Where to Stay in Rio de Janeiro: 7 Areas & Hotels for 2024

Aerial view of Rio de Janeiro with Christ the Redeemer overlooking the cityscape and Sugarloaf Mountain in the distance

Rio de Janeiro is huuuuge – if you decide on staying on the West side, it can easily take you 1,5 hours to get to the center with the traffic one way. That is why deciding where to stay in Rio de Janeiro for your vacation is actually an important task. But don’t worry, I will make it easy for you!

I absolutely love Rio and visited Brazil numerous times (and would come back again and again in a heartbeat!). 

Read this post to see my recommendation for the 7 most tourist-friendly neighborhoods to stay in Rio de Janeiro. Copacabana is the best area to stay in Rio for the first time because it has everything from beautiful beaches to fabulous food! 

Read this article because you’ll also get hotel suggestions for each of the areas that I personally curated for this list (only the best-rated ones made it to the list!). I sorted them by price so you can easily pick and book in a couple of clicks. 

Most importantly, make a reservation in advance to secure your spot in Rio and get better deals on hotels (especially if you are visiting during New Year’s or Carnival time)! 

Quick Picks for Your Stay

Here are the best hotels in Copacabana for every budget:


Watch my video, it will give you a visual explanation of all the areas:


Here’s a map of Rio de Janeiro with the 6 best areas I’ll be talking about in this post:

Colorful map highlighting the best areas to stay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with distinct areas marked and labeled
  1. Copacabana: for first-timers
  2. Ipanema: the best beaches
  3. Centro & Lapa: on a budget
  4. Santa Teresa: a bohemian area
  5. LEBLON : for luxury
  6. Botafogo: for local experiences
  7. Barra da Tijuca: for relaxation

1. Copacabana – best Rio area for first-timers

Scenic view of Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro with sunbathers, palm trees, and iconic wavy sidewalk pattern

Copacabana (or just “Copa” as locals call it) is one of the most popular and coolest neighborhoods in Rio! During your stay here, you’ll experience the city’s soul and understand why Rio is often called the Cidade Maravilhosa – ‘Marvelous City’. 

You’ll fall in love at first sight when you see the famous Copacabana Beach surrounded by SugarLoaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar)! Take some time to relax at the beach, but don’t miss out on venturing up to the mountain with the cable car to admire the panoramic views of the city.

While you’re in Copa, you must visit the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado (about 25 min away by car) – it’s Brazil’s most famous landmark! You can hike up there, drive, or take the Corcovado cog train. 

The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio is the largest Art Deco sculpture in the world, standing 98 ft (30 m) tall, while its outstretched arms are 92 ft (28 m) wide.

Once you’ve spent a day at the beach and seen all the main attractions, I highly recommend going out to Parque Lage, a lovely park with wooded trails and a breathtaking mansion where you can stop for a cup of coffee! For a taste of Brazilian art, you can get tickets for one of the shows at the Teatro Tereza Rachel and have a fun night out! 

And, of course, you have to go for a stroll along Avenida Atlântica, a 4 km (2.5 miles) avenue that stretches across the lengths of Copacabana and Leme. When you walk along this avenue, you’ll see many restaurants, hotels, some shops, and quite a few residential buildings. Besides the pavement promenade for pedestrians, there’s also a bike lane, so you can also cycle!

Luxury hotel
A collage of three photos of hotels to stay in Rio: An opulent dining space with florid carpet and towering white columns, a serene indoor pool with a view of the city, and a plush bedroom with elegant wooden accents and an ocean vista.

If you want to have celebrity treatment during your stay in Rio de Janeiro, you won’t regret choosing Copacabana Palace! This is one of the best 5-star hotels in Rio, offering luxurious rooms and spacious suites with panoramic ocean views, a fitness center and wellness centers, an outdoor pool, and an on-site bar serving amazing cocktails. 

