How to visit the favela in Rio de Janeiro and where to stay

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It is customary to call slums areas with dense spontaneous development and lack of infrastructure (sewage, electricity, etc.) and with marginal residents living in dilapidated houses. Slum districts and even entire slum cities can be found in many cities in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In this article, we will talk about: How to visit the favela in Rio de Janeiro and where to stay. And don’t miss these articles: Living in a favela in Rio de Janeiro and Living in a favela – Brazil pros and cons

Origin of the word Favela

The first favelas in Rio de Janeiro began to appear in the 1970s. The word “favela” comes from the name of the hill Morro da Favela, which in turn is named so because of the plant of the same name “favela”. In Rio de Janeiro, the favelas are located on the slopes of the mountains between urban areas with high-rises, they are controlled by drug lords.

favela
The narrow streets of Rocinha
The narrow streets of Rocinha

Favela Tours in Rio de Janeiro

The excellent movie” City of God” about the inhabitants of the favelas was filmed in Rio de Janeiro, with the participation of the inhabitants of the favelas themselves. The picture is constantly included in various tops of films (21st place in the list of the best films according to imdb.com).

After the acclaimed film “Slumdog Millionaire”, Mumbai began to take people on excursions to the slums. Rio de Janeiro is not far behind. You can visit Rocinha for 80 reais. Each hostel offers guided tours of Latin America’s most populous favela.

favela tour

Here are a few recommendations for visiting favelas:

  1. Tours are completely safe, even in those days when these areas were not protected by the police, tourist bureaus successfully negotiated with drug lords. Tourists were not robbed. It is better to order directly than through intermediaries, for example here. Rocinha is not a surprise for tourists; a standard tour includes a walk through the favela with a visit to the artists, from whom you can buy homemade souvenirs.
  2. If you want to visit the favelas on your own, then the best way to do this is to catch a motorcycle taxi and, having agreed on a certain amountto take a ride to all places with a stop to have a bite to eat in a catering service where locals eat. If you want to walk without a guide, then it is best to do this not in the huge Rocinha, but in Vigigala, which is not far from Leblon, from where the trail to the top of Pedra Dois Irmãos begins with the most beautiful view in Rio. From there, a gorgeous view of Rocinha opens up from above.
Police in Rocinha
Police in Rocinha. I saw a real scene when the police walked with machine guns, covering each other, as in a counter-strike.

3. Do not go to dangerous favelas in Rio de Janeiro: Complexo do Alemão and Complexo da Maré. Don’t walk there. Even if there are two of you. Even if you are out of money. Just trust the author. If you want to see Complexo do Alemã, then the coolest option is to ride the funicular over the favelas, and at the end station, we recommend having a cold beer in an impromptu bar made of slate and plastic chairs.

favelas in Rio

Now comes the fun part. You don’t have to go to favelas to see them, just come and live there!

Top five places to stay in the favelas.

  1. Rocinha Guest House.
    A wonderful view opens up, fantastic, and it is hard to believe that you are on top of an anthill, and somewhere in the distance you can see the ocean and real skyscrapers.
Rocinha Guest House.

Wake up with a view of Rocinha

view of Rocinha
view of Rocinha
  1. Maze Inn.
    An iconic place in the favela of Tavares-Bastos, which was discovered by the Englishman Bob Nadkarni. This place is famous for its jazz parties. Be sure to check the party calendar on their website before visiting Maze.
favela rio
  1. Pousada Favelinha.
    This pausada, which opened in 2005, offered the first option for an overnight stay in the favelas. It is located in the Santa Teresa area. Balconies, terraces overlooking the city, but the most impressive is the hole in the wall (it is also a window), which seems to be some kind of painting by a famous artist. You can book rooms on hostelworld or on the hostel’s website.
Pousada Favelinha.
  1. House in Vijigala
    There are many accommodation options on airbnb in Rio’s favelas, we recommend you try staying here as it is close to Ipanema Beach and also has great ocean views. The area has become safe (compared to others), in the evenings the “golden youth” party at the top of the favela. Even David Beckham bought a piece of land here to open a football school.
  1. Vidigalbergue Rio Hostel
    Another place with great sea views. The hostel, which can be easily booked even on booking, is located at the very beginning of Vidigala, suitable for those who want to try living in the slums of Rio, but without fanaticism, that is, without narrow streets and difficulties finding the location of the hotel 🙂 Vidigalbergue is located opposite the bus stop, just 2 kilometers from Ipanema.
Vidigalbergue Rio Hostel


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