Brazil has several distinct climates due to its massive size, but in general, January, which falls right in the middle of summer, is the wet season, with average temperatures in the 80s. In Rio de Janeiro, temperatures sometimes reach up to 110℉. São Paulo has lovely weather during this time, with temperatures around 70-80℉. Thanks to the country's tropical climate, the sea is warm enough for swimming year-round—particularly in January, with water temperatures around 77℉. January brings more rainfall than usual to the southeast and south parts of the country, while the northeast regions experience less rain.
Crowds & Costs
January is a high season month in Brazil, which means bigger crowds, more tourists, and higher costs. However, this also means a wide variety of activities, since it is the best season to enjoy events and beach time. Both Brazil and Argentina have holidays in January, which, combined with the warm weather, means the country is buzzing with life all month. Plan your trip well in advance and consider booking any popular tours before you go.
Where to Go
January is a great month to enjoy beach time and water activities, such as surfing and diving. Now is the time to visit Copacabana Beach, located in Zona Sul in Rio de Janeiro. It is one of the best beaches in Brazil, with amazing shorelines and an energetic vibe. Make sure to visit one of the many shoreline bars to try the herbed meat with fried onions, paired with a local draft beer lager or a Brazilian Agua de Coco (coconut water).
It is also the perfect time to explore several cities. Visit Fortaleza—Brazil's fifth biggest city—for endless shorelines, energetic culture, and shopping. The city's best beaches include Praia de Futuro, Mucuripe, Meireles, and Iracema. For African-Brazilian culture, more beaches, and lively music, head to Salvador, located halfway between Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro. Some of the best beaches here are Flamengo, Stella Maris, and Porto de Barra.
Other cities to consider visiting in January are São Paulo and Recife, which both boast fantastic beaches and plenty of nightlife. If windsurfing is your thing, head to São Miguel do Gostoso, which lies between the two big northern cities, Natal and Fortaleza.
What to Do
Although most roads in the rainforest are impassable in January due to the rain, there are certain benefits to visiting in the wet season. Extensive rainfall through-out the country floods the Amazon rainforest, creating suitable conditions for a unique summer activity: forest canoeing. As water levels rise, they create varzeas (floodplains), which are deep enough to allow passage for canoes. Lucky visitors will also get to see jaguars, who often spend their days in exposed treetops due to the flooding on the forest floor.
Conditions along the coast are ideal for windsurfing and kiteboarding, which you can enjoy in Fortaleza, Cumbuci, Taiba, or Lagoa de Cauípe. Besides the beach and water-based activities, you can enjoy an abundance of sightseeing in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and around the famous Iguazu Falls.
Events in January
Dia de São Sebastião (January 20). The patron saint of Rio is commemorated with a procession from Igreja de São Sebastião dos Capuchinos in Tijuca to the Catedral Metropolitana in Lapa.
Maritime Procession in Angra dos Reis (January). This procession is a secular event—an all-day micareta, or off-season Carnival, involving thousands of boats.
Dia de Reis or Three Kings' Day (January 6). The Folia de Reis, also called Reisado or Terno de Reis, is a folk celebration present in many cities all over Brazil. Groups play instruments, sing and visit houses announcing the arrival of the Messiah.
Traveling to Brazil in January? Check out these great itineraries.
Brazil's Fernando de Noronha Island - 6 Days. This tour is perfect for the warm January weather, with a focus on Fernando de Noronha Island, a secluded island paradise located hundreds of miles away from the nearest coast. Go snorkeling and diving among the coral reefs, hike along the island's trails for views of turquoise waters and dramatic cliffs, or unwind on the white-sand beaches — voted the world's most beautiful.
Discover Rio, Costa Verde, and Iguazu Falls - 14 Days. Discover Rio de Janeiro — a vibrant and diverse city where emerald blue water, forest, and rocky mountains meet. Explore the lush Costa Verde and the picturesque colonial town of Paraty. Visit the island of Ilha Grande to relax on dreamy beaches and enjoy a private boat tour.