Known among local as “Cidade Maravilhosa” (Marvellous City in English), Rio is one of the world’s most spectacularly located major cities. It’s not difficult to understand why the people of Rio call their city such a captivating name. It has one of the most breathtaking settings of pretty much any large city on the planet. And moreover, the infamous Rio Carnival and the samba parties, two things Rio is world-famous for, last long into the night. That is not to even mention the fantastic climate the city enjoys. In August 2016, Rio de Janeiro hosts the 2016 Olympics, the world’s largest sporting event, which will attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city. Sadly, the city does, however, suffer huge problems with crime, drug abuse and corruption, which are things that visitors should be aware of. Brazil’s most famous city, if not its unofficial capital, is southeast on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in the southeast of the country, and in the northern half of the continent of South America.
With year-round high temperatures and plenty of rainfall, the city’s climate is undeniably tropical. The average annual temperature is 23°C, generally sticking in the range between 21°C and 27°C, although higher and lower temperatures are also possible. In summer, afternoon highs reach into the 30s, while the mercury never drops below 18°C in winter. It’s a year-round warm destination, in other words. The record high ever recorded in Rio is more than 43°C and the record low is 4°C. Since Rio lies in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are reversed from what we experience in Europe. As Rio is situated so close to the equator, there isn’t a tremendous variation in temperatures across the year. The warmest months, from January through March, see average temperatures of 26°C and the coolest months, from June to August, average 21-22°C. Summer weather can be enjoyed for most of the year, while winter is a comparatively short season. Sun is more common than rain throughout the year, though summer it the wettest time. Annual rainfall averages a little over 1000mm.
Rio, due to its position on the Atlantic coast, can be a windy place and the wind has a strong effect on the weather. Mostly, sea winds offer welcome respite from hot summer temperatures. Southwesterly winds generally signal the arrival of a storm, while northerly winds occasionally transport cooler temperatures to the city in summer. The Atlantic Ocean is also an important factor in the weather in the city. The relatively warm ocean water ensures that temperature extremes are less than those in Brazil’s tropical inland regions. Occasional changes in the ocean current can bring cold Antarctic waters up the coast of South America and cause cooler weather in the region.
Summer really starts sometime around late November and lasts through March. This time of year, daily highs average 29°C, but they are known to frequently climb into the 30s and even towards 40°C in some parts of the city during the hottest parts of the afternoon. This is when you want the sea breezes to blow! Even at night, temperatures remain in the 20s, so it really is a hot time. February is the hottest month of the year, with afternoon highs up to 30°C and nighttime lows of no lower than 24°C. The sea temperature, while it’s quite constant all-year round, is at its highest in summer, averaging between 23°C and 26°C.
Summer is the wettest season of them all, with more than 100mm per month. December is the wettest month of the year with a total rainfall amount of 169mm. It must be said, however, that rainfall is unpredictable—sunny days or torrential downpours can be equally as likely. Because of its tropical location, you may expect some kind of precipitation when vacationing in Brazil in summer—there are between 11 and 14 days with rainfall per month this time of year. Luckily, these rain showers are generally short-natured and every day will see plenty of sunshine as well.
In summer, the number of sunshine hours per day ranges between 6 in November and December and 7 in January, February and March.
Winter is from June to August in Rio de Janeiro. Although it is still warm, average temperatures are around 4-5°C cooler than those in summer on average. That said; it is still very, very comfortable this time of year in the city. The lowest annual temperature is recorded in July and is no lower than 21°C. Sometimes, however, the mercury can drop into the mid-teens overnight, so a jacket might be handy to have just in case. On the other hand, the average high temperature ranges around 25°C to 26°C this season, which is delightful by all accounts. The sea temperature remains high enough for swimming throughout the whole year and in winter it averages about 22°C.
Rainfall is at its lowest in winter, especially July and August with around 56mm and 51mm of rainfall in total respectively. You shouldn’t, however, be surprised to experience a shower or two, especially in the beginning and later stages of the season. There are 7 days with some kind of rainfall each month. Sunshine is plentiful in winter, as it is in summer as well, and there are between 6 and 7 hours of sunshine on a daily basis. Sunbathing and swimming is popular activities even in the middle of winter!
In August, the 2016 Olympics take place in Rio de Janeiro, the biggest sporting event in the world.
Spring and Autumn
Because Rio’s equatorial climate offers little seasonal variation, spring and autumn are both short seasons. They aren’t characterised by the dramatic transformations in weather conditions as is seen in more southerly regions in the Southern Hemisphere and more moderate climates in the Northern Hemisphere. If anything, spring is slightly drier than autumn, but there is not a lot of difference. Visiting Rio de Janeiro can be done comfortably any month of the year, as the weather doesn’t vary significantly throughout the year. Sunshine is generally plentiful, while temperatures are always pleasantly high. Just keep in mind that rainy weather can arrive in very short notice, and almost without warning except to those experienced locals. Therefore, always be prepared for a sharp shower.
If you’re planning to visit Rio de Janeiro in the near future, you can check out an up-to-date and detailed weather forecast on this page.