Rio on the Cheap
Like any big city, Rio has its greasy spoons and seedy neighborhoods where you can get by on very little. The challenge to doing Rio on a budget is to find venues that have both cheap prices and charm. Taking the following recommendations into consideration will help you enjoy the city to the hilt without breaking the bank.
Take advantage of the Rio’s charming guesthouses, bed-and-breakfasts, and hostels, such as 79683 link Hotel Riazor, SESC Copacabana, Hostel Harmonia, and Casa 6 Ipanema. Many hostels have nicely furnished double rooms that are cheaper and more homey than staying in a sub-standard hotel.
Consider staying in non-beach neighborhoods, such as Santa Teresa or Flamengo. These traditional bairros are attractive, historically interesting, and refreshingly untouristy. In Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon, consider staying off the beach.
If you’re in Centro, many museums and cultural centers, such as Paço Imperial, Casa França-Brasil, Centro Cultural dos Correios, and Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM), boast cafés and/or bistros that have creative menus at reasonable prices.
Classic Rio bars, known as botequins, serve home-cooked daily lunch specials as well as a wide variety of delicious petiscos (appetizers), one or two portions of which can easily sub as a meal. Stop into Nova Capela, Bar do Mineiro, Bar Luiz, or Cervantes.
Many of Rio’s top gourmet restaurants, including Roberta Sudbrack, Gero, and Fasano Al Mare, offer weekday “executive” lunch menus that are considerably less expensive than their regular dinner menus.
Cheap Arts and Entertainment
Most of Rio’s museums and cultural centers are free or cost next to nothing. Those that are privately operated almost always have a free admission day.
If you plan to go clubbing, you can often get discounts on the cover charge by arriving early and/or by showing up with a flyer, which you can print from club websites or pick up in bars, fashion boutiques, and hostels around town.
There are many places to hear great live music for free or next to nothing. Every Wednesday at noon, the Teatro João Caetano features top samba and choro performers for R$1, while the Theatro Municipal offers a lunchtime meio-dia (noon) opera series and Sunday-morning (11 a.m.) concerts for R$1.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition