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Moving to Rio de Janeiro

The most glamorous of Brazil’s cities and one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, Rio de Janeiro is certainly an exciting place to call home. The city's stunning beaches and natural beauty, as well as its lively culture and annual festivities, attract millions of visitors annually.

Living in Rio de Janeiro as an expat

Rio is an important commercial hub of Brazil. Major oil, textile, shipbuilding, pharmaceutical, media and communications companies have a presence in the city, while it also boasts a number of important educational institutions. This diversified economy attracts many foreign workers to Rio’s shores every year, making it a popular expat destination. But competition for employment is also high. The majority of expats moving to Rio de Janeiro for work have been transferred there as part of a relocation package with their current employer.

Cost of living in Rio de Janeiro

For expats earning in a foreign currency, the cost of living in Rio de Janeiro is reasonable and well below that of major expat destinations in Western Europe and North America. As with most Brazilian cities, the extremes of wealth and poverty are visible in Rio. Expats being paid in the local currency will likely feel the pinch and should budget adequately to ensure all costs are covered.

Expat families and children

Expats moving to Rio with children need not stress about education. There are several international schools in the city. It’s also essential for expats living in Rio to be covered by a comprehensive health insurance plan. Public healthcare in Rio is underdeveloped. Most expats prefer private facilities which offer high-quality healthcare but at a high price.

Climate in Rio de Janeiro

With its stunning beaches and favourable year-round climate, Rio enjoys a far more relaxed lifestyle than other major Brazilian cities such as São Paulo or Brasília. Warm, sunny days are frequent.

As residents of one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Cariocas (as the locals are referred to) are used to having foreigners in their city. They are generally open and welcoming towards newcomers, especially if they make an effort to speak Portuguese. With a little time and effort, expats are sure to settle into their new life in this vibrant city.

Pros and cons of moving to Rio de Janeiro

Famed for its Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, sprawling natural beauty, world-famous carnival and wild nightlife, Rio de Janeiro may seem like an expat paradise, but like any destination, there are a few downsides to life in Brazil’s most visited city.   

Check out our list of pros and cons below.

Lifestyle in Rio de Janeiro

+ PRO: World-renowned nightlife 

From bustling nightclubs and bars to a sensational underground scene and samba clubs, Rio has a lively abundance of nightlife options. The city is home to several party districts, with Lapa being the most famous. Most establishments in Rio are casual but some clubs will have a strict dress code.   

+ PRO: Annual Rio de Janeiro Carnival

With claims of being the biggest show on earth, the five-day carnival in Rio de Janeiro celebrates the beginning of Lent and is a national holiday in Brazil. It’s certainly a bucket list event that features parades, parties and open-air performances, with 2 million spectators taking to the streets daily. 

+ PRO: Breathtaking natural scenery

Rio de Janeiro’s dramatic mountainscapes, pristine coastline and urban rainforest make the city a paradise for nature-loving expats. Tijuca National Park – the only rainforest within a city in the world – is an oasis where expats can hike along some of the most serene routes. Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer monument on Corcovado Mountain are also great spots to take in the unparalleled city views. 

+ PRO: Shimmering beaches

The beaches in Rio de Janeiro vary in style, but the iconic white sand, sunny spots and crystal-clear waters are a hallmark of all of them. Expats can enjoy water sports, beach volleyball and futevôlei (foot-volleyball), or simply admire the stunning ocean view from a beachside bar or restaurant. 

- CON: Highly visible economic inequality

While there is plenty to love about Rio, the economic disparities in the city are visible. The contrast between the city’s wealthy areas and the favelas, which lack basic infrastructure, is a stark reminder of the wealth inequality across many Brazilian cities.

Working in Rio de Janeiro

+ PRO: Important commercial hub for Brazil

Rio’s international airport and port status make the city a key commercial hub for Brazil. Highly skilled expats can find employment across a range of sectors and multiple multinational corporations. Despite a decline in tourism in recent years, the hospitality industry still offers many job opportunities.

- CON: Knowledge of Portuguese is useful

Even though English is becoming commonplace across Rio's business circles, Brazilians love to establish personal relationships before doing business, so a working knowledge of Portuguese is advantageous.

- CON: The job market is competitive

Competition in Rio de Janeiro’s job market is fierce and expats will be competing with locals who have an added advantage due to Brazil’s work visa requirements. It is recommended to secure employment before arriving in Rio and to build a robust network as work is often found through recommendations.

