Rio de Janeiro travel guide
Mention Rio to anybody and immediately the name evokes images of sultry street parades, the Sugar Loaf cable car, the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado mountain, and the 'itsy-bitsy teeny weeny' bikinis on the beach at Ipanema. The exuberant cultural capital of Brazil is tucked between the mountains and the sea and is endowed with awe-inspiring natural beauty. Rio's beaches, including the famous Ipanema and Copacabana, are a main attraction due to the city's warm climate. The city also contains the biggest urban forest in the world, the Tijuca Forest, which was completely replanted during the second half of the 19th century.
The city pulses to the infectious beat of Brazilian music, and Rio's annual carnival draws together the population of the city (known as the 'Cariocas') ranging from the very rich to the very poor, who take to the streets for the world's largest samba parade.
Rio is a never-ending story made up of 150 districts, each characterised by unique features. One of the most intriguing, Santa Teresa, is a winding maze of streets populated by artists and musicians, which is reached by taking an old tram across an ancient aqueduct called Arcos da Lapa. In the heart of Rio there are historic monuments and public buildings like the Municipal Theatre, the National Museum of Fine Art, the Itamaraty Palace, the National History Museum, and the National Library. There are also beautiful examples of religious architecture such as the Sao Bento Monastery. No matter how long you spend exploring the city, it will always deliver new surprises.
To the north of the city is the Lakes region, which has more than 62 miles (100km) of beaches and sea-water lagoons and is the site of the main tourist resorts of Búzios, Cabo Frio, Arrial do Cabo, Rio das Ostras, Marica and Saquarema. Many other stunning natural areas and fun man-made attractions in Brazil are easily reached from Rio, which makes a fabulous travel base.
The distinctive statue of Christ the Redeemer, arms spread to welcome the world, is the symbol of Rio de Janeiro and one of the seven New Wonders of the Modern World. It rests on top of Rio de Janeiro's Corcovado Mountain, 2,330 feet (710m) above the beaches below, and is accessed via a miniature train that runs from the Cosme Vehlo District through the Atlantic rainforest to the foot of the statue. The train ride offers stunning vistas of Rio, and the view from the summit is breathtaking. Spread out beneath the statue is the Tijuca Forest, resplendent with attractions to enchant visitors in the cool of the rainforest among natural pools and waterfalls. There is, for example, the Mayrink chapel, which features murals painted by Candido Portinari, one of Brazil's best known modern artists, and the Museu do Acude, housing colonial furniture and a collection of china from the East India Company.
Address: Corcovado Railroad Station. Rua Cosme Velho 513, Cosme Velho
Opening time: Open daily, from 8am to 7pm. Train departs every 30 minutes.
The summit of Rio's unique 1,299 foot high (396m) belvedere, named Sugar Loaf because of its resemblance to the loaves of sugar used by the Portuguese colonists, can be reached by a two-stage cable car ride. The first stage takes visitors up 722 feet (220m) to the Morro da Urca, where there is a restaurant, amphitheatre, heliport and spectacular view of the Yacht Club and Botafogo Bay. The second stage takes one the rest of the way to the summit for a panoramic view of the city, and the whole of Copacabana beach. The Sugar Loaf cable car is a major icon of Rio's tourism and a trip up the Sugar Loaf is a must for visitors to the city.
Address: Avenue Pasteur 520, Praia Vermelha
Opening time: Open daily, from 8am to 7.50pm
.Also do not miss exploring the Rua Garcia D'Avila to shop for designer fashion, jewellery and furniture. Visit the Amsterdam Sauer Museum of Gems for an interesting workshop tour. There are numerous other streets in Ipanema to explore as well, including the attractive commercial street Visconde de Piraja that is lined with speciality shops, bars, restaurants and some of Rio's best boutiques. Visit the bohemian fair at General Osorio Square on Sundays for wooden sculptures, handcrafts, exotic musical instruments and artworks.
Address: Avenida Vieira Souto
This famous Rio beach neighbourhood was just a small fishing village until a new highway changed the face of it sometime in the 1900s. The Copacabana Palace Hotel first opened its doors in 1923, and since then the area mushroomed with Neoclassical and Art Nouveau skyscrapers, penthouses and apartments. Visitors still flock, as they have always done, to the glamorous Palace Hotel, which is the place to be seen. Sometimes the visit is only to have tea or a meal at the famed Cipriani restaurant. The beach itself has white sand and calm water and is festooned with kiosks. It is a popular spot for beach sports like soccer and volleyball, and a good place to sunbathe. Copacabana beach is particularly popular on New Year's Day. According to tradition, visitors dress in white and congregate here to celebrate in their droves, with more than 2 million crowding the beach.
