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Travel to Rio de Janeiro

Flying to Rio de Janeiro

British Airways operates direct flights to Rio from the UK. Airlines offering indirect options include Air France (via Paris), TAP Portugal (via Lisbon), Lufthansa (via Frankfurt) and Iberia (via Madrid). Carriers operating direct flights from the USA include TAM Linhas Aéreas and American Airlines.

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 - 11 hours 30 minutes; New York - 10 hours; Los Angeles - 15 hours (including stopover); Toronto - 10 hours 20 minutes; Sydney - 19 hours (including stopover).

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 120kph (75mph) and drops to 30kph (19mph) in built-up areas.

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: +55 21 3824 6700; 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 services

Touring Club Do Brasil (tel: +55 21 3824 6700).


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.


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, in Brazil only; 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: +55 21 3907 3900;, Auto Viação 1001 (tel: +55 21 4004 5001; and Expresso Brasileiro (tel: 0300 700 9000, in Brazil only;, which operate a regular service to São Paulo.

Time to city

From São Paulo - 5 hours 30 minutes; Brasília - 16 hours; Foz do Iguaçu - 18 hours; Porto Alegre - 19 hours; Salvador - 23 hours.

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.


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 by boat

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 curving coastline. Regulating water traffic in the bay is the Companhia Docas do Rio de Janeiro, Autoridade Portuária (Rio Docks Port Authority), Rua Acre 21 (tel: +55 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: +55 21 2555 2200;

Ferry operators

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

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: +55 11 2123 3677; operates cruises around Brazil and beyond, and the city is also a popular stop for international cruise liners.


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.

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Featured Hotels


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.

San Marco Hotel

Located right in the heart of Ipanema, San Marco Hotel is the perfect choice for holidaymakers on a budget who want to take full advantage of the nearby beach – two blocks away - without missing out on Rio’s exciting nightlife. The small modern hotel has 56 tidy and functional rooms, all en-suite with TVs and air conditioning, and is in the thick of Ipanema’s trendy bars, shops, restaurants and clubs (ask for a room on an upper floor if on the street side). Its friendly bilingual staff, wireless internet connection, and competitive rates make this one of the few good-value budget hotels in Ipanema.

Ritz Plaza Hotel Leblon

Located in the heart of Leblon, Rio's most expensive square metre, Ritz Plaza Hotel Leblon offers quality services at affordable prices. Its rooms are well furnished if not huge, with modern décor. A generous buffet breakfast is included and the hotel has up-to-date facilities, including spa and a small pool. It's a couple of blocks in from the beach and close to cinemas, theatres, shops, restaurants and the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon.


This no-frills but clean and well-run hotel is highly rated among regular visitors to Rio. It's in a handy location between downtown and the Zona Sul, in an historic, up-and-coming district. The rooms are clean and comfortable, the buffet breakfast is excellent, and facilities include a spa, gym and small roof terrace. In all, the Regina is one of the best budget hotels in the city.

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.