best bus travel in brazil

Out of Your Comfort Zone

The art of backpacking & adventures to get out of your comfort zone – tips and advice, 7 best sites for buying long-distance bus ticket in brazil + tips to save.

Last Updated on May 21, 2024 by Talita

Did you know Brazil is the 5 th biggest country by area in the world? Not only this, but it also has the world’s 5 th biggest population with more than 200,000 people.

The problem with this is that, whoever travels in a country as large and populous as Brazil, will come across a transportation system that falls short of supporting such numbers.

In other words, generally, the transportation system in Brazil is a clusterf*#k!

Okay, maybe I exaggerated a little bit. I’ve been in countries that are much worse…. but also in others much better.

But for those of us who like to travel, what matters is that to explore Brazil, you can really only count on one form of transportation: long-distance buses.

Brazil Football Team Bus

Sorry, this is not exactly the kind of bus you will ride in Brazil. This one belongs to the Brazilian Football Team. Picture by Marcos Lisboa, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Table of Contents

  • 1 The best websites to search for and book your bus ticket in Brazil
  • 2 General tips for traveling by bus in Brazil
  • 3 But what’s wrong with using other forms of transportation in Brazil: planes, trains, or car?
  • 4 Why is bus the best intercity transportation option for travelers in Brazil?
  • 5 The negative side of traveling by bus in Brazil (or when it’s worth it to just fly)
  • 6 Combine the use of plane and bus on the same trip
  • 7 How to travel by bus in Brazil?
  • 8 Planning your next trip?

The best websites to search for and book your bus ticket in Brazil

Today, there are a lot of websites where you can buy your bus ticket.

After testing many of them out, I’ve found Clickbus to be my favorite website.

Here is some information about ClickBus, Quero Passagem, Plataforma 10, Bookaway, and also about Busbud:

Cheap Intercity bus Brazil

I like ClickBus because, besides being an international company (with equivalent websites in Mexico, Turkey, and Colombia), they also cover more than 3,000 destinations in Brazil with more than 100 bus companies.

It also lets you use filters to choose exactly the type of seat/bus you want and its schedule. Strangely enough, it’s also one of the only websites that let you sort the options by price… something pretty basic that for some reasons other websites don’t let you do.

Better yet, with ClickBus you can also buy international bus tickets between Brazil and Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay! A great option for those who are traveling around South America!

Unfortunately, their website is only in Portuguese. However, you can easily use ClickBus website in Portuguese if you use Google Chrome as your navigator. You just ask Chrome to translate ClickBus to your local language (whether English, French, Spanish, and so one) and you can buy your bus ticket with no worries.

Coupons and discount codes for ClickBus:

ABUS5 5% OFF for all site purchases ABUS8 8% OFF for all site purchases over R$ 100 ABUS10 10% OFF for all site purchases over R$ 250 ABUS50 R$ 25 OFF for all purchases over R$ 400

Cheap Bus tickets Brazil

   2. Quero Passagem (you can easily use Google Chrome to translate and see the page in your own language!)

Quero Passagem

Quero Passagem has sold more than 1 million intercity road tickets across the country. This is one of the largest portals for selling online road tickets in Brazil and is also one of the fastest-growing companies in the industry.

In addition, it provides tickets to 90% of the country. And when we talk about a gigantic country like Brazil this is really impressive! All of this is only possible since the company is a partner of more than 150 bus companies, so offering tickets to 5,000 destinations throughout the Brazilian territory is possible.

One of the priorities of this portal is to sell tickets in a simple and practical way, so it is very quick to buy your ticket on your computer or cell phone. No worries! Quero Passagem also offers several ticket options, from the cheapest to the most luxurious.

Another facility offered is that the site has a version in Spanish, English, and Portuguese. Designed for foreign travelers, on these sites, it is possible to buy your ticket securely, quickly, and without using the CPF, as this is normally required to purchase tickets online and can be a problem for foreigners.

If you are planning for your next trip in Brazil, be sure to check the Quero Passagem prices and fees.