Other accommodation options in Copacabana

Mid-range
Chic outdoor patio setup with stylish furniture overlooking a panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro's cityscape

One of the best boutique hotels, with a rooftop swimming pool, spacious rooms, and a rooftop bar

Budget
Hotel Diplomata's inviting double bed with wooden headboard and vibrant orange accents in a cozy, well-lit room

A budget hotel with air-conditioned rooms, free Wi-Fi, and daily buffet breakfasts, within walking distance of Copacabana beach

Airbnb
Bright and spacious living room with beige sofas, wooden floors, and minimalist decor in a Rio de Janeiro apartment

This Airbnb offers 2 comfortable beds, TV, air conditioning, and access to a shared kitchen and living room


Since this is the most popular area for staying in Rio, the hotels I recommended may book out quickly. Luckily, there are plenty of hotels and resorts in Rio de Janeiro, so if you don’t manage to make a reservation in time, here are some other great options in the Copacabana area:

A collage of three photos of hotels to stay in Rio: A bright bedroom with colorful artwork and blue bedding, a sleek outdoor pool overlooking the ocean, and an outdoor dining area nestled among lush tropical foliage.
  • Luxury ($$$): Emiliano Rio – a beachfront hotel with a stunning sea view, an infinity pool, and a restaurant offering contemporary Brazilian cuisine.
  • Mid-range ($$): Windsor California Copacabana – a seafront hotel with a small rooftop pool and 2 on-site restaurants. 
  • Budget ($): Bamboo Rio Hostel – conveniently located hostel offering private and shared rooms, security lockers, a pool, and barbecue facilities. 

Things to do in Copacabana

  • See the ​​Copacabana Fort
  • Snap a pic next to the Carlos Drummond de Andrade statue
  • Enjoy Brazilian food at Boteco Belmonte
  • Join a walking tour and explore Rio’s Rocinha Favela

2. Ipanema Beach – best part of Rio for a beach vacation

Stunning beachfront view of Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro with Two Brothers Mountain in the background

Located in the southern part of the city and just 3 km (1 mi) south of Copacabana, the world-famous Ipanema Beach will steal your heart! If you want to lounge on a beach with a glamorous and trendy vibe, book a hotel in Ipanema – also known as just Ipa! 

If you are a beach bum, you will enjoy basking in the sun and swimming on Ipanema Beach. You can also head to Praia do Arpoador (map), get a drink from the street vendors, and stay for the sunset. While you’re exploring Arpoador Beach, try to spot the famous Tom Jobim statue! 

After your fun day at the beach, you should head to the Pedra do Arpoador scenic spot and enjoy some of the best sunset views in all of Rio!

Another Ipa (that’s Ipanema for short) spot that’s worth your attention is Casa de Cultura Laura Alvim; this is a cultural center where you can see art exhibitions, catch live music performances, and even see a movie! 

For a more relaxed vibe, you should visit the Praça General Osório, a park that hosts a variety of local markets. You can get some local food, but you can also walk around the park and enjoy nature. 

Lastly, if you want to take the most amazing photos, I suggest you plan a mini-trip to Pedra do Telégrafo (Stone Telegraph). This famous rock is jutting out of a hill, and when you take pictures, it looks like you’re hanging out from a cliff.

You don’t have to be based in Ipanema to visit this rock – you can do it from any part of the city! You just need to get to Guaratiba Beach (map) and start hiking from there. The hike is quite steep and takes about 1 hour to get to Stone Telegraph. Since this is a popular spot, it’s usually crowded, so I suggest going early in the morning to avoid waiting in line for your photo. 

And of course, you can spend your night bar hopping in Ipanema, or you can have a drink at the bar in your hotel – Ipanema has the most authentic hotels in Rio. Let’s see some of them!

Luxury hotel
A collage of three photos of hotels to stay in Rio: An infinity pool overlooking Sugarloaf Mountain, a spacious suite with modern leather furniture and sunset lighting, and a minimalist bedroom with sleek design and a touch of golden bedding.

