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12 BEST Tours in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

12 BEST Tours in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Hands down one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever set foot in, Rio de Janeiro is bound to wow first-time visitors (and repeat visitors, too!). We loved backpacking Brazil from north to south, but Rio remains an unbeatable destination in our books!

A tropical coastal metropolis, Rio boasts long, white sand beaches just steps away from skyscrapers and busy streets with beautiful rocky cliffs rising from the landscape. Most famous for the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, sugary white Copacabana Beach, and the largest Carnival in Brazil, the city offers up some big bucket list items worth ticking off.

Beyond the big attractions and picture-perfect views, we fell in love with exploring the corners of Rio. This city is filled with so much vibrancy and diversity that you’ll never get bored of exploring it! With so many things to do in Rio, we found the best way to experience this lively city is by taking a tour. We put together our top 12 tours you can book while traveling in Rio de Janeiro!

Our TOP PICKS for Tours in Rio

Sunset view from Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio is especially beautiful at sunset!

Best sightseeing tour:

For the best introduction to Rio including everything you don’t want to leave without seeing, this half-day guided tour in Rio does the trick. We loved getting time to take in the iconic Christ the Redeemer and panoramic views of Rio along with a gondola ride up Sugarloaf Mountain.

It’s only 5 hours and if you pick the morning option, you’ll still have plenty of time to explore! Tickets are available online for $109.50 which includes ALL the entrance fees and transportation.

Best evening tour:

If you’re looking for something to do in the evening in Rio, we’ve got just the thing. This sunset sail in Rio gets you on a yacht (yes please!) as you sip on drinks and watch the sunset while sailing around Guanabara Bay.

One of the highlights of our trip was seeing Rio’s iconic sights like Christ the Redeemer and Corcovado Mountain from a totally different viewpoint with fresh Caipirinhas in hand. It’s super reasonable too at $55 USD per person when you book online and there’s a max of 10 people on the boat, so it doesn’t feel super crowded.

Why Book a Guided Tour in Rio de Janeiro?  

Daniel sits at the top of the Two Brother hike aka Morro Dois Irmãos overlooking Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Daniel sits at the top of the Two Brothers hike aka Morro Dois Irmãos overlooking Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

While we love solo exploration, organized tours in Rio boast some big advantages and are the best way to enjoy the city without having to do the planning. They come in really handy if you don’t speak much Portuguese, only have a couple of days to spend in Rio de Janeiro, or want to skip the logistics and head straight to enjoying the city.

Of course, there’s also the elephant in the room: is Rio safe? Even though crime stats have decreased in recent years, some areas of Rio aren’t the safest for visitors. A tour guide will help you steer clear of those areas, share safety tips, and give you peace of mind so you can stay safe while traveling through South America.

Overall, we find tours a convenient way to get to know some of the best places in Brazil within Rio. It can be difficult to navigate a new city (especially without your own transportation) so we love tours because they will take care of the details like how to get to these major attractions and paying entrance fees. Having a local guide can also give you more insight into the area you’re exploring, making it a worthwhile experience.

We’ve made a few trips to Rio and found it even more exciting each time we went, so check out our list of tours that’ll make you fall head-over heels for one of the most gorgeous cities in Latin America and the world! 

12 Best Tours in Rio de Janeiro 

1. Full Day in Rio Guided Tour

Bailey at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Bailey at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil’s second-largest city doesn’t hold back on amazing attractions, and there are a few you absolutely need to see! We think this full-day Rio tour is the best way to check out the major sights, especially if you’re short on time or need a break from itinerary planning.

Starting at 8:30 am, you’ll pass by famous spots like Copacabana Beach, Ipanema Beach, and Tijuca Forest en route to the iconic Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain. After about an hour (and a million photos), there’ll be shorter stops at the Saint Sebastian Cathedral, Maracaña Stadium, and the artistic masterpiece: the Selaron Steps!

