Airplane: Due to the long distances in Brazil, occasional flights may be necessary, some of which cost little more than a long-haul bus. If you plan on taking multiple flights, the Brasil Airpass will likely save you money. For peak times – from Christmas to Mardi Gras, Easter, July and August – you should book in advance. Confirm your flights too, as flight schedules change frequently.
According to Eningbo, Brazil has three major national airlines and many smaller regional (e.g. Trip and Ocean Air) airlines. The largest are Gol, TAM and Varig. At least one of these airlines flies in every major city in Brazil. Gol is one of the inexpensive lines and serves most routes.
Ship: The Amazon region is probably the last major region in which numerous river trips are possible. Rivers in Amazonia still function as highways, passenger ships travel between large and small towns.
Boats are often the only way to reach remote regions and the many islands and beaches along the Atlantic coast in the Pantanal.
Bus: Apart from the Amazon basin, buses are the most important means of transport for longer distances in Brazil. The bus connections usually work very well. Departure times are usually respected and most of the buses are clean and comfortable.
All major cities are connected by numerous buses (from Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo some run every 15 minutes). You rarely have to change buses between two large cities. Every big city and most small ones have at least one long-distance bus station (Rodoviária).
Numerous bus companies operate in Brazil, while there are many competing agencies in the larger cities. Before buying a ticket in São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, you should compare the prices.
There are essentially three categories of long-distance buses. These buses are quite comfortable and usually have a toilet on board. An executivo is more comfortable (often with reclining seats), the costs are around 25% higher. These buses stop less often. A leito (sleeping car) costs twice as much as a comum and is very comfortable. These buses have spacious reclining seats and air conditioning.
Traveling by bus can be quite expensive in Brazil, expect an average of 6 to 9 reals per hour. As a rule, you can buy a ticket for the next bus that departs from the bus station. However, it is advisable to purchase a ticket at least a few hours or one day before departure. Buses can be fully booked, especially on weekends, public holidays and from December to February.
The local bus systemworks pretty well in Brazil too. Since most Brazilians travel to work by bus, urban buses run more frequently and cover numerous locations in the area.
Theft can be a problem on buses. Therefore, do not take any valuables with you on the bus.
Car: Road conditions vary from region to region. The south has the most and best roads. The coastal roads are generally good, while the roads in the Amazon and northeastern Sertão are very bad.
The traffic, especially in Rio de Janeiro, is very anarchic, traffic rules are not observed. The police show little interest in road safety.
All vehicles in Brazil must have a registration formand have proof of insurance. To bring a vehicle to or from Brazil, a Carnet de passage en douane or the customs document libreta de pasos por Aduana can be required, in practice these are often not required.
To rent a car, you must be 25 years old (21 for some companies like Avis), have a credit card in your name, and have a valid national driver’s license.
There are hardly any price differences between the companies. Some agencies have announced that they will deduct additional sums from your credit card after you have returned the vehicle. Of course, this does not happen with well-known and reputable agencies.
Train:Brazil’s passenger trains now only carry a small proportion of travelers, and trains have long been replaced by cars. There is still a rail network of more than 30,000 km, but most of it is used by freight trains. However, there are still opportunities for impressive train journeys in Brazil. A recommendable train journey with very beautiful views goes from Curitiba through the coastal mountains to Paranaguá. A train also runs between Belo Horizonte and Vitória via Santa Barbara and Sabará.
Taxi: Taxis are relatively inexpensive and are the recommended means of transport in night cities and when you are in a hurry. Taxis in cities are usually metered. In smaller cities there is often no meter in taxis, so you have to negotiate the price.
If you have valuables with you when you arrive at an airport in Brazil, consider using special airport taxis or a radio taxi. These are probably the safest taxis available.
If possible, orientate yourself and have a map with you before you get into a taxi. This may prevent the driver from taking long detours. Tourist places are not very convenient to take a taxi, especially in the vicinity of expensive hotels you should not take a taxi, the prices will be very high.
Metro: Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo have excellent metro systems. It’s a safe, cheap, and efficient way to get to know the cities.
Bicycle: There are not many long-distance cyclists in Brazil. Heavy traffic, inconsiderate drivers, exhaust fumes, roads with no hard shoulder and the risk of theft are just a few of the reasons. Long-distance cycling in Brazil is not recommended, it is too dangerous.