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Ask Getaway: Plan the Perfect Trip to Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has been a popular vacation destination for countless years. Annually, the “Marvelous City” receives over 2 million international tourists, on top of 5 million domestic travelers. If you’ve never been to Rio, you may still be able to safely visit the city if you plan properly. Officially, the city no longer requires proof of vaccination, but travelers are still encouraged to get fully vaccinated before visiting.
Brazil’s buzzing metropolis is a mix of cultures — including Portuguese, African, European and South American — and millions of people adore Rio’s famous beaches and rich nightlife. Although travel is complicated right now, a trip to Rio de Janeiro is still feasible. So, come with us to Rio as we take a look at need-to-know booking info to must-see attractions and all the content you should delve into pre-trip.
Getting to Rio: Flights & Accommodations
Although traveling to Rio, or anywhere international, might not be on the table right now due to the global rise in Delta variant cases, there’s no harm in doing a little research. More likely than not, two of the biggest items on your checklist will be booking flights and finding a place to stay.
If you’re flying from the United States, you’ll have several options when it comes to airlines. If you’re looking for direct flights, you’ll get those options when flying out of Houston, Miami, Atlanta, and New York City, due to the eastern half of the country’s relatively closer proximity to South America. From the U.S., United, American Airlines and Delta all offer connection-free options. Flying from Europe? Try KLM (Amsterdam), British Airways (London), Air France (Paris), TAP Portugal (Lisbon), Iberia (Madrid) or Lufthansa (Frankfurt).
If you don’t mind a stop over, airlines based in Latin and South America, such as LATAM, offer flights to various locations throughout South America, so if destination-hopping is in the cards for you, check out their offerings. Even now, you can try and save on a future flight by tracking prices on a site like Hopper. Not only is this a great budgeting strategy, but it’s also a solid way to familiarize yourself with flight offerings to Rio in general.
When it comes to finding a place to stay, there are many options, as one might expect given that Rio is a major city and tourist hub. The good news? No matter where you choose to stay during your trip, you’ll be greeted by breathtaking views, from mountains to beaches.
If it’s your first time visiting Rio, the spectacular urban beaches might present the biggest draw. If that’s the case, neighborhoods like Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon are all suited to beach-going. Want something off the beaten path? Try the ever-artsy Santa Teresa. And, if nightlife and bar-hopping are your prime motivations for visiting Rio, you can’t go wrong with a hotel in Botafogo.
Rio also has accommodations for every traveler’s budget. In the infamous Copacabana, for example, you could splurge on a luxurious hotel or take a more budget-friendly approach without sacrificing the beautiful views, airy rooms and other other amenities. For neighborhoods like Santa Teresa, which don’t feel as a immediately tourist-centric, Airbnb, VRBO and other owner-run rentals might be a better fit.
Rio’s Most Breathtaking Vistas
First stop: the iconic Ipanema beach . It’s easy to see why Cariocas (residents of Rio) and tourists flock here. With jaw-dropping views of blue waters and mountains, Ipanema beach offers the picture-perfect backdrop. It’s also the best place to meet friendly Cariocas and watch athletes play football and volleyball in the sand during the day. At night, the beach turns into a huge party, where people socialize and dance all night long.
Now, it’s time to take a trip up Corcovado Mountain to admire the Christ the Redeemer statue . Symbolizing love and redemption, the legendary landmark is an attraction you don’t want to miss. The 98-foot masterpiece was built between 1922 and 1931 on top of a 2,330-foot mountain. Christ the Redeemer stands with open arms, which also represents the welcoming nature of Brazilians.
Another major reason millions of travelers visit Rio is to celebrate Carnival , a colorful street festival with music, dancing and elaborate costumes. Many of the dance routines actually tell a short story. Rio’s celebration is considered the biggest carnival in the world and dates back to the 1640s. Every year, the massive festival takes place before Lent. However, it’s always possible to relive the magic at home. We’re sure these tours must have built up an appetite by now.
Get in a Good Mood with Good Food
There’s nothing like getting to know a city through its food. It’s time to check out traditional Brazilian specialties. The popular coxinha (croquette) is made of shredded chicken meat covered in dough. It’s then deep-fried to golden perfection. Coxinha is a street food that’s easy to eat on the go, and, thankfully, they are also easy to make when you have your own counter-top deep fryer .
Galinhada is another tasty Brazilian dish. Combining chicken, rice and all the best spices, you can create the mouthwatering Galinhada yourself at home. Your stomach will be happy, and your taste buds will be even happier. Watch Elisabete cook the meal and easily translate and grab the recipe from the video’s description. Try not to drool!
A couple of Brazilian drinks you must try are caipirinha and coffee. Caipirinha is the national cocktail that’s made with brown sugar, lime, ice and cachaça (a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice). Brazilian coffee is also a sweet treat, which mixes black coffee (made from freshly ground coffee beans) and tablespoons of sugar. Now that you’re full, let’s explore great films and shows about Rio.
Before You Go
Watching a movie that takes place in a famous city often gives us the travel bug. There’s no doubt that Central Station makes us more curious about Rio. Even better, it gives us a closer look into the lives of Cariocas. The film follows the heartwarming friendship between a young boy, who is searching for his father, and a middle-aged woman, whose life is full of bad luck. Rio landscapes are featured in the 1998 drama film, but, most importantly, it shows the real interactions of Brazilians.