Estádio do Maracanã
Proudly hosting the opening and closing matches of the 2014 Soccer World Cup, and still the largest soccer stadium on the continent, seating a crowd of more than 95,000, Rio's Maracana has seen many records set. The stadium is currently used to host the local soccer league games, and is the home of the Brazillian soccer team. The Maracana is also often used by international acts visiting Brazil as a performance venue, with Madonna and Sir Paul McCartney among the big names who have played here. Inside the ground is a Hall of Fame honouring soccer greats such as Pele, Roberto Dinamite, Romário, Valdo and Bebeto, all of whom have been honoured by having their footprints cast in the sidewalk. A guided tour will take you through the hall, where you can enjoy a display of historical photographs and a great panoramic view of the city, among other things.
Address: Rua Professor Eurico Rabelo
Opening time: Open daily, from 9am to 5pm
Having had their fill of the beach, tourists seeking the 'real Rio de Janeiro' should make a beeline for one of its most iconic neighbourhoods, Santa Teresa. Located at the top of Santa Teresa Hill, the neighbourhood is famous for its winding, narrow streets, its 19th century architecture, and its amazing array of restaurants, bars, art galleries and eclectic shops. A popular area for local artists and tourists alike, Santa Teresa is best reached using its historic tram service, which runs up the hill from the centro (departing from Largo da Carioca square). The tram line - the only one of its kind in Rio - runs right through Santa Teresa's picturesque streets, offering magnificent views of the city below. By all accounts, no visit to Rio de Janeiro would be complete without spending at least a few hours in Santa Teresa.
Address: On the top of Santa Teresa Hill, near the centre of Rio de Janeiro
Even though Rio de Janeiro is one of the world's foremost holiday destinations, boasting great beaches, vibrant night-life, and significant tourist attractions, the hard fact is that it remains a city of gross economic inequality, as typified by its sprawling urban slums (favelas), the largest of which, Rocinha, is home to nearly a quarter of a million people. For tourists looking to get to grips with this social reality, a local named Zezinho runs widely-celebrated tours of Rocinha, the favela in which he grew up. Those worrying that it will be a typical, voyeuristic, seen-from-the-back-of-a-Jeep experience can lay those fears to rest: the great strength of Zezinho's tours is that they are conducted out of love for Rocinha, and a desire to share its culture with foreigners. As Zezinho says, 'It is easy to see poverty or poorly built houses, but what I love about Rocinha is the spirit of the people' - and all who partake in his tour of Rocinha agree that it's a valuable, important, and humanising touristic experience. There are other guides and companies offering good tours of the various favelas. It is important to book in advance.
Address: Túnel Zuzu Angel, west of the Ipanema area
Cariocas (locals) in Rio are remarkably kid-friendly, with children welcome almost anywhere. Kids on holiday in Rio de Janeiro will love spending time in the sun and surf of the beaches, building sand castles and devouring mounds of ice-cream. Leblon Beach has Baixo Baby, a play area with a vast selection of kids toys. The streets lining the waterfront host entertaining jugglers, magicians, stilt-walkers and fire-eaters, and there are toy cars to rent, so there's always something for children to do in Rio.
There are many places for kids to enjoy the natural wonders of Rio, including the massive Tijuca Forest, which contains Corcovado Mountain with the famous Christ the Redeemer statue, Cascatinha Waterfall, and the giant granite picnic table called the 'Mesa do Imperador'. The forest is immense and best attempted with a guide. Smaller children will tire long before all the sights are seen.
The Parque do Catete, a small, manicured park in the Palácio do Catete, offers a shady refuge from the heat, with ponds, stroller-friendly walkways, music and theatre performances, and even a kind of toy loan service that charges by the hour.
The Rio City Zoo offers a close view of local wildlife, with over 2,000 species to see, most of them native to Brazil. It has an open walk-through aviary, reptile house and primate displays. It's open Tuesday to Sunday and charges a small admission fee.
Rio also has a number of child-friendly museums, including the Museu do Indio (Indian Museum), where children can use stamps and body paint to decorate themselves as native warriors. The National Museum has mummies, zoological displays, historical artefacts, and a 5 tonne meteorite. The Museu do Universo (Museum of the Universe) has models and experiments for kids to discover how the physics and astronomy. Many museums offer free entry for kids under seven.
