The Brazilian capital city of Rio de Janeiro, at first glance, may seem extremely sprawling and vast. However, if you are looking to get around and spend most of your time in the neighbourhoods that are popular among the tourists, you will find it to be a very easy task. From the Sao Conrado to the Centro South, all of these neighbourhoods are strung up like beads on the narrow strip of land that lies between the mountains and the ocean. Travelling down these stretch, either one of them is sure to be visible and with such towering landmarks tourists will find it difficult to stray from their desired path of travel. If you are looking for public transport in Rio de Janeiro, you will have a number of options to choose from- a ferry service, vans, subway or metro systems, and executive and city bus services. If you are a seasoned traveller and you happen to speak a little Portuguese, you will find it extremely simple to travel around the city. The public transport systems are, in general, pretty safe. While crimes are unheard of on the Metro network, the executive buses and taxis are equally safe. Tourists are, however, advised against taking the regular bus service during the night hours. Being a cosmopolitan city, transportation in the city is also fairly cheap. Here we offer a travel guide on the various modes of transport in the city of Rio and the various tourist destinations that you can easily access by means of the public transport system.
Travelling on foot in Rio de Janeiro
If you are in the Zona Sul, Lapa, Centro or Santa Teresa neighbourhoods, you will find it a pleasure to walk around the place. Although you will have to rely on a subway train, taxi or bus to drop you down at Centro or Santa Teresa, you can travel around the many museums, shops and art galleries in the region on foot. However, if you are looking to travel to such places as the Sugar Loaf Mountain or the Corcovado which are difficult to reach, then you will be required to avail one of the public transport systems.
Bus service in Rio de Janeiro
A ride in one of the many city buses of Rio can be dangerous, particularly during the night hours. Apart from being a haven for pickpockets, these buses run through very locations in the city including slum regions. So it is best to take one such bus only if you are aware of the route to take to your destination. More importantly you should be alert while travelling on these buses. You may also be taken aback about the lack of spoken English talents among the bus drivers. Carry a route map along with you so as to avoid unwanted confusions.Another viable transport option is to take the air-conditioned buses, also known as Frescao. These buses operate between the beaches along Zona Sul and Centro neighbourhood and can also be flagged down with ease. They are, however, more expensive than the city buses but that is a small price to pay when you take into account the safety on offer.
Van in Rio de Janeiro
Apart from the many executive or Frescao buses that run in the city, Rio also has minivan services that operate daily between the Copacabana Beach and Ipanema Beach. For the people who reside in the district of Zona Sul these vans, which can be easily identified all the way from the beach, offer a quick and affordable means of transport.
Taxis in Rio de Janeiro
One of the best things about the taxis is that you can arrange for them on a very short notice. The bad news- you may not be granted the luxury of having an English speaking driver at your disposal. Moreover, most of the public taxis are half as good as the private cars. Taxis are also difficult to come across during peak seasons such as holidays and special events and also in case of bad weather. You can find a taxi in almost every area of Greater Rio except in the favelas or slum regions which, apart from being pretty dangerous, also lack the proper infrastructure for cars to ply. These taxis, for the most part, are cheap, clean and a safe mode of public transport in Rio de Janeiro. Also, if you happen to be travelling during night hours, make use of a cab instead of taking the risk of walking to your destination.
If you are looking for an excellent and fast means of transport that can take you around the city of Rio, then there is nothing better than the city’s metro or subway system. Both of the lines are air-conditioned and safe, fast and clean. The subway system serves a number of areas that are central to the Centro district. Some of the popular stops along the network are as follows:
- Copacabana has three stops. Cardeal Arcoverde is in the beginning, Siqueira Campos stands around four blocks away from the beach and Arpoador is at the end of the Copacabana beach.
- Get down at the General Osorio or Ipanema station to reach Barra da Tijuca, Gavea or Leblon by changing over to a special subway-bus route.
- If you have to travel to Gavea, get down at the Botafogo station and switch over to the subway bus that travels to this place. Just for your interest, this bus route travels through Jardim Botanico which is another popular tourist destination.
If you are interested in taking these connecting subway buses to your desired destination, you should mention that at the time of purchasing your subway ticket. Inform the clerk that you wish to travel on the “Metro na Superficie” and then name your final destination. The subway system is privately owned so there are stringent regulations about keeping it clean and safe. Most of the stations are also new as the metro network is being upgraded and extended.
Getting around in Rio de Janeiro
Tourists to Rio also have the option of renting their own vehicle. However, it is not a recommended practice to drive around the city in your own vehicle thanks to the prevalent lawlessness among drivers and also the confusing network of streets and traffic signs in Rio. Moreover, the prices that car rental services ask for are quite exorbitant. Truth be told, you do not need a private rental vehicle for exploring the city. Taxis can be found during the night hours and during the day, the various other means of public transport in Rio de Janeiro will carry you around the city wherever you wish to go. The best part: it won’t even cost a lot of money! So the next time you wish to travel down to the Copacabana for a swim or up to the Maracana for a football match, consider travelling in the cheaper modes of public transport before hiring an expensive car for your own drive. Trust us, it will be a decision you won’t regret!