Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Thu September 29 2016

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  • Nick and Dariece | September 29, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    Where to Stay in Rio: A Guide to the Neighborhoods

    Where to Stay in Rio: A Guide to the Neighborhoods

    All photos by Goats on the Road

    It’s no secret that Rio de Janeiro hasn’t had the best reputation when it comes to crime and safety but much is exaggerated in the world press, particularly with the Olympic spotlight on the city. There’s no getting away from the vast polarization and natural tension between the rich, living it up in luxury beachside apartments and the less fortunate scraping by, living in slum housing in the hillside Favelas.

    However, the truth is that this sprawling, cosmopolitan metropolis is safer than it has ever been for tourists and there’s really no need to take any additional safety measures than you would visiting any other major city in the world.

    Cariocas (native Rio-born people) are friendly, easygoing and perfect hosts. They welcome foreigners to the city with open arms and dislike crime and violence just as much as anyone. Of course, there are some areas that as a tourist you should stay away from in order to not make yourself a target with the criminal minority, but the same goes for many U.S. or European cities. So, don’t be put off by any media scaremongering when visiting the magnificent, beating heart of Brazil that is Rio de Janeiro! Here are a few of the safest neighborhoods to get you started on planning your trip.

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    The world famous beach area is safe because it’s busy by day and night with people working out, pedestrians, cyclists, street vendors and partygoers alike. It’s smack dab in the center of the action and close to the popular tourist attractions of Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain. There’s always something going on here.

    READ MORE: An Inside Look at Rio’s Favela Tours


    This is where your top-end luxurious accommodation is found. It's way more upmarket than the other neighborhoods — Leblon boasts many fancy residences. Go here for posh eateries and a glimpse into Rio’s fashionista high life.


    Nicknamed “Rio’s Playground,” this previously seedy neighborhood has undergone a major transformation over the last few years. Some of the best samba bars are here and weekend nightlife is particularly wild in this party district. Lapa is noisy on weekends, but much quieter during the week. Note that it’s not close to a metro station and taxis are recommended at night.

    Santa Teresa

    Described as a bohemian uphill neighborhood, this artsy neighborhood boasts smaller boutique hotels and a more relaxed small-town vibe among its cobblestone streets. Being on a hillside, it offers great views but is a little further from the main attractions. Expect to spend more on getting around here.


    Also a beachside neighborhood, Ipanema is rapidly becoming known as “the place to be,” even ahead of Copacabana. It has great restaurants and nightlife, however, accommodation comes at a higher price. Many prefer Ipanema beach to Copacabana beach as it is just as stunning, but generally less crowded.

    IMG_8096 [474141]


    Very close to Copacabana beach, this budget accommodation area is popular with the backpacker crowd. It’s a lively scene — expect trendy bars with a laid back dress code. Botafogo has its own beach, and while not as spectacular as Copacabana or Ipanema, it is still very attractive.


    This quieter, middle class, residential neighborhood is charming and has lots of good quality budget hotels. It has a good metro link, is only 10 minutes from the heart of action at Copacabana and offers picturesque views of top attractions, Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer.


    This lesser known area has bragging rights over the same stunning beach as Copacabana, frequented by droves of runners and roller skaters. Being away from the main touristy area and with little in the way of late night activities, it offers a bit more tranquility and is popular with locals.

    With such a vast array of safe locations and options for all budgets, you’ll be sure to find a neighborhood that’s right for you. Just be sensible, don’t take unnecessary valuables out with you or walk down deserted streets and you’ll be one of the many visitors that leave this vibrant and passionate city starry-eyed, already dreaming about your next visit.


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Nick and Dariece Notes from the Goats

Nick and Dariece Nick and Dariece are the couple behind Goats On The Road, a website designed to inspire others to live a financially sustainable, location independent lifestyle. Masters at making money abroad and turning their travels into a way of life, they've been on the road since 2008 and have explored some of the least visited places on earth, finding adventure wherever they go. They are also full time contributors at Credit Walk where they share their expertise of making money and travelling forever. Check them out at Goats On The and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
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