The Ultimate Guide to Traveling to Rio de Janeiro Alone (2023)
Traveling to Rio de Janeiro alone for the first time and need some planning travel tips? I’ve been to Rio de Janeiro alone, so let me help you with my ultimate guide on “what to know before you go” to Rio de Janeiro for the best, first-time Rio de Janeiro solo travel experience in this top travel destination.
This Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide is intentionally written for the solo traveler, the first time Rio de Janeiro traveler, and/or older traveler (I am over 50 and have been solo traveling FOREVER) in mind. Yet, anyone can use this solo travel guide it to plan and book travel to Rio de Janeiro.
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- Ultimate Brazil Solo Travel Guide
- BEST Booking Sites for Rio de Janeiro Travel
- Why Travel to Rio de Janeiro Alone?
- Best Time of Year to Visit Rio de Janeiro
- Rio de Janeiro Solo Travel Packing Essentials
- Getting to Rio de Janeiro
- Is Rio de Janeiro Safe for Solo Travelers?
- Where to Stay in Rio de Janeiro
- Transportation in Rio de Janeiro
- Best Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro Alone
- More Travel Guides You’ll Like
Ultimate Brazil Solo Travel Guide
If you need more Brazil travel tips to supplement your Rio de Janeiro travel planning, consult my ultimate Ultimate Brazil Solo Travel Guide full of tips on culture, entry requirements, currency, tipping, using electronics, safety, and a lot more to plan solo travel in Brazil.
More Brazil Solo Travel
BEST Booking Sites for Rio de Janeiro Travel
Here is a summary of the best booking sites I recommend you bookmark and use to successfully book your travel to Rio de Janeiro Brazil solo travel. I use just about all of these for most travel locations. I even gave you my suggested Rio de Janeiro hotel.
These booking sites give you multiple travel options and awesome travel deals for all travel budgets. They will certainly help get a jump on your solo trip to Brazil.
For the best travel deals, always book early.
Why Travel to Rio de Janeiro Alone?
The weather, the natural scenery, the culture, the people, the dancing, the multitude of outdoor activities…it’s endless. Oh, let’s not forget the annual Carnival festival in February.
The Brazilians know how to live and spend their leisure time. They especially know how to do so in their fantastically unique city, Rio.
There are so many things to do in Rio de Janeiro as a single traveler. I advise traveling to Rio de Janeiro alone to mingle with the Brazilians and see.
Best Time of Year to Visit Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro has it all for any time of year. However, the biggest thing to factor in when visiting Rio is the weather.
If you like hot and humid with rain, which I do not, go during their summer season (December through early March). The summer is also when most Brazilians vacation, so you’ll be dealing with more tourists (especially at Carnival, of course).
Rio’s winter season (July through September), though, is milder (mid 70’s F) but amply nice to enjoy the outdoors. There aren’t as many tourists either and prices are lower. The only downfall is that the daylight hours are decreased.
I went in July and completely enjoyed it.
Rio de Janeiro Solo Travel Packing Essentials
I’m not one to tell someone else how to pack, but there definitely some solo travel essentials I would recommend taking on your solo travel to Brazil, like the following.
This list of travel essentials combined can make your Brazil solo travel easier and more memorable while being friendlier to the environment.
Getting to Rio de Janeiro
As of June 2019, Americans no longer need a Brazil tourist visa to visit Brazil. However, it may still be required for others. Check your government’s tourism information for Brazil.
You’ll more than likely be flying into the Rio de Janeiro–Galeão International Airport (GIG). Flying to Rio de Janeiro, or anywhere in South America, is a long-haul flight for many travelers. Be prepared with these 15 long-haul flight essentials.
Find Cheap Flights to Rio de Janeiro
Eco Travel Tips
Skyscanner provides a ‘Greener flights’ filter highlighting flights that emit less CO2. Additionally, you can purchase carbon offsets through your airline to lower your carbon footprint.
More Eco Travel Tips
- 10 Amazing Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Swimwear Brands
- 15 Eco Long-haul Flight Essentials for Solo Travel
- Top 10 Eco-Friendly Carry On Luggage
- 10 Best Eco-Friendly Personal Item Bags for Flying
- 10 Easy Ways to Be an Eco-Friendly Traveler
After arriving GIG Airport, you have multiple ground transportation options to get to your hotel.
If your hotel doesn’t offer a shuttle, you could take an Uber, rent a car, hire an airport transfer, or take a taxi (look for the official yellow taxis).
The Metro Rio, unfortunately, does not have a station at the GIG airport.
Reserve a Rio de Janeiro Airport Transfer for Easy Travel
Is Rio de Janeiro Safe for Solo Travelers?
I get it. You wonder is it safe traveling to Rio de Janeiro alone. Well, crime has reduced in Rio de Janeiro over the years, so it doesn’t have the bad rap it used to. I certainly didn’t let it stop me traveling Brazil alone.
