Skip to Content

MUST READ – Where to Stay in Rio de Janeiro (Updated 2020)

Wondering where to stay in Rio de Janeiro? In this post, I review the best five neighborhoods to stay in the city.

Lively samba bars, jaw-dropping landscapes, and beautiful beaches, Rio de Janeiro is one of the prettiest cities in Brazil.

It’s a sensory overload.

The city landscape merges so perfectly with the surrounding nature that it’s impossible not to agree with us Brazilians when we say Rio de Janeiro is the Marvelous City.

It’s fabulous!

But I also know it can be overwhelming to choose a hotel in Rio because 1) the city is the most expensive one in Brazil and 2) most tourists fear for their safety.

Unfortunately, the 8 PM news only talks about Brazil to mention 1) corruption and 2) violence.

“So, they are all lying, and Rio de Janeiro is an ultra safe city?”

They’re not lying, but they’re exaggerating a great deal + their story is a single-sided one – there’s so much more that comes into play.

Use common sense, and you’re good to go! Don’t be scared, Rio is beautiful!

Not enough time to read this article in one sitting? Save it for later!

Best places to stay in Rio de Janeiro

For the sake of keeping this guide on the topic, I’ll only talk about where to stay in Rio de Janeiro as well as the best neighborhoods in Rio.

All of these areas have excellent restaurants, bars, shops, and tourist attractions nearby.

They’re pretty independent of each other, but you’ll probably want to explore the whole city and pursue the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro.

For that, you can either use the metro, bus, or Uber, if you prefer.

Anyway, wanna know where to stay in Rio de Janeiro for the first time? Read on!

Where to stay in Rio de Janeiro – budget overview

Accommodation in Rio de Janeiro can be more expensive than in most cities and towns in Brazil.

The city is the most visited place in the country, after all.

And that’s especially true during carnival and New Year’s Eve as the city is jam-packed with national and international tourists.

However, you can expect to find lodging in Rio de Janeiro around the price ranges below.

Where to stay in Rio de Janeiro

  • Budget: Around $10-40 per night for a dorm bed or under $70 for a double room.
  • Mid-range: Around $80-140
  • Luxury: Around $150-300 per night or more

Tip from a local: Read the tips in this guide and book your accommodation in advance to score good deals!

Neighborhoods overview

Santa Teresa Nightlife
This region is packed with samba bars and family-owned eateries. Some major attractions are nearby too, such as the Selaron Steps.
City Center/Lapa Budget
Stay in Rio’s heart and enjoy this bohemian neighborhood filled with small eateries and botecos (Portuguese for beer bars).
Botafogo Families
This neighborhood has some excellent museums and one of the safest beaches in Rio to soak up the summber vibes.
Copacabana Location
This is a high-end area filled with the best restaurants and shops in town. It faces the world-famous Copacabana Beach.
Ipanema First-timers
Excellent location for first timers and slightly cheaper than Copacabana. It has great venues, shops, and beach.

My top picks are:

Budget: My pick for a budget place to stay in Rio de Janeiro is Books Hostel in Downtown. The hostel has both dorms and twin rooms with shared bathrooms, and a kitchen open to guests as well as a bbq area.

They have lots of books you can read during your stay, and free WiFi is also available.

Besides being warm and welcoming, the staff goes above and beyond to make you feel at home. They also have great tips about the city.

Location-wise, the hostel is near the Arcos da Lapa, Selaron Stairs, and loads of pleasant bars.

If you’re traveling on a tight budget and want to meet other travelers, know that Books is one of the best hostels in Rio de Janeiro.

Mid-range: My pick for a mid-range hotel in Rio de Janeiro is Ipanema Inn Hotel because of its facilities and location.

At a short walking distance from Ipanema Beach, this hotel is ideally located to enjoy the local beaches and restaurants.

A metro station is just a block away, making the airport easily reachable.

The hotel offers an excellent breakfast and WiFi, which are included in the price.

The rooms have a simple, but yet neat decoration. They feature air conditioning, a tv, and a minibar.

Considering how expensive the square meter in this area is, Ipanema Inn is very affordable.

If you’re looking for an affordable and comfortable place to stay in Rio de Janeiro, this hotel won’t disappoint you.

Luxury: My top pick for a luxury hotel in Rio is hands-down Windsor California Hotel. Here you have the luxe without the increase in price tag.

This lovely seafront hotel is near some shopping malls, high-end stores, and cafes.

Besides, a room with an ocean view – in a city as pretty as Rio de Janeiro – is priceless.

Windsor California also offers a swimming pool, fitness center, free WiFi, and beach umbrellas.

