Getting Here and Around
While most resort towns boast an airport of some kind, the area is small enough that few people fly to destinations within the state. The roads along the coasts and to the towns in the mountains tend to be well maintained, so most Brazilians travel by car or bus. Check weather conditions before heading to the mountains, however, as heavy rains can cause serious landslides.
Along the Green Coast, collective transfer services such as Easy Transfer provide door-to-door services, complete with boat connections that are a convenient and cost-effective way to travel in the region. At the beach resorts of Búzios, driving from beach to beach in a buggy is great fun, and the cost of renting works out to be a reasonable value.
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. Buses are cheap, comfortable, and efficient, but the vast terminal in Rio can be uncomfortably hot and the surrounding area is a little edgy. It's best to leave plenty of time to buy tickets and locate your boarding point. Don't rely on using the ATMs here as they are frequently out of service. Note that non-Brazilians may have problems buying advance tickets online, as a CPF (Brazilian social security number) is usually required. At popular times, it may be preferable to arrange a group or private transfer, or to book through a travel agent.
Avoid leaving the city on Friday afternoon when residents flee the city en masse and the traffic is horrific. For the same reason, try to avoid returning on Sunday evening.
As a rule, private buses in Rio such as Autoviacao 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. Autoviacao 1001 is the principal bus company to travel to Búzios, while Costa Verde will take you through Angra, Paraty, and all the way to São Paulo.
Outside the city, 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.
Autoviacao 1001. Estrada Velha Da Usina 444, Centro, Búzios, Rio de Janeiro, 28950–000. 22/2623–2050; www.autoviacao1001.com.br.
Costa Verde. Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro. 21/3622–3123; www.costaverdetransportes.com.br.
Easy Transfer. This company runs door-to-door collective transfers between Rio and Ilha Grande and Paraty. Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro. 21/99386--3919; www.easytransferbrazil.com.
Rodoviária Novo Rio. Av. Francisco Bicalho 1, Santo Cristo, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, 20220-310. 21/3213–1800; www.novorio.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 on the mainland, so be sure to remove all valuables. The road that runs the final stretch from Rio to Paraty combines the occasional hairpin turn with fast drivers and single-lane traffic. Go slow, stop for breaks, avoid driving at night, and be aware of potholes.
Car-rental prices in resort towns can be exorbitant, so if you plan to rent a car, do it in Rio. In Cabo Frio and Búzios, it is a better value and more fun to rent a beach buggy—numerous agencies offer this service.