Quero passagem

Furthermore, the trips are environmentally friendly. The company’s vehicles reduce a small amount of CO2 into the atmosphere and it is possible to select a “travel compensation” option, in which the traveler will pay an additional optional amount that will be allocated to certified climate protection projects.

The onboard services are also a highlight. The buses have free Wi-Fi, USB sockets, bathrooms, extra legroom, reclining bed and semi-bed seats, comfortable backrests and promise ample space in the luggage compartment.

Prioritizing safe travel, FlixBus has drivers trained to follow safety protocols and take regular breaks to rest so there is no overload.

With short and long-distance lines, FlixBus is ideal for various types of travelers, especially those who want to save money and have a more sustainable trip.

flixbus

Another good option is Plataforma 10, a company specialized in buying bus, plane, transfers and hotel reservations online . With it you can book tickets to more than 7000 destinations in Latin America, in addition to finding accommodations anywhere in the world.

One of the differentials of Plataforma 10 is that it contains unique routes, formed by combinations, such as São Paulo to Buenos Aires and Mendonza to Santiago de Chile. Thus, it is possible to completely customize your trip to the most different destinations, whether national or international.

This site is perfect for travelers who will travel unconventional routes, or those looking to save on the ticket, as Plataforma 10 always has several discounts.

In addition to conventional payments, Platform 10 accepts payments through Mercado Pago and PayPal.

Plataforma 10

Bookaway is a great online land transport reservations portal, with an intuitive website, one of the biggest positive points of using this company is its ease.

It is possible to book your ticket in an instant to anywhere in the world with local operators from more than 20 countries, in Brazil there are 982 routes spread over more than 8 million km2 of the territory.

In addition to the website, Bookaway also offers applications for Android and IOS, has a 24/7 chat, has great recommendations on Trustpilot and accepts different currencies as payment on its website.

best bus travel in brazil

Busbud is another international ticket site. On it, you can buy tickets for more than 70 countries around the world, including tickets in Brazil.

So, if you feel more comfortable buying your tickets with an international company instead of a Brazilian one, this is your best bet.

Plus, obviously, you can use Busbud to buy bus tickets while traveling around the world!

cheap bus passages busbud

   

   7. Buser

Bus tickets for Brazil

Buser is a platform accessible by both the computer and the mobile device, with tickets ranging from R$15.90 to R$149.90. With the possibility of travel between the main cities of the country, the transport structure is of high quality and comfort, with high safety since it has insurance, trained drivers, vehicles inspected and monitored by GPS, camera, and others.

The company has great recognition in the media, mainly for having great affordability compared to the national roads, and has shown great growth. 

buser cheap bus ticket

    – Other companies

As mentioned, there are other bus ticket companies, but I don’t recommend them for a few reasons (see below). I’ll leave them here though just in case you want to check:

Buscaonibus.com.br

I don’t like this company that much as they often don’t list the type of seat (conventional, sleeper, etc.). So, you won’t know exactly what you are buying.

Besides this, I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t let you sort the results by price (from least to most). A little inconvenient….

Bus terminals in Brazil

Ticket counters like this one is where you are going to pick you your final ticket after buying it on the internet. Picture by Prefeitura Municipal Itanhaém, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Decolar.com

I’m also not a big fan of Decolar. Weird, but sometimes the search results show that nothing is available although other website show availabilities. Besides this, the taxes and fees are slightly higher than ClickBus.

QueroPassagem.com.br

Same problems as the others. You can’t sort by price and the prices are a little more. The good thing is that they have a page in English and in Spanish for foreigners.

General tips for traveling by bus in Brazil

  • Know what type of bus seat you’ll choose

Unlike bus trips with Greyhound in the US or MegaBus in Europe where all bus seats are equal, here in Brazil there’s a large variety of buses and possible seats – from the cheapest and most simple “conventional” to the luxurious “1 st Class” with beds and food.

