By Hakan Almerfors, Contributing Reporter

Local bus in Rio de Janeiro, photo by Hakan Almerfors.
Local bus in Rio de Janeiro, photo by Hakan Almerfors.

RIO DE JANEIRO – There are many options for transport in Rio de Janeiro – buses, vans, taxis and subway to name a few. There is no best bet, as it all depends on time, location and budget. We’ve cracked the enigma of getting around in Rio, with a handy guide to lead Gringoes through the city.

Reasonably priced and plentiful, they are the most convenient way to get you from A to B. From late evening until early morning they are probably the only choice for safety’s sake. Always catch cabs that are reasonably new and have a company name and insist using the taximeter. The taxi services at Santos Dumont airport and at Rodoviária (Rio’s main train station) arrange fares that are only a few Reals more than the normal rate.

This is not the case at the international airport (GIG) – the so called rádiotáxis are double the price. It is much cheaper to leave the building and grab a cab from either the Aerocoop or Aerotáxi companies, as they will use the meter with no need to haggle. To save time and money it is a good idea to suggest they take the beach avenues if traveling to Ipanema, Copacabana or Leblon.

The multitude of buses in Rio is staggering. Numerous companies operate in Rio. Prices differ between the simplest that are R$2.20 to more luxurious alternatives. To find out where the different lines go, check out Rio Ónibus. A good bus line is operated by Real 5:30AM until midnight. You can easily recognize their blue and white coaches.

To and from Rodoviária Novo Rio should cost R$4, and you can check the itinerary here. To and from the airports will cost R$8, again it is a good idea to check the itinerary here.

On holidays and Sundays when half the beach avenues are closed, the buses run on Barata Ribeiro instead of Av. Atlântica and on Visconde de Pirajá instead of Vieira Souto. A good tip is to get a cab if the buses are empty, as robbers often prowl on public transport when they find targets alone. To catch a bus just wave frenetically as they don´t automatically stop.

Vans and Kombis
Cheap and reliable. This is the most public transport of them all. The destination is written in the front window. It is important to verify the price. Within Zona Sul the fare is R$2, but if the final destination is far the van is more expensive. A good choice for the beach avenues in Ipanema and Copacabana.

The Metro is clean and safe, photo by Hakan Almerfors.
The Metro is clean and safe, photo by Hakan Almerfors.

Subway – Metro
The pride and joy of Rio de Janeiro’s public transport system, very clean and safe. There are two lines – Linha 1 Cantagalo to Saens Peña and Linha 2 Estàcio to Pavuna. There are also integrated shuttle buses or Metroónibuses that transport people to and from the Metro. It is easy to recognize the bus stops – they have the sign Metro and people stand in orderly lines.

The buses do not run on Sundays and holidays. From next year the Metro will reach Ipanema at a new station on Praça General Osório. The price for a one way ticket (unitário) is R$2.80. Hours of operation are Monday to Saturday 5AM until midnight, Sunday and holidays 7AM until 11PM.

There are a few other public transport systems pperating in certain parts of Rio not mentioned in this article, including trams (the famous Bonde linking Lapa with Santa Teresa) and regional trains.

Hakan Almerfors is Swedish and has been living in Rio de Janeiro since 2003. He has been working with tourists ever since, in 2007 he created the Rio travel information site


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