for long stays and also for future stays in any Che Lagarto hostel. Security is good too. But as previously mentioned, the greatest asset is the staff who are so helpful that it is untrue!
  • Stone of a Beach Adress: Rua Barata Ribeiro 111 - Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro" directions="One block next to Copacabana bech and Cardeal Arco Verde train station " phone="+55 (21) 32 09 03 48" Stone of a Beach is the place to be in Rio. It can arrange any tour or trip you want for you for great prices, has big, airy rooms and great common areas, is staffed with very cool young people, and knows everything that is going on. They have amazing New Year's and Carnaval events, as well as their own cool bar next door where they have live music. Not just another hostel, Stone of a Beach is unique, fun, safe, clean, and your ticket to a great time in Rio de Janeiro!
  • El Misti Hostel Rio de Janeiro, Travessa Frederico Pamplona, 20 (Next of Hospital Sao Lucas), +55 (21) 2547 0800 (), [73]. Hostel & Pousada in Copacabana, Free pickup Aeroport, Safe area, Fun, Dorms from $11, Great Breakfast. Te.+55 21 2547 0800 U$11. (,Rio de Janeiro Hostel) edit
  • Ananab Guesthouse Rio [74] at Rua Alice, 681 - located in the middle of the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro, on the quietest street of Laranjeiras residencial district, set in a historical house built in 1917. Although Ananab's location is in the middle of the city, you feel as if you are away from it all with views of the Statue of Christ the Reedemer, Sugar Loaf Mountain and the Atlantic Forest.
  • Santa Teresa is a nice option for accommodation in Rio. Casa 579 [75] is a beautiful mansion house with spectacular views and an amazing roof terrace with 180 degree views to Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountain and just minutes from the famous Santa Teresa Tram. Casa Beleza [76] is another guest house in a charming exotic historic mansion with tropical gardens and swimming pool. Both are typical of the kind of accommodation you will find in Santa Teresa.


Most luxury hotels are in Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon.

  • Porto Bay Rio Internacional, Av. Atlântica, 1500 - Copacabana - Right on Copacabana beach in the spectacular city of Rio de Janeiro, the Porto Bay Rio Internacional Hotel offers the best of two worlds – the magnificent city and a breathtaking view over the beach, right at your feet. (Copacabana Beach), +55 21 2546-8000 (, fax: +55 21 2542-5443), [77]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00.  edit
  • JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro, Avenida Atlântica, 2600, Copacabana. The newest hotel in Copacabana, the JW Marriott Hotel has deservedly earned popularity in recent years. A favorite among business and leisure travelers alike, Reservations: +55 (21)2545-6500 (fax: +55 (21)2545-6555), [80].  edit
  • Fasano, Avenida Vieira Souto, 80, Ipanema, tel. 21 3202-4000. [81]
  • Hotel Sofitel, Avenida Atlântica, 4240, Copacabana, +55 (21)2525-1232 (, fax: +55 (21)2525-1200), [82].  edit
  • Hotel Marina Palace, Av. Delfim Moreira, 630, Leblon, +55 (21)2172-1001 (fax: +55 (21)2172-1010), [83].  edit
  • Marina all Suites Hotel, Av. Delfim Moreira, 696 Leblon - Rio de Janeiro. The Marina All Suites is the only deluxe boutique hotel in Rio. Top contemporary designers beautifully decorated it. A unique hotel that attracts acclaimed guests of the world of music and cinema. The Restaurant: the hottest spot of the famous and trendy. Here you can mingle with famous Brazilian musicians. The health club and pool on the roof top has fantastic views. Everything at this hotel is aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Location: The hotel is situated in front of the beach of Leblon south end of Ipanema.  edit
  • Caesar Park Hotel, Avenida Vieira Souto, 460, Ipanema, +55 (21)3906-8999, [84].  edit
  • Porto Bay Rio Internacional, Av. Atlântica, 1500 - Copacabana - Right on Copacabana beach in the spectacular city of Rio de Janeiro, the Porto Bay Rio Internacional Hotel offers the best of two worlds – the magnificent city and a breathtaking view over the beach, right at your feet. (Copacabana Beach), +55 21 2546-8000 (, fax: +55 21 2542-5443), [85]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00.  edit


It is strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel.

Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about preventive measures, immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our 'Travelling Well' brochure also provides useful tips for travelling with medicines and staying healthy while overseas.

The standard of private medical facilities in large cities such as Sao Paulo, Campinas, Rio and Curitiba is comparable to First World Countries. Treatment at private clinics and hospitals is very expensive. Doctors and hospitals may expect cash payment prior to providing medical services, including for emergency care.

HIV/AIDS is a significant risk in Brazil as in any country. You should exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection. You can find out more information at the World Health Organization website.

Rio by night: Baía da Guanabara seen from Urca mountain.
Rio by night: Baía da Guanabara seen from Urca mountain.

It is important to note that while the following information may panic you and also make you question whether to go or not to Rio, most visitors to the city have a great time with no incidents. Still, Rio can be dangerous. As a traveler, even if you don't leave the "Zona Sul" (which include Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Gávea, Jardim Botânico, Flamengo, Laranjeiras, Botafogo, Urca) or Western Suburbs (Barra, Recreio), you'll still experience a palpable tension over security. In February during the Carnival, there were two consecutive armed robberies on tourist youth hostels with the first being in Zona Sul's Copacabana. Generally, tourists (gringos) and teenagers are considered "easy" targets for criminals. Day-to-day living has also been affected by this for example regular banks all have fortress style security doors and armed security men. Rio can be a dangerous city and it is wise to follow these rules even if they seem over exaggerated. It's better to be safe than sorry. In order to fully enjoy your trip the traveler should pay attention to simple things. Avoid the downtown area, especially Saara, after dark. Although downtown is a relatively safe place during the day, after dark all the people who work there have already gone home. If you are going to a theater or a show, it's all right; but do not wander in those dark streets by night. Go to Ipanema beach, all lighted and policed during the night, though it's not entirely safe for tourists that look obviously like tourists at any time. Never go to Copacabana beach at night, you may get robbed. After midnight, you probably want to stay off Avenue Atlantica in general as there will only be prostitutes and beggars out at those times. Also, avoid Avenue Atlantica in front of the Praça Lido park, 3 blocks NE of the Copacabana Palace Hotel. This is the only block without any businesses, making muggings far more likely. Try walking on the beach side, or even better, detour inland. Sunday is a particular day since most shops are closed and their security guards are absent, this means that the neighbourhood Centro is not safe daytime and also that even the bigger streets in Copacabana are less safe after dark, the beach walk is probably the best option. Should you find yourself being mugged, the normal advice applies: Don't resist or do anything to aggravate the muggers. Try not to stare in their faces, as they might think you are memorizing their appearance. Eyes to the ground is probably your best bet. Let them take anything they want (keep your arms limp). Afterwards, leave the scene quickly but calmly (don't run in panic screaming for the police). If possible, and not more dangerous, don't leave in the same direction that the muggers went.

In the morning, especially before the police arrives walking or jogging on Copacabana should be considered unsafe. Even with people around joggers are popular targets for mugging. If you plan on jogging make sure not to wear anything that may tempt a mugger (watch, ipod etc) and if you can, wait until after 10:00 AM.

When in downtown during the rush hour, be aware of pickpockets as in any other big city center. The difference in Rio is that the pickpocket can often be a bit violent: one of them pushing you forward in the bus or to the ground in the street while another one takes your wallet and runs away. It's not that usual or as bad as it sounds, but try to avoid being in real danger by reacting strongly as these guys often operate in armed groups (2-5 people), some unnoticed by you.

