Lucky enough to spend some of our time in Rio during the rainy season, we worked hard to find out what your options are, and copying the Brazilians who love to avoid it wasn’t one of them.
Known for dazzling waters and sizzling beaches, people forget to mention that sometimes it rains in Rio de Janeiro. And when it rains, it pours. Because that exotic tropical climate comes with the downside of a rainy season, and it leaves most travelers wondering what in the world they can do when it rains in Rio.
If you find yourself visiting Rio de Janeiro in the rainy season (January-April) and aren’t sure what to do when it rains, don’t panic. Here are our favorite ways to spend your time and take advantage of the Marvelous City when the weather is anything but. You might even have more fun…
If it’s going to downpour, why not use the chance to see a whole different side of Rio de Janeiro and join the grizzly men in the smoky pool bars? From afternoon on, you can step into any one of Rio’s many sinuca spots and pass your time with cheap games, even cheaper beer, and a crowd you can’t find anywhere else. Half the time, you might even have the place to yourselves- round up a group from your hostel and turn a would-be write-off day into the perfect unexpected experience.
Bilhares Guanabara: One of the traditional pool halls with 16 tables and a great location. No set hours, but you’ll usually be in luck. (Centro)
Bilhares Guarany: Like Guanabara, it’s very traditional (and they’re right next to each other). The oldest pool hall in Rio, it dates back over 100 years. (Centro)
You can find traditional pool and sinuca bars all throughout Lapa scattered throughout other neighborhoods, as well as a few updates to the classic pastime. Here are our favorite:
Sinuca da Lapa: Classic, cheap, open every day after 4pm. (Lapa)
Lapa 40 Graus: A higher-end version, this place isn’t a very traditional but is always a good time. Opens at 6pm, live music most nights. (Lapa)
Shenanigan’s: The Irish pub known as a gringo hib, this is perfect for those staying in Ipanema. Music, drinks, football and food, it has a lot more than just pool. During the week it opens at 6pm, but on the weekends you can head in at 2pm.
We know, always the top of the list for rainy day suggestions- but lucky for you Rio is becoming such a museum hub, it’s hard to know where to start. Based on your level of determination, you have a variety of options. If you’re really up for it, we recommend outlining the downtown museums on a map (the ones below are all within a few blocks of each other), and making your own museum tour. Those with more stamina can head across the bay to the MAC in Niteroi.
Museum of Modern Art (Museu de Arte Moderna): Right on the Guanabara Bar, MAM is one of Rio’s best museums.
National Museum of Fine Arts (Museu Nacional de Belas Artes): The fine arts museum is housed in a classic old building conveniently located downtown.
Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR): Rio’s newest art museum, the many floors will keep you occupied for a couple hours.
MAC Niteroi (Museu de Arte Contemporanea): The famous building by Oscar Niemeyer offers wonderful views back on Rio from every room. The exhibits sometimes have trouble competing with the
3. See a Movie
Another classic rainy-day activity, you can make it more interesting by visiting one of Rio’s unique theaters and having the thrill of watching a movie in Portuguese (but don’t worry, all are offered with English audio or subtitle). Our favorite is the Cine Santa Teresa, a one-screen theater atop the beautiful hilltop neighborhood that will definitely take you back. You can have lunch or dinner at one of the adorable restaurants next door, then settle in and enjoy the show.
Cine Santa Teresa: Make sure to check the movie times before since they usually only have a few per day!
Cinemark: The major chain that owns all the multiscreen, modern theaters. If you need convenience, you’ll definitely find one with a showtime near you.
4. The Theater
If your timing is right, you can turn your rainy day into one of the most incredible experiences in Rio: Seeing a performance at the elegant Municipal Theater. While prices can climb steep, at least once a month the theater offers tickets to the philharmonic performances for less than R5. Check their schedule and see what’s on while you’re there! If nothing else, you can also take a tour of the magnificent building. (It’s right next to several of the museums, so you can add this to your museum day!)
Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro
5. Eating, Really Eating
Of course eating is the go-to option whenever you’re bored, but Rio takes it a level further: rodizio. Rodizio is the Brazilian approach to all-you-can-eat, and it’s popularly offered for sushi, pizza, and the infamous steakhouses. With no time limit, you can cozy up in whichever restaurants calls your attention and spend hours over a long meal and drinks- with some of Brazil’s best food. Here are our favorites in each category:
Dombri Edo Sushi: Inside the Everest Hotel in Ipanema, Dombri Edo offers a giant selection of sushi and hot dishes at a fixed price. (Ipanema)
Carretao: The popular churrascaria offers unlimited barbecued meat, brought right to your table and an additional buffet of salads and side dishes. (Ipanema)
Broz: For less than R25, go crazy with a million different flavors of pizza at your fingertips, including dessert pizzas. (Flamengo)
6. Cozy Up & Read
If you want to get out for the sake of getting out, but are happy to have an excuse to do a whole lot of nothing, pop in to one of Rio’s many bookstores and snuggle in. With wide selections, including a decent choice of books in English, and ideal reading atmospheres, you could spend hours forgetting the rain outside.
Letra Viva: This new and used bookstore has two locations, both with adorable cafes in the midst of the books- so you can really settle in with a great new book and not have to face the rain for food or coffee breaks.
Whatever you do, don’t let the rain stop you from enjoying this city. There are plenty of things to do to keep you entertained in the rainy season, and waiting it out in your hostel shouldn’t be one of them!
Livraria da Travessa: The greatest chain of bookstores in Rio, with a independent feel. Each one overflows with books and nooks for pawing through them.
Have other tips for making the most of your rainy days in Rio de Janeiro? Share them with us below!
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