The rooms feature air conditioning, a TV, a minibar, and a safe.

If you want comfortable and well-located accommodation, Windsor California is by far one of the best places to stay in Rio de Janeiro.

Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro
Christ the Redeemer watching over Rio

Best neighborhoods to stay in Rio de Janeiro

Members of my Facebook community ask me often about safe Rio de Janeiro neighborhoods to stay in.

For that reason, I chose five districts I know personally and consider safe. Note that safety in Rio de Janeiro is more about taking basic precautions than avoiding areas of the city.

Granted, many areas or favelas are not safe, but this doesn’t necessarily apply to the neighborhoods below.

I’ll summarize each of these regions, and further in the article, I’ll talk about each one of them in-depth so that you can decide which neighborhood to stay in Rio de Janeiro.

Santa Teresa

  • Enjoy the nightlife in the region
  • Visit the colorful Selaron Steps
  • Eat local in small family-owned venues

See the best hotel in Santa Teresa

Best for nightlife, local experiences, eating out

City center/Lapa

  • Marvel at the high shelves in the Royal Library
  • Visit the peculiar Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Take the ferry to Fiscal Island and visit a castle in Rio de Janeiro

See the best hotel in the city center

Best for budget travelers, historical buildings

Botafogo

  • Learn the history and culture of the Indigenous people of Brazil at Museu do Índio
  • Enjoy the safe Red Beach near the Sugar Loaf Mountain
  • Visit the Sugar Loaf Mountain and take in the view of Rio de Janeiro

See the best hotel in Botafogo

Best for families, beach/nature lovers

Copacabana

  • Have a cup of coffee in a former mansion, the Parque Lage
  • Sunbathe on the famous Copacabana Beach
  • Enjoy a caipirinha in one of the bars in the region

See the best hotel in Copacabana

Best for shopping, eating out, beach lovers

Ipanema

  • Go for a morning jog at the inviting promenade
  • Watch the sunset at Pedra do Arpoador
  • Have a few drinks by the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon with a view to the Christ The Redeemer Statue

See the best hotel in Ipanema

Best for first-timers, beach lovers, eating out, shopping

Best places to stay in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is a lively city. There is something to do or see, no matter where you go.

While each region has something that appeals more to each kind of traveler, all of them have pleasant cafes and bars where you can enjoy some Brazilian drinks, cocktails, or even our delicious food.

As said, I summarized each one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Rio de Janeiro above. Still, below I’ll talk about them in detail so that you can choose the one that suits you best.

Santa Teresa

A quaint bohemian neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, Santa Teresa is filled with colonial buildings and steep cobblestone streets.

Because this area is atop a hill, you overlook the city and get a better understanding of why UNESCO named the landscape of Rio a World Heritage Site.

Back to this region, Santa Teresa offers a real, local experience – unlike other areas mentioned in this guide – because you’re far away from the most popular attractions.

But don’t worry. The area is also a touristy spot, and you can certainly meet travelers from all over the world here as well as enjoy many exciting venues.

Things to see & do in Santa Teresa:

  • Take the tram to Santa Tereza, the oldest electric railway in Latin America
  • Have a few beers in Armazém São Thiago, a restaurant and bar based on a historic warehouse
  • Enjoy a carnival celebration over some caipirinhas at Mercado das Pulgas in Largo do Triunfo
  • Visit a cultural center based in the ruins of a former mansion, the Centro Cultural Municipal Parque das Ruínas
Yellow Tram in Santa Teresa, one of the best places to stay in Rio de Janeiro
Yellow Tram in Santa Teresa, one of the best places to stay in Rio de Janeiro

Best hostel in Santa Teresa: Books Hostel

Books Hostel in Downtown is one of the best places in Rio to stay in.

The hostel has both dorms and twin rooms with shared bathrooms, and a kitchen open to guests as well as a bbq area.

As you can imagine, they have lots of books you can read during your stay, and free WiFi is also available.

Besides being warm and welcoming, the staff goes above and beyond to make you feel at home. They also have great tips about the city.

Location-wise, the hostel is near the Arcos da Lapa, Selaron Stairs, and loads of pleasant bars.

If you’re traveling on a tight budget and want to meet other travelers, know that Books is one of the best hostels in Rio de Janeiro.

Best mid-range hotel in Santa Teresa: Mama Shelter Rio de Janeiro

With a great vibe, Mama Shelter offers hip accommodation in the artistry neighborhood of Santa Teresa.

The hip decoration, green areas, and outdoor areas make this hotel one of the most unique Rio de Janeiro City hotels.

The rooms have a funky decoration and feature air conditioning, a TV, and a private bathroom.

