While there are plenty of touristy aspects to Rio, having an indie experience is not that difficult of a proposition if you follow these tips.
  • If you want to be accepted by the locals in Rio, then show some interest in one of their passions - dancing and futbol are good places to start
  • While the beaches may be crowded and touristy, jump in a futbol game with the locals to make some new friends. Be careful though as Brazilians are among the most talented players in the world.
  • Have some drinks in one of the many open-aired cafes that dominate the city.
  • Go surfing, hiking, sailing, and dancing - all in one day!
  • If you want to get away from the city, then join the locals in flocking to Buzios on the weekend.

Why you should add Rio to your RTW travel list

  • Experience one of the most exciting cities in the world
  • Rio is a town with many rich people as well as many poor people
  • "Copa! Copacabaaaaaana!" – Neil Diamond sings about it; you should visit it
  • A gateway to Brazil with many international flights to and from
  • The beautiful beaches and people
  • Home to the most historic national futbol (soccer for you Yanks) teams in the world
  • Rio will be hosting both the World Cup and Olympics in the coming years.
  • It's one of the most festive places on Earth.

Why you should not add Rio to your RTW travel list

  • Watch where you go because Rio can be quite dangerous for tourists.
  • It's one of the most expensive cities in the region.

Overview

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most photogenic cities on the planet without a doubt. Sure, there are exceptional beaches lining its curvy rims, but the mountains, lakes, and stunning rock formations at every corner make this huge Brazilian city both a holiday-maker’s and a photographer’s dream. Most cities have one or two perfect-looking postcard views, but Rio has hundreds or even thousands of them. But don’t get too carried away because this is a fairly dangerous city for visitors so we must proceed with caution.

What To Do

The tourist districts of Rio are home to some of the most famous beaches in the world and you’ll definitely want to see them for yourself. Copacabana Beach is right around the corner from equally stunning Ipanema Beach and the two anchor an upscale tourist/residential district. Sugar Loaf Mountain rises from one of the shore’s many scenic corners and the famous aerial tram to the top is well worth doing.

Corcovado Mountain is right in the city and home to the famous Christ the Redeemer Statue. It’s worth the short train ride or the long walk up just for the views from the base of the statue, but be warned that the statue itself is often shrouded in a cloud cover so try to time your visit for a clear day. The downtown section of Rio is interesting, but might be best seen as part of a bus tour of the whole city. Rio is also home to one of the largest football stadiums in the world and tours are given.

The city’s attractions are fairly spread out so those bus tours can be a great way of seeing a lot in a short time. There are tours that include Sugar Loaf and the central city’s main sites, and there are also tours of nearby ghettos called favelas that are as popular as they are fascinating. The residents are treated with great respect and the tours are safe, but it’s not recommended you visit these drug-infested neighborhoods on your own.

Getting There

You can reach the city on some long distance bus routes from within South America, but generally travelers will want to book a flight into Rio’s Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport. It’s a bit out of the center, but a city bus runs from the most popular tourist districts right to the airport. Taxis in Rio are reasonably priced, although be careful of the gypsy cabs.

Where To Stay

As you might expect, hotels and hostels in Rio de Janeiro are more expensive in the beach areas than they are further inland. The city has good public transportation so it’s possible to spend days at the beaches in spite of an inland accommodation, but you might consider spending a bit more to be in the thick of things around Copacabana or Ipanama. During Carnival time prices skyrocket if you can find a bed at all so plan ahead.