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Where to stay in Rio de Janeiro: best accommodation tips by a local

In English | 18/04/23 | Atualizado em 02/04/24 | Deixe um comentário

Where to stay in Rio de Janeiro to enjoy everything this amazing city has to offer? The most famous Brazilian city surely is astounding; so much that I have chosen to make it my home. But traffic can be chaotic, each neighborhood caters for a different type of traveler and some areas might not be too safe for tourists. Therefore, it’s good to think carefully when choosing accommodation in Rio.

The most obvious option is certainly the beach neighborhoods in the so-called South Zone (Zona Sul), like the famous Copacabana and Ipanema. After all, this part of the city is home to the landscapes that populate the imagination of most Brazilians and foreigners. In addition, as it’s a richer area with many tourists, it’s one of the safest parts of the city.

But Rio de Janeiro is not limited to Ipanema and Copacabana. If you want to go beyond the tourist bubble, want to experience a different atmosphere or need to save money, it’s worth considering other neighborhoods in the South Zone and in the Center. And, depending on the objectives of your trip, perhaps the West Zone is a more suitable region.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the specificities of the best neighborhoods to stay in Rio de Janeiro and give recommendations of good hotels, inns, and hostels, from budget-friendly accommodations to luxury ones.

where to stay in rio de janeiro

Best neighborhoods to stay in Rio de Janeiro

In few words: if you are looking for a charming neighborhood near a beautiful beach and nice shops, bars and restaurants, Ipanema and Leblon are the best options. If you want to stay close to the beach for less, consider Copacabana. And close by, but with beaches that aren’t suitable for swimming, you can find good prices in pleasant neighborhoods like Botafogo and Flamengo.

The Center can be great for business travelers, but it also has many tourist attractions. There you can also find the lively bars of Lapa and the charm of the slopes of Santa Teresa.

If you want to stay near beaches that look “wilder” or are looking for a place to stay in Rio during a big event hosted in the area, you might consider staying in the West Zone. Neighborhoods like Barra da Tijuca, Recreio dos Bandeirantes and Jacarepaguá are far from most tourist attractions and don’t have the best transport system, but offer beautiful beaches and a growing offer of leisure.

Want more details on the best places to stay in Rio de Janeiro and tips on hotels and hostels with good value for money? Then keep reading:

Where to stay in Rio at the South Zone (Zona Sul)

Ipanema: upscale neighborhood with a postcard beach

If you don’t have much time to research where to stay in Rio or if you’re visiting the city for the first time and spending little time, Ipanema will certainly be a good choice.

The neighborhood is beautiful and pleasant and has a lot of structure for tourists. From pharmacies to cute little shops, restaurants and bars, you can find everything there. Not to mention the beach, which is one of the most famous in the world.

Staying there you can do a lot on foot, even at night – or by bicycle, which is also a great way to explore the boardwalk. And if you stay close to a subway station, you won’t have any trouble getting to most places across Rio.

The bad side is that you will be in a kind of “tourist bubble”, which is a little different from the “real” day-to-day in other parts of the city. Also, Ipanema is an upscale neighborhood, so both accommodation and services tend to be more expensive. Still, you can find good hostels and hotels with reasonable cost-benefit there.

Ipanema is one of the best neighborhoods for solo travelers in Rio de Janeiro, since it’s safe to walk around by yourself and there are plenty of places where you can meet other travelers.

Some interesting options for hostels in Ipanema are El Misti Hostel, Ipanema Beach Hostel and Che Lagarto.

Among the hotels, the Ipanema Inn has a good reputation and reasonable prices, while the Sol Ipanema has a pool and rooms with a beautiful view of the sea.

If you are on a very loose budget, stay at Fasano, a favorite hotel for celebrities.

See all accommodation options in Ipanema

where to stay in ipanema

Leblon: the quieter, more exclusive neighbor of Ipanema

Right next to in Ipanema is Leblon, the neighborhood with the most expensive square meter in the country. In addition to the beautiful beach, it has good restaurants and bars, shopping malls and a residential atmosphere.

At the very end of the beach is Morro Dois Irmãos, one of the postcards of Rio. And that’s also where the Favela do Vidigal is located, one of the most visited by tourists. It’s a safe neighborhood with lots of things to do day and night.

Among the accommodation options there, you will mostly find high-end hotels such as the Sheraton Grand Rio, the Ritz Leblon and the sophisticated Janeiro Hotel, one of the best luxury accommodations in Rio de Janeiro.

