Safety Tips for Rio de Janeiro


Generally, Rio de Janeiro is safe to visit—as long as travelers are aware of some safety issues.

As a general rule, NEVER visit the favelas (slums), especially in Zona Norte (North Area) , even on a guided tour. Your safety can’t be guaranteed by the tour company or even the police when traveling into these communities.

Most of Zona Sul (South Zone) is relatively safe, including: Ipanema, Copacabana, Leblon, Botafogo.

These neighborhoods are generally safe (no place is 100% safe) and are good places to stay in Rio. Just remember that you are in a big city (Rio has more than 6 million people) so stay aware of your surroundings and take normal precautions.

Here are some more tips to keep you safe in Rio:


leave your bag unattended.

put your wallet in your back pocket or the outside pocket of a bag.

walk alone on the beach at dusk or at night.

take out and/or use your cell phone more than absolutely necessary.

wear jewelry in the street.

openly carry a camera.

take more than you need to the beach.


put your money, credit cards, passport and ticket in the safe deposit box of your hotel.

take cabs rather than buses (We recommend transportation apps because although taxi fare in Rio is regulated by the city, scams can and do happen. Using transportation apps can minimize your chance of getting scammed.)

roll up the windows of your car or taxi if you are stuck in a traffic jam.

ask the police for help if you need it.

Have a local chip for calls and internet. You can by your just clicking here.

Don’t travel blindly. Work with one of our locals!

Some common scams to avoid:

There are people in Rio that can tri scam you. Locals say that as long as you pay attention to your surroundings, you can minimize the possibility of becoming a victim of a crime. They say these are the top scams to watch out for:

Credit Card and ATM scams

This is probably the biggest scam in Rio. It’s a pain, but try to use cash everywhere to avoid having to worry about fraud. If you do use a credit or debit card, make sure they bring the card machine to your table or watch them swipe your card—never let your card out of your sight.

Skimming is rampant, so if the card slot seems loose, don’t use it! Check your card balance daily and don’t use standalone ATMs. Try to withdraw money at the airport, at your hotel, or at a bank. And be aware if someone is watching you.

The shoeshine scam

This scam involves someone squirting something gross onto your shoes—and then a shoe shiner will offer to clean your shoes for a hugely inflated price. If this happens, just walk away and clean your own shoes.

Theft and scams are common, but violent crime is relatively rare in touristic areas.

Petty theft and scams are by far the most common crimes reported in Rio. Locals tell us there is a high pickpocket risk especially on the beaches and on crowded buses or downtown “Centro” streets. A few simple precautions will minimize your chances of being pickpocketed.

And about tap water and vaccines?

The tap water is not safe to drink, so stick to bottled water.

While the tap water in hotel rooms and ice cubes in restaurants are filtered and safe to drink, this is generally not true elsewhere. It’s best to stick to bottled water.

You may need to get additional vaccines—check with your doctor

You should be all set if you are up to date on routine vaccinations. However, the CDC recommends all travelers heading to Brazil should also be covered for hepatitis A, typhoid, and yellow fever. Based on how long you are staying, however, or if you plan to explore the rural areas, you may need additional vaccines. Learn more.

Emergency numbers you should have with you

Just in case if you run into any trouble while seeing the sights of Rio, here are some numbers to call for assistance. (Don´t have a local chip? Buy a virtual chip here.)

National Emergency Number: 190

Tourist Police: 021/3399-7170

Medical Emergency: 192

U.S. Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro: (61) 3312-7400

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