Rio de Janeiro
The name Rio de Janeiro makes most people think of Copacabana and Ipanema, samba and carnival, football and the Maracana Stadium and the Sugar Cup. Rio has both this and much more to offer, and it is no problem to spend a week here.
Rio is a city with a stunningly beautiful location and is one of South America’s largest cities, with all the problems it entails.
Rio de Janeiro is located on the Atlantic coast of southern Brazil. The town got its misleading name (January river) after a Portuguese boat arrived here on New Year’s Day 1502. The captain thought the bay was the outlet of a river and named it thereafter. Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil until President Kubitschek in 1960 decided to create a brand new capital in the middle of the country, Brazil.
A strange and little-known fact is that in 1808 Rio was made the capital of Portugal – the only European capital outside Europe!
Brazil declared independence from Portugal in 1822, and this process took place in peaceful forms.
Brazilians are a peace-loving people and have not been in armed conflict as an independent nation.
Get to know Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is both a Brazilian state and a city. It lives approx. 6.5 million people within Rio’s city limits. The state is the size of Denmark. The city has over 11 million inhabitants including the suburbs.
Rio is a year-round destination, but be aware that if you travel here for sun, beach and heat, you can also stay in Europe during the summer. In June, July and August it is winter in the southern hemisphere, and temperatures in Rio are rarely above average for a Norwegian summer.
Let us first clear up a few widespread misconceptions about Rio and Brazil:
- Rio de Janeiro is not the capital of Brazil; it is Brasilia. Nor is it the largest city; it’s Saõ Paulo.
Brazilians speak Portuguese and not Spanish like the rest of South America.
- Most Europeans have a clear impression of Rio de Janeiro and the city’s inhabitants before coming to Rio, and pretty much that impression is just right. The town is full of joy of life, caipirinhas and samba, sun and beaches, football, ice-cold beer and romances. The city also has its dark sides: A quarter of its inhabitants live in slums, called favelas, where robbery, violence and murder are commonplace. So do not stroll around here on your own. In general, you should stay on illuminated main streets wherever you are in the city.
But Rio is above all a city of joy, and the people are very welcoming, hospitable and talkative, although not many outside the tourism industry speak English. If you speak a little Spanish, you will be able to understand you, although you may not always understand the answer you receive.
Rio de Janeiro is mainly connected to beaches, and most tourists have no need to move far away from these. You may very well be near Copacabana and Ipanema throughout your Rio stay, but don’t forget that Brazil has much more to offer than just that. Still, let’s start with the beach areas when we take a closer look at some of Rio de Janeiro’s neighborhoods.
Copacabana in Rio is fun
Copacabana is perhaps the world’s most famous beach. If you choose to stay here, it is very difficult to get lost. In practice, you have three parallel streets that run between a four kilometer long curved sandy beach on one side and steep mountain slopes on the other, with a number of side streets in between.
Copacabana is home to most major hotels and plenty of shops, restaurants, discos and bars. Copacabana is not just for tourists, it is also one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The eastern part of the Copacabana is Leme, where in addition to fine beaches you will also find Morro do Leme (Lemefjellet), a protected rainforest area of over 11 hectares with several exotic bird species.
Urca Peninsula in Rio
Northeast of Copacabana and Leme lies the Urca Peninsula, which is best known for its Pao de Acucar, or the Sugar Loaf. Here is also a residential area, which is little visited by tourists, and therefore you will find here some of the quietest beaches in Rio, mostly frequented by the local residents.
Ipanema and Leblon – fashionable Rio
West of Copacabana lies Ipanema, which is perhaps the world’s most famous beach after Copacabana. The name Ipanema is well known for the Brazilian song “The Girl From Ipanema” by Vinicius de Moraes, which every lounge musician around the world has on the repertoire.
This is mainly a fashionable residential area with many of the city’s more beautiful hotels and restaurants. The beaches are at least as fine as in Copacabana and have their own unofficial areas for different types of people. Part of the beach attracts bodybuilders and beach lions, another is visited by hippies and artists, the gays have their own areas, and the surfers meet in their permanent locations.