Accommodation in Rio de Janeiro

+ PRO: Great standard of accommodation

Much of the accommodation in Rio is in the form of condominiums and apartments, some of which offer sought-after onsite amenities such as 24-hour security, gyms and swimming pools. The newer apartment blocks also tend to be larger.

- CON: House hunting is competitive

As is the case in most cities, finding a decent apartment in Rio de Janeiro can be an arduous task. Demand in areas like Ipanema and Barra de Tijuca means rentals do not stay on the market for long and tend to be expensive.

- CON: Most accommodation is unfurnished

Long-term rentals in Rio are typically unfurnished and in extreme cases, expats may also have to buy basic kitchen appliances and light fixtures. However, the low monthly rental on these apartments usually offsets the cost of buying furniture.

Getting around in Rio de Janeiro

+ PRO: Reliable public transport

Rio’s metro and bus networks are a clean, efficient and affordable way of getting around the city. Licensed taxis and e-hailing services like Uber are abundant and are recommended when travelling at night.

+ PRO: Cycling is encouraged

Exploring Rio has never been easier thanks to the many cycle lanes – particularly around the tourist areas and beaches – and a shared bike-rental programme. Bike Rio allows cyclists to rent bicycles on a short and long-term basis using a nifty mobile application.

- CON: Aggressive driving and chaotic traffic

Brazilians are infamous for their aggressive driving. To add to the frustration, the city’s roads are terribly congested, especially during peak hours.

Cost of living in Rio de Janeiro

- CON: High utility prices

The cost of living in Rio de Janeiro can be high but is generally more affordable than in São Paulo. As a port city, Rio enjoys decent grocery prices, but rental, electricity and water prices are surprisingly expensive.

Safety and security in Rio de Janeiro

- CON: Robberies and muggings are common

Robberies on overcrowded buses have become an unfortunate reality in Rio, particularly at night. Expats are advised to avoid bus travel and rather opt for a taxi in the evening. Scams and petty crimes such as pickpocketing and purse snatching are also prevalent. Expats should stay vigilant and keep a close eye on their belongings, especially on beaches and in the Centro.

Working in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro has the second-largest economy in Brazil, right after São Paulo. Its port and international airport make it an important commercial centre of Brazil. Expats considering working in Rio de Janeiro can look for employment opportunities in a diverse range of industries.

Job market in Rio de Janeiro 

Rio de Janeiro hosts major multinational companies in the oil, textile, shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, media and communications fields. Highly qualified expats with skills in these industries are more likely to find employment. 

Teaching English is also a popular occupation for foreigners in Rio. Since Rio is one of the leading banking and finance centres in Brazil, expats also have opportunities in the finance industry.

Finding a job in Rio de Janeiro

Expats moving to Brazil in search of work may find this a slow and frustrating endeavour. Competition for jobs in Rio de Janeiro is tight, and preference is mostly given to locals. Networking is an integral part of the job search in Brazil. It’s often about who a person knows rather than what they know. Expats seeking employment will do well to make the right connections.

The best option is to secure a job in Rio before moving to Brazil. In fact, the majority of expats moving to the city for work have been transferred here as part of a relocation package with their existing multinational employer.

Work culture in Rio de Janeiro

Despite its beaches, beautiful scenery and easy-going lifestyle, expats moving to Rio should not be fooled into thinking they will be working in a relaxed environment. Despite the slower pace of business in Brazil, Brazilians work hard and expats will be expected to do the same. Although English is increasingly being spoken in business circles, it’s essential for foreigners wanting to work in Brazil to have knowledge of Portuguese.

Regardless of the industry or type of work, expats working in Rio de Janeiro will need a valid work permit for Brazil. Getting a work permit can be difficult as the employer often has to prove that the foreigner has skills that cannot be fulfilled by a Brazilian.

Accommodation in Rio de Janeiro

Finding suitable accommodation in Rio de Janeiro is likely to be a daunting task for new arrivals. Although there is a wide variety of accommodation to choose from, space is limited in this bustling metropolis and finding a home in a good area of Rio can be a challenge.

Expats looking for housing in Rio will have to act fast when they find what they’re looking for. Competition is fierce, and decent apartments in good areas do not stay on the market for long.

