How to enjoy Rio de Janeiro safely

Been the destination of more than 45% of the foreigner tourists who come to Brazil, it is more than clear that Rio de Janeiro is the favorite Brazilian destination for those coming to visit the country.

Home of Brazilian postcards like Cristo Redentor and Pão de Açucar, Rio is a must for any traveller or tourist. However, some security measures are necessary to make sure you will be able to enjoy your trip and not get a headache instead.

Although Rio is an amazing destination, it doesn’t prevent it from being a dangerous one, unfortunately. And as a Brazilian I think it is a duty to give some Brazilian tips for those who are willing to come visit it.

How to enjoy Rio de Janeiro safely

Don’t walk around holding your phone

I know it is a pretty normal thing to do, sometimes you need to call someone, or check something on your phone like a map or something like that, but avoid playing with your phone on the streets. Stealing phone from people on the street is the most common crime we have here. If you feel the need to check your phone, look for a store, supermarket or mall to get in so you can check it.

Don’t wear jewelry/watches

Wearing jewelry or watches in the streets of Rio is a big NO.  Don’t wear gold, gems, big watches, nothing valuable. To be honest, it is good to avoid accessories even if they are fake, after all, not everybody knows the difference between original and fake gold.

Wear discreet clothes

I recommend you not to walk around the city wearing brand clothes. Try to be discreet, wear one color clothes, normal ones, don’t try to be fancy if you are not planning to lose your clothes in the middle of your trip. Pick simple shoes, don’t take your Nike shoes for a walk there. It is fine if you are going for a dinner or something, but definitely don’t take your fancy clothes as an uniform for Rio.

Admire Largo da Lapa from a safe distance

Largo da Lapa is the place in Rio de Janeiro, where you find that famous aqueduct. Really nice, from a certain distance. Unfortunately it is not a safe zone, in one side you will find nice pubs and many policemen on the street, you can definitely sit there and have some drink. But don’t get to far from the pubs area. It is a dangerous place where many thieves stay.

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Take the van to climb Cristo Redentor

There are two ways to climb the Cristo. First is by the stairs, second is taking a van. Although it can sound fun to climb the stairs, it is not the safest way, unfortunately there are many reports of people being robbed in the stairs, so in order to avoid it. Take the van.

South Zone and Central Zone

The best zones in Rio are the South Zone and Central Zone, the South Zone is where you gonna find the best beaches like Ipanema, Copacabana and Leblon. It is relatively calm and safe part of the city, there are many hotels in both areas where you can stay. Not a reason to don’t have cautions though.

Avoid going out after 7pm or measure where you are going at night

I know it is inevitable to don’t go out at night sometimes, as we all have to have dinner, also there are some activities that is better to be done at night etc. But if you can avoid it, please do. During the night it tends to be more dangerous. If you do get out during the night, measure where you are going, and try to take a taxi.

Avoid bringing valuable things to the beach

I know that going to the beach is about relaxing yourself, drinking some coconut water and free your mind from worries, but it is always good to take precautions to make sure you will really free your mind. Don’t bring valuable things like expensive gadgets to the beach, don’t bring a million dollars either. Try to bring the essential. If you are in a group, why bringing everybody phones and cameras? Bring one or two instead. Why bringing your whole wallet full of dollar? Bring a credit card for lunch perhaps and some few papers for water and ice cream. Also don’t leave your belonging alone in the sand while everybody goes swimming.

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Pay attention at your sides

When walking on the streets look at your sides and back, pay attention who is around you. I’m not seeing to raise doubts about every single being that comes close to you. But pay attention and watch out. If something doesn’t seem right, or if you start questioning someone action, try to get inside the next shop you see and wait for this person to pass or stop in the street, pretend you are just taking a break and wait for the person to pass by.

All these tips are not made to discourage you from going to Rio de Janeiro. It is one of the most important cities in Latin America and one of the most famous cities in the world. What you gonna see here, you will not see anywhere else in the world.

These tips, is to make people aware that unfortunately reality hits hard. It is a beautiful place but should be taken with cautions. Unfortunately Brazil is still a Third World Country and reading these you get an idea of why we have this title. I know how things are in Europe for example, how safe people few and how confident they walk on the street playing with their valuable belonging, so it is my duty to let people aware and remember that Latin America is not Europe.

Also, it is important to note that most of these tips don’t apply to Rio de Janeiro only but also to São Paulo, Bahia and most parts of Brazil as well as many Latin America countries from Argentine to Mexico.

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48 Comments

  • Though Rio is a well-known destination, there are much news about the hidden dangers in this city. This article provides a lot of information and tips for travellers.

  • I loved Rio when I visited and had no problems luckily. I got the train up to Christ the Redeemer though some friends walked and had no problem. I even went to a nightclub in the favelas overlooking impanema beach, was an amazing experience watching sunrise from someones roof.

  • This is a great post, I think a lot of these suggesting can also apply to any travelers. Always best to keep your eyes out and be smart about what you show off. Thanks for the tips.

