Rio de Janeiro Holidays & City Breaks

Rio de Janeiro Holidays & City Breaks

Rio de Janeiro holidays are a chance to experience a vibrant culture, iconic landmarks and stunning natural beauty.  Standing tall above the city, Brazil's Christ the Redeemer statue is a must-see, while the reward for taking a cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain Rio is a breathtaking panoramic view. Immerse yourself in the energy of Rio Carnival, relax on world-famous sandy stretches like Copacabana Beach, or explore the Tijuca National Forest. Holidays to Rio de Janeiro have something for everyone.

History and Culture

Rio de Janeiro's story unfolds like a samba - vibrant and rhythmic. Indigenous tribes such as the Tupi and the Tamoyo ruled these shores long before Europeans arrived. In 1502, Portuguese explorers mistook Guanabara Bay for a river, christening it ‘Rio de Janeiro’ (January River). Today, the city pulsates with life, a dazzling fusion of breathtaking beaches, passionate celebrations and a spirit of carioca joy that invites you to join the dance.

Things To Do

Towering over the city, Christ the Redeemer is a global icon and Rio's most recognisable landmark. You can take the red narrow-gauge train up, or you can hike through Tijuca National Park to reach this marvel. If you choose the energetic option, you'll get to experience lush trails teeming with exotic flora and fauna, and maybe even spot monkeys swinging between the branches.

For a taste of Rio's vibrant culture, walk up the colourful Lapa Steps, officially known as Escadaria Selarón. This mosaic masterpiece, painstakingly created by Chilean artist Jorge Selarón, winds its way through the Santa Teresa neighbourhood. Each vibrant tile tells a unique story, making this a must-see for photographers and art enthusiasts alike.

For a tranquil retreat amidst the urban hustle and bustle, escape to the Botanical Garden, where lush gardens and tranquil ponds provide a serene sanctuary to unwind. Wander through rows of towering palm trees and exotic blooms, or marvel at the intricate architecture of the glasshouse conservatory.

Food and Drink

No trip to Rio is complete without tantalising your taste buds in the city's vibrant culinary scene. Savour sizzling cuts of meat at a traditional churrascaria, where gauchos carve succulent steaks tableside. Dive into a hearty feijoada, a rich black bean stew bursting with flavour. And don't miss the crispy pastel, a flaky pastry filled with savoury goodness, or a refreshing acai bowl, a local superfood sensation. 

Looking for a refreshing beverage to accompany your food? Beer is the most consumed alcoholic beverage in Brazil. However, you shouldn’t pass on the chance to sample cachaça (made from fermented sugarcane). If you’re a cocktail lover try the caipirinha - a fusion of cachaça, lime and sugar.


From high-end malls like VillageMall brimming with designer brands to bustling street markets overflowing with local crafts and souvenirs, Rio caters to every shopper's fancy.  Be sure to explore the Feira Hippie de Ipanema, a haven for handcrafted jewellery, clothing and art. Or hunt for unique treasures at the Saara Market - a historic gem found downtown.

Map of Rio de Janeiro

25 ℃

Best time to visit: May to August offer milder temperatures and less chance of rain.

11.5 hours (direct) - 14 hours (indirect)
Fly to: Galeão - Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport (GIG), 19km from the city centre.

Rio is best for...

Beach lovers: Rio has 15 sandy stretches to choose from, including Abricó - the city’s official nudist beach. If you’re keen to go for a swim, be aware that waters adjacent to São Conrado and the eastern beaches are not the best for bathing. So if you’re keen to cool off in the ocean west is best.

Iconic landmarks: From Sugarloaf Mountain to the colourful Lapa Steps, a favourite with Instagrammers, the city is packed with sights that'll capture your imagination. Ride the cable car to the summit of Sugarloaf for unparalleled views of Guanabara Bay, or take the red narrow-gauge train to see Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue.

Vibrant street life: Experience the rhythm of Rio's streets with its lively markets, colourful street art and pulsating samba music. Stroll through the bohemian neighbourhood of Santa Teresa, where cobblestone streets are lined with eclectic boutiques and cosy cafes.