To end you’ll hop on two gondolas, with a stop at Urca Hill first, then all the way up to the tip-top of Sugarloaf Mountain! This is one of the most picturesque gondola rides I’ve ever been on and is a fantastic finale to a day exploring Rio.

This is a great option for your first time in Rio, as these sites are some of the top highlights of Brazil!

This tour includes hotel pickup, a comfy air-conditioned van, all entry tickets, and a buffet lunch at a Brazilian steakhouse, so you can keep cool and fuel up on great food during the 8-hour tour. This experience is $144 USD per person, or if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option you can choose to skip lunch and Sugarloaf Mountain and only pay $59 USD. This tour is certainly popular, so be sure to book ahead of time!

2. The Best Half Day in Rio Guided Tour

Steps up to the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio
Christ the Redeemer!
A cable car travels up Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Almost at the top!

If catching the best panoramic views of Rio is on your priority list, but you don’t have an entire day to tour around, look no further! This half-day tour has a morning and afternoon option, but we recommend the morning start at 7:30 am to enjoy the scenery with fewer crowds.

This tour is very similar to the previous one on this list, but a little bit shorter. It starts off with a drive-by tour of well-known spots like Copacabana Beach, Guanabara Palace, Ipanema Beach, and Tijuca Forest. The first stop is driving to the top of Corcovado Mountain (about 710 meters/233 feet) to see the epic Christ the Redeemer towering above you with unbelievable views of Rio and beyond.

After learning the monument’s history, the tour heads out for the adventure up Sugarloaf Mountain. Here you’ll hop on a gondola up to Urca Hill, then onto another gondola up to Sugarloaf Mountain. I’ve been on many gondola rides throughout my travels, and this is one of the best! Sugarloaf has unreal views over Guanabara Bay and the Rio cityscape, punctuated with beautiful beaches and mountains.

I love that this tour takes you to the major highlights of Rio, but doesn’t take up your whole day so you can relax in the afternoon!

This 5-hour tour has two options: pay $109.50 USD per person, including entrance fees, or pay $79.50 USD per person and opt to pay your entrance fees at the gate. If you choose the second option, tickets tally up to about $40 USD, so bring cash! 

Each tour includes roundtrip transportation from your hotel in Leblon, Ipanema, or Copacabana neighborhoods and a guide to take you around all day. It does not include any food or drinks, so it might be best to bring some extra cash for that too! You can book this experience online here.

Related Reads: If you’re looking to explore an area that’s off the beaten path, here are the best places to visit in Northeast Brazil!

3. Sunset sail in Rio de Janeiro

View from below deck with Sail in Rio
Photo credit: Sail in Rio
The view from a sailboat of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Photo credit: Sail in Rio

Though Sugarloaf and Corcovado Mountains offer great panoramas of Rio de Janeiro from above, hopping on this boat tour gives you incredible city views too! Plus, you get drinks (we sipped on fresh Caipirinhas – yum!), snacks, and a 3-hour adventure on a yacht, so you really can’t go wrong here!

Sailing around Guanabara Bay, you’ll get to spot Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer at the top of Corcovado Mountain, the Fort of São João and Santa Cruz de Barra, and various other buildings, communities, and beaches. It was awesome seeing the iconic sites from a new perspective but really, we loved just being on the water!

Depending on the sea conditions the day you go, you might also swing by Red Beach for a swim or get a closer glimpse of the well-known Copacabana Beach. We didn’t get lucky on the day we went, but it didn’t bother us because the tour was amazing!

This 3-hour experience is $55 USD per adult, which is actually a good price for all it includes. It meets at a designated meeting point and includes all of your drinks, snacks, and amazing boat staff! You can opt into a sunny 11 am boat ride or the 3 pm departure to catch the sunset behind the city as you return to the harbor. We opted for the sunset trip and really enjoyed it, but we’d bet the views are amazing at any time of day! 

Note: Departure times change to 12 pm and 4 pm from December 22 – February 18.

4. Experience Hang Gliding or Paragliding in Rio  

Hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Those views, though! Honeymoon Always.

