Guide to Transport in Rio
Most people choose to spend at least a few days of their holiday in Brazil in the fabulous city of Rio de Janeiro, and although most people stay in the beachside suburbs of Ipanema and Copacabana, there's plenty more to see in one of South America's most exciting cities. Luckily, with a good Metro and other public transport in Rio, exploring under your own steam is easy. Here is our guide to getting around in Rio:
Using the Rio Metro
Rio's Metro system isn't the most extensive in the world, but if - like many tourists - you're mainly planning to shuttle backwards and forwards between Ipanema, Copacabana and Centro, perhaps with a trip to the Maracana as well, then it will suit your purposes admirably! Single tickets cost R$3.20 and can be bought in the stations. There are no 'zones' on the Rio Metro so a single covers you for either a single stop or right from one end of the line to the other. You can also buy combined Metro + Bus/Train tickets but see below for more on these.
Several stations have dedicated interchanges with other forms of public transport in Rio: the regular city bus network, the dedicated MetroBus network, the express buses to Barra da Tijuca, and Rio's urban rail system. These interchanges are marked with coloured dots on the map above.
The major stations of use to tourists are likely to be the following:
- General Osorio: for Ipanema - currently the southern end of Line 1.
- Cantagalo, Siqueira Campos, Cardeal Arcoverde: three stations serving the south, middle and north of Copacabana.
- Cinelandia: for city centre attractions like the Museu do Arte Moderno, the Passeio Publico Park and National Library.
- Carioca: for Praca XV de Novembre, the Teatro Municipal and the Cathedral.
- Maracana: unsurprisingly, for the Maracana stadium.
An all-new Line 4 of the Metro is planned to be complete by 2016 and will join Ipanema to Leblon and Barra da Tijuca in the west of the city in time for the Rio Olympics but for the moment, the best way to travel between Barra and the rest of Rio is by the special ExpressBus service (see below). There's still no talk of an extension to Galeao airport, however...
MetroBus (Metro Na Superficie)
Confined to a small loop in Zona Sul (which basically goes around the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake) this is a dedicated bus service which links directly with the Metro stations at Botafogo to the south of Centro, and General Osorio in Ipanema. Single tickets can be bought for R$3.20 but you can also buy a combined Metro + MetroBus ticket for the same price in any station. There are a couple of places of interest to tourists on the MetroBus line, mainly Rio's superb Botanical Gardens, and also several stops in the Leblon district which continues where Ipanema leaves off, and has some of Rio's better hotels and restaurants.
Urban Rail (Supervia) and City Buses (Onibus Integracao)
Many Metro stations feature interconnections with other transport in Rio, and the city does have quite extensive rail and bus networks. However, it's quite unlikely as a tourist that you will need to use either of these - they mainly serve commuters and the north of the city.
ExpressBus (Onibus Expreso)
The final link in the networks of public transport in Rio is the dedicated Express Bus service which currently links the relatively new western suburbs such as Sao Conrado and Barra da Tijuca with the rest of Rio. Although they are scheduled to be replaced by the new Line 4 of the Metro, for the next few years these are the best way to get around if your travels take you this way. A combined Metro and Barra Expresso ticket will cost you R$4.35 and the journey from Barra to General Osorio station in Ipanema takes around 45 minutes, depending on traffic.