Brazil in a nutshell

  • Official language: Portuguese
  • Capital: Brazil
  • Currency: Brazilian real

When to arrive in Brazil?

Brazil is located in the Southern Hemisphere. If you want to get to the greatest show in the world – CARNIVAL IN RIO, then the trip should be planned for March-February. The carnival is held 40 days before Easter. Please note that the carnival lasts 5-6 days, NOT ONE! But the street carnival lasts a whole month, so you shouldn’t be upset if you don’t get on specific days. Carnival is a HUGE number of tourists in a forty-degree heat, add high humidity here.

 Therefore, if you are bothered by a huge number of people, crowds of drunks and the heat, then it is better to choose a time after the carnival, that is, March-May. The ocean still retains summer warmth, and there are much fewer tourists, respectively, the prices for housing, food and attractions are lower.

In the months of European summer, June-August, in Brazil – winter. It may be cloudy and rainy, but there is no pronounced rainy season like in Asia. At this time, the water in the ocean is cold, there is practically no one on the beach. This winter can be described as an ideal Moscow summer: the temperature during the day is up to +30, and in the evening it does not drop below +15, while it is sunny and fresh. Ideal for active tourism, hiking in the mountains, exploring the city itself. For those who cannot stand the heat, there is an opportunity to get a good tan here.

View from Sugarloaf Mountain's cable car
View from Sugarloaf Mountain’s cable car

Which currency is better to take to Brazil? Money in Brazil.

It is better to take dollars with you, but there are no problems with exchanging euros. In Brazil, the currency is the Brazilian real. Be sure to check the exchange rates before your trip! Focus on the official rate so that when you first change money in the country, you are not deceived and given 2 reais per dollar. Of course, you should not exchange all the money at the airport at once, there is an extremely unprofitable course there. But if you want to use public transport, you can change a small amount (up to $ 50).

It is most profitable to change money on Copacabana in exchange offices: “cambio”, “intercambio” and here a passport is not required. Pay attention to the opening hours. Many exchangers are closed on weekends. In shopping centers, the exchange rate is less favorable, but they work on Mon-Sun, and when exchanging currencies, a passport is required here. Shopping center: Rio sul, Botafogo praia shopping, Leblon shopping, Barra shopping.

The cable car to the Sugarloaf Mountain
The cable car to the Sugarloaf Mountain

With a guide or on your own?

South America is a special continent, famous, unfortunately, for high crime statistics. The first mistake of a tourist is to think that in Brazil, as elsewhere: he arrived, settled in the center and went to take a selfie with Christ.

If you have rich experience of independent travel on your own to different countries (NOT Europe) and you know how to plan your trip, look for detailed information about the city, about SAFETY RULES, read forums and bloggers, then you can safely go on your own.

If you like to travel with experienced guides, want to know the history and culture of the city in more detail, and prefer to relax rather than engage in tedious planning, then it is better to use the services of a local guide.

For example, everyone is used to thinking that the city center is the best and most profitable place for tourist excursions, but in Rio de Janeiro this logic is completely wrong. The city center here is a rather criminal place, where there are many slums, homeless people, and on weekends it is a completely empty area. Shops are closed, homeless people are living on the streets If you did not know about this in advance, then most likely your vacation will be held in a stressful environment and additional expenses for a taxi to get to the nearest beach.

Favela in Rio
Favela in Rio

Hotels in Rio de Janeiro. Where to stay in Rio?

In Rio, one of the largest Brazilian cities, there is a wide variety of hotels, differing in quality and cost of living: there are both chic luxury five-star and more affordable three-star establishments, and the cheapest apartments.

Travelers mainly settle in Copacabana. Basically, all “average” hotels at more or less affordable prices and with decent service are located in this area. For accommodation in a room of a three-four-star hotel, you will have to pay about one and a half to two hundred bucks. In the Ipanema area, living is even more expensive – prices there are about 30 percent higher than in those institutions that are located in the Copacabana area.