Hotel Fasano is located right on the famous Ipanema beach, boasting unbeatable ocean views. The 5-star hotel offers an epic infinity pool with a sun terrace, a fully-equipped fitness center where you can work out with a beach view, an excellent buffet breakfast, and an upscale on-site restaurant. 

Other accommodation options in Ipanema

Mid-range
Luxury hotel balcony with a pool overlooking the crowded sandy beach and coastline of Rio de Janeiro

Just a couple of minutes walk to the beach, the hotel offers rooms with ocean views and air conditioning

Budget
Comfortable hotel room with modern decor, a double bed, and a scenic window view of Rio de Janeiro's shoreline

A modern hotel with a rooftop terrace, comfortable rooms, and a daily buffet breakfast

Airbnb
Modern living room with white sofa and assorted wall art, reflecting a cozy and artistic interior design

This stylish Airbnb is within walking distance of the beach and features fully furnished rooms, overlooking a garden

Things to do in Ipanema

3. Centro & Lapa – where to stay in Rio de Janeiro on a budget

Vibrant facade of the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro, with pedestrians and traffic in the foreground

Located in the northern part of Rio, Centro is the city’s downtown area. Even though the city center offers a lot of beautiful attractions, you will be able to find relatively cheap accommodations in this lively neighborhood.

Centro is Rio’s business district and historical center. You may be a bit further away from the beach area when staying in Centro (about 30 min by public transportation), but you’ll find many great museums, beautiful buildings with colonial architecture and lively nightlife. 

The best way to discover Centro is to get lost in the streets, walking and gazing at the beautiful cafés and shops. It’s a good idea to stop by the Royal Portuguese Reading Room, a public library with stunning architecture. 

The Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião is another must-see in Centro – it’s a Catholic cathedral shaped like a pyramid! The Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro is also attention-worthy, and if possible, I suggest you get tickets and attend one of the shows!

If you’re interested in a day trip, I suggest you venture out to Ilha do Governador (Governador Island), explore the island, and experience Rio from another perspective. 

The unique cone-shaped Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro with a traditional tram in front, surrounded by modern skyscrapers

When it gets dark, go to the Lapa area of Centro to experience the cool nightlife! Bar Carioca da Gema has amazing cocktails (be sure to try Brazi’s best cocktail, caipirinha) and live samba, while Booze Bar has an extensive beer selection!

Lapa is the most colorful part of Centro and has many landmarks, such as the iconic Escadaria Selarón Steps (your Instagram feed will love this!) and the Lapa Arches. Plus, Lapa is close to the Santos Dumont Airport, so you can start exploring the heart of the city as soon as you land in Rio. 

Next to Lapa, you’ll find the Gloria neighborhood. This is definitely worth a visit, mainly because of the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro – a contemporary art museum where you can spend a lovely afternoon. Other neighborhoods that you can easily visit from Lapa are Catete – home to the former presidential residence, and Laranjeiras, known for the old elegant buildings. 

If you’re visiting Rio for the Carnival, book your accommodation in Centro. It’s right next to Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí, the site of the Carnival, and there are plenty of great hotels to choose from. 

If Rio is just a fast stop for you and you are traveling further, this area is (relatively) close to the airport, in about 30 min by taxi you will be there!

Luxury hotel
A collage of three photos of hotels to stay in Rio: A minimalist bedroom with floor-to-ceiling windows, two lounge chairs on a wooden deck with urban views, and an infinity pool with panoramic vistas of the Rio skyline and mountains

A luxurious hotel offering all the amenities you need for an unforgettable stay – an infinity pool, 2 restaurants, room service, free Wi-Fi, and rooms with air conditioning, cable TV, and private bathrooms with free toiletries. Private parking is available on the property, and the airport is a few steps away, making this hotel a perfect choice for an overnight stay. 