Types of accommodation in Rio de Janeiro

There is a variety of accommodation available in Rio and generally something to suit every taste and budget. Property ranges from apartments to condominiums and houses with gardens. The majority of expats live in apartment blocks or closed condominiums with onsite facilities such as swimming pools, gyms and 24-hour security.

Most accommodation in Rio is rented unfurnished: this may even include the absence of light fittings and basic kitchen appliances. Generally, the standard of accommodation in Rio is good, particularly at newer establishments. Apartments in newer blocks and condominiums are usually quite large.

The cost of accommodation in Rio can vary depending on the area and amenities available. Generally, accommodation in the more popular expat-friendly neighbourhoods is extremely expensive. The proximity of accommodation to Rio’s city centre and beaches will influence the cost of rent. The closer one is to the city centre or beaches, the more one will usually pay.

Finding accommodation in Rio de Janeiro

Rentals are usually advertised in the local newspapers and classifieds. Several online portals specialise in rental properties in Rio de Janeiro, with websites in Portuguese generally offering accommodation at better prices than English websites that are aimed at foreigners. Word-of-mouth and networking is a good way to go when it comes to finding accommodation.

It may also be useful to work through a rental agent who will be able to provide listings of appropriate properties. They will also be able to negotiate with the landlord and will understand all the legalities involved.

Renting accommodation in Rio de Janeiro

Most property owners and landlords are unlikely to speak English, and it’s a good idea to take a friend or trusted colleague who can speak Portuguese along to assist with the negotiations.


Leases in Rio are usually signed for a one to three-year period. Though shorter-term options are available, and landlords are sometimes willing to negotiate. A deposit equivalent to one to three months’ rent is normally expected.

To rent property in Rio de Janeiro, expats will need to provide a number of certified documents. Those without a formal or sufficient income, such as retirees or students, will need to find someone to act as a guarantor or fiador.


Electricity and other utilities are usually excluded from the rental price and need to be paid on top of the monthly rental. It is often the tenant's responsibility to organise utility accounts with their local municipality.

Expats who have enlisted the help of a real-estate agent will find that they can usually assist with getting utilities connected. In some cases, the administration department of a particular apartment building or housing complex will help new tenants with this.

Areas and suburbs in Rio de Janeiro

The best places to live in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro can broadly be divided into four districts: Centro (the city centre or downtown), Zona Sul (South Zone), Zona Oeste (West Zone) and Zona Norte (North Zone). Each district is made up of different barrios, or neighbourhoods. 

Expats have a wide variety of options when it comes to areas and suburbs in Rio de Janeiro. Where an expat chooses to settle will depend on their particular lifestyle, budget and preferences. Factors expats need to consider when deciding on a neighbourhood in Rio include proximity to work and school, safety, and access to public transport and other amenities.

The city is built around spectacular mountains and beaches with pockets of protected forest areas in between. Most expats in Rio live in apartments or condominiums in the more affluent Zona Sul area, which sits along the beachfront and is home to the world-famous neighbourhoods of Ipanema and Copacabana. Barra de Tijuca in the Zona Oeste is also a popular choice for expats in Rio.

Zona Sul


Zona Sul is made up of Rio’s most affluent beachfront barrios. This is the most popular area for expats, including young professionals, singletons and families, to call home. In particular, Leblon, Ipanema and Lagoa are the most sought-after areas.

Accommodation in the Zona Sul is generally in the form of apartments in high-rise buildings. The area is home to many amenities, including shops, restaurants and, of course, Rio’s most famous beaches. The area also offers fantastic nightlife with many bars and clubs dotted around the neighbourhood. These are all generally within walking distance of each other.

Zona Sul is home to some of the most popular tourist attractions in Rio. It can become quite congested and noisy, but it offers a great environment for those wanting to experience the beauty and beach lifestyle that Rio is famous for. That said, tourists also attract pickpockets and beggars, so expats should keep a close eye on their possessions when walking in the area. 

Zona Oeste

Barra de Tijuca

Located northwest along the coast from the Zona Sul, the Zona Oeste is a popular district with expats, particularly Barra de Tijuca (often just referred to as Barra). Home to pristine beaches and beachfront properties, Barra has been nicknamed the 'Miami of Rio'. Most accommodation is in the form of spacious apartments in high-rise buildings, but expats will also find larger houses, some even with gardens and swimming pools. Barra also offers plenty of entertainment options for expats, with restaurants, shops and bars lining the streets.

