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See Rio de Janeiro like a local. Work with a local to plan your trip.

Transportation in Rio de Janeiro: A Guide

ViaHero
Updated February 20, 2020

Transportation in Rio de Janeiro can feel overwhelming—that's why we created this guide! With some help from Rio locals, here's what you need to know about using public transit, catching a taxi, or safely navigating on foot. 

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Kate, Recent Traveler

Rio has a variety of transportation options

Locals tell us that their city offers plenty of different forms of transportation. The key is to plan your route and choose the best type of transit based on where you’re going. (If you work with a local to plan your trip, they'll provide detailed transit instructions.)

Overall, our trip planners say that you have a few options:

Much of Rio can be explored on foot

Pedestrian in Rio | Rafael_Neddermeyer/Pixabay

Locals say that walking is easy and pleasant in the Santa Teresa, Centro, Lapa, and Zona Sul (South Zone) neighborhoods—which also happen to be home to beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema, some of Rio's coolest places to visit.

Aside from beaches, locals tell us that the area is packed with great art galleries, shops, restaurants, and museums. 

Local Tip:

If you’re staying elsewhere, you’ll have to hop on a taxi, bus, or subway to reach this area—but the trip is worth it. 

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Using taxi cabs or Uber in Rio

City taxis, or amarelinhos (yellow with a blue stripe), are abundant, easy to flag down, and have a standard meter rate regulated by the city.

Locals say you can also order a taxi using apps like 99Taxis or EasyTaxi. Make sure you check the route and fare before you agree to the ride.

Depending on the time of day, destination, and route, rates can range from R$10 ($2.50 USD) to R$50 ($12 USD).

Private taxis are easy to use

There are also several private hire taxi services (called radio taxis) in Rio. Locals tell us you can use your phone to order these too, using services like Coopertramo or Cootramo. They are pricier than city cabs—but also more comfortable and convenient.

Uber is alive and well in Rio

Yes, Uber exists in Rio! Uber will cost you a bit more than a taxi, but Uber cars and drivers have higher standards and are generally more reliable than yellow cabs.

Local Tip:

Many Brazilian taxi drivers do not speak English, so make sure to write down your destination's address to prevent confusion.

The Rio Metro is cheap, clean, safe, and easy to navigate

Locals say that Rio’s subway system, MetroRio, is the most reliable public transportation method in Rio de Janeiro—especially during rush hour. It's a fantastic resource as you navigate between all the places to visit in Rio.

Even though the metro gets crowded, it can be much faster than taking regular buses or even a taxi at certain times. (Locals say traffic can get bad.)

Single train tickets cost R$3.70 ($1 USD) and expire two days after purchase. Get a prepaid fare card (at the station or online) if you plan to get around using the metro.

Local Tip:

If you are traveling to spots like Jardim Botânico, you’ll need a combo ticket with a bus-metro transfer, as the metro lines are limited.

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City buses are really cheap—but don’t use them at night

Bus stop in Rio | moovitapp/Flickr

Locals tell us that there are two types of city buses that run in Rio: Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and city buses.

BRT 

These are buses that travel along dedicated corridors (for traffic purposes) and are an excellent alternative to other forms of public transit. The BRT system has limited route options, though, so you may have to transfer to the metro or take a taxi/Uber to get to popular spots in Zona Sul. The BRT runs 24/7, and the cost is R$3.40 ($.80 USD) for a ticket.

City Bus

Rio's city buses are cheap, with fares starting at R$2.40 ($.59 USD). Stay safe with local insights—our trip planners say that, because of crime risks, you shouldn’t take a city bus at night. Here are the basics:

  • Troncal 1, which you will see at the top of the buses, will take you around Copacabana, Ipanema, and up to Centro.
  • Troncal 3 operates between Leblon and Centro and makes stops in Flamengo.
  • The other buses run to the North Zone of the city, so it’s best not to use them.

You could rent a car… but we wouldn’t recommend it

Rental cars are easy to reserve, but beware—locals tell us that driving in Rio is not for the faint of heart.

Road signs are sparse, traffic is congested, and drivers (especially taxi cab drivers) are quite aggressive. Parking may also be challenging—tough to find and costly.

The Brazilian rental car company Localiza, rents cars at the airport as does Hertz and Thrifty. Daily rates run from R$80 ($20 USD) to R$120 ($30 USD). 

Local Tip:

Here’s another reason to avoid renting a car: motorcycle-driving bandits have been known to rob drivers stuck in Rio’s infamous traffic jams.

Getting into town from Rio de Janeiro International Airport (GIG)

Flying past Christ the Redeemer | Cláudio Luiz Castro/Unsplash
  • Radio Taxi: Book a “radio taxi” at the booth inside the terminal. They take credit cards, and the trip takes 10 to 50 minutes, depending on traffic. The cost is a flat R$30 ($32 USD) to get to popular areas like Ipanema and Copacabana. 
  • City taxi: The yellow taxis are cheaper than the radio taxi and will take about the same time to get to your hotel—but the cost is only R$70 ($17 USD). There are taxi stands at the arrivals gate, or you can order a cab from 99Taxis or EasyTaxi.  
  • Uber: Uber is a safe way to get to the city hassle-free. (Like using taxis, the trip will take between 10 and 50 minutes depending on traffic.) The cost is R$60 ($15 USD) for UberX to get to Ipanema and R$100 ($25 USD) for Uber Black. There's a dedicated place in the airport now to meet your Uber driver—just follow the directions in the Uber app.
  • BRT: This option is dirt cheap (R$3.6 or $.80 USD), but the buses are very crowded (and not always safe). If you’re staying in a major area like Ipanema or Copacabana, you’ll have to transfer to the metro.
  • Shuttle Van Transfer: You can get a shuttle van through your travel agent, hotel, online, or arrange it at the airport when you land. It’s less expensive than a cab, but you’ll need to plan ahead. You can book on-line with Green Path TransfersShuttle Rio, or Gray Line Tours. The average cost is R$81 ($20 USD) one-way to most hotels in Rio. 
  • Coach Bus: Taking a bus is the cheapest way to get to your destination from the Rio de Janeiro airport. The Real Auto Bus or Empresa Real counters are on the second floor of each terminal. The ride is about an hour, and a trip to the beaches or the main bus station will cost about R$12 ($3 USD). 
Local Tip:

Use Bus #2018 because it picks up and drops off passengers at various hotels in the Zona Sul, including Ipanema and Copacabana—just write the address down ahead of time for the driver.  

Still have questions about travel to Rio de Janeiro?
Why not ask someone who lives there? ViaHero connects you with a local to help plan your trip. They’ll create a guidebook based on your personal travel style.
You’ll see a unique side of a destination and travel independently—all while saving time and money in the planning process. Find a local today.

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