If you’ve been following our blog for some time, you’ll know we’re adventure lovers – skydiving, scuba diving, ATV tours, white water rafting – you name it, we’re in. So trust me when I tell you that this Hang Gliding or Paragliding Tour over Rio is one of the most amazing ways to see the city!

You’ll start by meeting your guide at Voo Livre Club on São Conrado Beach where you will go through paperwork and safety instructions. Once you’re briefed and ready to fly, you will take a car up 700 meters/2,300 feet to Pedra Bonita where you will take off down the runway and soar through the air!

The views of the city, beaches, bays, and buildings are unbeatable, and those who have been paragliding before will know how unbelievably peaceful and quiet it is! You will land right where you started, at São Conrado Beach, and immediately be able to watch a GoPro video of your experience.

This private tour is $167 USD per person for an epic afternoon! Passengers must be 14+ and under 286 lbs (130 kg) to paraglide or under 176 lbs (80 kg) for the hang gliding option. Please note that you will have to pay an additional $100 BRL (about $20 USD) for insurance upon arrival. You can reserve this experience online here!

5. Rio de Janeiro Helicopter Flight

View from a helicopter of the Christ the Redeemer staute in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The scenic flights are out of this world!

If you’ve got a little room in your budget to splurge, this helicopter ride over Rio de Janeiro is the perfect way to do it! What an epic way to experience the city, it will certainly be a highlight of your Brazil travels!

This tour has an impressive list of attractions, including cruising above the beautiful coastline for views of beaches like Copacabana, Ipanema, and São Conrado. You’ll also get to snap pics of the gondolas making their way up Sugarloaf Mountain, the Botanical Gardens, and the lush, sprawling Tijuca National Park. And the icing on the cake? Aerial views of Christ the Redeemer overlooking the city are even more epic than they sound!

Helicopter tours start at $303 USD per person with up to five passengers per booking, so this is a great experience if you’re traveling with a group. Flights are about half an hour long, and are available starting at 8 am, with the last takeoff at 5 pm. Even though it’s only a half hour, it is seriously worth it by giving you one of the most unforgettable viewpoints of Rio!

My recommendation is to give yourself lots of time to get to the meeting point, as it’s roughly a 45 drive from the city center and you never know what traffic can be like! Flights are subject to weather conditions, but you can either reschedule or cancel. Or if your travel plans change (which they often do!), you can also cancel up to 24 hours in advance when you book this experience in advance with Viator so you don’t miss out!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

6. Full Day Tour to Angra dos Reis and Ilha Grande 

Lopes Mendes Beach on Ilha Grande, Brazil
Lopes Mendes Beach on Ilha Grande, Brazil

Brazil is huge, which can make seeing various parts of the country a little difficult if you’re traveling on a tight timeline. That’s why we love this day trip to Angra dos Reis and Ilha Grande. In one day you can see the coast, take a boat ride to do some island hopping, enjoy the sun, and get back to Rio! It’s easily one of the best day trips you can do from Rio!

Even though it’s within the state of Rio, you’ll need to dedicate the entire day – the tour is 14 hours, with a 2.5-hour drive each way (did we mention just how huge Brazil is?). But the payoff is worth it, once you get to Angra dos Reis and board the Schooner boat, you’ll see some of its 365 islands and 40 different beaches that sit in the bay. This is by far one of the most popular areas to visit in Brazil.

Ilha Grande is the biggest and most well-known island with its beautiful white sand beaches, blue lagoon, and green lagoon that is teeming with colorful fish, coral reef, and sea turtles! Lagoa de Azul (blue lagoon) was my favorite, with some of the most crystalline blue waters I’ve ever seen, but all the stops are breathtaking!

As you can imagine, This is a popular tour, so booking ahead is a good idea. Prices start at $75 USD and include hotel pickup and drop-off, lunch, the Schooner boat ride, and great vibes! You will need to pay a small Navy Fee of $10 BRL (about $2 USD), and snorkel equipment and drinks can be purchased, or you can pack your own! This day trip does tend to sell out, so make sure to reserve this amazing experience online here.

