10 Reasons I Love Rio de Janeiro

A while back, I kinda bashed Rio.

My feelings about this crazy, contrasted city definitely aren’t all bad. In fact, there are a LOT of positives to this city.

I love Rio de Janeiro!

Especially that…

A walk down the street feels like the opening scene of Beauty and the Beast

Rio de Janeiro Casa do Caminho Party

Everyone says good morning, good afternoon, and good evening. Whether you’re passing a casual acquaintance or a total stranger in the hallway, everyone greets you. If you share an elevator going up to your apartment, the other person will say goodbye or wish you a good day when you step out.

The whole city feels very friendly and welcoming.


There are snacks EVERYWHERE

Rio de Janeiro Churrommmmm Churros….

Rio de Janeiro has dedicated snack shops on every street, called lanchonettes who sell all kinds of salty and sweet snacks, and usually juice as well.

On the short walk to the lanchonette, you’ll probably pass a few street vendors selling snacks as well. Popcorn, churros, soup, and even barbecued meat are everywhere on the sidewalk.


Nature is a big part of the city

Morro da Urca view

this doesn’t look like a city view

Rio supposedly has the biggest urban forest of any city in the world. Almost anywhere you are in the city (especially Zona Sul) you’re just a short drive away from being completely immersed in nature.

From my apartment in Leme, Zona Sul, I can walk for 15 minutes and be in a trail on Morro do Leme that is surrounded by trees and peppered with monkeys. It feels like a complete escape from the city.


One word: Caipirinhas

Rio de Janeiro Caipirinha

get. in. my. belly.

The sweet, tangy, limey drink is absolutely delicious and refreshing, and best enjoyed at any of the beachside restaurants that line the seaside here in Rio de Janeiro. Nothing beats sipping a caipirinha and watching the waves roll in.

In Brazil, you can drink in public, so you can even take your caipirinha to go, if you prefer. Drink it while taking a stroll down the beachside boardwalk, or bring a blanket and sit on the sandy beach.


The most stunning cityscape in the world

Rio de Janeiro CityScape

Hands down, Rio de Janeiro has the absolute best skyline. Buildings and mountains give way to the ocean. You’ve never seen a more dramatic sunrise or sunset, and the city from every angle is ridiculously picturesque.

Top that off with Christ the Redeemer peering down from Corcovado and viewable from almost any point in Zona Sul – wow.


Constant vacation weather

Rio de Janeiro Beach Leblon

Pretty much year round, the weather in Rio de Janeiro is great. When the mercury sinks to the low 70s, people will start to complain of the cold.

In the low season, “cold” weather will be accompanied by rain, but it usually only lasts a day or two before being broken up by sunshine.

90% of the days, year round, feel like the ultimate vacation.


Super dog friendly

Rio de Janeiro Capybara

yes those are capybaras

Moving from what seemed like the least dog-friendly city in the world, Rio feels like some kind of dog heaven. Dogs are welcome almost everywhere (sometimes even in the mall), and I swear even more people say hello to Mickey than to me.

You’ll see all kinds of older folks babying their dogs by pushing them in baby carriages, and talking earnestly to them. They even have full conversations with Mickey and I never have the heart to tell them that he only speaks Thai.


There’s always something going on

Rio de Janeiro Jiu Jitsu

I’m taking him down so fast his face is blurred!

Whoever you are and whatever your interests, there’s a way for you to get involved in Rio. With an overflow of volunteer opportunities, interesting classes (Portuguese is one of the most popular, Jiu Jitsu is one of my most favorite), and events, you can have the busiest social calendar you desire.

It even seems like each month there’s some kind of holiday, from the obvious like Carnaval and Reveillon (New Year’s Eve), to Kid’s Day and Teacher’s Day, and in November All Saint’s Day.


Transportation game is on point

Rio Brazil Walking home bus system

Rio de Janeiro is super easy to get around. The metro is probably my favorite method, as it is clean, air conditioned, inexpensive (around $1 per ticket), and safe. During peak hours, there are several cars JUST for women.

Rio also has buses (though those tend to get stuck in traffic, aren’t always air conditioned, and can be pretty gropey), and minibuses.

If you’re more of a private transport kind of person, the taxis in Rio are reliable, safe, and cheap (the meter starts at about $1.50). They ALWAYS use the meter, and sometimes the drivers even speak English.


And least but certainly not least – the beaches are insane

Rio de Janeiro Leme Beach

the beach a few blocks from my apartment that I’m heading to right about… meow.

Living in Rio makes it hard to go anywhere else on “vacation”. Seriously, the beaches in Rio are some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen. And it’s pretty ridiculously awesome that I can get to the ocean from desk as I type this in less than 10 minutes.

Actually, I think I’ll do that now! (Caipirinhas are calling my name)

Necessary Details: Rio de Janeiro

What Else to Do in Rio de Janeiro
Check out my full guide to Rio de Janeiro here, which includes the best suggestions for hiking (including my favorite Morro do Leme hike), where to eat, weekend getaways from the city (including Buzios), and the best beaches.
You can read every article I’ve ever written about Rio de Janeiro (and there’s a lot: I lived there for almost two years!) here.
Viator offers a bunch of different Rio de Janeiro tour options, including for visiting Christ the Redeemer, and provides excellent customer service and refunds if anything goes wrong — much more than local operators would do.
Where to Stay in Rio de Janeiro
If you have around $100 per night to spend, you can’t get a better value than Rio 180 hotel — each room is a suite and has its own private hot tub along with incredible views!
For a wider range of pricing options, check here
How to Arrive to Rio de Janeiro 
You can take the bus into Rio de Janeiro from many destinations within Brazil, but most people choose to fly. While Copa Airlines isn’t my favorite carrier, they do usually offer the cheapest flights. To check the latest low prices on airfare to Brazil, try Skyscanner , or if you have some date and/or destination flexibility and want to score the absolute lowest prices, try Kiwi.com.
Visa information for Brazil and Visa Renewal in Rio de Janeiro
I’ve written an extensive post (along with Q&A about the topic in the comments) here


What are your favorite things about Rio de Janeiro?


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

Find me on: Web | Instagram | Facebook


  1. November 5, 2015 / 10:10 am

    Sounds like my kind of city: food, drinks and beaches. What is not to love?!

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