Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, or Rio, as called by locals, is the second largest city in Brazil and the most popular among international tourists. Known for its beautiful beaches (Ipanema, Copacabana, ..), the Sugar Loaf mountain and the overlooking Cristo Redentor on the Corcovado mountains, Rio is a captivating cultural and social melting pot.

As explained in the safety review of Brazil, the country has some unsolved issues with crime; and Rio is no exception. Although the crime rates has been greatly reduced since the 90’s,  safety is still a major concern in some parts of the city: some areas are very dangerous for travelers at all times of the day, while central areas tend to be safe during the day and much more dangerous at night.

SafeAround has compiled information from numerous sources make sure you have a safe trip while in Rio de Janeiro, and be aware of all potential dangers.


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Centro, Lapa & Santa Teresa

Rio’s Central Business district is the cultural and economic center of the city, home to arts and history museums, cultural centers, churches and shopping malls. Lapa, south of the Centro, is the city’s most lively neighborhood: the former red-light district is now an area dedicated to caipirinha in one of the many bars, listening to live samba and Bossa Nova under the famous Archos de Lapa (an old Aqueduct). Santa Teresa is a picturesque neighborhood located on a hill, home to many artists and musicians, as well as the famous colored stairs “Escadaria Selaron”.

During the day, the Centro area is crowded and safe – though there can be pickpockets, but there is a police presence. It becomes empty and thus dangerous at night, and on sundays when all the shops are closed. Lapa is very lively during weekends, but muggings are not unheard of. Stick to the center of the neighborhood and do not take any valuables. Santa Teresa is considered dangerous at night, since it is surrounded by 3 favelas. Do not venture there alone, and prefer using taxis rather than walking.

Zona Sul: Copacabana, Leblon, Ipanema

The Zona Sul is perhaps the most famous and most touristic part of Rio. Home to the iconic landmarks like the Sugar Loaf Mountain, the Corcovado, the world-famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, it is a tourist’s dream come true. Most of the city’s hotels and upscale accommodation are located in the area These neighborhoods are reasonably safe, although as a touristic place it attracts a whole lot of pickpockets and scammers. If you go to the beach, be EXTREMELY careful: there are many thieves who excel at stealing your belongings. Only take the minimum amount of money and personal items, and of course never leave them unattended. It is dangerous to walk on the beaches at night, and even Cariocas don’t do it.

Zona Norte

Home to the Maracana Stadium, the Zona Norte is a popular area with few touristic attractions. Tourists should avoid going anywhere North of the Maracana stadium, for the area is home to many impoverished neighborhoods and favelas. If you take a look a the Favelas Map of Rio, you will see many of them are located North :

Warnings & Dangers

Mid Priority-96 OVERALL RISK : HIGH

Rio de Janeiro is an averagely safe city – some parts should definitely avoided, and the risk gets much higher at night. With a rating of 51% Brazil, is ranked 81th out of 162 on the ranking of the safest and most dangerous countries.


As a top touristic destination, there is a high pickpocket risk in Rio. There are many thieves on all beaches, and pickpockets operate in crowded buses or Centro Streets. A few simple precautions will minimize your chances of being pickpocketed.

Mid Priority-96 MUGGING RISK : HIGH

Rio is a dangerous city regarding risks of mugging and kidnapping, central urban areas are better avoided late at night, and it is recommended to travel in private cars. Never venture in favelas unless you are with a local or during a tour.

Mid Priority-96 SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM

As in any touristic place, there may be people trying to scam you in Rio. Be extremely cautious on the beach (the “Shoeshine scam” and its variations), near ATMs – particularly at night. Be also aware of “gold ring” tricks, fake petitions, groups of teenagers acting strangely or trying to distract you; and people offering help with your luggage.


There might be some risk while taking public transport in Rio. The metro is generally safe, but buses are dangerous for pickpockets and even muggings.


There can be some occasional natural hazards in Rio, as well as health issuessuch as the recent Zika outbreak : see the page about Brazil for more advice.

Mid Priority-96 TERRORISM RISK : LOW

Rio is a very safe city in respect to terrorist threats. There can be some protests in city center.


Rio is generally safe for women travelers.


Useful Information

Brazil has a reciprocity standard for its visas : whatever restriction or visa prices applied to Brazilians going abroad are applied to foreigners of this country (eg: US citizens need to pay a 160$ fee). This means that many countries (including EU and MercoSur) do not require visas for stays under 90 days. is a useful website that can help you know if you need a visa or not based on your nationality and the country you’re visiting.
The currency in Brazil is the Brazilian Real (R$). As of June 2016, 1 Us Dollar= 3.48 R$. Brazil is a relatively cheap destination to visit, but one of the most expensive in South America. Expect to pay from 200 R$ to 300 R$ per day, and more for tours and excursions.
The weather in Brazil varies from region to region. High season is from December to March (Summer) and when the prices are generally higher. Rio, Sao Paulo and Salvador can be visited all year long.
The main international airports are in Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Rio and Belo Horizonte; although they are many smaller airports connecting secluded areas to the cities. If you’re looking for cheap flight deals, you can find some on JetRadar
As in any country, we advise travelers to get a travel insurance that covers not only medical problems but also theft and loss of personal items. Learn more on our travel insurance page