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Vacation Packages to Rio de Janeiro Brazil Travel Information

Brazil Travel Information and Rio de Janeiro Vacation Packages. Attractions and Tips

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Cheap Flights to Brazil - Brazil Travel Information

Cheap Flights to Brazil > Airlines

American Airlines

Continental Airlines 800-525-0280

Delta Airlines 800-221-1212

Tam Airlines 888-235-9826

Transbrasil Airlines 888-827-2745

United Airlines 800-241-6522

Varig Airlines 800-468-2744

Rio de Janeiro Vacations

Rio de Janeiro

This cidade maravilhosa (marvelous city) is one of the most densely populated places on earth. The thick brew of 7 million cariocas - as the inhabitants are called - thrive on dance, drink, beach, sport and sun. It's a city of Dionysian spirit whose people grab life head-first.

The international tourist crowd take advantage of Rio's ritzy side - there are innumerable opportunities to be decadent. But Rio also has much to offer the budget traveller. There are cheap hotels and restaurants aplenty, and the beach is a free entertainment zone.

Area: 1,170 sq km
Population: 7 million
Country: Brazil
Time Zone: GMT/UTC -3
Telephone Area Code: 021


Rio is divided into a zona norte (north zone) and a zona sul (south zone) by the Serra da Carioca, steep mountains that are part of the Parque Nacional da Tijuca. These mountains descend to the edge of the city center, where the two zones meet.

Rio is definitely a tale of two cities: The upper and middle classes reside in the zona sul, the lower class in the zona norte. Favelas cover steep hillsides on both sides of town - Rocinha, Brazil's largest favela with 150,000 to 300,000 residents, is in Gávea, one of Rio's richest neighborhoods. Most industry is in the zona norte, as is most of the pollution. The ocean beaches are in the zona sul.

When to Go

Rio has a classical tropical climate, so expect some rain. Summer (December to March) is hot with top temperatures ranging from 25°C (77°F) to 40°C (104°F). It can also be dreadfully humid; there are more showers in summer than at other times, but they rarely last long. Winter temperatures range from around 20°C (68°F) to 30°C (86°F), with plenty of good beach days.

Carnaval is often a more important consideration than weather for travelers deciding when to come to Rio. The city is in full party mode, and the excitement on the streets is unsurpassable. However, everyone becomes a little unglued around the time of Carnaval - there are more car accidents than usual, prices are noticeably more expensive and you won't have a moment alone. Still, it is Carnaval.


The streets of Rio go tchica-tchica-bum! when Carnaval comes to town for five heady days that begin at midnight on the Friday before Ash Wednesday. Every year, wealthy and spaced-out foreigners descend on Rio en masse to get drunk, get high, bag some sun and exchange exotic diseases. Dancing, parades, head-dresses and bare breasts are all part of the spectacle.

The four-day Carnival commences on the following dates: March 1 2003; Feb 21 2004; Feb 5 2005.

The Festas Juninas in June is one of the most important folkloric festivals in Brazil. In Rio, it's celebrated in various public squares throughout the month. Music, colorful stalls and a procession into the streets mark the Festa de NS da Glória do Outeiro on August 15. Every Sunday in October, the lively Festa da Penha is one of the largest religious and popular festivals in the city. Not surprisingly, the year ends with a bang on New Year's Eve & Festa de Iemanjá, as millions of people celebrate while tons of fireworks explode in the glittering sky.


Catedral Metropolitana

Work on the ultramodern, cone-shaped Catedral Metropolitana was begun in 1964 and inaugurated in 1976. It's worth stepping inside to see its four huge stained-glass windows. The cathedral is situated behind the Petrobras building and holds 20,000 people.

Other spectacular places of worship include the baroque Igreja São Francisco da Penitencia, overlooking the Largo da Carioca; Nossa Senhora de Candelária, which was built between 1775 and 1894 and was the largest and wealthiest church of imperial Brazil; and Mosteiro de São Bento, one of the finest examples of colonial church architecture in the country.