One of the decent Copacabana hotels to stay during your trip to Rio is the Orla Copacabana Hotel.

Orla Copacabana Hotel
The establishment is located next to Copacabana beach. Ipanema is also not far from here – in just five minutes you can walk. On the territory of the hotel – free internet access, a restaurant and a swimming pool. The pool is located on the roof. The Orla Copacabana Hotel has a great view of the ocean and Sugarloaf Mountain, among other positive aspects.

The design of the rooms is modern, in neutral colors. The rooms have air conditioning, cable TV, minibar.

Meals at this hotel are buffet breakfast. The restaurant at the institution offers a menu with dishes of Brazilian and international cuisine, there is a large selection of exotic fruits. There is a pool bar where you can enjoy an exotic cocktail and traditional snacks. There is also a lobby bar in the hotel.

To services of clients – a sauna and a fitness center overlooking the beach. The registration desk is open around the clock.

The Osório Subway Station is seven blocks away, making it easy to get to other parts of Rio.

It costs approximately $ 180 to rent a double room. In general, in terms of value for money, this establishment is a suitable place for a traveler.

Everything here is not very chic, but nevertheless at a decent level.

And next to the Ipanema beach, at a distance of one hundred meters (one block), there is a new hotel Ipanema Plaza, This is a 4 * institution, with a high level of service. The establishment has a decent restaurant and a swimming pool. The approximate price for accommodation is $ 240 per night.

The rooms are decorated with modern design solutions. The rooms are bright, have a large area, the windows in them are soundproof. The room has cable TV and a full minibar. Other plusses are added ocean views from some of the rooms.

From entertainment in this hotel there is a large fitness room, dry and steam bath.

The hotel restaurant is called Opium. Facility’s menu includes dishes prepared according to modern recipes with an emphasis on Asian themes. In general, breakfast at the Golden Tulip Ipanema Plaza hotel is offered as a “buffet”: exotic dishes are served to the clients of the institution; you can have breakfast right on the veranda.

Everywhere in the hotel you can connect to Wi-Fi. In addition, the beach service is free. The guys at the reception are working without interruption.

Near the Ipanema Plaza hotel there are a number of shops and the popular place of the district – Posto 9. There is a subway station two blocks away, so it will not be difficult to get to any part of the city, as in the case of the above-described hotel.

Copacabana Palace Hotel
Speaking of luxury hotels in Rio, it is worth stopping at such as the Copacabana Palace Hotel. The cheapest room in this establishment costs 600 bucks, and the most expensive – 1200. Copacabana Palace Hotel is a luxurious place, perhaps even the most luxurious in Rio de Janeiro. So that wealthy clients do not get bored, there is a beautiful large pool, spa and exquisite Cipriani restaurant. The furnishings in the rooms are also not sickly – antiques, art objects … The history of the Copacabana Palace Hotel stretches back to 1923: immediately after its opening, the hotel gained the fame of the very establishment where the “cream of society” stay – this hotel remembers heads of state and popular movie stars among its clients.

Copacabana Palace Hotel is, so to speak, a symbol of luxurious life in a city-pearl, beautiful and terrible at the same time.

Brazil flag on nature background
Brazil flag on nature background

What is worth seeing in Rio de Janeiro? Sights in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is a huge potential for the traveler. Everything is here! Beach holiday with kilometers of clean and beautiful beaches: Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Barra da Tijuca, Recreio, Prainha, etc. A few hours from Rio there are paradise beaches like in the bounty: Ilha Grande, Brazilian Caribbean: Arraial do Cabo, Buzios, Cabo Frio.

Ecotourism: the famous hiking trail in the national parks through the whole city of Transkarioka (180 km). If you’re not ready for Indiana Jones mode yet, go on short hikes ranging from 15 minutes to 4 hours in the world’s largest Tijuca National Park.

