City Rumble – New York City Versus Rio De Janeiro

Oh woah, when my baby! When my baby smiles at me I go to New York, New York City…

So I mean

I’m in a Rio state of mind.

Okay yeah, so both of the cities doing battle today in this third-round super match-up have more than one song written about them. They are both cities that invoke images, thoughts, they are cities that people WANT to visit, they inspire the visitor and I daresay, the resident. Today we have one hell of a rumble in front of it as South America’s most well-known city takes on the city so great they named it twice. So I guess in that vein – let’s get READY TO RUMBLE!

And yes, the thing to do first off the bat is to see the route to the third for our two cities. Rio De Janeiro initially faced off against another South American city in Buenos Aires in the first round, that stoush can be seen here – City Rumble – Rio De Janeiro versus Buenos Aires. That win put it into the second round where its opponent was the Central European city of Budapest – see City Rumble – Rio de Janeiro versus Budapest.

On the other hand, NYC was a first round loser which found itself with a second chance this year and won through after beating Rome – see City Rumble – New York City Versus Rome.

The Basics

So let’s see what we have here. Two very different cities in many ways, although they are both very big cities. And on top of that, they are both the most visited city in their respected countries, those countries being the USA and Brazil. New York City’s metro area contains over 20 million people, and for Rio the greater metro area is around 12 million, which I admit is less than I expected!

Another interesting similarity is that both cities have had their fair share of crime, and both at one stage or another cracked right down on it. The 1990s saw mayor Rudi Guiliani crack down on both crime and homelessness, and so many were displaced. The upshot of it was the city became much safer to live in and visit. The downside is – whatever happened to those who were forcibly removed from the city?

Rio held the Olympic Games in 2016. Before that there was a huge push to clean up the city in terms of crime and safety. I think it’s fair to say that crime is still an issue in Rio de Janeiro, and many visitors report getting mugged, but I certainly didn’t have a problem when I was there and personally I felt a lot safer in Rio than in some of the other cities I visited in South America. Before the Olympics the famous favelas were ‘cleaned up’ too, and today are supposedly much safer than they were pre-2016.

People and Vibe

New York is not the world’s friendliest city, I don’t think I’m being controversial in saying that. People are busy, stressed, and living a high-paced lifestyle. Rio may be one of the world’s biggest cities too, but it also is somewhat chilled for a big city.

New York City from the Empire State Building, 1999.

Having said that, what NYC lacks in warmth it replaces with excitement. With activity. With an amazing theatre scene – Broadway and 42nd street if you don’t mind! It can be a lot of fun to visit and there’s plenty of clubs and places to party, great restaurants and more. And just being in such a famous city is a buzz all in itself.

Ipanema beach, Rio De Janeiro.

Rio has the beaches and the roller blading. But it also has hustlers and spots you have to be careful. So despite in general the people who live there are chilled and definitely friendly to outsiders it’s cut with an edginess because you do need to be on your guard. Of course, it’s also the place to party so head out with only the money you need for the evening and nothing to valuable and you can let your hair down like everyone else!


So the Manhattan Skyline is a great vista. See it from the Staten Island ferry or however you wish, from another island or take a helicopter flight (are these available?). You can appreciate just what an incredible achievement just building this city was, has been and will continue to be. You can also get a sense of the scale of it all from the Empire State Building, always recommended. The Brooklyn Bridge is another famous sight/vista, and even from Central Park you get the skyline through the trees which is an incredible image.

But I don’t think it quite outdoes the views you get around Rio de Janeiro, which is truly one of the world’s most beautiful cities. And that’s because it’s in and between rocky mountains. You can’t call them hills. You might call them rocks. Taking a cable car up to Sugarloaf Mountain and moving from peak to peak is just an absolutely breath-taking thrill. Then the whole bay – the bayS! The view from Christ the Redeemer. The view OF Christ the Redeemer. Lakes, roads that weave between the mountains, and through the mountains. And then you have the beaches, just gorgeous GORGEOUS perfect beaches. With open air bars open most of the day and all of the night. Sport on the beach. It’s the combination of nature and what humans have done with it, versus the feats of humans from nothing in NYC. Man, it’s a beautiful city Rio. There are plenty of reasons people don’t like Rio, but no-one ever called it ugly.

