Getting Around in Rio de Janeiro

Despite the sprawling and chaotic nature of the city, getting around in Rio de Janeiro is relatively easy. There are a number of transport options, including buses, ferries and the metro, which are all part of an integrated transit system. Taxis are also prevalent in the city. 

Public transport in Rio de Janeiro


Rio has an established metro system, known as the Metro Rio, which offers the easiest way of getting around the city. The metro is generally safe and clean, although care should be taken if using it at night. Tickets can be purchased at a metro station, and there is a rechargeable travel card available for frequent commuters.


Buses connect most of the city and are an inexpensive and convenient means of getting around. Buses are privately operated, so services and costs will vary. Buses travel along set routes around the city, usually sticking to the main roads, with the destination displayed on the front of the bus. If wanting to board a bus, passengers must wave it down. Buses will only stop if there are people wanting to get on.

Despite their convenience buses are often overcrowded, and robberies and muggings are common. Expats should keep an eye on their belongings at all times. Travelling on buses at night is not recommended. 


Regular ferry services run between Rio and Niterói on the other side of Guanabara Bay. It’s not uncommon for people to live in Niterói and commute to work in Rio by ferry on a daily basis. Most ferries operate during the week, with reduced services on weekends. 

Taxis and ride-sharing services in Rio de Janeiro

Taxis are plentiful in Rio and can easily be hailed off the street. They are often congregated around major hotels and at taxi stands in the city. Most taxi drivers are likely to only speak Portuguese, so expats should have their destination written down on paper. 

Most taxis are metered, but drivers may quote a fixed price for certain destinations. Expats should clarify the fare before getting in the vehicle. Licensed taxis are usually painted yellow. There are also a number of independent, unlicensed taxi operators, and expats should be cautious of illegitimate operators.

The popular ride-sharing service Uber is available in Rio de Janeiro. It is generally considered safer than regular taxis and the fares may be cheaper. Taxis can be hailed via the Uber application for smartphones.

Driving in Rio de Janeiro

Owing to Rio’s extensive public transport network, it’s not necessary for expats to have a car. However, many expats do choose to purchase or rent a vehicle for the sake of convenience, especially if wanting to explore areas outside the metropolitan region.

Expats wanting to drive in Rio will need to have a Brazilian drivers' licence, although initially a national drivers' licence from their own country or an international drivers' licence should suffice.

Traffic can be nightmarish in Rio, particularly during peak times, and Cariocas are known for their aggressive driving. Parking can also be a major frustration for those driving in Rio. There is also a risk of robbery and carjacking, and expats should take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.

Cycling in Rio de Janeiro

Cycling is a popular means of getting around Rio and the city has worked to encourage cyclists by building an extensive network of dedicated cycle lanes, particularly around the many beaches and popular tourist areas.

Bicycle racks can be found across Rio and a shared bike rental programme has been implemented.

Walking in Rio de Janeiro

Although many of Rio’s tourist areas are easily navigated on foot, expats should be cautious due to the risk of mugging. Walking in any area late at night is not recommended.