23 Jan

When Europeans and North Americans are vacationing, Rio appears to be an inexpensive tropical playground. Accommodation can be as low as R$30 a night, a can of Antarctica beer is R$2.50 and the number 1 entertainment in the city, the beaches, are free. Unfortunately, after a few weeks, tourists slowly begin to realize that Rio de Janeiro is the second most expensive city in South America, with São Paulo being the most expensive.

We have compiled a cost-reducing list that will hopefully aid you for your extended stay in the Cidade Maravilhosa, the Marvelous City.

packing for rio de janeiro what to bring


  • Sweater and/or jacket
  • Umbrella
  • Smartphone


  • Food (from the grocery store or from the “farmers markets/feira livre” which are held various days in all Rio neighbourhoods)
  • Personal Care Services: haircuts, manicures, aesthetic services (make it even more affordable by going to a beauty school; there are several in Copacabana and Ipanema.)
  • Clothing (From  the Uruguaiana market and the Ipanema Hippie Fair)
  • Prescription and “over the counter” medication
  • Cultural activities: museums, theatre, dance performances. (We’ve made a list of free or nearly free activities in Rio de Janeiro.)
  • Transportation: bus, metro and Uber.  (If it’s daytime, try walking instead of taking the bus; you will discover more of gorgeous Rio de Janeiro, save money AND stay beachbody fit.)
  • Housekeeper (if you are coming to Rio with your family or children, a full-time housekeeper is very affordable.)
  • Mini-excursions (Buses to Petrópolis, Ilha Grande, São Paulo)
  • Study Portuguese at Caminhos Language Centre: Caminhos is the number 1 Portuguese school in Rio de Janeiro and has the best value for money.


  • Electronics!!! (Bring backup memory cards, chargers, adapters, shavers etc.)
  • Herbal medicine/vitamins
  • Make-up (Loreal & Maybelline are 2.5x more expensive here – bring that mascara!)
  • PLACING cell phone calls (the Brazilian cell phone companies are TIM, Claro, Oi and Vivo – they all offer pay as you go plans. Shortly after topping up, you will quickly notice that your phone credit is going, going, GONE. Tip: it’s cheaper if you only call people within your carrier, or play it safe… Just send text messages… Also, receiving phone calls is free.)
  •  Tampons
  • Boxer shorts
  • Books in English (if you don’t have a Kindle or Ipad, books in English are pretty tough to come by. Stock up on the paperbacks. If you do have a portable device do the reading in your room, NOT on the beach)
  • Nightclub entrance fees (can range from R$15 to R$200)
  • Sheets/blankets

Hopefully, this list will help your decision-making. The best advice we can give you is: if you can’t imagine your daily routine without it, bring it! You may look strange at the airport with your giant container of protein shake powder and yoga mat, but you AND your wallet will feel better about packing it in the long-run.


Learn Portuguese in Brazil with the best language school in Rio de Janeiro. Caminhos Language Centre offers group classes, private lessons, Celpe-Bras exam preparation and lot more. We can also help you with homestay in Rio de Janeiro and Student Visa for Brazil. Contact us and be part of the Caminhos family.

Leave a Comment