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Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

4 or 5 Nights, 1-6 March 2019

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is the very best time to visit the world's most exotic city, being from 1-6 March 2019. From samba in the streets during the day to the riot of dancers, drums and carnaval floats of the most extravagant designs in the Sambodrome at night, you will experience the city at its exhuberant best. Daytime visits to Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountain give you yet another perspective of Rio.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is the very best time to visit the world's most exotic city. From samba in the streets during the day to the riot of dancers, drums and carnival floats of the most extravagant designs in the Sambodrome at night, you will experience the city at its exhuberant best. Daytime visits to Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountain give you yet another perspective of Rio. As well as watching the Samba Carnival Parade, you can also participate in it! You receive your own colourful costume from one of the samba schools, and join their party as you parade the 700m along the Sambadrome in front of 80,000 spectators. This is generally best done on a separate night to watching the parade, as the organisation required to participate in costume means missing most of the parade night. Sunday night participating in costume and then Monday night watching the whole parade is what we recommend. 

Hotels in Rio de Janeiro for Carnival Weekend require a minimum of 4 nights, with most at 5 nights to cover the long weekend of Friday to Wednesday. Dates for the public holiday of Carnaval Weekend in Brazil differ every year. For 2019 the weekend begins on Friday 1 March and finishes on Wednesday 6 March.

As well as the official Carnival Parade, there are hundreds of Street Carnival block parties ('blocos') happening all across the city during the weekend, some with official routes and plenty of craziness, others unofficial, random and who-knows-where-they-will-end-up ridiculousness (one finishing at the airport terminal being an example of the madness). We include a schedule for the weekend's blocos (although some have been known to run a little late!) that you may wish to attend close to the beaches, in the city centre, and especially up in Santa Teresa. The district of Lapa also has its own special brand of insanity, with live samba under the iconic Lapa Arches, plus bars and clubs teeming with people the whole weekend through. We include a list of recommendations to help you plan ahead, and that way you can decide how to make the very best of your Carnival Weekend. 

The final part of the Rio Carnival Weekend are the Masked Balls. These famous (or perhaps 'notorious'!) festivals take place throughout the city, with different options every night. 

Whether you watch or participate in the Carnival Parade, attend as many blocos as you can, mask up and head to a ball, or just put your best fancy dress outfit on and walk the streets of Rio day and night, you can be sure to have a stupid amount of fun in Rio at carnival time, along with millions of others. 

This Rio de Janeiro Carnaval Tour can be combined with any of our other destinations in Brazil, either before or after New Year. Particular recommendations include a couple of days visiting one of the Natural Wonders of the World at Iguazu Falls, or spending some time on the beaches close to Rio de Janeiro such as Buzios, Paraty and Ilha Grande. Please bear in mind that the period immediately before and after Carnaval Weekend in Brazil is very busy. All flights and hotels will be reserved a long time in advance, so it is best to book as early as possible! Also, any coastal road journeys between Rio de Janeiro and the beaches will take a lot longer than usual, with heavy traffic as everyone heads away for the busiest holiday weekend of the year in Brazil.

Combines With: Buzios; Paraty & Ilha Grande; Iguazu Falls; Sao Paulo; Amazon; Pantanal & Bonito; Salvador, Lençois & Praia do Forte; even Buenos Aires and Peru.

Best Time to Visit: Rio Carnival Celebrations can be enjoyed all through that weekend, which falls before Lent (and Pancake Tuesday!), usually in February or early March then. The two weekends before Carnival can also see Rio at its exuberant best with the Street Carnival weekends, while the Champions Parade takes place the weekend following Carnival. These options can be cheaper than the main weekend.

  • Destinations: Rio de Janeiro
  • Duration: 4 or 5 Nights, 1-6 March 2019
  • Trip Style: Events & Festivals
  • Activities: Beaches

Brazil Adventure Tours provide you with ideas for tours of Brazil and South America, with all being completely flexible with regards to dates, duration or the tours, activities and classes that we can include. Our website tours are our recommendations based on our experience of how to make the very best of your time in South America. We can adjust these details in any way that you wish, with a little advice from us of course. We can combine any of our destinations that you wish to visit into one tour, and for however long you wish to visit them. Any of our Traditional and Adventure tours can also be combined in whichever way you prefer. We are here to organise a tour that suits you after all, not the other way around!

Day 1 : Arrive in Rio for Carnival Weekend!
Rio de Janeiro

Friday 1 March 2019. Your Rio de Janeiro Carnival Tour begins as our guide meets you at the airport and describes the Marvellous City to you during the journey to your hotel. After checking in and some time for lunch, you head out for your first look at the city - from the cable car ride to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, guarding the entrance to Guanabara Bay. The views over Rio, along the beaches and to the mountains behind are spectacular. After returning to your hotel late afternoon you can perhaps enjoy sunset from Arpoador, the headland between the two main beaches, and catch some of the building carnival atmosphere in the streets of Rio de Janeiro.

