Rio has many kilometers of bike paths along the beach, around Lagoa and along Parque do Flamengo. In addition to the public bike-sharing scheme, Bike Rio, you can rent bikes from stands along the east side of Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas for around R$20 per hour and at various bike shops along the bike path between Copacabana and Ipanema.
Rio has several islands in the bay that you can visit by ferry, including Ilha de Paquetá and Ilha Fiscal. Another way to see the city is by taking the commuter ferry to Niterói. Niterói’s main attraction is the Museu de Arte Contemporânea, but many visitors board the ferry just for the fine views of downtown and the surrounding landscape. On weekdays the Niterói ferry departs every 10 to 20 minutes (departures are half-hourly on Saturday and hourly on Sunday). The boat leaves Praça XV (Quinze) de Novembro in Centro.
Rio’s new BRS (Bus Rapid System) features dedicated public-transportation corridors in Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon and Barra. Fares on most buses are around R$3.50.
Every bus has its key destination displayed on the illuminated signboard in front. If you see the bus you want, hail it by sticking your arm straight out (drivers won’t stop unless flagged down).
The Metrô Na Superfície (www.metrorio.com.br) subway bus consists of modern, silver buses that make limited stops as they shuttle passengers to and from metro stations. For most destinations, a one-way metrô na superficie (surface metro) ticket costs the same as a single metro ride (R$4.30) but includes both the bus and the metro ride.
The most useful option for travelers is the line to Gávea, which passes through Jardim Botânico. It departs from outside Botafogo metro station and stops at Cobal do Humaitá, Rua Maria Angélica, the Hospital da Lagoa, the edge of Jardim Botânico, Praça Santos Dumont, Gávea Trade Center and PUC (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro).
Car & Motorcycle
Driving & Parking
In the city itself, driving can be a frustrating experience even if you know your way around. Traffic snarls and parking problems do not make for an enjoyable holiday. Be aware that Rio has extremely strict drink-driving laws (the Lei Seca, or 'dry law'), with a fine of around R$2000 for those with a blood-alcohol content of over 0.06%. Police checkpoints are set up nightly around the city in changing locations.
Hiring a car is fairly simple as long as you have a driver’s license, a credit card and a passport. Most agencies require renters to be at least 25 years old, though some will rent (with an added fee) to younger drivers.
Prices start at around R$100 per day for a car without air-conditioning, but they go down a bit in the low season. If you are quoted prices on the phone, make sure they include insurance, which is compulsory.
Car-rental agencies can be found at both airports and scattered along Av Princesa Isabel in Copacabana.
Rio’s metro system is an excellent way to get around. Its three lines are air-conditioned, clean and efficient. Line 1 goes from Ipanema-General Osório to Uruguai in the north zone. Line 2, which partly overlaps line 1, travels from Botafogo to Pavuna (passing Maracanã football stadium en route). Line 3 travels between Ipanema-General Osório and the eastern end of Barra da Tijuca at Jardim Oceânico.
You can purchase a cartão pré-pago (prepaid card) from a kiosk in any metro station using cash (no change given) with a minimum of R$5. You can then recharge the card at any kiosk. Free subway maps are available from most ticket booths.
During Carnaval the metro operates nonstop from 5am Saturday morning until at least 11pm on Tuesday.
Rio’s yellow taxis are plentiful, and easy to hail, particularly by using free apps like 99Taxis or Easy Taxi. They're generally a speedy way to zip around and are usually safe. The flat rate is around R$5.50, plus around R$2.50 per kilometer (R$3 per kilometer at night and on Sunday). Radio taxis, which can be ordered in advance, are 30% more expensive than regular taxis. No one tips taxi drivers, but it’s common to round up the fare.
Especial Coop Taxi has vehicles with lifts for wheelchair users. It also has its own app, Especial Coop.
In Rocinha and some other favelas (slums, informal communities), moto-taxis (basically a lift on the back of a motorcycle) are a handy way to get around, with short rides (usually from the bottom of the favela to the top or vice versa) costing R$3. That said, given the currently unstable security situation, it's unwise to head into a favela on a moto-taxi.
Uber is available in Rio de Janeiro, and service is widespread and generally quite good; it costs about 30% less than a traditional taxi. Lyft is not currently available.
The suburban train station, Estação Dom Pedro II, is one of Brazil’s busiest commuter stations, but it’s not the safest area to walk around. To get there, take the metro to Central station and head upstairs. This is the train station that was featured in the Academy Award–nominated film Central do Brasil (Central Station).
Rio was once serviced by a multitude of bondes (trams), with routes throughout the city. The only remaining line is the bonde to Santa Teresa, which reopened 1.7km of its 10km of track in 2015. It runs from the bonde station in Centro and travels over the scenic Arcos da Lapa and along Rua Joaquim Murtinho only as far as Largo do Guimarães before turning around.
Apart from Barra da Tijuca, Rio's neighborhoods are perfect for getting around on foot.