A city full of vitality and action, with fantastic nightlife, a vibrant café culture and some of the most amazing beaches in the world, Rio de Janeiro has to be high on anyone’s list of places to visit. The World Cup means that this summer it’s making an even bigger splash, but Brazilian soccer is always worth watching and the city’s other famous event, Carnaval, is held every year. Why not check it out for yourself?
Where to stay
Because the city attracts so many visitors, hotels in Rio can be expensive, but there are cheaper ones to be found away from the seafront. There are also a great many hostels and a vivacious hostelling culture that most young people will love being part of.
How to get around
Although the central train station is magnificent and well worth seeing, it’s much easier to get around Rio by bus—just bear in mind that they won’t stop unless you stick your arm out to hail them. Driving in the city is challenging as there are hardly any road signs and the traffic rules depend on local intuition, but cabs are cheap (stick to the yellow ones with blue stripes) and very useful. The subway is safe, comfortable and easy to use but doesn’t cover many destinations. If you want flexibility and independence, rent a bike or a scooter.
What to do
Rio’s beaches offer much more than just sea and sand. This is a surfer’s paradise and it’s easy to hire the equipment you need to hit the waves. Parties often begin on the beaches before making their way into legendary nightclubs like Zero Zero and Nuth. There are lots of great places to eat and drink. Carnivores cannot afford to miss the churrascarias, which produce the world’s tastiest grilled meat, and should look out for street vendors selling empada pastries. In the daytime, take in the wonders of the Museu de Arte Contemporânea Niteroi or get to know the city’s musical history in Bossa Nova e Companhia. If you want to try something more challenging, the nearby countryside is a popular place to go paragliding.
What to see
Sugar Loaf Mountain is hard to miss, but taking a cable car to the top provides you with stunning views across the whole city and out to sea. In the city itself, the Jardim Botaico lets you experience the jungle and come face to face with monkeys. Soccer fans need to visit Maracanã, one of the largest and most impressive stadiums on Earth.
How to budget
Rio is one of those places where, aside from accommodation, most things seem cheap but it’s easy to find yourself buying a lot of them. Nights out are particularly tricky, between snacks and drinks and club entry and taxis, and it’s easy to overspend, so make sure you have a back-up plan. One of the benefits of using TransFast is that it makes it possible to get funds from home quickly provided you have someone there willing to help out—and appreciative of how much fun you’re having.