Cultural insights and advice for parents planning travel to Rio with young children from a local mom in the know.
Cynthia Jacques, contributor, with family in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil In this feature: Great Places to Go, Getting Around Rio with Kids, Dining with Kids, Local Parenting Culture, Practical Tips for Visitors with Young Children
Although Rio de Janeiro is the third largest city in South America (after Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo), you’ll still find an amazing amount of green space right within Rio’s boundaries. In fact, both the largest and second largest urban forests in the world are located in Rio itself.
Great places to take the kids in Rio de Janeiro
I have a 13-year-old daughter and two step sons from my second marriage, ages 8 and 4 years old. As anyone can imagine, it’s not easy finding activities for everyone to enjoy together. Thankfully, there is much to enjoy right in Rio de Janeiro, with its beaches, waterfalls, mountains, great museums, and cultural centers – and most of the places are very friendly to kids.
Also, Jardim Botânico, placed by our Emperor Dom João VI. It has many different trees and flowers species. Kids can also run wild. It has a small park with picnic tables. There is an entrance and parking fee.
Best beaches for kids and families in Rio de Janeiro
There are lots of them. Some places are better to go with kids, like Baixo Bebê at Leblon beach, in front of Gal. Venâncio Flores St., where they have reserved space for the kids with lots of toys. Prainha, is a bit far, but very clean and beautiful. Any place at Ipanema and Barra is good, but when it`s sunny and specially on weekends, the beaches get crowded, so you must take good care and keep close eyes on kids to avoid that they get lost. At Arpoador Beach you can see one of the most beautiful sunsets ever!
Beyond Rio: Great places to take the kids in Brazil
For car trips, we go to Buzios to enjoy beautiful beaches; to Sao Paulo for nice meals, great museums and parks; to Campinas and Campos do Jordao for a country side trip; and to Curitiba for a little bit of cold and great views.
Best places for kids to experience Brazillian culture in Rio
Dining out with the kids in Rio
Most of the restaurants in Rio don’t have restrictions about kids. Lots of places have special plates or playground area for the kids. There is no different or special etiquette for kids in restaurants. As you may find, not even for just adults, Rio likes to be a relaxed place, where you can go to most of the restaurants with your beach T-shirt and havaianas sandals.
Tips for getting around Rio de Janeiro with kids
Public Transportation: The public transportation in Brazil is not that good. We have an intense traffic in Rio, yet the subway doesn’t go to many places in Zona Sul, where the best things in Rio are. There are a few buses with air conditioning, which you will find important especially during the summer. But there are lots of them at Zona Sul, to most everyplace you need to go. This is certainly not the best choice if you have many bags or packs, or a stroller. The subway is comfortable and fast, with air conditioning, but it’s a short network of trains especially in the Zona Sul area. They have extended the network using complementary buses, that way, you can buy a specific ticket to get the subway and go further by bus. It’s also cheap.
Parenting culture and tips for new parents visiting Rio
Before I go, what would you say it’s like to be a mom in Brazil today? Has it changed very much since you were growing up?
Practical tips for parents visiting Rio with a baby, toddler or young children
Rio still has plenty of nature inside the city, which means we also have bugs, especially mosquitoes. So you should always have repellent in your bag. You can buy it in pharmacies, supermarkets and convenience stores.—