Extremists here will find any activity to their liking: paragliding, parasailing, hang gliding, rock climbing, surfing, kitesurfing, mountain cycling, diving, kayaking, rowing, yachting.

Cultural rest. In 2019, Rio de Janeiro received the status of a center of world architecture from UNESCO and the UIA, and the coastal region of the city was recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage. In Rio, there is a new wonder of the world – “the statue of Christ the Redeemer.” The city hosts the most grandiose show of the planet – Carnival, and the traveler has a unique opportunity to become a part of this magnificent world show and learn its history.

For party-goers, Rio is a true paradise, with an entire Lapa party area. Latin American music captures everyone captive to its rhythm and makes you dance until the morning.

Deserted beach
Deserted beach

The best route for 10 days?

“God created the world in six days, and on the seventh day he created Rio de Janeiro” – this is how Brazilians like to say about their delightfully beautiful city. To see everything in Rio de Janeiro, you need to stay here forever.

1 day

Getting to know the city, walking along the Copacabana beach, be sure to visit the Copacabana Fort in the Colombo coffee shop, where you will be offered traditional coffee. 

Head to Cape Arpoador for a great panorama of the Dois Irmaos mountains. The mountains are shaped like two brothers leaning against each other. You should definitely get here at sunset hours. In the twilight, the mountain shimmers with thousands of flickering lights – the burning windows of the favelas.

On the first day after the flight, do not plan Napoleonic plans. Allow your body to take a break from the flight and catch up with the time zone.

2nd day

“Sugarloaf”, Urca embankment, Rodrigo dois Freitas lagoon

Head to Praia Vermelha (Red Beach). Ascent by cable car to the “Sugarloaf”. At the top, you can see exotic birds, fruits of fruit trees, the Atlantic forest. Hold on not to feed the Mila Miku (local little monkeys). “Sugarloaf” is a summit overlooking Guanabara Bay. This is the second most important visiting card of the city. The mountain consists of two hills – Urca Hill (Morro da Urca) and Sugar Loaf Hill. With a 360-degree panorama, you will see the same Rio from postcards and films.

Urk embankment. In the evenings, locals like to relax on it in large companies and enjoy the view of the coast.

The Rodrigo dois Freitas lagoon has a rich history. This is a great place to stay with a beautiful view.

Statue of Christ the Redeemer
Statue of Christ the Redeemer

Day 3

Exploring the historic center of Rio: Santa Teresa area, tram, Celaron stairs, St. Sebastian’s Cathedral, Royal Library, Olympic Boulevard, Museum of the Future, Olympic murals.

Bohemian Santa Teresa, exploring the center of the colorful heritage of the Portuguese – the yellow tram. It is not recommended to walk in the Santa Teresa area. We will see the stairs of the urban “crazy” Selaron, which has absorbed all the colors of sunny Brazil.

If your soul requires Brazilian music and dancing, then go to Samba City and learn the history of the greatest show in the world – Carnival. In the evening try a caipirinha and go dancing to the Lapa to reggaeton or Brazilian funk.

Day 4

Christ statue, Lage Park

In 2007, the statue was selected as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Are you ready to see a miracle? From the top of Mount Corcovado, a beautiful panorama opens up to the most famous places of the city: Mount Sugarloaf, Lake Rodrigo de Freitas, Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon beaches. What about Brazil without football? Here you can also see the iconic Maracanã stadium.

Lage Park is a great place to grab a bite to eat overlooking the Christ statue, stroll through the cool Atlantic forest, and spot wild monkeys.

Day 5

Mountain “Pedra do Telegrafo”.

Prepare your pixels, on this day you will have the most extreme photo from the cliff. Walk in the jungle to the famous optical illusion stone as if you are hanging over a cliff. It is recommended to start the hike early in the morning.

6 day

Maracanã stadium

Football matches in Rio take place almost every week. Look at the schedule of matches and, perhaps, your trip will coincide with one of them. Don’t waste this chance – to see real Brazilian football and feel the energy of the fans! You can just visit Maracana and walk around the empty stadium. Find out information about matches and tours to the stadium on the official website or in the football clubs of the teams that will play on a particular day.

