People traveling to Brazil will discover quickly that it’s not cheap. No worries, it’s not expensive either. But you can’t just compare it with for example countries in Asia, as Thailand or Malaysia. And when in Rio de Janeiro, especially around the popular beaches in the south of the city, you’ll notice that prices are almost at the level of Europe or the United States. So, traveling on a budget in Rio de Janeiro is not easy. But we will give you some ideas to save money.
1. Sugarloaf Mountain on a budget
After Christ Statue probably the most popular place to visit is the Sugarloaf. This can be pretty expensive. The trip with two cable cars, first to the Morro da Urca – at 220 meters – and then to the top of the 400-meter high mountain costs R$80. But, it is possible to walk up the first hill. This will save you R$40 of your budget in Rio and you will have all the time to enjoy the great view of the city. From Praia Vermelha (the Red Beach) you can enter Pista Cláudio Coutinho on the left. After a ten minute walk, you will arrive at the start of the hike. The hike takes around 30-45 minutes and is relatively steep. After you took all your photos and marveled at the view, you take the trail down, ending up having a great view of Rio de Janeiro for free.
2. Two of the best museums for free
Two of the best museums in Rio de Janeiro are the great Museu do Amanhã, designed by the famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and the nearby Rio Museum of Art (MAR). Both located on Praça Mauá. They offer free admission on Tuesdays. Looking for some artistical highlights, this is the thing to do on a Tuesday.
3. Visit free sights
Some of the best sights of Rio are free to visit. Most of them can be found in the city center. The Real Gabinete Português de Leitura is an awesome library, undiscovered by the big public. Very close to each other you have the Arcos da Lapa, the Catedral Metropolitana and the famous colored Stairs of Selarón. Next to Praça Mauá square you can find the impressive street art of Eduardo Kobra, with 3000 square meters the biggest piece of street art in the world. Don’t miss out on the free stuff!
4. Sneak into hotels for great rooftop views
For different views of the city, the rooftops – mostly owned by hotels – are a great option to spent some time to take pictures and hang around. In the lesser known neighborhood of Botafogo, you can get a great look of the Sugarloaf from the top of Botafogo Praia Shopping. For a view of Ipanema, the best options are Fasano or Sofitel Ipanema. In Copacabana, go to the Hilton – located at the beginning of Copacabana – or Pestana. That way you can stay on a budget in Rio de Janeiro.
5. Avoid fancy clubs and their high entrance fees
Instead of paying tens of euros for entrance fees and fancy drinks, a Friday at the famous street party of Pedra do Sal shows you the real Rio de Janeiro, for free! The same can be said for a Saturday night at the Praça São Salvador, where live music attracts hundreds of people. Besides these street parties, there are lots of nice bars with a great vibe to visit. Jobi in Leblon, Canastra in Ipanema (best to visit on a Tuesday), Pavão Azul in Copacabana (try the typical batido de coco) and the bars at Pedra do Leme in Leme.
And last but not least,
6. Go to the beach
The easiest thing to do to save money is, of course, to go to one of the beaches in Rio de Janeiro. With over 100 kilometers of beach coast and around 25 beaches, there is enough to discover. To lower your expenses, get some stuff at the supermarket because as a gringo you will always pay more for drinks and food at the beach then locals. This is a great way to keep yourself on a budget in Rio. Bring enough sun protection and a hat – so you don’t need to rent an umbrella – and a sarong, or canga as it is called in Rio, to sit on the beach instead of paying for a chair.