Still on the same beach, but west of Ipanema, you will find Leblon, which like Ipanema is a good residential area with nice beach, some hotels and good restaurants and shops. Be aware that the ocean currents outside can be strong, so stick to the designated areas and do not bathe where no one else does.
Gavea and Barra da Tijuca – beach, golf and botanical garden
If you continue further west from Leblon, you first come to Gavea (see picture first in the article), which is best known for its botanical garden and exclusive golf club. Then you come to Barra da Tijuca, where in addition to a 12 kilometer long sandy beach and several large shopping centers you will also find Bosque da Barra, a huge and lush park with hiking trails and a wonderful fauna and flora.
Botafogo and Flamengo in Rio
The areas between Copacabana and the center are called Botafogo and Flamengo and are best known for their football teams of the same name. Few tourists choose to live in or visit these residential areas, other than as a stopover to and from the city center. Locals, on the other hand, often go to the many restaurants, where the price level is lower than in the more tourist-infested beach areas.
Rio city center
You might expect the Centro to be the center of the city, but the center of Rio de Janeiro is mainly business buildings. The area is full of traffic during the day and is almost empty at night and on weekends. Here you will find many of the embassies, airlines and banks, but otherwise there is not much to do for someone who wants to experience Rio. If you want to spend a night out and try the local nightlife outside of Copa, Lapa, just below the Centro, is a good option. On weekends there is a buzzing crowd with music and dancing until late into the night. The area is under an almost 300 year old aqueduct.
- Abbreviation: RDJ
- Country: Brazil
Facts about Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s second largest city and capital in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Once upon a time, the city was the capital of Portugal, so perhaps it was no wonder that Brazil chose a new city as its capital?
For many tourists, Rio is perhaps best known as the capital of the carnival. And few cities have more famous city beaches than just Rio de Janeiro!
|Population||Around 7 million|
|Religion||75% Roman Catholic, 15% Protestant|
|Time Difference||Rio de Janeiro is 3 hours after Norway, in summer time 4 hours after|
|Currency||Brazilian Real (Pronounced he-ai). Divide the Norwegian amount by three for about the price in reals, or multiply the Brazilian amount by about 2.8 to get it in NOK. Credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard are accepted at major locations such as hotels and restaurants. ATMs can be difficult to find outside the tourist spots, closing at 2200.|
|Tips||Varies. Often included, so check the bill|
|Embassy||The Norwegian Embassy in Brazil is located in Brasilia, but Rio has a Norwegian Consulate General in Rua Lauro Müller 116, Sala 2206, Torre Rio Sul, Botafogo. Phone: +5521 2541 7732.|
|Tourist||Barata Ribeiro 272, Copacabana.|
|Emergency||Police 190, Fire 193, Ambulances 192|
|Electricity||110 volts. Adapters are normally available in stores|
|Holidays and Holidays||January 1, January 20 (St. Sebastian’s Day, Rios patron saint), three days in conjunction with the February Carnival, April 21 (Freedom Heroes Day), May 1, September 7 (National Day), October 12 (Nossa Senhora Aparecida), November 2 (Finados), November 15 (Republic Day)|
|Visa||Not required for Norwegian citizens|
|Vaccinations||No vaccines are required, but hepatitis vaccine is recommended|
|Water||Do not drink from the tap.|
|Nearest major cities||Sao Paolo, Belo Horizonte, Vitoria.|
|Safety||Crime is consistently high, and especially high during the carnival. Great care should be taken, especially after dark. Many cities have very high homicide rates in an international context.Visitors from abroad are often considered a light switch, and are exposed to pocket theft, purse seeding, robbery, credit card fraud etc. It seems that tourists are subjected to severe violence. It is recommended to bring as little money, jewelry and valuables as possible when traveling in city centers and on the beach.|
List of Rio De Janeiro Acronyms
The most commonly used abbreviations about Rio De Janeiro is RDJ which stands for Rio De Janeiro. In the following table, you can see all acronyms related to Rio De Janeiro, including abbreviations for airport, city, school, port, government, and etc.