Rio de Janeiro is an exciting and lively city with over six million inhabitants. Once you arrive, you feel immediately good. The city is “on” the beach and the atmosphere is fantastic. But, how to get around in Rio since the city is spread out and the must-visit sites are not close to each other? For a tourist to get around in Rio is not as easy as in Paris, London or New York. What are the options of getting around in this big city?
How to get around in Rio on foot:
Since Rio de Janeiro is spread out, it is not really a city to explore it all on foot. Basically, the only places you can get around in Rio on foot are Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. The other places of interest in Rio are either too far, complicated to go (even if you have a map) or just not safe to walk to or to get around.
How to get around in Rio on Coach Tours for Tourists:
First of all, do NOT expect to get around in Rio de Janeiro on open top double-decker bus where you have unlimited access to get on and off at your leisure. There is no such a service in Rio. Instead, there are standard tours sold at Rio hotel desks that fits up to fifty tourists on a coach with a fixed and inflexible time schedule. Is this the way you want to get around in Rio?
Bear in mind that the most common complaint about such a service is that great part of the tour time is spent in collecting and dropping off passengers at Rio hotels, apart from the total tour delay generated by each late tourist. What is astonishing is that an eight-hour tour at a major local tour operator in Rio costs roughly 104 USD per person i.e. eight hours to visit in most cases only two major highlights (Christ Statue and Sugar Loaf) plus lunch in between.
How to get around on public busses in Rio:
Another way of being frustrated is by using the public bus system to get around in Rio de Janeiro. That is because most bus stops do not display the bus number neither bus itinerary nor any info whatsoever. Info panels at Rio bus stops or inside the busses are simply inexistent! It happens to see even locals asking other locals or bus drivers what bus to take (see photo). Apart from that, Rio’s bus drivers believe to be formula one drivers! Be sure your life insurance is updated in case you choose this means of transport to get around in Rio.
How to get around on subway in Rio:
An alternative to bus to get around in Rio is subway, which is very safe and clean but unfortunately has only two lines (37 km in total while Paris has 370 km!) that do not serve Rio tourist attractions such as Sugar Loaf, Christ Statue, Botanical Garden, Santa Tereza Bohemian Neighborhood, São Conrado or Leblon Beaches or even Rio’s airport or the main bus terminal!
How to get around in Rio by taxi:
Another way of getting around in Rio is by taxi. Unlike New York, in Rio there is plenty of taxis and although there are many of them, it is not as cheap as in Buenos Aires or in other cities in Latin America. An 8-hour city tour package costs can cost easily 180 USD. Another drawback is that some taxi drivers in Rio (not to say many) take a longer route when they realize passengers are foreigners. Besides most taxi drivers (as the vast majority of Brazilians) speak ONLY Portuguese, not even very basic English or Spanish! Therefore the most comfortable and hassle-free way to visit Rio de Janeiro is by hiring a personal tour guide with vehicle.
Getting around in Rio with a personal tour guide:
Hiring a personal tour guide in Rio de Janeiro and his car is above all the most convenient way to get around. The tour price may even seem high at first but it is not expensive if compared to the bus tours or taxi tour packages. For example, a taxi driver charges from 180 USD for an 8-hour tour and a couple in a group tour in a bus will pay approximately 208 USD for an 8-hour tour (104 USD x 2). In a private tour with Madson as your guide, you will pay only 350 USD both (excluding lunch and admission fees). [Note: pricing may not be updated].
Other advantages of hiring a personal tour guide to get around in Rio are:
A tour guide will save you time and money in Rio:
Time is money and during your vacation in Rio is gold. Your Rio de Janeiro tour guide will take you to the right place at the right time. He will conduct the tour in a way to avoid traffic jams, waiting in line, etc. in order to make you gain time and have more value for you money. Briefly, your Rio private guide expertise will take you to do more with less. It is highly convenient.
A flexible tour guide will customize your tour:
During your Rio tour you will see, visit and experience only what is a must and important to you. You can follow your Rio private guide’s suggestion for the day or/and include something that is not in the program i.e. going to a specific shop, to an exchange house/ATM machine or just stopping for a drink or a tasty Brazilian fruit ice cream. Your Rio personal guide Madson will fit your special needs.
You will learn about Rio from your tour guide:
If you value learning what matters, a tour with tour guide Madson is the tour for you. You will have the chance to interact with a local (your personal guide in Rio) questioning about the country’s culture, the economy, the educational, social and political system, sports, favelas (slums/shantytowns), taboos or whatever you want to ask. It’s a very informative tour although completely different from some bus tours where the guide loads you with tons of irrelevant and unnecessary information that you will forget the following day.
Your tour guide will stop at key photographing spots:
Due to its natural beauties Rio de Janeiro is a paradise for professionals or amateurs photographers. Your Rio private tour guide will compulsorily stop the car at some carefully selected spots for photographing or video-recording. Else, during the tour whenever you see something or someone you want to shoot you may always shout “Stop!” and your very own tour guide Madson will strongly step on the brakes. Be sure you have your seat belts fasten.
Your tour guide will prioritize your safety:
Every major city has its dangerous spots and getting around in certain areas can be risky. Although Rio de Janeiro is much less dangerous than what the media passes (you will feel it after two or three days), a street-wise personal guide will accompany and acclimatize you in your first day(s) in Rio as well as advise you on how to get around for the rest of your stay. Besides, you will be able to carry you camera, video-recorder, credit cards and money by knowing that you will be driven through the safest places and accompanied by your Rio de Janeiro private tour guide.
Your tour guide will focus on your comfort:
You will be collected and dropped off at your Rio hotel with no delay. The tour will be taken on a well-maintained air-conditioned spacious 2010 model hybrid minivan. Along the tour, you will enjoy listening typical Brazilian music and even pre-select what eventually you will purchase later in a CD store after the tour. Your personal tour guide in Rio de Janeiro will advise you where to buy music.
Your tour guide will take you shopping:
With the aid of your Rio personal tour guide, you will have the opportunity to buy not only typical souvenirs but also handmade crafts and art in general, Brazilian-made liqueur, famous Brazilian flip-flops Havaianas, soccer shirts and other products at off-the-beaten track stores in Rio de Janeiro.
Your tour guide will take you for lunch:
The great differential is that your tour guide Madson will take you for lunch at great restaurants where locals in Rio de Janeiro eat, paying the local price instead of at restaurants packed with tourists paying the ‘tourist price’.
In short, who can benefit from a personal tour guide in Rio de Janeiro?
Individuals, couples, families or small groups up to 4 (+ 2 kids or 2 small adults) who prioritize:
Safety, comfort, flexibility, doing more in less time and being with a local instead of being among tourists.