So, to help you decide what ticket you buy, here’s a list of the different bus and seat options:

Convencional (conventional ): a very simple bus with normal seats, like coach on a plane

Executivo (executive): a better bus with more comforts and seats that incline more

Semi-Leito (half-sleeper): a good bus with seats incline partway (though not a complete 180 degrees) so you can sleep pretty well

Leito-Cama (sleeper): like the above, but with seats that incline back 180 degrees so you can sleep like a baby!

1 º Classe (1 st Class): the best type of bus, seats, and service possible. Often has food.

Bus in Mongolia

Okay, this bus picture is from Mongolia, not Brazil…but I just thought it was cool.

Besides paying attention to the category you are buying tickets for, here are a few more tips:

  • Bring food!

Some buses might serve a snack or stop at a place that you can buy something. But so you don’t get hungry, it’s good to have something to munch on.

  • Arrive early to the bus station.

You know how it is. Traffic in Brazil’s big cities sucks, so to be safe (as I mentioned above) try to arrive at least 30 minutes early to check-in at the counter and give yourself time to get to your bus.

  • Don’t assume there’ll be a bathroom on the bus.

Unlike long-distance buses in many other countries that don’t have bathrooms, actually, many buses in Brazil do have them (which is very useful for long trips). But not all of them have bathrooms, so don’t count on this.

  • Bring something to pass the time.

You definitely won’t always have movies on the bus. So bringing something to read, watch, listen to, or play is a good idea to pass the time.

  • If you get nauseous easily, bring something to help.

It could be something like Dramamine for example (although it’ll make you pass out and sleep the whole trip), or something more natural like ginger pills – which work for motion sickness or seasickness!

  • Be careful with your bags at the bus station!

As I already mentioned above, this is Brazil. So, you should always be on the lookout for theft and robbery. I also recommend checking at your bags below the bus through the window at every stop to make sure your bags aren’t “walking off on their own.”

  • Buy two seats if you are really concerned with theft.

This is one tip I’ve read about traveling by buses in Latin America, so it could work for Brazil as well. If you have a lot of valuable things with you and you don’t feel safe checking your bag under the bus during the trip, buy two seats right next to each other: one for you and one for your backpack or big bag. Then, you’ll have all of your things right next to you throughout your trip!

Even if you check your big bag under the bus, always keep all your valuables (electronics, wallet, etc.) in a small bag with you….. but if you are going to Brazil, hopefully, we don’t have to remind you about that, right?

But what’s wrong with using other forms of transportation in Brazil: planes, trains, or car?

There are two problems with exploring Brazil by plane:

    1)   Brazil only has about 100 airports with regular flights.

This might seem like a lot, but for such a large country, it’s really not. Basically, there are many interesting places that you just can’t access by plane.

     2)  Flying around Brazil can be expensive.

If you are flying between smaller cities that don’t have many flights, it can be very expensive!

Besides this, many of these airports don’t have a decent connection to the public transportation of the closest city. So, be prepared to spend a bunch for a taxi going to and from the airport!

However, if you are going between main cities – like Rio and São Paulo – you can find decently priced flights. Check our article on 16 Tips to Save on Flights to learn more.

Well, although exploring Brazil by car can be pretty cool, there are two main problems with this ( ESPECIALLY if you are a foreigner).

      1)  Renting a car isn’t possible everywhere.

The first problem is that the options for renting cars aren’t widespread.

In São Paulo’s Guarulhos airport, for example, there are 10 car rental companies…great! But in Recife in the northeast, they are 7. In Cascavel no Sul, there are only 4 in the airport. And in Santarém in the north…. None!

In other words, it can be difficult to rent a car depending on where you are in Brazil.

But, if you do prefer to rent a car, you can check out our article with  The 5 Best and Cheapest Websites to Compare and Rent Cars Around the World . There you can find some car rental websites and companies that are exclusive to the Brazilian market.  

     2)   If you are not from Brazil, don’t speak Portuguese, or don’t know the area, driving can be very dangerous!

Unfortunately, I have to be realistic here. Many places in Brazil can be dangerous for foreign tourists.

It’s not unsafe everywhere, but there are certain areas – especially on the outskirts of large cities – that can be dangerous to get lost in.