Simple, but the whole combo doesn’t disappoint.

Breakfast and WiFi are included in the room price.

There is a bar on-site with live music for guests, and they also serve tasty drinks as well as Brazilian dishes in the on-site restaurant.

Staying in Rio gets a whole new meaning at this accommodation. It’s unique for sure.

Best luxury hotel in Santa Teresa: Casa Amarelo

A typical colonial house with French design and Brazilian hospitality, Casa Amarelo is a lovely boutique hotel.

The century-old house has a pool where you can relax and enjoy the view while sipping a beer or, why not, a caipirinha.

The house is surrounded by a green area, so be prepared to spot some birds and common marmoset, a monkey species.

The comfortable rooms have air conditioning, a safe, and free WiFi. But if you want more privacy, know that there is also a chalet in the property.

Casa Amarelo is a special place in Rio de Janeiro because of its unique atmosphere, setting, and experience. It’s unlike anything else in the city.

And chances are, you will want to stay here for good.

City Center – Lapa

Close to Santa Teresa, Lapa is a lively neighborhood on the night of Rio. Animated bars, nightclubs, and street parties fill the night of locals and tourists looking to party the Brazilian way.

While at night, it comes alive, during the day, you see the brown-grayish shades of the ruins colored by street art.

Lapa is by far one of the coolest neighborhoods in Rio and a place you can’t afford to miss, but be mindful of your surroundings.

I’ve visited the area many times, and although it is a modest region, I felt safe in most of them. When in doubt, follow the local news or ask a local in your accommodation and you should be fine.

Oh, this is also the perfect location to stay in Rio for carnival. That’s because Lapa is close to the Sambodromo and loads of samba bars and clubs in the center.

Things to see & do in the Lapa and city center:

  • Photograph the legendary Selarón Stairs
  • Party all night long at Rio Scenarium
  • Enjoy live samba over beers (or caipirinhas) at Bero do Rato
  • Hunt antiques and souvenirs at Feira do Lavrario
When you visit Brazil, you must visit the Selaron Steps in Rio de Janeiro
Selarón Steps

Best hostel in the city center: Lapa Ville Hotel

Conveniently located near a metro station, the Lapa Ville Hotel is a surprisingly comfortable hotel for low-budget accommodation.

The hotel is near the Selarón Stairs, Arcos da Lapa, and the American Embassy too.

The Santos Dumont Airport is 1 mi (1.6 km) away, which is ideal if you’re traveling somewhere else in the country afterward.

The dorms have a simple decoration but are neat and clean. They also feature air conditioning and a TV.

Oh, breakfast and WiFi are also included in the dorm price. Overall it’s an excellent hotel for such amount. 

Best mid-range hotel: Americas Granada Hotel

This mid-range accommodation in the city center is ideally located for visitors who want to enjoy the bars in the region but also go sightseeing. There are many attractions in the surrounding area.

The rooms have a modern decoration and feature air conditioning, a TV, and a minibar.

There is a fitness center, facilities for disabled guests, an on-site restaurant and bar, and a rooftop swimming pool, from where you have a view of the region.

Considering all facilities and its location, the Americas Granada is a bargain.

The hotel also offers breakfast and WiFi included in the room price. Excellent value for money.

Best luxury hotel: Vila Galé Rio de Janeiro

In the heart of Lapa, this hotel is one of the best in the region.

Vila Galé is near Arcos da Lapa and many venues that come alive in the evenings. The hotel also offers an on-site bar and restaurant as well as a wellness center.

The spacious rooms have sophisticated decoration with a Brazilian touch. It’s clean and spacious, too.

They feature air conditioning, a TV, and a minibar, while the hotel features an inviting swimming pool in the garden.

Breakfast and WiFi are also included in the room price. Overall, it’s excellent value for money.

Botafogo

Botafogo is a beachfront neighborhood, mostly upper-middle-class community, near the Sugar Loaf Mountain.

It would be just a common area to live if locals didn’t add a Brazilian touch to the region.

Like in other parts of Rio, Botafogo has its share of quirky and unique bars and restaurants with splendid views of the city.

Ranging from casual to alternative, the venues in this residential region don’t disappoint.

Also, the excellent transport links to other areas make Botafogo one of the best places to stay in Rio for families. In fact, not only for families but also for visitors who want to enjoy a laid-back stay in Rio.