Main Avenue of the city
Main Avenue of the city

Day 7

Islands “Ilha Grande / Angra Dois Reis”, cities: Arraial do Cabo, Buzios.

If you’ve been traveling in Rio for more than a week, then head to local resorts! There are mesmerizing landscapes here, and you can feel yourself in the tropical belt of the Earth. Snow-white sand, palm trees, snorkel, mask, flippers, colorful fish, calm and warm ocean. Boat trip across the ocean past the Green Coast islands on the azure waters of the bay. Ocean, sun, Brazilian music.

It is better to go to the cities of Arraial do Cabo, Buzios, Cabo Frio, Paraty with an overnight stay.

Day 8

See Rio from a bird’s eye view: paragliding, hang gliding, helicopter.

Day 9

Go explore the local flora and fauna at the Botanical Gardens. Copacabana fair / Feira de Sao Cristovao fair.

In the evening, head to the local fair for magnets for friends and a hammock at the dacha. The Copacabana Fair is open every day from 17:00.

If you want more authentic souvenirs at good prices, head to the Feira de Sao Cristovao fair, you have to pay to enter (about $ 2), but there is much more choice and you can try local cuisine here.

Day 10

We take energy, happy moments and vivid memories. Stay basking on Ipanema Beach with great views!

Sun Rise in Rio de Janeiro
Sun Rise in Rio de Janeiro

What should be done immediately upon arrival?

Change money for local money (Brazilian real). You should not change all the money at once, it is better to exchange a small amount for the first couple of days. In Rio de Janeiro, it is not recommended to walk with large cash (more than $ 100), when paying, you should not shine with the whole bundle of money and show that you are a rich tourist who is ready to share with everyone in the area. Make sure to rest on the first day if you have more than 3 days in Rio. Dedicate the first day to a leisurely stroll, and the next day, explore the city and enjoy its beauty. The difference in time zones and climatic zones is stress for the body. Try not to fall asleep before 21:00 on the first day, so you will acclimate faster and get used to the new time zone.

Be sure to wear sunscreen, and even in cloudy weather, otherwise the next day you will move like vampires, only in the shade.

Drink plenty of water!

Car rental in Rio de Janeiro?

In Rio de Janeiro, I would not recommend renting a car because of the city’s location. The city has a huge number of favelas (slums) that are not indicated on maps or gps. These areas are mixed with the usual, turning to the next block can be a slum. There is a danger of dropping into a disadvantaged area, and if you do not know the language, everything may not end as planned. In Rio, armed robbery is practiced when EVERYTHING is taken away, including the car.

If you do decide to rent a car, download the Waze app, it reports on disadvantaged areas. There are several car rental companies near the international airport.

Niteroi Bridge
Niteroi Bridge (the longest in Brazil)

What should you buy for gifts in Rio de Janeiro?

  • Cosmetics made from Brazilian ingredients
  • Handmade souvenirs from natural materials
  • Semi-precious stones, gems, jewelry
  • Havaianas Slides
  • Brazilian bikini
  • Coffee

Traveling to Brazil with kids?

In Brazil, they are very sensitive to children, here they are allowed almost everything. Every shopping center, beach, public places is equipped with a room for mother and child. Restaurants and shopping centers are equipped with a games room. You can safely go to Brazil with your child.

High-rise buildings among the mountains
High-rise buildings among the mountains

The beaches of Rio de Janeiro: where to relax?

The best beaches in Rio de Janeiro: Barra da Tijuca, Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana. Less popular with tourists, but more comfortable: São Conrado, Joatinga (hidden under water during the rainy season), Reserva, Macumba surfer beach, Grumari, Abricó-nudist beach.

Not suitable for swimming: Flamengo, Rodrigo dois Freitas lagoon.