Related Read: Traveling on a budget? Be sure to stop by another major city and explore the top cheap and free things to do in São Paulo, Brazil!

7. Private Custom Full-Day Highlights in Rio

The Selaron Steps in Rio de janeiro, Brazil
The Selaron Steps in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
View of Christ the Redeemer from Parque Lage, Rio
What a view!

We love a private tour – especially one that can be customized to our preference! This is a perfect tour as there are so many things to do in Rio, it can be difficult to get to all of the destinations on your itinerary without transportation and the guidance of a local. This Private Customizable Highlights of Rio Tour lets you choose if you want to explore sites that are focused on nature, history, or art so you can maximize your time in Rio!

Regardless of which type of tour you choose, you will still see iconic sites like Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain. But after these two sites, the tour is up to you!

You can keep it artsy and visit spots like the Santa Teresa neighborhood, Painel Etnias (a stunning mural), and Rio’s classic Selaron Steps. Nature lovers can explore Tijuca Forest, Cascatinha Taunay (an impressive 25-meter/82-foot waterfall), and Pepino Beach. Finally, our history buffs can check out Carioca Aqueduct, Saint Sebastian Cathedral, and Cinelandia (also known as “little Paris”).

I really love how customizable this tour is so you really get your money’s worth! It is also completely private so you get exclusive time with your guide to ask questions and get to know the area.

You can book this 8-hour tour with either a guide that also doubles as a driver or a private tour guide AND driver. If you want the driver-guide option, it’s $286 USD for up to three people (which is about $95 per person) or you can opt for the driver and guide for $366 USD total for two people. There are tons of different options that can accommodate larger groups and all include roundtrip transportation from your hotel. Entrance tickets and lunch aren’t included, but you can ask your guide to help find delicious local eats! 

For a completely customizable private tour of Rio, book a spot online here!

8. Tijuca Forest Tour  

The view from Tijuca National Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This is one of my favorite views of the city!

Many tours on this list take you past the beautiful Tijuca National Park, but it’s worth a day trip all on its own. Located right in Rio, this sprawling reserve claims to be the world’s largest urban forest and is full of things to explore. What better way to do so than by booking this 5-hour tour so you can see all this beautiful park has to offer.

This national park is most well known for being home to Christ the Redeemer and Sao Conrado Beach, but there are honestly way cooler things to check out, especially if you’re a nature lover! We love that this tour is small, only 15 people, so it doesn’t feel as touristy as some Rio attractions do.

You’ll trek through the forest for a few hours and might even get lucky to spot some wildlife, like a capuchin monkey or a sloth! The guide will take you to incredible viewpoints, Taunay Waterfall (which is 25 meters/82 feet high!), and multiple caves, one being named “the bat cave”. After all of this trekking, you’ll be relieved to take a dip at Baronesa Waterfall, which is refreshing and quite beautiful. Your last stop will take you to Sao Conrado Beach where you’ll have some time to enjoy the warm sand and coastal views.

After spending so much time in the bustling city, I loved having an outdoor escape during this tour. Tours are $83 USD per person for two people, but the cost drops the more people you book for. There are also multiple departure times throughout the day. It includes a guide, pick-up/drop-off, comfy air-conditioned transport, and all fees. Come prepared with comfy shoes, extra water and snacks, and a swimsuit, and book this tour online here!

9. Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden Tour

Jardim Botanico in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Jardim Botanico in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Travel is all about balance! Some days are for mountain-top views or thrilling helicopter rides, and some are for peaceful Botanical Garden tours like this one. Rio’s Botanical Gardens (Jardim Botanico) is a UNESCO biosphere reserve located at the bottom of Corcovado Mountain, giving bonus views of Christ the Redeemer through its lush foliage.

Even though we initially were tempted to explore on our own, we’re glad we ended up opting for this tour of the gardens. With over 6,500 species of plants spread over 346 acres of land, we left with newfound knowledge about the history, biodiversity, and flora and fauna of Rio that really made us appreciate this delicate ecosystem!

