Talking about Rio de Janeiro is talking about beaches, sun, sea and a vibrating street life. Now try to imagine Rio de Janeiro without sun. That is a lot harder. But once in a while it happens, even in the Marvelous City, that everything is covered in clouds and rain takes away the outdoor life. It’s not a great combination, in fact rain and traveling never is. But what to do when your luck runs out and you have to get to know in the rain in Rio de Janeiro? Don’t worry; the city still has a lot to offer.
The heavy rains in Rio normally fall from December to March. Exactly when it is high season in Rio de Janeiro. But these showers usually start at the end of the day, enough time for the beach and other outdoor activities. During June and September, it is drier and cooler, but most of the wet days are in April and May or October and November. Just for your info, cariocas hate rain. They disappear from the streets with the slightest drop of rain. But with an umbrella and a rain coat, it’s easy to conquer the weather conditions and still enjoy the city.
There are great museums in Rio de Janeiro, two of which are located at the Mauá square (Praça Mauá). You have the MAR (Rio Art Museum), one of our favorites. Beside interesting exhibitions, the roof terrace of the museum offers an awesome view of the Guanabara Bay. Across the square, you’ll find the new highlight of the city in the Museum of Tomorrow (Museu do Amanhã), a futuristic building designed by the famous Catalan architect Santiago Calatrava. It’s an eco-friendly museum that makes use of solar energy. On Tuesday entrance is free.
When you are at the Museum of Tomorrow at Praça Maua, the aquarium AquaRio is also a nice option to visit, especially with kids. It is the biggest sea aquarium in South America with over 8.000 animals. Get eye to eye with big sharks, colorful fish and turtles. Learn about the biology and preservation of marine life and pay a visit to the surf museum that’s also located in the same building. Dare devils can even take a dive in the big tank and swim with the sharks.
Rain in Rio de Janeiro: visit the old city center
One thing you really need to do with rain in Rio de Janeiro, is an extended visit to the old city center, since there are a lot of interesting things to see. From a stop at Confeitaria Colombo, a classic Portuguese style bar-restaurant, which has been around since the late 19th century, to the nearby Theatro Municipal and the National Library on Cinelândia square. They have daily tours in English. A must do stop is at the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, an old library that has around 300 thousand books of Portuguese writers and has the biggest archive of Portuguese literature outside of Portugal. The modern Catedral Metropolitano is also worth a quick look, considering it is just a few blocks away.
There are also many old churches in Rio de Janeiro worth visiting. Here we put together a list of the 5 most beautiful churches in Rio de Janeiro. Awe yourself with the beautiful architecture of the churches and the pieces of art hidden within them. And while there, you might want to say a little prayer for the sun to return.
Other alternatives: Maracanã stadium
Brazil is a religious country. But the biggest ‘religion’ might be futebol. There is no other country in the world where people are so passionate about football. Men, women, young and old, everybody supports a team. A must see for football lovers is the famous Maracanã stadium. This legendary stadium was the venue for the World Cup finals of 1950 and 2014 and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. You can take tours through the stadium and sports museum or, of course, visit a football match.
Another alternative is the Feira Nordestina, also known as Feira de São Cristóvão. A market, housed in a partly covered partly stadium-like building. This is the heart of the Northeast of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, a cultural mix of natives, the African slaves and Portuguese colonists. You will find lots of small shops and restaurants with local products and food from this region. Besides that there are stages with live music shows and a lot of little Karaoke Bars, which are a favorite spot for cariocas to celebrate their birthday. In the weekends it’s opened for more than 48 hours in a row, from Friday evening to Sunday evening.
To finish the day, it is a great idea to see the neighborhood Lapa and check out one of the samba clubs. There are lots of them, but Carioca da Gema and Rio Scenarium are the most famous ones. Rain, of course, is never fun, but if you are a bit creative, it can be really fun to be Rio de Janeiro on a wet, cloudy day. And many times the rain only lasts one hour. Perfect to take a break and await the rain with a good coffee. Check out our insiders tips for the best coffee shops and bakeries in Rio.