The ultimate packing list for Rio Carnival
There are lots of reasons why attending Carnival in Rio is on top of many bucket lists. To begin with, the city is widely known as one of the most beautiful places in the world, one of the best fun-loving destinations for tourists. The festival tradition itself is a huge thing for the locals, a cultural event of epic proportions on the Brazilian calendar. Trip preparation can be really overwhelming, so you better check the tips below!
The first thing to keep in mind while packing to your Carnival experience is: down below the Equator Line it’s Summertime now and temperatures can go beyond 100F (40ºC). So put on sunscreen SPF 50 or higher and carry a bottle of water everywhere you go. A shade hat, sunglasses and a lip balm with sunscreen are also good items.
Cariocas dress casual, especially in the summer. During the day, everyone is using t-shirts and shorts along the beach and restaurants. However, bringing a light jacket it’s a good addition, as it rains frequently. You’ll need an elaborate costume or black tie only if you’re planning to attend Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace Hotel or any other fancy party. You should also throw some fun stuff into your suitcase, like witch and cowboy hats. You don’t need an excuse to use them here during Carnival!
Shoes and sandals
Since Rio has a tropical weather and you will problably be walking around a lot – visiting historic spots downtown or even by the beach -, choose comfy sandals and a good running shoes, just in case you want to do some light hiking. Bring your favorite pair of casual shoes for the evening too. Buy a pair of famed Havaianas (flip flops) at local shops when you arrive. In Rio, it’s a fraction of the cost in the U.S.
Special note on socks: knee-length white socks are a fashion no-no in Rio. Keep them back home if you want to look like the locals.
Be prepared for sunny days and pack your favorite bathing suit or bikini. Many guys wear trunks at the beach, but Carioca men favor wider swimming briefs. Rio is the paradise for buying swimsuit, so as soon as you get a chance go visit a shop. If you prefer something more conservative, you better bring yours because you may spend time searching for models that cover larger parts of your body.
Beach Towels? No, please! The air is usually warm enough to air-dry you quickly and you should buy a Brazilian canga in Rio.
Pack a camera with everything you may need: charger or extra battery, extra memory card, lenses, etc. Rio is extremely photogenic, especially at Carnival. Of course you could buy equipament here but the prices are higher. Be sure to take snapshots of the beaches, Christ the Redeemer statue and the city view from the Sugar Loaf.
Accessories and make-up
Leave the narrow heels and expensive jewelry at home. You are not supposed to bring them with you cause you won’t need them here. Buy some accessories at the Ipanema Hippie Fair.
Nobody wears make-up at the beach, so put put as little as you can live with. Brazilian women generally go easy on with little eye-shadow and mascara.
There are digital clocks all around town, so watches are unnecessary.
Make sure your itens are suitable to our electrical standards (110 V and 60 Hz), or they will only take up space in your luggage. A few hotels have dual voltage only in the bathroom, so it’s helpful to have a power adapter for your personal electronics. If you’re coming from Europe, you may also need a plug. The sockets here usually have plugs with round, not the flat pins where one side is wider than the other. But don’t worry too much. Any local shop of electric devices can sell you a suitable adapter.
Brazilian Portuguese/English Dictionary
If possible, study some Portuguese words before you come and bring a pocket English to Portuguese dictionary. You can download a mobile app to make it easier to carry wherever you go. While English is widely spoken in Rio, most taxi drivers and waiters are not fluent. Therefore, knowing some basic phrases in Portuguese will save you time.
Last but not least, don’t forget to bring your documents, like passport, driver’s license and its photocopies (but keep them in a separate place from the originals). You will need them to get your tickets to the Sambadrome. It’s also a good ideia to carry a money belt with some Brazilian Real, the local currency. Most estabilishments that cater to tourists accept credit cards too. In case of emergency, you can find currency exchange desks in major banks and hotels.
If it seems a lot of information, don’t worry. Copacabana and Ipanema neighborhoods have stores to sell pretty much anything you may need. You certainly will find interesting ones. If you think anything is missing in this article, please share your tips in the comments.