Particular care should be taken on Avenida Nossa Senhora de Copacabana, which is no longer safe, even by day. Armed gangs patrol the length of this street, and tourists are frequently (daily) targetted and robbed at knifepoint and gunpoint. A common technique is for the tourist to be pushed to the ground, even in broad daylight (while passers-by on the street offer no more than a glance of amusement) and then kicked and beaten until all valuables have been found and removed. As tourist numbers decline, the ratio of violent robbers per tourist has risen sharply, such that identifiable tourists on foot almost inevitably encounter problems.

Still in the city center (but also in other parts of the city) you will see lots of people called camelôs in small tables or simply on the ground trying to sell all sort of things like cheap small electronic devices, wallets, purses, pirated software, music and films. People do buy some of these stuff as they can be amazingly cheap, but be aware that most of these camelôs are illegally selling on the street and often the police will try to expel them. You may see lots of them packing their goods and quickly running away right before the police arrives. Be aware... this moment can be a chaos !

On weekends, beaches in Rio are watched by helicopters.
On weekends, beaches in Rio are watched by helicopters.

In the area around Copacabana beach (and maybe in the city center) the tourist should be aware of a shoe shining scam. The tourist will be approached by a shoeshiner and to his astonishment discover a large, dirty blot on his shoes (which is actually shoe polish or mustard, but looks like quite something else). The tourist is typically shown to a chair and has his shoes or sandals cleaned in the best manner. Only after this service is rendered, the outrageous price of somewhere around R$1000 or more is revealed. At this point, muscular friends of the shoeshiner typically appear to "oversee" the completion of the transaction. If you are approached by a shoe shiner, you should shout or state loudly "NO" and walk quickly past. Swearing in your native tongue could also act as a deterrent. Should you be so unlucky as to have been put in a position where you cannot prevent having your shoes cleaned, it will be of some relief to you that the price can often be haggled down to a level suited to the size of your wallet.

The subway is fairly safe, so it is recommended to use it if you want to go from one place to another. Although you may be used to taking the handy and good trains in Europe or even in North America to go across many places, you won't need to take a train in Rio. If you do, it can be a fairly nice trip to the suburbs or a chaotic journey to a bad neighborhood in a train where people sell all kinds of weird stuff, where everyone will look at you in a way you will feel you are a alien, about to be mugged. Buses on the South Zone are fairly safe as well but in the city center they can be quite crowded. Inside a bus, being mugged is always a threat: smaller in the South and tourist zones, but is a threat. Always remember that Bus 174 movie. It happens more often that you may imagine. So often that they don't even go to the news (only weird and big cases where the police got involved such as this Bus 174 go to the news). In the subway, it is quite unlikely though! One extra point to the subway.

Don't walk around with lots of money in your pocket. ATM's are everywhere (prefer the ones inside shopping centers) and credit/debit cards are widely accepted. But don't walk around without any money: you may need something to give to the bad guys in case you are mugged. Not having money to give a mugger can be dangerous as they may get aggravated and resort to violence. An excellent idea is to buy a "capanga" (literally meaning bodyguard), that is, a small frontal unisex pouch, normally used to carry your wallet, checks, money and car keys.

Avoid wearing jewelry or other signs of wealth (iPods, fancy cell phones/mobiles, digital cameras, ect.) if possible, at any time of the day as these attract attention. Thieves have been known to run past targets and tear off necklaces, rings, and earrings without stopping. Earrings are particularly dangerous as tearing them off often harms the owner.

There are around 700 favelas in the city and most of them can potentially be unsafe in Rio: and there is always one near you (by a couple of miles or just a few yards). These are easily recognized by their expansive brick walls, and are often on a hillside. The slums grew from being impoverished neighborhoods but are now large areas ruled by drug lords. If you want to keep your nice vision of Rio, you don't need to go there. However, some favelas are amazingly huge, and a new experience for some -- there are some travel agencies who take people on tours there. If you want to go, pay one of those agencies. Never, NEVER go to a favela by yourself, or with an unknown guide. The tour operators have "safe-conduct pacts" with the local drug dealers. If you don't have one, you'll be in BIG trouble. You'll most likely be approached by the drug baron's guards and asked what you are doing there (and these guys typically don't speak English). If you don't have a good reason (and you probably don't), the consequences could be dire. Don't count on the police to help you, as they don't like to enter the favela either, except in special circumstances, though most likely they will check if you are carrying any drugs upon leaving the favela.

