Advance Planning

Nine months before Book a room if visiting during Carnaval or at New Year's Eve.

Three months before Organize your visa (if you need one) and book accommodations.

Two weeks before Book guided tours and activities such as rock climbing, rainforest tours and tandem gliding.

One week before Book a table at top restaurants. Check concerts and events on www.visit.rio.

Resources

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/rio-de-janeiro) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveler forum and more.

Riotur (www.visit.rio) Rio's official tourism authority.

Rio Times (www.riotimesonline.com) English-language resource on current events.

Carioca Guide to Rio (www.ipanema.com) Tips and planning info, with special sections on Carnaval and gay Rio.

Top Tips

  • If you haven't already, download WhatsApp and set up your profile. Tour operators, guides, restaurants, guesthouses and everyone else uses it.
  • Don't try to pack too much into your day. Pick a neighborhood or two, and leave time to wander or just take in the city from a cafe or bar in between sightseeing.
  • Using a ride-sharing app (like Uber, 99Taxis or Easy Taxi) to get around town is generally faster and cheaper than using a traditional taxi.
  • Be sure to pencil some 'nature time' into your itinerary, whether it's taking a hiking tour in Parque Nacional da Tijuca or simply looking for monkeys in Parque Lage.
  • Plan at least one outdoor adventure: cycling the beaches, stand-up paddle boarding, hang gliding, or jogging around the lake, among many other choices.

What to Take

  • Good walking shoes
  • Lightweight rain jacket (for those unexpected tropical downpours)
  • Brazilian electrical adapter
  • Sunscreen, hat and sunglasses
  • A sarong (handy for the beach and as an extra towel)
  • Language phrasebook, or useful translation apps on your phone

What to Wear

The dress code is very casual in Rio, but it's a good idea to bring along some dressy clothes for a night out (a dress or skirt-and-top ensemble for women, pants and a collared shirt for men). Given the heat and humidity, lightweight, natural, breathable fabrics are best.

On the beach, women generally wear tiny bikinis, and men wear tight swim trunks. Everyone flaunts it all, regardless of body shape and size.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Make sure you have your Brazilian visa if you need one.
  • Purchase travel insurance (or ensure that your home policy covers you in Brazil).
  • Make arrangements to be able to use your mobile phone upon arrival.
  • Download essential smartphone apps, including WhatsApp (used by nearly everyone in Brazil, including tour operators, guesthouse owners and some restaurants).