See all accommodation options in Leblon

some of the best hotels in rio are in leblon

Copacabana: the iconic (and cheaper) beachside neighborhood

Copacabana is another obvious choice for anyone thinking about where to stay in Rio de Janeiro. The beach is also beautiful (although not as much as Ipanema) and you can find some very traditional bars and restaurants there, as well as shops, supermarkets, etc. But it’s not as “fancy” as Ipanema and Leblon.

It has a relatively high population density for the South Zone, in addition to some poorly maintained commercial and residential buildings. Some residents consider that the region has been in decline for a while.

Personally, I don’t think it’s a big deal; just don’t expect the same charm and tranquility as Ipanema or Leblon. On the other hand, you’ll probably find cheaper accommodation there, and a little less touristy feel.

If you’re looking for a hostel in Copacabana, check out Solar Beach Hostel Copacabana and the excellent-rated Matianellu, which has a great location.

If you want to stay in a cheap hotel with good reviews, check out the Hotel Canada and the Ibis Budget Copacabana. In this area you’ll also find the Ibis Posto 5 and the Ibis Posto 2, which follow the chain’s standard.

For more upscale accommodation in Copacabana, consider the Astoria Palace, the Windsor California, the MiramarHotel by Windsor and PortoBay.

And if you’re looking for something even more sophisticated, you won’t regret staying at the Hilton Copacabana, the JW Marriott, the iconic Copacabana Palace or the Emiliano Rio.

See all accommodation options in Copacabana

accommodation in Rio

Botafogo: a hidden gem with great dining options

The Botafogo neighborhood is also in the South Zone, close to Copacabana and Ipanema, but has a much less touristic atmosphere and lower prices.

It’s a bohemian neighborhood, and on weekends some of its sidewalks are crowded with young people. There you will also find shops, restaurants, pharmacies, etc.

Want to give it a chance? I recommend checking out the Injoy Hostel if you’re traveling on a budget. If you don’t want to stay in a hostel, other affordable options are Hospedaria Rio and the Ibis Budget Praia de Botafogo.

For those looking for more comfort, good suggestions are the Ibis Styles Botafogo and the Yoo2 Rio de Janeiro by Intercity.

See all accommodation options in Botafogo

Flamengo: residential neighborhood with central location

Another residential and well-located neighborhood is Flamengo (its neighbor, Catete, is also interesting). There you’ll find Aterro do Flamengo, which is a large outdoor leisure area, in addition to restaurants with reasonable prices and a good offer of subway stations.

Flamengo is one of my favorite neighborhoods to live or stay in Rio because you’re between the city center and the most famous beaches. It’s also one of the most family-friendly neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro.

I currently live in the Gloria neighborhood, right next to it, and hang out a lot around there. Laranjeiras, another neighborhood right behind it, is also home to very nice bars and events.

Among the good hotels in Flamengo are the Argentina Hotel, the Elegance Praia Hotel and the Windsor Florida.

See all accommodation options in Flamengo

praia do flamengo

Where to stay in Rio at the city center

For a long time, those looking for accommodation in downtown Rio were almost always business travelers, as many companies are headquartered in this region of the city.

In recent years, however, the port area has been renovated through a project called Porto Maravilha. The region gained new tourist equipment such as the excellent Museum of Tomorrow and the VLT (tramway), in addition to being served by many bus lines and the subway.

The central area of Rio de Janeiro is also home to many free attractions and popular tourist neighborhoods such as charming Santa Teresa and bohemian Lapa. Santos Dumont airport is there too, and if you’re flying from another Brazilian city you might land there.

At night, however, some areas are not very safe, so be aware of comments from previous guests in this regard.

I’ll explain below where to stay in downtown Rio de Janeiro, since each neighborhood there has a different feel. If you prefer, see all the accommodation options in the Center right away.

downtown rio de janeiro

Lapa: the party district of Rio

Known for its nightclubs, the imposing Carioca Aqueduct (Arcos da Lapa) and the colorful Selarón Stairs, Lapa is a very bohemian neighborhood. As such, it tends to get very busy at night, making it a good option for those who are eager to enjoy the nightlife in Rio. Most outings around there also tend to be cheaper, except for the more touristy bars.

On the other hand, some streets are not the safest, so you should pay attention to guest reviews and try to choose accommodation near the busier areas.

Lapa is one of the best areas to find budget-friendly accommodations in Rio de Janeiro. Among the hotels with a good reputation, Days Inn by Wyndham is a great choice, while Vila Galé caters to a slightly more demanding public.

If you’re looking for hostels, it’s worth checking out Books Hostel, Mambembe Hostel and the beautiful Selina Lapa, which is part of a super cool international chain and has private and shared rooms. I go to Selina’s café often and love its atmosphere; its location is also one of the safest in the neighborhood.

