If you’ve never been to Rio de Janeiro, prepare to be thoroughly taken aback. Even the most seasoned of travelers find themselves awestruck by the beauty of the “Marvelous City,” (otherwise known as Cidade Maravilhosa), where land collides with the sea in a glittering metropolis surrounded by green mountains, rich rainforests, and beautiful beaches. With scenery like that, who wouldn’t love the beauty of it? Get your passport ready, pack your bags with your favorite designer swimwear and resort wear, and get ready for an adventure to South America. We’ll give you all of our travel tips for a trip to Rio de Janeiro.
Why Rio de Janeiro is Unique
Besides being marvelous, of course, Rio is a bustling urban escape set in the midst of breathtaking nature, with a variety of things to do that can only be found in such a city. Rio de Janeiro is truly one-of-a-kind, which is why it’s such a popular destination. One of the most unique features of traveling to Rio de Janeiro is that in order to get there, you have to fly or sail by cruise ship.
To the joy of tourists everywhere, cruises to Rio de Janeiro have become increasingly popular as the city center has grown in stature as a premier tourist destination. As a popular cruise destination, you’ll find that many cruise lines go to Brazil through ports leaving from Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, Florida. Rio is also considered a city of contrasts. Consider the contrasts of mountains versus seas, the coolness of winter versus the heat of summer, clear skies versus downpours of rain, and the largest favela worldwide versus beautiful city buildings.
Rio de Janeiro Travel Facts
According to World Population Review, Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s second-largest city and the America’s sixth-largest, second only to Sao Paulo and boasting a population of roughly 13,458,075 people as of 2020. It’s also the capital of the State of Rio de Janeiro and considered one of the most visited cities you can find in the southern hemisphere.
The size of the city of Rio de Janeiro is about 486 square miles and the population of the city is comprised of people that are mostly Portuguese, peppered with other residents of African (referred to as Afro-Brazilian), European, and Asian descent. Thankfully, there is plenty of surrounding landscape to expand the city to accommodate its explosive growth over the years, as Rio de Janeiro’s population numbers continue to mount steadily, year after year. With rich diversity like such, it’s no wonder this city boasts a unique culture.
Guide to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When you travel to Rio de Janeiro, you’ll see that there are a variety of things to do and places to see. Some attractions are common to cities and islands everywhere, while others are more intriguing and can only be experienced on a trip to Rio de Janeiro.
Visit Christ the Redeemer
One of the most beloved sights to see in Rio de Janeiro is the famous Christ the Redeemer statue. It’s the largest art deco statue you will find anywhere and more recently has been ranked as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Designed by the French and financed by the Brazilians, it was built using Swedish stones.
Located on the peak of Corcovado mountain in the midst of the Tijuca forest, this wonder was built in 1931 as a 100th Rio anniversary tribute, and can only be reached by car, train, or hike. The arms of the statue stretch an impressive 92 feet and were built with zero room for scaffolding, while the statue itself reaches 98 feet in height, plus an additional 26 feet from the pedestal. Impressive and beautiful, it’s one sight you will not want to miss.
Visit Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar)
Sugarloaf Mountain is considered to be another of Rio de Janeiro’s most famous sites to see. Its rocky peak is a landmark for the natives and for the adventurous and you can reach it by first hiking the smaller peak located right in front of Sugarloaf Mountain. Once you scale the smaller peak, you can hitch a ride the rest of the way on a cable car.
If you’re feeling lazy that day, you can still visit the peak of Sugarloaf Mountain by taking a cable car the whole way up. Once you reach the top, prepare to be bowled over by the breath-taking bird’s eye view of Rio de Janeiro. Hit it just before sunset and you’ll get a glimpse of the sun glittering on the water and the city.