Favelas have a bad reputation for being dangerous. Some travel guides suggest avoiding these areas at all costs. However, others recommend visiting safe favelas to learn about the complex and rich history of the poor communities that make up 25% of Rio. Vox takes us inside favelas and discusses how they were formed. The documentary also covers how art and creativity are growing within these vibrant areas.
Some popular movies have also been filmed in Rio, including the 11th James Bond film, Moonraker (1979). The spy film boasts the city’s incredible Sugarloaf Cable Car in an intense fight scene with Agent 007 and bad guy Jaws. The amazing clip shows the scenic views of Sugarloaf Mountain and Guanabara Bay, which millions of people come to see each year. It’s easy to see that Hollywood also appreciates the city’s beauty.
Brazil is widely known for its samba and bossa nova. These styles will easily transport you to a romantic, tropical night. For samba, listen to the legendary Chico Buarque. One of his most popular songs is “ A Banda .” Another famous samba singer to check out is Clara Nunes, a.k.a. the “Queen of Samba.”
One song that put Rio in the spotlight is “Garota de Ipanema” (“The Girl from Ipanema”) . The bossa nova and jazz tune was so popular that it won the 1965 Grammy for Record of the Year. Many folks worldwide recognize the musical style of bossa nova, which means “new trend.”
Have you ever heard of funk carioca (favela funk)? It’s Rio’s version of hip hop. When people think of funk carioca, they often associate it with Brazilian singer Ludmilla, formerly known as MC Beyoncé. She went viral in 2012 with the song “Fala Mal de Mim,” which mixes funk melodies with pop.
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- Tours in Rio de Janeiro
Favela Walking Tour
Overview of the tour in Rio de Janeiro
Experience the authentic lifestyle of Rocinha's inhabitants through an immersive walking tour. This is no ordinary sightseeing adventure, but a chance to intimately explore the vibrant community of one of Rio de Janeiro's largest favelas. With this tour, gain an insightful understanding of the complex socioeconomic challenges facing locals - an aspect of Rocinha that is often overlooked by guidebooks. Rest assured, safety is a top priority for first-time visitors to the favela.
This activity includes:
- Rua Barata Ribeiro, 51
- Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro
Rua Barata Ribeiro, 111, Copacabana
1 block away from Metro Staion Arco Verde.
Free Cancellation up to 24 hours before the activity starts. Late cancellation or your non-arrival is not refundable.
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VISIT ROCINHA THE LARGEST FAVELA IN LATIN AMERICA WITH LOCAL GUIDES
Enjoy a 3-Hour Favela Walking Tour at Rocinha which is the largest Favela in Latin America. Your visit is led by our local experienced guide who will meet you in one of our meeting points. Visiting Rocinha, one of Rio’s hundreds of “favelas” is a local experience that gives you the chance to see Brazil from another point of view.
Meeting points: Belmond Copacabana Palace at 13:30 Sol Ipanema Hotel at 13:50
Payment Methods Prices Credit card 180 BRL Cash * 150 BRL Student discount 130 BRL
Tours available every day.
The best and safest Favela Walking Tour in Rio with local guides
Get a different perspective on life in Rio and benefit from insider tips from a local guide.
Meeting points: Copacabana Palace Hotel at 13:30 Sol Ipanema Hotel at 13:50
Inclusion Transportation from meeting points and a local guide
From 130 R$
3-Hour Rocinha Favela Walking Tour
Explore a favela of Rio de Janeiro on this guided walking tour. Immerse yourself in the daily lives of locals on this tour that is focused on education.
Meeting point: The tour starts at your hotel doorstep.
Inclusion The tour includes lunch, guide & transportation
From 1000 R$
3-Hour Private Rocinha Favela Tour & lunch included
On our 4-Hour Private Favela with Tijuca Rainforest Tour, we will start seeing Rocinha Favela, the largest Favela in Latin America and explore the untamed Tijuca Rainforest right at the heart of Rio.
Meeting point: The tour starts from your hotel doorstep.
Inclusion Transportation & Local Guide
4-Hour Private Favela Tour & Tijuca Rainforest
Enjoying a football match in Rio is something incredible which must be experienced by every real football fan
Meeting Point : Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon and Botafogo
Inclusions: Transportation, Guide & Tickets
From 400 R$
4-Hour Football Experience at Maracana Stadium
Take part in a unique hang gliding experience in Rio de Janeiro and fly through the tropical air.
Meeting point : Sao Conrado beach
Inclusion: Exclusive pictures and videos took during your flight
From 700 R$
Rio Hang Gliding Experience
Many organizations in favelas receive no government funding and survival can be a day to day struggle.
All your help and donation have already helped many of our local teenagers to become the next professional guide.
Your donation can help provide:
Basic Food to local people Clothing Education
Donate to Rocinha Favela
Our Favela Walking Tour offers a unique chance to get to know this unique place.
Are you coming to Rio and would like to visit Rocinha Favela which is the largest in Latin America with a local tour guide? Enjoy a 3-hour Favela Walking Tour at Rocinha Favela which is the largest in Latin America. This is a great way to get to introduce to life in the favela and what it means for the people living there.
10% off code: favelawalkingtour
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Favela Tour of Rio de Janeiro
- 9.30 / 10 273 reviews | 2,725 travellers Alberto was sensational, detailed explanations, it was a very interesting experience to see the other side of the favelas. I love it. 10 Francisco Javier
- Free cancellation up to 48 hours before the service starts
Witness the other face of Rio de Janeiro with this guided walking tour of the Rocinha favela in which you will discover the least known and most surprising corners of the Brazilian favelas.