Steeped in a rich and diverse cultural history, Rio de Janeiro is a sightseer's dream with a great variety of spectacular attractions. With miles of beautiful coastline and some seriously exciting neighbourhoods to explore, this city has so much to offer.
A trip to Rio de Janeiro would not be complete without heading up Sugar Loaf Mountain, or an obligatory visit to the statue of Christ the Redeemer, one of the seven New Wonders of the Modern World and Rio de Janeiro's most famous landmark. Ipanema is the place to go for sun worshippers, where miles of sugary white beaches and shopping opportunities abound.
Sip on a caipirinha streets of downtown Centro, Lapa and Santa Teresa. Sports lovers should head down to the Estádio do Maracanã and enjoy a spot of the national sport of soccer.
Tourists planning to spend some time in the city will do well to purchase the Rio Pass which grants the holder free entry to four of Rio's charging tourist attractions, 50 percent off on all other admission fees, discounts on nightlife, and a free map and guidebook full of need-to-know information, among other things. The pass is valid for seven days and can be bought from tourist offices around the city.
Angra dos Reis
The islands can easily be reached from Rio by road in just over two hours, or accessed by bus with daily departures every hour from the Novo Rio Bus Station.
Buzios can be reached by road from Rio via the Rio-Niteroi toll bridge, or by bus from the Novo Rio Bus Station.
The Rio Iguaçu arises in the coastal mountains of Paraná and Santa Catarina and snakes west for 370 miles (600km) before it widens majestically and sweeps around a magnificent jungle stage, plunging and crashing in tiered falls at the border with Argentina and Paraguay. The Foz do Iguaçu (Iguaçu Falls) are more than two miles (3km) wide and 262ft (80m) high and their beauty is unsurpassed. Their name, fittingly, comes from the Guarani Indian word meaning 'great waters'. The deep flowing waters of the river tumble down 275 falls (almost twice the height of Niagara Falls) the most famous of which is Devils Throat on the Argentinian border, dropping 230ft (70m). As well as taking in the stunning views, visitors can enjoy kayaking and other watersports in the river. The best time of year to visit is August to November, when there is least risk of floodwaters hindering the approach to the boardwalks. The falls are surrounded by the Iguaçu National Park, a huge sub-tropical rainforest covering 135,000 acres that is home to thousands of different species of animals and birds including parrots and hummingbirds.
Brazil's tradition of throwing wild carnivals early in the year is one that was imported along with the colonial Portuguese, adopted and streamlined into today's world-famous Brazilian event of the year. Carnival stems from a Catholic Church spring thanksgiving celebration dating from the Middle Ages in Europe. Carnival is always held four or five days before Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of Lent. When the fun-loving Portuguese colonised Brazil they instituted Carnival as a period of abandoned merriment and street pranks. In 1840 the Italian wife of a Rio de Janeiro hotelier formalised the carnival celebration by hiring musicians and giving a lavish masked ball. Today each city in Brazil celebrates Carnival in its own style, but the crème de la crème of Carnival celebrations is the one held in Rio, where the focus is on the colourful parade of the samba schools, which comes with extravagant floats, brilliant costumes, magical music and amazingly energetic dancers. The action takes place in the Sambodromo, a half-mile long path built specifically for the event in 1984. At the end of the parade the samba schools perform for an hour each in front of stands packed with spectators, vying for the judges' favour and the championship title. Carnival time is also a time for street parties and elaborate night-long costume balls, which are held in the top hotels.
Venue: Samba Parade: Sambadrome. Street carnival takes place in different neighbourhoods; Date:13-16 February 2015;
June Bonfire Festivals
An integral part of Brazilian folklore and culture is a New World twist on an old European tradition; coinciding with the feasts of St Anthony, St John and St Peter, bonfire festivals are held in Rio's squares, clubs, schools and churches in the month of June. Warmly illuminated by bonfires, the events features mock country weddings, where couples leap over crackling flames, and stalls decorated with streamers and lanterns are set up to resemble village markets. Spectacular fireworks, as well as a good deal of dancing, drinking and eating, accompany this scene. Although travellers seldom visit Brazil exclusively for these charming bonfire festivals, it would be a great pity not to seek them out if travelling to Brazil in June.
Venue: Various; Date:13 - 29 June 2015;
New Years Eve
Reveillon) celebrations are ranked among the world's biggest extravaganzas. This jovial city hosts musical shows in several districts to bring in the New Year, and on Copacabana Beach a crowd of more than two million people is expected annually. Partygoers dress in white to bid farewell to the year that is ending and celebrate the arrival of the next. A fabulous display of fireworks illuminates the sky at midnight, amid much festivity, dancing and happiness. Hotels, clubs and restaurants also offer a variety of party options with formal balls, diverse menus and tropical buffets.
