Most people would agree to say that getting around a city is one of the most important issues when trying to understand our travel destination. Some people consider it fundamental, even when picking for a travel destination. The ideal scenario is to have a thorough notion of the city transport alternatives before your arrival, so you can feel safe and comfortable. This is why we decided to write a basic guide on the public transportation facilities and some important facts about Rio. When do we pick a taxi or ride a bus? How do regular buses look like in Rio-de-Janeiro What is the color of the cabs in Rio? How much does an executive bus and average taxi ride cost? What are the transportation options locals prefer? What are the main subway stations used by locals? These are some of the questions you will see answered at this post.


Rio is a large city, but most of what goes on is concentrated within a small area. Just like Manhattan in New York, once in Rio-de-Janeiro, you do not need to worry about transportation if you follow basic rules. Generally speaking, it is very simple to get around in town, following the shoreline. Most of the places you will ever visit are all within a radius of 15 miles. Rio de Janeiro offers a number of public and private transportation options. These include regular city buses, executive bus (called “Frescao”), subway (metro), taxis, van and even a Ferry service (to Niteroi and other touristic islands like Paquetá). Check out below main transport facilities at the wonder city.


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Regular City Bus
Regular city bus in Rio-de-Janeirois a very inexpensive form of travel which costs about R$2.10 to ride. They come in both non air conditioned (R$2.10) and air conditioned versions (R$2.25 - R$2.40). In past years, city buses suffered from criminals targeting the passengers but they are safer these days. During the day, it is a decent transportation option if you know the routes and are in safer areas of the city. However, they may not be the best option late at night.

Click on this videoclip link to see a typical ride on the Rio Subway and a regular city bus.

Services operate 24 hours and are relatively safe – incidences of crime are rare, although travelers must exercise caution during rush hour and at night, when pickpockets prey. Tickets are available for purchase from the conductor, who sits next to the turnstile at the back of the bus. See below a picture of regular bus in Rio-de-Janeiro. Again, try using regular buses day-time with your friends, but don´t carry jewelry or expensive wear.

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Executive Bus (Frescao)
There is also another type of local bus called the “Frescao”, which means in Portuguese “very fresh” and commonly used by locals. This type of bus runs on a route from Centro through Botafogo, Copacabana, Ipanema and to Leblon (and vice versa). It is more upscale/comfortable and is air conditioned and costs R$3.50. All Frescaos are have the same visual identity (see below). The Frescão that rides from the Rio International Airport to Barra costs R$ 6.00. However, it is only available during the week. These buses also run more frequently during the rush hours in the morning and evening. Going in the direction of Centro, the bus can be flagged down on the beach road (Buses with plaques showing "Castelo"). Coming from Centro, the bus starts off from the Menezes Cortes garage and runs on a road parallel to the beach (but one or two blocks in). It runs on Barata Ribeiro through Copacabana, Prudente de Morais through Ipanema and Av. General San Martin through Leblon.

Well you do have the executive buses going every where in Rio-de-Janeiro and not just on the rush hours but all the time during week period. It’s a wiser decision to get the executive buses than the regular one, especially if you are a tourist in the city. Prices of the Frescão do vary depending on its route. As an example, it´s not the same price to go Copacabana from the Downtown as to go to Barra da Tijuca or Recreio from Downtown. We strongly recommend this transportation option in Rio: they are very safe, practical and can take you to most places in Rio, including both airports. See below a picture of a Frescão executive bus in Rio.

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Rio de Janeiro Taxis/Cabs

Rio-de-Janeiro has a very extensive taxi fleet which includes yellow metered cabs which can be hailed in the streets, as well as a series of special taxis operated by licensed companies which can be found at the airports, in front of our rental apartment’s buildings or booked by phone. The yellow taxis operate with a meter and can be hailed on the street. The flag, or “bandeira” in Portuguese, indicates the tariff and usually reads ‘1’. However, after 23:00, on Sunday and on holidays the tariff will be ‘2’, which indicates a price hike of about 20%. Taxis are fairly priced, although some late-night drivers might quote excessive fixed prices. Travellers should check that the meter is reset and indicates the correct tariff. The minimum fare is currently R$2.70. Tourists are strongly advised to only use taxis that have an official identification sticker in the window. Cabs in Rio-de-Janeiro are a very popular choice, even amongst locals. Definitely use them to go home from faraway places, like samba rehearsals, and parties.

See below a picture of a regular taxi/cab in Rio:

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Special Taxis

Special taxis – either blue or red – or white, operate from the airports and some specific locations. Payment is by pre-paid vouchers, which are available for purchase at airport kiosks. Radio taxis are safe and reliable but 30% more expensive than yellow taxis. Providers include Central de Táxi (Phone: 21- 2593 2598), Coopertramo and Transcopass (Phone: 21 - 2560 4888). The minimum fare for radio taxis is currently R$ 3.10. Brazilians generally do not tip taxi drivers, although rounding the total fare up to the nearest Real is appreciated. Try to avoid these. We consider this a very expensive option. It is used mainly by executives.


Subway – Metro Rio
Lastly, we will describe the subway system: The “Rio de Janeiro Metro” (Metrô Rio) is a mass-transit underground railway network that serves the city of Rio-de-Janeiro, Brazil. The subways system was founded in 1979 with five stations operating on one line, it now includes 32 stations and two separate lines and serves on average nearly half a million passengers per day. The system currently consists of two lines: Line 1 which serves the city's downtown business center, tourist areas in the city's South Zone, and several neighborhoods in the North Zone; and Line 2, which serves working-class residential neighborhoods extending toward the north.
The price of a ticket is no more than R$2.40. Follows below the stations listed for Line 1 and Line 2 of the Rio Metro Subway System:


Line 1 (Center and South Area
)
Saens Pena; Sao F. Xavier; Afonso Penna; Estacio; Praca Onze; Central; Pres. Vargas; Uruguaiana; Carioca; Cinelandia; Gloria; Catete; Lgo. Machado; Flamengo; Botafogo; C. Arco Verde; Siqueira Campos

Line 2 (North Area):
Pavuna; Eng Rubens Paiva; Acari F: Botafogo; Coelho Neto; Colegio; Iraja; V. de Carvalho; Thomaz Coelho; Eng da Rainha; Inhauma; Del Castilho; Maria da Graca; Triagem; Maracana; Sao Cristovao; Estacio.


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See above a map of the Rio de Janeiro Subway Stations.

Although the subway system in Rio-de-Janeiro just doesn't the entire city, it considered to be an excellent service by locals. Metro Rio has been very helpful to reduce the traffic jams and to reach destinations like downtown (e.g. former Itamaraty Palace) or Zona Norte (e.g. Maracana Stadium) in a really short time, in a safe way, and at a cheap price (one-way ticket is 2.40 reais). You should definitely use it to go to the Maracana Stadium. For a full review on Metro Rio´s system, please read this expert review.

As a final note, we would like to re-enforce some basic tips. Generally speaking, prefer to use taxi cabs to get from one place to another, even more when travelling in a group a 3, 4 or 5. They are abundant, fairly cheap and safe. When possible, try to use the executive bus, a.k.a. “Frescao”, especially if alone and from and to the airport. When deciding for regular buses, use them only with locals, during day-time, and carrying no expensive wear. Subway is an excellent facility to the Maracana stadium and city centre: very modern and comfortable. Lastly, try to read a little bit of the neighborhood you are settling in before arriving. See you in Rio!