Rio de Janeiro Favela Tour
Between 1:30 and 1:50 pm, we'll collect you from your selected meeting point before heading to the Rocinha favela , one of the largest in Brazil, where we'll arrive around 2 pm.
On this walking tour, we'll leave behind the prejudices associated with the favelas and discover what life is really like for its inhabitants. We will see up close how the educational projects of social rehabilitation have a powerful impact on the community. Thanks to these programs, the population of the favelas can move forward without needing to resort to violence.
Contrary to what some may believe, these areas of Rio also flourish with artistic and creative expression. Our route takes us past the famous graffiti of Rocinha. Some of the murals are genuine works of art through the feelings of the humblest Brazilians can be articulated. The colorful buildings of Rocinha are another artistic statement from its inhabitants.
Our tour also includes a stop on the spectacular winding hillside road known as the ‘Devil’s Trampoline’ . This was used as a particularly challenging part of a famous car race circuit around Rio which took place between 1933 and 1954. During that period this single-seater competition grew to be one of the most important in the entire country.
Following the favela visit, we will return to the original departure point in Rocinha before taking you back to the hotel area of Rio de Janeiro.
Timetable & collection points
The tour includes pickup from the following points:
- 1:30 pm : Hotel Belmond Copacabana Palace - Av. Atlântica, 1702. Please wait in front of the hotel.
- 1:50 pm : Hotel Sol Ipanema - Av. Vieira Souto, 320.. Please wait in front of the hotel.
Other favelas in Rio de Janeiro
Want more? Don't miss the opportunity to also enjoy the Dona Marta Favela Tour and continue discovering the most surprising side of Rio de Janeiro.
2 hours - 2 hours 30 minutes.
The activity takes place with a guide that speaks in English, although it may occasionally be done in two languages.
Transport by bus or minibus
When to book?
You can book up until 4 hours before the activity as long as there are still places. Book now to guarantee your spot.
Type of voucher
Electronic. Show the voucher on your phone.
Not wheelchair accessible.
All services published on Civitatis are carried out in accordance with our Sustainability Code .
Our providers commit to:
- Provide a safe and satisfying experience.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle.
- Incorporate eco-conscious technologies.
- Uphold fair employment standards.
- Foster the growth of local communities.
- Preserve the integrity of local culture.
- Safeguard both cultural and environmental heritage.
- Ensure ethical treatment of animals.
- Operate with honesty and transparency.
- Encourage sustainable behaviors among customers and staff.
This particular activity contributes as follows:
- Printed material is avoided.
- The show represents local culture.
- The activity helps the dissemination of local cultural heritage.
- The activity helps vulnerable groups.
- The activity helps to promote peace.
- No printing of documentation required.
- Promotes local employment.
- Has a gender equality policy.
Favela Walking Tour Show more
Corporate name: José Anderson Gomes de Souza (J A G De S Ag De Turismo)
Frequently asked questions
Q - How to book?
A - To reserve the activity, choose the date and complete the form on this page. You will receive your confirmation immediately.
Q - Is a minimum number of participants required?
A - This activity requires a minimum of 2 participants. Should this number not be reached, we'll get in touch with you to offer alternatives.
If you have any other questions please contact us.
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Discover Rio with us
Check it out our most popular tours.
Immerse yourself in the daily lives of locals on this tour that is focused on education.
Get a different perspective on life in Rio de Janeiro, and benefit from insider tips from a local guide.
Our 3-Hour Rocinha Favela Walking Tour aims to educate you about life in a Favela which is such a big part of the culture of Rio with a local guide. In addition to that, see how residents live and learn about the difficulties at Rocinha – the largest Favela in Latin America. Contact us today!
Enjoying a football match at Maracanã stadium is something incredible that must be experienced by every true football fan . Come with us and experience a local football match with one of the four big teams in Rio.
We provide a local guide, transportation, and tickets .
Favela & Tijuca
On our 4-Hour Private Rocinha Favela with Tijuca Rainforest Tour , we will start by seeing Rocinha Favela with an experienced local guide. After that, we will head to Tijuca Rainforest – Rio’s most exotic urban forest. T his tour can be customized to meet your expectations.
Take a Break & Checkout Rio de Janeiro in Brazil
Come and discover one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Rio definitely should be on your list. On our blog, we would like to provide information about Rio and some of the most important facts. Furthermore, get to understand the Largest Favela in Latin America, the beauty of Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, the Maracanã Stadium, the Tijuca Rainforest, and much more.
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Get to see Copenhagen both from land and water as well as visit one of the most beautiful castles in Scandinavia.
Activities from 130 BRL
Come and discover one of the most beautiful cities in the world and get to know our local culture with local experienced guides in Rio de Janeiro – Brazil.
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5 Best Favela Tours in Rio: A Complete Guide to Visiting a Favela
LOOKING FOR THE BEST RIO FAVELA TOUR?
You are in the right place, as we will be talking all about favela tours in Rio de Janeiro. Back in 2016, I lived in the Vidigal favela for about six months. I also volunteered for a company called Favela Experience, which granted me the ability to visit several favelas in the Zona Sul.