Other accommodation options in Centro

Mid-range
Tranquil poolside area with red sun loungers surrounded by palm trees at a tropical resort in Rio de Janeiro

This ideally located hotel in the city center offers an on-site restaurant, wellness center, free Wi-Fi, and an outdoor pool

Budget
Eclectic living space with exposed brick walls, teal accents, and a large, flat-screen TV for a stylish stay in Rio

An excellent hotel for budget travelers, with air-conditioned rooms and a bar where you can get a few drinks

Airbnb
Twin beds in a simple, clean hotel room with tile floors and a nightstand

A modern apartment with 2 beds, a bathroom, a small kitchen, Wi-Fi, and air conditioning

Things to do in Centro

4. Santa Teresa – Rio de Janeiro’s bohemian neighborhood

Lush greenery surrounds the quaint, colorful houses nestled at the foot of a rocky mountain in Rio de Janeiro

Santa Teresa is a hilly area that borders Lapa and the city center. It’s known for its impressive historic buildings, colorful trams, and, most of all, the bohemian vibe you can feel in every nook of the neighborhood. 

The Santa Teresa Tram has been continuously operating since 1891, making it the oldest tram in Latin America and one of the oldest in the world. 

While you’re here, you cannot miss the Parque das Ruínas, where you’ll see many old buildings and some wonderful street art. Don’t forget to stop and admire the spectacular city view! Another must-visit is Largo dos Guimarães, a lively square surrounded by restaurants and shops, but also the final stop of the Santa Teresa Tram. 

But if you want to feel like a true Bohemian, you need to enjoy a drink or two. I personally recommend Bar do Mineiro – a great spot to immerse yourself in the local experience. However, there are plenty of other spots to enjoy the Santa Teresa nightlife – for example, Samba Do Guimaraes is a great spot to immerse yourself in the samba dance!

If you enjoyed the vibe of this neighborhood, I’m confident you’ll have a good time in Sao Paulo, too! Add it to your itinerary and check out the top spots for a Saulo Paulo stay.

Luxury hotel
A collage of three photos of hotels to stay in Rio: A cozy bedroom with vibrant textures and hardwood floors, a living area bathed in natural light with lush indoor greenery, and a tranquil poolside deck with sweeping views of Rio's landscape.

Vila Santa Teresa offers a unique stay in Rio. It has an amazing swimming pool overlooking the ocean, luxurious air-conditioned rooms, and a stunning sun terrace. You can even enjoy gourmet dishes at the on-site restaurant while watching the stunning views! The hotel’s atmosphere is also quite romantic, making this a great spot for couples vacationing in Rio. 

Other accommodation options in Santa Teresa

Mid-range
Elegant bedroom with a large bed, classic wooden furniture, and a chandelier

A lovely B&B featuring spacious suites, each with a private bathroom, and serving a delicious continental breakfast

Budget
Relaxing hammock on a balcony with a breathtaking panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro's cityscape and mountains

At this guest house, you’ll have access to a bar, a shared lounge, and a variety of breakfast options

Airbnb
Colorful and artistic living area with vibrant textiles, lush plants, and ample natural light

A boho-style apartment within walking distance of the tram station, with comfortable rooms, a library, and a winter garden

Things to do in Santa Teresa

  • Walk around the Largo do Curvelo part of the neighborhood
  • Venture out to the Largo do Boticário square to see the old architecture
  • Watch the sunrise from the Mirante Dona Marta observation deck
  • Book a Santa Teresa and Ancient Rio tour and learn about the city’s history

5. Leblon – the best spot for a luxury stay in Rio

A picturesque sunset view of Rio de Janeiro coastline, with the iconic two peaks of Dois Irmãos mountain in the background

Situated right next to Ipanema, Leblon is an upscale neighborhood with an amazing beach, trendy restaurants, and designer stores. So, if you feel like splurging on your trip to Rio, Leblon is the place to be!

Wherever you are in Rio, you have to go to the beach – Leblon is no exception. Praia do Leblon is an amazing sandy beach, not as crowded as Copacabana Beach, which is also why you’ll find many locals here. 

During your stay here, I recommend checking out Mirante do Leblon, an observation deck that provides stunning views of the Ipanema and Copacabana beaches and the city of Rio. In the area, you’ll have plenty of outdoor cafes where you can stop for a cold drink and hide from the sun for a bit. 

