13 Of the best budget places to stay in Rio

As Brazil prepares to host both The World Cup in 2014 and The Olympic Games in 2016, eager travelers and sports fanatics begin their own preparations in the search for comfortable accommodation on a budget. Whether traveling alone, in a large group, with family or someone special, quality accommodation on a budget in Rio de Janeiro is plentiful. The art to making the perfect reservation, however, lies in choosing accommodation which offers the right kind of services and which is situated in the best neighbourhood for access to particular attractions.


Located close to Botafogo Beach, the Beach Backpacker Hostel is one of the best budget, gay-friendly hostels in Rio de Janeiro. Some of the perks of the hostel include free wifi, large lockers, free filtered water available on tap and a guest telephone for making both national and international calls. There's a large indoor TV area to relax in and an equally spacious outdoor patio for pre-nightclub beers. Both dormitories and private rooms are available for bookings.

Travel for two

If traveling to Rio de Janeiro on a budget with your partner or with best friend, Lapa Hostel is a great option. The popular beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema are about 20 minutes away by bus, but if the beach is not the only attraction for you in Rio de Janeiro, Lapa, the city's bohemian neighbourhood, has so much more to offer. The surrounding area is full of bars, nightclubs, restaurants and samba dance halls and close to the artistic area of Santa Teresa. Lapa Hostel also prides itself on a special kind of service, different to that of the standard hostel in Rio. The breakfasts are healthy and varied and current offers include free weekend caipirinhas and free dinners on Tuesdays.

Spectacular views

Bossa in Rio Hostel, located in Santa Teresa, boasts some of the most spectaular views across the city. The hostel offers a variety of rooms, from dormitories to private suites, but the views from the communal patios and garden areas are what make this hostel one of the best places to stay on a budget in Rio. Bossa in Rio, equipped with a private bar, games area, laundry and wifi, is not the kind of hostel for those people looking to party until sunrise, but it's a really good choice for taking in the natural beauty that Rio has to offer.

Eco-conscious travel

Located high-up on the mountainside in Rio in the Botafogo neighbourhood, Rio Nature Hostel was created by a group of former backpackers in the hope of protecting its guests from the noise, traffic and dirt circulating Rio (just like most major city locations in the world) and introducing them to the city's natural beauty. Guests vary from short-term backpacking visitors to long-term students on study programs in Rio. Rio Nature runs a variety of tours in Rio and the surrounding areas all related to the environment and eco-conscious travel.

Beach lovers

Beach lovers on a budget in Rio de Janeiro can book into Wave Hostel in Copacabana, situated just a few blocks from the beachfront. The hostel is small and cozy, barbecue parties in the summer feature regularly on the hostel's activity calendar and there are plenty of movies to watch. With free wifi, breakfast and a communal kitchen open 24 hours, the beach traveler will need little else to feel comfortable and happy during his/her stay in Rio.

Solo travel

When traveling alone to Rio de Janeiro, El Misti Hostel is one of the best budget options available. The hostel organises free airport/bus station transfers. These transfers are golden to the solo traveler, eliminating all hassles upon arrival to the city. The hostel is situated close to Copacabana beach, one of the safest areas for tourists traveling alone to be located in. The dormitories are very reasonably priced, all the standard services like free wifi and buffet breakfasts are included, but a particularly special perk from staying at El Misti is the in-house chef. The communal kitchen is huge and great for people traveling alone and on a budget, but for those travelers who don't want to cook or eat alone, El Misti's chef prepares affordable, tasty dishes every day.

Surf's up!

Combine a trip to Rio with a course in surfing by making a reservation in Rio Surf n Stay. This hostel offers packages on accommodation and surfing courses all year round, which is a great way of saving on travel costs. Surf n Stay has tourist information for experienced surfers, a surf school and a surf camp for those people who want to dedicate lots of time to practicing and perfecting their surfing techniques. Communal services include a regularly stocked bar, free wifi, free breakfast and a large kitchen for preparing other meals during the day.

