Rio Travel Guide: 2016 Summer Olympics

For the last two weeks I’ve been glued to the T.V. watching the Olympic Trials for Track and Field, and witnessing the life transforming moments of athletes seeing their dreams be realized as they become Olympians. There is not much more thrilling to me than the Olympics, and I become consumed every 4 years. 

If you have the opportunity to make your way to Rio this summer for the Olympic Games, let me first tell you that I am insanely jealous— in the best way. 

Rio is an amazing city that I have had the opportunity to visit a handful of times, and I know that it will add it’s special magic to the 2016 Summer Games. Because a trip like this is a fusing of my two biggest passions, I'd love to pass along some helpful information for anyone traveling there next month.

Rio Travel Guide for the 2016 Summer Olympics

General Travel Tips for Rio during the Olympics

-Weather: August, a month that falls in the middle of winter in this southern destination, happens to be one of the most comfortable months to visit this great city—rainfall is low, and temperatures remain high. Expect an average of around 78 degrees. It might get a little muggy in the afternoons, but there are plenty of beaches to cool off in!

-Transportation: Public transport is the most efficient way to get around the city. Among the options, there are metro lines, the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), the new LRT (Light Rail Transit) and an extensive rail network. For those familiar with Uber, that is also an option in the city. To read more about the new metro line opening for the games, you can find information here.

Money: The real (BRL) is Brazil's official currency. The favorable exchange rate makes this South American city affordable for U.S. travelers.  My suggestion is to never carry too much cash on you. You should be good with about the equivalent of $100. There are ATM’s available to withdraw money, or most hotels will have the ability to exchange your dollars if that is preferable.

What to Pack for the Olympics in Rio

-Travel Documents: It’s recommended to always have copies of your passports. Keep these on you and leave your actual passport in your hotel safe. Also make sure you have copies of all your reservations including flight itinerary, hotels, transfers, etc.

-Your camera: Your smartphone will do, but know that Rio is a very photogenic place on it’s own, plus you are there for a once in a lifetime event, so a camera with some extra memory cards might be wise. Be sure to photograph the Christ Redeemer statue, document your view from the Sugar Loaf cable car, the Botanical gardens or one of the many beaches.

-Power outlet adapter: There are different plugs in Brazil, and you’ll need the proper adapter to charge all electronics. If you forget to bring one, you can always hit up an electronics store or ask your hotel if they have extra.

-Suitable clothing: Rio is a pretty casual city, both during the day and going out in the evenings. Wear breathable clothing, as it will be warm and sitting at Olympic events outside will make for hot days. Bring a light jacket for evenings. You will definitely want comfortable walking shoes, as no matter what, you will be doing a ton of walking!

What to do in Rio during the Olympics

Ok, so you are probably heading to Rio during the Olympics to WATCH OLYMPIC EVENTS. Let’s assume that. Now, what to do outside of those awesome moments? Here is a list of my favorite sightseeing in and near Rio. 

-Sugar Loaf : Sugarloaf Mountain is a peak that rises 396 meters high and presents a bird’s eye view of Rio de Janeiro from the mouth of Guanabara Bay. Ascent is made in two stages: first to the top of Urca Hill, travelling from Praia Vermelha to a height of 220 meters above sea level and then the cable car goes all the way to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, for a breathtaking 360 degree view of Rio de Janeiro, Guanabara Bay, the city of Niteroi and the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

-Corcovado (Christ the Redeemer) : This is one of the main scenic spots in the city, located at the Tijuca National Park, 710 meters high and giving a sweeping panoramic of sea and the mountains. At the top of this world famous vista. the imposing statue of Christ the Redeemer embraces the city of Rio.

-Botanical Garden: If you want to spend hours amongst exotic flowers and plants, a trip to the Botanical Garden must be on the cards. This is a true ecological sanctuary where you can spend the whole day admiring the lush green surroundings of the popular garden, which is also a prominent scientific laboratory in Rio.

-Beaches: From the world’s most famous stretch of sand at Copacabana, to the stylish haven of Ipanema, to what the locals consider the most beautiful stretch of sand in Rio at Joatinga Beach, there is no shortage of blissful beach spots in Rio. Take your pick and enjoy.


If you are interested in some Day Trips from Rio, I wrote about that here. It gives you a few other options for exploring the area surrounding Rio that are definitely worth the time if you have it.

Whatever you do, enjoy every second of this special opportunity.