Although the district is considered safe, several favelas have developed in and around the Zona Oeste. The area is also quite a bit further out and not well served by public transport. Expats living in the Zona Oeste are therefore likely to need a car. Many expats are fortunate enough to have their place of work within a short distance from home in Barra, as a number of multinational companies have a presence in the area. 


Centro, Rio

Centro is Rio’s city centre and commercial heart. The area is a mix of old and new where colonial architecture is seen sitting alongside modern skyscrapers. Major corporate and financial headquarters are housed in Centro. This area is likely to be where most expats work. 

Though not traditionally the area of choice to live in, some parts of Centro have experienced a revival in recent years with some popular nightlife options popping up. In areas such as Lapa, many clubs, bars and restaurants dot the streets. The area is also home to many of Rio’s historical buildings and museums, making it popular with tourists.

It’s relatively easy to get around Centro as it's well connected by public transport, with the metro system travelling around the area. Buses also provide a convenient means of transport.

Healthcare in Rio de Janeiro

Healthcare in Rio de Janeiro is available in the form of both public and private facilities. Although expats living in Brazil with permanent residency status are able to access free public healthcare, most opt for healthcare at private institutions. This is largely due to the poor quality of the public health system. 

Private healthcare in Brazil is among the most expensive in Latin America, so it’s essential for expats living in Rio de Janeiro to have comprehensive health insurance. Expats moving to Rio as part of a corporate relocation package often have their health insurance costs covered by their employer.

The standards of private health facilities in Rio are generally high. The city even has a reputation as a medical tourist hotspot, particularly in the field of cosmetic surgery. Many private institutions offer special sections for international patients with English-speaking staff. 

Hospitals in Rio de Janeiro

Barra D’or Hospital
Address: Avenida Ayrton Senna, 3079, Barra da Tijuca

Galdino Campos Clinic
Address: Avenida Nossa Senhora de Copacabana, 492, Copacabana

Hospital Copa D’or
Address: Rua Figueiredo de Magalhães, 875, Copacabana

Hospital Samaritano
Address: Rua Bambina, 98, Botafogo

Casa de Saúde São José
Address: Rua Macedo Sobrinho, 21, Humaitá

Quinta D’or Hospital
Address: Rua Alm. Baltazar, 435, São Cristóvão

Education and Schools in Rio de Janeiro

Despite concerted efforts by the local government, public education and schools in Rio de Janeiro face high exam failure and dropout rates. For this reason, as well as the fact that classes in Rio's public schools are taught in Portuguese, the majority of expats living in Rio de Janeiro choose to send their children to private or international schools. 

Public schools in Rio de Janeiro

Education at public schools in Rio de Janeiro is free to all children. This includes foreign children resident in the city. All public schools are managed by the local municipality. There is a standard curriculum followed across all institutions, with classes being taught in Portuguese.

The standard of education at Brazilian public schools remains low. Schools often have issues involving overcrowding and shortages of materials and teaching staff. Due to the demand for space, and to accommodate the high number of students, Rio schools often run three separate school sessions per day: in the morning, afternoon and evening. Children will attend one session per day. Occasionally, private schools in Rio may also follow this pattern. 

Private schools in Rio de Janeiro

Private schools in Rio de Janeiro generally follow the Brazilian national curriculum. Some private schools have a religious foundation (predominantly Catholic), while others offer bilingual instruction. 

Some expats choose to send their children to these schools due to the improved quality of education compared to public schools and lower fees compared to international schools. However, as classes are predominantly taught in Portuguese, children must have at least some proficiency in the language. 

International schools in Rio de Janeiro

There are a few international schools in Rio de Janeiro, which follow a variety of international curricula. The majority of these schools adhere to the British and American systems and are usually sponsored in some way by their home governments. Some international schools in Rio are locally run and offer the Brazilian curriculum. Many of these schools also offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma.

The demand for places at international schools is high. So, parents are advised to begin the application process as soon as possible. Parents should also note that fees at international schools in Rio de Janeiro can be exorbitant. It’s therefore vital that anyone moving to Rio with school-aged children ensure that they factor this in when negotiating their relocation contract. 