Venue: Various; Date:31 December annually;
Brazilian cuisine is famous for its use of red meat, a fact deliciously confirmed when eating out in Rio. Churrascarias (Brazilian barbeque) is a simple beef dish, normally spiced only with salt, and often accompanied with feijão com arroz (rice and beans). Other meat may end up in feijoada, a traditional stew made with black beans. Local taste runs toward oily, sweet, and salty food, with a noticeable lack of spices. A popular treat is bacalhau (salted cod), which is usually imported from Norway. Good restaurants in which to look for traditional Brazilian food include Bar do Arnaudo in Santa Teresa and Brasileirinho in Ipanema.
Lunch in Rio is an adventure for those on a budget. A range of street vendors selling everything from fruit to grilled prawns to cheese bread offer options for everyone. Use your own judgment regarding food safety by gauging the cleanliness of the stall (and vendor) and how popular it is with locals. The beach has many similar options, including oysters or shrimp tarts, and drinks like fresh coconut water out of the shell and bright purple açai juice. The Brazilian equivalent to MacDonald's, Bob's Burgers, will take your order and deliver to you right on the sand.
One popular type of Rio restaurant offers a pay-by-weight system where the customer selects his or her food from a buffet, bringing it to the chef to be cooked. This is a great way to sample a variety of different dishes, taking as much or as little as you like while the waiters mark your receipt. Take care to keep your receipt safe, though, as the fee for losing it is often very high. Frontera in Ipanema is a good example of this type of restaurant, as is Fellini in Leblon.
Most restaurants in Rio de Janeiro are open from 11am to 4pm, and from 7pm to midnight. Some stay open all day, especially on Saturday when people stream in from the beaches at all hours. Restaurants usually add a 10 percent service charge to the bill, but waiters will appreciate another five percent if their service has been good. If the service is truly terrible, you can ask not to pay the service charge. Some restaurants do not take credit cards, so it's best to ask up front if you don't have cash.
Copacabana Palace Hotel Restaurants
The Copacabana Palace Hotel houses two of Rio de Janeiro's most elegant restaurants. The Hotel Cipriani Restaurant serves excellent north Italian cuisine to guests in an elegant dining area, while the poolside Pérgula Restaurant offers a buffet breakfast, and delicious South American meals. Cipriani is open Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, with Pérgula open for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the week and from 12.30pm to 4.30pm on weekends. Reservations required.
Address: Avenida Atlântica 1702; Website: www.copacabanapalace.com/web/orio/rio_restaurants.jsp
Not only does Fellini offer a variety of international cuisine, with everything from Japanese to Mexican food available, but it's all sold 'by the pound' allowing diners a choice of exactly how big their portions should be. Fellini has a funky, laid-back atmosphere and look to match. Open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner, reservations recommended.
Address: Rua General Urquisa 104; Website: www.fellini.com.br
They say that dynamite comes in small packages and that couldn't be more true of Carême. Located in a cozy home in Botafogo, the venue exudes romance. The menu is minimalist but packs a delicious punch. The hours are short (only open for dinner) and the time in the restaurant certainly flies. Friendly and efficient service are the cherry on top of delectable French cuisine. Reservations essential.
Address: 113 Rua Visconde de Caravelas;
The Confeitaria Colombo acts as an homage to an age long passed. Established in the late 1800s, this Victorian style hall turned restaurant hasn't changed much in over 100 years, so they must be doing something right. This is considered to be a perfect lunch or light tea spot for execs doing business in the city. Tea meals are complemented by breads and condiments, while the meals are filling and appetising.
Address: 32 Rua Gonçalves Dias; Website: www.confeitariacolombo.com.br
If you're in Ipanema and a sushi fan, be sure to stop by Madame Butterfly for some of the most original sushi to be had south of the equator. The innovation is not so much the combinations themselves but the shapes, which are creative and, sometimes, a puzzle to eat. The fish with shimeji mushrooms in ginger and sake sauce come highly recommended.
Address: 472 Rua Barão de Torre;
Revel in merriment with the locals at this affordable eatery, where authentic Brazilian cuisine is served generously. Have a plate or platter depending on how hungry you are, the price difference is negligible. Sardine sandwiches are a good bet for your taste buds. The Paladino is always popular and beer flows steadily from the taps. Open Monday to Friday from 7am to 8.30pm, and Saturday from 8am till 12pm. Reservations and credit cards are not accepted.
