Rio de Janeiro is one of the world's most iconic beach cities, whether you sip a caipirinha along the relaxing shores of Leblon Beach, play futebol along lively Ipanema, or dance the night away in raucous Copacabana. In spite of this, many travelers wonder just how evergreen Rio's warmth and sunshine is, and weather it's necessary to take any climate-related precautions when traveling there. Rio de Janeiro is rarely cold and usually only wet for a short portion of the day, so regardless of the forecast, you'll be able to enjoy at least one day at the beach, even if you have to spend some time at one of Rio's underrated indoor attractions while waiting for the rain to pass.
Although Rio de Janeiro sits completely exposed to the Atlantic Ocean, tropical cyclones in this part of the world very rarely veer as far southward as the city. Instead, they tend to track west or northwest from Africa's Cape Verde islands, missing even northern Brazilian cities in the vast majority of cases. You definitely need to take some precautions when planning a trip to Rio de Janeiro, but preparing for disaster is not one.
Fast Climate Facts for Rio de Janeiro
- Hottest Month: February (82 degrees F / 28 degrees C)
- Coldest Month: July (70 degrees F / 21 degrees C)
- Wettest Month: December (6.65 inches / 69 mm)
- Driest Month: August (2 inches / 51 mm)
Summer in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is in the Southern Hemisphere, which means that summer runs from Dec. 21 to March 21. Although this is technically the rainy season along Brazil's south-central coast, you can expect plentiful sunshine, since rain storms in tropical Rio de Janeiro tend to be intense, but short. It also tends to be rain primarily at night in Rio de Janeiro at this time of year, though daytime showers can still take place.
Temperatures can soar during Rio's summer, so you'll want to be close to one of the city's legendary beaches (or at the pool at a beach side hotel, as the case may be). High temperatures in Rio de Janeiro during summer are scorching and often exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), while lows rarely dip below 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius). Morning is the coolest part of day in Rio during the summer, so head out around sunrise if you like to run or do outdoor exercise.
What to Pack: Summer in Rio de Janeiro can be too hot to do much else besides lay on the beach, so pack a pair of flip-flops (assuming you don't buy a pair of Havaianas at one of the iconic Brazilian brand's Rio boutiques). You should also pack at least a few swimsuits, as well as a good sunscreen and a hat or two to protect against the sun. Summer (late February or early March) is also when Rio's annual Carnaval takes place.
Average Temperature by Month
January: 87 degrees F / 75 degrees F (30 degrees C / 24 degrees C)
February: 88 degrees F / 76 degrees F (31 degrees C / 24 degrees C)
March: 85 degrees F / 75 degrees F (29 degrees C / 24 degrees C)
Autumn in Rio de Janeiro
The bad news? Rio de Janeiro is much too close to the equator for the leaves of its trees to change colors (which would look strange anyway—have you ever seen a yellow palm tree?) The good news? High temperatures are regularly in the 80s Fahrenheit during Rio de Janeiro's balmy autumn, making the dry months of April, May and June perfect for a day at the beach. Additionally, crowds tend to be light in autumn, especially during May and June, when local kids and university students are back at school.
Specifically, you can expect the high temperature in Rio de Janeiro during the autumn to hover somewhere around 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius), with a low of around 69 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). Rio's autumn months have about 27 days of rain between them, which means that you've got about a 67 percent chance of a totally sunny day. Even on days when there is rain, the average daily precipitation is only 0.10 inches, which means it's unlikely to ruin your day.
What to Pack: Autumn's relative mildness and dryness makes it a great time to hike to Rio de Janeiro's various viewpoints (Morro dois Irmãos offers a great view of the beaches), so pack a good pair of sneakers or hiking boots. And try not to drink too many caipirinhas the night before you hike.
Average Temperatures by Month
April: 82 degrees F / 71 degrees F (28 degrees C / 22 degrees C)
May: 79 degrees F / 68 degrees F (26 degrees C / 20 degrees C)
June: 78 degrees F / 67 degrees F (25 degrees C / 19 degrees C)
Winter in Rio de Janeiro
If you watched the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics in 2016, you might've noticed that they actually took place during Brazil's winter. Though the balmy weather would suggest otherwise. Average Rio de Janeiro highs in July, August, and September are still in the upper 70s Fahrenheit, and days well into the 80s Fahrenheit are not uncommon. The only major difference between Rio during the winter and Rio during the summer? Crowds (or, in the case of winter, the comparable lack thereof).
Another reason winter in Rio de Janeiro is the perfect time for a day at the beach? Winter is Rio de Janeiro's driest period. Just 7.6 inches of rain falls during Rio de Janeiro's entire winter during an average year, spread over 25 days. This means that even if you're in Rio during the unlucky 25-30 days where some rain falls during the winter, it's unlikely to exceed 0.10 inches.
What to Pack: Most Brazilian's run inside or under a roof when rain strikes, but if you don't want to be deterred from exploring on a wet winter day in Rio, pack a good umbrella. Additionally, you might pack a hoodie (or at least long sleeves) in case it gets chilly at night.
Average Temperature by Month
July: 78 degrees F / 66 degrees F (25 degrees C / 19 degrees C)
August: 78 degrees F / 66 degrees F (25 degrees C / 19 degrees C)
September: 79 degrees F / 67 degrees F (26 degrees C / 19 degrees C)
Spring in Rio de Janeiro
Most trademarks of the Northern Hemisphere spring are missing in Rio de Janeiro. Colorful flowers bloom all year here, and since winter highs are considered summery by North American standards, it can be difficult to notice much of a warm-up. On the other hand, spring is yet another weather sweet spot for tourists to Rio de Janeiro, to say nothing of how uncrowded it can be
Average temperatures during Rio de Janeiro's spring tend to hover in the low 80s, though it's not uncommon to crack 90 degrees Fahrenheit, especially in late November and early December, when summer is just around the corner. Spring gets rainier by the day, with more than 6 inches of rain in December compared to just 3.4 inches in October, but it shouldn't be enough to spoil your day at the beach.
What to Pack: Pack an umbrella if you're concerned about the prospect of rain. Additionally, spring tends to be a great hiking season just as autumn is, so pack a good pair of sneakers or boots to complement your Havaianas.
Average Temperature by Month
October: 81 degrees F / 71 degrees F (27 degrees C / 22 degrees C)
November: 84 degrees F / 73 degrees F (29 degrees C / 23 degrees C)
December: 87 degrees F / 75 degrees F (30 degrees C / 24 degrees C)