You will invariably have to use some form of public transport during your stay in Rio as the city is fairly spread out, but the good news is that it is efficient, clean and usually air-conditioned. SECTRAN (telephone, 2299 3468) runs the state transport routes.
Rio De Janeiro Transportation Travel Guide
1. Metro Rio
Telephone – 3982 3600
If there’s one thing that Latin America does surprisingly well, it’s the metro system and Rio is no exception. Safe, clean and fast, the metal carriages whisk you across the city in a blast of freezing air, from Mon-Sat, 5am-midnight or 7am-11pm during holidays. The only gripe being that there are only two lines which can make it of limited use. Line 1 runs from Siqueira Compos (Copacabana) to Saens Pena (Tijuca) and line 2 runs from Estacio (centro) to Pavuna in the north of the city. Tickets can be bought at stations and cost R$2 for a single or R$20 for a booklet of 10 tickets.
Real, telephone 2263 7689
Novo Horizonte, telephone 22337210
With 300 routes and over 6000 buses wearing out the tarmac, the bus system is well-run, extensive and good value. There are many different companies running the buses, two of which are listed above, but the format is the same for them all – buy your ticket from the conductor at the back of the vehicle (R$1.60 for a single journey, R$1.70 on the air-conditioned frescao buses).
Another useful ticket is the Metro/Onibus which is a one way combined fare to use on both forms of transport. They cost R$3.20 can are purchased from metro stations.
3. Ferries, hydrofoils and catamarans
All depart from Estacao des Baracas on the commuter route that slices across Guanabara Bay to Niteroi and Paqueta Island. A number of companies operate the routes including Barcas A (telephone, 2533 7524) that run the cheaper, slower ferry services and Transteer/Aerobarcos do Brasil (telephone, 2533 4343) that run the daily ferry, hydrofoil and catamaran services.
Bright yellow taxi’s can be hailed on the streets but check they have an official identification badge and the meter is on when you get in. The minimum fare is R$3.30 and check the meter reads ‘1’ unless it’s after 11pm on a Sunday or a public holiday when it will say ‘2’ and the fare will be 20 per cent more.
If in doubt, then phone a radio taxi which, although being more expensive than a yellow one, tend to be safer. Call Central de Taxi on 2593 2598 or Coopertramo on 2560 2022.
These beautiful old carriages run every 15 minutes, from 5am-midnight from ‘bondes’ near Largo Carioca, across the Aqueduto de Carioca to the inner suburbs of Santa Teresa and onto Dois Irmaos.
Rio is a cyclists paradise with 74km of designated cycle paths that take you along the beaches and into Tijuia National Park. Rent your two wheels from Special Bike, Rua Visconde de Piraja 135B, Ipanema, telephone 2267 7778.
Unless you thrive on adrenaline-pumping extreme sports then don’t even consider driving in Rio. The one way streets and unfathomable traffic laws make for a testing time as does the lack of parking. Your best bet is to leave the car in a secure car park which, happily, only costs R$2 a day.