Staying safe in Rio – Part I

Barra da Tijuca view

Barra da Tijuca view

Few weeks ago I received an email of a reader who is planning to visit Rio with the question “do you feel that the city lives up to its crime-ridden reputation or it is all cautionary tales like every city in the world?”- Diane (thanks for your email Diane!)

When I answered her email I realized that safety is one of the greatest concerns  anyone planning to visit Rio has, and that the best moment to share with you all some  basic tips to stay safe in Rio was NOW!

I will tell you what I told her: “Yes, unfortunately it is not only a bad reputation, we really have public security problems”.

But you might be thinking, “what does that mean in fact?, should I gave up the idea of going to Rio, or cancelling my already bought ticket to the Marvelous City?” And what I say to you is NO!! Don’t give up the idea of coming to Rio!! Rio is beautiful and unique!! Just be cautious and you will enjoy the most of your stay in Rio without any unpleasant accidents.

Before giving you some basic tips I will share with you my own experience ! I have always lived in Rio!! 39 years until now, and I have never been robbed or mugged! Yes, I have already lived some risky situations, but my instincts got me away of the danger before anything happened to me. I don’t know if it was just luck or my angel guardian that has been taking care of me, but the point is that I am always alert and I avoid seriously risky situations.  I have already gave up the idea of going to a party, even if it is for a best friend celebration. I’m sorry to say, depending on where it is, I don’t go!!! My safety is in the first place. That doesn’t mean that I will never be robbed in my life, but I try to minimize the chances.

Deciding not to write an only and very extensive post, I decided to write a series of 5 posts, each one dedicated to a different subject when talking about safety in Rio: General and Basic tips (this first one), Arriving in Rio, Where to stay, Getting around safely in the city and Places and situations to avoid

So in this post, let’s start with the basics!

Basic tips to stay safe in Rio by My Little Rio Journal

1)Like any other big city in the world, when coming to Rio you must follow the basic safety tips for travellers. Before you leave home, make a copy of your passport keep it with you at all times. Leave your original passport in hotel’s safe.

2)Leave all the valuable items on the hotel’s safe. That includes all jewelry, including wedding rings and necklaces,or everything you consider valuable.

2) Try to be the most discreet as possible.  As a tourist you will already draw enough attention to yourself for speaking a foreign language. You don’t need to show off your belongs or to dress fancy. Rio is a beach city and all the locals dresses very casual. Shorts and havaianas flip flops are commonly wear by locals on their daily lives. So you don’t need to bring your Louis Vuitton bag, for example. Thiefs loves fancy brands. Of course you can bring a better outfit to go out for dinner, but make sure you take a taxi for your destination.

3) When walking the streets, cameras, iPads and smartphones should be kept inside a bag. Just don’t show up too much your belongings. Take your photos and then put your camera on your bag. As I said on the second tip, you don’t need to draw attention to yourself !!

4) While walking in the streets stay alert!!  Pickpocketing is common in downtown Rio  and in neighborhoods like Ipanema and Copacabana. In deserted streets if noticing anyone suspect, groups of pivetes ( pivetes is how we call homeless children and  teenagers that practices mugging, lately they are acting in groups). Don’t hesitate and if you feel insecure enter a store on your way, cross the street, or change your way.

5)Always get the most information you can before going anywhere. The more informed you are, less chances of getting lost and getting into trouble.Having a map and studying it before going out it is a nice idea.

6) Learn some basic portuguese. Not everyone in Brazil speaks english, although most of the youngest people do. When asking for help or information look for young people dressed like going to work, or students, you have more chances of making a conversation in english or spanish.

7)If you don’t feel safe to do something by yourself, it is a good idea to book a tour.  Your hotel can suggest you some options of tourism agencies.

8)If you run out of cash and need to visit ATMs  prefer to do it during daylight and prefer going on the ones inside shopping centers or gas stations

9) And in case you are robbed, which I hope it doesn’t happen, try to stay calm, and never ever fight back. Those thieves may have guns and be on drugs and they can react violently. Your life is more important than any camera or cellphone.

10) Last but not least, in case you are robbed, go to the tourist police (DEAT) to report the episode.  They are prepared to support tourists in different languages.  Their office is located in Leblon, on Av. Afrânio de Mello Franco s/n, across from nightclub Scala.

Well, that’s all by now!

Rio is a great city, cariocas (Rio citizens) are very friendly and very receptive to tourists. So plan your visit and I’m sure you ‘re gonna have a lovely time in Rio.

Next week I will publish the second post of this series, and take about how stay safe when arriving in Rio!!

Have a nice week!!



  1. I have been there three times (for a week each time) and the city is just amazing. Safety concerns are there but that can be said about any bigb city in most developing countries and some developed ones as well. Highly recommended to anyone who love sun, sea and generally a good time 🙂

  2. Muito bom Cristina! Sempre fico super preocupada quando amigos dizem que foram ou estao planejando ir ao Rio… Geralmente eles nunca levam em consideraçao o fator violencia, pelo fato de na Europa tudo ser muito diferente. Entao achei super legal a sua iniciativa de dar essas dicas! Eu acrescentaria dizendo que o Rio nao é, em hipotese alguma, uma “walking city”. As vezes no mapa as coisas podem parecer perto umas das outras, mas no meio sempre tem um tunel, uma favela, uma rua deserta. Beijos e parabens pelo post!

    1. Obrigada!!! Pois é, são esses detalhes que fazem toda a diferença na hora do cuidado a tomar! A minha intenção não é assustar ninguém nem fazer ninguém desistir do Rio! Afinal o turismo faz o Rio melhorar!! Obrigada pelo apoio e comentário!! beijos

  3. Hi Cristina

    thanks a lot for these tips, definitely useful! Myself and my girlfriend will be visiting Rio for about 3 days in June, and I was wondering what was your opinion about the best area to stay whilst in town. I’m personally a big fan of AirBnB over hotels, but choosing the right neighbourhood is nonetheless important. I was looking at something that was charmy, possibly inhabited by locals, preferably not just a bunch of Hong Kong-style condos and as safe as it can be. I’ve literally just started skimming the surface, but I quite like Botafogo. What’s your opinion?



    1. Hi Fabrizio! Thanks for visiting my blog ! I think you are quite right! Botafogo seems to fit exactly what you are looking for. It is quite near all the touristic spots, you will be able to reach any of them by subway or even taxi not spending too much! You will be near downtown and also Copacabana, ipanema and Lagoa. I lived in Botafogo for 10 years and Im a big fan of this neighborhood. If you need any further information don’ t hesitate to send me an email, it will be a pleasure to help you guys!

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