RIO LOVES YOU : RELAX and ENJOY !
I would like to make clear that Rio is NOT as dangerous as you could imagine ! You should trust me! I have been living for 7 years in a small favela of the Santa Teresa district, and I do feel totally at ease in my Carioca life. I have never been worried as 99% of the tourists I am in touch with ! I am from Paris / France : I would not live in Rio if it was that dangerous, I have all my mind, I am not a politician or war refugee. I have been enjoying my life for all those years, I go out really often, by day and by night, and I take tourists to very different parts of the City whether it is the Favela, the City Centre, the Nort Part etc.
Rio really suffers from a terrible reputation, it does not deserve such a bad image. And I am convinced
that you will notice it as soon as you will walk around in the city. Do not come frightened or whatever, you are on holidays and you will have a great time! I am not saying that people are
never robbed, I also know bad stories like the one of the cousin of the sister of my good friend Jo that get attacked in Copacabana in 2012... So what ? Do I have to consider that Rio is
dangerous beacuse few people get troubles ? Yes it can happen, like in every big city of the world, but it is far to be common or systematic.
My objective is to appease you but if you have the misfortune to get in troubles : do not resist and just give what you have.
Some precautions for your belongings
As every global city that you don't know, you have to be careful, like if you go to New York or Buenos Aires for the first time. Rio is a big city of South America.
Therefore, in order to avoid any bad situation, I still suggest you to let your valuable belongings in the hotel like your nice watch and jewels for example, as well as your passport, just take a copy or your Identity Card.
About cameras and smartphone, you can take them with you, no worries. Walking around in the city, you will see that every brazilian is also equipped with Iphone and Samsung phones, like in your own country! If you have a big camera, take it in your backpack, once you took your pics just put your camera again in the bag, do not walk with it round your neck, it is not to afraid you, it is just logical.
About your way of wearing, no problems at all, and keep in mind that you are in the coolest city of the world, you don't need to wear your best clothes, here it is relax ! At night you even can enter in disco by shorts, but maybe avoid the flipflop in Ipanema/Leblon districts...!
Places to avoid
Basically, the idea is that you could get troubles if you are alone somewhere... But as long as there are people around you, you are safe. That's why you have to avoid the city centre after 21h and during the weekend, because nobody lives there, it is the business and historical centre. If the beach is empty, for example after some rain, do not walk on the sand far away from the pavement. Be careful in Lapa nightlife district early in the evening (5h/6h), especially around the colourful steps.
If you feel unsafe somewhere, just take a cab, you find them everywhere and at any time. Also when you are in the crowd during Carnival Bloco parties, be careful of pickpockets. About football games at Maracana stadium, it is really easy going, no worries at all ! Football is a big party, in the stadium there a lot of families and women. There is a nice atmosphere and you will experience a great moment.
The Favelas are not what you think and City of God movie was telling a story in a favela in the 90s! I know what I mean as I do live in one of them for several years now. Still, you can't go by your own in a favela. You need to get introduced through one inhabitant or one tour guide so you get all the keys to understand those particular parts of the city. It is not a no-go zone but there are some things to do and others to avoid. Please see my text about it. Do not miss a tour in a favela, you will feel the heart of Rio beating! They are too many bad stereotypes about those favelas, let me help you to change your mind!
About Brazilians warnings
I guess that the most frightened and paranoiac may be the brazilians themselves! Whereas most of them never have suffered from any attacks, it is common to hear from them that Rio is dangerous... Maybe the reason is that they have been raised with Globo TV which is always speaking badly about Rio : this is good for the audience? Also they are stuck in the past when Rio was indeed far more dangerous (in the 90s). Finally, some of them don't know that well Rio as they never go very far away from their own district, and everything that they don't know may be perigoso , dangerous. If I would have considered all the warnings I get from brazilians, I would not have turned a tour guide and I would not have enjoyed the city as I do for 7 years.