Rio de Janeiro is a great destination any time of the year, but some seasons are better for different types of travelers.
Whether you’re looking for the coolest temperatures, the biggest parties or you’re a budget traveler out to save your pennies, this guide can help you find the best time to travel to Brazil’s Marvelous City.
Here’s our guide to figuring out when in the year you should plan your trip to Rio de Janeiro.
What’s the weather like in Rio de Janeiro?
Rio’s seasons run congruent with those of the southern hemisphere, which means the hottest months are from November to March, while temperatures cool down from April to October.
During the winter, June to August, you might get hit with some cold, windy, gray weather, however it’s usually blissfully broken up by sunshine and 26°C (79°F) beach days.
As summer approaches, you’re more likely to see afternoon downpours to quell the tropical heat than the cold and gray rainstorms of winter. The rest of the year you can expect sunny skies and hot afternoons – along with the warm evenings that are perfect for a night on the town.
It’s not just the weather you’ll use to plan your travels, however. You’ll also want to consider what festivals are on, what kind of crowds to expect, or what time of the year is the best for travelers on a budget when choosing when to travel to Rio de Janeiro.
December to February is the best time for parties and festivals
Summer – the hottest, most crowded and most expensive time of the year – runs from December to February. School is out for summer vacation, and tourists from across the country and around the world flock to the city to experience Rio’s world-famous New Year’s Eve and Carnival.
Accommodation is absurdly expensive and likely to be booked out months in advance. However, both events are also dream trips, and if they’re on your bucket list, it’s an amazing time to be in the city.
February is time for Carnival
Carnival typically takes place in February, although its date changes every year, and it sometimes ends up falling in March.
While the actual holiday may be only a few days long, Carnaval do Rio de Janeiro festivities start months before the actual event, and street parties will take place nearly every weekend from the start of the New Year.
Even if you can’t make it to Carnival itself, you can get a taste of the experience without breaking the bank by arriving one or two weeks before the actual holiday, or by staying for a week after.
March to May is the best time to see how cariocas live
In Brazil, they say the year only really starts after Carnival ends, which makes March the true “beginning” of the calendar year. After a summer of relaxing and partying, cariocas (Rio residents) start heading back to work and life goes back to a calmer pace.
The heat begins to dwindle, and outside of the Easter holiday, tourism slows down significantly. March to May is the best time of year to get a true look at life in Rio, and slide into the day-to-day rhythm of the city.
Avoid Easter week if you’re on a budget. This major holiday sends prices skyrocketing and brings in tourist crowds reminiscent of high season.
June to August is the best time for winter sunshine and traditional festivals
June to August is winter in Rio, and although temperatures rarely get below 15°C (59°F), anything below 20°C (68°F) is already a reason for residents of the city to put on their hats and coats and shiver in their Havaianas.
Luckily, there’s one winter tradition that makes the “cold” worthwhile – the Festas Juninas. These festivals run through June and July, celebrating some of the major saints’ days in typical countryside fashion, with endless parties featuring traditional dances, drinks and costumes.
The Festas Juninas are excellent fun, and range from super family friendly (they’re celebrated in schools across the country) to late night booze-soaked hoedowns.
September to November is the best time for budget travelers
Spring is possibly the best time of year to be in Rio. School is back in session, temperatures have picked back up and days are typically sunny and beautiful.
There are heaps of cultural events and activities, from concerts to full-on festivals – like Rock the Mountain or the STU Skate Open – yet outside of national holidays, you can still avoid the bulk of the crowds and crazy prices.
Enjoy these magical months of peace in the city before the summer crowds kick in and the prices shoot back up as temperatures rise. This is also the best time to take trips around the state, to breathtaking getaway destinations like Paraty, Ilha Grande or Petrópolis.