This is whether you are renting a car or have your own.

Imagine that you are following your GPS, Google Maps, or Waze and it brings you to the entrance of a slum (favela) in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, or Belo Horizonte where there is a problem with violence. If this happens, you can expect the worst… and it happens more than you would think!

Just search on Google. Here’s a very sad example from a couple in Rio who ended up in a favela using Waze: https://www.cnn.com/2015/10/05/americas/brazil-wrong-directions-death/

Even though I’m Brazilian and speak Portuguese, I’d still be nervous driving in large Brazilian cities that I don’t know.

If you’d still like to try a road trip in Brazil, I give a bunch of tips to help in this article here: The 13 Most Incredible Road Trips in the World ! In the article, you’ll also find the best websites to search for and book rental cars.

Well, the problem with using trains in Brazil is simple: there’s basically no passenger trains in Brazil .

Okay, there are a few. But the majority are tourist trains and expensive or from mining companies.

There were some plans to create a high-speed train (bullet train) connecting Campinas to São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, but the plans never left the paper.

Basically, whether you like it or not, if you want to explore Brazil beyond just the big cities, you’ll end up using long-distance buses to get around.

Bus terminals in Brazil

Typical bus terminal in Brazil. Picture by Cintia Barenho, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Why is bus the best intercity transportation option for travelers in Brazil?

  • Availability

Well, just look at the number of bus terminals in Brazil. There are more than 3,000!

Basically, it’s more likely the city you want to visit has a bus terminal than an airport. Remember, like we said above, there are only around 100 airports with regular flights in the country.

Without a doubt, traveling by bus in Brazil is the cheapest way to get from one city to another.

Even knowing that there is a difference in price between normal seats and sleeper seats, normally the price is still cheaper than a flight ticket for the same destinations.

A few comparisons:

  • From São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro:

Plane: R$ 146.80 (US$ 47.00)

Bus: R$ 90.85 (US$ 29.09)

  • From Vitória to Belo Horizonte:

Plane: R$ 218.64 (US$ 70.00)

Bus: R$ 99.60 (US$ 31.98)

  • From Natal to Fortaleza:

Plane: R$ 13.19 (US$ 42.00)

Bus: R$ 71.32 (US$ 22.83)

  • From Florianópolis to Iguazu Falls:

Plane: R$ 27.,99 (US$ 89.00)

Bus: R$ 201.84 (US$ 64.62)

  • Practicality

Another benefit of using buses to travel in Brazil is the practicality they have compared to all other forms of transportation.

Unlike airports which are often kilometers from the city center, the bus terminal is often much closer to the center of the city. Besides this, in general, they are much better connected to the urban transportation of the city (whether bus, metro, or Uber / Lyft) than airports are.

Another benefit of traveling by bus in Brazil is that you can have various stops along the way, making it much easier if your final destination isn’t a large city.

  • Experience local life

I know that for many foreign travelers (especially those from developed countries), traveling by bus doesn’t seem as glamorous as going by plane or train. But this is basically how the majority of the Brazilian people travel around their country…. and you’ll be doing the same.

Basically, traveling by bus in Brazil will give you the chance to meet locals and see the countryside. What could be more authentic than this?

Bus terminals in Brazil

Picture by Luís Guilherme Fernandes Pereira, licensed under CC BY 2.0

The negative side of traveling by bus in Brazil (or when it’s worth it to just fly)

Obviously, traveling by bus takes a long time so this will depend on you – whether you have extra time or extra money. (Also remember that you can take an overnight bus to save on accommodation .)

However, it still might not be worth it to travel from Curitiba (in the south) to Manaus (in the Amazon) by bus. You’d lose both in the time and money spent. It’s definitely worth going by plane.

It’s the same thing going from Porto Alegre (in the south) to Salvador (in the northeast). They are too far away and there aren’t direct buses between the two. So, instead of continuing to change buses and lose days traveling, it’s better to go by plane.

Also, as you can see in the price comparisons above, sometimes the difference between big cities is only $20 or less. For many people, it may be worth it to pay this small amount extra in exchange for saving a lot of time.

