We began our round the world trip in the amazing city of Rio De Janeiro in Brazil. Rio is a city with a tropical rainforest inside it, how cool is that!? The rainforest is known as the ‘Tijuca Rainforest’ and is claimed to be the world’s largest urban rainforest. During our time in Rio we saw tropical birds flying above us, a family of monkeys running along electricity wires, brightly coloured butterflies fluttering around and huge stripey caterpillars casually roaming the pavements. As well as that, the city is home to some amazing beaches and has some of the best views I have ever seen.
Our flight touched down in Rio at midnight after a 6 hour delayed flight and I was so happy to finally arrive in one of my top bucket list destinations. Part excited, part nervous and my head spinning with horror stories I had been told of crime and muggings, I couldn’t help but feel a little cautious in Rio. However during the 5 nights we spent in Rio I really grew to fall in love with the city and it is certainly now up there with one of my favourite cities of all time. In the end despite my initial worrying, we didn’t have any problems with safety in Rio and it was our favourite stop in all of Brazil.
In this post I will cover our highlights of what to do during 5 nights/ 4 days in Rio de Janeiro. Including where we slept, what we ate and as always, how much it all cost!
Please note, at the time of writing £1 is equal to $4.5 BRL.
Here’s our guide to 4 days in Rio de Janeiro!
What to do in Rio de Janeiro – Our Highlights:
Christ the Redeemer
On day 1 we decided to visit one of Rio’s most famous sights – the huge Christ the Redeemer statue, which is located high up on a mountain top which overlooks the city.
To get there we took the metro ($4.5 BRL) from ‘Gloria’ to ‘Largo do Machado’, we then purchased our tickets for the minibus from the tourist information stand across the square. The bus and entrance ticket cost $68 BRL (including the bus back too). The minibus took us higher and higher up the mountain through thick jungle and eventually we made it to the top, the impressive Christ the Redeemer state was huge and even more impressive in real life and the views of the city from up there are amazing. We were really lucky too as there were clear blue skies!
Sugar Loaf Mountain
On day 2 we were again in luck with the weather so we decided it was the perfect day to go to Sugarloaf mountain! We got the bus direct here from near our hostel in Gloria (bus number 107). The entrance to Sugar Loaf Mountain cost $80 BRL and this includes both cable cars up to the top. The views at the top were amazing, maybe even better than the views the day before, I took soo many photos! It is a great place to relax for a few hours, I bought a fresh coconut to drink from whilst enjoying views.
On day 3 we visited the Santa Marta Favela with a local guide and one of the members of staff from the Discovery Hostel. Santa Marta was the first of Rio’s favelas to undergo pacification back in 2008. It was also where Michael Jackson filmed the controversial music video ‘They don’t care about us’. Michael Jackson is now a hero to the community and they even have a statue dedicated to him in the favela! During the tour we gained an insight into favela life, we climbed the stairs all the way to the top (so tiring!) and we caught the cable car part of the way back down again. We saw bullet holes in walls from shoot outs in the past and saw a local person carrying a gun which made me feel a little uneasy, however our guide explained that this is quite normal in the favelas.
On the afternoon of day 3 we visited the rainforest for a ‘Jungle Trek’. Firstly we drove up to the ‘Chinese Vista’ for jungle views, it was a bit cloudy but I felt it kinda added to the rainforest experience!
We then started the hike back down. About a third of the way down we turned left from the road to go deeper into the jungle where the jungle trek then really began. It started off easy enough, but it gradually got more difficult, lots of scrambling down slopes, insects that bite (and made my leg bleed!) and lots of climbing using roots, rocks and branches to climb down very steep slopes. We eventually made it to a waterfall which was so great to cool down in before finishing the hike the rest of the way down. There were only 3 other people at the waterfall so we practically had the waterfall to ourselves.
The total cost of the favela and jungle tour was $110 BRL per person and was organised through Discovery Hostel. It may sound a bit pricey but we felt it was 100% worth it and great value for money as they took us to places we would never have gone otherwise.
On day 4 we decided to head for a beach day at Copacabana Beach! We aren’t usually fans of beaches, but when in Rio, we just had to have a beach day at Copacabana. Especially as it was a Saturday and therefore packed with locals.
The nearest metro station is Cardeal Arcoverde and it’s just a short walk from there. We hired a deck chair each for $10 and enjoyed an hour and a half on the beach before we realised that (despite applying suncream) we were really sunburnt! Whoops.
Night out in Lapa
On our last night we went on a night out with a group from our hostel and joined up with a Pub Crawl ran by ‘Rio Walking Tours’. This was the first time we had been on a night out in Rio so we didn’t quite know what to expect but Lapa was very lively as expected for a Saturday night and so much fun. The pub crawl cost $60 per person and included 2 free shots and entrance to 3 bars. We absolutely loved it and Samba danced all night long.
What we ate
Despite hearing fairly negative reviews of food in Brazil, Shaun and I have been loving it! In Rio we generally would eat a big lunch out consisting of meat, rice, beans and french fries and then we would just cook at the hostel in the evening. We found our lunch spots by going into whatever restaurant was busy with locals! Generally it was around $18-24 BRL for the lunch menu’s.
Where we slept
We stayed in Discovery Hostel located in Gloria and it is up there with one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in! It is located a 2 minute walk from Gloria metro and is really close to Lapa for nights out. We had 2 nights in a private room which cost £17 each per night and then 3 nights in a 6 bed dorm which cost £11.60 each per night. This also included an amazing breakfast. The hostel organises lots of day tours and night outs so is really social.
For our daily budget, we had an initial budget of £30 a day per person (so for all accommodation, food, drink, travel). We ended up spending £29.80 on average per day, so £119.20 each for 4 full days (this also includes £10 each on a taxi from the airport to the hostel as our flight was so delayed it was too late to catch the bus).
For our activity budget, we splashed out a bit in Rio and spent a total of £70 each. This included entrance to Christ de Redeemer, Sugar Loaf Mountain, the Favela & Jungle tour as well as the pub crawl fee.
Therefore the total cost for 4 days in Rio de Janeiro cost us £189.20 per person.