Getting Around in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (I)
Rio is a modern and well-serviced city divided into four main zones (the Northern Zone, Downtown, the Southern Zone, and the Western Zone). Public transport requires patience. Most of the better restaurants and virtually all hotels take credit cards. Locals may not speak English, though in general they are helpful.
Taxis are the easiest and safest way to get around. There are two kinds: taxi comum, which are yellow, and the more luxurious radio taxis that come in various colors.
Dishonest taxi drivers are the number one complaint. You are generally better off hailing a cab than going to taxi stands (the opposite is true in São Paulo). At airports, entertainment zones and hotels, taxi drivers like to shut off the meter and charge gringos a fixed rate. This is illegal. A taxi can only legally take three passengers. At certain times (after 9 pm, on Sundays, holidays and during one month of the year) the meter will display the numeral two (bandeira dois) instead of one (bandeira um). Drivers sometimes put on bandeira dois for baggage, which is also illegal. If the meter reads two at any other time, you are getting ripped off and you should politely ask to switch cabs. If you really need to, you can contact the police – all drivers are required to have a photo ID displayed. Don’t get in any cab without it.
2. Getting Around in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Subway
The Metrô subway is good but limited, except for travel to and from Copacabana and the Downtown areas – this is Line 1. Line 2 runs between Downtown and the Northern Zone and is only useful for getting to Maracanã stadiu. One-way fare was less than a dollar at time of writing. For no extra fee you can get a special ticket to Ipanama (especial para Ipanema), getting out at Cardeal Acoverde station (the second to last on the Southern Zone side of Line 1) and hopping on the bus that links to Praça General Osório. The Metrô is open from 6 am to 11 pm every day but Sunday.
3. Getting Around Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Ferry
Rio de Janeiro has multiple ferries ran by Barcas SA, departing from Praça XV downtown. The most active routes connect downtown Rio with downtown Niterói or Charitas (also in Niterói) across the bay – which can also be reached by car or bus by crossing the 14km (8 1/2-mile) bridge. Departs to Niterói run daily from 6am to 11:30pm; to Charitas departures take place between Monday and Friday from 6:50am to 9pm; departures on both directions run at roughly half-hour intervals. On the Niterói course, the inexpensive ferry ($2.80) is the most reliable, taking about 25 minutes to pass. The catamaran and aerobarco, a hydrofoil, pass the exact same route in no more than 10 minutes and the price is $5. On the other hand, the Charitas ferryboat is priced at $8. A very popular ferryboat for travelers is the route to Paquetá, a big island with no traffic in the Baia da Guanabara. These ferries leave Rio de Janeiro at roughly 2-hour intervals between 5:15 am and 11 pm. The fee is $4.50.