Skip to main content

Rio's slums the hot World Cup destination?

By Shasta Darlington, CNN
updated 8:14 AM EST, Wed February 26, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Staying at a hostel could cost as much as $400 a night during the World Cup
  • About 600,000 foreign fans are expected during the tournament
  • Rooms in Rio's favelas could go for as little as $50 a night
  • Security in some favelas remains a concern

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (CNN) -- High above the beaches in Rio de Janeiro's hillside slums, you can get some of the best views in town. And now, they come from some of the cheapest rooms as well.

With the World Cup less than four months away, residents in many once infamous favelas are opening their doors to tourists, renting beds, rooms or even entire houses, and building youth hostels.

"If you want to see the World Cup, see some football matches and experience true Brazilian life you should really check this out," says Michael Blommers, a Dutch backpacker staying at a hostel in the Vidigal shantytown.

Beds at hostels in Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, which usually go for around $40 a night, are expected to cost as much as $400 during the World Cup. Hotels are even more expensive, with many requiring multiple-night stays.

A tourist in Rio\'s Vidigal favela calls to a dog on a street.
A tourist in Rio's Vidigal favela calls to a dog on a street.

But a bunk at Alto Vidigal Hostel will set guests back just $65 -- four times the usual price, but still a relative bargain.

Of course, visitors staying in Rio's favelas will likely be confronted with more than just a modest room. Garbage in these areas often piles up along the roads, while electricity, water and sewage services are spotty at best. Transportation can be precarious.

The biggest concern, though, is security. Just a few years ago, Rio's favelas were controlled by drug lords. Police have since stormed many of them, in a process dubbed "pacification," driving out armed gangs in an effort to make it relatively safe for residents and visitors. But they've had mixed results.

Periodic gun battles continue in many favelas. Just last week, drug traffickers shot at police posts in Rocinha, one of the biggest shantytowns in Rio.

Maria Clara dos Santos says she could hear the recent shootouts from her terrace. She rents rooms in her bright yellow house to foreign tourists and says safety depends on knowing where not to go and following rules.

"Don't use drugs, don't bring girls home, keep it a nice environment," she says.

A Los Angeles native, Elliot Rosenberg has launched a website with an eye on the World Cup allowing residents to rent out rooms to foreigners.

With some 600,000 foreign fans expected over the course of the tournament, there could be plenty of demand. But Rosenberg believes that many of those looking for rooms will be attracted by more than just the about $50 price tags on many rooms.

"They want more authentic, lively, meaningful experiences," he says. "They want to see the real Rio."

And, of course, those great views don't hurt either.

Curitiba stadium retains World Cup status

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:45 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
updated 4:58 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 7:46 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
updated 7:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
updated 5:26 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
updated 5:54 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
updated 7:53 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT