Destination Spotlight - Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro, affectionately known as Rio, is the lively second largest city in Brazil, with a population of 6.32 million people. With its gleaming coastal stretches and bustling capital, Rio is the most frequently visited place in Brazil. Offering the best of both worlds with cooler temperatures in the coastal areas and more balmy ones inland, Rio has so much to offer. Home to some true geographic diamonds such as the Tijuca Hills and Corcovado Peak, it’s easy to see why Rio is so immensely popular with adventurers and holidaymakers from around the world - particularly after hosting the 2016 Olympic Games.
When to Go
If you want to experience the best of the Brazilian heat then December to March is when Rio is typically the warmest. However, this is when the most people visit too, so it can be busy, and pricey.
Head to the country during the cooler months, from May to September, if you want to be able to find your way around without the hustle and bustle. Plus, the cooler weather is also a good move if you plan on doing lots of adventurous exploring. Be aware that the annual rainy season is typically during March and April, when localised flooding can hit the city and create disruption. It’s best to avoid these months if possible.
What to Do
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If you want to experience a taste of Rio de Janeiro in all its glory, then plan your visit to coincide with the famous Rio Carnival. Starting 40 days before Easter, the Rio Carnival is a days-long fiesta featuring food, music, dancing and tons of Brazilian flare!
The Rio Carnival runs during February/March, coinciding with the days before Lent. According to sources, more than 500,000 foreign visitors flock to Rio to experience the wonders of the carnival, and get a true insight into Brazilian culture. Typically carnival begins with the crowning of the Fat King, before carnival commences across the city - with parades, dancing and festivities dotted throughout the streets. See some of the incredible street bands and look out for the samba schools, who entertain the hordes of visitors with their impressive moves.
Where to Stay
There is something for all budgets when it comes to staying in Rio de Janeiro. From boutique hotels to hostels, the city is packed with exciting places to use as a base for exploring the area.
Think about what you want to get from your stay when planning your accommodation. Lapa is known as the party area of Rio, although this does mean it can get noisy. The Easy Plus Bristol Hotel - Lapa Rio is popular with those looking for a comfortable place to rest after a busy day exploring. If you want a more traditional experience then many in the know recommend Largo do Machado or Flamengo, which are good for getting a feel for how the real residents of Rio live.
Looking for a traditional tourist vibe in the picture-postcard location? Ipanema is a good area to start. Close to the beach, with a host of pricey shops, nightclubs and restaurants, Ipanema is typically pretty safe and proves popular with tourists year after year. The Golden Tulip Ipanema Plaza is a stone’s throw from the beach and the perfect place to get some rest in the heart of the action.
Not to be Missed
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- Head to Copacabana Beach - Undoubtedly one of the most famous beaches in the world, Copacabana Beach is a 4km stretch of golden sand and gorgeous water. The beach is a hive of activity, from cocktail kiosks to locals playing football and vendors selling a whole host of goods, so there’s sure to be something to keep everyone entertained!
- Visit Cristo Redentor - Cristo Redentor, or Christ the Redeemer, is an iconic Rio landmark recognised, listed as one of the new seven wonders of the world. Head to the top of the 710m Corcovado by the red narrow-gauge train or one of the authorised vans to see the 38m statue in all its glory. Or, wait until the evening when you can see it lit up in all its glory from across the city!
- See the Maracanã Stadium - The legendary Maracanã Stadium has been a focal point for the Rio 2016 Olympics, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies as well as the final rounds of football tournaments. You can take a tour of the venue to see all the behind the scenes areas, or for a truly exciting experience visit on match day - the atmosphere is incredible.
- See the peak of Pão de Açúcar - Jump in the two cable cars that head to the top of Pão de Açúcar mountain, 396m above Rio, for a view of everything - the city, the beaches, the mountains and Cristo Redentor. Get there early to avoid the crowds!
- Take a trip to Tijuca Forest - If you want to escape the business of the city then head to Tijuca Forest, a tropical paradise in the middle of the city. It has everything you could wish for, from waterfalls and winding trails to incredible amounts of animals and birds. Take the forest tour to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
Getting to Rio de Janeiro: Direct flights to Rio from London take approx 11h 40m.
Visa requirements: British nationals entering Brazil as a tourist do not normally require a visa. Make sure that you comply with immigration laws on arrival in the country.
Currency: The currency in Brazil is Brazilian Real.
Time zone: In Rio de Janeiro the time zone is UTC/GMT -3 hours.