In Brazil, every state has two police forces: the Civil (Polícia Civil) and Military (Polícia Militar). Only the latter wear uniform (in Rio, it is navy blue). The city of Rio also has an unarmed Civil Guard, dressed in khaki. Policemen can usually be trusted, but corruption in Brazil is still rampant and a few officers may try to extort you or demanding a little bribe. When this happens, it is usually very subtle, and the officer may typically say something about "some for the beer" (cervejinha). If you are not willing, refuse and ask for another officer. Don't ever try to bribe a policeman on your own - most of them are honest and you might end up in jail.

The local emergency dial number is 190.

At night, especially after traffic has died-down you may hear what sounds like fireworks and explosions. This is not as menacing as it sounds, though it is still indicative of somebody up to no good. These are often firecrackers set-off as signals in the favelas. It might mean that a drug shipment has arrived and is in-transit, or that the police are making a raid into the favela. It is a signal to gang operatives who act as lookouts and surrogate police to be extra-vigilant. However, real shoot-outs may occur, especially on weekends. If you are on the street and you hear a shooting, find shelter in the nearest shop or restaurant.

For your safety, cross at the crosswalks - not closer to the corner - and watch for cars regardless of traffic lights.

You will notice that cariocas (Rio residents) avoid stopping at the traffic lights after dark, especially at small roads. This is because the boys selling candies and other goods may be something simply annoying... or some of them may be there to mug/rob you. Therefore, you will also notice that most cariocas drive with all the windows shut and doors locked, despite the usually warm weather. Air conditioner is therefore a must and you will probably not see a single convertible car: it is too expensive for a regular Brazilian citizen and even though one could buy such a car, it is again a sign of wealth, which is to be avoided even by locals.

Carjacking can be a threat too, especially if you are outside the tourist areas and after dark. It is perfectly acceptable (but not exactly legal) not to stop in the traffic lights if there is nobody else on the street and you feel it's okay to go (no other cars). You will even see police doing this. Some major motorways such as Linha Amarela (Yellow Line: connects the west zone(Barra da Tijuca) to the north zone - may be your way to Norte Shopping for example) and Linha Vermelha (Red Line - the main connection from the International Airport) are strongly avoided late at night. Both motorways are surrounded by favelas so carjacking is usual and shoot-outs may occur between rival drug lords or between drug lords and the police. If you rented a car, be aware of all these issues. As a tourist, it may be better not to rent one anyway, as if you get lost and go to a bad neighbourhood (and again, there will always be one near you) you will most likely be in trouble.

If you want to go to a traditional escola de samba (samba school), Mangueira is a good place. This is close to a favela, so you should go with a guide accordingly. If you do have a trustful Brazilian friend that can take you, that's excellent. Ask him/her to take you to Maracanã as well to watch a football (soccer) match! Yet exercise great caution if you go by yourself especially if two of the local Rio teams are playing (Flamengo, Fluminense, Botafogo and Vasco). These matches can be very exciting but also very dangerous especially if between Flamengo and Botafogo or Vasco. If it looks like your team (your team is whoever the fans around you are cheering for) is losing, it is wise to leave the stadium before the match ends. You don't want to be in the middle of a very angry bunch of football fans when they all cram out of the stadium.