Address: 226 Rua Uruguaiana;
With its rustic, eco-friendly décor (couches, wooden tables, lots of palm trees...) and its candlelit dining area, Palaphita Kitch has an idealistic yet somehow romantic atmosphere, backed by excellent views of Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. The menu offers a selection of exotic Amazonian cuisine, with its carpaccio being a favourite. Open every night for dinner, reservations recommended.
Address: Avenida Epitacio Pessoa S/N, Quiosque 20; Website: www.palaphitakitch.com.br
As the name suggests, Azul Marinho is a quiet, sophisticated restaurant near the beach with a great seafood menu. Famed for their Moqueca (Brazilian seafood stew) with shrimp, cod, lobster, crab and octopus, the restaurant has a lovely outdoor dining area with beautiful ocean views. Open daily for lunch and dinner, reservations recommended.
Address: Avenida Francisco Bhering S/N, Arpoador;
caldinho de feijãosoup, with beans and bacon. Reservations recommended.
Address: Rua Jangadeiros 10;
Home to Carnival, samba and Copacabana, it's not surprising that the nightlife in Rio de Janeiro is one of a kind, and Cariocas (Rio's residents) will make a party out of just about any social gathering. Whether looking for a relaxing bar or lounge to sip on a couple of 'chopps' (draft beer), or in the mood for a big night out at a hip and happening dance club, Rio de Janeiro has it all.
A popular way to warm things up is to start off in the cooler early evening at one of the numerous beach bars for a coconut juice or cocktail. Head off to one of Rio de Janeiro's trendy beach communities, such as Copacabana, Ipanema or Leblon and explore the bars and clubs; but be warned, some of these places may not grant entry to people wearing shorts and T-shirts or flip-flops.
Head off to a trendy restaurant for a late dinner with friends and then at around 11pm, when most clubs open, check out who's playing at the Rio Scenarium, Comuna da Semente or Carioca da Gema. Lapa is a popular spot for revellers as is Gamba.
Live music and dancing is also big in the entertainment scene in Rio de Janeiro and there is a wide variety, such as samba, Bossa Nova, rock, MBP (Brazilian pop), blues, jazz and much more. If you search hard enough, there is sure to be a gig happening somewhere in this vibrant city on any given night. You can also watch samba school rehearsal parties, where local drummers and dancers showcase their skills in warehouses for thousands of people. It's a great way to get a taste of the Carnival atmosphere at other times of the year.
Clubbing in Rio can be expensive, but you can have a cheaper night out by sticking to local drinks. Many clubs will charge you for drinks and entry only when you leave, so keep track of what you spend. Most clubs have a dress code, so t-shirts and flip flops aren't allowed. Each club is different: some will only allow men when accompanied by women, and most will require an ID or passport to enter.
Rio also has a vibrant gay clubbing scene, with many bars and clubs in Copacabana and Ipanema, including Le Boy, La Girl, Dama de Ferro and Fosfobox. An alternative to clubs and bars in Rio are the street parties. Lapa hosts a street party every Friday and Saturday night near the aqueduct on Avenida Mem de Sá; and Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays are the best nights to head to Gávea, where you'll find music, cheap beer, and many university students on the street in front of the bar Hipódromo.
Pick up a copy of the Friday editions of the O Globo, O Dia or Jornal do Brasil newspapers for listing on nightlife and entertainment in Rio de Janeiro.
Shopping in Rio de Janeiro can be a rewarding experience for tourists on the hunt for bargains, whether they're seeking cheap souvenirs or designer goods. While it isn't considered a major shopping destination, there are numerous shopping centres, boutiques, street stalls and markets offering a wide selection of mementos.
Rio's main shopping destinations are concentrated in areas like Rio Sul in the city centre. There are also numerous shopping districts near the beaches, including Avenida Nossa Senhora and Rua Barata Ribeiro in Copacabana, Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva in Leblon, and Rua Visconde de Pirajá in Ipanema.
Religious antiques, soapstone carvings, leather goods and gemstone jewellery are Rio's most popular souvenirs, offered by various shops throughout the city. You can also find local gemstones carved into shapes like toucans, jaguars, and other wild figures that make good gifts, alongside tacky options like plastic replicas of Christ the Redeemer.