On top of the high fees, other expenses may include textbooks and stationery, extra-curricular activities, uniforms and school lunches.

Special-needs education in Rio de Janeiro

As is the case in the country as a whole, there are limited state-supplied resources for children with special needs in Rio. Any such services that do exist are in Portuguese. Private and international schools may have more support available, though this does vary from school to school. Parents are advised to research options thoroughly to ensure their children will be well catered for.

Tutors in Rio de Janeiro

There are countless tutors and tutor companies to choose from in Rio. Expats and locals alike can benefit in many ways from hiring a tutor. For example, even those who have some knowledge of European Portuguese may not find it as easy to pick up Brazilian Portuguese as they expected. In these cases, a tutor is an ideal way to bridge the gap.

For students, tutors can help prepare for big exams, adjust to their new curriculum, tackle a problem subject, learn Portuguese, or maintain fluency in their mother tongue.

International Schools in Rio de Janeiro

International schools in Rio de Janeiro are the ideal choice for many expat families. The familiar language and curriculum that international schools offer, along with the generally high standards, give parents peace of mind that their children are given the best environment possible to adjust to life in Brazil.

Most international schools in Rio de Janeiro follow the British curriculum, including IGCSE and A-levels, or the American curriculum. Many international schools also offer the International Baccalaureate, which is well respected and taught around the world, potentially making future school transfers easier.

Here is a list of recommended international schools in Rio de Janeiro.

International schools in Rio de Janeiro

Escola Americana of Rio de Janeiro

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American, International Baccalaureate and Brazilian
Ages: 3 to 18

British School of Rio de Janeiro

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE, International Baccalaureate and Brazilian
Ages: 2 to 18

Deutsche Schule Rio de Janeiro

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: German and Brazilian
Ages: 3 to 18

Lycée Molière de Rio de Janeiro

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: French
Ages: 3 to 18

Swiss International School Brazil

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate and Brazilian
Ages: 3 to 18

Lifestyle in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is a melting pot of cultures, traditions and ethnicities. Not only is it a major commercial hub, it is also the country’s entertainment capital. Cariocas work hard, but they also take plenty of time out to enjoy the sweeter things in life. The city offers plenty of options when it comes to shopping, eating out and nightlife.

Shopping in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is a dream come true for shopaholics. The city offers a diverse range of shopping options. From large American-style malls to bohemian shopping districts and flea markets, Rio has something to fit the needs and budget of any shopper.

The malls in Rio offer many world-famous brands, as well as cinemas and food courts making them perfect for family outings. On the other hand, boutique shops like Constança Basto sell high-fashion items. The affluent Zona Sul offers many famous international brands and glitzy boutiques. The Zona Oeste is a shopper's dream with several large malls scattered across the district.

Those who want to avoid malls will find that the city also offers a few markets worth visiting. Rua Lavradio in Lapa and Feira do Rio Antigo markets are great options for antiques, art, and music lovers, while Feira de Sao Cristovão offers stalls selling food, drinks and household products.

Centro offers a more eclectic mix of old and new, with a variety of clothing, book and antique stores on offer.

Eating out in Rio de Janeiro

From fast-food joints to five-star establishments, Rio de Janeiro's vibrant restaurant scene has a range of different types of foods on offer. With wide stretches of beachside restaurants, al fresco dining is popular in Rio. This is particularly evident in Copacabana, Ipanema and Barra, which are home to some of the best restaurants and snack bars in Rio.

Brazilians typically eat a light breakfast. Pao de queijo, a stuffed bread roll made from tapioca flour and filled with melted cheese, is a popular breakfast food that can be found across the city. Lunch and dinner are usually heavier meals that are eaten with the family. Feijoada, a bean and pork stew, is the best known regional dish from Rio de Janeiro. The city also has several restaurants that offer international cuisine from countries such as France, Japan, Lebanon and Argentina, among others.

A 10 percent gratuity (gorjeta) is automatically included on the bill. There is therefore no need to tip any further than that amount.

Nightlife and entertainment in Rio de Janeiro

Cariocas are famous for their love of partying, and Rio certainly offers a diverse and exciting nightlife. Popular nightlife spots are spread out across the city. Ipanema and Leblon are two of the popular tourist hubs in Rio and have some of the city’s most famous nightlife. Lapa is also a popular nightlife spot with the young crowd, with a variety of clubs, bars and restaurants and a diverse range of music and dance styles to choose from. Barra da Tijuca in the Zona Oeste also has many interesting restaurants and bars to explore.

