We met friends who had arrived in Rio the day before us. They went to the yellow taxi kiosk at the airport and got a ticket with a price for their ride to Copacabana. But, after being escorted to their waiting taxi the price was crossed out and a new price written on the ticket. The man who had escorted them to the taxi then handed the ticket to the driver who crossed that price out and added his own price! Essentially they ended up paying 95 Brazilian Reals,(US50) for a journey that should have cost a lot less. Of course, like us, they don't speak any Portuguese which makes it very difficult to argue in these situations.
We had read about these sorts of problems on a few different travel sites and my husband booked our transfers to Copacabana with Rio Airport Transfer, who he had seen comments about on this site, and paid 50 US for a smooth journey to our hotel in a very nice car.
I'm sure everyone has different experiences and there's always a few people who get conned by opportunists, but for the sake of convenience we prefer to book in advance and know what we're getting for our money. We would recommend Rio Airport Transfer for those like us who prefer less stress.
Cautionary tale about booking at a hostel a year in advance,due to Carnival.
We booked a twin room with Golden Lion Hostel a year in advance to ensure we had beds booked for carnival week. Then 2 weeks before we due to arrive, we tried to reconfirm our bookings. The hostel only replied (after prompting from hostel booking website), to say that “due to a change in ownership, our booking no longer valid”. The hostel did not seem to want to honour our valid booking. The worrying aspect is if we had not chased the hostel, we would have simply arrived there in Carnival week with no booking and little chance of finding alternative……so would you risk booking at this hostel?
Check out the other reviews
Golden Lion Hostel Rua Visconde de Silva 55, Humaitá - Rio de Janeiro
In order to avoid being ripped off by oportunista taxi drivers, when you arrive at the Rodoviária Novo Rio, take the exit from your platform, turn right and take the escalator to the upper level, then cross to the departures area. Take the escalator down to the taxi drop-off point and grab the first cab you find that has just left a passenger.
The driver will be glad of the fare and will do it on the meter. To make sure he's honest, tell the him your destination, point to the meter and say, "No relógio, ta bom?" (on the meter, OK?).
You can do a quick, easy search of buses and departure times to your chosen destination at www.novorio.com.br/. Just fill in the PARTIDAS NOVO RIO field and click.
Take care when arriving in Rio for the first time at the main bus terminal.
Don't just take a taxi from outside, even if it looks like you're at an official taxi rank. You may end up with a driver and a mate in the front which can be very intimidating not least when you have to hand over much more cash than you need to on arrival at your destination.
Book a transfer in advance or at least see a taxi company in the bus terminal and more or less agree a fare before catching one of their cabs. You may be slightly overcharged but won't feel so vulnerable.
Try to make sure that you have notes in small denominations when it comes to paying. Rio taxi drivers are notorious for their slight of hand (example: for a R$25 fare you give them a R$50 note and they show you a R$20 note and try to make out you made a mistake).
Finally, when in the bus terminal, keep a good eye on your belongings.
In my experience, airport taxis in Rio are a complete con!! The first time my husband and I arrived in Rio we bought tickets from one of the 'proper' taxi desks. However, by the time we actually got into the taxi our little ticket stub,with the price on it, had been crossed out 3 times and the price had increased by R$20!!! While I realise this is not a huge amount of money to those of us travelling from Europe it's still not a great feeling knowing someone is essentially robbing you!
Since this first trip, 3 years ago, we have used Rio Airport Transfer, who offer an unmarked, private taxi service between the international airport and anywhere you want to go in Rio de Janeiro city.
We have found them to be absolutely splendid, their customer service is impeccable, and they typically offer additional travel advice, particularly on hotels and the location of our hotel - very helpful.
I would highly recommend their service.
Beware the fierce undertow and crashing surf that can sneak up on you on Copacabana and Ipanema (not to mention beaches farther afield). You really have to watch your footing and pay attention to the lifeguard's flags that indicate when it's safe to go for a dip, or you'll find yourself battling for your life thanks to the steep dropoff and strong rip tides!
For some unfathomable reason, the frutos do mar (seafood) restaurant, Marius, at the Leme end of Avenida Atlántica is praised to the skies in certain quarters. Frankly, an evening spent drilling holes in your kneecaps would be a more agreeable experience. Its over aggressive staff are clearly trained to push drinks, t-shirts and anything else on unsuspecting diners. The food is bland and overpriced, and the horribly twee Barnacle Bill ambience make this a place to avoid like the plague.
There are plenty of less touristy seafood options in Rio. For a vastly superior product, at the same price and without the hard sell, go to Satyricon on Rua Barão da Torre in Ipanema. You won’t regret it.
Satyricon is at Rua Barão da Torre, 192, Ipanema, tel. 2521-0627, www.satyricon.com.br. Marius could be on Venus for all I care.
Someone recommended the street party in Lapa on a Friday night. I would agree with this as it's an amazing night out, but I would warn people to keep their wits about them. I've been twice now on separate trips a year apart and the second time (August 2005) it seemed a lot more crowded and definitely more shifty.
This maybe something to do with the fact that it's now in the trusty Lonely Planet as a 'Rio essential' so there are far more tourists now, which inevitably attracts more unsavory characters. I'm not saying this to be a travel snob - when we were there guns were fired at the top of the famous steps which resulted in a stampede and a nasty crush at the bottom. It's still a great night - just stay away from the top of the steps (the farther up you go the more shady it gets) and go in a big group if possible. Oh, and stay away from the brightly coloured shots in the plastic tubes - they're lethal and taste revolting - have a caipirinha!
Lapa - near Cinelandia metro.
Once you get up top at Corcovado you will find that there are no cash machines (ATMs), and that none of the eating places accept credit cards. And that there is not a single drinking fountain (so that in slaking your thirst you spend a few more shekels). Remember that this being a tourist destination, prices are steep (or you might say, sky-high). So be sure you are well-supplied with the necessary before ascending.
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com