If you enjoy spending time outdoors, you have to explore Parque Natural Municipal Dois Irmãos – this is a lovely green area where you can get away from the noise of the city, take a relaxing walk, and stop at the many viewpoints to snap some photos. If you want a more engaging activity, hike up to Morro Dois Irmãos or the Two Brothers Peak – it’s extra special at sunrise!

Bordering the Leblon neighborhood is the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, a saltwater lagoon surrounded by green surfaces, perfect for a picnic, walking, cycling, jogging, or just relaxing and enjoying the sunset. There are also quite a few restaurants along the lagoon, so you can have a delicious meal after a day spent outdoors. 

However, no luxury stay would be complete without some shopping. Luckily, Leblon has plenty to offer in that respect. Shopping Leblon is a large mall with upscale stores, a movie theater, and plenty of restaurants. But if you’re short on time, you can choose to visit Rio Design Leblon, a smaller shopping center where you’ll also get a variety of shopping and dining opportunities. 

And if you’re lucky, you might even catch one of the shows at Teatro Casa Grande, a theater renowned for its amazing acoustics. There’s plenty more to see and do, but there are also many good hotels, so let’s get into that!

Luxury hotel
A collage of three photos of hotels to stay in Rio: A cozy corner with a hanging wicker chair and ocean view, a peaceful bedroom with natural wood tones and artwork, and a rooftop pool with a unique circular opening framing the sea

This 5-star hotel has rooms featuring sea views, an outdoor pool, and a rooftop bar where you can watch the sunset while sipping on delicious drinks. A buffet breakfast is served daily, with vegetarian options included, and there’s also a restaurant that serves lunch and dinner if you want to dine on-site.

Other accommodation options in Santa Teresa

MID-RANGE
Promenade Palladium Leblon's elegant lobby area featuring modern design, comfortable seating, and artful decor

The hotel is situated steps away from the beach and has rooms and suites with air conditioning and cable TV

BUDGET
Relaxing indoor pool area at Apart Hotel Leblon Ocean with lounge chairs and tropical ambiance

This is a self-catering accommodation that can fit up to 4 adults, with a sauna and an indoor pool

AIRBNB
Charming and compact bedroom with a patterned bedspread and minimalistic decor in Studio Novo

A newly renovated studio, featuring a bedroom with a double bed, bathroom, and a small, but functional kitchen

Things to do in Leblon

6. Botafogo – best spot in Rio for a local experience

Historic architecture of the Parque Lage with visitors enjoying the café in the foreground and Corcovado Mountain shrouded by clouds in the backdrop

Botafogo is a nice neighborhood by the beach with superb views of Sugar Loaf Mountain (only 10 min away by car!). Staying here, you will be able to experience local life and find amazing Brazilian restaurants and cool cafés. And if you’re a shopping enthusiast, there are a lot of opportunities for that, too! 

Start your day in Botafogo by heading to the beach. Botafogo Beach is not as popular as Copacabana and Ipanema, so it’ll likely be less crowded and allow you to have that authentic Brazilian beach experience. Plus, it’s a great choice if you’re traveling with family!

When hungry, stop for a meal at Fogo de Chão, a crazy popular restaurant that serves the best Brazilian steak you’ll probably ever try. 

The Botafogo Praia Shopping is another great spot for family time. Not only does this mall have numerous shops, restaurants, and a movie theater, but it also provides spectacular views of Botafogo Bay.  

It’s also a good idea to explore the nearby neighborhood of Flamengo. Here, you’ll find the Parque Brig. Eduardo Gomes, which is the perfect place for a family picnic. 

Luxury hotel
A collage of three photos of hotels to stay in Rio: A chic hotel room with cityscape views including the iconic cathedral, a woman enjoying a cocktail by an infinity pool with a backdrop of Sugarloaf Mountain, and a stylish sitting area with a teal lamp and indoor plant

An ideally located hotel on Botafogo Beach boasting unforgettable views of Corcovado and Sugar Loaf Mountain. All rooms have private bathrooms and air conditioning. Guests can spend their time swimming in the pool or up on the rooftop, enjoying a drink from the bar. Breakfast is served every morning in the Lobby Lounge.