Things to see & do in Botafogo:

  • Indulge in different cuisines, including the Brazilian
  • Watch the sunrise at Red Beach (Praia Vermelha)
  • Take the cable car to Sugar Loaf Mountain and take in the view of this beautiful city
  • Learn the history and culture of the Indigenous people of Brazil at Museu do Índio
Botafogo and Sugar Loaf in Rio de Janeiro
View over Botafogo and Sugar Loaf

Best hostel in Botafogo: Hospedaria Rio

With a welcoming and straightforward decoration, Hospedaria Rio is a lovely hostel in Botafogo.

The dorms feature air conditioning and a private bathroom. Some dorms have a balcony and a view too.

The property offers free WiFi, and guests can make use of the communal kitchen.

Moreover, there is a barbecue and bar on-site.

The metro is just a couple of blocks away as well as a shopping mall, and Botafogo Beach at the end of the street. Although not suitable for swimming, it is ideal for sunbathing.

The Sugar Loaf Mountain is at a short walking distance from here, too.

Best mid-range hotel: Hotel Mercure RJ Botafogo Mourisco

One of the top hotels in Botafogo, Hotel Mercure offers a lot of comfort in a safe neighborhood.

The hotel features an on-site restaurant and bar, a fitness center, facilities for disabled guests, and an enjoyable swimming pool.

The comfortable rooms feature a TV, a minibar, air conditioning, and a safe.

While the location is perfect, some rooms have a view of the Sugar Loaf Mountain, others from Christ The Redeemer.

There is a metro station nearby, and while the Botafogo Beach is right at the corner, Copacabana Beach is only 30-minutes away.

Free WiFi is included in the room price, and they also have family rooms.

Best luxury hotel: Yoo2 Rio de Janeiro by Intercity

If you’re looking for a luxurious hotel in Botafogo with a jaw-dropping view, Yoo2 Rio de Janeiro is certainly the best choice.

This modern hotel has a beautiful decoration, and each room has a unique design.

While the rooms feature air conditioning, flat-screen TV, and a minibar, the hotel has a swimming pool and a rooftop bar with a DJ during the weekends.

Not only the view from the rooftop bar is mesmerizing, but also the atmosphere is delightful.

Location-wise, the beachfront hotel is near a shopping mall and a metro station, making it easy to reach other areas in the city.

Copacabana

One of the most traditional and fashionable neighborhoods of Rio, Copacabana is a subtle blend of Brazilian soul – crowded and lively.

The area has the perfect balance of lovely bars, restaurants, live music, shops, street fairs, and everything in between.

Oh, and beaches.

While Copacabana Beach isn’t the prettiest in the city, it certainly is worth the visit, preferably during the week when it’s not so crowded.

The undulating waves of black and white mosaics make the promenade at Copacabana an unmistakable spot.

It’s a beautiful design that decorates most souvenirs in the city – a symbol of Rio.

Things to see & do in Copacabana:

  • Sunbathe in one of the world’s most famous beaches
  • Go for a morning jog on the beautiful promenade
  • Shop for Bossa Nova LPs and CDs at Bossa Nova e Companhia
  • Watch a samba band performance at the humble bar Bip Bip
Aerial view of Copabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro
Aerial view of Copabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro

Best hostel in Copacabana: Solar Hostel Beach

Only two blocks away from Copacabana Beach, Solar Hostel is the top budget Rio de Janeiro accommodation in this area.

Location-wise, the hostel is at a short walking distance to the Fort of Copacabana, the Army Historical Museum, the Pedra do Arpoador, and the beach, of course.

There is a metro nearby as well.

While the dorms are simple, they all have lockers and socket plugs near each bed. Air conditioning is also available to relieve those warm summer nights.

Guests can make full use of the communal kitchen, and there are many restaurants in the region. Oh, and there’s an ATM on-site. Very convenient!

Best mid-range hotel: Hotel Atlantico Rio

At a short walking distance from Copacabana Beach, Hotel Atlântico Rio is ideally located to enjoy the local beaches and eating venues.

A metro station is just around the corner, making the airport easily reachable.

The hotel has a small rooftop pool, and the breakfast offered is included in the room price.

Oh, the rooftop area is a lovely place to enjoy the view at night.

The rooms have a simple, but yet neat decoration. They feature air conditioning, a tv, and a minibar.

If you’re looking for an affordable place to stay in Rio de Janeiro, this hotel won’t disappoint you.

Best luxury hotel: Windsor California Hotel

The Windsor California Hotel has hands-down one of the best hotel locations in Rio without the increase in price tag.

This lovely seafront hotel is near some shopping malls, high-end stores, and cafes.

Besides, a room with an ocean view – in a city as pretty as Rio de Janeiro – is priceless.

Windsor California also offers a swimming pool, fitness center, free WiFi, and beach umbrellas.

The rooms feature air conditioning, a TV, a minibar, and a safe.