Rio is the home of samba. Many clubs offer live music and samba dance classes. There are also many samba schools across the city that offer lessons. Learning this traditional style of dance is a great way for expats to immerse themselves in the Brazilian culture.

Brazilians are not known for their punctuality, and meeting times are often loose arrangements. The party can start early, but it's also not unusual to eat dinner at 10pm and then head out to dance after midnight.

Sports and outdoor activities in Rio de Janeiro

With some of the most stunning beaches and landscapes in the world right on their doorstep, Cariocas always find time to enjoy some fun in the sun. Locals enjoy an active lifestyle and spend much of their time outdoors enjoying leisure activities, including cycling, jogging and beach volleyball.

Brazilians love football (soccer) and enjoy meeting with friends and family to watch their favourite team play. The city is home to the Maracanã Stadium, one of the world’s largest football stadiums. Watching a live game here is always a thrilling experience.

Cycling is a popular activity in Rio, particularly along the beachfront. The city has worked to encourage cyclists by building an extensive network of dedicated bike lanes.

See and Do in Rio de Janeiro

Expats living in Rio de Janeiro will discover a wealth of things to see and do. The city's abundance of natural splendour and manmade wonders puts expats in a perfect position to enjoy all sorts of attractions, from beaches and restaurants to mountains and iconic statues. 

Attractions in Rio de Janeiro

Christ the Redeemer

Undoubtedly one of Brazil's most famous landmarks, the towering statue of Christ the Redeemer was proclaimed one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. Thanks to the statue's mountaintop position, its silhouette can be seen throughout most of the city. Nevertheless, it's well worth the trip up Corcovado Mountain to experience the true scale of this awe-inspiring statue up close.

Sugarloaf Mountain

The magnificent panoramic views from atop Sugarloaf Mountain are unrivalled. Glass-walled cablecars transport visitors to the peak of Sugarloaf Mountain every 20 minutes. Although the ascent takes just three minutes, the cable car ride alone affords gorgeous views of the city.

Copacabana and Ipanema

Copacabana Beach is one of the world's most famous and most beautiful beaches. A promenade runs alongside the glittering white sand, which is lined with restaurants, bars and nightclubs waiting to be explored. There is also an annual New Year's Eve party that promises a spectacular night of fireworks and concerts.

Meanwhile, Ipanema is the place to see and be seen, well known as a playground for the rich and famous. One of the wealthiest areas in all of Rio, the beach of Ipanema is an excellent spot for surfing and lounging in the sun.

Maracanã Stadium

The Maracanã Stadium has a capacity of nearly 80,000 and is one of the best ways to experience Brazilian sports culture. Local football teams regularly play matches at this stadium. It has also played host to worldwide events, including Olympic and FIFA World Cup events.

Escadaria Selarón

Also known as the Selarón Steps, this staircase of over 200 steps is covered in tiles, mirrors and ceramics of blue, green and yellow to create a mosaic effect. Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón created the mosaic and considered it his tribute to the Brazilian people.

Jardim Botânico

Rio's botanical gardens are a refreshing respite from bustling city life. Nature lovers will enjoy being in among the thousands of different species of plants and trees in the garden. There are also 140 species of birds, most of which are used to humans and can be observed at close range.

What's On in Rio de Janeiro

With a vibrant and colourful population that loves to party, and a city credited as the ‘carnival capital of the world’, there are plenty of exciting yearly festivals and events in Rio de Janeiro for expats to enjoy. 

Annual events in Rio de Janeiro

Carnival (February)

By far the most well-known and largest event in the city, and indeed in the country, is the Rio Carnival which attracts 2 million attendees per day. The event takes place over the four days before Lent and sees thousands of dancers and performers on floats paraded through the streets of Rio. Parties are held throughout the four days with live music, dancing and partying on the streets.

June Bonfire Festival (June)

The June Bonfire Festival (known locally as Festa Junina) is a traditional festival to honour St John. Celebrations are held in churches and city squares with the lighting of bonfires and people dancing, singing and playing games.

Rio de Janeiro Marathon (June)

This annual marathon through the streets of Rio attracts thousands of participants and their supporters. Cheered on by sideline spectators, runners get to enjoy what is widely known as one of the most beautiful marathons in the world, set alongside beaches and mountains.