Other accommodation options in Botafogo

Mid-range
Sophisticated lounge area of Novotel RJ with modern furniture, chic interior landscaping, and ambient lighting

Guests get access to a gym, business center, bar, hair salon, and 24-hour room service

Budget
Quaint and serene backyard pool of O Veleiro B&B surrounded by lush greenery and a cozy guesthouse

A short walk from the metro station, this B&B has a pool and a garden with a poolside bar

Airbnb
Simplistic and functional bedroom setting with grey bedding

A 2nd floor apartment in a local villa near the metro station, with a bedroom, kitchen, and living room

Things to do in Botafogo

  • Hike up to Trilha do Morro da Urca
  • Have fun at the beaches
  • Go shopping at Rio Sul, one of the most famous shopping malls in the city
  • Visit the museum Fundação Casa de Rui Barbosa to learn about local history

7. Barra da Tijuca – where to stay in Rio for relaxation

Aerial view of Rio de Janeiro's coastline at sunset, highlighting the curving beach with surfers and the city's skyscrapers

Barra da Tijuca is located in the southwestern part of Rio de Janeiro and about half an hour from the city center by car (or 1 hour by public transport). However, this area is less crowded than the other areas I covered in this post.

If you want to spend a relaxing day at the beach, Barra da Tijuca Beach is the perfect place to stay in Rio de Janeiro. Even though it’s not one of the city’s famous beaches, such as Ipanema or Copacabana Beach, it has all the charm but without the crowds.

Nearby, you’ll find other great beaches. For starters, you should check out Praia da Reserva (map), loved for its rural vibe. Then, you can move on to Praia da Joatinga (map), a secluded beach surrounded by greenery. 

And even if you’re not a beach bum, Barra da Tijuca is a good place to stay. While here, you can explore the Tijuca Forest, i.e., the Tijuca National Park. There are plenty of hiking trails, waterfalls, and viewpoints from where you can see some of Rio’s attractions. You can hike up to the Pedra da Gávea peak – it’s challenging, but the views are well worth it!

Another great way to relax in this neighborhood is spending the day surrounded by greenery in the Bosque da Barra park. You can also see a show at the Cidade das Artes Cultural Center or go on a day trip to Ilha da Gigóia, a small island known for the numerous restaurants serving fresh and delicious food. 

You will also find a great selection of fine-dining restaurants and shops to complete your chill holiday. And even though Barra da Tijuca has a reputation for being an affluent neighborhood, there are all types of accommodations, from lux boutique hotels to affordable Airbnbs.

Luxury hotel
A collage of three photos of hotels to stay in Rio: A modern beachfront hotel facade with palm trees, a bedroom opening onto a balcony with lagoon views, and an expansive pool area with palm trees and loungers under a clear blue sky

A spa, a sauna, a yoga studio, 2 swimming pools, and the 3 restaurants are the main highlights of this all-inclusive urban resort. Free Wi-Fi is available everywhere on the property, and guests can also use the hotel’s private parking. Each of the rooms has air conditioning, a private balcony, and a bathroom stocked with free toiletries.

Other accommodation options in Barra da Tijuca

Mid-range
Luxurious rooftop pool of Windsor Oceanico Hotel offering panoramic ocean views and stylish sun loungers

The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool, a sauna, a fitness center, and rooms with modern decor and air conditioning

Budget
Entremares Hotel room with a comfortable double bed, soft lighting, and contemporary wooden furnishings

A 3-star hotel, ideally located near the beach, with free parking and Wi-Fi, and a 24-hour front desk

Airbnb
Modern and bright living room with large windows offering a view of Rio de Janeiro's cityscape, featuring comfortable seating and a wall-mounted TV

A modern apartment with a bedroom, a spacious living room, a fully equipped kitchen, and a dedicated workspace

Things to do in Barra da Tijuca

👑 Luxury price:US$180
💵 Mid-range hotel:US$100
🛏️ Budget:US$45
📍 Best area:Copacabana
🛎️ Best luxury hotel:Copacabana Palace
🧳 Best mid-range:Ritz Copacabana Hotel
👛 Best budget hotel:Hotel Diplomata

Things to know before deciding where to stay in Rio

The writer of the post lounging on the beach with a Brazilian flag towel, with Rio de Janeiro's distinctive skyline and beachgoers in the background

Rio de Janeiro is a very big city, and each neighborhood has its own unique vibe. Before planning your trip, it’s essential to know about the unsafe areas of Rio de Janeiro and how to get around in the city. 

You also have to consider the timing of Rio Carnival as it dominates the city in every way and makes it very difficult to find accommodation. Luckily for you, I have done all the research, and I’m here to provide you with everything you should consider before choosing where to stay in Rio De Janeiro.

1. Safety – where NOT to stay in Rio de Janeiro

A densely populated favela in Rio de Janeiro, showcasing a colorful array of tightly packed houses

The areas I already mentioned are popular tourist destinations and very safe areas to stay in. However, it’s always best to avoid walking the streets at night, even in safe areas. 

I also advise you not to wear any flashy accessories or expensive jewelry, and don’t use expensive cameras or equipment to snap your photos or take your videos. 

Now, on to the areas you should stay completely away from! The northern part of the city, called Zona Norte, including Rocinha and Vila Mimosa, has the highest crime rate in Rio de Janeiro, and street crime is particularly prevalent. Here, you can be robbed or assaulted, so I don’t advise going there at any time of the day or night. 

Other areas to avoid are called favelas. Favelas and their surrounding areas are known within the city as being controlled by dangerous gangs, and they should be avoided at all costs. 

If you’re eager to learn more about the favelas and see what they look like, you can go on one of the guided tours (this one is a cool one!). The tours are led by locals and completely safe, but you should not venture into a favela alone!

And if you don’t feel comfortable going to these dangerous parts of Rio but are still interested in learning more about the favelas, I recommend watching the movie City of God (Cidade de Deus in Portuguese), which takes place in a favela.

2. How to get around in Rio de Janeiro

Vibrant and intricately tiled Escadaria Selarón steps in Rio de Janeiro, a famous artistic landmark, under bright sunlight

Since Rio is a large city, you probably want to experience many different areas. When picking which area to stay in, it’s always a good idea to check out your options for getting around.

Metro

The metro is the most convenient way to get around Rio de Janeiro. It operates from 5 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays and holidays. 

Single rides cost R$6.90 (US$1.40), but you can purchase a cartão pré pago (prepaid card) from the kiosks in any metro station for a minimum of R$5 (US$1). Once you have your card, you can recharge it at any kiosk, and free subway maps are available from most ticket booths.

A gazebo with intricate wooden architecture at a lookout point, offering a panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro's landscape and coastline

Taxi
It is easy and safe to take a taxi in Rio. You can simply take a yellow taxi on the road or use a free app like Easy Taxi (Android | iOS). The starting rate is around R$6 (US$1.2), plus around R$2.65 (US$0.50) per kilometer. Tipping the taxi drivers is not common, but usually, people round up the fare.

Ride-Sharing Apps
Uber is available in Rio de Janeiro and operates in all areas. In general, its prices are 30% lower than regular taxis.

Biking
Rio de Janeiro is a great city for biking. There are a lot of bicycle roads, and you can easily rent bikes from the stations all around the city. I personally think this is the most fun way to get around the city.

Renting a Car
Renting a car could be a good option if you want to make day trips around Rio de Janeiro. But I have to warn you, parking inside the city will be an issue, so public transportation is more convenient. If you’re planning on road-tripping around the country, it’s a good idea to try and find accommodation that provides parking.

