Sao Paulo links Brazil to all other continents hence Sao Paulo’s airport is the most crowded in the country (and Latin America). Once in Brazil, travelers can choose between domestic flights or buses to get to the other cities (the rail network is not well developed). However, due to the distances, it’s recommended to choose a domestic flight. Within the cities, travelers can choose among the subway, trains, buses, trolley buses or renting a car to get around.
Arriving and Departing Brazil
When arriving or departing from Brazil, travelers will use either Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) in SÃ£o Paulo or GaleÃ£o International Airport (GIG) in Rio de Janeiro, as they are two of the largest hubs in the country.
Arriving and Departing Sao Paulo
Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) is the busiest airport in Brazil located 25 km (15 mi) from Downtown SÃ£o Paulo. It is hub for Gol Transportes AÃ©reos and TAM Airlines. There are 42 airlines serving the airport and providing links to cities from all over the world.
Every large Brazilian city is connected to Sao Paulo. Rio de Janeiro is located about an hour flight time from Sao Paulo, while Brasilia, the capital, is located about an hour and a half flight time from Sao Paulo.
- Read more about flights to Sao Paulo
Arriving and Departing Rio de Janeiro
GaleÃ£o International Airport (GIG) is the main airport serving Brazil and is one of the busiest airports in the country. It links Rio de Janeiro to destinations in South America, Europe, North America and the Caribbean. It also operates domestic flights.
- Read more about flights to Rio de Janeiro
Getting around Brazil
Since you are traveling in such a large country, you’ll most likely use several types of transportation during your holiday. You may need to plan how to get from the airport to your hotel in Brazil , from the hotel to the attractions and from one city to another.
From the Airport to the City Center
In Sao Paulo, there are non-airline shuttle buses to get from Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) to the city center. There is also a regular bus line service which costs R$3,80. The two Brazilian airlines — TAM and Gol — offer free shuttle buses for their passengers. Another option is to take the Guarucoop taxi (they have the monopoly on cabs serving the airport). Price is about R$75-110 for the 25 km ride to the city.
In Rio de Janeiro, you can choose one of the four bus lines to get to the city center. Tickets cost R$5 or R$8, depending on the bus you choose. Another option is to take a cab, but the rates are considerably higher: R$70-80).
In Brasilia, taxis are the most convenient way to get from the airport to the city (the cost is R$30-40). Two buses link the airport to the main bus terminal at RodoviÃ¡ria, and are considerably cheaper than taxis.
From One City to Another
Driving in Brazil
Driving in Brazil is definitely not for everyone but sometimes a rental car can become a good alternative to other types of transportation. The drive time between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro is little over 5 hours, while the drive time to the capital of Brasilia is about 12 hours.
Brazilians love to travel by bus hence the bus is the primary cheap type of transportation in the country. The service is, generally, reliable and excellent. The buses connect both the large towns and small cities. Actually, they can take you right to the middle of the Amazon jungle.
Now for the not-so-good part…while the buses are excellent, the roads in Brazil are not exactly in good shape. So be prepared for long traffic jams and delays.
Train Travel in Brazil
While Brazil offers some of the most picturesque train rides in the world, the train infrastructure in the country is not very well developed. If you plan to take a train ride, then do the research in advance to know exactly which route to take (and always have a backup plan).
Flying in Brazil
The easiest way to get around Brazil is by plane. TAM and Varig offer airpasses which allow passenger to travel around the country at affordable rates.
- Read more about domestic flights in Brazil
River travel in Brazil
Traveling by boat or ferry is an option if you have a lot of time on your hands and want to explore the spectacular, dense vegetation on Brazil.
Walking and Cycling in the Cities
In Sao Paulo, there are only 23 km of cycling routes built. Unfortunately, pedestrians aren’t very “loved” by the authorities either, especially due to the hectic traffic. The only place to explore on food safely is the Centro Historico.
In Sao Paulo, public transportation can be anything from complicated to downright hellish. The solution to avoid the perpetual traffic jams is to use the subway, train or trolleybuses. The subway (called Metro) is modern, safe and efficient. You can only get one-way tickets which cost R$2,90. Knowing the Brazilians love for buses, they remain the cheapest way to get around the city. Tickets are R$3,00 one way.
Buses are the easy and most convenient way to get around Rio de Janeiro, as well. Bus fare is R$2,35 and is paid in cash to a controller or driver. The Metro system is efficient if you need to travel from Ipanema through Copacabana to Downtown and beyond. A one way ticket is R$2,80.
In Brasilia, the bus system is a bit different than in the rest of the country. Buses stop only if they are flagged and passengers board by the front door only. Single fare is R$ 2,00. The Metro system is not particularly useful to travelers as it doesn’t serve the main attractions.