Centro Cultural do Banco do Brasil (CCBB)

The CCBB is the best cultural centre in the country, as its 120,000 visitors per month will attest. Its world-class facilities include a cinema, two theatres and heaps of exposition space; most of the exhibitions are free. There's a permanent exhibit about the history of money in Brazil. Something is always abuzz in this complex, so flip through the entertainment listings to do some research before your visit.

Next door, the Casa França-Brasil is another cultural centre with diverse exhibitions. It's in an old customshouse dating from 1820 and is considered the most important classical revival building in Brazil.


Going to the beach is a ritual and way of life for the Carioca. People of every colour, class and creed, in all shapes and sizes, congregate waterside. One of the world's most famous beaches, Copacabana, hardly needs any introduction - it's a sensuously spectacular and very crowded spot of sand fronting the ocean and backed by steep hills. It's where skin sizzles and shines, cameras forever flash, money changes hands in a stream and excitement rides through the salty sea air.

Copacabana, so big in concept and fantasy, runs just 4.5km (3mi) along the Atlantic, yet crammed into this narrow strip of land are 25,000 people per sq km, one of the highest population densities in the world. There is always something happening on the beach during the day and along the footpaths at night: drinking, singing, eating and all kinds of people checking out the scene. Tourists watch Brazilians, Brazilians watch tourists; the poor from the favelas eye the rich, while the rich avoid the poor; prostitutes look for tricks and johns look for treats.

Southwest of Copacabana is Arpoador, a small beach with good surfing, even at night when the beach is lit. There's a giant rock that juts out into the ocean where you can enjoy a great view.


Rising straight up from the city to 710m (2330ft), the mountain Corcovado (Hunchback) offers spectacular panoramas of Rio and its surrounds. Its prominent feature is the statue Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer). At night, the brightly lit statue is visible from all over the city. Christ's left arm points toward the zona norte, and Maracanã (see below) is easily visible in the foreground. In front of Christ is Pão de Açúcar, in its classic postcard pose. Choose a clear day to voyage up the mountain, lest you be disappointed.


Ipanema, like the suburb, is Rio's richest and most chic beach. It's less frenzied than Copacabana, as well as safer and cleaner. Different parts of the beach attract different crowds. Garota de Ipanema beach, right off Rua Vinícius de Morais, is also known as the Cemitério dos Elefantes because of the old leftists, hippies and artists who hang out there, but it's also popular with the young and beautiful joint-tokers who come out at sunset.

The beach in front of Rua Farme de Amoedo, also called Land of Marlboro, is the gay beach. Ipanema is an Indian word for 'dangerous, bad waters'. The waves can get big and the undertow is often feisty. Be careful, and swim only where the locals are swimming.


This stadium is Brazil's temple of soccer. It's a giant among coliseums, easily accommodating more than 100,000 at a time. If sports interest you even the littlest bit, or if you just want a new insight into Brazil, then by all means check out a game of futebol here - preferably a championship game or one between local rivals Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense or Botafogo. It can be an intense, quasi-psychedelic experience. The sports museum inside the stadium has photos, posters, cups and uniforms of the greats.

Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

With more than 800 original paintings and sculptures in the collection, this is Rio's best fine arts museum. The most important gallery is the Galeria de Arte Brasileira, with 20th-century classics such as Cândid Portinari's Café. There are also galleries with foreign art (these aren't all that incredible) and contemporary exhibits.

Museu Nacional

This museum and its grand imperial entrance are still stately and imposing, and the view from the balcony to the royal palms is majestic. However, the graffitied buildings and unkempt grounds have suffered since the fall of the monarchy. The park is large and busy, and, because it's on the north side of the city, you'll see a good cross-section of Cariocas. There are many interesting exhibits: dinosaur fossils, sabre-toothed tiger skeletons, beautiful pieces of pre-Columbian ceramics from the littoral and planalto of Peru, a huge meteorite, hundreds of stuffed birds, mammals and fish, gory displays of tropical diseases and exhibits on the peoples of Brazil.

Parque Nacional da Tijuca

Tijuca is all that's left of the tropical jungle that once surrounded Rio de Janeiro. In 15 minutes you can go from the concrete tangle of Copacabana to the 33 sq km (13 sq mi) tropical forest of Parque Nacional da Tijuca.

