Rio Carnival is a truly invigorating experience with locals and tourists having the time of their lives. It is usually on everyone's "parties to attend before you die" list. Carnival is a collection of fit bodies in colourful, revealing and flamboyant costumes. Dancers shake their tail feathers to the mesmeric rhythms of samba. All in all an explosion of the senses.
Rio De Janiero and Salvador are the top 2 stand out cities to experience Brazil Carnival. Each city differs in their style of music. Samba is played in Rio and samba reggae is played in Salvador. "Blocos" or street parties are free for everyone to attend. However you need to purchase tickets for the Sambadrome in Rio.
Rio Carnival at the Sambadrome
The Sambadrome hosts parades from 6 Samba schools fighting out to be the number one. Each Samba school puts in an incredible amount of creativity for their floats and costumes. The actions kicks off from 10pm and goes all the way to 6am! Yes, you read that right, 6 in the morning. The atmosphere is electric as the entire crowd joins in singing and dancing to the Samba beats.
Tickets to Sector 8 are the best. It offers the ideal height to see everything, has newer facilities, access to live music area and is where the locals sit. Sector 9 is associated as the tourist area. As the locals are in Sector 8 they know the words to the Samba songs and thus produce a livelier atmosphere. You can buy your tickets from Rio-Carnival.
Accommodation in Rio
Ipanema and Copacabana are the safer neighbourhoods to stay in. This two areas are next to each other and are perfect if you want to be close to the beach. Gloria is excellent for its central location and proximity to the Lapa nightlife district.
Rio's metro rail is a great way to get around the city as you avoid the traffic on the roads. The subways run 24 hours a day during Carnival. If you have an even numbered Sambadrome section you need to get off at Praça Onze station. If you have an odd numbered section then get off at Central station. Both stations are on the orange line.
Closest International Airport: Rio De Janierio- Galeão International Airport (GIG) for Rio
1) Have a patient mindset: Impromptu “Blocos” (street parties) inevitably causes traffic chaos. Bars, restaurants and major attractions like Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer will have long queues. Prepare yourself mentally for long delays.
2) You can bring two 500 ml drinks and 2 bits of food into the Sambadrome. You can also buy decently priced drinks inside the venue.
3) Buy a prepaid Metro train card. All ticket machines are closed during Carnival. Expect long queues for tickets where ticket purchases are allowed.