  • There are some very important points here about safety whilst visiting Rio. I agree with your points and following these should make Rio safe. I didn’t know about the possibility of being robbed on the stairs on the way up to Christ the Redeemer, this is good information to know before visiting.

  • What a useful post, so helpful to understand all the issues you might come across when you’re travelling. So many people use Google Maps on their phone now too so make them an easier target

  • Very useful, I am traveling to Brazil for work next month, and planned to do a little solo travel (Sao Paulo and Rio). I knew it could be bad for petty crime but not this bad! I’ve seen videos of people stealing phones from people sitting in a bus, which is total madness. I will think twice about what items I take with me…

    • Yeah, I had spent a good amount of time in Sao Paulo and tbh never saw anything bad happening, thanks God, but it is always important to be careful! Don’t bring valuable things with you.

  • LOVE this post! I have always wanted to go to Rio (haven’t yet but will one day !) and so many people have tried to deter me saying how unsafe it is.
    I think you can almost always visit a destination safely as long as you do your research and have tips like these 🙂

  • This article is really good, thank you. I very much want to visit Brazil, especially Rio, so I will keep all these things in mind. I assume it might be a little tricky if you bring a camera that you want to take lots of pictures with as that makes you a target too? Any tips for dealing with that?

    • To be honest, many thieves just wait for the perfect tourist kind of person, and a camera does make you look like a tourist kind od person. I would suggest you to bring the camera in your bag the whole way, and only take it of in the place you want to shoot, also I wouold suggest you to don’t go alone if it is possible and avoid going to a calm place, try to stay close to other people in case you need help.
      All these tips sound like too much, but believe me it is not, I’m a Brazilian and I can assure you that every Brazilian does all these things. 🙂

  • Thanks for your concern for us who is also dreaming to travel to Brazil…

    I’ll take your advice to take a van going to the Cristo Redentor for a reason to avoid muscle strain 🙂 But I would love to use the stairs going down…

  • I absolutely loved Rio when I visited, but you are right to encourage people to take precautions. I didn’t know that stealing people’s cell phones was so common because I never experienced that. I mostly stayed in tourist areas and was very careful to always be safe. And it’s lucky that it’s pretty easy to get a cab in Rio at night.

  • Rio is a well-known tourist destination in the world. I don’t understand why Brazil’s government and tourism are not taking serious action to protect the city. Thanks for sharing the great tips with us!

    • Hey Ana I saw your comment and thought this might help: From what I’ve heard reading newspapers and speaking to people in Rio, Rio (the city and the state) is in serious debt. This means a lot of people that work for the government are being paid very late or not at all. This might be why they don’t have enough money to put towards helping make it safer. It’s such a shame because it’s a beautiful city but hopefully with time things will improve again 🙂

      is that the government corruption got really crazy again last year

      • To be honest with you, Rio is unsafe since always. The crises just made it worst, because now the government really doesnt have money to invest in scurity. But before all this crises the situation was pretty much the same, we even had a Civil war some years ago in Rio. There are many things involved in this, some that I can quote are the Organized Crime and Militia involvement. So the problem in Rio is very complex and there is no solution in a near future

        • Yeah I guess it’s always had a reputation for being unsafe. I just remember a few years ago there was a much heavier police presence (particularly around Lapa) and there were less people sleeping on the streets. Maybe it was just my perception… There’s no solution in the world anywhere in the world with these types of governments are there? We need to try and create our own communities and support each other as much as possible in these difficult times.
          Interesting discussion guys 🙂

          • Thats so true!! Unfortunately this is viral! But indeed after this crises we feel that the number of police men on the streets decreased. I just hope that someday the government will realise how valuable Rio is for us and will start focusing in making it a better place!

  • I love Rio. This is asmall caution I have to offer from way back in 1967 on Copacabana Beach: I was on the beach in August, 50 years ago, with two fellow Canadian CUSO teacher travellers, George and Ian, and was writing a letter to my girlfriend in Trinidad, where I taught from 1967-1967. My friends were talking to two pretty Brasileiras who were passing. Something like Jobim’s Girl from Ipanema… Then George exclaimed, “My pants are gone!” His wallet was in them… To add insult to injury, he couldn’t take the bus back to our “hotel” because they wouldn’t let him on. He was not wearing long pants! Ian and I laughed … a little – OK, maybe a lot. I hope you can now get on a bus in Rio without long pants. My caution: make sure your pants are on, or at least in your hand, while you flirt. Thank you for following my blog 🙂 I have described my 1967 trip around South America there too.

    • hahahaha I’m sorry for your friend but I also laughed alot!! Moral of the story: Pants are a very important piece of your outifit! Unfortunately this show how fast things happen in Brazil, and I can assure you that from 1967 to 2017 little has changed regarding this kind of events.

    • hahaha I’m sorry for you friend but I also alot!! Moral of the story: Pants are a really important part of your outfit! Unfortunately it shows how fast things happen in Rio, and I can assure you that from 1967 to 2017 little has changed regarding this kind of event! 🙁

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