The tour takes about 3.5 hours, including a 90-minute guided walk, with stops like the orchid greenhouse and the beautiful Avenue of Royal Palms, and then another 90 minutes to relax, check out the gift shop or walk around at your own pace.

Group tours run on Wednesdays and Saturdays for $50 USD a person, but you can also book fully private tours on other days of the week for $107 USD per person or cheaper for larger groups (both tours include a hotel pickup option). Ticket entrance is $60 BRL (equal to about $12 USD) and isn’t included in the price, so bring cash along with you. You can reserve this unique Rio experience here.

Related Read: One of the most beautiful outdoor attractions in South America is in Brazil! Learn about the things you need to know before visiting Iguazu Falls and add it to your itinerary.

10. Rocinha Favela Walking Tour

13. Tour through Rocinha Favela from above
Rocinha favela from above! Its huge!

If you’ve seen the movie City of God or know a little about Rio, the famous favelas have probably piqued your interest. Housing millions of people in Rio, favelas are slums or shanty towns.

While favelas are generally safer than they used to be, this 3-hour tour of Rocinha Favela is the best way to go. Not only does it give you a little extra safety net, but it also gives you a way better chance at understanding the history of favelas and the realities of life there. The goal of this tour is to show people what this community is like and how it is a huge part of Rio’s culture.

What we appreciated about this tour is that all the guides are actual residents of the favela, so you can gain legitimate insight into life in Rocinha and support locals along the way. While favelas surely represent the less glamorous side of Rio, we’re glad we did this tour to get a wider picture of the city, see incredible street art, and grab some food and drink along the way (not included in the tour price).

You can arrange pickup from some hotels, but most of our group met at the Copacabana or Ipanema meeting points. Tickets start at $36 USD, and this walking tour lasts about 3 hours. You can reserve this experience online here.

11. Scuba diving

Daniel dives with a school of fish in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Daniel dives with a school of fish in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Bailey and daniel scuba dive past a huge coral in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
So cool!

Scuba diving in Rio is certainly a lesser-known activity, but it still delivers a chance to interact with some incredible marine life in South America! The best diving spots depart from Arraial do Cabo, a coastal town about 2.5 hours from the city center of Rio de Janeiro. Here we found powdery white sand beaches, clear turquoise water, and abundant reef life.

Since Arraial do Cabo is a bit of a drive, this day tour makes it an easy option! It includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, and two dives of around 30 minutes each for PADI-certified divers. You can also hop on this tour if you aren’t certified, but you’ll only get one dive under the careful supervision of a Dive Master. The 2nd dive is usually deeper, so only certified divers can go on that one.

We found the folks here to be super friendly and informative, and the first-time divers on our trip had an awesome time getting a feel for diving. We also had plenty of time to hang out and chat with the guides which gave us a chance to learn more about Rio’s culture and make some friends along the way!

This tour has an early start time of 6 am and is expected to last about 10 hours, so you really get your money’s worth. You can reserve this tour for $184 USD per person, including dives, equipment, snacks, water on the boat, and transportation. We upgraded to include the underwater photos for an additional $43 USD and are so happy we did!

There’s also a cash-only entrance fee for the pier of $10 BRL (about $2 USD), and you’ll want to grab extra cash for lunch or to tip your crew. Of course, swimsuits, extra clothes, towels, sunglasses, and sunblock are necessities for this one. If you want to see the amazing marine life off the coast of Rio, make sure to reserve your dives online here!

Related Read: There is more to Brazil than just coastal cities and stunning islands. Check out our complete guide to Chapada Diamantina National Park to see another beautiful side of the country!

12. The Pedra da Gavea Hike 

Pedra do Telégrafo rock
This is a popular photo spot where people hang from the rock and it looks like a 100-foot drop!