Day 2 : Carnival Saturday in the Streets
Rio de Janeiro

Saturday 2 March 2019 - Carnival Saturday in Rio de Janeiro. The morning is free, perhaps for memorable activities such as tandem hang-gliding from the mountain to the beach. In the afternoon, the parties begin. The streets of Rio are taken over by various bands, who parade down the streets followed by hundreds of people dancing, dressing up and getting down. The street parades slowly work their way around their different routes, colouring the streets as they go, Banda de Ipanema and Simpatia é Quase Amor being amongst the best known. Celebrations continue into the night, later on in the samba clubs of Lapa and until dawn underneath the Lapa Arches...

Day 3 : Carnival in Rio de Janeiro!
Rio de Janeiro

Sunday 3 March 2019 is free to relax around the beaches, enjoy the music and capoeira displays. In the evening, you transfer to the Sambodromo where the largest parade in the world takes place. From 9pm through until dawn on both Sunday & Monday night, 6 of the 12 main Rio samba schools compete with spectacular floats of costumed dancers and drums batteries. The parade is a riot of colours & costumes, feathers & flesh as each school has 80mins to impress judges with their hand-built, hand-powered floats. The scale of the spectacle of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro has to be seen to be appreciated, and seems to get wilder and more exotic every year!

Day 4 : Carnival Recovery
Rio de Janeiro

Monday 4 March 2019. With the Rio Carnival Parade lasting until dawn an easy Monday is recommended! Fresh fruit juices from the colourful bars on every Rio corner help to replenish vitamins. The samba beats return to the streets in the afternoon and may begin to move your feet once more. Festivities continue in clubs and masked balls across the city, not just in the Sambodromo. The magic of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is that you can feel part of the spectacle in any part of the city. The atmosphere is as lively and colourful as the costumes, and dressing up is all part of the fun. Weird and wonderful sights are guaranteed on the streets of Rio during Carnival!

Day 5 : Rio & Christ the Redeemer
Rio de Janeiro

Tuesday 5 March 2019. Your final day in Rio takes you to see the historic side of Rio, the Municipal Theatre and the grand buildings from the 19th Century. The modern Metropolitan Cathedral and the antique Arches of Lapa are two more Rio postcard sights before you climb up to Corcovado, the steep 710m mountain topped by the 31m statue of Christ The Redeemer. The views from the base across Rio, its beaches and mountains, the lagoon, Guanabara Bay and the Atlantic Ocean are as spectacular as city views can be. The afternoon and evening are free after returning to your hotel. Please remember that long queues are to be expected this busy weekend!

Day 6 : Flying Home from Carnival in Rio
Rio de Janeiro

Wednesday 6 March 2019. With your flight home likely to be overnight, you have the day to relax, enjoy lunch and spend some final time on the beaches. In the late afternoon you transfer to the airport for your flight home. Your few days of Carnival celebrations in this exotic city should leave you with a love of Rio and a desire to return and explore more of the country with Brazil Adventure Tours. You may also like to extend your trip for another few days to visit Iguazu Falls, the beaches in Buzios or to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Costa Verde. We can combine your Rio de Janeiro Carnival Tour with any of our other exotic destinations in Brazil.

PRICES Simple 3 Star 4 Star Luxury
Per Adult * US$ 1,450 US$ 2,075 US$ 3,375 US$ 5,400
Domestic Flights ** N/A

Suggested Hotels Simple 3 Star 4 Star Luxury
Rio de Janeiro Pousada Bonita Ipanema Atlantis Copacabana Ipanema Plaza Hotel Sofitel Rio


* Prices vary depending on travel dates and flight availability. Peak periods in Brazil including Carnaval, public holidays and Christmas/New Year usually require a minimum number of nights, so in these cases itineraries may need to be changes. ** Domestic flight prices are estimated on typical values when reserved 6 months before travel. Prices can never be guaranteed until reservations are made though, and do usually become more expensive closer to the travel period.

Do I require a Tourist Visa to enter Brazil and other countries visited during this tour?

Citizens of many countries require a Tourist Visa to enter Brazil, organised in advance at your nearest Brazil Consulate.
Please check details for visa requirements for your country on our Brazil Tourist Visa page.
Also, for details of your nearest Brazil Consulate in case you do require a Tourist Visa, please visit our Brazil Consulates page.