Fast facts for Rio

Language: The main language spoken in Rio is Portuguese. Some people working in the hospitality industry speak English and/or Spanish.

Currency: The currency used in Rio is the Brazilian Real (R$).

Local time: Rio is 3 hours between GMT. Brazil doesn’t have Daylight Saving Time, meaning between late March and October Rio is 4 hours behind UK time.

Fly to: Rio’s airport is officially called Galeão - Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport (GIG) and is located around 19km from the city centre.

Flight time from the UK: The fastest direct flights take around 11.5 hours, indirect flights typically take at least 14 hours. 

Plug sockets: Always check the frequency and voltage of the building you are in before plugging anything into sockets, even if you have an international adaptor that fits. In some cases you may need a voltage converter too.

Roaming: Using your phone in Brazil can be very expensive so check your mobile price plan. Some operators charge eye watering amounts for roaming or even receiving calls in Brazil, so it may be worth disabling roaming and forwarding incoming calls to your voicemail.

Tourist Information: Further tourist information can be found at the official website for tourism in Rio de Janeiro

Visa / Health: British nationals don’t usually require a visa to visit Brazil. Once you arrive, drinking tap water is not recommended. The latest advice can be found on the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office website.

Getting around Rio

By Metro: Rio’s Metro is the most user-friendly transport system for tourists thanks to its  three lines, simple ticketing system and easy-to-follow signs.

By VLT: VLT Carioca is a light rail system, similar to tram networks in the UK. It was built for the 2016 Olympics, and is less prone to congestion than buses or taxis.

By taxi: Yellow taxis operate on a metered basis. Fares are higher at night, on Sundays and on public holidays with stands found close to the city’s hotels. Radio taxis (usually blue, green or white) offer non-negotiable fixed prices. Some hotels offer their own taxi services, which are usually more expensive but you can haggle.

Events in Rio

Copacabana Reveillon: See in the new year in style on Copacabana Beach. The festivities boast five performance stages and fireworks at midnight. Party time starts at 6pm on New Year’s Eve and continues until the early hours. It’s traditional to dress in white, so don’t turn up in green and yellow - unless you want to stand out as a tourist.

Rio de Janeiro Carnival: With five days of boundless excitement, Rio Carnival guarantees an unforgettable experience - if you have the stamina! Embrace the vibrant rhythm of street bands and beach revelries, dive into the allure of masquerade balls, and witness the awe-inspiring parades at the iconic ‘Sambodromo’.

Food Festivals: Rio doesn’t just have one, there’s many throughout the year. One of the biggest is Comida di Boteco, which sees chefs from all around the world gather to compete.

Rio safety and security

Should I get travel insurance?

We always recommend that you purchase travel insurance for your holiday. That way, you’ll be covered for any medical expenses or emergencies while you’re away. Make sure to thoroughly check what is included in your policy, especially if you plan to take part in excursions and activities that require insurance.

Rio de Janeiro weather

As Brazil lies in the southern hemisphere the warmest months are December to February. However, Rio is warm year-round with overnight lows rarely dropping below 20℃. During Brazil’s summer daytime highs of 30℃ are the norm, and during a heatwave these can top 40℃. The coolest months are usually the driest months making May to August the ideal time to visit Rio.


Is Rio de Janeiro cheap or expensive?

By South American standards Rio isn’t a cheap place, with the cost of dinner at some restaurants being on a par with European cities. However, public transport is cheap to use and there’s often free street entertainment to enjoy. So if you’ve booked your flight and hotel, you don’t need to worry about spending much while you’re there.

When is Rio Carnival?

This world-famous festival originated as a Christian celebration prior to the fasting period during Lent. Due to Easter having a movable date, Rio Carnival also changes from one year to the next. In 2025 it’ll be 28 Feb - 5 Mar, while in 2026 it will be held from 13-18 Feb.

Is Rio safe to walk around?

When visiting Rio de Janeiro you should take sensible precautions to keep yourself safe. Familiarise yourself with where the favelas (also known as shanty towns) are, and avoid these areas. If you’re using GPS directions ensure it doesn’t route you through one of these districts. Heading to the beach? Avoid taking valuables and keep your possessions close.