Rio de Janeiro Travel Tips
Amériques, Brazil, Destinations

8 Things You Need to Know Before Going to Rio de Janeiro


If you like cities, beaches, colorful places and good food, Rio de Janeiro is probably on your travel bucket list. There are some tips you need to know to get around and save money in the biggest city of Brazil.

1. Call the Bus

In Rio de Janeiro, you need to call a bus just like you would do with a taxi. Even if you’re at a bus stop, it won’t pick you up unless you raise your hand and manifest your interest.

What I really appreciated during my trip: there’s someone in the bus to give your change back! I don’t know if it’s common in your home town, but in Montreal we never get our change back in a bus.

Something I learned because I was with a local: yellow seats are for disabled persons, elderly or pregnant women. It’s not really clear and you need to know that… Locals make fun of it and use to say: “Yellow seats are for old person… or tourists”. Don’t be that tourist.

Top view of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil
Photo by Harshil Gudka on Unsplash

2. Take the Metro

The metro is super clean! Seriously, I would give it a price!

I didn’t take it at night, but during the day I felt safe. I recommend to use it. Find everything you need to know on this Guide to Public Transport in Rio de Janeiro.

3. Jaywalk

In Rio de Janeiro, “jaywalking” worth a mention as a transportation mode. It is almost weird to cross the street at an intersection. People just do whatever they want and it’s a little chaotic. Nothing compared to Asia, but still…

Just like anywhere else in the world: Watch out for the motorcycles and scooters!

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4. Know Where to Take a Taxi

At the airport, if you prefer to take a taxi instead of a bus, go to the departure zone. Taxis are less expensive there than at the arrival zone. Again, thanks to my local friend for this advice!

I met none taxi driver speaking English, you better practice your Portuguese if you want to go somewhere, or have it written down on a paper!

Brazilian Portuguese Phrasebook by Lonely Planet

You should have a Portuguese Phrasebook with you since taxi drivers, waiters and the majority of people don’t speak English. It’s a 9$ well invested that can save you a lot of hassle.

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5. Eat All the Food

I was totally impressed by Brazilian cuisine! Fruits, tapioca, feijoada, and BBQ… you won’t have any trouble to find delicious food in the marvellous city.

You may be tempted to keep your usual eating habits, but don’t be afraid to do like locals and drink a fresh juice for breakfast and have street food for the lunch. It’s cheap, and delicious! If you have a small budget, that’s the best way to save money and eat for 15$ a day.

Another way to save money on food is to go a “Por quilo”. You pay according to the weight of your plate.

Wanna take the knowledge home? Take a cooking class. It’s a lot of fun!

6. Don’t Drink Tap Water

Do not drink tap water! Even locals don’t do that. You’ll easily find bottled water everywhere. I know it’s really not eco-friendly, so you can also use any purifying device you have and a reusable bottle. In fact, please choose that second option.

7. Withdraw Money at the Airport

Rio de Janeiro is not an expensive destination for food and activities. For a 10 days trip, I spent less than 300$ and I really treat myself. I could easily have spent less than 200$. (Note: I stayed at a friend so this budget doesn’t include accommodations.)

There is no problem to use your credit card almost everywhere… except banks. Ahah!

I’m joking of course, but I had more trouble trying to get cash during my trip than paying with my card.

My VISA wasn’t accepted at some banks, but it did at some City Bank and Itaú. Sometimes, I had to go to 3 or 4 banks to find one accepting my card and it’s pretty random; It could work with a City Bank in Lapa, but not with another one in another neighbourhood. Go figure…

Normally, I recommend to never change money at the airport because the exchange rate is bad. But, in this case, I recommend you to withdraw a minimum of cash at the airport so you’ll be able to get around by the time you find a bank accepting your credit card.

Find the best deal on Hotels in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro Travel Tips & Advice

8. Apply Basic Safety Rules

Nothing bad happened to me, but Rio de Janeiro is a “dangerous” city. Any universal safety advice apply here: watch your stuffs, don’t get around alone at night and listen to your intuition.

You should read: Rio de Janeiro – How to stay safe at the beach.

Happy travel!

Did you go to Rio de Janeiro? What tips would you give to travel in this destination?

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a reservation, at no extra cost to you.  I only recommend products I use and love.  Thank you for your support!

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4 Commentaires

  • Reply Nina A. 2 juillet 2015 at 13 h 25 min


    My friends and I are wanting to plan a trip to Rio this winter. We’re hesitant that prep and construction for the 2016 Olympics will create delays or obstacles in getting a good taste of the city. Any thoughts? Did you run into any problems on your trip? Thanks!

    • Reply Annie Anywhere 2 juillet 2015 at 15 h 02 min

      Hi! I was there after the World Cup and just 2 weeks after the Carnival and the city was clean enough. I think the construction will be around the Olympics sites, but not in the whole town. A lot of things have already been fixed for the World Cup. Traffic is a problem in Rio at any time though, try to avoid renting a car or being in a taxi during the rush hours. Except for traffic, Rio is a very cool city. Be safe and you’ll have a wonderful trip! :)

  • Reply Isadora Martinez 29 août 2018 at 9 h 58 min

    Thanks for the great tips :) To catch a bus, it’s the same in every part of Brazil, you gotta raise your arm. And I’m surprised to know about the taxi cost :o My tip to move around Brazil is to get a bus to go from one city to another, including Rio de Janeiro. It is usually cheaper and comfortable. You can check information about it and get tickets online:

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