How to Pack for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

A view of Rio de Janeiro from the top of a mountain, the Pedra Bonita hike in Tijuca Forest. The blue ocean, mountains, trees, and tall buildings are visible.

Rio de Janeiro is one of my favorite places ever, and I feel super lucky to say I’ve been able to visit several times (so far). Whether you’re traveling just to Rio or exploring more of Brazil as well, Rio de Janeiro is an unforgettable city with so much to offer. Over the course of my trips to Rio, I’ve brought most of the right things … but I’ve also forgotten some essentials. Since I want you to have the best trip possible, here’s everything you don’t want to forget to pack for Rio de Janeiro. 

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Rio de Janeiro Packing List

1. Rain gear

While Rio’s summer months (December through March) tend to get the most rain, it’s a tropical climate, meaning you’re likely to get some rain no matter when you travel. I use this umbrella — it’s pretty compact meaning it won’t take up too much space in your carry-on. 

(If you find yourself needing some rainy day activities, check out this post with the 6 best museums to visit in Rio!)

2. International travel adapter

Brazil uses two plug types: C and N. If you don’t know what this means, what matters most is that it is different from the plugs we use in the U.S. Instead of buying a charger specific to Brazil, I recommend getting one that’s international, meaning it has all the different plug options you could possibly need, no matter where you travel. I have this one. 

(Save this post for later here!)

3. Discreet camera bag

I hate to be a downer, but unfortunately safety is something you should keep in mind when preparing for your trip to Rio. The silver lining is that it’s an opportunity to get a cute bag for your camera! Ditch the traditional camera bag (I only bring mine while I’m flying to keep it protected) and keep your camera in any normal bag you have that can close entirely, like with a zipper or buckle.

I use a bag really similar to this, which is smaller than a regular backpack. (Carrying a normal-sized backpack could also make you a target. I’d suggest wearing it in front of you if you do this). But, it still fits my camera and wallet, is cute, and secure. This one even comes with lots of internal pockets and is made with travel in mind.

4. A day-to-day bag

When you don’t have your camera with you, you’ll still need a bag to carry your wallet, phone, etc. For safety reasons, I recommend a crossbody style that most importantly, can close securely. I have one similar to this.

5. Sunscreen

Perhaps another obvious one, but one still worth mentioning. The sun in Rio is strong. On more than one occasion I’ve put on sunscreen before heading to the beach, only to get horribly burned everywhere I missed (which one time unfortunately included a splotch right across my forehead). Seriously, no matter your skin tone or desire to tan, wear sunscreen! This Paula’s Choice sunscreen is what I use every day on my face, and I use this Neutrogena one for my body.

6. Affordable jewelry

As much as I love Rio, it’s not the place for your best jewelry. Avoid anything gold (or that looks like it could be gold), and stick to jewelry like this. (Seriously, I was given this advice before my first trip and ignored it. Let’s just say that I regret it! And on that note, check out my Rio safety guide for all my best tips.) 

Ok, now let’s talk clothing. Of course, it can be hard to blend in completely when traveling to a foreign country, and I’m not suggesting you buy a whole new wardrobe for the trip. But if you’re interested in sprucing up your wardrobe for the occasion, here are some ideas.

7. Flip-flops

These are practically part of the Carioca uniform, especially in the summer. While I typically opt for sandals apart from the beach when I’m at home or in other countries, they actually made me feel a bit overdressed in Rio. So now when I go to Rio, the majority of the time, I reach for my flip-flops instead. If you really want to embrace the Rio lifestyle, go with these Havaianas. 

8. Sneakers

When you’re looking for something a bit sturdier than flip-flops, try sneakers like these, which are super versatile and comfortable, no matter where you are. 

If you’re planning on visiting Tijuca Forest on your trip (which you should, by the way), you’ll also want to bring shoes that you can hike in. I don’t have actual hiking boots, and just wear shoes like these. But you have room in your suitcase, hiking shoes like these would definitely come in handy.

9. Athletic clothing

Rio is one of the best places to visit if you love hiking and spending time in nature, so you’ll want to make sure to pack some sporty clothing for the occasion. I have these leggings in a couple colors and love them. Same for these tops.

10. Dresses

Airy dresses with tropical or floral style prints are super popular here. Just take a look at Farm Rio if you need to get a sense of the style. But don’t worry, there are some great affordable alternatives out there. Check out this dress on Amazon, or this one if you’d rather skip the bold prints. Think light, beachy, and comfortable when it comes to your clothing overall in Rio.

11. Shorts

The temperatures in Rio during the summer are high. If i’m not wearing a dress, I’m probably wearing denim shorts like these. It’s not uncommon to see women walking around in shorts and a bikini top even off the beach, which brings me to my next point…

12. Swimwear 

This one’s probably a give in, but worth mentioning anyway. If you’re traveling to Rio, no matter the time of year, that means at least some mandatory beach time. If you want to do as (most) locals do, pack your tiniest bikini, but don’t feel like you need to go too out of your comfort zone if that’s not your thing. I have this one and love it.

If you’re traveling to Rio in the winter (May to September), the weather is usually warm and you should still get some nice beach days. But I’d make sure to bring some layers just in case. On one five-week trip to Rio in July, I brought a couple pairs of jeans and a couple sweaters with me, which I ended up wearing on repeat. I definitely wished I’d brought at least a light jacket and a couple long-sleeved tops with me.

There you have it! Rio de Janeiro is such a magical city, and I hope you have the best time. Just don’t forget to head here for the rest of my Brazil posts before you go 🙂

Tess <3

P.S. Looking for even more essential items I take with me on every international trip? Check out this guide!

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11 Comments

  1. May 31, 2024 / 1:53 pm

    Great packing tips. And Rio looks beautiful x

    • Tess
      Author
      May 31, 2024 / 9:49 pm

      Thanks Chloe! Rio is amazing 🙂

  2. May 31, 2024 / 4:10 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I used to live in Brazil, so I’m excited to revisit and explore Rio de Janeiro with your helpful advice.

    • Tess
      Author
      May 31, 2024 / 9:50 pm

      I hope you have an amazing time!!

  3. Sara Meyer
    May 31, 2024 / 4:25 pm

    Brazil is def on my list. Great blog.

    • Tess
      Author
      May 31, 2024 / 9:50 pm

      Thanks so much, Sara!

  4. Marilyn
    May 31, 2024 / 4:33 pm

    Really great tips, Tess. Thank you!

    • Tess
      Author
      May 31, 2024 / 9:50 pm

      Thanks so much for reading!

  5. Sonia
    June 1, 2024 / 7:47 pm

    Great advice on the camera bag!

    • Tess
      Author
      June 2, 2024 / 8:32 pm

      thanks Sonia!

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