State of Rio de Janeiro Holiday Planning Guide
Many visitors only take a trip to State of Rio de Janeiro to attend or participate in the annual Carnaval, but they stay for the region's beaches, islands, mountains, dense forests, and busy urban centers, which are known for their vibrant culture and colorful way of life. Beyond Rio, one of the world's biggest cities, this small but densely populated state boasts a string of other towns ideal for leisurely cultural sightseeing or traditional beach activities. Popular things to do in State of Rio de Janeiro include mountain climbing, bird-watching, cycling, dancing, shopping, swimming, sailing, surfing, and hunting for that plate of local cuisine that's shaped by European, American, Asian, and African influences.
Places to Visit in State of Rio de Janeiro
Cities in State of Rio de JaneiroRio de Janeiro
: The state capital and one of the most visited cities in South America, Rio offers colonial architectural highlights, bustling nightlife in atmospheric neighborhoods, lively beaches, and attractive mountainous and coastal scenery everywhere you look.Armacao dos Buzios
: A convenient getaway from the state capital, Armacao dos Buzios offers a wealth of stylish restaurants along lively but accessible cobblestone streets, hip bars and long-established clubs, and a selection of beaches. Paraty
: This coastal town brings in a mixed crowd of visitors enjoying a State of Rio de Janeiro holiday, with well-preserved colonial and imperial-era architecture, a fine coastline of beaches and marinas, and lush mountainous areas inland. Petropolis
: A highlight of State of Rio de Janeiro tourism, Petropolis sprang to life in the 19th century as the favorite haunt of Emperor Pedro I.Niteroi
: Sitting across the bay from Rio, Niteroi forms part of the capital's metropolitan area and is known for its shopping and dining opportunities.
Popular State of Rio de Janeiro Tourist AttractionsCorcovado Christ the Redeemer
: One of the world's most famous statues stands over the city in a protective pose and provides an unbeatable vantage point from which spot many other State of Rio de Janeiro attractions.Sugarloaf Mountain
: This granite monolith looms large over the bay, its peak accessible by glass cable cars and offering extensive views of the surrounding scenery.Rua das Pedras
: The liveliest street in town, Rua das Pedras acts as a focal point for plenty of State of Rio de Janeiro itineraries with its restaurants, bars, and stores.
Paraty Historic Centre: Bucolic and relaxed during off-season and bustling when there's a party on, Paraty Historic Centre is the walkable cultural heart of the colonial town, with plenty of important buildings to see, museums to explore, and shops to browse.Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro
: Protected by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve, sprawling Botanical Garden offers many walking routes, with rare plants, tropical birds, and even monkeys to spot in the dense palm forest and around the scenic lakes. Imperial Museum
: The extensive museum collects artifacts related to the royal family, including clothes, jewelry, and photographs, and displays them across the well-preserved rooms of the summer palace.Geriba Beach
: Popular with watersports enthusiasts and families looking to play and unwind, Geriba Beach offers contrasting experiences for visitors, with some quieter areas with gentler water, as well as some parts where the waves offer plenty of excitement.Pedra do Arpoador
: A popular place to sit and watch the sun go down, Arpoador is a rocky outcrop at the end of Ipanema Beach where the waves are notoriously challenging and thrilling, attracting seasoned locals and experienced international surfboarders. Joao Fernandes Beach
: An attractive stretch of sandy coastline, Joao Fernandes Beach is a good place to try swimming, snorkeling, and diving.Praia de Ipanema
: A popular stretch of sand, Ipanema Beach is lively throughout the day with beach sports and bars playing local and international music.
Planning a State of Rio de Janeiro Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in State of Rio de Janeiro with Kids
Families on a State of Rio de Janeiro trip shouldn't ignore the state capital. Bursting with culture and surrounded by inspiring scenery and lively beachfronts, Rio de Janeiro
has plenty to entertain kids.
Amusement parks great and small, modern museums with plenty of age-appropriate activities, and the diversity and party atmosphere of the streets and beaches all combine to create a place that, though it may at times overwhelm, certainly engages and enriches young visitors.
Sitting just across the bay, Niteroi
offers a number of modern malls, play areas, entertainment centers, and welcoming public parks, still in Rio's greater metropolitan area.
Beach towns such as Armacao dos Buzios
have plenty of seaside entertainment for younger visitors, as well as interesting colonial areas with engaging museums.
Inland, hilly Petropolis
offers a cooler climate, lots of outdoor activity centers, and plenty of greenery and natural attractions to explore.
Things to Do in State of Rio de Janeiro with Kids
A standout among the state capital's many attractions, Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro
is known for its kid-friendly appeal.
Children on a State of Rio de Janeiro holiday will want to see the diversity of the area's wildlife and plants, and this large UNESCO-protected garden offers a good introduction to Brazil's natural heritage.
Futuristic Museum of Tomorrow
is committed to interactivity, with audio-visual presentations, games, and demonstrations teaching kids about developments in technology. Praia de Ipanema
is just one of the state's many popular spots ideal for anyone looking to swim, surf, laze around on the sand, and browse the many souvenir stores and restaurants located nearby.
Tips for a Family Vacation in State of Rio de Janeiro
It's a good idea to drink bottled water during your family trip to State of Rio de Janeiro. Similarly, be cautious when it comes to buying food from vendors, as some may have been prepared the day before and might have been made in unsanitary conditions.
