Should You Go To Rio For Carnival?
My last visit to Rio de Janeiro was an incredible few weeks of non-stop parties, beaches, beautiful sights, and awesome new friends. So when Adam and I were planning our year-long trip, another trip to Rio was firmly on the list. Only, this time, we would be there for Carnival, and I was certain that, somehow, this trip would even top the last one.
But, after a series of misfortunes and a lot of expense, I found myself wondering, should you go to Rio for Carnival?
It’s two questions, really. The first is: Should you go to RIO for Carnival?
I can’t really answer this one. Others have sworn that Carnival is far better in other parts of Brazil, even going so far as to sneer at us when we picked such an unimaginative destination as Rio for our Carnival experience.
What I can say is that Rio is an awesome city, and, if you’re looking for somewhere to go for Carnival and haven’t been here, then now is as good a time to go as any.
The second question is: Should you go to Rio FOR CARNIVAL?
During my first trip to Rio, I stayed in a fun and friendly hostel, where there were always people up for a night out or a day exploring. Even better, some had been in the city for months, so I had an insider’s view of where the best blocos (street parties) were, and a handy guide to the more hidden side of Rio (my best Rio experience to date is dancing the night away at a “battle of the DJs” bloco high up in a favela).
So, naturally, we booked into the same hostel for this trip, hoping for a similar fun and friendly crowd. Unfortunately, due to a run in with bedbugs, we were forced to leave, and settle for a tiny and unexciting hostel where we were pretty much on our own.
To add to the run of bad luck, friends from home who were supposed to be coming to Rio with us cancelled (understandable, as she was pregnant and the recent Zika outbreak made travel to Brazil not worth the risk).
And so our Carnival week started off on a bad foot. But, determined to make the most of it, we shook ourselves off and made the effort to have the best week ever.
And don’t get me wrong, the week was loads of fun. We went to blocos and beach parties, drank caipirinhas, took trips up Pão de Azucar and Cristo Redentor, and met up with friends who were staying in another part of the city.
But there was nothing about Carnival week that made it better than any other week in Rio. At any time of year, on any day of the week, you’ll find a great beach to chill out on, a great bloco to go to, and lots to do in this amazing city. In fact, after shelling out a ridiculous amount for a basic hostel (£30 per night, instead of the usually £4), I found myself thinking our budget would have thanked me if we planned our visit for a different time of year.
However, on Sunday night, we attended the parade in the Sambodromo, which reminded me why so many people flock here at this time of year. It really is spectacular, and if you do spend Carnival in Rio, it is a must-see.
If it sounds like I’m being negative, I really don’t mean to be. In short, Rio is one of my favourite cities at any time of year, and I massively recommend a trip here. Just don’t think that Carnival is the one and only time of year that you have to go (it’s awesome year-round).