  • Niteroi - The ferry between Rio and Niteroi, a city across the bay, is a pleasant and cheap trip (as of December 2006, R$ 2.10). There are a couple of kinds of boats, ranging from very cheap and slow (called barca) to fairly cheap and fast (called catamarã, catamaran). Niteroi does not have many tourist attractions, but it does have a wonderful unique view of Rio and an intriguing contemporary art museum [86], which looks like a flying saucer jutting out over the sea (designed by famous architect Oscar Niemeyer). Also, it has one of the state's most beautiful beaches, Itacoatiara, which can be reached by the bus numbered 38.
  • Búzios is a small peninsula about three hours east of Rio. It has several beaches, lots of places to stay and an abundance of night clubs.
  • Angra dos Reis and Ilha Grande. Angra is surrounded by 365 islands, the largest being Ilha Grande, a pretty island and former penal colony with beautiful beaches and good hiking. Angra is 2-3 hours from Rio by car and it is a one-hour boat ride from there to Ilha Grande.
  • Paraty - One hour south of Angra, this is a fully-conserved 18th-century colonial town by the ocean, hidden by tall jungle-covered mountains which used to be a hideout for pirates after the Portuguese ships; a must-see for people interested in History and Culture; also good for Rainforest hiking and kayaking.
  • Paqueta -- Though not exactly outside of Rio, because it is an island and can only be reached by a 70 minutes ferry ride, this district of Rio makes an excellent (and inexpensive) day trip.
  • Petrópolis - In the mountains outside Rio. A good place to cool down when Rio becomes too hot.
  • Praia do Abricó [87] The best public naturist beach around Rio, located in Grumari, right after Prainha. Facilities and telephone service are quite limited, so plan ahead.
  • Teresópolis - Another mountain town, near Petrópolis.
Routes through Rio de Janeiro
VitóriaNiterói  N noframe S  MangaratibaSantos
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



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Proper noun

Rio de Janeiro

  1. State in southeastern Brazil.
  2. Capital of Rio de Janeiro state and former capital of Brazil.


See also

w:Rio de Janeiro

Simple English

This page is about the city of Rio de Janeiro. For information about the Brazilian state, see Rio de Janeiro (state).

Rio de Janeiro is the second largest Brazilian city. Until April 21, 1960 it was the capital city of Brazil. Today it is the capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro. According to the 2000 Census, the city had 5,473,909 inhabitants, distributed over 1,000 km2.

File:Rio de Janeiro from Corcovado
The city of Rio de Janeiro, viewed from Corcovado mountain.

Rio de Janeiro is the most famous Brazilian city in the world. It is famous for its beaches, such as Copacabana Beach and Ipanema Beach(in Portuguese, Pão de Açúcar) and the statue of Christ the Redeemer (in Portuguese, Cristo Redentor). It also has an important harbour, and the second most important airport in Brazil for international flights: Tom Jobim Airport. It has significant commerce and many industries, especially textiles, food, chemicals, and metallurgy. Most of these industries are located in the northern and western suburbs of the city. Although it is not so widely known, Rio de Janeiro also has a small rural area, near the suburb of Campo Grande, where fruits and vegetables are grown.

Other cities near Rio de Janeiro, like Duque de Caxias, Nova Iguaçu, Queimados and São Gonçalo, that form the Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro, also have a lot of industries and population.

The city is 420 kilometers away from São Paulo, the biggest city in South America. The cities of Rio and São Paulo are linked by the Presidente Dutra Highway (also known as Via Dutra). The region crossed by the Presidente Dutra Highway has been an important industrial zone since the 1950s.

In the city of Rio de Janeiro there is also one of the oldest national parks of Brazil: Tijuca National Park. This park is considered the largest urban forest in the world, with some 33 km2, between the northern and the southern parts of the city. Another interesting place to visit in Rio is the district (in Portuguese, bairro) of Santa Tereza, and the most interesting way to get there is by taking an old electric tram (in Portuguese, bonde) from central Rio de Janeiro (near Largo da Carioca subway station), crossing over the Arcos da Lapa, an old aqueduct built during the colonial period to provide water to the city.

On October 2, 2009, the city was named by the International Olympic Committee as the host for the 2016 Games.

Other websites

rue:Ріо де Жанейро

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