Overview

Introduction

‘A Cidade Maravilhosa’ - the marvellous city. This is without doubt one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Even its own vastness is dwarfed by the dramatic landscape in which it is set. Built on a 60 km beach front, Rio has a population of 12 million, and is split into 156 districts.

This city has everything: vibrant music, excellent restaurants, beautiful people, 12 football teams, night clubs, cheap shopping and white sandy beaches. The city is best appreciated from one of the two best viewpoints and landmarks of Rio - the 30m high statue of Christ The Redeemer, atop the 710 m high Corcovado Mountain and the 396 m high granite cone of Sugar Loaf Mountain.

In Rio today, wealthy neighbourhoods like Ipanema and Leblon stand side by side with the legendary favelas (shanty towns), built on steep hillsides, in which 20% of Cariocas (Rio’s inhabitants) live. Rocinha, the largest favela in South America, houses 80,000 people. However, full employment has meant that modern-day favelas generally have electricity, and brick is rapidly replacing wood and corrugated iron as a building material. 

Beach culture dominates the city. Copacabana beach is at the centre of this and locals make full use of its riches. The beach is a place to relax, the place to play football or beach volleyball, to walk, to sunbathe, to see and to be seen - it is the beating heart of Rio. During summer, (December to March) temperatures range from 32°C to 42°C with high humidity. In winter the temperature drops to a comfortable 22°C to 32°C. The sea is always warm.

The Statue of Christ the Redeemer is one of the seven new wonders of the world.

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Highlights of Rio

Highlights of Rio

  • Corcovado – the statue of Christ the Redeemer, one of the Seven New Wonders of the World
  • Sugar Loaf Mountain, where the glass-panelled cable car travels between two granite peaks nearly 400m high
  • Tijuca Forest – the largest urban forest in the world, with amazing views of the city
  • Copacabana, Ipanema & Leblon – just 3 of the wonderful beaches, each with a different personality
  • Lapa – the bohemian district of Rio, where you can samba till dawn
  • Try the local drink of Caipirinha; a delicious cocktail of cachaca (local rum) mixed with fresh lime, sugar and crushed ice.
  • Carnival – unequalled in the world, but so popular you need to book months in advance!

Carnival

The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro will take place between 2-9 March 2019.

When people think of Brazil, the Rio carnival is often one of the first things that springs to mind. It is 4 days of dazzling costumes, Samba (the famous Brazilian dance) and vibrant parties!

The whole city comes to life and it is a wonderful time to visit. Please note that the hotels often have a 4 or 5 night mandatory stay during Carnival week. Hotels and flights need to be booked well in advance to secure space.

The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro will take place between 2-9 March 2019. The main parade of the Samba Schools takes place on the Sunday and Monday evenings. They parade along the 700 metre, purpose built ‘Samba-drome’ enjoying rapturous applause from the crowd and close scrutiny from the judges. The co-ordination and scale of the Rio Carnival is one of the most impressive sights in the world and a truly unforgettable experience. We offer packages including carnival tickets.  Hundreds of free parties take place across the whole city.
 
The Sambadrome
The Sambadrome is the best place to watch the parades.  It is not just a simple parade, but a competition between the schools to attempt to gain as many points as possible for the show.  The presentations are impressive telling stories with their songs, rhythms, dance routines and extravagant costumes.  Each school consists of dancers, musicians and floats.  It is 700 m of paved street especially built for the carnival parades. It has a 65,000 capacity. Each samba school has a maximum of 75 minutes on the parade ground during this time the thousands of dancers, percussion section and floats will delight the audience with their creativity and dancing skills.  Each Samba school represents a neighbourhood or social club from different areas across Rio.  


The parade is taken very seriously by the samba schools who spend the whole year preparing for the event - choosing their theme and creating their floats. The samba schools are ranked in leagues much like football, with the ‘Premier League’ schools performing on the Sunday and Monday evening during carnival.

Tickets can be pre-booked for the Sambadrome and is highly recommended. There is a special section in the stadium for tourists (Sector 9). Local vendors sell small cushions as the seats are concrete and the parade can go on from 8pm until around 6 am ! The Sambadrome is very well organized and safe. There are fast food stands and information points.

Sunvil offer packages including carnival tickets as well as tailor-made holidays which can include a stay in Rio over the carnival period. 'Carnival' takes place all over Brazil and a visit to either Salvador or Olinda is also recommended.

Beaches near Rio

Beaches near Rio

Within approximately 3 – 4 hours of the city of Rio de Janeiro, there are many beautiful beaches and coastal areas which make for a perfect combination with Rio or an ideal relaxing stay after travelling around Brazil.

To the West of Rio lies: Ilha Grande, declared a state park and known for mountainous jungle and beautiful beaches and no traffic!

Angra dos Reis, located on the mainland and gateway to taking boat trips to over 30 local islands in the bay.

Parati is located halfway between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The journey time by road (from both cities) is approximately 4 hours to reach this beautiful colonial town. Untouched by the passing of time, it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for representing some of the World’s most important examples of Portugese colonial architecture. There are wonderful churches to visit, art galleries, antique shops, cafes, restaurants and brightly coloured houses with hidden courtyards, resplendent with exotic plants

To the East of Rio, Armacao dos Buzios is one of the most popular beach areas; a place of natural beauty which boasts than 35 days of rain a year! Nicknamed ‘Brazil’s St Tropez’ this is a favourite for local people and visitors alike.

Holiday Tip

Ensure you are in Rio on a Sunday as the main beachfront road on Copacabana and Ipanama/Leblon road in Rio is closed to traffic and replaced instead by joggers, cyclists, roller bladers and dog walkers - fantastic people watching!  In the evening go to one of the various hotels with a roof top bar on Copacabana beach and enjoy the stunning views.

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I love all the diverse ingredients in Brazil; a nation of people who fully embrace fiestas, the rich architectural heritage dating back to the 16th century and the largest wetlands in the Americas.

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Best time to go
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC
Time Difference

GMT -2hrs

Currency

Brazilian real

Language

Portuguese

Average flight times

11.5 hours. BA direct flight to Rio de Janeiro from London Heathrow

  • Average temperature

    Average rainfall

Note: Map is for guidance purposes only.

Talk to our Brazil expert

Will Rist
Will Rist

I love all the diverse ingredients in Brazil; a nation of people who fully embrace fiestas, the rich architectural heritage dating back to the 16th century and the largest wetlands in the Americas.

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Rio De Janeiro

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If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

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