If you want comfortable and well-located accommodation, Windsor California is by far one of the best places to stay in Rio de Janeiro.

Editor’s pick: If you’re wondering where to stay in Rio de Janeiro for your honeymoon, know that the Belmond Copacabana Palace is the perfect place for that!

Ipanema

One of the best areas to stay in Rio, Ipanema is a gem in the city’s landscape.

Most visitors seek the popular Copacabana area first, but Ipanema is certainly my favorite place in the city.

It isn’t so crowded as Copa, and although it is one of the most expensive square meters in Brazil, the views are jaw-dropping.

On the right, the Two Brothers Mountains guard the beach, and on the left, the Arpoador is a lovely spot to watch the sunset. What’s not to love?

The neighborhood has a young crowd and lovely vibe that makes it ideal for those staying for the first time in Rio. You’ll love it too.

Things to see & do in Ipanema:

  • Swim in the blue water of Ipanema Beach
  • Watch the sunset at Pedra do Arpoador
  • Learn how to surf with the perfect morning waves
  • Indulge in tasty local snacks and beverages in one of the many great spots in the neighborhood
Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro
Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro

Best hostel in Ipanema: Che Lagarto Hostel Ipanema

Only one block from Ipanema Beach, Che Lagarto has comfortable dorms equipped with air conditioning and a locker for each bed.

The hostel offers free WiFi and caipirinha, our national drink, every day, 7.30 PM-8 PM. It’s only for half an hour, but it’s enough to meet other travelers and make new friends!

The atmosphere is excellent!

Location-wise, the area feels very safe. There is a shopping mall nearby, as well as a grocery shop and metro station.

Best mid-range hotel: Ipanema Inn Hotel

At a short walking distance from Ipanema Beach, this hotel is ideally located to enjoy the local beaches and restaurants – its facilities don’t disappoint either.

A metro station is just a block away, making the airport easily reachable.

The hotel offers an excellent breakfast and WiFi, which are included in the price.

The rooms have a simple, but yet neat decoration. They feature air conditioning, a tv, and a minibar.

Considering how expensive the square meter in this area is, Ipanema Inn is very affordable.

If you’re looking for an affordable and comfortable place to stay in Rio de Janeiro, this hotel is your best choice.

Best luxury hotel: Hotel Arpoador

A beachfront hotel with all the amenities you could wish for.

Hotel Arpoador is right at Ipanema Beach and next to Girl from Ipanema Park.

The modern rooms are comfortable, and feature air conditioning, coffee machine, a TV (with Netflix), a minibar, and some have a panoramic view of the ocean – to be sure to ask for this room!

The hotel offers free WiFi throughout the property, and the breakfast (included in the price) is served on the restaurant’s porch with an ocean view.

Moreover, a fitness center, sauna, wellness center, and a swimming pool. And if you would like to cycle along the beach, the hotel has bikes available.

Best hotels in Rio de Janeiro

As I said, choosing a hotel in Rio can be a bit overwhelming. For that reason, I decided to write this complete neighborhood guide for you.

After all, I know these areas personally.

I named the best three hotels in each one of these districts, one in each price range. That’s because I believe money is a strong factor for any vacation. 🙂

To recap, Books Hostel is my top pick for low-budget accommodation in the city, and it’s perfect for backpackers who want to know an off the beaten path of Rio.

On the other hand, Ipanema Inn has excellent facilities while just a couple of minutes away from one of the prettiest beaches in Rio.

For a comfortable and luxurious stay in Rio, but without the increase in price tag, definitely go for Windsor California Hotel – no other hotel can beat the views.

Rio de Janeiro travel resources

I want you to have a fantastic time in Rio de Janeiro. And to help you plan your vacation, I created a few other handy guides.

For instance, you might want to read these articles on the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro, the best guided tours, and this one the prettiest beaches.

(If you’re headed to SP, be sure to read this guide on where to stay in São Paulo.)

Also, be sure to purchase travel insurance – this is essential for your trip. For a couple of dollars a day, you have travel insurance to cover accident costs or reimburse losses shall you fall victim to theft.

I use and am satisfied with Safety Wing. Never had a problem making claims with them. Click here to get a quote.

Furthermore, if this will be your first time in the country, and you’re wondering what to do in Brazil, check out my Brazil travel guide as well as the best places to go in the country and some of the best tours.

For transportation, check out my guide to avoiding taxi scams in Rio de Janeiro.

10 Traditional Brazilian Drinks You Must Try in Brazil
← Previous
Brazil Packing List: 11 Things You're Forgetting to Pack
Next →

Sharing is caring!