Rio de Janeiro Travel Tips

Rio Facts

Brazil is a beautiful and exotic country full of spectacular sights to see, many of which are in Rio de Janeiro. After a very successful stint hosting the 2014 World Cup of Soccer, Brazil is preparing to shine even brighter with the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. As is usual when traveling outside of our home country, there are always challenges present, extending from differing customs and common practices, but with some preparation and a willingness to be flexible, travelers are easily won over by Rio’s many charms. It’s no wonder that Rio is one of the world’s most desirable destinations. We at Roadtrips want to help set your expectations and do whatever we can to ensure that you are prepared for Rio’s challenges and triumphs, and to create the best possible experience for our guests.

Travel Times & Transportation
Traffic is a significant issue in most large Brazilian cities. As well, traffic patterns during major events are, by nature, always somewhat dynamic. Roadtrips accesses official information from local authorities, the Games Organizing Committee and from our destination partners to provide the best information possible about traffic, estimated travel times, and permitted drop off points at venues. Roadtrips’ Summer Games guests will benefit hugely from our experience working at multiple Games and the recent World Cup.

While Brazil normally requires most visitors to obtain an entry visa prior to arrival, the Brazilian government recently announced that they will waive this policy during the Summer Games for a number of countries including the USA, Canada, Australia, and Japan. If you’re not sure whether you are eligible for a visa exemption, please contact your local Brazilian Consulate or ask the Roadtrips At-Your-Service Desk for details. Visitors still require a valid passport.

Good news! Traffic during the Games often isn’t quite as bad as forecasted. Many city residents leave the city during the Games, businesses and schools provide staff holidays and the total number of cars on the road reduces from normal levels. Still, enhanced security, closures for VIPs, and random rules imposed by the Organizing Committee can create traffic headaches so it’s important to plan for extra time, to be flexible and to learn as the Games progress. It’s also important to note that at the Summer Games, many venues have wide security perimeters. A smart plan for accessing the events is a good pair of walking shoes and a few extra minutes. Our staff has experience and knowledge that you’ll find invaluable and they will assist you with all of it. It’s the goal of our team of hosts, drivers, and destination specialists to provide as seamless an experience as possible for you.

Dining Out & Reservationsrio
In Brazil, it is not uncommon to have the evening meal start between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m. or later. You may even notice that many restaurants have very few patrons dining before 8:00 p.m. It is good to note that many restaurants do not typically take reservations, but if you arrive for the first seating (typically at 7:00pm) you will most often have no trouble being seated right away. Our Roadtrips personal concierges can give you the inside track on the best places to eat and often arrange for reservations before 8pm. Want to eat earlier? They can also suggest all day dining establishments that are open before 7pm. Be sure to check out our Restaurant Guide to Rio to hear about all of our favorites.

How to Dial Locally and Internationally
To call a Brazilian phone number from a US or Canadian phone (mobile or land line) you must dial 011 + Country Code (55 for Brazil) + Area Code (21 for Rio) + the 8 digit phone number.

To call a US or Canadian phone number from your North American mobile phone you must dial 00 + 1 + Area Code + Telephone Number.

The official language of Brazil is Portuguese, and while some may have a basic knowledge of English, it is not widely spoken in Brazil.

The official language of Brazil is Portuguese, but it is quite different in style and pronunciation from the Portuguese spoken in Portugal. Although more common in major cities such as Rio de Janeiro, English is not widely spoken in Brazil, and most who do will have only a basic knowledge of the language. Our host team includes Rio-based destination specialists who are at your disposal to assist with any language obstacles.

Brazil is located in the Southern Hemisphere, as such, its seasons are exactly the opposite of those in the Northern Hemisphere. Summer is December through March, and winter is June through September. Although the 2016 Summer Olympics will take place during Brazil’s winter period, Rio is very mild and sunny year-round. In August, the average low in Rio de Janeiro is 64°F (17°C) with average highs of 81°F (27°C). Just like winter in North America, South American winters feature early sunsets and later sunrises. Typically in August, Rio is nearly perfect for beautiful alfresco dining in the moonlight.

As with most destinations, recognition of good service by tipping is appreciated but not always required in Rio. There are a few common practices to be aware of. A 10% service charge is automatically included on most restaurant and hotel bills and any additional amount is completely at your discretion. For taxis, it is common to round up the amount to facilitate change. Of course, it’s a great practice to be generous with housekeepers, servers, drivers and other service staff as many of these folks have limited earning power and are key breadwinners for their families.

The official currency in Brazil is the Real, plural Reais (noted by symbols R$ or BRL). Banks and automated teller machines (caixa automática) are widely available, however, it is important to note that specific ATMs may not work on your bank’s network (most often CIRRUS or PLUS). Visa and Mastercard are the most commonly accepted credit cards, however, American Express and other cards are often accepted, particularly at fine restaurants and hotels. Bank machines are not always open 24 hours. ATMs often close at 8 or 10 p.m. or are programmed to dispense only a small amount of money. In general, it’s a good idea to have at least some cash on hand in the event your access to a working ATM is limited.

Voltage in Rio is usually 110 V. Hotels typically label their outlets clearly, however if you are unsure, it is always best to use an adapter that can handle the range of voltage or check with the hotel before using the outlets. Most outlets in Rio are the round, 2-prong style and will require an adapter to convert a North American pronged plug to fit the outlet.

Time Zone
During the Summer Games period, the time zone for Rio de Janeiro will be GMT -3 hours.

New York – August 5, 2016 – 4:00 PM • Rio de Janeiro – August 5, 2016 – 5:00 PM (+1 hour)

Los Angeles – August 5, 2016 – 1:00 PM • Rio de Janeiro – August 5, 2016 – 5:00 PM (+4 hours)

Book Your Trip to the Summer Games

Call a Sports Travel Specialist at 1-800-465-1765 or

The entire experience was amazing. The best part was that Roadtrips made it so easy and simple for us. We did not have to worry about the logistics once we arrived in Brazil. I'm considering attending the 2018 World Cup. If I do, I'm definitely going with Roadtrips. To anyone that has asked about my trip, I’ll refer them to Roadtrips.
— Martha Arias, 2014 World Cup