Although, keep in mind, that sometimes even a short flight can end up taking just as long as a long-distance bus. For example, the bus between Rio and São Paulo is about 6-7 hours whereas the plane is only about 45 minutes. However, to take the plane you’ll also have to get to the airport (which could take up to an hour or more depending on where you are), spend time waiting at the airport (minimum 1 hour before your flight), take the flight, then get from the airport to your destination (once again, could be 1+ hour).

Combine the use of plane and bus on the same trip

I’ve done this myself when I was in São Paulo and wanted to visit a famous small town near Paraguay called Bonito.

Instead of taking an expensive flight from São Paulo directly to Bonito, I flew to Campo Grande (a big city), visited the city a bit, and then caught a local bus to Bonito.

It was worth it to save money and get to know the capital of another Brazilian state.

So, if you are planning to fly in Brazil, I recommend you take a look at our page with 16 Tips to Save on Flights (you can find a list of the main Brazilian airlines at the end).

How to travel by bus in Brazil?

Not long ago, it was difficult to know how much a bus ticket cost between two cities in Brazil. Unlike airlines in Brazilian where you can count their number on one hand, there are more than 100 long-distance bus companies spread throughout Brazil.

It was very difficult to first know which company did the route you were looking for and how much it cost. Basically, you had to go to the bus terminal and ask counter-by-counter for the cost and the schedule.

However, now there are many search websites that have completely transformed the experience of searching and buying bus tickets in Brazil.

They work like any normal booking website for flights or trains. Just that the trip is actually for buses.

Basically, you choose a departure city (be careful because some cities have more than one station), your destination, and your date. You’ll see a list of results and prices (which you can sort by).

Just choose your option, choose your seat, put in your info and ID number, and pay.

Usually, you can pay with a credit card, debit card, or PayPal.

Bus terminals in Brazil

Also, typical ticket counters for different bus companies in a bus terminal in Brazil. Picture by Prefeitura Municipal Itanhaém, licensed under CC BY 2.0

IMPORTANT: Theoretically, you don’t need to print anything. On the day of your trip, you just need to arrive about 45 minutes early at the bus terminal, go to the counter of your chosen company, show the ID (passport for foreigners) given when you made your reservation, and pick up your final ticket.

To ease your conscience, after purchasing your ticket online, I like to take a picture of the computer screen or bring my phone to show a summary of my purchase. Just in case someone at the counter doesn’t find my name…. although that’s never actually happened.

Summing up…

The 5 best websites to buy intercity bus tickets online in Brazil are:

  • Quero Passagem;
  • Plataforma 10;

Well, that’s it! Any questions? Have you taken lots of buses in Brazil and have anything to add? Use the comments area below and we’ll get back to you.

*Prices and exchange rates current as of 02/02/2017

Planning your next trip?

simbolo cruz vermelha

 Already reserved your hotel or hostel? If not, our article with The 6 Best and Cheapest Websites to Find & Reserve Accommodation can help you out. You’ll also find some promotions and discount codes .

simbolo avião laranja

 Still haven’t booked your plane ticket and want to save big? Take a look at our page with 16 Tips to Save on Flights where you’ll also find the 4 best websites to buy your plane tickets. 

simbolo carro azul

And finally, will you need to rent a car during your trip? Then surely our page with The 5 Best and Cheapest Websites to Compare and Rent Cars Around the World will help you choose the best rental car and find a good deal.

9 Responses

Jan Stebut

Hi there, planning on traveling by bus, two parents with an infant (1 year old). Do we have to register the child / book a seat for him even though we’re having him on our lap? Or do we book 2 seats and just bring him along?

Rodrigo @ OutofYourComfortZone

Hi Jan, sorry for the late response! If the child is 1 year old and will stay in your lap, I’m almost sure you don’t need to book an extra seat. So in this case, it would be only two seats. Even if some companies in Brazil can be a bit more picky, I would say mostly of them would be fine with only the two seats.

