We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Jenell, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Jenell is from Canada, and submitted the following report about her trip to Rio de Janeiro. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 2 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Brazilian Portugese, English, Spanish
Costs at Destination: Reasonable (local transportation, dining, tours, events, and attractions)
Reasons to Visit Rio de Janeiro
I am a solo female traveler whose dream was to travel to the New7Wonders of the World. I completed that dream on July 30, 2016. Part of the 7 Wonders is the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil. These are a few notes from my journey to Rio.
International air passengers usually arrive in Rio via the Rio de Janeiro International Airport/Galeão (GIG). Some might enter Brazil via a layover in São Paulo, in which case the entry to Rio is via the domestic airport, Santos Dumont (SDU). Both airports are serviced by the Real Coach Bus: large, blue, air-conditioned and WiFi equipped buses that take passengers to several places in Rio. The ones numbered 2018 head down towards Copacabana and Ipanema, two of the most popular beachside destinations for travelers and tourists. The bus will stop anywhere on its route, just ask the driver. The fare to/from GIG is R$16 and to/from SDU is R$12.
Copacabana Beach, a popular image brought to you by movies and documentaries about Brazil, is a stretch of 4 kilometers offering you a view of Copacabana Fort on the right and of the famed Sugarloaf Mountain on the left. All along the sand there are kiosks where beach chair rentals (R$5) are available and they also sell fruit drinks, water, soda, beer, and margaritas! Bringing your own chair and blankets to lay on is perfectly acceptable as the entire beach is public.
The street that runs parallel to the beach is Avenida Atlantica. This is where a lot of hotels and restaurants are located. Praça do Lido, a small park in Av. Atlantica close to the corner of Av. Princesa Isabel is where you can find the official shuttle vans to Christ the Redeemer Statue. The cost is R$68 and it includes a roundtrip ticket and entry to the monument. There are also other ways to reach the statue, via taxis or a picturesque train ride through Tijuca National Park. The statue, aside from being one of the New7Wonders of the World, also offers fantastic, unbeatable views of Rio from the top.
Also on Av. Atlantica is the Copacabana Palace Hotel, a popular meeting and pick-up place for various tours, including the very educational walking tour of a favela. Do not be afraid: these tours are safe and you are with a local guide who donates a portion of the tour proceeds to the favela community, mainly for education.
The second-best views of Rio can be seen from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, located in Urca. From Copacabana, visitors can take bus 511 and get off at Praca General Tiburcio at Praia Vermelha. From here, a cable car will take you to Morro da Urca where you need to go to another cable car that will take you to the top of Sugarloaf. The cost, including cable cars and entry, is R$83.
There are plenty of other interesting places in Rio: Escadaria Selaron, the colorful steps where Snoop Dogg shot the video for “Beautiful”; Campo de Santana, a park where you can see plenty of capybaras; Pedro de Gavea, a high mountain spot in the Tijuca Forest that takes a little bit of mountain climbing to access; and many others.
A few extra tips:
- Concerned about Zika? Use an effective insect repellent. I used Ben’s 30 and did not get any mosquito bites.
- Concerned about pickpockets and phone thieves? Ensure your valuables are hidden out of sight and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Try to have small Real (R$) bills ready as some vendors will claim not to have change.
- The “official” airport taxis are called Radio Taxi and they are more expensive. You pay the fare inside a booth in the airport and present a receipt to the driver that the man with a radio will direct you to.
- Yellow metered taxis are cheaper, about half the price, just make sure that they are using the meter.
- Traffic in downtown Rio as well as to and from the airport can be intense! Allow at least 2 hours of commute to avoid missing your flight.
- Drinking alcoholic beverages on the public beach is perfectly acceptable.
- Protests from government workers like teachers and even police officers are common as they seem to go weeks or even months before receiving paychecks.
Rio surely has its share of challenges but it was truly one of the most enjoyable places I have ever visited!
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 2 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 2 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)