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Exploring Rio in style – top tips for taking a tour

Rio de Janeiro is a popular destination, mainly due to its beautiful beaches and exotic landscapes, but when it comes to planning a holiday here, many customers forget there is a thriving city and fascinating culture to explore too. The tourism industry in Rio is developing fast, as demand is growing prior to the FIFA World Cup 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016. There are currently a range of services at your disposal, from classic day tours to more authentic experiences, such as visiting a Samba School rehearsal for a taste of Rio Carnival, visiting a favela and interacting with the local community, or taking a helicopter tour to admire the beautiful landscapes the city has to offer. Rio de Janeiro Travellers visiting Rio should, however, keep a few days free in order to enjoy the beaches and surrounding attractions, such as Buzios, one of the trendiest resorts, located just two hours from Rio with different types of accommodation to suit all budgets, but for those who don’t have enough time to spend the night outside of the city, booking a day tour to Buzios would be preferable. Two other destinations you can visit in a day from Rio are Ilha Grande and Petropolis, the former capital of the Portuguese empire, complete with all the glamour and architecture of the European capitals. Buzios Tips and advice If this is your first holiday in Rio de Janeiro, bear in mind that there are a number of differences between how things function there and how they function in Europe and North America. They even differ to the way of life in other Brazilian cities, like Sao Paulo and Brasilia. Our first tip, therefore, would be to take it easy carioca style, as the pace of life is a lot slower in Rio, so try to accept this. Rio’s inhabitants are agreeable people, but losing your temper if you don’t agree with their behave will do nothing but upset them. Planning your itinerary in advance is highly recommended, as Rio is such a vast and exciting city and you don’t want to miss out on anything important. However, strict itineraries leave little room for improvisation so it’s better to be a little more flexible. It is important to take into account the fact that most tours in Rio de Janeiro will require you to be available for the entire day, as heavy traffic can often cause delays. Book your tours with a responsible company that understands your needs. Local companies have a tendency to think like locals, whereas you’re probably used to receiving attention more quickly. Find a tour company that speaks perfect English, but also try and learn some basic Portuguese words and phrases, as even in the tourism industry, most people do not speak English. Cariocas are more accustomed to hosting Spanish-speaking visitors, so they are more likely to know Spanish than English. Book a private tour. If you have high expectations, or are simply looking for an exclusive experience, then there is no doubt that you should opt for private guidance in Rio. Most of the day tour services are of high quality and the guides are professional, but the standards still vary from one country to another, so they may be lower than what you are expecting. By booking a private tour, you can rely on a service that is 100% professional and reliable. Booking tours in Rio de Janeiro is easy with RdJ4U.com, a website for independent travellers, which contains the largest catalogue of travel services in Rio de Janeiro. All these tours are available to book via the website using a credit card and with a quick and professional English-speaking customer service. Images: Shutterstock

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Telegraph.

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  1. Rio is amazing, truly a natural and wonderful city, even with the chaotic traffic. I booked Buzios and Great Island tour with Rdj4u and it was a great experience.

  2. Rio is not an easy city to visit, the topographic conditions and the language barriers, but it’s more than worth it.

  3. Amazing Rio! Thanks Paul, this is very helpful for those of us that want to visit Rio and understand a little bit more the Carioca way of work.

  4. The first time I visited Rio I remember being in shock; the language, the culture, the people, everything looked so different, so attractive. I didn’t feel comfortable initially, but after speaking to the cariocas, I began to relax and move at a slower pace, just like they do. I took a walk in Ipanema, observed the people and their lifestyle, and had the best time of my life!

  5. I just watch Rio 2 earlier and I really love the place! If I have a chance to visit some countries one of my favorites is Rio.Planning ahead is the best thing to do to have a successful trip.

  6. I’m eyeing Brazil, so your tips come in handy, thanks a lot for the details.
    A tour would be great – including a favela tour. I wouldn’t have the guts to go in there alone, nor would it be wise.

  7. I love Rio City. It is really amazing. If I have a chance to visit some countries one of my favorites is Rio.


  8. Some great tips here Paul. Especially the first tip about going along with the way things are there and not upsetting the locals. That is true anywhere you go – don’t expect things to be the way they are at home.
    Rio has always held a fascination for me with photos and tales of carnival and all. Maybe I’ll get there some day.

  9. Never been to Rio, I can’t imagine all the traffic so it makes sense to work with a reputable tour company and an efficient on who knows how to work around all that traffic.

  10. A very helpful guide Paul. I certainly know from my many years here in Spain that not accepting differences in culture and the pace of life is a recipe for disappointment. That’s a point extremely well made. I have always questioned the holiday makers who go abroad and wonder why it’s not the same as at home?? Although of course they are happy with the sun and the cheap sangria :) …

  11. It’s definitely best to plan your itinerary in advance, there’s just too much to see and do in this city!! And a day trip to Buzios and/or Ihla Grande is well worth the time and money. Thanks for the article!

  12. I would really love to be heading to Rio this summer for the World Cup. I can only imagine the samba style parties that will be taking place and how much fun it will be around this part of Brazil. You really have included some great tips here though Paul, in particular the key for me being that folks from Europe and North America need to realize that the lifestyle and culture is completely different there. All too often you get people heading to different countries around the world thinking that everything will be just like UK/USA, when the reality is its just down to their ignorance that they don’t appreciate the different norms. The sooner we all realize that, the sooner the world will be a happier place!

  13. Great tips Paul. I think it’s always important to remember you are a guest in someone else’s city when traveling. There’s nothing worse than seeing tourists loosing their cool-cringe worthy moment! I’m hoping to attend a wedding there next year and will remember your advice.

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