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Dangers & Annoyances

There's no point sugarcoating it: the security situation in Rio has deteriorated since the Olympics in 2016, and crime is on the rise. That said, if you take some basic precautions, you'll greatly minimize your risk of becoming a target.

  • Dress down and leave expensive (or even expensive-looking) jewelry, watches and sunglasses at home. Copacabana and Ipanema beaches have a police presence, but robberies still occur on the sands, even in broad daylight. Don’t take anything of value with you to the beach. Late at night, don’t walk on any of the beaches.
  • Buses are sometimes targets for thieves. Avoid taking buses after dark, and keep an eye out while you’re on them. Take taxis at night to avoid walking along empty streets and beaches.
  • Don’t walk around deserted areas – Centro is barren and can be unsafe on Sunday (and on Saturday in some parts). Get into the habit of carrying only the money you’ll need for the day, so you don’t have to flash a wad of reais when you pay for things. Cameras and backpacks attract a lot of attention. Plastic shopping bags nicely disguise whatever you’re carrying. If headed to Maracanã football stadium, take only your spending money for the day and avoid the crowded sections.
  • Many formerly secure favelas are no longer safe to visit. Several tourists have been killed in the favelas in recent years by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Before going on a favela tour, or lodging or dining in a favela, make sure you find out the latest information.
  • If you have the misfortune to be robbed, calmly hand over the goods. Thieves in the city are only too willing to use their weapons if provoked.