The world famous Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro.
We saw it for the first time during a very touristy bus tour of the city. I was surprised as we pulled in to the parking space just next to the bleacher style seats. When the party is over, and the massive and oddly shaped stadium is empty it looks like just another stack of cement in a city full of cement buildings. It wasn’t until I learned a little about it, and saw a few videos of the wild parade hosted here every February that I could really appreciate what I was seeing.
One nice thing about being here in the off season, besides the lack of crowds, was having the time to poke around a bit and ask a lot of questions. Did you know it was built by Oscar Niemeyer? It is 700 meters long and when filled to capacity holds 90,000 people. Impressive.
The Sambadrome sits empty most of the year, but in December the various competing Samba Schools start showing up to practice. All of these technical rehearsals lead up to one thing.
Carnival. The biggest party of the year in Rio, and famous around the world.
During our tour we made a brief stop in the little gift and costume shop on the corner. For the inexpensive price of R$5 each we were given a costum, shoved out the door and had a few minutes to get our groove on.
I know it’s not a kilt, but darn near as sexy.
What can I expect when I go: Brazilcarnival.com.br has a great FAQ page about the Sambadrome and Carnival, including maps and photos.
How to get there: If you have a car, you can drive yourself but I would recommend arranging for someone who knows the city to take you. Rio is not the safest place to drive around in if you’re a tourist and don’t speak Portuguese. Talk to the concierge or front desk clerk at your hotel. Most hotels contract with taxi or limo companies and can arrange transportation for you at a reasonable cost. It’s also very common for them to work with or recommend a bus tour line which will stop at various famous locations around Rio, including the Sambadrome. If you take the metro line get off at either Praça Onze or Central. If you take the city bus get off at Viaduto São Sebastião.
On the map: Click here to see this location on our Google Map.
Brazil Bookers has written a great article about the Sambadrome in all it’s glory for Carnival, including lots of advice on what to expect, what you can bring during the festivities, and beautiful photos.
Have you visited the Sambadrome? What did you find most intersting? We’d love to see your photos too!