3. The world’s biggest carnival in Rio

Performance of at carnival in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival is the world’s biggest street party, and every year, millions of people flock to Rio just for the Carnival! 

The main samba parade during the Carnival is held at the Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí, in downtown Rio. The parade takes place over the course of 5 days. It starts on the Friday before Ash Wednesday (40 days before Easter) and lasts up to Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, so the dates change every year according to the Catholic calendar. 

If you want to be close to the Carnival action, I suggest you look for hotels in Botafogo, Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon. All the most popular Blocos and Bandas (street parties) are held in these neighborhoods, so there will be something to do at all times, even if you’re not at the Sambadrome. 

If you want to be part of the world’s biggest party, book your hotel months in advance – at least 3 or 4 months beforehand – and pack your dancing shoes!

Rio de Janeiro Carnival holds a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest carnival in the world!

It is a fun cultural experience with millions of samba dancers wearing colorful Brazilian costumes and dancing the whole day with live music from all directions. You can read our traveler’s guide to the Carnival, and make sure to check out the official website to find out exactly what’s going on this year! 

P.S. If you plan on welcoming the New Year in Rio, you also have to book several months in advance!

FAQs about lodging in Rio de Janeiro

Aerial view of Rio de Janeiro's bay with Sugarloaf Mountain prominent at dusk, the city's lights beginning to twinkle

😊 Is Rio friendly for tourists?

Rio de Janeiro is a tourist-friendly city, especially the tourist hotspots. People are quite friendly but practice general safety, as in some parts of the city and in crowded places, tourists can be targeted by thieves. 

👨‍👩‍👦‍👦  Which hotels in Rio de Janeiro are good for families?

The Hotel Fasano and Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro are 2 amazing family-friendly hotels, and they both provide baby cots free of charge. 

🏝️  What are the best hotels in Rio de Janeiro on Paqueta Island?

Hospedaria Santa Bárbara and Casa Flor Paquetá are the best hotels on Paqueta Island.

🗺️  What is the best neighborhood to stay in Rio de Janeiro?

With its convenient location to the main attractions, Copacabana is the best neighborhood to stay in Rio de Janeiro.

☀️  What is the best month to visit Rio de Janeiro?

The best time to visit Rio is between September and November. The weather is warm, dry, and sunny enough to enjoy the beaches and do some sightseeing. 

⏱️ How many days do you need in Rio de Janeiro?

I recommend at least 5 days for your stay in Rio de Janeiro. This time should be enough to see the main attractions and enjoy the marvelous beaches. 

❌ What is the most dangerous neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro?

During your stay in Rio, you should avoid the northern part of the city, including Rocinha and Vila Mimosa.

💵 Is Rio expensive?

Rio is not extremely expensive, and since it’s a very big city, you can find both budget and upscale options for dining and accommodation. 

🤔 Is Ipanema or Copacabana better?

Ipanema is the better choice if you want to have that classic beach experience, but Copacabana is the best area to stay if you’re coming to Rio for the first time

👍 What is the safest neighborhood to stay in Rio?

If you’re looking for a safe neighborhood, Botafogo is a great choice for your stay in Rio de Janeiro. It’s a bit further away from the hustle and bustle of the center and not as crowded with tourists (and pickpockets, too). 

Conclusion

The writer of the article stands in front of a scenic overlook with a panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro's mountains and cityscape

It’s time for me to say goodbye, traveler friends. I hope this post helped you understand each neighborhood’s vibe and that you’ve already decided where to stay in Rio de Janeiro.

For those who still can’t choose a spot for their stay in Rio de Janeiro, these are my top 2 hotel choices

Once you’ve decided where to stay in Rio de Janeiro, make your reservation ASAP!

If you have any other suggestions or questions about Rio de Janeiro, don’t be shy and leave a comment below. I’ll be more than happy to reply!

Enjoy your time in Rio de Janeiro,

Yulia


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2 Comments

  1. Amanda 29.08.2022 at 01:48
    • Kate Fletcher 31.08.2022 at 10:07

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