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Getting around Rio de Janeiro

Public transport

The underground service provided by Metrô Rio (tel: 0800 595 1111, in Brazil only; is efficient, safe and clean, though limited in scope. Its four lines cover Centro (downtown), Zona Sul (the coastal strip) and the Barra da Tijuca region to the west of the city.

Trains run Monday to Saturday 0500-midnight, and on Sundays and bank holidays between 0700-2300. During Rio Carnival the subway operates 24 hours a day. Metrô tickets are only available at the stations. You can buy single tickets or use a pre-paid MetrôRio Card.

Buses are cheap, regular and run to all parts of the city. However, they are not safe after dark, particularly in Centro. They are also very crowded during the rush hours (0700-0900 and 1600-1900) and not suitable for those carrying large luggage. Many different companies operate under the management of Rio Onibus (tel: 0800 886 1000;

You can buy tickets on the bus, just make sure you have the correct change ready to pay at the turnstile when you board. Tickets for integrated Metrô and bus journeys are available at Metrô stations, though these mostly link downtown with the suburbs rather than the beachside Zona Sul area.


Yellow and blue striped taxis are plentiful and reliable. They operate with a meter and can be hailed on the street. Check that the meter on the dashboard is reset and indicates the correct tariff (tarifa) which is shown by a little flag on top. Tariff 1 runs Monday to Saturday 0600-2100; tariff 2 runs Monday to Saturday 2100-0600 and all day Sunday. There is a minimum fare, plus a charge per kilometre. Tipping is not necessary, but is welcomed.

Radio taxis are also safe and reliable but more expensive than the yellow and blue taxis. Recommended operators include Central Táxi (tel: 21 2195 1000), Coopertramo (tel: 21 2209 9292) and Transcoopass (tel: 21 2209 1555).


Driving in Rio is chaotic. The road system and signage are confusing and locals drive at breakneck speed with scant regard to other road users. Efficient public buses and underground trains are far cheaper and much better ways to enjoy the city.

That said, driving may be a worthwhile option for excursions beyond the city, including Niterói and Petrópolis, and for reaching some of the further beaches. Visitors making a day trip to Rio by car, try to park in a secure car park and leaving the car with an attendant. Street parking is hard to find and is not considered safe.

Car hire

The minimum age to hire a car in Rio de Janeiro is 21 years. A credit card is usually required as security and for payment. An International Driving Permit is not normally required but if you're hiring a car, you normally need to show you've held your driving licence for at least two years. Rates include basic, third-party cover but collision waiver and personal accident insurance are extra.

Some major companies with car hire offices in the city include Avis (tel: 0800 725 2847, in Brazil only;, Hertz (tel: +55 21 2275 7440; and Alamo (tel: +55 21 2493 2006;

Bicycle hire

Cycling in Rio is considered a sport rather than an alternative form of transport as most roads are too dangerous. However, cycling along ciclovias (cycle paths) comes recommended as they are a fun and safe way to get around. These are dedicated paths shared by cyclists and joggers, which run along the seafront of Copacabana, Ipanema and Barra, and around the Lagoa.

Bicycle hire is available from Bike & Lazer, Rua Visconde de Pirajá, 135B, Ipanema (tel: +55 21 2251 2686;

Rio's bikeshare system, Mobilicidade (tel: +55 81 3224 2745; has bikes at Metrô stations, plus many other pick-up points around the city.

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Featured Hotels


Rio Hostel

This hostel in an old colonial building in Santa Teresa has basic dorms as well as three- and four-bed rooms, which are ideal for families. With its hillside location, Rio Hostel offers great city views and it also has a tiny swimming pool. Facilities include laundry service, tour information, Wi-Fi connectivity and air conditioning in some rooms. The staff are friendly, some are multilingual, and they serve a decent buffet breakfast.

Copacabana Palace

This elegant establishment is almost as famous as its beachfront location. Since it was built in 1923, famous guests have included Robert De Niro, Marlene Dietrich, Orson Welles and Princess Diana. The Copacabana Palace is one of the grandest classical buildings in Rio de Janeiro; its creamy pillared façade dominates Avenida Atlântica, and is protected by a preservation order. The plush interior is even more impressive with marble floors, chandeliers, grand ballroom and elegantly decorated rooms. Facilities include a rooftop tennis court, a majestic swimming pool, a well-equipped fitness suite and a business centre. The two restaurants, Cipriani and Pergula, offer fine dining.

Hotel Mama Ruisa

This tasteful boutique hotel lies in the heart of Santa Teresa in a converted late 19th-century mansion. Laidback French proprietor Jean Michel Ruiz has had each of the seven rooms individually decorated in tribute to icons of stage and screen, including Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich, Carmen Miranda and Maria Callas. The spacious lounge is filled with modern designer furniture and its walls are hung with original works of art and ethnic artefacts. The private walled garden has a small pool, with a terrace and veranda where meals and cocktails are served.

Rio Design Hotel

Rio de Janeiro's first design hotel is a modern establishment one block from Copacabana Beach. Its 66 rooms, suites and apartments have been individually styled by top Brazilian artists, giving the hotel an exclusive and contemporary feel. This Rio hotel is a popular choice with visitors who are looking for something a bit chic but not prohibitively expensive. All rooms are comfortable, with flat-screen TVs and broadband internet access. Other hotel facilities include a business centre, fitness studio with spa and sauna, and a rooftop restaurant, but no pool.

Windsor Barra Hotel

Windsor Barr Hotel is a good choice for exploring Rio's western suburbs and beaches, particularly for surfers and for those planning to attend the 2016 Olympics. This modern, high-rise hotel facing Barra da Tijuca beach has 338 comfortable if not luxurious rooms with all mod-cons. It also has a restaurant, bar, two swimming pools, fitness centre, sauna, and airport shuttle bus.

Fasano Rio

Still the coolest luxury hotel in Rio de Janeiro, Fasano Rio is a place where both Brazilian and global celebrities come to see and to be seen. Overlooking Ipanema Beach, this stylish designer hotel brings a modern concept of hospitality, elegance and sophistication. The interiors are a joint venture of renowned architect Philippe Stark and the restaurateur and hotelier Rogério Fasano. The décor combines dark tropical woods with light and airy drapes and furnishings. All 79 rooms and 10 suites have a balcony and most with a sea view. Its rooftop terrace and pool gives a superb view over the beach to the Dois Irmãos mountains, stunning at sunset. The restaurant, Fasano Al Mare, is under the capable hands of three-Michelin-star chef Luca Gozzani.