If they fight you, you can say that according Brazil’s “Agência Nacional de Transporte Terrestre (ANTT)”, Resolution 4.282, children up to 6 years old don’t pay bus tickets if they travel on their parents’ lap.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions! Safe travels!

Nick

Hi, I can’t access the link to clickbus,Br even if I search for it separately . I get a message ‘Access denied Error 16’. The Clickbus Mexcio site by contrast works fine. I have used Busbud in the past in Brazil.

Hi Nick! Thank you for your comment. I clicked on the ClickBus link from the United States where I’m right now, and it worked fine for me. Where are you writing from? Mexico? Maybe us a VPN to change your location and access different sites from different countries? Are explain about the best VPNs here .

Martin

Hello, I’m from the USA and I’m trying to book tickets via clickbus. They are asking for “CPF/CNPJ of the holder” which I don’t have since I’m not local. Is there a way to bypass this? Thank you.

Hi Martin! Thank you for your question. When the website asks you a “Documento” you can select “passaporte” and put your foreign passport number. This way you don’t need use the CPF/CNPJ number if you don’t have one. To pay, you can ignore the CPF/CNPJ. If it still asks you, try 000000000 paying everything at once, not in installments.

I hope that works but let me know if doesn’t.

All the best!

Anonymous

Hi, thanks for the quick response. I looked a bit more and was able to bypass using the CPF number by using PayPal as a payment method.

Hey, thank you so much for sharing your experience and tip here. That will definitely help other travelers in the same situation. Glad to hear it worked. Enjoy Brazil!

José Almeida

Hi Rodrigo, congratulations for this complete article! Back in 2009, I started BuscaOnibus website after travelling a lot by bus around Brazil. At the time it was hard to find bus times information online, so http://www.buscaonibus.com.br was developed to help local and foreigner travellers, like my self, to find bus schedules and ticket prices in Brazil. BuscaOnibus website started with an English version from the beginning (www.buscaonibus.com.br/en). In this EN version you will find only the booking partners that can sell to foreigners (without needing CPF). I was surprised that you didn’t find the bus type and the order by price features, as we do have that features in all our timetables. I would like to invite you to give BuscaOnibus a second chance and let me know if you have a better experience this time, or what can we do to make it better.

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Traveling inside Brazil: a guide to transportation in the country

If you’re one of those travelers who like to visit as many different places and locations as possible in your destination, it’s important to know the best ways to get around to get to your points of interest safely . Not only that but choosing the ideal way of moving around could also save you a lot of money and time .

If you’re planning on visiting different spots in Brazil, the best and most popular ways of getting around the country are by plane or travel bus. But depending on the location and convenience, renting a car or even using apps like Bla Bla Car could really come in handy.

In this post, we’re going to explore the main ways of transportation around Brazil, which of them are fit for which type of travel, and the advantages and disadvantages of each one of them.

Important Topics to Consider While Choosing Your Way of Transportation in Brazil

If you’re planning on coming to Brazil, getting to know all the places you’ve only seen pictures on the internet sound like the perfect idea, especially since it’s easy to get all hyped up about getting to a destination you’ve never been to before.

But in order to tour around different places under the best circumstance, it’s necessary to take the time to make a clear schedule on your points of interest and think about how you’ll be getting from one point to another .

Choosing the best way to move around in Brazil depends on a series of factors, as each way of transportation has its pros and cons. The ideal thing is getting to know the features in each of them before you make your choice, which will provide you with a much better experience.

Here are some topics you should consider before choosing your way of transportation in Brazil:

Average Travel Time

One of the main advantages of traveling by plane is getting to your point of interest much faster than with any other transportation. It allows for a distant location to be accessed with a lot more ease, differently from a car trip, that depending on the distance, could take days .

For example, Brasília and Porto Alegre are a little over 1k miles apart, demanding approximately 26 hours of non-stop driving (not considering resting stops) to get to one another. The same trip by plane would only take a little over 2 hours, sparing you from the fatigue of driving and giving you more time to enjoy yourself once you arrive.

So, if the distance is overbearing and you have the financial means available to afford a plane ticket, don’t hesitate to treat yourself.

