The city is surrounded by water on three sides–the Atlantic Ocean to the south, the Guanabara Bay to the east, and Sepetiba Bay to the west.
Galeão International Airport
Galeão—Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport (GIG) is located approximately 35 miles outside of Rio’s city center. You can easily travel from the airport to your destination in a number of ways. Taxis are ubiquitous just outside the airport doors. Privately owned taxi companies represented by stands inside the airport—called radio taxis—are usually more expensive than the “regular” yellow taxis waiting by the curb. Yellow taxis should cost about $30 from the airport to Copacabana. You can also get downtown via bus—the Real Auto Ônibus operates an Executive Bus Service that leaves the airport every half hour between 5:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. and makes several trips throughout the city, including Santos Dumont Airport and Alvorada bus terminal, and the trip should cost around $8.
Do not rent a car and try to drive yourself around the city unless you are have experience driving in heavy, stressful traffic and know enough Portuguese to understand basic directions. Thankfully, you can easily navigate the city without renting a car—there are excellent public transportation options in Rio. The city bus is an inexpensive method of transportation (a ticket will set you back about $1.50) and is particularly useful during the day and if you’re visiting popular areas of the city. Executive buses, also called Frescao, are only available on weekdays and are slightly more expensive (tickets cost approximately $3-$4), but are air conditioned and safer for tourists. The metro system has its hub in the heart of the Centro district and is a clean, safe and reliable way to get around the city center. The metro isn’t very expansive, and it does not run after 11 p.m. on weekdays or at all during the weekend, so if you’re traveling during those times be sure to find another option. If you do decide to use public transportation, be on the lookout for pickpockets—guard your wallets and purses, especially on crowded buses in touristy neighborhoods.
In terms of personal transportation, a taxi is your best option. There are taxi stands in every major neighborhood throughout the city and the drivers are willing to take you anywhere you need to go. Privately-owned vans are also quite common, but as they are not licensed—not under police jurisdiction—you should avoid taking these anywhere.
Talking with Cariocas
Although the official language of Rio de Janeiro is Portuguese, communicating with the locals in Rio isn’t too difficult—as long as you stay in tourist-friendly areas. Many Cariocas who frequently deal with visitors will speak English. Rio also has a tourist branch of the police department—these officers patrol major tourist areas and beaches and are much more likely to speak English than members of the general police force.
BPTUR - Batalhão de Policiamento em Áreas Turísticas
Address: Rua São Clemente, 345 Botafogo
22260-001 Rio de Janeiro -RJ
Tel: 55-21-3399-7457 call center
55-21-3399-7562 intelligence service
If you can’t find a tourist police officer, most locals will understand a few words of Spanish if you speak slowly and clearly. However, you’re most likely to receive assistance if you ask for help in a touristy part of Rio.
Safety in Rio
Don’t always believe what you’ve heard—although the city has gotten bad press about being unsafe for tourists, traveling in Rio isn’t as bad as you might think. Being safe is all about common sense: don’t leave your belongings unattended, stay in well-lit public areas, don’t carry excess jewelry or cash on your person and be careful in crowded areas. In general, if you’re aware of your surroundings and belongings you’ll be fine. If you do have any issues, be sure to contact the tourist police.
Av. Presidente Wilson, 147- Centro
City of Rio de Janeiro Tourism Authority
Praça Pio X, 119 / 9º e 10º andares Centro - 20040-020 Rio de Janeiro - Brasil
In Case of Emergency
Unless your situation is urgent, the Rio Visitor’s Bureau recommends not seeking medical attention in Brazil because medical treatment is very expensive. If you do require medical care, there are a number of hospitals to treat you.
Rua Bambina, 98, Botafogo
Rio de Janeiro – RJ
Geography and Climate
The geography of Rio de Janeiro is incredibly diverse. The city is surrounded by water on three sides–the Atlantic Ocean to the south, the Guanabara Bay to the east, and Sepetiba Bay to the west. The city itself is planned around the Tijuca Forest, the largest urban rainforest in the world. In the middle of the forest lies Corcovado Mountain, home to the famous Christ the Redeemer statue. This combination of coast, forest and mountains make Rio a geographically stunning location.
Rio has two distinct seasons. The summer season runs October through February, and during these months temperatures soar into the 90s and above. Summers are not only hot but humid as well, a result of the proximity of the Tijuca forest. Winters, usually mid-March through September, are noticeably cooler but don’t expect plummeting temperatures—on a chilly night temperatures will dip down into the 70s. The winter season is also less humid, but there is a greater chance of rain during these months.