The reality is that Rio de Janeiro favelas are an inescapable part of the Rio landscape and are synonymous with the city itself. Rio is home to around 600 different favelas, most of which are not safe to visit. However, there are a couple that do offer tours. So how do you choose the right favela tour?
Following the pacification of the favelas that began in 2008, tourism grew in popularity, and there are many companies that offer tours to visit them. But how do you choose the right one?
Top 5 Favela Tours in Rio
Above all else, if you are interested in visiting a favela, I’d recommend sticking to Vidigal, Rocinha, and Santa Marta; those are the ones that have tours run by locals. Here are a couple of my favorite favela tours in Rio that are ethical, responsible, and run by locals that live in the favela itself.
⚠️ Note: Please avoid calling favelas Rio de Janeiro slums or Rio slums. Instead, opt for the word communities or urban spaces.
1. Rio De Janeiro: Half-Day Rocinha Favela Walking Tour
⭐️ Rating: 4.7 out of 5 Stars | ⏰ Tour time: 4 hours | 📍 Check rates & availability
Venture into the heart of Rio’s largest favela, Rocinha, on a half-day walking tour that challenges stereotypes and provides an authentic perspective on local life.
Organized by local, English-speaking guides and favela hosts , this walking tour is designed to be respectful and non-intrusive to the residents.
This experience was amazing, the guide really knew where to go and what to see. This is a must-do cultural experience for anyone visiting Rio! — SIMON (READ MORE REVIEWS )
Unlike other tours that merely drive around in jeeps, this walking tour allows you to stroll the streets in small groups, interact with the locals, and hear their stories firsthand. You’ll learn about the favela’s history, its social and economic challenges, and the vibrant community that calls it home.
The cost of the tour also includes a contribution to the favela community, adding an element of responsible tourism to your visit.
2. Rio de Janeiro: Favela Santa Marta Tour with a Local Guide
⭐️ Rating: 4.9 out of 5 Stars | ⏰ Tour time: 2.5 hours | 📍 C heck rates & availability
Experience a slice of authentic Rio de Janeiro with a guided tour of Favela Santa Marta . Led by a local resident, Thiago Firmo , who was born and raised in Favela Santa Marta, this tour offers an authentic exploration of the favela’s vibrant culture and daily life.
From the panoramic views of iconic landmarks such as Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountain, reached by the Santa Marta cable car, to the bustling streets that have hosted famed guests like Queen Elizabeth II and Michael Jackson, you’ll experience the favela from a truly unique perspective.
This was an incredible tour – I’m recommending it to any and all of my friends who come to Rio. — CHRISTINE (READ MORE REVIEWS )
The tour also offers a chance to visit local artisan shops, revealing the favela’s creative spirit. You’ll walk away with a richer understanding of Rio’s favelas, making this an unforgettable experience for any traveler seeking a deeper connection with the city’s diverse communities.
3. Rio de Janeiro: Vidigal Favela Tour & Two Brothers Hike
⭐️ Rating: 4.6 out of 5 Stars | ⏰ Tour time: 5 hours | 📍 C heck rates & availability
Embrace an off-the-beaten-path adventure in Rio de Janeiro by exploring the captivating Vidigal favela . This community, which emerged around 1940, offers a unique blend of history, culture, and stunning Atlantic Ocean views.
Your journey begins in Vidigal, where you’ll immerse yourself in the community, using local transport and engaging with residents.
The walk through the favelas of Vidigal was an impressive experience and Eduardo took us to a nice bar with an amazing view. — REVIEWER (READ MORE REVIEWS )
Follow your guide in a group through the forest and head to the first viewpoint. Continue to the next viewpoint for a breathtaking view of Pedra da Gávea and Pedra Bonita . See Corcovado in the other direction before going to the summit of Two Brothers Hill (Morro Dois Irmaos) .
The summit reveals a panoramic vista of Rio’s famous beaches, including Leblon, Ipanema, and Copacabana. This 4.5-hour hike is a true adventure, while also providing travelers a deeper understanding of Rio’s social divisions.
4. Favela Tour Rocinha and Vila Canoas in Rio de Janeiro
⭐️ Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars | ⏰ Tour time: 3 hours | 📍 C heck rates & availability
Experience an intimate look at local life in Rio de Janeiro through a guided tour of Rocinha and Vila Canoas, two of the largest favelas in the city.
You’ll begin in Rocinha, where you’ll learn about the favela’s unique architecture , public services, and cultural aspects, stopping at the Rocinha handcraft center and a local terrace for breathtaking views.
A highlight of the tour is the visit to community schools like Moranguinhos or Saci Sabe Tudo . Funded by Favela Tour, these schools offer local kids classes in computer skills, English, music, capoeira, and ballet.
With the convenience of hotel pickup and drop-off included, this tour offers a rare and valuable insight into a side of Rio few visitors get to see.
5. Favela Tour in Rio with Transfer service
Uncover the complexities of life in Rocinha Favela, Latin America’s largest favela, during this 3-hour educational tour.
Guided by a local, you’ll navigate the vibrant community, engage with its residents, and delve into the rich history of Rocinha’s establishment. This tour is more than sightseeing – it’s an opportunity to gain a profound understanding of the economic and political factors shaping Rio’s society.
It was not like what you see in the movies you really got a feel for how the other half of Brazilian life goes on. — TY (READ MORE REVIEWS )
With round-trip transportation from Rio hotels included, this Rocinha favela tour is a convenient and insightful exploration of a side of Rio often unseen by visitors.