Costs & Transport

So Rio is not a very cheap city, but it is definitely cheaper than New York City. New York does provide cheap eats in the form of things like hot dog huts, or pizza by the slice, but Rio is certainly cheaper. I had a very comfortable room for less than $100 in Rio when I was there. 3-star I think it was. I did used to travel cheaper, I know, back in the day and I haven’t been to New York since 2004, but it was dorm beds all the way and they were still starting at $25USD. To get a comfortable room in New York… let’s do a very quick search hey?

I just did and actually they were, with a couple of exceptions, over $100 but not massively. So perhaps I’m wrong there but it is Covid times and New York has been hard it.

Both cities have metros. Rio’s seems quite new and gave the impression it would be a growing network. It’s clean and comfy though, supplemented by buses which I didn’t take and taxis. New York of course has one of the most famous metros in the world – the ‘subway’ if you will. It is brilliant in as much as it connects the city brilliantly, it’s such a large and comprehensive network. It’s not clean or comfortable though! There are ferries as well as part of the public transport, and I presume buses. New York is famous for its taxis but I never took one. I really should have, just for the experience! I can’t imagine though they move about quickly in New York’s congestion.

Rio also has trams running down some of its streets and in incredible spots at times. Read further to find out exactly what I’m talking about!


I think that New York’s museums, which I never bloody went to I should add, are some of the finest in the world. The Guggenheim for example. Central Park is THE place though, it’s really surprisingly big and a place where people congregate. You can’t visit or live in New York without spending time in Central Park.

Times Square is, as a lot of people say, a bit of a disappointment. For starters, it’s not actually a square it’s just a sort of confluence of roads and indeed traffic. There is a fair bit of neon and at night it’s pretty enough, but it’s also full of traffic. There is a large tourist information centre there and it’s cool to say you’ve been to Times Square, right?

Catch a Broadway show, there’s a discounted ticket booth at Times Square and if you like a show, well New York is one of two places in the world to see Musical Theatre at its peak (the other being London). Check out Wall st. You can visit the Statue of Liberty too, or see it from sadly not as close as I’d hoped from the Staten Island Ferry. New York is brilliant to walk around and experience and see things. There’s always so much going on.

Rio has Christ the Redeemer. It’s never fun being one of a gazillion people at a monument, but it’s impressive and has incredible views. Getting to these places is also half the fun as you take this special mountainside train to get there. Sugarloaf is jaw-dropping.

The Celeron Steps are a famous Rio spot to see and of course, take a selfie! Not too far from this incredible aqueduct which has a tram running on the bloody top if you don’t mind! And the Metropolitan Cathedral is tall and dark and has stained glass windows which look amazing from the inside. It’s unique for sure. I also loved the old Presidential Palace, Catete Palace which is just an amazing place to visit. There is Copacabana and Ipanema beaches too – the latter is the better one in my opinion.

And as always, that’s just been the quickest of quick overviews! There’s so much more to these incredible cities.

Verdict Time!

Well. Hmmm. Yes. This one is the hardest choice I have had to make to be perfectly honest here. Which city will leave it’s mark most? Which will amaze you more?  Because both will amaze you. I would call a draw – if I could but one city must advance and the other we must bid adieu to. And the winner is….

New York City!

You didn’t see that happening, did you? And why? Because of its legend. Of its history, of the stories we know and love that come from New York City. It’s a city that pulls people to it, and perhaps it always will. Sad to see Rio bow out at this stage,  but it too will always have a place in my heart!

Thanks for reading – what do you think? Take care and May the Journey Never End!


10 thoughts on “City Rumble – New York City Versus Rio De Janeiro

  1. I was surprised at your winner this time; usually, I can predict the winner based on what you wrote in the post. Any case, NYC is a strong contender, although I may be biased as it’s in my home country and I haven’t been to Rio yet. Looking forward to see which city NYC heads up with soon!

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