Many arrivals get their first taste of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil soon after landing at Galeão Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport and it is not always the relaxed, friendly experience people expect. A combination of heat, exhaustion and seemingly endless queues for baggage reclaim and customs can leave weary travellers longing for a cocktail on the beach. This is a short guide on how to make transfer from the airport to the city (or vice versa) as quickly and easily as possible.
Photo by PedroKirilos
The two main options for new arrivals looking to head into town are bus or taxi. A massive program of investment recently announced for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics will presumably broaden passenger’s options for making the 20km journey but, for now, this is it.
As you would expect, the bus is cheaper, takes longer and is less convenient than the taxi. There is a choice of destinations from Galeão, bus number 2018 is the most useful and runs every half an hour between the early morning and late evening from the airport to the city’s downtown area before heading on through the suburbs.
Generally speaking the buses are quite comfortable and many have air conditioning. This is a godsend as very often the buses will grind to a halt in Rio’s traffic and journey times can double in length. The buses are by far the most popular option with the many back-backers that arrive in Rio each year determined to stretch their money as far as possible.
Taking a taxi is approximately ten times the price of the bus, but by European or US standards it is still quite reasonable. The prices of taxis can vary greatly just by moving slightly farther away from the terminal building so bargain hunters can try their luck while exhausted travellers simply jump into the nearest car.
While many of the more modern taxis will be very comfortable and spacious, they will still be subject to traffic jams with potentially long journey times. However, unlike the bus they can take you straight to your hotel.
A less obvious third option is really the best when it comes to transfers from the airport to hotels in Rio, and that is book ahead and arrange for your hotel to pick you up. Most of the top end hotels will now include this in the price of the room and more middle range hotels are getting in on the act.
As with all airport arrivals areas, visitors are advised to have done some research before they travel so they can tell the difference between a high price and a rip-off and always bear in mind your personal safety. Rio is actually quite safe compared to many places but jet-lagged tourists can present an easy target for criminals.
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