Online reviews, word-of-mouth, and common sense can all help you discover street food gems and avoid getting ill.
When it comes to personal safety, be mindful of where you're heading, plan your way around (particularly at night), and be street smart.
Scams, pickpocketing, and other street crimes are certainly less prevalent than they once were, particularly in the established tourist towns and neighborhoods, but keep an eye on your kids and belongings at all times, and immediately leave any situation in which you aren't entirely comfortable.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in State of Rio de Janeiro
Cuisine of State of Rio de Janeiro
From streetside stalls to fine-dining restaurants, it pays to be adventurous with the local cuisine during your State of Rio de Janeiro vacation.
Street food is particularly popular in Rio de Janeiro
, with areas around train stations and the main tourist thoroughfares filled with vendors selling all manner of snacks, both sweet and savory, including "pipoca" (popcorn) and "pasteis" (pastry envelopes filled with cheese, meat, or fish).
Tapiocas are another street food staple, with the omelette-shaped snacks available with fillings such as banana and chocolate, or cheese, tomato, and meat.
Resort towns like Armacao dos Buzios
are known for their seafood stews, beach snacks (including "quiejo coalho," skewers of grilled cheese), and gourmet restaurants serving their own take on Brazilian classics, like "feijoada" (a slow-cooked, meaty black bean stew) and "churrascaria" (Brazilian barbecue).
A trip up to Petropolis
offers the perfect chance to sample "caipirinhas," Brazil's national cocktail, made with cachaca (sugar cane liquor), sugar, and lime.
Shopping in State of Rio de Janeiro
A scattering of markets offer some of the most authentic shopping opportunities in Rio de Janeiro
Leather goods, antiques, and artworks inspired by local favela street art are among the most popular things to pick up at the open-air markets, as well as locally sourced fresh produce and street food snacks.
The markets offer an atmospheric experience, with the colors, flavors, and styles of Brazil all condensed into tightly packed areas bustling with commercial activity.
With so much of the economy and entertainment of the state geared towards the coast, it's no surprise that many of the most popular goods to come away with after a holiday in State of Rio de Janeiro are "beachy" in nature.
Sandals, beach fashion, and swimwear are all shopping highlights of the streets surrounding Geriba Beach
and Praia de Ipanema
Historic towns like Petropolis
are popular places to pick up souvenirs. Gift shops in these old towns sell authentic handicrafts made by different indigenous peoples from across the country, as well as books on Brazilian history, knickknacks, and collectables.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to State of Rio de Janeiro
Interesting Facts About State of Rio de Janeiro
* Many of Rio's best and most-acclaimed samba schools are located in favelas, the poorest neighborhoods in town
* The city's Carnival is the largest street party in the world
* The state's and state capital's name means "January River"
* The capital's metropolitan area is home to the world's largest urban forest, the result of reforestation ordered by Emperor Pedro II
Holidays & Festivals in State of Rio de Janeiro
Many visitors attempt to time their State of Rio de Janeiro holiday to the Rio Carnival, celebrated for four days before Ash Wednesday. The event combines European, indigenous, and African influences into a set of colorful parades, with extravagant costumes, intoxicating music, and impressively orchestrated samba competitions.
It's an integral, unifying part of the country's identity, and a source of great pride, bringing together the people of the city's many contrasting, diverse neighborhoods. The samba runways are a real highlight of the event, with samba schools from across the city taking part in a mass competition.
New Year's Eve celebrations are entertaining across the state, with some special events in Paraty
. Copacabana Beach
hosts the most famous NYE celebrations. During the day, locals head down to the beach to give offerings and pay their respects to Lemanja, the Afro-Brazilian goddess of the sea and motherhood. At night, the party continues with live music, fireworks, and dancing.
Useful State of Rio de Janeiro Travel Tips
Climate of State of Rio de Janeiro
The state experiences a tropical climate with monsoon influences, making it hot throughout most of the year and susceptible to heavy rainfall.
State capital Rio is hottest in February, when temperatures average at 27 C (81 F), while the coldest month is July, with average temperatures of 21 C (70 F).
In Petropolis, the higher elevation helps to keep the city cooler, with summer averages of 23 C (73 F) and winter averaging around 15 C (59 F).
December is the wettest month, although strong, potentially dangerous showers can occur at any time during the year. Check weather reports before your trip to State of Rio de Janeiro, and keep abreast of the latest developments during your stay.
Transportation in State of Rio de Janeiro
Many international visitors will arrive into the state's and country's main airport, located in Rio. Useful domestic flights from the airport give visitors good options for seeing the rest of the country. If you're beginning your tour of State of Rio de Janeiro in the capital, grab the shuttle bus into the city to travel safely and quickly.
The metro in the state capital is an effective way of getting from A to B, and is particularly vital at night, when local buses can be unreliable and unsafe for international tourists.
In smaller cities, local bus routes and taxis are perhaps the best options for crosstown travel. Always plan your journey ahead of time, and make sure to agree upon prices straight away.
Many federal highways cross the state, joining up the main urban areas and making travel convenient and efficient. Consider renting a car or hopping on a bus for longer journeys between the state's primary cities, towns, and attractions.