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One of the trickiest things about traveling with a disability, whether that’s moving around in a wheelchair, or exploring a new destination without sight, is finding accessible places to visit.

Traveling with a disability may always present obstacles and challenges which won’t affect the average tourist, but that doesn’t mean that is has to be a massive headache. 

Each destination will be different in terms of the way they provide for disability, and make their cities and attractions accessible for travelers. Here are our thoughts on making an experience in Rio more friendly.

Thoughts on Travelling to Rio de Janeiro if You Have A Disability

Choose Private Tour Guides

Wheelchair beach RF

If you use a private tour guide like during your stay in Rio de Janeiro, you can get a more realistic and “off-the-beaten-path” type of tour, and benefit from local insight into navigating the challenges of the city.

Locals showing you around is a more immersive way for any type of traveler exploring a new destination, though for those with disabilities, one of the biggest benefits is eliminating the language barrier. 

Locals who can communicate fluently in Portuguese (the first language of the vast majority of Brazilians) will be a huge help to exploring the city and avoiding miscommunications, making sure your needs at each place you visit are properly understood. 

And transportation wise, it’s far easier to get around in a private vehicle; if you need a car with a ramp to be accessible, a local guide can make accommodations before you get picked up, vs having to rely on taxis. 

Use Private Transport During Your Stay

Having your transportation ready for you when you arrive will make your entire travel experience much easier, whether you need an accessible vehicle for a wheelchair, or one which will accommodate a seeing-eye dog.

Private driving services are a good option because you can talk to your driver before traveling and address the accommodations you might need.

Ultimately, you can make sure that the car that picks you up is able to accommodate you. If you don’t need any specific accommodation, then using ride-share apps like Uber or Lyft would potentially be an option for you as well.  

Research Easily Accessible Places

Copacabana Beach Rio Brazil RF

Places that are great to visit if you have a vision impairment include Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens, which includes a Sensory Garden that encourages users to interact with the garden by relying on touch, smell, and even taste rather than sight.

The Italian restaurant Quadrucci offer a menu printed in Braille, and the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil also offer monthly guides in Braille, as well as closed captioning on all videos and tours for hearing impairments.

Some great places to visit in Rio de Janeiro that are accessible specifically for those using wheelchairs and have ramps and lifts available include:

  • Copacabana Beach
  • AquaRio Marine Aquarium
  • Museum of Tomorrow
  • MAR Rio Art Museum

Plan Methods of Communication

Brazil flag RF

If you ever need directions or assistance during your time in Rio de Janeiro, it can be intimidating if you don’t speak the language. 

Anyone traveling in a country that speaks a foreign language will need to have ways to communicate for assistance or to have questions answered. 

For some, this might be learning a few phrases in Portugese, downloading a good translation app on their phone, investing in a verbal translation device, or learning a bit of the Brazilian Sign Language, “Libras.”

If you have a handicap that makes communication more difficult, then practicing with the added language barrier before traveling might reduce the stress when you are enjoying your vacation.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 100+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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