Rio is an extremely large city and a high tourist destination. Like any other large city – think New Orleans or New York City – Rio has its good and bad neighborhoods. Therefore, Rio can have its share of crimes of opportunity, like pick pocketing.
Beach areas are safe during the day. The Zona Sul (South Zone), considered the safest place to stay in Rio de Janeiro, includes the Botafogo, Leblon, Ipanema, and Copacabana neighborhoods.
In short, just be street-wise and vigilant with your safety and your belongings using these safety tips for traveling to Rio de Janeiro alone:
- Keep your passport in your hotel room safe, but carry a copy with you.
- Don’t go wandering off the beaten path and avoid the favelas – even a tour.
- Avoid walking the beaches at sunset or at night.
- If you need to go out at night, have your hotel arrange a shuttle or taxi, or take an Uber.
- Keep your belongings on you at all times, even on the beach and while swimming (use my favorite water-proof pouch).
- Use a monosling bag as a day bag with pockets securely closed.
- Don’t keep valuables in your pockets or wear flashy jewelry.
- Keep your camera and mobile device(s) in your day bag and only use them when necessary.
- The metro is considered safe, but the buses not so much.
- Caipirinha’s can be strong, so don’t get too intoxicated.
- Consider getting Brazil travel insurance.
More Solo Travel Tips
- 6 Tips on How to Avoid Airport Lines
- How to Travel Carry-On Only
- How to Plan Your First Solo Trip: Step 1
- How to Choose Your First Solo Trip Destination
- How To Save Money for Solo Travel
Where to Stay in Rio de Janeiro
For first-time traveling to Rio alone, I recommend staying at Copacabana Beach, hands down. It’s not that it’s just a nice, central area of Rio to stay and easily accessible to many attractions, but the beach and it’s mountainous surrounding is simply spectacular.
Let’s face it, how many hotel rooms can boast these views?
Or this view from a hotel rooftop?
My hotel recommendation that checks all of the key boxes for Rio de Janeiro Brazil solo travel, including location, reviews, amenities, and Sustainable Travel rating, is the Hilton Copacabana.
Reserve Your Copacabana Beach Accommodation Early for the Best Deal
Eco Travel Tips
In addition to Booking.com’s Copacabana Beach Sustainable Travel properties, Green Globe and Green Key Global also have eco-friendly certified lodging options.
Transportation in Rio de Janeiro
Personally, I ditched the rental car and relied on tours, Ubers and taxis. Ubers are considered safe in Rio. So are taxis, but you may want to have your hotel or restaurant call your taxi for you so you know you have a reputable one.
Metro Rio is also an option for extensive, inexpensive and safe Rio de Janeiro solo travel. Plan for rush hour crowds, like any other city. It is also open 24 hours a day during Carnival.
Public mini vans are also available along Av Rio Branco for inexpensive rides in the Ipanema and Copacabana Beach areas.
Don’t forget walking. You can cover a lot of ground walking safely traveling alone in Rio.
Eco Travel Tips
Consider taking the Metro Rio for clean commuting without a car.
When booking an Uber in Rio de Janeiro, select the Uber Green option, instead of a traditional rideshare, to support the use of cleaner transportation in Brazil.
Carpoolworld is available if you’re looking for inexpensive transportation.
Best Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro Alone
You now know Rio de Janeiro is safe for single travelers, know how to get to Rio, and where to stay. You’re ready to explore the best of what to do in Rio de Janeiro alone.
Here is some of what I did and highly recommend you do in Rio de Janeiro. These can be done in Rio in 2 days, 3 days, or longer on your solo trip to Rio.
Christ the Redeemer
I consider Christ the Redeemer the #1 must do in Rio de Janeiro alone. Why? It’s not just because it’s one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, but also that the views from Corcovado Mountain are simply magnificent.
There is access by train, or by van, for getting up the mountain with admission to the Christ the Redeemer statue. I recommend taking the first available tour in the morning and dressing in layers – it can be chilly in the morning at that altitude.
Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) is a close second to Corcovado Mountain. It, too, has sweeping views of Rio de Janeiro from its 396 meter high peak – from the Atlantic Ocean, to Guanabara Bay, to Urca Beach below, and Copacabana Beach beyond. I recommend doing this closer to sunset.
Yes, you can hike Sugarloaf Mountain alone or do a guided hike and climb. If you have the time to hike, do. However, I do really recommend taking the Sugarloaf cable car, too. It’s awesome. The ride cannot be compared to any other cable car I have ever ridden. For the best of both worlds, hike up and ride the cable car down.
Have a tasty acaí bowl (a must in Brazil) at one of the kiosks, but don’t fill up. You’ll want to save room for a savory, after-sunset dinner and drinks in one of the Urca restaurants after you descend.
At the top you’ll see many, cute marmosets, which have become quite accustom to human company.
Eco Travel Tip
Even with signs everywhere asking tourists not to feed the marmosets, you’ll still see inconsiderate tourists (yes, I’m being nice here), who find it cute to tease them with food, or feed them (with junk food, no less), just to get them closer to take their picture. Don’t be that tourist.