The water in the ocean warms up to a maximum of +27 in summer, and in the rest of the year it is quite cool: + 19 … + 24 degrees. Coastal currents can be quite strong and wavy. Do not swim after sunset.

Сopacabana beach
Сopacabana beach
  1. Copacabana is a fairly crowded beach, but the waves are much smaller than on other beaches.
  2. Ipanema is located just outside Copacabana next to Leblon. Here is a postcard view of Rio with the Two Brothers Mountains and a surfer’s paradise.
  3. Barra da Tijuca is the longest beach in the city and is clean, but there are quite strong waves and it is difficult to swim.
  4. Prainha is an isolated beach in a picturesque place surrounded by mountains and rocks. Great for professional surfers. Few tourists.
  5. The Barra de Guaratiba has practically no tourists. White sand, calm ocean, crowded on weekends. Located far from the tourist area.
  6. Near Rio: Angra dois Reis, Ilha Grande, Arraial do Cabo, Cabo Frio, Buzios.
Tourists and locals on the beach
Tourists and locals on the beach

What points should you pay attention to in Rio de Janeiro?

  • In Rio it gets dark early enough at 6:00 pm
  • In the Brazilian summer, and this is the European December, January, February, the air temperature warms up to +40 degrees (with high humidity) Do not be on the beach from 12:00 to 16:00 and always apply sunscreen of at least 30 SPF.
  • In Rio de Janeiro, pay attention to the safety aspect!
  • There is a high risk of being robbed if you are dressed in expensive, branded clothes, with expensive accessories (watches, chains, earrings, rings), expensive bags and walking with your phone / photo equipment in your hands. Girls are not recommended to walk in heels, but rather in sandals with cork soles. In Rio, you should refrain from walking around the streets with photo equipment. You can use your camera at closed sights: Christ statue, Sugarloaf, Botanical Garden, Sambodrome.
  • You should not swim after sunset and walk along an empty beach, empty streets.
  • Be polite, Brazilians are very sensitive to rudeness, you will quickly achieve the desired result if you are friendly and polite.
  • Brazilians do not go to the beach with a towel; pareos are more popular.
  • Dress simply and do not display cash, especially when taking out / putting away your wallet.
  • Close the terminal when dialing the PIN – card code
  • All cards, foreign cards go as CREDIT. (When buying, you will be asked for debit ow credit)
  • Always carry bags ahead of you
  • On the bus, sit on the seats closest to the driver
  • Do not use hitchhiking and foreign cars
  • Before the trip, make copies of documents, keep the originals in the hotel safe
  • It is recommended that you get a yellow fever vaccine before your trip, especially if you are traveling to the northern states (Amazon). You need to do it long BEFORE your trip, and do not forget to take your vaccination certificate for your trip!
  • When visiting forests, national parks, use a mosquito cream (buy it in Brazil). There is a possibility of infection through mosquitoes such diseases: Zika, Chikungunya, Yellow Fever, Dengue, Malaria … and for half of them antidotes have not yet been created
  • Refrain from buying drugs. You can go to jail for buying and using them.
  • Do not accept requests to transport any items from strangers
  • Slums (favelas) tours:
  • Don’t read people’s advice dated 2014-2016. At that time, the situation in the city was different and Oryol and Reshka were at that moment in Rio. Now there are NO safe slums. There are skirmishes in the favelas every day. Perhaps no one wants to kill you on purpose, but getting under a stray bullet is quite possible. If you still want to get, in spite of everything, to the slums, let only local GUIDES accompany you, i.e. people who directly LIVE there and know the situation on a particular day. IT’S NOT WORTH TO GO THERE YOURSELF. Do not forget that only YOU are responsible for your life.
  • Buy a rag small purse bag that can be tucked into a belt under your clothes
  • If you are robbed, then give everything and do not resist. In Rio, the robbers are armed and have accomplices nearby. The outcome of the event depends on your behavior.