The carioca style of driving is passionate to the point of abandon: traffic jams are common, the streets aren't well marked, and red lights are often more decorative than functional. Although there are parking areas along the beachfront boulevards, finding a spot can still be a problem. If you do choose to drive, exercise extreme caution, wear seat belts at all times, and keep the doors locked.
Car rentals can be arranged through hotels or agencies and at this writing cost between R$140 and R$250 a day for standard models. Major agencies include Avis, Hertz, and Unidas. Localiza is a local agency. Hertz and Unidas have desks at the international and domestic airports.
Turismo Clássico Travel, one of Brazil's most reliable travel and transport agencies, can arrange for a driver to get you around the city, with or without an English-speaking guide (US$50 per hour). Clássico's owners, Liliana and Vera, speak English, and each has more than 20 years of experience in organizing transportation. They also lead sightseeing tours.
Unidas (021/4001–2222. www.unidas.com.br.)