The History of Rio Favelas
But before you book your favela tour in Rio de Janeiro , it’s best if you know a couple of key things, like the history behind Rio favelas.
Favelas first appeared in the 19th century, built by displaced soldiers from Bahia who named them after a plant native to that region which irritates the skin and grows freely in the Bahian shantytowns. Favelas were later occupied by fugitive and then freed slaves, earning them the early nickname bairros africanos or African neighborhoods.
These communities were historically low-income and nowadays suffer from the stigma of being associated with the drug trade and violence. However, roughly 23% of Rio’s inhabitants, around 1.5 million people, live in favelas.
But they are also known as hives of creativity. Samba was invented in a favela, and so was pagode. Favelas are also home to culture and art, such as the moon sculpture in Providência, the Maze cultural space in Tavares Bastos, and the murals that line the walls of Cantagalo.
Are Favela s safe?
But what about favela safety? Are favela tours safe? The answer to that question depends on the audience. For many people living in these communities, violence is a real and present danger, whether it be from warring drug gangs or the military police.
For tourists, the answer is quite different . When tourists talk about favelas, they mean Santa Marta, Vidigal, and a few others in the south zone of the city. These only make up around 2% of the total of Rio’s favelas.
These communities, such as Santa Marta and Vidigal, are Rio’s so-called safe favelas. Both have undergone drastic processes of urbanization and even gentrification, with poorer residents no longer able to afford to live there.
Santa Marta Favela
Santa Marta, in the neighborhood of Botafogo, became famous when Michael Jackson filmed his music video for “They Don’t Care About Us” there in 1996.
Since then, it has been visited by a number of celebrities, including Madonna, Beyoncé, and Alicia Keys, as well as being used as a film set for the fifth installment of the Fast and Furious film franchise.
Vidigal, on the slopes of Morro Dois Irmãos and in between the swanky neighborhoods of Leblon and São Conrado, has also undergone significant urbanization and gentrification since the 2000s, with its superb views of the city and privileged location driving up the price of real estate. There is no longer any significant drug dispute there, and one of the biggest industries in these areas is, in fact, favela tourism.
Rocinha Favela, Latin America’s largest favela , is a vibrant community nestled between the districts of São Conrado and Gávea . Home to around 200,0000 thousand residents, Rocinha’s narrow alleyways and multi-tiered buildings paint a vivid picture of life in Rio’s urban fringe.
Despite its socioeconomic challenges, Rocinha boasts a resilient community spirit and a thriving cultural scene. Its streets are alive with music, food stalls, and local businesses, reflecting the industriousness of its inhabitants. Rocinha is a testament to the stark economic disparities in Rio, yet it’s also a symbol of resilience, community strength, and the vibrant culture of Brazil’s urban spaces.
Why do some people disagree with Favela tours in Rio?
Some people believe that favela tours in Rio, or poor neighborhoods, can harm the communities. They worry about poverty tourism , saying it treats people like exhibits and can take advantage of them. They argue that some tours just let visitors gawk at the residents instead of promoting a true cultural exchange, which can upset the people who live there.
Critics also say that favela tourism can shock visitors and make them see the communities in a bad light. This criticism is especially aimed at companies not based in the favelas, as they might not care about showing the good sides of these communities or explaining the unique challenges and benefits of living there. As a result, these favela tours in Rio might spread negative ideas about favelas worldwide.
How to Choose The Best Tour Operator
Local people and tour operators have capitalized on people’s fascination with Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, and in Santa Marta, Rocinha and Vidigal they run a huge number of tours around the community, claiming they offer the reality of the slums and an enriching cultural experience.
Unfortunately, many of these tours can seem like sightseeing trips for people to see how less fortunate folks live. But if you do want to go on one of the favela tours in Rio mentioned above, there are specific things that you should take into consideration when choosing a tour.
1. Choose a Local Operator
A company that is based within the favela itself and only employs local residents offers one of the most sustainable ways of doing a tour. Guides from outside the area are not able to speak authentically for the inhabitants about life within the favelas.
Local guides are also able to delicately advise tourists on etiquette to ensure their visit isn’t too disruptive. This includes preventing photography which might include people who would not appreciate it.
This in-depth knowledge, tact and respect is what sets apart the best companies and is one of the most important aspects in minimizing the degree to which a tour becomes an annoyance for the locals.
2. Community Impact: Who benefits from Favela tours in Rio?
Favela tourism can be beneficial for the communities it touches. Many of the tour companies were founded within the favela itself and only employ guides that live there. Whilst this increases the safety and authenticity of the tours, it also ensures that the money is used to boost the local economy.
Increased exposure to the daily lives of the thousands of people that call favelas their home helps to dispel the myth propagated by the media that they are constant warzones to be avoided at all costs.
3. provide Educational Value
Beyond just sightseeing, a tour should provide a deep understanding of the favela’s history, culture, and the socio-economic dynamics that shape the community. It should cover the establishment of the favelas, their evolution over time, and the challenges they face today.
The tour should also highlight the resilience, creativity, and community spirit that thrive amidst these challenges. By fostering understanding and empathy, the tour can help dispel stereotypes and misconceptions about favela life.
4. Safety Concerns
Make sure to only book a tour led by experienced guides who are familiar with the area. They know the local customs and rules and can navigate the intricate layout of the favela, ensuring the tour avoids any potential areas of concern.
