Dizzying heights, white-sand beaches and gritty city life: When you visit Rio de Janeiro, it’s easy to see how the breathtaking views—dotted with landmark sites like the Christ the Redeemer statue and the lesser-known Escadaria Selarón—make it an ideal vacation spot and bucket list destination. Travel to Rio de Janeiro to experience world-class art museums, a vast array of top-notch restaurants, and the signature joie de vivre of the Cariocas, those enviable residents of the city. Not to mention beaches so beautiful and well-loved they’ve inspired eponymous songs—"Girl From Ipanema" and "Copacabana," anyone? While Rio’s long been famous for its annual Mardi Gras festival, Carnival, the rest of the year offers great shopping and gorgeous mountain scenery (as well as some harsh realities, such as the drug-trafficked favelas, or slums). With 2016 bringing the Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeiro tourist attractions will be in full-force, so whether you want to gaze upon Centro’s modern-architecture masterpieces, dance the samba (or at least watch locals do it) in the bohemian Lapa neighborhood, or join a pick-up soccer game, this Rio de Janeiro travel guide has everything you need to get started.
Best Time To Go
The best time to go to Rio is from December through March—Brazil’s summer months. September through November (spring) is also a good bet, with temperatures in the 70s, and little rain. If you don’t mind the crowds, February is Carnival time.
Rio’s metro system is clean, safe, and the most convenient way to get around (fares start at $1). Buses are cheap but tend to be crowded. Fancy a yellow taxi? Insist that the driver turns on the meter; some will try to haggle.
February is the hottest month, with an average high of 85°F (30°C). July is the coolest month, with an average high of 60°F (16°C).
Know Before You Go
Rio has a reputation for violent crime, but it is not as bad as you think. You won’t be at risk in well-populated areas; but leave expensive watches and jewelry at home.