If you’ve looked into hiking Pedro de Gavea, chances are you’ve seen photos of the famous cliff on Instagram! People take pretty creative photos on this one section of the cliff where it appears they are hanging over a huge drop. In reality, it’s only about 10 feet (3 meters), but with the right angle, you can look like a real daredevil! The worst part about the photo is you’ll probably have to wait in line for your turn!

To get that famous photo or just take in the amazing views, this Pedro de Gavea Hiking Tour is the way to go. You’ll lace up your boots and climb 844 meters (2,770 feet) above Rio on a challenging route involving hiking, scrambling, and a little rock climbing. We always love taking on a challenging hike, as it makes the views at the end feel even more epic because you worked so hard for it!

Even though you don’t have to have previous experiences with this type of hike, this one’s definitely for those on the physically fit side who don’t fear heights. This steep hike will take you through lush Tijuca Forest, past cool waterfalls, and to the Carrasqueria, a 21-meter (70-foot) cliff face that you will climb with the guidance of your instructors. From the top, you can get panoramic views of Rio and the sprawling forest below – it’s an incredible viewpoint!

This experience will take about 8 hours and has an early start time of 7:30 am so you can beat the heat. If the weather is bad, the tour may be rescheduled to ensure your safety while rock climbing and trekking.

This tour is $86 USD per person and includes transportation from a designated meeting point, up to 6 people in your group, and all necessary climbing/repelling safety equipment. You can opt for the tour option that includes hotel pick-up for $102 USD per person or a completely private tour for $173 USD each. This tour is best if you can schedule it on a weekday so it’s not as busy, so check all the available dates and book this excursion here!

Other Activities to do While in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Daniel and Bailey on the streets of Rio de Janeiro during a bloco party at Carnival
Carnival is so much fun!

There’s so much to do in Rio, it’s impossible to get bored here! The city is full of exciting experiences you won’t want to miss while you’re exploring Brazil. If you’re looking for activities to fill up your Rio itinerary, we’ve got you covered.

  • Celebrate Carnival – If you schedule your trip to Rio around the end of February/early March, you’ll catch one of the biggest parties in all of South America: Carnival! There are festivities during the day and “blocos parties” during the night. There are so many things to do during Carnival and great ways to experience Carnival on a budget, so you better be prepared for a week you won’t forget! For tickets to the main show, grandstand seats start at $30 USD.
  • Enjoy Samba at Pedra do Sal – For a more authentic side of Rio, Pedra do Sal at night is the place to go. Known as the birthplace of Samba, this neighborhood knows how to party! You can experience this lively scene by yourself or book this Samba tour that includes a bit of the history and culture and a Samba party!
  • Hike to the Two Brothers Lookout – This is one of the most iconic viewpoints in Rio, overlooking Copacabana Beach and offering incredible views of the landscape below. Two Brothers Lookout is a 3 km (1.8 mile) out-and-back hike that is doable for most travelers. For an even more epic view, you can book a hiking tour to catch the sunrise from the top and have the convenience of a local guide. 
  • Relax on Copacabana Beach – A trip to Rio is not complete without spending some time on Copacabana Beach. After all of your days of adventuring and touring, a fun beach day will be needed! This is a lively beach with vendors selling beers, cocktails, and food so you can really hang out all day. You can’t miss out on this classic Rio beach!
  • Take a Brazilian cooking class – You are going to encounter some amazing food while in Brazil. What better souvenir to take home than knowing how to make some popular meals. This 3-hour cooking class will teach you how to make seven dishes, including dessert and the famous Caipirinha. It’s a fun way to dive into the culture and eat some yummy food! 

Where to Stay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

view of the pool and beach at PortoBay Rio de Janeiro
Imagine swimming with this view! Photo Credit: PortoBay Rio de Janeiro
a clean hotel room with patio overlooking the ocean
Photo Credit: PortoBay Rio de Janeiro

Rio is a HUGE city, so there are tons of places to stay if you’re hoping to work in some tours in Rio while you’re here. The three most popular areas to stay in Rio are Copacabana, Ipanema, and Lapa/Santa Teresa.