A reputable tour operator will prioritize guests’ safety, provide clear instructions, and address any concerns before the tour. It’s also advisable to read previous guests’ reviews to ensure the operator has a strong track record of safety.
Remember, safety also involves respecting the community’s norms and privacy to ensure a positive and respectful interaction between visitors and residents.
5. Smaller Group Size
The size of the tour group can significantly impact the quality of your experience during a favela tour. Smaller groups tend to offer a more intimate and personalized experience. With fewer people, you have more opportunities to interact with your guide, ask questions, and gain deeper insights.
It’s also less intrusive to the local community , reducing the feeling of being a spectacle. Additionally, smaller groups are more manageable, allowing guides to ensure everyone’s safety and comfort.
Warning: Avoid jeep Tours
On the other end of the scale, it is wise to avoid the controversial favela jeep tour companies, which ferry visitors through the favelas in safari jeeps. Not only are they almost exclusively based outside the favelas, but they also align the visit with adventure tourism.
Aside from being sensationalist, this has the potential effect of making residents feel like they’re in a zoo. These tours are satirized by the Rio-based comedy group Porta Dos Fundos in this video entitled ‘Poor’.
Favela Tours in Rio: Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to visit favelas in Rio?
Yes — it’s generally safe to visit favelas in Rio, especially with a guided tour. These tours are typically led by experienced local guides who understand the community and its dynamics.
However, like any urban area, favelas can have safety concerns, so it’s recommended to always be respectful, stay aware of your surroundings, and follow the guidance of your tour leader. It’s also advisable to choose a reputable tour operator with positive reviews regarding safety.
Which favela is best to visit in Rio de Janeiro?
Rocinha, being the largest favela in Brazil , is often recommended due to its vibrant culture and stunning views.
Vidigal is also popular, thanks to its friendly atmosphere and the breathtaking hike to the top of the Two Brothers Mountain.
For a cultural immersion, Santa Marta offers colorful buildings and street art, making it a favorite among visitors. Always choose a reputable tour for the best experience.
So the best favela to visit is a toss-up between Rocinha, Vidigal, and Santa Marta — depending on what you are looking fro.
Do people take guided tours of favelas in Brazil?
Yes — many people opt for guided tours when visiting favelas in Brazil. These tours are led by experienced guides, often locals who have a deep understanding of the community’s history and culture.
Guided tours not only provide important context and insights but also ensure visitors navigate these areas safely and respectfully.
They can also often contribute to the local economy, supporting community projects and businesses. Always opt for a tour that prioritizes ethical practices and community respect.
Is it safe to visit Rocinha favela?
Visiting Rocinha is generally considered safe when done responsibly, particularly through a guided tour.
These favela tours in Rio are conducted by experienced guides who are well-versed in the community’s dynamics. However, as with any urban area, it’s important to stay alert, follow the guide’s instructions, and respect local customs.
What favelas to avoid in Rio?
There are around 600 favelas in Rio de Janeiro. However, many of them, particularly those located outside of the Zona Sul (South Zone), are less frequented by tourists and may not be as prepared for visitors.
For safety and to respect the local communities, it’s not generally recommended to visit these favelas, specifically ones located in the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro. The Rio most dangerous favela are usually the ones in the North Zone.
Which favelas are the safest to visit?
When considering safety, the favelas in Rio de Janeiro most commonly visited by tourists are Rocinha, Vidigal, and Santa Marta .
These communities are more accustomed to visitors and often offer guided tours led by local residents or individuals with deep knowledge of the area.
These favela tours in Rio are designed to respect the community’s privacy and dignity while also providing a safe and enriching experience for tourists. However, safety can vary, so it’s always advisable to do research, read reviews, and choose a reputable tour operator.
Final Thoughts: Favela Tours in Rio
Favela tours in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are not for everyone, but they offer vital insight into the city’s diverse culture and social fabric. When done with consent, respect, and a knowledgeable tour guide, these tours provide a deeper understanding of the living conditions in favelas.
Approached with an open mind, these tours can shed light on the realities beyond media portrayals, revealing the resilience and vibrancy within these communities. Becoming a key part of any Rio de Janeiro city tour, they offer unique perspectives often overlooked.
However, the choice to partake in a favela tour in Rio should be considered carefully, ensuring it’s done ethically and responsibly. In essence, if approached with the right attitude, favela tours in Rio can significantly deepen your understanding of this multifaceted city.
Yvonne Ivanescu, founder of Now in Rio, is a writer and editor with a decade of experience. Passionate about storytelling, she shares the magic of Rio with the world.
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Favela Tour Rio de Janeiro
Our favela tour in rio will take you through the narrow streets of the ghetto , as well as a family home where an amazing view of the city can be seen. while there in the slum, guides will talk about historical and social aspects of the place..
The favela da Rocinha used to be largest slum in South America until 1992, when it became a district of Rio de Janeiro. It has conquered its own administrative zone, with an office and an administrator. Nowadays, this district has a population of approximately 120,000 inhabitants. Although it preserves the unorganised look of a ghetto, it has everything any other district of Rio has. During the tour, tourists will find out that the place has its own clinics, supermarkets, public schools, banks and even a tv station.