Knowing Your Destinations

A critical element to you help you decide whether it’s best to take a plane, a car, or a bus is knowing your destination at least a little bit. Some places in Brazil don’t have international airports, or any near airport whatsoever, which would automatically narrow down your options .

On the downside, it’s not easy driving around in a city you don’t know very well, especially in big cities with heavy traffic. So, if you’re not any good with directions, taking a travel bus or charter an Uber (or a yellow cab) to take you to your destination would be much more preferable .

There are a few destinations in Brazil that can neither be accessed by plane nor by travel buses, making you depend solely on renting a car or hiring the services of a driver.

Gather as much information as you can about your destination, as it will make some decisions a whole lot easier. For example, while you may be able to get to a certain location by bus, moving around without a car could become a bother , so maybe renting a vehicle in the first place could be the best choice.

High and Low Seasons

The time of the year you’re planning on traveling can greatly influence your decision to make the trip by land or sky. During the low season periods, you’ll be able to find much affordable and reasonable plane ticket prices, which could almost match the costs of travel bus passes or renting a car .

Those last two options are little influenced by the low season in regards to your finances, but since the high season of most places in Brazil is during the Summer (December to February – coinciding with year-end school vacations), it makes the traffic much more intense, as well as there’s a considerable increase in road car accidents.

The Distance Between Locations

The distance between the places you plan on going is also something to be considered before hitting the hammer on how you’ll be moving around. Although obviously faster, sometimes getting on a plane may not be the most practical option depending on your schedule .

You have to check-in, dispatch your luggage, go through airport security, and that’s just while in the process of boarding the plane. Not to mention the time you will waste if the flight makes stopovers, which will definitely make you waste a lot of time.

So, if you’re making a short trip, it’s best to travel by bus or car , avoiding all these bureaucracies and bothers. Giving you a more practical example, if you consider the time all the pre-flight procedures take, going from Goiania to Brasília by car could take just as much time as if you’d make that trip by plane.

Number of People Traveling With You

If one person’s plane ticket can already be too pricey, imagine that same value multiplied by all the people who will be joining you on your trip. Although the price is justifiable, traveling by plane with a large number of people could represent a huge expense on your budget.

If you consider the same trip by car, everyone in your party could share the car rental and gas expenses, which could make your trip much more inexpensive and a lot more fun . I mean, who doesn’t love a good ol’ road trip.

So, if you’re on a budget (which will bring us to our next topic) as has the possibility of sharing the car-related expenses with your friends/family, don’t hesitate to do so.

Travel Budget

If you’re looking to make your trip schedule more inexpensive, it’s time to put the calculator to work and consider all possible costs in order to make the best decision on your way of transportation.

If we first go over the expenses involved in traveling by plane, we’re talking about boarding fees, luggage rates, and the costs of requesting an Uber or a yellow cab to take you to and from the airport, which depending on where’s located, could represent a relatively large sum of money.

On the other hand, the expenses involved on a car trip go well beyond the gas money. You have to worry about the daily rental fees, toll fees, be prepared for any kind of unexpected events (flat tire, changing oil, etc.), and of course, consider if the car is strong enough to handle the destination you’re going to.

Which Way of Transportation Is The Best in Brazil?

As you may have noticed, choosing between taking a ´plane, a car, or a bus while you’re traveling inside Brazil is entirely up to you. It’s important to consider all the aforementioned topics, drawing an accurate comparison of each of their pros and cons, and making your decision based on what fits your trip best.

To further help you in making that decision, we’re going over all the advantages and disadvantages of each main way of transport in Brazil:

Traveling Around Brazil By Travel Bus

Taking a travel bus to get to a far location is probably the most popular transportation method in Brazil, given the high prices of domestic flights in the country. While that can indeed be a drawback, it can work out for the best in some situations.

best bus travel in brazil

Pros of Traveling By Bus In Brazil

Bus terminals are much more accessible.

As we briefly mentioned earlier, most Brazilian airports are somewhat distant from the city’s downtown, which could be a real bother. But on the flipside, Travel Bus terminals are way easier to get to, given their locations being more central .

