Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

Brazil Adventures in Travel

Rio de Janeiro, or January River, is a very poetic name for a city with more than 200 rivers running through it. But which river does it refer to? Well, the answer is: none of them. It was in January 1502 that Portuguese explorer Gaspar de Lemos first arrived in Rio. Legend has it that Lemos was sailing through Guanabara Bay when he came up with the name for the city, mistaking the bay as the mouth of a big river.

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Once arriving in Rio de Janeiro and checking in to your hotel, spend your day relaxing on some of the most famous beaches in the world! Stroll down Copacabana’s vibrant promenade before settling in on the gorgeous beach of Ipanema. Pull up a stretch of golden sand and spend your afternoon bathing in the warm Brazilian sun. In the evening, head to Arpoador at the far end of Ipanema to watch the sun set over the ocean before returning to your hotel for a night of rest.

Before Carnival officially starts at midnight, stroll around Rio’s downtown Centro area to discover its abundance of unique colonial architecture and rich, complex history. Stop for photos at the iconic Escadaria Selarón steps and join one of the city’s many street parties, or blacos, as offices and government buildings begin shutting down for the coming days of celebration.

The second day of Carnival is when things really start to get fun! Hop from one blaco to another, with festivities taking place from Recreio to Zona Norte, and every street in between. Choose a few areas of town to experience each neighborhood’s individual party style and flavor. When evening falls, dance the night away in one of Rio’s famous Carnival Gala Balls.

After sleeping in and starting your day with a late brunch, head to the Sambodromo, the massive stadium built in 1984 specifically to host the annual Samba Schools Parade during Carnival. Marvel at the grandeur and glamour of the city’s most spectacular Carnival parade, showcasing the incredible talent of Rio’s top samba schools. In the evening, board a cable car to travel up Sugarloaf Mountain for views of the incredible Guanabara Bay.

After several days of celebration, you’ll welcome another day of rest and relaxation on the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. Grab a beach chair, umbrella and a cool beverage and soak up the sun and festive spirits of Carnival from the sand. In the evening, set out on a boat tour of Guanabara Bay to enjoy views of famous landmarks like Sugarloaf Mountain, Niteroi and the Museum of Contemporary Art from the water.

No trip to Rio de Janeiro would be complete without hiking the city’s popular mountain trails for views of the picturesque city. Put on your walking shoes, grab your camera and head out to explore a few of Rio’s best hiking trails in Tijuca National Park. First make a short trek to Vista Chinesa, a bamboo gazebo that offers vast views of the south part of Rio. Continue to Mesa de Imperador and the summit of Pico da Tijuca for more panoramic views of the city. Before you head back to the Carnival festivities, venture to Corcovado Hill for an up close view of the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue as well as some of the very best views of Rio. For the last night of Carnival, head to the “Terreirão do Samba” (Samba Land) for a final night of live music, food and fun.

After breakfast, spend some time grabbing last minute photos and souvenirs before you head to the airport for your return flight home.

é hora de comemorar!!

With world-famous nightlife, stunning golden beaches and thriving urban culture, Rio de Janeiro is a feast for the senses all year round, but it’s during Rio’s Carnival that you’ll see the city truly come alive. Carnival began as a food festival, preparing for a period of frugality starting on the Catholic holiday of Ash Wednesday, and has morphed into one of the most celebrated parties on the planet. For five days Rio’s streets buzz nonstop with music and dancing and incredible food and drinks. Experiencing the excitement and energy of Carnival is something you will never forget!


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