WE start the tour collecting travelers from their hotels in Rio ( under the covered areas), heading towards the favela. Once there, we start a walking tour visiting the narrow streets and its markets. We visit a local home and also a terrace with an amazing view of the whole place. Along the way the guide will talk about the history of the favela, its social challenges, its culture and much more. It is an unforgetable tour, do not miss it!
From 02 people
R$ 249,00 per person - A minimum of 02 people is required for this tour
* If you are a solo traveler booking this tour, please note that in case no other passenger joins it, we will offer a private tour a day before the trip, for extra R$ 150,00. Clients may decline the offer and request a refund.
* Discounts available for groups of 04 people or more.
- Hotel pick up and drop off
- guiding services
- a walk through some of the alleys of Rocinha
- a visit to a local family home
- a tour around the commercial area, in order to get the feeling of the environment.
Food, drinks and a tip to the family of the house we visit.
What to bring.
Wear sunscreen for sunny days and dont forget the camera.
+55 21 964239366, [email protected], avenida lúcio costa, barra da tijuca, br, useful links, ministry of tourism.
Travel with Winny
Favela Walking Tour- A Visit to Rio de Janeiro’s Slum
2016-06-16 by York Chiang Leave a Comment
In the heart of the largest favela in Rio de Janeiro, I found myself walking down a flight of steps closer and closer to a revolting stench of open sewers. The ground was full of rubbish and there were many dog shits on the path that I had to avoid. The streets were winding down at random directions and buildings were built extremely close with no fresh air. I was only in that dark alleyway for 5 minutes and felt quite uncomfortable. There are thousands of people that have spent their whole lives in this Rio favela in very bad living conditions. I discovered a huge contrast to what I am used to in the Byron Bay holiday accommodation , I wish I had never left my paradise.
There is absolutely no order in the way they build these favelas. They look like a cluster of houses from afar.
With the dramatic increase in a number of tourists coming to Rio de Janerio for the Olympics in the next few month, there is an important question many would ask “Should we visit a Rio favela?” The answer to that question revolves around some very complicated issues. The problems of tourists visiting these favelas are mainly about the morality and ethicality of poor people watching.
The density in the building is far greater than the normal housing in Rio. The organisation of power lines are a mess.
The main criticism made about these slum tours is that tourists are here to experience and see poverty rather than having a real cultural exchange. Who wouldn’t find repulsive about a tour of wealthy people coming to visit the favela for three hours and go back to their comfortable accommodations as if they had visited a museum? Especially when some companies operate their tours like a safari adventure.
The main streets in the favela looked normal but have the feeling of a market place in a third world country.
Most of the local residents actually have a good opinion of the presence of tourists in their favela. They are good for the local economy as they bring money into the community. Most of the tour companies also contribute to build social projects in the favelas. Also tourism is also helps improve the image of Rio favela where most people associate with violence which is not true. Ironically, you may be safer in the streets of Rocinha Favela than in the Copacabana beach at night. The mafias who are in charge of this favela have made strict no violence rules within the favela. Especially towards tourists.
A mega rich suburb with American schools and high-rise luxury apartments next to the beach side can be seen from the favela. A Huge contrast of the rich and poor!
Favelas have been around in Rio de Janeiro since the 1940s when industrialisation brought thousands of people migrating into the city for work. When many of these workers couldn’t find jobs and afford housing, they started housings in the hills. Favelas are always visible wherever you go in Rio de Janeiro and have a huge cultural importance. For example, the famous dance, Samba are invented in these Rio favelas.
As water supply is inconsistent, every house is equipped with water tanks on their roof.
Our tour guide told us that when his parents first moved into Rocinha favela, the place felt like a paradise. The place was still part of a rain forest were streams flowing down the hills and monkeys roamed. Rocinha Favela began building in the flat areas close to the rich suburbs but was constantly taken down by the government. However, the building of the favelas persisted over the years and the government have clearly lost control. Today this Rio favela looks like a jungle and maze of concrete houses.
Besides the major streets, the favela is connected and filled with these dim, muggy, stinky paths between the cramp and overbuilt houses.
Naturally, Winny and I wanted to see a favela when we are in Rio de Janeiro because they are such a big part of the city. We joined a tour called the Favela walking tour for 90 BRL per person. We found this company online and checked them via TripAdvisor before booking a tour with them two days before via WhatsApp. They were quite a good company and we had an amazing guide called Edson.
Typical living conditions in the favela. The power lines are so poorly wired that electricity can flow through the walls when they are wet with rain. Our guide said he got electrically shocked once when he touched the street wall.
Edson grew up and still lives in the largest Rio favela called Rocinha. His English is extremely good and he said he had only learnt the language for 4 years. We learnt a lot about this Favela from him.We started our tour by meeting Edson at a meeting point in Copacabana beach. We then picked up a few more people on our way to the Rocinha Favela. We had 14 people in total in our group.
On a rooftop seems to be the only open and personal space in the favela.
Currently, the government estimated that there are around 75 thousand people that live in Rocinha Favela but Edson believes the number is far greater than that. He thinks there would be at least 200 thousand people in the Rocinha Favela. Rocinha Favela is one of the safer Rio favelas to visit. Favela only becomes dangerous for two main reasons. The first one is when the mafia groups that control the Favelas are at war for drug trafficking control or for territory control. The former is being tackled by the local DEA and Legacy Healing rehab centres, while the latter is being kept in check by the cops.
we know corruption is a huge issue here when the government claimed to have spent 9 million BRL to build this bridge.
