A Guide to Rio de Janeiro’s Sambadrome


Spending Carnival in the Marvelous City is an incredible experience, and many dream that one day they can be a part of this wonderful party. If you are lucky enough to be planning a trip to Rio during Carnival, this post is for you: a guide to Rio’s magnificent Sambadrome, the main stage for the “biggest party on Earth.” Designed by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1984, this purpose-built arena plays host to the dazzling Samba Schools parade.

The Biggest Party on Earth

Every year during Rio Carnival, 24 samba schools from 2 divisions (namely the Special Group and Serie A) perform at the Sambadrome over 4 nights. The main event in 2016 will take place across Sunday 7th and Monday 8th February, when the 12 schools from the Special Group compete to become the champions of Rio Carnival 2016.

In preparation for the 2016 Olympics, the Sambadrome underwent some major renovations – new sections have been added, the capacity has increased, visibility greatly enhanced, and the acoustics are much improved – Rio Carnival just keeps on getting better. Of the 13 sectors of seating, sector 9 is reserved for tourists and it is considered to be the best area from which to enjoy the show.

Sambadrome: A magnificent setting for a spectacular show / Source

Sambadrome: A magnificent setting for a spectacular show / Source

Beyond Carnival

When Rio Carnival is not in session, the Sambadrome becomes a venue for music concerts graced by the likes of The Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam, Eric Clapton, and Coldplay. During the 2016 Olympic Games, it will be home to both the Archery events and the Marathon.

The stadium is synonymous with Brazil and Carnival, and this architectural masterpiece is certainly well worth a visit even when it is empty. Visitors looking for a more in-depth insight into Carnival should take in the Samba Museum, which offers real-life exhibits featuring glittering costumes and vintage photographs of bygone parades.


The iconic structure at the end of the runway is a symbol of Carnival / Credit: Daytours4u

How to get to the Sambadrome

By taxi
Several taxi companies offer fixed rates of return to the Sambadrome. You may also be able to hail a standard street taxi and the driver will take you directly to the entrance.

By subway
An alternative method of transport is the subway. Get off at either “Praça Onze” or “Central Station.”

By car
It is also possible to drive to the Sambadrome, but be aware that there is no parking available in the vicinity and you may be forced to walk long distances.

City Tour
The best option is to book a Carnival tour that includes tickets and transfer, leaving you free from all the stress that comes with getting there on your own.


Are you planning a trip to Brazil for Carnival this summer? We enhance South American travel experiences.

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By Camilla Day