Rio on a Budget- a Travellers Guide

Sorry readers for being absent for a little while but that’s because I’ve been in the BEAUTIFUL Rio de Janeiro with my boyfriend! I thought I would let you all in on my experiences and my top tips for staying in this beautiful city on a pretty strict budget!

1.Accommodation–  Rio is not a cheap place to stay so my recommendation would be to go at an off-peak time (ie now) this is the end of the summer and the carnival season is over so the weather is still good but the hotels and hostels are much much cheaper. I would recommend La Villa Rio as it’s where we stayed and it was really incredible- please note I’m not getting paid, this is a genuine recommendation from a genuine guest. The hotel is really beautiful and is right next to Santa Theresa, it feels incredibly safe and the staff are really nice. Kenzie and I booked while Booking.com had a 30% sale on and we got the Deluxe Suite with Spa Bath overlooking the city for £238 for five days. That works out at £119 each for a deluxe suite, spa bath, breakfast included, and constant access to pool FOR FIVE DAYS!

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2.Transport– There is an underground system in Rio and you can get buss’s quite easily but for convenience (and safety) taxi’s are generally the best option. What took me by surprise is that Uber in Rio is everywhere and it’s incredibly cheap, most journeys cost around 9BRL = £2.30/ $3.00

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3. Food– Having been used to traveling in Africa and South East Asia I am used to cheap cheap food so it was quite a shock to find that restaurants in Rio are just as expensive as they are in the UK- we’re talking £30/ $37.42 for a meal for two so not extortionate but also not cheap. To get around this, Kenz and I got breakfasts included at our hotel and usually took some fruit back to our room for a snack. For lunch, we had a lot of ‘picnics’ of bread, ham and cheese, fresh tomatoes etc that we bought at supermarkets rather than going to restaurants. We also got pastéis and traditional bar snack(y) things to share to save money. (Pastéis are deep-fried parcels of crisp pastry filled with melting cheese, or minced beef, or chicken and are super delicious). For dinner we always went to a restaurant, we’re both foodies so we enjoy eating and like I always say; eat local! By eating traditional food and you’ll find some traditional culture!

Although I don’t have any pictures of the food I’d recommend  Espírito Santa in Santa Theresa, as a must. It serves incredible food with an indigenous twist, it’s a little hidden away but it’s well known as one of the best restaurants in the area. To save some cash Kenz and I ordered bread and goats cheese with acai berry chutney and shared a portion of pork ribs with caramelised onion and it was not only delicious but more than enough food for two.

 

3. Things to do- ok so I don’t think there is any way you can go to Rio and not go to see Christ The Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) but being on a strict budget doesn’t mean that you can’t have a great time in the city! Here are some things that are really fun and are either free or almost free:

  • Go to Ipanema Beach– obviously, it’s free to spend a day at the beach and Ipanema is much nicer than the more famous Copacabana.
  • Walk around Santa Theresa– Santa Theresa is a beautiful neighbourhood full of young artists and is incredibly picturesque.
  • Hang out at your hotel pool
  • Visit the Escadaria Selarón, also known as the ‘Selaron Steps‘. These are the world-famous mosaic steps made by Jorge Selarón and are really interesting and picture perfect! It is always free to visit the steps.

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Other important things to consider

  • Rio is dangerous! When we went out, Kenz and I removed all expensive jewellery and watches, only took one phone and I used a cotton tote bag rather than a nice handbag- you are less likely to be targeted if you don’t look like a target! Put away those expensive cameras, the tourist maps and don’t flash the cash! Rio is not the place! If anyone approaches you and asks for the time they are basically asking for you to show them how expensive your watch or phone is, if you don’t have these things on you then you won’t have a problem.
  • Few people speak English. Portuguese is the language of Brazil and a lot of people also speak Spanish but English is not widely spoken so swat up on your language skills before you go!
  • It’s very rude to call the Favela’s ‘slums’, although it is a literal translation the Favela’s were built by soldiers and slaves from the ground up and people find it offensive. It isn’t safe to wander into the Favela’s but you can take a guided tour if you like- however I think it is pretty distasteful to take photos of the living conditions of people less well off than you to share on Facebook…
  • There are tonnes of Italian restaurants everywhere. It’s not really something to consider but it is something quirky about the city. These restaurants aren’t at all authentic Italian (we’re talking Carbonara made with brie and sausage) but hey, the food is still good so who really cares?

 

Rio really is a fantastic city, I hope this helps and I hope you have a great time!

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