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Posted by on Feb 6, 2012 | 14 comments

Cost of Traveling in Rio de Janeiro

Cost of Traveling in Rio de Janeiro

 

The popularity of some posts surprises me.  Some time ago, I wrote an article expressing my shock once I discovered the high prices in Rio de Janeiro. That piece became one of the most read posts on this blog.

Due to the popularity of that post, I have wanted to write in detail about the traveling costs in the Rio de Janeiro state.  Brazil is a country avoided by a lot of backpackers and travelers.  I want to help people who may be considering a visit soon or in the future.

I am focusing in the state I visited.  Brazil is too big to draw general conclusions based on the visit to one of its regions. Also, take into consideration that the prices expressed in here are applicable to low season.  The price of some goods and services can increase during high season.  And let’s not forget about that wild party Brazilians celebrate once a year: Carnaval.  The prices increase in an exponential (or should I call it catastrophic) way during that time of the year.

All prices are in dollars.

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Rio de Janeiro (The City)

Ipanema with Morro dos Irmaos in the background

 

Accommodations

This is hard to say but it is almost impossible to find a room with a private bathroom for a decent price in the “Marvelous City”.  I stayed in Copacabana for $30 per person per night (a total of $60 for my husband and me).  For $60 a night, I was expecting something nice (not fancy but at least comfortable).  Instead, I ended up in this tiny room with a piece of foam doubling as a mattress and an old air conditioning unit.  My conclusion is that you will need to budget $80 to $100 per night if you want to stay in a comfortable place.  These are bad news for those who are in search of budget options.

For backpackers, dorm prices range from $15 to $35 (more expensive for dorms in Leblon). By default, hotels are more expensive than hostels or private rooms.

Tip: Let me clarify something really important.  When I visited, I stayed in the Zona Sul (Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon).  You may be tempted to stay in parts of the city offering cheaper accommodations (the difference is not that much in my opinion).  In a city like Rio de Janeiro, you have to take into consideration how safe is the area where you are staying.  That is why I highly encourage you to stay in an area far from dangerous neighborhoods (consult a guide if you need).  The beaches are full of police officers, residents and are safe during the day (and even at night).  I have heard the Santa Teresa neighborhood is safe too.

Tip: Try to stay in a place where breakfast and Wi-Fi are included.

 

Transportation

Public transportation is effective and safe. Expect to pay from $1 to $2 to move around the city in a bus.  Small buses (a little bit smaller than a van) can be used to move between the beaches.  They only cost about 50 cents.

The city has a clean and modern Metro service.  Each ride is about $2 (btw, I think this is kind of expensive).  Experts consider taxis to be reasonable priced.  I never used one during my stay.  Consider them if you want to save time.

Tip: Try to use buses during the day or early evening. Always be aware of your surroundings.

Tip: To get from the international airport to the Centro (downtown) or Zona Sul (beaches), you can take a bus that costs $7 per person.  You can use this option to save on taxis.

 

Food

Salgadinhos are the cheapest things to eat around town.  They are deep fried snacks (yucca or flour dough stuffed with different types of meat) found in virtually every corner.  They cost from $ 1 to $2 a piece.  A glass of fruit juice is about $2 (recommended, try as many flavors as possible).  Simple salads and sandwiches run from $5 to $7.  Combine some of these options to form a meal.

A tasty and filling meal (which you will want most of the time) will cost you from $10 to $12.  Fruit stands or simple restaurants serve lunches and dinners consisting of one piece of meat and three side dishes.  In my opinion, this is one of the best values you can get in the city.  Don’t think fast food chains are going to save you money.  Their prices range from $10 to $12 too (shocking, I know) and their food is not as fresh as the one found in local restaurants.

The “comida a kilo” restaurants (where you fill your plate with different goodies and are charged by the weight) do not convince me.  The times I visited, I ended up paying from $12 to $15 and I wasn’t even full.  If you are a light eater, these places might work for you.  Girls with big appetites like me are better off in other establishments.

Be prepared to pay $25 to $50 in a restaurant (way more for fine dining).  Churrasquerias charge $30 to $40 per person.

Tip: Everything sold in the beach if highly overpriced. Walk one block away from the beach if you want to find something more affordable.

Tip: Buy snacks and beverages in supermarkets.  There are a lot of small ones around the beaches.

Tip: Ethnic food can be found at good prices.

Tip: Most bills include the tip.  Check your bill carefully to avoid double tipping.

Tip: Some restaurants charge a fee if there is live music at the moment you are dinning.  This is not disclosed upfront.  Ask before sitting unless you want to pay $6 to $12 for the music.

 

Sightseeing

Christ The Redeemer Statue

 

The good thing about Rio de Janeiro is that most of its attractions can be visited independently.  That fact represents huge savings for the traveler who wants to explore at its own pace.

Here is an example of what you can do:

Walk around the Centro, hit the beach or people watch – Free

Corcovado visit or ride to the top of Pao de Azucar – About $20

The museums, botanical gardens and the Copacabana Fort have very economical entrance fees (about $2).

 

Guided Excursions

Now, things are different if you want to explore Rio on a guided excursion.  Expect to pay $80 to $100 per person for a city tour including Corcovado, Pao de Azucar, the Centro and lunch.  Adventure related activities are also expensive.  A jeep tour around the Tijuca Forest costs about $70 per person and last 4 to 5 hours (it is not even a day tour).  Other activities like hiking, mountain biking, climbing or paragliding are more than $100 (these were out of my budget).

