Dos and Don'ts

“When in Rio, do as the Cariocas (Rio natives) do.”—Priscilla Ann Goslin, author, How to Be a Carioca. (

Clothing: Rio is a relaxed city. Dress casually and comfortably. But less-is-best doesn’t mean shabby. Cariocas are famously style conscious. Avoid tourist attire and you’ll fit in Rio’s informal fashion show.

Eating Out: When in a hurry, skip the deep-fried botequim (neighborhood bar) food, and head to a suco (juice) bar for freshly squeezed mango, papaya, maracuja (passion flower), guava, or fruta-do-conde (“fruit-of-count”) juice. For a special treat, order açai, an Amazonian berry blended into a tropical smoothie.

Social Etiquette: Body contact is essential. When greeting, women kiss women, women kiss men, and men kiss women (two kisses, right cheek first). Men exchange a firm handshake, followed by a few brisk pats on the back and a lingering one-arm embrace.

Getting Around: Don’t drive in Rio if you value your life; Cariocas are wannabe Formula 1 racers. Taxis are cheap and plentiful. Look carefully before crossing the street (this includes bicycle lanes). Cariocas don’t stop for red lights—or pedestrians.

Scheduling: Rio has a pace of its own. When things don’t go as planned, keep your sense of humor. Cariocas are known for taking things in stride and enjoying life. You’ll gain their respect and trust by doing the same.

Phrase Book

Beleza?: How’s it going? (informal) Pronounced beh-leh-zah

Tudo bem?: How’s it going? (standard) Pronounced too-doo behng

Botequim: Neighborhood bar with table service. Pronounced boh-cheh-king

Caipirinha: Traditional Brazilian drink made with sugar cane brandy, crushed limes, sugar, and ice. Use vodka for a caipirosca, white rum for a caipiríssima. Pronounced ky-pee-ring-yah

Carioca: A person or thing from Rio de Janeiro city. Pronounced kaw-ree-aw-kaw

Favela: Distinctively Rio shanty towns. Pronounced fah-veh-lah

Gostoso-a: Delicious—used to describe food, drinks, and sexy people. Pronounced goh-shtoh-zoh–zah

Orelhão: Public phones, because they look like big ears. Pronounced oh-reh-lyown

Por quilo: A pay-by-the-kilo buffet. Pronounced poor kee-low

Rodízio: All-you-can-eat meat, seafood, or pizza at a set price. Served by waiters. Pronounced hoh-gee-zee-oh

Saudade: Fond remembrance; to miss somebody. Pronounced sow-dah-gee

Saúde!: To your health! When making a toast, or if somebody sneezes. Pronounced sah-oo-gee

Valeu: A hip “Thank you.” Pronounced vah-lay-oo. Or stick to the more common Obrigado-a. Pronounced oh-bree-gah-doo-dah


About Rio de Janeiro and Brazil

  • <p>Photo: View from Sugarloaf</p>

    Rio de Janeiro

    Get travel tips, see photos, take a quiz and more with National Geographic's Ultimate Guide to Rio de Janeiro.

  • Photo: Aerial view of Rio de Janeiro and Christ the Redeemer statue


    Explore Brazil through facts and photos, related features, a country map, and more.

Take a Nat Geo Trip

Select a destination or trip type to find a trip:

See All Trips »

Join Nat Geo Travel's Communities

2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

  • Picture of a volcano on Reunion Island

    Who Will Win?

    Browse photos of nature, cities, and people and share your favorite photos.

Take a Nat Geo Trip

Select a destination or trip type to find a trip:

See All Trips »

Get Social With Nat Geo Travel