Experts in specialist tours

Discovery Hostel is located in the Gloria neighbourhood, close to the bohemian area known as Lapa and a 20 minute bus journey from the beach. On top of the basic services offered by most hostels in Rio de Janeiro, Discovery Hostel organises a range of special tours in the city and the surrounding areas. These tours include helicopter rides, favela excursions and trips into Rio de Janeiro's jungle terrain. Discovery Hostel is also always looking for staff to man reception and it's possible to apply directly from the website. For those travelers looking to stay in Rio de Janeiro for a long time, working in exchange for accommodation is a particularly attractive option.

The popular chain

Che Lagarto is a well-known hostel chain in Latin America. In Rio de Janeiro, there are two hostels, located in Copacabana and Ipanema, and private suites to rent in Santa Clara. Knowing that standard services are guaranteed and regularly assessed across all locations is one of the benefits of reserving accommodation with Che Lagarto. Guests are guaranteed free wifi, 24-hour computer access, lockers, hot water around the clock, tourist information and air-conditioning. Che Lagarto is a safe bet for groups of travelers who are looking to meet other travelers, make friends, enjoy Rio de Janeiro's nightlife and live comfortably for as little as possible.

Football fanatics unite

Casa Vila Isabel is the perfect budget option for anyone visiting Rio de Janeiro for the world cup in 2014 as the guest house is situated in the heart of the Vila Isabel neighborhood, just two minutes walk from Rio de Janeiro's football stadium, Maracana. The guest house is able to accommodate up to 25 people and has rooms for two to four people per room, so it's best to book as early as possible in the high season and if hoping to be in Rio for important sporting events. On top of its prime location, Casa Vila promises free wifi, airport transfers, buffet breakfasts, a swimming pool and an outdoor barbecue.

Where do the artists stay?

The Bellas Artes Hostel in Rio is the perfect choice for those people with a passion for the arts and architecture. Located in between Gloria and Santa Teresa, the hostel is set within an antique house and naturally blends in with its creative surroundings; a neighbourhood populated by fine artists, musicians, Brazilian writers and a high concentration of expats who have fallen in love with the city. With that in mind, the hostel owners have made a point of preserving the traditional look and style of the house itself, both inside and out. It's an art fanatic's dream. Services include free breakfast, free use of the communal kitchen, free use of the communal laundry and access to Samba classes and organised tours in and around Rio de Janeiro.

The family in tow

O Veleiro is not a hostel, hotel or pousada, but instead a beautiful bed and breakfast situated within a family home in the Botafogo neighbourhood, surrounded by cafes, restaurants, neighbourhood bars and cinemas which regularly show art-house, independent productions. It's the perfect place for families traveling to Rio de Janeiro who want to ensure they have private time, in a comfortable location, without having to empty their bank accounts in the process. The views of Sugar Loaf, Tijuca National Park and Corcovado are spectacular, the private swimming pool is perfect for children in the summer months and Guanabara Bay, 10 minutes away by bus, is an excellent alternative for families who want to avoid the tourist traps of Copacabana and Ipanema.

Stretching your budget to the max

Located in the pretty hills of Santa Teresa, Quinta Azul offers promotions at peak times (such as New Year and Carnival), but it also offers packages all year round for couples on romantic breaks to Rio de Janeiro. Not for your budget backpacker, hoping to find a cheap bed in a dormitory for a week or two, Quinta Azul is designed to offer luxury for those willing to stretch to the limits of their small budget by taking advantages of the offers available at the time. It also has a sister pousada, Quinta Rosa, located five minutes away, and both locations offer free wifi, free breakfast and a complimentary drink upon arrival.

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About the Author

Tracey Chandler specializes in travel articles and features for female-interest publications online. She reviews Latin American cinema, creates press releases for an online marketing company and manages her own blog "The Jolly English Pirate." She holds a B.A. in performing arts at Middlesex University.