On some level, the best time to visit Rio de Janeiro is any time you can. With an average annual temperature of 72 degrees F, Rio de Janeiro's weather is the picture of perfect. Even in "winter," which takes place between June to September in the Southern Hemisphere, the golden sands Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches are usually warm, the lapping waves inviting.
Of course, there are reasons to prioritize visiting Rio at certain times of the year, from the annual Carnaval parade in February or March to the scorching summer months starting in December, when the waters of the Atlantic practically beg you to jump in. Your next trip to Rio de Janeiro begins here.
The Best Weather in Rio de Janeiro
The warmest months of the year in Rio de Janeiro are January and February when the average temperature is around 80 to 90 degrees F during the day and 70 degrees F during the night. The coldest month, meanwhile, is July, when the average temperature is just 69.8 degrees F. Still plenty warm, especially during the day, but "cool" by Rio de Janeiro standards.
Another factor to consider when choosing the best time to visit Rio de Janeiro is precipitation. The wettest month in Rio de Janeiro is December, when more than six inches of rain falls over an average of 14 days—nearly half the month! Only two inches of rain falls in August, and only on about seven days (the same number as in June and August, which are also relatively dry months).
Rio de Janeiro Events and Festivals
While it's true, to some extent, that every day in Rio de Janeiro is a party, there are a few times each year where the city is especially festive. These include the following:
- Carnival (Carnaval in Portuguese): Every year in late February or early March, hundreds of thousands of travelers from all over the world descend on Rio for one of the world's most famous celebrations.
- Brazilian Independence Day: Rio de Janeiro isn't the capital of Brazil, but it used to be. Anyway, Sept. 7 is a very festive day indeed to visit Rio de Janeiro, thanks to festivities celebrating the independence of Brazil.
- Rio International Film Festival: One of South America's largest festivals takes place in Rio de Janeiro every November, which also happens to be one of the best times to visit Rio de Janeiro when it comes to weather.
- Christmas: Did you know that Rio de Janeiro is home to one of the biggest Christmas trees in the world? This is just one reason that Christmas is a great time to stop in Rio, one of the largest cities in one of the world's most Catholic countries.
- New Year's Eve: Although less raucous than Carnival and just a week after Christmas, New Year's Eve in Rio is still a fantastic time to visit. It's one of the few cities in the world where you can watch the fireworks without being bundled up!
Of course, you may or may not want to visit Rio de Janeiro during these extremely busy times. Hotel occupancy is higher (and so are prices!), not to mention the city is more crowds—and the beaches are, too.
Peak Season in Rio de Janeiro
Festivals and events might not be the best time to visit Rio de Janeiro, but there are general times of year that are busier than others. Generally speaking, "peak season" in Rio de Janeiro occurs during the summer months of December, January, February, and March. Although the week of Carnival sees an additional uptick in visitors, you should expect the city to be swarming from just before Christmas until after most US and Canadian schools are back from Spring Break.
Although the "low" season in Rio de Janeiro (June-September) is not cold by any stretch and is drier than the summer months, this might not be your ideal time to come, especially if you prefer to travel outside the Northern Hemisphere summer. A good compromise can be to visit during "shoulder" months: April or May just after summer ends, or October and November just before it begins.
January is one of the warmest months in Rio de Janeiro, with average highs of around 90 degrees F. January is relatively rainy. However, you can still expect around half of the days to be sunny.
Events to check out: January is not a big month for large annual events, but smaller events that have taken place during this month include the Rio Vegan Fair and the Tretona gay "circuit" party.
February might just be the best time to visit Rio de Janeiro. It's warm like January, but is even drier, with just 11 days of rain.
Events to check out: Carnival sometimes occurs during the month of February; make sure to check the dates of the next one before booking your flights to Rio.
March is still hot in Rio de Janeiro, with average highs of around 88 degrees F, and a similar amount of rain as February.
Events to check out: Carnival doesn't always start in March, but it always ends during this month. If you plan to travel to Rio for Carnival, book hotels as far in advance as possible.
Highs in April are still well into the 80s, while rain continues tapering off as compared to March. This is a great month to travel to Rio!
Events to check out: Like January, April is a relatively quiet month when it comes to annual events in Rio de Janeiro.
Could May be the best time to visit Rio de Janeiro? Well, while it's theoretically the last full month of autumn, average high temperatures of around 79 degrees F make this month a serious contender.
Events to check out: The Shell Open Air Festival is an extravaganza of cuisine and culture that has been taking place every May for nearly two decades.
Winter officially begins in Rio in June, though it doesn't really feel like it. It's still common to have highs in the 80s, and it is very unlikely to be rainy.
Events to check out: Every June, Cariocas (that's the name Rio de Janeiro citizens use to describe themselves) set bonfires as part of Festas Juninas, which honors St. John.
Traveling to Rio de Janeiro in July means light crowds, relatively low temperatures and not much rain. Still, since highs are usually in the upper 70s, you're likely to enjoy plenty of beach time.
Events to check out: Christmas in July? Not quite, but the Rio Maravilha "Winter Festival," which occurs every year during the second or third week of July, is a festive way to spend the "cooler" months in Rio.
August is the middle of Brazil's winter, so it couldn't be the best time to visit Rio de Janeiro, right? Wrong! Highs are comfortable in the upper 70s, and most days are bright and sunny.
Events to check out: Rio's annual half-marathon occurs during mid-August every year. The relatively cool weather will help you keep a better pace!
September is an excellent month to visit Rio de Janeiro, with only about seven days of rain and average highs right around 80 degrees F.
Events to check out: As described above, Brazil celebrates its independence on Sept. 7 of every year—and you definitely won't want to miss the festivities in Rio. Rio de Janeiro's annual gay pride celebrate also takes place in September.
In the Northern Hemisphere, October is the month of Pumpkin Spice and crackling leaves. In Rio de Janeiro, summer starts to heat up, with high temperatures consistently in the mid 80s.
Events to check out: The Rock in Rio music festival generally takes place every October, and features a variety of Brazilian and international acts over several days.
As a "shoulder" month, November might very well be the best time to visit Rio de Janeiro, with day time temperatures in the upper 80s and a moderate amount of rain.
Events to check out: Culture lovers will enjoy taking part in the Rio Film Festival, which is one of the largest in South America.
December is the warmest month in Rio de Janeiro, but also the wettest. Of course, this still means only about 14 days of rain (out of 31), so you'll still see plenty of sunshine.
Events to check out: Both Christmas Day and New Year's Eve in Rio de Janeiro are very worth checking out.