Packing for winter in Rio de Janeiro

After Rio’s relentless summer of scorching hot days and balmy, sweaty nights, the city’s winter can be refreshingly welcome. This time of the year is all about breezy, sunny days, pleasant trips to the beach, and chilly evenings where a delicious glass of red wine is the perfect way to round off a day exploring. The temperature rarely drops below 15-degrees Celsius, yet it can feel cold for those ready for roasting tropical days. Here are our essentials for winter in Rio de Janeiro.

The Bare Essentials


  • Passport and flight number
  • A ticket out of Brazil – you will need this if you are coming in on a restricted visa, such as a tourist visa. It can be a flight or a bus out, you just need to prove that you will be leaving before your visa expires.
  • Copy of your passport or driving license – it’s a requirement in Brazil to carry ID around with you everywhere
  • Visa – check as some countries, such as Canada, are required to apply for a visa before entering Brazil
  • Socks and a jacket – flights get cold.
  • A good travel read – I would recommend this one – The Slum by Aluísio Azevedo. It is one of the most critically acclaimed Brazilian novels and is considered Azevedo’s defining masterpiece. With intricate detail and colourful descriptions of the interweaved lives in Rio’s society, it is perfect to get you feeling the city’s dynamic energy and vibe.



Rio’s classic casual look still applies when winter arrives, yet just the number of layers changes. Flip flops will be swapped for ankle boots or trainers, and strappy tops will be replaced by long sleeves. Cariocas (people born in Rio) tend to feel the cold a lot more than Northern Europeans or Americans used to intense winters and it’s not unusual to see them dressed up with tights, scarves, and long boots. Yet the warm, sunny days with gentle breezes are still the norm so don’t fold away your sarong and bikini just yet!

  • Waterproof jacket – it may rain when you go. It won’t be the same intensity as the summer tropical showers but it will get colder and last a bit longer.
  • Sleeveless tops and t-shirts – it may be winter yet some days will still feel hot like summer
  • Long sleeve tops and thin jumpers – the evenings get cooler and there can be a chill in the air
  • One thicker jacket or hoodie. 
  • Light dresses
  • Swimwear. It’s winter yet thankfully, beach days are aplenty. Leave the beach towel at home and buy a kunga in Brazil – a Brazilian beach towel that comes in gorgeous tropical prints and bright, exotic colours and makes the perfect souvenir to remember those special moments in Rio. Wear the swimwear you feel most comfortable in, as being on the beach in Brazil is all about feeling good and enjoying the day. If you want to dress like a local, then buy a Brazilian bikini in Rio, famed for their smaller bottoms. For the men, Speedos are the preferred beach attire.
  • Flip flops, trainers, ankle boots (leave the heels at home). For flip-flops, the best place to buy them is Havaianas, a Brazilian brand and store that has tropical patterns, vibrant colours, and are good quality.
  • Leggings. A trusty pair of leggings can be incredibly versatile and is perfect for hikes on cooler days.
  • One pair of jeans
  • Big comfy t-shirt to sleep in
  • Wrap.  One thing we found incredibly useful while travelling is the wrap from Icebreaker. The one we bought has lasted 3 years already and it can be dressed up or dressed down, washed in the washing machine, and doesn’t need ironing. It’s mostly made with the ultralight merino wool.

Toiletries and other things

In addition to your everyday basics – shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, makeup etc – don’t forget the following items

  • Suncream – some days will be hot and sunny. Take factor 60 for your face and at least factor 30 for your body (that’s what a dermatologist recommended to us)
  • Travel towel. These are great to use, especially if staying in hostels or if you’re travelling around a lot. We’ve tried Travelon towel which is great, yet it has to be aired out quickly otherwise they start smelling pretty bad. We’ve heard that Sea to Summit has a great travel towel called DryLite, which dries quickly and has an antibacterial treatment that impedes the growth of rather unwelcome bacteria.
  • Liner with a pouch for a blow-up pillow. One liner that has been tried and tested by Now in Rio is the Sea to Summit liner which is a 100% natural silk and cotton liner with a pillow insert. We absolutely love it for its durability and comfort.
  • Inflatable pillow. Again by Sea and Summit, their Sea to Summit inflatable pillow comes highly recommended by us. We love it.
  • Neck pillow. These are great for not only long bus journeys or long-haul flights, but also as a backup pillow when staying at hostels. One brand we personally love is the  Eagle Creek neck pillow.
  • Reflective sleeping bag. This will keep you cosy and warm. One that we’ve personally used ourselves and absolutely love for its quality and great value for money is the SOL Escape Bivvy. It keeps you warm and dry, and is incredibly durable too.
  • Drawstring bag – handy to have if you go hiking
  • Morning-after pill and contraception. One for the ladies. If you think you will be sexually active during your trip to Rio, then these are some things to consider. Condoms are easy to buy from pharmacies and if there is one thing Rio is not short on, it’s pharmacies. It’s best to bring your favourite contraceptive pill with you to Rio as the brands differ widely from country to country and may play havoc with your hormones. The morning-after pill is available at pharmacies too – just ask for the pilula de dia seguinte – but there is some grey areas regarding whether it is available for sale freely or needs a prescription. It’s best to play it safe and take the morning-after pill with you as a back-up plan B.
  • In terms of medicine, everything you need you can find in Rio. If you need to take medicine for allergies or yeast infections, we would recommend taking your own preferred or prescribed medicine from home as it’s easier and safer to guarantee you have the correct treatment. If you are taking prescriptions for anything else, then take a copy of the prescription with you so you can show at the pharmacy.

Out and About in Rio

  • Water – always have a bottle of water with you. Dehydration leads to headaches that can ruin a day!
  • Cash
  • One card – try leaving another one at the hotel/hostel/wherever you’re staying
  • A copy of your passport – leave the real deal at home.
  • Travel safety bag. If safety is playing on your mind, then we recommend using a travel safety bag to ease your concerns and protect your belongings. One brand we use on a daily basis here and we absolutely love is Travelon. They have a range of anti-theft bags, accessories, and wallets, among other things. We love the tote bag which is slash proof, has locks for the zips, and has a protective screening that prevents potential hackers accessing your credit card details. Check out this list here for a great selection of Travelon bags – you’ll see they have a huge range of different styles and designs.
  • *Camera and Phone. We always get asked this – is it safe to take my phone out with me? While petty theft is an issue in Rio, it’s not as common as the media would like you to think. Just use common sense – don’t walk around at night alone with an expensive phone, use when you need to then leave it in your bag, and keep aware of your surroundings. It’s fine to take some photos and selfies.

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Packing for winter in Rio de Janeiro


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