Independence Day (September)

Brazilians celebrate their country’s independence from Portugal with much fanfare on 7 September. The day is a public holiday and parades are held on Rio’s streets, culminating in fireworks displays in the evening. It’s a time for the locals to celebrate their country and demonstrate their patriotism by hoisting Brazilian flags throughout the city.

Gay Pride March (September/October)

Rio de Janeiro’s Gay Pride March takes place along Copacabana Beach. Visitors will experience an atmosphere similar to Carnival. On this day the city is filled with music and samba. Parade-goers dance and celebrate until the early hours of the next day each year. There are also mini parades that take place simultaneously in other neighbourhoods of Rio.

Rio International Film Festival (September/October)

The city hosts an annual film festival where hundreds of feature and short films, and documentaries are screened at venues throughout the city. The festival is also accompanied by numerous parties and music events.

New Year's Eve Celebrations (December/January)

The famous Copacabana Beach plays host to New Year's Eve celebrations each year. The city comes alive with concerts, parties and lights, not to mention a huge fireworks display on the beach.

Getting Around in Rio de Janeiro

Despite the sprawling and chaotic nature of the city, getting around in Rio de Janeiro is relatively easy. There are several transport options, including buses, ferries and the metro, which are all part of an integrated transit system. Taxis are also prevalent in the city. 

Public transport in Rio de Janeiro


Rio has an established metro system, known as the Metro Rio. This is the easiest and safest way of getting around the city. The metro is generally safe and clean, although care should be taken if using it at night. Like in any other city, it can be crowded during rush hours. Tickets can be purchased at a metro station, and there is a rechargeable travel card available for frequent commuters.

The Metro offers buses called Metro na Superfície in the areas that aren't covered by its network.


Buses connect most of the city and are an inexpensive and convenient means of getting around. Buses are privately operated, so services and costs will vary. Buses travel along set routes around the city, usually sticking to the main roads, with the destination displayed on the front of the bus.

Despite their convenience, buses are often overcrowded and robberies and muggings can occur. Expats should keep an eye on their belongings at all times. Travelling on buses at night is not recommended. 


Regular ferry services run between Rio and Niterói on the other side of Guanabara Bay. It’s not uncommon for people to live in Niterói and commute to work in Rio by ferry on a daily basis. Most ferries operate during the week, with reduced services on weekends. 

Taxis in Rio de Janeiro

Taxis are the safest mode of transportation in Rio at night. They're plentiful in Rio and can easily be hailed off the street. They often congregate around major hotels and at taxi ranks in the city. Most taxi drivers are likely to only speak Portuguese, and expats should have their destination written down on paper. 

Most taxis are metered, but drivers may quote a fixed price for certain destinations. Expats should clarify the fare before getting in the vehicle. Licensed taxis are usually painted yellow. There are also some independent, unlicensed taxi operators. Expats should be cautious of illegitimate operators.

The popular ride-hailing service Uber is available in Rio de Janeiro. It is generally considered safer than regular taxis and the fares may be cheaper. Taxis can be hailed via the Uber application for smartphones.

Driving in Rio de Janeiro

Owing to Rio’s extensive public transport network, expats don't need to have a car. Many expats still choose to purchase or rent a vehicle for the sake of convenience, especially if wanting to explore areas outside the metropolitan region.

Initially, a national driver's licence from their own country or an international driver's licence should suffice, but expats who want to drive in Rio in the long term will need to have a Brazilian driver's licence..

Traffic can be nightmarish in Rio, particularly during peak times. Cariocas are also known for their aggressive driving. Parking can be a major frustration for those driving in Rio. There is also a risk of robbery and carjacking. Expats should take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.

Cycling in Rio de Janeiro

Cycling is a popular means of getting around Rio. The city has worked to encourage cyclists by building an extensive network of dedicated cycle lanes, particularly around the many beaches and popular tourist areas.

Bicycle racks can be found across Rio. The government has also made a shared bike rental programme, Bike Rio, available. Daily or monthly passes can be bought online or through an application that can be downloaded to any smartphone.

Walking in Rio de Janeiro

Although many of Rio’s tourist areas are easily navigated on foot, expats should be cautious due to the risk of mugging. Walking in any area late at night is not recommended.