 

Day Trips

Petropolis (to see the Imperial Museum or hiking in the mountains close to the city)

Entrance to Imperial Museum: $6

Bus from Rio de Janeiro to Petropolis: $10

 

Niteroi (to see Oscar Niemeyer’s futuristic Contemporary Art Museum)

Entrance to museum: $2.5

Ferry from Rio de Janeiro to Niteroi: $1.5

 

Paraty

Colonial City

Street of Parati, Brazil

Paraty’s food and transportation costs are comparable to the ones found in Rio de Janeiro.  However, this colonial city offers better accommodation and excursions prices.

In this lovely city, I stayed in a room with private bathroom for $15 per person per night ($30 total for my husband and me).  The surprising thing is that while I paid half of what I paid in Rio for accommodation, the quality of the accommodation increased by a 100%.  I am not exaggerating on this.  I got a big room with a comfortable bed and nice bathroom.  The communal areas offered a lot of amenities, the breakfasts were huge and there was the possibility of booking affordable excursions thru the hostel.  Now that is what I call a decent and charming place to stay.  I talked to several other travelers and they all found the accommodations nicer and of better value than in Rio (even hotels and B&Bs).

Because I couldn’t afford to pay for adventure in Rio, I was really elated when I discovered the prices in Paraty.  One day, I booked a catamaran tour around the islands and hidden beaches of the area for $30 per person (5 hours).  Another day, I booked an excursion to the mountains for $45 per person (this was an entire day trip including entrances to four waterfalls and one hacienda).  I really loved the affordable tour options in Paraty.

 

Ilha Grande

Costs are similar to Paraty.

 

Buzios

This place can be more expensive than Rio de Janeiro.

 

Do you have budget recommendations for the Rio de Janeiro state? Let me know in the comments section below.

 

14 Comments

  1. This is excellent information, Ruth. When I was in Rio a couple years ago we simply ran out of time and limited ourselves to Ipanema & Copacabana. You’re right–everything was exorbitantly priced! I can’t wait to return someday and see the outlying towns & islands.
    Michael Figueiredo recently posted..Reasons to Choose a CruiseMy Profile

  2. Seems like it can get as pricey as Venezuela in some parts. Very good guide to what things cost. Not sure when I’ll get around to Brazil, but it sure does look like a great place to visit. Maybe when my Bolivian visa runs out!
    Mica recently posted..The new Wild Junket Magazine-simply gorgeousMy Profile

    • Well, I don’t often see information about Brazil in blogs (almost none on bacpacker oriented blogs). The price is definetly one of the reasons. Also, US citizens need a visa to enter the country. Actually, I was looking today at some statistics and way more people from the UK and Canada visit South America.
      Ruth recently posted..A Private Tour of Chichen Itza (Part 1)My Profile

    • For me, it is important to stress the importance of staying on the right neighborhood. I think I have mentioned it like in three posts. But this is really, really important.
      Ruth recently posted..A Private Tour of Chichen Itza (Part 1)My Profile

    • Yes, Paraty was a pleasant surprise. And the adventure (at least outdoor) options are affordable. You can spend 4 or 5 days in here with a full itinerary of things to do.
      Ruth recently posted..A Private Tour of Chichen Itza (Part 1)My Profile

  3. I am planning a trip to South America this year and Rio is on my list of possible destinations. Great post Ruth – useful information and good photos!

    Melinda Eliza
    Melinda Eliza recently posted..Truth: Italy Has The Best KnockersMy Profile

  4. Hi Ruth!
    As you know I’ve just been to Rio de Janeiro. I’m on Florianopolis now. Great tips! I would add these two:

    Caipirinhas can cost from 5 reais to 13 reais, and there’s not much difference in terms of quality and quantity. The Skol snack bars on the Copacabana have caipis for 5.

    If you have to take a taxi to the airport, don’t pre-order one at the hotel. It will cost you 90 reais while a normal taxi should cost only around 50.
    Christopher recently posted..Free Photo Friday — FoodMy Profile

  5. I also have to agree that Rio has become incredibly expensive. We were here eight years ago when the real was 6 to 1 to the euro. This time it was just a bit more than 2 to 1.
    Christopher recently posted..Free Photo Friday — FoodMy Profile

  6. The best places to stay with safe in Rio de Janeiro is Ipanema and Leblon. Copacabana is the most famous beach but in the night is not the safest area. In Santa Teresa the best place to stay is at the Largo do Guimarães. Other areas of Santa Teresa you have to be careful like the Selaron Stairs are. The “Lapa” has become a good option for those who like to stay close of the nightlife. Has some good and cheap options like hostels and a new Villa Galle Hotel. Another neighborhood that deserves to be mentioned is Botafogo. The are is close to the beach of Copacabana and the prices are cheaper. In addition the are have all the facilities like transport, supermarkets and shopping. To Visit to Christ the Redeemer my suggestion is to get there when the attraction opens at 08:00 am to escape the big queues. Also Christ offers vans leaving the Largo do Machado area and Copacabana directly to the statue with Tickets and transportation included. My suggestion to everyone if if going to Rio and you want to visit more attractions as possible the Best way is to hire a private guide like not easy to get around in the city where a loto f people don´t talk in english.

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