Although the public transportation system in Rio de Janeiro may seem confusing initially, it is very easy to comprehend if you stay in one of the tourist neighborhoods. The public transportation system has covered all the major sights along their paths throughout the various districts, making them an efficient mode to tour the city. Metro is the most reliable amongst them along with radio taxis and cab companies who hire cars upon telephonic or online booking.
Getting around in Rio de Janeiro
Travelling in a bus is perhaps the cheapest option available, to get around the tourist concentrated 'Zona Sul' area of Rio de Janeiro, that includes Botafogo, Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon districts . The bus system in Rio de Janeiro is independently operated by a number of agencies, with a high number of buses plying on a copious amount of lines. These buses operate 24 hours a day and tickets are to be paid in cash to the controller or bus driver. Always keep a small change to pay the fare. Since snatchers and muggers are a common occurrence, keep your belongings close and safe while travelling in a bus. Since the bus routes are weaved in a confusing manner, it is best if the tourist asks the hotel how to navigate or which routes to take. In addition, Rio Onibus contains a catalogue of lines (map) which can be downloaded in PDF format. The map is the best way to communicate with the driver who most of the time will understand no other language than Portuguese.
A cab offers comfort and convenience to tourists to move around Rio de Janeiro. Taxis can be distinguished by their colour because the yellow taxis are official, metered taxis while blue or red taxis operate from the airports. The taxis are not too expensive and they charge on a per kilometer basis. Be sure the meter has started after getting into the taxi. Although taxi drivers are not fluent in languages other than Portuguese, most of the times they understand heavily accented English. Otherwise, write down the destination on a piece of paper and show it to your driver.
To be on the safer side, many tourists hire Radio Taxis which are usually blue, green or white taxis. These taxis operate at a fixed price irrespective of the time of the day, traffic jams or the driver's mood. Although, it may seem expensive, sometimes it is the best way to avoid getting ripped off.
Rio de Janeiro car hire is the best option when driving to distant places such as Angra dos Reis, Grumari, Buzios and Paraty. It allows you to choose the date and time of travel plus offers the comfort of first class travel. Not all districts / regions of Rio de Janeiro are well equipped with public transport routes. Therefore, it becomes essential that one rents a car to reach these places. Driving a car is not exactly a easy experience due to rush-hour traffic jams or the lack of indications that can be helped by GPS. But there are several exotic territories are left unexplored due to lack of proper transport medium.
Tourists, who are wary of the public transport system of the city, should opt for travelling by the subway since it is the safest, cheapest and most reliable way to get around the city. The air-conditioned metro operates on two lines from Monday to Saturday - 5 am to midnight and on Sunday, Public Holidays 7 am to 11 pm. Tickets are available only for the Metro as well as can be pooled with bus tickets at the Metro stations. The hilly areas of Rio de Janeiro, where subway is never going to be possible, are served by metro-bus integration called Metrônibus and Metrô na Superfície minibuses. Of late, a pink compartment has been added to Rio de Janeiro trains especially for women travellers.
The metro is an excellent medium to easily access the Copacabana and nearby beaches and the historical and cultural attractions of the town.