Each location is unique, with Copacabana and Ipanema being close to the beach and Lapa and Santa Teresa more in the historical part of the city. We have recommendations for each area so you can figure out the best option for you.

Copacabana

Budget travelers will love Pura Vida Hostel. It’s clean and social with lots of space to party just like a local, and dorm beds start at $22 USD per night. It’s only 2 blocks away from Copacabana Beach and a 15 min walk to Arpoador which has plenty of restaurants, supermarkets, and pharmacies. The staff is warm and welcoming and makes your stay even more fun with their social personalities! You can book a room on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

If you can spend a little more, Nacional Inn Rio Copacabana is a popular choice that’s a few blocks from the beach and has a pool with an excellent view. Although the rooms are on the small side that shouldn’t matter too much if you plan to spend most of your time outside of the hotel. They offer a fresh breakfast with breads, meats, cheeses, and fruits. There’s an on-site bar and a sauna to take advantage of. Rooms are under $100 USD and the best deals I’ve found are on Booking.com.

Luxury travelers should stay at PortoBay Rio de Janeiro. It’s a 4-star beachfront hotel with a rooftop pool, gym, spa, and sauna. The on-site La Finestra restaurant serves really delicious Brazilian dishes as well as other international cuisine. The complementary breakfast buffet has fresh fruits, juices, and hot and cold choices. If you want you can book a room with a sea view for around $200 USD. It is within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and popular bars.

Ipanema

Ipanema Beach House is the best budget option with dorm beds starting at $17 USD in a very safe neighborhood of Rio. It’s only 2 blocks from Ipanema Beach and also has a pool just a block from the main building!  This beach is more relaxed and quiet than some of the other beaches in Rio if you’re looking for a chill day! The other more popular beaches are about 2 km (1.2 mi) away. The Ipanema Beach House is also one block from the metro station, making it super convenient to access. It’s also easy to book on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

For medium-budget travelers, Arena Ipanema Hotel is a beachfront property with stunning views, a restaurant and bar, and a rooftop pool with lots of lounge chairs to work on your tan. There is a fitness center and sauce that all guests are welcome to use as well as a 24-hour help desk if you need anything. For the price of $143 USD a night, booking a room here is great value. 

Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro is another fantastic option for luxury travelers. You can’t get any closer to the water and with a rooftop pool and all the facilities you’d expect such as a wellness center offering massages with a gym and sauna, a fine-dining Italian restaurant, a sunroom, and a nightclub – it’s perfect! A bed here will set you back $491 USD but your room will have modern furnishings, a minibar, robes, and a TV. Some even have a seating area and a bathtub.

Lapa and Santa Teresa

I love the Selina Lapa Rio de Janeiro for budget travelers. This chain hostel is trusted all around the world for being clean and modern vibe with excellent facilities. Rooms are air-conditioned and you can choose a dorm room for as cheap as $14 USD or a standard private room for $50 USD. The property is close to nearby happening bars and restaurants but Selina’s restaurant is loved by its guests for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or for coffee from the coffee house – give it a try! You can reserve a room on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

The Mansion Aline is located in Santa Teresa and would suit the medium to high-end budget. The hotel has a rooftop jacuzzi as well as breathtaking views over the city. The deluxe suites have their own spa baths, a patio, and a private kitchen with a minibar and coffee maker. All rooms have a view of the city and river/garden views. One night here will average $169 USD and can be reserved on Booking.com.

Thanks for reading!

Bailey poses for a photo at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janiero, Brazil
Thanks for reading!

Thank you for reading this travel guide on the best tours in Rio! If this is your first time visiting Rio, you are in for a treat! If you are returning to explore the city again, you already know how magical this place is. Rio is full of life, kind people, and vibrant culture that you’ll see through every single one of these tours.

I hope you found this blog helpful so you can get the absolute most out of your time in Rio de Janeiro and enjoy all this city has to offer. Before you go, check out our other Brazil blogs or the related articles below!

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