If you are flying to Rio from any location (other than another Brazilian city), you will arrive at Galeão - Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport (GIG). Galeão International Airport is located on Governador Island (Ilha do Governador), about 12 miles (20 km) from the center of Rio de Janeiro. Galeão refers to a nearby beach and the rest of the airport’s name, Antonio Carlos Jobim, is a tribute to one of Brazil’s most famous musicians. The large and relatively modern airport is undertaking significant renovations to accommodate the upcoming Olympics and World Cup events.
Galeão accommodates approximately 13 million passengers a year and is the hub for Gol and TAM airlines. It is served by a host of domestic and international airlines offering direct and connecting flights worldwide. There are two terminals, Terminal 1 and 2, which offer the typical services of a modern, international airport. You will find multiple places to enjoy a quick snack and plenty of duty free shops to get in some pre or last minute shopping. The terminals are connected by a "travelator" and you will find ATMs (3rd floor) and bank branches for currency exchange in both. A post office, pharmacy, small hospital and rental car desks for various car rental companies (Avis, Budget, Hertz and Localiza) are located at Terminal 2.
If you are visiting Rio for the first time or are not fluent in Portuguese, it is best to take a taxi to the city. You can stop near the official Rio de Janeiro State Tourism Desk and get a pre-paid taxi voucher (very reliable, but expensive) or go directly to the taxi stand (just make sure the meter is working and begins with your departure). You can also pre-arrange a taxi or car service to meet you at the "Arrivals" area after clearing customs. The typical ride to the popular tourist South Zone (Zona Sul) takes about 30 to 45 minutes and you can travel to points south, north and west of Rio de Janeiro by three access routes: Linha Vermelha (Red Line) and Linha Amarela (Yellow Line) freeways and Avenida Brasil. You can expect to pay approximately R$ 50 - 65 for a metered taxi fare and 50 - 60 percent more for a pre-paid voucher depending upon the promotion. (Click here for detailed taxi information and representative fares).
If you are veteran traveler, a bit adventurous or want to save some money, you can choose to drive yourself or take advantage of the public transport system. The Real Auto Ônibus transport system offers special bus lines that connect to various destinations. A bus (Bus #2101 and #2145 for R$ 10,00) runs every 30 minutes to the Santos Dumont Airport, which is in Rio's downtown.
Real also offers air-conditioned buses into the city with stops at the popular beaches and hotels, taking about 45 minutes for the trip and generally departing hourly. One route goes directly to Barra da Tijuca (Bus #2918 for R$ 12,00). The other route (Bus #2018) goes along the shore of the southern part of the city with stops at Copacabana beach and onto Ipanema, Leblon, Vidigal, São Conrado and Barra da Tijuca for about R$ 12,00. Buses will stop anywhere on the route. Buses are lined up outside the "Arrivals" area of both terminals.
There are also airport shuttles that stop at the major hotels and beaches. These shuttles can be arranged at the airport, but it is highly recommended that you pre-arrange a shuttle through your hotel or tour operator.
On your return home, you will find that the buses going to the airport have "Aeroporto Internacional" written on the front. These buses can generally be found on the routes near the major hotels. As with most international flights, plan enough time to arrive two hours before departure to clear security and immigration.
Entrance to the Rio Zoo at São...
Carnival, Photo: sfmission.com...
Rio's West Zone - Surfing Head...
Photo: Pedro Kirilos / Riotur
Carnival, Photo: sfmission.com...
Enjoying Flamengo Park
"Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world" - Gustave Flaubert