With my last full day in Brazil upon me, I set out to explore a favela neighborhood! Come with me as I explore Brazil’s largest favela, Rocinha, and try some delicious Brazilian food in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!
Brazil’s favelas are known for many things. They’re essentially massive, sprawling slum-like neighborhoods where many of the country’s poorest people live. Rocinha, located in the south zone of Rio de Janeiro, is Brazil’s largest favela, with roughly 250,000 residents.
While some favelas are considered safer than others, some are rife with crime and gangs, which is why it is recommended that foreigners stay away from them. I suggest only visiting a favela if you have a knowledgeable local guide with you.
We started with a sausage sandwich from a street food vendor. He adds lettuce, picante, cassava flour, and creamy sauces to the French bread. The sauces were like a creamy, garlicky mayo, and the picante made it spicy. I liked it better than the industrial hot dogs I’d been eating in Brazil! It only cost $1.37 USD.
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From there, we drove back through Copacabana Beach and through a tunnel to get to the favela. There, we walked through a covered market and met our guide, Guilherme Xuxa!
Guilherme drove us through Rocinha on his motorbike, which is the best way to get around here. The favela’s winding roads were packed with people, cars, and buses.
At the top of a hill, we had an amazing view of an American school, the favela, the mountains, and some millionaire’s mansions. We also saw a tree full of jackfruit!
Then, we started our walking tour. The streets are steep. Walking them is a workout! Then, we walked between some houses to the rooftops to get a spectacular view over Rocinha.
We also visited a souvenir shop called Souvenir Rocinha selling paintings by local artists, clothing, Christ the Redeemer statues, some sweet cachaça, and more. I bought my family some beautiful paintings. Always support the locals when you travel!
Further down a tiny alley, we came across a bakery selling a teardrop-shaped chicken croqueta that reminded me of kibbeh. I also tried some extremely sweet guarana syrup juice.
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Overhead was a tangle of electrical wires connected to all the buildings. From there, we visited the rooftop of an 89-year-old man’s home in the middle of Rocinha. The view of Rio from there was the best I’ve ever seen in my life! It cost us R$5 to go up there.
The favela was like a maze, with so many tight, interconnected alleys and streets lined with murals and graffiti. The homes along the alley don’t have addresses, so all the mail is left in a box at the alley’s entrance.
Then, we stopped at a small restaurant for some fried rice with beans. It’s like a risotto with beans, onions, garlic, cheese, tomatoes, sausage, and cilantro. It was really delicious and reminded me of Colombian rice dishes I’d had. Adding hot sauce made it even better!
We continued on down the main street past vendors, restaurants, car washes, and mechanics. There were so many amazing viewpoints! There was so much to do and see in the favela, and it was so full of life!
We also saw the favela’s first church, which dates back to 1940. The majority of Rocinha’s residents are Catholic.
At the bottom of the favela, we got some fresh orange juice from a vendor. It was nice and refreshing, just what I needed on this 100-degree day! It cost $1.10 for two!
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And that’s it! What an epic morning exploring Brazil’s largest favela, Rocinha, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! It was an incredible, eye-opening experience that allowed me to face a longtime fear of mine. Huge thanks to Guilherme and Rafa as always, as well as our amazing guide Guilherme Xuxa for showing us around! I also want to thank the people at the Yoo2 Rio de Janeiro by Intercity for hosting us during our time in Rio.
I hope you liked coming with us to Brazil’s largest favela and touring Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. If you did, please give this video a thumbs up and leave a comment below. Also, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the notification bell so you don’t miss any of my travel/food adventures around the world!