Visas: US, Canadian and Australian citizens need visas, but UK, New Zealand, French and German citizens do not. If you do need a visa, arrange it beforehand. Visas are not issued on arrival; and you won’t be permitted into the country without it.
Local transportation: Buses are still the cheapest and most convenient way to get around the South Zone (Zona Sul) of the city due to the high number and frequency of lines running through the area. There are designated bus lanes in most streets that make travel times shorter. Buses stop only when you hail them, by extending the arm. If you don't hail and there are no passengers waiting to get off, the bus simply won't stop. You should be mindful of questionable characters and your belongings.
Metro is the most convenient way to get around. There are two lines, Line 1 (Orange) and Line 2 (Green). Trains run from 5am to midnight Monday through Saturday, and from 7am to 11pm on Sundays and holidays. Single rides cost R$3.70.
Rio’s yellow taxis are prevalent throughout the city. If you have a smartphone, you can use a free app like 99Taxis or Easy Taxi to hail a cab. However, be aware that traffic jams in Rio can be terrible at times.
There are bike paths along the beach, around Lagoa and along Parque do Flamengo. In addition to a public bike-sharing scheme, you can rent bikes from stands along the east side of Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas for around R$15 per hour and at various bike shops along the bike path between Copacabana and Ipanema.
Where to buy a SIM card: These are the four major wireless carriers in Brazil: TIM, Claro, Oi, and Vivo. You can get a SIM card at most banca de jornais (ubiquitous little kiosks that sell newspapers, magazines, and other items) in Rio. You also top-up your phone at the same kiosks (ask for a “recarga”).
Popular areas: Centro, Copacabana, Ipanema, Leme, Lagoa, Botafogo
Popular food: Comida a kilo (buffet style restaurants where you pay by the weight of the food on your plate), Churrascaria (all-you-can-eat grilled meats), Feijoada, Pastels
Things not to do: Don't make the "OK" hand gesture. It has a different and offensive meaning in Brazil. Don't withdraw cash from the wrong ATM at the airport.
Rio de Janeiro is famous for its breathtaking landscape, its laidback beach culture and its annual carnival, and infamously for its violence and crime. This city knows how to party: samba-fueld nightlife can be found at dozens of live-music places, especially in Lapa, an edgy red-light district.
Women digital nomads should take the same precaution they would in big cities. Avoid taking buses after dark, and keep an eye out for thieves. Take taxis at night to avoid walking along empty streets and beaches. Avoid Centro at night and on Sundays (shops are closed) - the area becomes deserted then. While Copacabana and Ipanema have a police presence, robberies still occur even in broad daylight. Avoid going into favelas by yourself or with an unknown guide. Instead, go with the travel agencies that conduct favela tours - these operators have a "safe-conduct pact" with the local drug dealers and will be left alone.
There is an established local startup community and many digital nomads living in Rio. However, digital nomads should be aware of the unstable economy and a fluctuating Reais. Cost of living is also more expensive than other South American cities. The country as a whole is renowed for its bureaucracy, and it applies to even simple things like long queues at the grocery stores (asking you for your tax ID, for example).
The best time to visit Rio is between December and March, when the weather is warm and sunny enough to hit the beaches. Between January and March, daytime temperatures can sometimes surpass 90 or 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If you prefer more moderate conditions, visit during autumn (April and May) or spring (October and November), when temps fall back to the 70s and low 80s during the day and the 60s at night.
Coworking Spaces in Rio de Janeiro
Cafes with wifi
Don't want to work at a coworking space? Check out these cafes with wifi instead.