Good-quality beachwear and Brazilian soccer jerseys are also popular, though you'll need to choose between cheap imitations at market stalls and more expensive official merchandise. Rio is the birthplace of Havaianas (flip flops), so they're available in any number of brands, styles, and colours. One of the best things to buy in Rio de Janeiro though, is music, particularly Brazil's distinctive local music. Modern Sound on Barata Ribeiro has an impressive collection, or
for a good selection of jazz music and books, head to the artsy Livraria da Travessa.
The gift shop at the Museu do Índio has a selection of pots, woven baskets, and wooden artefacts made by indigenous tribes. Another unique souvenir is the cachaça, or sugar cane brandy, brewed at Petisco da Vila. Try a bottle after watching the production process right in the brewery.
Good-quality local arts and crafts can be found at outdoor weekend markets, the best of which include the Hippie Fair, the Babilônia Hype Fair, and the enormous Feira Nordestina São Cristóvão, which has more than 700 stalls. For flowers and food, including fruit, vegetables and cheeses, Praca General Osorio in Ipanema and Rua Domingos Ferreira in Copacabana are also worth a visit.
Most items are reasonably priced, as long as you stay away from the obvious tourist traps around the major hotels. Bartering is acceptable though, and you can usually earn yourself up to a 10 percent discount in shops if you pay cash, though most shops and even some markets will accept major credit cards. Shops tend to stay open Monday to Friday from 9am to 7pm, and shopping centres stay open daily from 10am to 10pm. Sales tax is 18 percent, and there is no tax refund scheme for departing tourists in Brazil.
Galeão Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport
Location: The airport is located on Governors Island, 10 miles (16km) north of Rio de Janeiro.
Time: GMT -3 (GMT -2 between the last Sunday in October and the third Sunday in February)
Contacts: Tel: +55 21 3398 4106, 3398 4208 or 3398 5050.
Transfer between terminals: A moving walkway connects the two terminals.
Getting to the city: Public buses are available and passengers can connect to Rio's Novo Rio Rodoviaria bus station in the city centre. More expensive airport shuttles are available to downtown hotels and popular destinations and often have an English speaking guide.
Car rental: Car rental companies, including Avis and Hertz can be found in Terminal 1 and 2.
Airport Taxis: Taxis are available outside the terminals. Visitors are advised to buy prepaid taxi vouchers at the Rio Tourism Authority desk; they are usually a little bit more expensive but give you peace of mind. It is advisable to ignore the RDE taxi desk and go to the Rio de Janeiro State Tourism Authority desk instead and buy prepaid taxi vouchers there. If you hail a taxi outside the terminal make sure the meter is cleared of the last fare.
Facilities: The airport is well equipped with facilities including ATMs, banks and bureaux de change, shops, restaurants and bars, duty-free shopping, luggage lockers and a tourist help desk. Facilities for the disabled are good.
Parking: There is a multi-level car park across from the terminal that offers short and long-term parking.
Departure tax: US$12 to US$36 depending on category
Although a large and sprawling city, the neighbourhoods most frequented by visitors are easy to access using a combination of Rio's public transport, and one's own feet.
The public transport system in Rio is cheap and efficient, and most places can be reached by metro or bus. By far the quickest and easiest way to get around is by the efficient metro, but there are limits to its coverage of the city with only two lines.
Walking around is generally safe as long as there are crowds of people, although walking in the centre of the city is not recommended after the shops close and their security guards go home.
The most inexpensive form of transport is the local buses, which travel all over the city as fast as the traffic will allow. Unfortunately, they are often badly driven, crowded, and the scene of much petty theft, especially during rush hours when the crowded conditions are ideal for pickpockets. Special care should be taken on buses known to be used by tourists, such as those to the Sugar Loaf. Drivers frequently have little to no change, so don't try to use money in large denominations.
Public transport stops between 11pm and midnight, although some buses run all night, but it is safer to hire a taxi late at night. Taxis are plentiful and relatively inexpensive, charging a lower rate after 6pm (except Sundays, holidays, and in December). Radiotaxi can be ordered and are said to be safer and more reliable, usually with air-conditioning, but they are thirty percent more expensive than regular taxis. Drivers may add a surcharge for extra luggage.
Driving in Rio is not recommended for overseas visitors due to the chaotic nature of the traffic. To hire a car you'll need an international driver's license, and insurance.
Situated in the tropical South Atlantic, Rio de Janeiro is warm all year round. Summers, between November and March, are very hot and humid with heavy rains. Temperatures during the summer months frequently rise as high as 104°F (40°C). Winters are cool and dry, never cold, with some precipitation, lasting only from June to September.
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