A more rapid and drastic contrast is hard to imagine. The forest is exuberant green, with beautiful trees, creeks and waterfalls, mountainous terrain and high peaks. It is home to several different species of birds and animals, including iguanas and monkeys. The park also has an excellent trail system, with several good day hikes. The heart of the forest is the beautiful Alto da Boa Vista with several waterfalls (including the 35m/115ft Cascatinha Taunay), peaks and restaurants.

Pão de Açúcar

Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf) is almost too beautiful to be real. Two cable cars lift you 396m (1300ft) above Rio and the Baía de Guanabara. From here, Rio is the most dazzling place in the world. Sunset on a clear day is the best time to make the ascent; as daylight dims, the city lights start to sparkle down below. Avoid going from to and to , when tourist buses begin to herd in. The two-stage cable cars leave about every 30 minutes from Praça General Tibúrcio in Urca.

There are 50 established climbing routes here, and one of the best hikes is up the back side of Pão de Açúcar.


Route - Travel Time (Non-Stop)

6:00 h.

7:00 h.

8:10 h.

8:30 h.

10:08 h.

Los Angeles -São Paulo
11:30 h.


A 90-day tourist visa (five years for US citizens) obtained in advance is required by most visitors to Brazil. Click here to find out more information about the Brazilian embassy and its consulates.

Health risks
Immunization Vaccinations are not required. If intending to visit the the Amazon or Pantanal areas, a vaccination for yellow fever is strongly recommended. The shots last for ten years but it is only effective after 10 days, so plan ahead. It is also a good idea to protect against malaria. Also, don't drink tap water. The water in cities are treated and is heavily chlorinated. For any other concerns, please consult our specialists before departure.

Brazil is a mostly tropical country, although in the south it is temperate and sometimes cool and wet. Most of Brazil's territory lies below the Equator. Temperature varies from the north to the south and from coast to inland.

Brazilian time is Eastern Standard Time (EST) plus 3 hours in the east, northeast, south and southeast; EST plus 2 hours in the west; and EST plus one hour in the far west. Daylight-saving time starts on October (1 hour ahead) and finishes in March (1 hour behind)

Voltage is not standard in Brazil. Some cities are 100V or 127V or 220V. The southeast (Rio and Sao Paulo) tends to use a U.S.-compatible system whereas 220V is more common in the European-oriented south of Brazil. Please, consult your hotel before using any electrical equipment.

International direct call: 00 + country code + area code + phone number
International operator: 000111
Domestic direct call: 0 + area code + phone number
Domestic direct call: 9 + area code + phone number *
*(a recorded message asks you to identify yourself and the city you calling from after the beep)
Local operator: 100
Correct time: 130
Wake-up service: 134

Emergency Numbers
Ambulance - 192
Fire - 193
Police -190

Weights & measurements
The metric system is used throughout Brazil, except in some rural areas where traditional units of measurement are used. Temperature is measured in Celsius.

° F = ((C - 32) x 5) / 9
° C = ((F · 9) / 5) + 32 1 US gallon = 3.79 l
1 liter = 0.26 gallons
1 mile = 1.61 km
1 kilometer = 0.62 miles 1 imperial gallon = 4.55 l
1 liter = 0.22 gallons
1 yard = 0.92 m
1 meter = 1.09 yds 1 pound = 0.45 kg
1 kilogram = 2.22 lb
1 foot = 0.3 m
1 meter = 3.28 ' 1 ounce = 28.35 g
1 gram = 0.035 oz
1 inch = 2.54 cm
1 centimeter = 0.39 "

The currency of Brazil is the real (R$). The real comes in coin denominations of R$1 and 50, 10, 5, and 1 centavos; bank notes of R$1, R$5, R$10, R$50, R$100. Click here for currency images and money exchange

Tipping is not necessary, as most restaurants will include a 10% gratuity on the bill. Don’t tip taxi drivers, except in Rio, where 10% is the norm. Airport and hotel porters should get the equivalent of US $0.75 per bag (1 1/2 Reals).

Business Hours
Offices - Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Banks - Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Government - Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Retail - Weekdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m to 1 p.m;
Shopping centers - from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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