See all accommodation options in Lapa

lapa is a popular choice of where to stay in Rio

Santa Teresa: bohemian charm with great views

One of my favorite parts of Rio, the neighborhood of Santa Teresa is located on a hill next to Lapa. Going up there is like traveling back in time, as the region has well-preserved historic architecture and a much quieter atmosphere than most of the city. There you will find very charming lodgings, beautiful views, good restaurants and lively bars. And since it’s high up, many places have nice views.

It’s a nice place to stay at if you’re looking for something charming and with a small-town feel. I’d recommend it specially for couples who want to enjoy a more romantic atmosphere and don’t feel the need to stay near the beach.

Unfortunately, it’s not very easy to go from there to other parts of the city. There are few buses, and some cab drivers or Uber drivers don’t like going up the hills. With some patience, though (or if you don’t mind taking a moto-taxi), it’s not a huge deal.

Good options for accommodation in Santa Teresa are the Casa 48 Guesthouse, Casa Vermelha and the Rio Forest hostel.

See all accommodation options in Santa Teresa on

where to stay in rio

Port region: an interesting, renewed area

Do you know the “Porto Maravilha” I mentioned above? This project transformed the port region of Rio, which up until recent years was very decadent.

Praça Mauá (Mauá Square) and its surroundings were renovated and the Museum of Tomorrow and the Museum of Art of Rio (MAR) were built there, among other tourist attractions.

Other options for hotels with a good reputation there are the Intercity Porto Maravilha, the Ibis Rio Porto Atlântico and the Windsor Guanabara.

See all accommodation options in Porto Maravilha

museu do amanhã

Where to stay in Rio at the West Zone (Zona Oeste)

Barra da Tijuca

Located in the West Zone of Rio, Barra da Tijuca (and the neighboring Recreio dos Bandeirantes) looks like a different city. Not only because of the distance from downtown and the South Zone, but also for its architecture and atmosphere.

This part of the city only started to be inhabited around the 1980s and is full of new building, in addition to being much more made for cars than for pedestrians.

I don’t recommend spending your entire period in Rio staying in Barra or Recreio dos Bandeirantes, unless the motivation of your trip is some attraction located there, such as the beaches of the West Zone or some event or work commitment.

But if you have a lot of time in the city, it’s worth spending a few days there, as I once did. In one of my trips to Rio before I moved here, I spent a weekend exploring the amazing beaches and other attractions in the region, such as Lagoa de Marapendi and the delicious Ilha da Gigoia, and it was great. There are also more and more options for restaurants and nightlife there.

Good accommodation options in Barra are the Ibis Parque Olímpico, the Radisson Barra, the Windsor Oceânico and the Hilton Barra. I stayed at Mercure Barra da Tijuca for a weekend and it was great (the photo below is the view from my room there).

See all accommodation options in Barra da Tijuca

mercure barra da tijuca


Another important neighboring in this part of Rio is Jacarepaguá, which until a few years ago would probably not have been included in any article about where to stay in Rio de Janeiro. But because of the 2016 Olympics, the Olympic Park was built there, and it hosts major events such as Rock in Rio.

If you’re joining some event there, it’s worth checking out the hotel options nearby, such as the Suítes W RioCentro, the TRYP by Wyndham Rio de Janeiro Barra Parque Olímpico, the Venit Barra Hotel and the Courtyard by Marriott.

I recommend looking at the map to make sure the distance between the accommodation and the venue is not too big, since things are quite spread out in this area.

See all accommodation options in Jacarepaguá

Where to stay in Rio for free: work exchange

Did you know you can stay in Rio de Janeiro for free? If you want to live a more immersive experience in the city while saving a lot of money, consider volunteering with Worldpackers.

Through this platform, you exchange a few hours of work per week for accommodation and other benefits, such as meals and tours. It’s also called “work exchange” and it’s an amazing collaborative experience.

You’ll get the chance to learn new things, enjoy the destination from a local’s perspective and meet interesting people from various parts of Brazil and from around the world. You’ll find volunteer positions in Rio de Janeiro where you can help with the most varied tasks, ranging from hostels’ receptions to agroecology.

When registering, you can use the coupon JANELASABERTAS or simply click here to get a 20% discount on the annual membership, that costs pretty much the same as one night in a shared dorm.

If you want to know more about how to volunteer in Rio de Janeiro or anywhere else in the world, check out my article with a complete guide about work exchange.

accommodation in rio de janeiro

Did you like these tips on where to stay in Rio de Janeiro? If you have any questions, ask me on the comments section!

If you book accommodation through the links in this post, the blog earns a small commission that allows me to bring more free quality content for you. Transparency is a core value at Janelas Abertas.

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