With Carnival right around the corner, our ears are buzzing with all things Rio. The city has the best of both worlds—white sand beaches with clear skies and unique neighborhoods that celebrate Brazil’s colorful culture. Whether you’re traveling during the hot summer months or slowing things down with an off-season visit, here is the very best of Rio. Happy packing! 🇧🇷
A First Timer’s Guide to Rio (and how to get there with Grabr)
Here’s how YOU can fund your trip to Rio 🌎
It’s true! You can fund your trip to Rio by delivering grabs en route. Our travelers use their earnings to recoup the cost of flights, hotels and immersive experiences and it’s a whole lot easier…and more accessible, than you think.
To give you an idea of of how to utilize extra space in your luggage to carry a few grabs, we’ve rounded up a few items below.
Based on the bundle below, you can earn $250 on your trip to Rio just by delivering a few grabs. That translates to 30% off your flight or an extra night or two at your hotel of choice. More time = more adventures!
When to go ☀️
Remember that in South America, our winter is their summer and vice versa. That said, Rio has two main seasons: wet and dry.
Summer typically starts around December and lasts through February, with high temperatures and low humidity. It does rain a lot in the summer though, so pack a raincoat and umbrella. If you’re set on experiencing Carnival, make sure to plan ahead since hotels book up fast.
Winter is best visited from July through September. It never gets too cold in Rio de Janeiro; in fact, during these months, the weather is pretty warm, with bright sunshine and fewer rain showers. There’s also less fog in less fog on Corcovado and Sugarloaf Mountain, which means amazing photos for you!
The best time of year to visit Rio de Janeiro
Where to stay 📍
Before you choose a neighborhood, consider the duration of your trip and your budget. Naturally, hotels in the city center tend to be more expensive because you’re paying for the location.
On the flip side, you’ll likely get more bang for your buck by staying in a home rental in one of Rio’s suburbs. That said, you’ll need to budget both time and money on public transport to and from the city. Once you’ve fine-tuned your needs and wants, start narrowing down your options.
📌 If you’re more of a beach bum, you might appreciate the crowded beaches of Ipanema or Copacabana.
📌 If you’d prefer strolling through some of Rio’s oldest streets, book a hotel in Centro, instead.
📌 Then there’s Lapa, with its bohemian feel, bold murals, and craft shops.
The best neighborhoods to stay in Rio de Janeiro
Hit the beach 🌴
Get your Brazilian bikinis ready! Rio is home to more than a dozen beaches and while they might all look the same at a glance, there are a few differences that set some apart from the rest.
Ipanema – for iconic shots. After all, there’s a song named after it.
Copacabana – for party vibes and lively locals
Prainha – for a quiet retrieve from the bustling streets.
Leblon – for a game of volleyball, soccer, skating or surfing. Pick up some fresh coconut juice at a kiosk nearby and hydrate after the game.
Joatinga – a smart choice for visitors traveling with their dog.
Rio de Janeiro’s best beaches for every interest.
Tour the town 🏡
Rio de Janeiro might be a massive city in South America in terms of population but many neighborhoods boast a “small town” feel. There’s something for everyone here, whether on the hunt for handmade goods or bar hopping in search of the perfect caipirinha. Here are a few of our favorites.
Lagoa – a popular spot for young professionals, with plenty of bars, restaurants and nightclubs to boot.
Botafogo – perfect for culture seekers. You’ll find the Native Brazilian Museum, Casa Rui Barbosa and the Villa-Lobos Museum plus two very large shopping malls.
Ipanema – small but lively and colorful, Art is everywhere here, from graffiti to off-beat fashion trends.
Flamengo – right next to downtown Rio and where you’ll find Brazil’s largest city park. Keep an eye out for art deco architecture, too.
Rio’s best neighborhoods for street art, cuisine and lively festivals
Stuff yourself silly 🍽
We’re not going to sugarcoat this—Brazilian cuisine is some of the best in South America. Rio restaurants are overflowing with meat dishes, often served alongside black beans, fried cheese and crispy pork fat garnishing. Don’t worry though; you’ll find plenty of non-meat options, too.
On a budget? We feel you! Instead of splurging on decadent dinners, indulge in some fresh and flavorful street food.
✔️ Pastel de Queijo (cheese pastel)
✔️ Pipoca (popcorn)
✔️ Tapiocas (crepes)
✔️ Acai smoothies
✔️ Caramel filled churros.
PRO TIP: If you’re not sure where to start or concerned about cleanliness, look for food stalls with long lines, as that’s generally an indicator of delicious eats.
The best street food to eat in Rio and where to find them
Chase adventure 📷
Travel is all about breaking out of your comfort zone and Rio is the perfect place to test your boundaries. Here are a few ways to push your limits.
Hang Glide – You’ll take off from Tijuca Forest National Park and glide over the Mata Atlantic. Be on the lookout for Rio’s biggest landmarks like the Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer Statue.
Go on a hike – The Tijuca Rainforest Hiking Tour leads to Rio’s highest peak, which reaches 3,353 feet. Definitely bring your camera for this one.
Outdoor excursions to take in Rio
Explore the nightlife scene 🍹
Of course, you can’t leave Rio without trying their classic cocktail—the Caipirinha. Brazil’s national cocktail has three main ingredients, further proving that less is more: cachaça, sugar and lime. You may hear locals referring to it as “pinga” or “caninha” but it’s all the same drink. Bottoms up!
For live music – head to Circo Voador in the historical Lapa neighborhood. It’s the the place to see international underground bands in Rio. Expect to hear everything from hip hop and electronic to guitar bands and the occasional local legend.
For wine + conversation, opt for Symposium in Laranjeiras. It’s a bit tamer than other bars and their wine list is quite impressive.
Where to go out in Rio de Janeiro
Staying safe 🔐
Even though many people travel to Rio and have nothing but positive experiences, it’s always smart to err on the side of caution, especially when you’re visiting a city for the first time. Here are a few tips to keep you safe and sound.
✔️ Keep an eye on your purse or pants pockets while walking through crowded neighborhoods and plazas.
✔️ Leave your valuable items, (i.e. your passport) in the hotel. Most hotels offer guests a safety deposit box for this exact purpose.
✔️ Remember that there’s safety in numbers so consider planning your trip to Rio with a friend. There are enough grabs for both of you to partially fund your trip!
✔️ Call taxi or order an Uber at night instead of taking public transportation. You’ll get there faster, anyway.
✔️ Leave your credit cards behind and just bring cash.
travel and safety tips for Rio de Janeiro
Want to travel to Rio and soak in the best of Brazil? Sign up for Grabr and start earning money to fund your South American adventure!
A First Timer’s Guide to Rio (and how to get there with Grabr)