Since Rocinha Favela is further away to other Rio Favela, this risk of mafia war is significantly lower. The true danger is ironically when the police arrive in the Favela. Bullets rain during these times and often, many bystanders can get hurt. To keep safe during the tour, we kept to routes where the police would not sporadically appear. It is an interesting world to see people trusting the mafia and disliking the police.
An artwork was done by a famous graffiti artist that has grown up in this favela
During our visit in Rocinha, we did not feel threatened by any of the residents in the favela. Most of the times the locals either walked past us normally probably because they are so used to seeing tourists around or passionately shake hands and greet Edson. One of the older ladies even pinched my cheek and called me handsome. Edson said that other Rio favelas can be a lot more dangerous and even he would be in danger if he went into those favelas without a local from that particular favela with him.
locals performing street music for us with the basic instruments. A young boy even joined the performance to do a dance.
This is quite a contrast to teenage boys following us on Copacabana beach and chanting racist comments. Edson also specifically lead us to places in the favela that are not guarded or patrolled by any mafia members so there will not be any major conflicts. We were also invited to watch three young men playing street music for some tips.
We were taken to an old man’s roof for the most stunning panoramic view of the whole favela
Rocinha now has slightly better infrastructures compared to many other Rio favelas. They have two health clinics and a hospital. Although they may not have doctors in the hospital all the time. People in the Rio favelas don’t need to pay for electricity and water even though many houses have meters installed in front of the house. However, water is only available roughly 3 days in each week. That’s why most homes have a water tank on top of their roof to store water for the days they don’t have water.
A sneak peak of favela houses from above.
Also during summer, there are constant blackouts across all the Rio favelas when the supply of electricity cannot meet the demand. It is also almost impossible to implement good postal service in the favela as none of these houses has addressed. For posts to be delivered, they have huge shared post box usually has more than 10 different addresses per box.
The powerlines are a mess and tangled everywhere like Nepal
The worst infrastructure system in the Rio favela is their sewer system. They have an open sewer system that stenches dreadfully and relies on rainwater to flush down the waste. To make matters worse, the slum doesn’t have good garbage collection system so many residents choose to dump their rubbish into this sewer.
living conditions in the houses right next to these open sewers are horrible!
During our visit, we could see a broken computer in the sewer bed. The smell of this open sewer could be smelt far away and people in favelas have lived in these conditions all their life.
No regular rubbish collection means people dump their junk next into these sewers. The rubbish will stay there until the next storm washes them out to the sea.
There are now schools in and around the Rio favela but education is not compulsory. Sadly boys usually drop out of school around the age of 14 to work to sustain their family or join the mafia. In the Rio favela, there are usually more girls than boys but many also drop out at a young age when they become pregnant.
young girls waiting on the street in the favela
The favela has only around two main streets that services most of the houses and in these were filled with on motorbikes offering transportation up and down the this Rio favela. Not all of these people have a motorbike license. The price is 3 BRL to go up and 2.5BRL to go down. The majority of the favela are connected with small windy paths that are covered with waste and litter and extremely hard to navigate. If you haven’t spent time living in these favelas, you could easily get lost.
Motorbike taxi are the easiest transport system up and down the narrow main streets in the favela.
Rocinha has an excellent location compared to many other Rio Favelas. It is located extremely close to a very expensive and classy beachside suburb and big shopping centre and you can get there by taxi or an uber, of course for this you can make sure the driver compare uber insurance and spend less and make your transportation protected. As jobs are easier to find around Rocinha Favela, many people from other Favela always move into this favela. However, Rocinha is now restricted to expand any further by the government so buildings in this favela are growing taller and taller as there are no restrictions on how you build. You can rent an apartment in the Favela as cheap as 300 BRL for one month but the location is extremely hard to get to and you have no access to any road.
With no building restrictions, you can build your house however you want. Even if the house is too wide or too tall or too close to the neighbour.
There are many businesses in the Rocinha favela and there is a huge economy that runs inside the favela. Some people do have money as a result from these businesses but still lives inside these favelas. Edson said that the reason is mainly that they don’t have to pay taxes in the favela. Although people don’t need to pay tax to the government, they do have to pay protection fees to the mafia. The Mafia runs and controls most of the activities that occur in the favela. During our visit, we saw a big van transportation system that is solely run by the mafia.
One of the main streets built to improve living conditions in the favela. They had to knock down many houses to build it.
We spent almost 4 hours in the favela walking from the very top to the bottom. We saw a cross section of the favela stretching from the narrow alleys to the business districts. The living conditions in favelas are indeed sub-optimal. People are constantly exposed to hazardous conditions due to poor sanitation conditions.
Trash and filth filled path is the norm in these favelas
Howe, we felt about visiting this Rio favela
Health care system and access to clean water are poor. Also, there is a problem when you know that you need to be reliant on the mafia to keep order in your living area. There are many things that should be changed in these slums before people can live in a good and healthy environment.
The building of these favela houses stretches to the steepest part of the hill. These houses have the least services but are also the cheapest places to rent and live. Around 300 BRL a month to rent these houses.
Change doesn’t start with being ignorant about these conditions and I do believe tourism is a good medium to start showing people around the world that these places exist. More help and funding is needed to make these favelas a better place to live. We were glad that we did this tour and we hope we will see improvements here in the future.
The tour we joined was the Favela Walking Tour. Click their Official Website for further details.
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