Skip to main content

Rio's slums the hot World Cup destination?

By Shasta Darlington, CNN
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
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
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 0846 GMT (1646 HKT)
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
A picture taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer.
The worst ebola outbreak in history spreads out of control in West Africa. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 0048 GMT (0848 HKT)
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 0015 GMT (0815 HKT)
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1808 GMT (0208 HKT)
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT