FODOR'S GO LIST 2015
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While most resort towns boast an airport of some kind, the state of Rio is small enough that few people fly to destinations within the state. The roads along the Blue and Green coasts and to the resort towns in the mountains tend to be well maintained, so most Brazilians travel by car or bus.
Driving within the city of Rio can be a daunting experience, but outside the city it's fairly easy to get around. The roads, especially to the major tourist destinations, are well signposted. To get to Ilha Grande you'll need to leave your car in Angra dos Reis and catch a 90-minute passenger ferry or 50-minute catamaran to the island. Buses are cheap, comfortable, and efficient, but the terminal in Rio can be intimidating. It's best to travel light so you can get to your bus on time.
Avoid leaving the city on a Friday afternoon, when residents flee the city en mass and the traffic is horrific.
As a rule, private buses in Rio such as 1001 and Costa Verde tend to be clean, punctual, air-conditioned, and comfortable. Buses leave from the Rodoviária Novo Rio, and most destinations are within three hours of the city. Expect to catch a taxi from the bus station to your hotel.
Local bus service within towns, or districts, tends to be regular and cheap, but buses rarely have air-conditioning and are not well maintained. There are few routes, and the bus driver will either nod or shake his head if you tell him where you want to go. You can buy your ticket on the bus, but don't use large notes. Bus terminals and stands are easy to spot. Beware of pickpockets if the stand or bus is particularly crowded.
1001 (022/2623–2050. www.autoviacao1001.com.br.)
Costa Verde (021/3622–3123. www.costaverdetransportes.com.br.)
The roads in Rio de Janeiro State are generally in good condition and well marked, especially in the areas frequented by holidaymakers. If you plan to travel around and spend a few nights in different towns, it makes sense to rent a car in Rio, although it can be a bit tricky finding your way out of the city. Remember that if you travel to Ilha Grande, you will have to leave your car in the parking lot near the ferry terminal in Angra or Mangaratiba, so be sure to remove all valuables from sight.
Car-rental prices in resort towns can be exorbitant, so if you plan to rent a car, do it in Rio.