Rio de Janeiro RECOMMENDATIONS See all

Favelas of Rio de Janeiro

By Viator, July 2014

4.5 85 Reviews | Add your review

Rio's 900+ favelas are home to hundreds of thousands of people, packed tightly in astonishing density and replete with all the violence, criminality and squalor that one might expect when extreme poverty is combined with extreme overcrowding. While conditions in some areas border on middle class, many of the more infamous favelas are so fraught with rampant drug trafficking and brutal gang warfare that law enforcement personnel refuse even to set foot within their borders. In recent years, there has been an increase in “reality tourism” in the area, as locals attempt to raise awareness about both the appalling conditions as well as the vibrant subcultures of samba, funk and soccer that take route and flourish in the more stable favelas. Guided tours offer safe, intimate access to a side of life in Brazil that many tourists only glimpse from a distance.    

Most reputable tour groups operated by locals restrict their operations to the favela of Rocinha. Portuguese for “little farm”, this is Rio’s largest favela. Located in the state's South Zone between the districts of São Conrado and Gávea, Rocinha is built on a steep hillside overlooking the sprawling metropolis less than a mile from the beach. Unlike other shantytowns or slums, this favela has a highly developed infrastructure, with hundreds of businesses, banks, bus lines, a cable television station, and a McDonald’s franchise. Tour groups offer a variety of customized trips, ranging from short visits (roughly 3 hours) to extended tours that stop off at dozens of places of interest, rooftop views, eateries and community organizations, culminating in samba and funk parties that run well past midnight (in fact, many do not even begin until 12 a.m.).

Tours & Tickets

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Rio de Janeiro Combo Tour: Santa Teresa, Corcovado Mountain and Santa Marta Favela

4.5 star rating: Recommended 37 Reviews

Visit some of Rio de Janeiro’s most famous attractions and discover the various sides to the city on this full-day tour with a local guide. Explore the ...  Read more

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $155.99

Favela Tour in Rio de Janeiro

4 star rating: Recommended 48 Reviews

Venture into a Rio de Janeiro favela (the Brazilian version of a shanty town) on this half-day educational tour. See the day-to-day lifestyles of locals who ...  Read more

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $64.99

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