Do I need any special vaccinations for the areas visited during this tour?

Visitors to Brazil and South America are advised to always check the latest health information from your local doctors or travel clinic.
You may be advised to take a course of Malaria tablets. Yellow Fever Vaccine is highly recommended/essential for the Pantanal & Amazon region, plus the certificate to prove it, and possibly Hepatitis A and B Vaccines.
Please check our Brazil Vaccinations for further information.

What is the best time of year for this tour?

February - March

Tandem Hang-Gliding Flight - Rio de Janeiro
Duration: 3 Hours incl Instructions/Transfers
If there is one adventurous activity that we recommend you try in Rio, then tandem hang-gliding should be top of your list. Flights take off from the ramp on the top of Pedra Bonita in the Tijuca Forest National Park, with expert and very experienced instructors. For 10-15 minutes, gliders circle the skies above the Sao Conrado district and out over the Atlantic Ocean, before landing on the sands of Praia do Pepino. Instruction on take-off and landing is given, as well as safety talks. Our instructors are the best in Rio, the national and continental champions, and they make sure that your tandem hang-gliding experience will be a special memory of Rio.
Christ the Redeemer Statue - Rio de Janeiro
Duration: During Half or Full Day Tours
The iconic sight of Rio de Janeiro is the statue of Christ the Redeemer looking down on the city from the top of the steep Corcovado Mountain. This spectacular location is 710m high and visit to the 31m art-deco statue of course makes part of a stay in Rio for most first-time visitors to the city. ‘Cristo’ can be seen from many parts of Rio, near and far, even when lit up at night, meaning that the views from the base of the statue are as spectacular as any city view in the world, taking in the city, the lagoon, Guanabara Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, plus beaches and mountains galore. Spread those arms, take that photo and tick off Cristo!
Sugar Loaf Mountain Cable-Car Ride - Rio de Janeiro
Duration: During Half or Full Day Tours
Sugar Loaf Mountain is the 396m tall block of granite and quartz that guards the western entrance of Guanabara Bay, the natural harbour on which Rio de Janeiro was founded. The cable car was only the third ever to be built when inaugurated in 1912 by Brazilian engineer Augusto Ferreira Ramos. There are actually two cables, the first from beside Praia Vermelha to the middle station on the top of Urca Rock, and the second strung between there and the summit of Sugar Loaf itself. A trip to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain is an essential part of a first visit to Rio, with views matching those from Cristo, which can be seen silhouetted against the sky.
Copacabana & Ipanema Beaches - Rio de Janeiro
Duration: As Long As You Like!
Possibly the two most famous stretches of sand in the world in the world are in Rio. Copacabana is a beautiful 4km curve of sand, with plenty of hotels in the 3 or 4 blocks between the beach and the mountains. Ipanema is a 3km strip of mainly residential buildings. They are only 500m apart and as we recommend that our visitors to Rio stay within walking distance of one of them, these beaches will make part of every visit. With swimming, surfing, lounging, beach activities, plus world-class people-watching, we always leave time for people to enjoy themselves on Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches.
Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon - Rio de Janeiro
Duration: Free
In any other city, a huge lagoon backed by mountains would be far more famous, but the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon has much competition in Rio. an 8km path around the perimeter for walking, running and cycling means that the area always has visitors. Pedal swans and stand-up paddle boards can also be taken out on the water, under the gaze of ‘Cristo’. Bars and restaurants in the Ipanema corner make the lagoon a pleasant place to spend the evening too, with lights twinkling all around - especially when the famous electronic Christmas tree is in that part of the lagoon! You may also encounter the resident capybara that returned to the area recently.
Prainha & Grumari Beaches - Rio de Janeiro
Duration: All Day
Our favourite little escape from Rio. These two stunning beaches on the western edge of Rio are the best choice to spend a few hours away from the urban jungle. Backed by mountains covered with Atlantic Rainforest, pounded with surf, this wonderful natural setting is more Costa Verde than city, augmented by regular visits from local wildlife. Both beaches have an excellent open-air restaurant each overlooking the waves. From these we have spotted eagle rays, sea turtles and even a collared anteater swimming in the waves! Seafood lunch with a view is an unbeatable way to pass the middle of the day on the beaches of Prainha and Grumari.
Rocinha Favela Tour - Rio de Janeiro
Duration: 3 Hours
