Rio and the 2016 Olympic Games

Find tips on where to stay and what to do.

The countdown is on! Torchbearers are on the way to Rio de Janeiro, where the 2016 Olympics will run from August 5-21. The Paralympics follow, from Sept. 7-18. 

Christ the Redeemer Statue, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Ângelo Cavalli /Embratur

There’s still time to plan to attend, and we’ve got tips on where to stay, what to do and even what to eat. Thanks to a waiver, tourists coming from the U.S., Japan, Australia or Canada between June 1 and Sept. 18, 2016 don't need a Brasilian visa. You won’t need to show proof that you’ve bought event tickets, either.  

Paratriathalon Competition

Divulgação Cidade Olímpica

However, you'll need a valid U.S. passport, which will allow you to stay up to 90 days. It's recommended that your passport remains valid for at least six months after the date you plan to return. If it will expire before or during your trip, renew as soon as possible. 

And if you're not going solely for tourism, or you're entering Brasil before or after the dates of the Games, you will need a Brasilian visa. Apply through your nearest Brasilian consulate as soon as you can; processing times are expected to get longer as the Games approach. The current fee is $160 for a visa that will be valid for 10 years. 

It's also wise to sign up for STEP, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which will help the U.S. Embassy and Consulates reach you with vital security and safety announcements. 

For more essential information about staying safe and well as you travel, and for information on traveling with minors (especially if you have sole legal custody of your child), see this link on the U.S. Department of State website. It tells you about Brasilian currency, purchasing tickets through CoSport (the only legitimate source for those in the U.S. to buy tickets for the Olympics or Paralympics), and much, much more.

Finally-- in case you’re wondering--“Brasil” is how Brasilians spell their country’s name. In America, we use “Brazil.”

Ematur Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


What to Do 

With 42 Olympic sports and 306 events going on, you’ll stay busy. Some are open air, which means you can watch them free from various locations. 

What to Do at the Rio Olympics

Divulgação Cidade Olímpica

Live sites will also let fans watch the action on big screens in public places: Madureira Park, in the Madureira Neighborhood; at the seafront in the Port area; and the Sports Center Miécimo da Silva, in Campo Grande.

Sports Center Miecimo da Silvo in Campo Grande, Brazil

Divulgação Cidade Olímpica

Sample Brasil’s music, performing arts, and more, when the 2016 Culture Festival takes to the streets. 

When you’re not at the Games, take time to explore Brasil’s famous landmarks, lush rainforests, exotic foods, and electric nightlife. Start with beautiful beaches like these:

Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio Convention & Visitors Bureau

Rio’s nickname is “Wonderful City,” and tourists from around the world come for its beaches. Ipanema Beach is a popular hangout, so arrive early to get the best spot for your towel or lounge chair. 

Take the subway or a bus to Copacabana Beach. Then visit a beach bar for a cold beer or some coconut water straight from the coconut. Beach sports are popular here, so look for government-provided volleyball nets, football courts and even sites with training equipment. You can bike, jog, or skate along the promenade, with its striking black-and-white wave design. It parallels the beach for over 2 miles.

Copacabana Beach

Christian Knepper / Embratur

Catch a wave at Arpoador Beach,  the birthplace of Brasilian surfing. It’s a small stretch of sand and rock between Ipanema and Copacabana beaches.

Leme Beach, on the northern side of Copacabana Beach, is more family-oriented and less crowded. Watch the cable cars climb nearby Sugar Loaf Mountain (or take a day tour to explore it.) In the evening, catch a spectacular sunset. 

Where to Drink and Dance

Rio comes alive in the evenings, with jazz bars, dance halls, pubs, nightclubs and samba clubs. Party at Rio Scenarium, where patrons dance and sing into the wee hours, powered by imported beers and salted snacks.

Nightlife in Rio

Andre Freitas/Rio Scenarium

Trapiche Gamboa, voted Rio’s best live music club in 2010, serves up specialties like harumaki chicken curry and cheese balls. Check out Carioca da Gema for tapas and fish dishes and lively Samba music.

Rio is known for “Comida de Buteco,” informal bars where you can mingle, drink and eat. Have an iced chope (draft beer, pronounced like SHOW-pea) with appetizers like cassava and jerked beef, fried cassava, or chicken fritters. Or head over to Lapa, a bohemian neighborhood, to hear samba and other Brasilian rhythms. 

Find more bars and clubs here.

Where to Dine

Street vendors with charcoal braziers are all over Rio. Before you sample any foods, look around to be sure the cooking equipment and preparation surfaces are clean and sanitary. A line of customers waiting to order is usually a sign that the food is good. 

For restaurant service, head over to Rua Dias Ferreira. This street, located in Leblon, offers vegetarian dishes at Celeiro; seafood and sushi at Sushi Leblon; and Italian cuisine at Quadrucci

While you’re in Rio, order feijoada, Brasil’s national dish. It’s a heavy, somewhat salty stew made with black beans and pork or beef products, usually served with sautéed kale, oranges, rice and farofa (cassava flour). Wash it down with beer, cachaça (Brasilian rum made from sugar cane) or pair it with a Caipirinha (a cocktail made with cachaça, lime, sugar and ice). 

Brasil's National Dish: Feijoada


Rio is also famous for its churrascaria, meats that are barbecued and typically brought to your table on skewers, where they’re carved onto your plate. Try Churrascaria Palace, Fogo de Chao or Porcao. Find more eating places here

Rio has hotels to fit most budgets, or book with Airbnb, which is partnering with Rio in 2016 to offer a variety of accommodations. Some top hotels in Rio include:  

Where to Stay

Copacabana Beach

The Belmond Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Romulo Fialdini / Belmond Copacabana Palace

Leblon Beach: Sheraton

Ipanema BeachHotel Fasano

The Hotel Fasano, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Fasano Hotel

Outside Look at The Frasano Hotel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Fasano Hotel

Santa Teresa Neighborhood:

Barra da Tijuca, site of many of the 2016 competitions:  

There’s much more to see and do. Soccer fan will find games in five different cities: Salvador, Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte and Manaus.

If you’re an art lover, make time to visit Praca Maua, in Centro, where you’ll find a mix of science and art at the futuristic-looking Museum of Tomorrow. The Rio Museum of Art is also here.

Museum of Tomorrow, Porto Maravilha, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Luciola Villela / Divulgação Cidade Olímpica

Before you travel to Brasil, ask your doctor if you need any routine vaccines or medicines. The CDC recommends Hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines for most travelers, and Hepatitis B, malaria, rabies and yellow fever vaccines for some travelers. Again, ask your doctor what you need. The Zika virus, spread by mosquitoes, has been reported in Brasil. For tips on protecting yourself, and to learn if you're at special risk, check the CDC website and re-visit it periodically for updates.

Go to and for more travel tips and essential info on health, security, and other issues.

How to Stay Safe in Rio

Safety Tips

Learn what you need to know to stay safe when traveling in Rio.
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