Visit a Favela (Shanty Town)
Traveling to Rio de Janeiro, you will find a good 1,000 or more shantytowns. These crowded urban areas are called favelas and nearly a fourth of the locals can be found living in them. For background, it was in favelas that the samba first originated, courtesy of former African slaves. However, bear in mind that favelas can be dangerous areas. It may be wise to look into a favela-specific tour to help ensure your visit is as safe as possible. If you do get the chance to visit a favela, it’s a great opportunity to experience a bit of local culture and contribute financially to the favela community.
What to Pack for Rio
Considering that the tropical climate of Rio is pretty much year-round, you’ll want to pack accordingly. When you visit Rio de Janeiro in the summer months, which span from November to March, it can be very hot. It also rains a lot, so say hello to muggy weather, too. During the winter months of May to October, climates are drier, but only a fraction cooler, which makes the beaches attractive year-round. You will need resort casual attire to get into higher-end clubs and restaurants, but otherwise, it’s largely shorts, loose clothing, swimwear, and beach sandals. To be prepared for the weather and various activities, your Rio packing list should include:
This is an obvious one. Pack more than one swimsuit, because you’ll probably hit the beach often. Our Fiore Ripple Bikini is a sophisticated and stylish option that can be paired with a cute cover-up when you’re ready to enjoy the local nightlife. Inspired by the fun spirit of Rio de Janeiro, the vintage floral of this bikini is sure to complement the city’s liveliness. For a more modern, monochromatic look, the Blue Grey Scales Corsage Long Top Bikini is a sleek option. Inspired by the beauty of Rio’s coastal blues, this bikini has beautiful scale detailing and a timeless design that will never go out of style.
Your favorite cut-offs won’t be out of place, along with a few tops and swimsuit cover-ups. Our Brigitte Pink Ana Chemise offers a relaxed, yet fun look that’s easy to throw on over your swimsuit–perfect for all of your daytime activities. With a vibrant bright pink color and subtle polka dot pattern, this cover-up embodies the spirit of this adventurous city. It also may be a good idea to pack at least one pair of long pants, especially if you plan on doing any hiking in the mountains or jungle.
The dress code for the evening really depends on where you want to spend your time. For the most part, casual is the name of the game. However, some clubs and restaurants require a dressier look. For that, you can’t go wrong with a maxi dress and sandals. The Brigitte Pink Cut Out Long Dress is a perfect option for those lively nights out at a club or restaurant. This maxi dress takes on a unique look with flowy fabric and cut out sides that embrace the fun nightlife atmosphere. Keep in mind that though Rio is far from chilly, the temperature does drop slightly at night. You might want to pack a light jacket for walking the beaches and consider including a cardigan to pair with your favorite jeans when exploring the city center.
Beach sandals are essential in Rio, so you’ll need to pack more than one pair. It’s also a good idea to pack a pair of dress shoes for a night on the town and a pair of hiking boots to carry you through a tour of more rugged terrains like the Tijuca Rain Forest.
Remember that Rio can be very wet and not just from a dip in the sea. Rain is abundant in Rio, especially during certain times of the year. You’ll want to pack some kind of waterproof jacket. Opt for lightweight and versatile, to keep you dry no matter your circumstances.
You know what you need, so no exhaustive list here. Take just the basics and remember that since you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors, don’t forget the sunscreen. Bug spray and a first aid kit wouldn’t be remiss either!
Electronics and Gear
With breathtaking sights to see all around you, it would be a shame to forget your camera! Make sure you don’t forget necessities, like power adapters, spare batteries, and memory cards. If you like to take creative photos, consider a tripod. Go Pros are also a great option for your Rio de Janeiro adventures, with most of the models being water and shockproof.
A Destination Fit for All Visitors
There’s no denying that a trip to Rio de Janeiro is exciting. It’s one of the most popular places in the world for tourists and home to all walks of life. For the beach lover, mountain hiker, or city explorer, if you’re looking for a city that offers a little something for everyone, Rio is where it’s at. Pack your bags, follow this travel guide, and take a trip down to South America for a Rio De Janeiro vacation.