Visiting Rio


The rainforest, beaches, hills and lagoons draw millions of tourists each year to the Wonderful City, or Cidade Maravilhosa, as it is known in Portuguese.

Both Rio Antigo (Old Rio) and Rio Moderno (Modern Rio) contribute to the iconic Zona Sul (South Zone) region of the city. Zona Sul runs from Gloria, the first neighborhood of this district – near bohemian neighborhoods of Lapa and Santa Teresa – to chic Leblon and Gávea.

Rio can be easily explored by the landscaped highways that connect the Aterro do Flamengo – where you can see the impressive SugarLoaf and the Marina – to the famous beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. In Flamengo and Botafogo, you can enjoy craft beer and burgers, an alternative music scene, and Shopping Rio Sul mall. Each neighborhood offers a distinct flavor of Rio, and the wide variety of gastronomy, music, entertainment and architecture highlight the many cultures and people that constitute this city.

In Rio's downtown center, daytime pedestrians include businesspeople, market-goers, and visitors to the Theatro MunicipalMuseu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow), and Port Area - legacy of the Olympic Games. At night, the area transforms into the center of dance, music, and performance, as people fill the streets, restaurants, and clubs of Lapa.

Rio’s favelas (informal communities) and subúrbios (areas distant from downtown) are a critical source of social and cultural production for Brazil. Favelas are the birthplace of many of Brazil’s most celebrated musical genres and musicians, and the suburbs provide beautiful beaches, as well as traditional and modern restaurants and nightlife.

Brazil Visas and passport requirements

  • To enter Brazil, a passport valid for at least six months from the date of entry is required.
  • We advise visitors to contact the embassy to check the visa requirements specific to their country of origin (citizens of certain countries are exempt of the visa requirement for stays shorter than 90 days). Visas are, however, required by nationals of Australia, Canada and the United States, among many others.
  • The cost of and procedure for tourist/ business visa applications varies according to nationality – you should directly contact the Brazilian consulate in your country for details.
  • Tourist visas are valid for a period of up to 90 days – if an extension is needed, tourists must contact the Federal Police to request one, though a request does not guarantee the extension.


Getting Around

The city of Rio is easily navigated by our dependable and efficient metro system, a public bike-sharing system, and buses. Taxis are also readily available, as are ride-sharing services such as Uber and Cabify. Neighborhoods in the South Side easily traveled on foot.

Rio has a zero-tolerance policy towards drinking and driving – that is, anyone driving with any detectable alcohol in their bloodstream will have their license suspended and charged a fine. Local police set up various check-points around the city each night.

A valid driver's license, credit card and passport are required to rent a car. Most agencies require drivers to be at least 25 years of age, though some will rent (with an additional fee) to drivers under 25.

If you are quoted prices on the phone, make sure they include insurance, which is compulsory. Car-rental agencies can be found at both airports and along Avenida Princesa Isabel in Copacabana.

At the international airport, Hertz, Localiza and Unidas provide rentals. In Copacabana, among the many are Hertz and Localiza.

Rio’s metro system is an easy and fast way to get around the city. During Carnaval, the metro operates nonstop from 5am Saturday morning until at least 11pm on Tuesday. Its lines are air-conditioned, clean, fast and safe. The main line runs from Ipanema-General Osório to Saens Peña, connecting with the secondary line to Estácio (which provides service to São Cristóvão, Maracanã and beyond). The main stops in Centro are Cinelândia and Carioca.

Since June 2016, a new line (linha 4) connects Ipanema to Barra da Tijuca. It runs from General Osório to Jardim Oceânico, with stops in Ipanema, Leblon and São Conrado. A stop at Gávea will eventually be added to the line as well.

You can purchase a cartão pré-pago (prepaid card) from a kiosk in any metro station using cash (no change given) with a minimum of R$5 (cash) or more. You can then recharge it at any kiosk. Free subway maps are available at most ticket booths.

You can purchase a chip pré-pago (prepaid chip) from most kiosks using cash to enable your phone service while in Brazil. The primary operators are Vivo, Claro, TIM, and and Oi. You can then purchase additional credit at any kiosk as well. Remember that your mobile phone must run on the GSM network for operate internationally. In addition, the number associated with your phone will change to a local Brazilian number while the pre-paid chip is inserted.