One of the top questions asked by our customers before booking their trip is “Is Rio de Janeiro Safe?”. The answer is YES, but you do have to use common sense, be alert, & be smart.
Rio de Janeiro is not a small town. It is Brazil’s second largest city, home to more than 6 million people. It may sound cliché, but like any other big city in the world (especially South America), you always have to be cautious and aware of your surroundings.
TGW Travel Group has been offering trips to Rio de Janeiro since 2004 and has local staff in the city. We know the ins and outs of Rio, so we offer the following tips to make sure you have the time of your life in this incredible city:
Rio de Janeiro Safety Tips:
- Try to Stay in the “South Zone” (Zona Sul) – Rio’s most famous beaches – Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon – are also in this area. Most of Rio’s hotels are in the South Zone and local attractions, restaurants and nightlife are in the area or close by. You can pretty much find everything you need within walking distance or an inexpensive cab/uber.
- Avoid the “Favelas” – Favelas are low-income informal settlements located all over Rio. Some are actually close to the South Zone so it is good to be aware of where they are so that you do not wander into one. Crime is high in these areas and policing is low. Don’t get us wrong, good people live in the Favelas, but if you are not from there, it’s best to avoid. If you absolutely have to go to a favela, go with a local tour operator offering favela tours or with a local.
- Leave Your Bling at Home – Rio is a beach city and it is very laid back. Board Shorts and Sandals during the day and T-Shirt and Jeans at night. It is always best not to bring too much attention to yourself so leave your Rolex and expensive jewelry at home. Trust us you will not feel out of place without that on your nights on the town.
- Use ATMs during the Day – Avoid flashing big cash out and try to avoid taking out money from non-bank ATMs. It would be best to take money from banks’ ATMs during business hours (weekdays; 10am – 4pm); if anything happens to your card, you will have a proof from bank’s camera and someone from the branch can try to assist you. Keep in mind that using credit cards is quite common and safe in Brazil. Most people in brazil use credit cards on daily basis to make payments.
- Avoid Driving – We do not recommend renting a car in Rio because traffic is pretty bad and parking is expensive. You also do not want to make the wrong turn and go into a favela. Uber & Taxis are very safe and inexpensive in Rio. For taxis, just make sure they turn on the meter.
- Be Careful Pulling Out Cell Phone or Cash on Street – We recommend not to take out your phone in the middle of crowds. If you need to take a picture or use it’s GPS, just be careful and be aware of your surroundings. Also be careful when pulling out cash. We recommend taking little bits at a time and leaving the rest in your safety deposit box in the hotel. Pockets with zippers are also a plus!
- Avoid Dark Isolated Areas – Try not to walk around at night and take taxis/ubers everywhere. If you do walk around at night, avoid dark isolated areas and back streets. It is also recommended NOT TO WALK ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT.
- Learn a Little Portuguese – Learn some important and useful phrases in Portuguese so you can ask for help when needed. Check out our Handy Brazilian Portuguese Phrases for Traveler’s Guide.
So, Is Rio de Janeiro Safe? Yes, it is and by following the above tips, you’ll make sure to have a no-hassle vacation. It may sound like a lot, but these are also things Rio Locals (Cariocas) follow.
If you are looking to travel to Rio, check out our Rio de Janeiro Travel Package. We can customize it based on your travel style and we have staff in Rio to make sure you have the time of your life!