Staying safe in Rio- Part II (Arriving in Rio)


As I promised before, I am writing a series of posts about how to stay safe in Rio.

This year is a very important year for Rio de Janeiro. We will be hosting Fifa World Cup and we expect to have even more visitors in our city than the usual in the month of June.  So I hope my posts help those who are planning to come to Rio to feel more confident about getting around in Rio and avoid risky situations when staying here.

I’ve already wrote the first post, when I talked about general tips to stay safe in Rio. And today I’m gonna talk about some concerns when you first arrive in Rio.

If your first destiny in Brazil is Rio de Janeiro, your flight will land in the International Airport (Galeão’s Airport or Tom Jobim’s Airport are other names for this airport). It doesn’t matter how we call it, Rio’s International Airport is located in Ilha do Governador neighborhood, around 24 km (16 miles) far distance from the south zone (Zona Sul) of Rio, where most of the hotels are located. This trip can last 30 min to over 1 hour during the rush hours.

There are basically two important routes when leaving the airport by car. Passing through Avenida Brasil or passing through Linha Vermelha. Both of them are expressways that pass besides some slums in Rio’s north zone. So, it is a nice idea to take a reputable taxi service to take you to your hotel.

The first security precaution to be taken when planning your trip to Rio will be when picking your flight. Prefer flights that arrives during the daytime if possible. Both of the highways I mentioned before, Avenida Brasil and Linha Vermelha, are not safe during the night. This is a precaution that I take myself when travelling by the International Airport. Unless I don’t have any other option, I always try to arrive or to leave the airport during daylight.

But once you already landed in the International Airport, what can you do to arrive safely in your destination?

If you are not planning to take a private transfer, you will have to get a taxi  to take you to your hotel.  In the airport you will have two options: the standard yellow taxis and the radio-taxis. In this particular situation, when you are arriving in the city with your lugagge and not knowing anything of the city yet, I recommend you taking the radio-taxi. It will be more expensive, but at least you will avoid situations when dishonest taxi drivers try to take advantage of foreign tourists.

Once you decided taking the radio taxi, you will find some radio-taxi booths immediately after exiting the customs clearance area. All you have to do is pick one of them and arrange your trip with the attendants. You will have to say your destination in the city and the attendant will give you the price.  (For example: If your hotel is in Ipanema just say, how much does it cost to Ipanema?) You will have to pay in advance and will receive a ticket with the company name. Don’t forget to ask to the attendant what is the color of the taxi, because those radio-taxis can be red, white or blue . After leaving the booth and walking to the exit into the terminal reception area an officer of the radio-taxi company will lead you to the taxi.

I’ve already used the service of the companies Transcoopass (red taxi) and Cootramo (blue taxi) in the International Airport. Check the airport web page for more companies .

The last time I took the radio-taxi service was last year, on april, and as far as I remember I spent around R$ 80 (eighty reais) from the airport to Botafogo neighborhood. I don’t know how much are the radio-taxi fares nowadays, but I think that a trip from the airport to the south zone of Rio you won’t cost you more than R$150. But it is always a nice idea to ask first.

In case, your budget don’t allow taking radio-taxis, just after these booths (and exiting into the terminal reception area), a wide variety of people will offer you taxi services. In this case, just pass right through these people and exit the terminal (declining offers along the way). Immediately after exiting the terminal, there is a street where taxis are lined up along the street.  Most of them will be radio taxis but there is usually also a queue of yellow taxis. At this point, choose a yellow taxi from a taxi cooperative. Those taxis have the name and the telephone number of the company stamped on the car. Just walk up to them to take the next in line.

Another good tip for those who intend to take the standard yellow taxi is going to the departure exit of the Airport, where usually many people are arriving in cooperative taxis and you will be able to catch one of them.  The yellow taxis are fared by the taxi-meter that the driver will turn on as soon as you enter the taxi.

But  only take the yellow taxi in the airport  if you are really travelling with a very restricted budget. If this is not your case, take the radio-taxi and you won’t regret. You will have many other chances to save your money in Rio. But when arriving in the airport think about your safety first!!

I hope this post will help you! In case of any doubts, or anything that it is not clear enough, just ask!!

Have a nice week everyone!!



  1. Great post on safety! Do we need to book the radio taxi in advance or can we arrange for it when we arrive at the airport in Rio? I went to the Transcoopas website and used google translate and it said that reservations must be made 24 hours in advance…maybe this excludes rides from the airport… Thanks for your help!

    1. Thanks! You don’t need to book it on advance. When you leave the Customs area you will see the Radio Taxi Booths, just before leaving the restricted area for passengers, before the lobby . If you have any other doubts just ask! : )

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