Ways to Visit Christ the Redeemer & Sugarloaf Mountain
Beaches in Rio
This 2.5 mile white, sandy beach nestled between Ponta do Leme and Forte de Copacabana is classic Rio de Janeiro. Also classic Rio are teenie bikinis. If these offend you, Rio is not for you.
Off-season it’s easy to find a spot for sunbathing and going for a swim at Praia Copacabana (Copacabana Beach). It has numbered postas (lifeguard stands) from 1 (north) to 6 (south). You can use these stands as a marker for your spot on the sand.
Walk the famous, curvy mosaic-tiled Calçadão de Copacabana (Copacabana Boardwalk) with food stalls and places to grab lunch and a Caipirinha while watching the sun-goers play soccer or beach volleyball.
Cross the street to shop the stretch of outdoor shopping stalls for souvenirs to bikinis.
Venture a little further south for the 2-mile long Praia Ipanema (Ipanema Beach) (postos 8 to 12) for more fantastic sun and scenery.
Eco Travel Tips
Protect Brazil’s natural land and marine environment on your solo travel over 50. In the water, wear reef safe sunscreen.
Avoid using single-use plastics when dining, shopping and on food or boat tours in Rio de Janeiro to reduce plastic waste and your carbon footprint by bringing your own reusable collapsible shopping bags, collapsible water bottle, recycled plastic water bottle carry sling, and bamboo travel utensils so you’re prepared to travel with the planet in mind.
I always travel with the above items. Light weight and taking up very little space in my carry-on bags, I love the convenience and peace of mind these inexpensive, eco-friendly products provide.
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Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden
You can get lost in this 350 acre park, not far from Copacabana Beach. The Jardim Botânico (Botanical Garden) is best botanical garden I’ve visited yet. It has more than 6,000 different species of tropical and subtropical plants, including 900 varieties of palm trees. Who knew there were so many?
The Botanical Garden sits at the foot of Corcovado Mountain with the Christ the Redeemer statue overhead. Spend at least an hour or two here. You can even take a Botanical Garden tour, if you wish.
Whatever you do, don’t miss walking the Avenue of the Royal Palms. It will make you feel so small.
In the Botanical Garden, take lunch at the tranquil Parque Large. Look straight up Corcovado to glimpse the Christ the Redeemer against the blue sky.
Ways to Visit the Botanical Gardens and Parque Large
Museum of Tomorrow
The Museo do Amanha (Museum of Tomorrow) as a great addition to your Rio de Janeiro solo visit. This popular science museum, full of interactive exhibits and games to give you a glimpse into the future, is housed under a way-cool, sustainably designed building by Santiago Calatrava. There are tours with transfers available for your solo travel ease.
Instituto Moreira Salles
Take in some great art and a coffee on the patio in the intimate setting of the Instituto Moreira Salles. Take an Uber there. It makes for a leisurely morning.
Copacabana Fort & Museum
Catch a view of Copacabana Beach from across the water while enjoying some of Rio de Janeiro’s history at the Forte de Copacabana and Forte de Copacabana Museum.
After the museum, stop to rest on a bench to view the mountains looming over Copacabana Beach and absorb the fresh ocean air.
Dine under an umbrella on fresh seafood or simply sip a chilled Caprahina, the traditional Brazilian cocktail. Of course, this is but one of the Copacabana dining options to choose from.
If you want to party and samba the night away, head to the Lapa neighborhood (in the Zona Sul) where the colorful Escadaria Selaron and historic Carioca Aqueduct (aka the Lapa Arches) are also located. Lapa is a key spot for Rio de Janeiro’s nightlife,including street parties. You may catch one.
The Largo da Lapa (under the Arches) can also be a lively scene. For late night food, try the food trucks.
Just remember to be safe, and stay in well-lit areas with others around, and take an Uber between all points around the city at night.
Best Rio de Janeiro City Tours
Don’t worry if your Rio de Janeiro solo travel is brief. There are ways to pack a lot of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro in a short timeframe, like taking a Rio de Janeiro city tour. Try one of the following top rated Rio de Janeior tours to get the most out of your solo trip to Rio de Janeiro.
Best Rio de Janeiro City Tours for Short Visits
Best Day Trips from Rio de Janeiro
If you’re fortunate enough to have a longer visit in Rio de Janeiro and want to explore outside of the city while keeping Rio as your Brazil solo travel home base, you’re in luck.
There are some fantastic tours from Rio de Janeiro to fabulous locations like Angra do Reis and Buzios, both of which I love. I highly recommend solo travel to Buzios and Angra dos Reis.
For Brazil solo travel, take a group day trip from Rio de Janeiro for lots of Brazilian beach fun along Brazil’s coastline and beyond.
Best Day Trips from Rio de Janeiro
Let Me Hear From You
I would love to hear if my travel tips and ideas for traveling to Rio de Janeiro alone were helpful in planning your solo travel over 50. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!