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Rio de Janeiro RECOMMENDATIONS See all

How to Experience Rio de Janeiro Carnival

By Viator, February 2018

4.5 441 Reviews | Add your review

Visitors who are in Rio during Carnival are treated to five days of flashy costumes, rhythmic samba, and round-the-clock parties. From samba lessons to the Sambadrome parade, here's what you need to know to make the most of the pre-Lent festivities.

When to Go
Carnival occurs each year in the days leading up to Lent (40 days before Easter), typically in February or early March. The big parades at the Sambadrome typically take place on Sunday and Monday evenings, though smaller parades are hosted on Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday as well. Hotels and clubs around town host grand balls, the most famous of which is Saturday's Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace Hotel on Copacabana Beach.

How to Go
Visitors to beachy Rio have many options for taking in the Carnival festivities. Enjoy the Carnival parade hassle-free with pre-booked tickets and round-trip transportation, go behind the scenes during a rehearsal at a top samba school, or tour the Academicos do Grande Rio's warehouse, where the extravagant parade costumes and floats are stored. While in town, don't miss the chance to see other iconic attractions, like the Christ Redeemer statue and Sugar Loaf Mountain, with an early-access or skip-the-line tour.

Things to Know
  • Rio Carnival falls during Brazilian summer, so pack for warm weather and afternoon showers. Expect an average high of 81°F (27°C) in February.
  • The city gets crowded during Carnival, so save time by taking the metro instead of taxis or buses. To get to the Sambadrome, get off at Praça Onze and walk 15 minutes along the well-signed route to the parade area.
  • If you don't have tickets to an official Carnival ball, you can still take part in one of many blocos,  or Carnival street parties, staged throughout the city.
  • Up to half a million visitors show up for the festivities, so it's a good idea to book well in advance.

Tours & Tickets

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Viator Exclusive: Early Access to Christ Redeemer Statue with Optional Sugar Loaf Mountain Tour, ... 
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Viator Exclusive: Early Access to Christ Redeemer Statue with Optional Sugar Loaf Mountain Tour

4.5 star rating: Recommended 298 Reviews

Be among the first visitors to gaze upon the Christ the Redeemer statue without the usual crowds on this early morning Rio de Janeiro tour — a Viator Exclusive ...  Read more

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

From USD $100.00
Guanabara Bay Cruise with Optional Barbecue Lunch, Rio de Janeiro, Day Trips
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Guanabara Bay Cruise with Optional Barbecue Lunch

4 star rating: Recommended 68 Reviews

Spend half a day sailing on Guanabara Bay, for the most beautiful views of Rio de Janeiro with Sugar Loaf Mountain towering in the distance. Pass the bay's ...  Read more

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

From USD $59.00
Rio de Janeiro Hang Gliding Experience, Rio de Janeiro, Day Cruises
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Rio de Janeiro Hang Gliding Experience

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 19 Reviews

The original hang gliding experience over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Operated by former, WXC World Champion, National Champion and multi Record holder Konrad ...  Read more

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

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Private Rio Nightlife Tour with Skip the Line, Rio de Janeiro, Adrenaline & Extreme
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Private Rio Nightlife Tour with Skip the Line

4 star rating: Recommended 3 Reviews

Experience the best that Rio de Janeiro's nightlife has to offer on this amazing dinner and drinks tour. Enjoy exclusive VIP treatment, listen and dance to ...  Read more

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Duration: 6 hours (approx.)

From USD $215.00
Small-Group Panoramic Bike Tour in Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Nightlife
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Small-Group Panoramic Bike Tour in Rio de Janeiro

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 21 Reviews

Enjoy a small-group, 4-hour bike tour visiting Copacabana, the celebrity cemetery, São João Batista, the Bay of Guanabara, Lapa, the colored Steps of ...  Read more

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

From USD $47.25
Rio de Janeiro Carnival Parade Special Group School Nights, Rio de Janeiro, Bike & Mountain Bike ... 
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Rio de Janeiro Carnival Parade Special Group School Nights

4.5 star rating: Recommended 2 Reviews

Attend THE Parade, the Special Group School nights, the highlight of Rio Carnival. This must-see show has made Rio de Janeiro the Carnival capital of the ...  Read more

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Duration: 5 to 8 hrs

From USD $170.00
Rio de Janeiro Carnival Parade Ticket with Optional Transport, Rio de Janeiro, Cultural Tours
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Rio de Janeiro Carnival Parade Ticket with Optional Transport

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 3 Reviews

Revel in the all-night excitement of Rio de Janeiro’s annual Carnival (Carnaval) parade, famous throughout Brazil – and the rest of the world – for its ...  Read more

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Duration: Flexible

From USD $164.00
Rio de Janeiro Small-Group Cooking Class, Rio de Janeiro, Concerts & Special Events
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Rio de Janeiro Small-Group Cooking Class

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 24 Reviews

Take some time out of your Rio de Janeiro vacation and learn about the local Brazilian culinary scene. Located in the Centro neighborhood of Rio, this small ...  Read more

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

From USD $74.99
Rio de Janeiro Carnaval 2019 Champions Parade, Rio de Janeiro, Cooking Classes
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Rio de Janeiro Carnaval 2019 Champions Parade

The awesome party of the Champion's Parade happens without fail the following Saturday after Carnival. In 2019 the Champion's Parade is scheduled to happen on ...  Read more

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Duration: 3 to 6 hrs

From USD $150.00
Rio de Janeiro Carnival Parade and Costume Experience, Rio de Janeiro, Concerts & Special Events
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Rio de Janeiro Carnival Parade and Costume Experience

Join a group of 15 or less people on this 8 hour tour and be one of the stars at the Sambodromo. Get a gorgeous costume from the "Grupo Especial" and ...  Read more

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Duration: 5 to 8 hrs

From USD $320.00

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