The favelas of Rio are notorious worldwide with regular appearances in films, music videos and of course on the news. Rio has over 500 separate communities classed as favelas, which are basically illegal housing built on previously empty land, often on the precarious slopes of Rio’s mountains. Most people who live there lead ordinary working lives, and the communities work, rest and play the same as any other. Some overlook the main beaches of Rio and have stunning ocean views. A visit to a favela such as Rocinha, the largest of the favelas on these slopes, allows you a fascinating glimpse of community life in the ultimate urban jungle.
Tijuca Peak Hike - Rio de Janeiro
Duration: Half Day
The highest of all the mountains in Rio is Tijuca Peak at 1,021m, and a half day hike to the top takes you from the upper car park inside the park gates to the summit. The 3km trail is comfortable for anyone with hiking experience, usually 1-2 hours up and an hour back down at the most. The trail is under lush Atlantic Rainforest, winding up around the rock until it clears for the final part. Steps cut into the rock, with a not completely trustworthy chain, take you to the top, where you can enjoy views looking over the city and Maracana Stadium or the Imperador Rock looking back at you. Tijuca Peak works well with a visit to the statue of Christ the Redeemer.
Pedra da Gavea Hike & Climb - Rio de Janeiro
Duration: Full Day
Rio has many peaks making part of the range of mountains that separate the city into North and South Zones. This is all part of the Tijuca Forest National Park. Pedra da Gavea is the most distinctive of them, the flat-topped rock named for the topsail on a sailing ship. This hike and climb is a full day for novice climbers, with some scrambling up through the Atlantic Rainforest section, then a little rock climbing before the final summit. Experienced climbers can try the vertical routes on the Imperador rock-face. The views from the top of the world’s largest coastal monolith are staggering, possibly the best in Rio, with a drop almost directly down into the sea.
Sugar Loaf Mountain Climb - Rio de Janeiro
Duration: 5 Hours
What better way to appreciate the views from the top of one of the world’s greatest viewpoints than having arrived there under your own steam? The hike and climb to the 396m summit of Sugar Loaf Mountain can be done by beginners in good shape. The trail from Praia Vermelha takes you around Urca Rock then up the granite shoulders of Sugar Loaf. A short rock section needs climbing before you arrive at the summit. The vertical faces of Sugar Loaf have serious routes for experienced climbers, arriving at the top just in time to spoil many a tourist photo of Rio! Climbing Sugar Loaf is undoubtedly the most satisfying way to the top.
Sugar Loaf Mountain Hike - Rio de Janeiro
Duration: 3 Hours
There is a middle way for Sugar Loaf as well, and a very pleasant route it is for those who appreciate a little hiking. The path around the back of Urca takes you alongside the ocean, with the sounds of the waves breaking below, and birds and monkeys for company, possibly with sea-turtles and rays exploring the coastline as well. The path then climbs up through the Atlantic Rainforest on a trail to the saddle between Urca and Sugar Loaf Mountains. From there, you climb the final part to the middle station at the top of Urca, continuing up to Sugar Loaf by the cable car. The return can be done the same way or by the cable car directly to Praia Vermelha.
Rio City & Santa Teresa Tour - Rio de Janeiro
Duration: Half Day
This tour, visiting the city centre and the hillside Santa Teresa district is usually combined with one of the major Rio sights, Christ the Redeemer or Sugar Loaf Mountain. The views over central Rio from the Santa Teresa hills are fabulous, including from the Parque das Ruinas. After dropping down to Lapa, the Selaron Staircase is full of colourful tiles from around the world, placed by Chilean artist Jorge Selaron. The Lapa Arches take the pretty little yellow tram down to the city, passing the Metropolitan Cathedral and its impressive stained-glass windows. The historic buildings of Rio and the Municipal Theatre are also worth a look.
Dois Irmaos/Two Brothers Hike - Rio de Janeiro
Duration: Half Day
The action begins with the hike up through the Vidigal favela to the top of Dois Irmaos, the Two Brothers peak overlooking Ipanema Beach. The first part is the drive up the winding roads through the hillside community to the trailhead. An hour of hiking through the forest brings you out directly above the Rocinha Favela, with spectacular views of there and Sao Conrado Beach. You continue the forest path to the summit, where you can enjoy the expansive views of Leblon, Ipanema, the lagoon and far more. The journey back down to sea level can include a wander through the streets of the favela for a fascinating look at life inside the ultimate urban jungle.
Rio Boat Tour - Rio de Janeiro
Duration: Half or Full Day
There are many spectacular views of Rio, but one of the best angles is undoubtedly from a boat in Guanabara Bay or during the trip to the Cagarras Islands just offshore. There are many possible routes, ranging from the quick trip from Marina da Gloria out around the bay, with views of Rio and across to neighbouring city Niteroi, to trips (on days of calm sea!) out to the offshore islands, or further along the coast past Niteroi to land on one of the beaches and have lunch. Boat trips can be done privately by motor or sail, and also as part of a larger group by schooner.