Travel to Rio de Janeiro

Flying to Rio de Janeiro

Airlines offering direct flights to Rio de Janeiro from the UK include British Airways, TAM Linhas Aéreas and Avianca. Lufthansa and Air France also operate indirect routes. Flights to Rio take approximately 12 hours from London. Rio is a popular destination all year round, especially during the Brazilian summer (December to March). Cheaper flights can be found outside those months but if you are planning to travel during the Christmas holiday or in February, close to carnival time, book well in advance.

Flight times

From London - 12 hours; New York - 10 hours; Los Angeles - 14 hours; Toronto - 10 hours 30 minutes; Sydney - 19 hours 30 minutes.

Travel by road


Brazil’s road system is extensive and diverse but driving through the world’s fifth biggest country is still a daunting task. Road conditions are adequate although signage is poor. Motorists drive fast and aggressively, including in Rio. Traffic drives on the right and the minimum driving age is 18 years. Everyone in a car must wear a seatbelt. The speed limit on highways is 120 kph (75 mph).

Drivers should carry a driving licence from their country of origin at all times. Technically an authorised Portuguese translation is required, although rarely asked for. Third-party liability insurance is required by law. Touring Club Do Brasil (tel: (21) 3824 0070; provides information and assistance to foreign motorists in cities and on highways as long as the driver is a member of a similar organisation in their own country.

Emergency breakdown service:

Touring Club Do Brasil (tel: (21) 3824 0070).


The BR-116 from Porto Alegre passes through Curitiba, where it picks up traffic from Foz do Iguaçu and continues on through São Paulo, all the way to Rio de Janeiro. Coastal highway BR-101 runs from Natal, through Salvador to Rio de Janeiro and beyond. However, there is a faster inland route from Salvador on BR-116, which connects with the BR-040 from Brasilia at Belo Horizonte. The BR-116 and BR-040 lead into Rio along Avenida Brasil. The main highway continues along the coast before emerging from Túnel Novo at Copacabana. From here, the Avenida Atlântica runs alongside the beach to Ipanema and Leblon.

Driving times:

From São Paulo - 5 hours 30 minutes; Brasilia - 16 hours; Foz do Iguaçu - 20 hours; Porto Alegre - 20 hours; Salvador - 23 hours.


International and interstate buses operate from the Terminal Rodoviária Novo Rio, Avenida Francisco Bicalho, in Santo Cristo. International services go to Asunción (Paraguay), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Montevideo (Uruguay) and Santiago (Chile).

Pluma (tel: 0800 646 0300; serves international and national routes. Interstate buses travel to major Brazilian cities and tourist centres. There are many service providers, including Pluma, Real Expresso (tel: 0800 280 7325;, Auto Viação 1001 (tel: (21) 4004 5001; and Expresso Brasileiro (tel: 0300 700 9000;, which operate a regular service to São Paulo.

Travel by rail


Unfortunately, the Brazilian passenger railway system has become virtually non-existent. There is no single national rail company and most train services are for cargo. However, just before the days of crossing the country by train become a fading memory, the wheels are in motion for a new high speed train project (TAV), which will link Rio de Janeiro with Sao Paulo and Campinas. This, though, will be many years in the making.

The few trains that do run in Rio are much slower than the buses. There is only one terminal in the city, located in the city centre area - Estação Dom Pedro II, Central do Brasil, Praça Cristiano Ottoni. Linking the inner city with the suburbs, and far from any tourist attractions, it is mainly used by work commuters. Crime here is frequent too and it is not recommended for visitors.

Transport to the city:

Go downstairs at Estação Dom Pedro II to the Central Metro station. Take the southbound Linha 1 (Line 1) to head towards the main spots in the city. Siqueira Campos is the nearest station to Copacabana beach.

Travel over water


The calm waters of Guanabara Bay are an inviting gateway to Rio de Janeiro, and a range of boat services is available for exploring the curvaceous coastline. Regulating water traffic in the bay is the Companhia Docas do Rio de Janeiro, Autoridade Portuária (Rio Docks Port Authority), Rua Acre no. 21 (tel: (21) 2233 2762;

Ferries, hydrofoils and catamarans depart from the Estação das Barcas, beside Praça XV de Novembro in Centro, and link Rio to Niteroi, the city across the bay. Private yachts can use the facilities of Marina da Gloria, Avenida Infante Dom Henrique (tel: (21) 2555 2200;

Ferry services:

There are only local ferry routes from Rio. Daily departures leave from the quays by Praça XV de Novembro to nearby islands or to Niterói (CCR Barcas, tel: 0800 721 1012).

Rio is an extremely popular destination for cruise ships and many thousands of passengers disembark at the city each year. The Brazilian line Costa Cruzeiros (tel: (21) 2220 0505; operates cruises around Brazil and beyond, and the city is also a popular stop for international cruise liners.

Nearest port:

Rio de Janeiro.

Transport to the city:

Regular public buses run from Praça XV de Novembro to Centro, Copacabana and Ipanema. Taxis are also readily available. Downtown, Centro is a short and pleasant walk from the Estação das Barcas, though not safe after dark).

Transfer distance:

In centre.

Transfer time:

2 minutes - harbour runs along Rio.