Depending on your destination, you may even be able to find an integration system between the travel bus and the location’s public transportation, facilitating your transfer . Some bus terminals even count on mini-buses and vans, ideal if you’re traveling with a group of people.

Regarding the bus terminal infrastructure, products and general items are sold at much less expensive rates than at airports. However, the prices are still largely criticized and labeled as abusive by the general Brazilian population.

Less Expensive Travel Tickets

Fishing for plane tickets at a good price is often an arduous process, and if you don’t plan ahead, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to purchase them for the date you want.

Taking a travel bus to move around in Brazil could be way more inexpensive since travel bus tickets have little price variations and don’t suffer from the same annual readjustments as plane tickets do .

The differences between the plane ticket fares are often related to the type of seat you want. Most Brazilian Bus companies have the following options:

  • Conventional The conventional bus the most simple in the category, having the cheapest tickets. The seats are cushioned, and semi-reclining in general guidelines, and the bus may or may not have an air-conditioner. This type of bus is ideal for short trips or if you really want to save up on transportation.
  • Executive The main difference between the Executive and Conventional bus categories is regarding their comfort levels. Buying an Executive seat could give you a little more space to travel (as the bus seats are a little more separate in comparison to the Conventional), and the seats recline more than the other. Executive buses are very convenient if you’re facing a 5+ hour trip, as the inclusion of minifridge and television/radio makes for a much more comfortable trip.
  • Semi Bed Even more comfortable than the Executive Bus, the Semi Bedmodality has more spacious seats that can be reclined almost all the way. The companies also provide clients with blankets and pillows, which can come in very handy if you’re making a long trip and wants to take a quick rest.
  • Luxury Obviously the most comfortable (and expensive) modality, this is like the first-class option for travel buses. Seats will recline 180º, and given its size and comfort; it’s almost like laying on the bed. It also has the same features as the Semi-Leito modality with a few upgrades like DVDs, snacks, and individual TV/Radio sets. These conveniences obviously don’t come in cheap, but it’s worth it if you’re spending a lot of time on the road.

Easier Ticket Purchase and Boarding

Most (if not all) bus line companies in Brazil enable you to purchase your travel tickers online in order to guarantee your spot on the travel bus. You’ll still need to print them or retrieve your physical ticket once you arrive at the bus station, but you’ll be able to do it with much more ease, as there are no bureaucracies such as luggage dispatch or check-in.

Cons of Traveling Around Brazil by Bus

The time you may spend on the road is definitely the major disadvantage of traveling by bus . If the trip is considerably long, it can take even more time, as bus companies predict pitstops in this situation. If there’s no way around it, don’t forget to bring your charger, or a book to pass the time while you’re stuck on the road .

Traveling Around Brazil By Plane

Plane tickets in Brazil are generally pricey, and if you don’t plan ahead and buy your airfare in advance, you’ll either end up paying a fortune or end up having your travel plans ruined. Here’s a brief list of the pros and cons while traveling around Brazil by Plane:

best bus travel in brazil

Pros of Traveling Around Brazil By Plane

Even having to show up at the airport 1 hour in advance before boarding, traveling by plane is still the fastest way to travel. Usually, I think that any distance under 300 miles is bearable to withstand on a bus, but if you don’t have that much time to spare, getting on a plane is always the best choice.

More Variety in Destinations

Let’s face it, traveling by plane allows you to visit a number of places that wouldn’t be possible by land , especially if we’re maybe talking about traveling to other countries in South America. While buses can only get you so far, boarding a plane can get you almost anywhere, or at least, to the majority of tourist cities and places across the Brazilian territory.

Airport Structure

Even though located mostly afar from the urban centers, most Brazilan airports have a pretty neat infrastructure, with lots of choices on restaurants, leisure, and fresh facilities, like restrooms and nurseries.

These are certainly superior to those found in bus stations across the country, especially since the daily number of people that visit the latter is much higher than in airports. Oh, as we said before, prices are considerably higher too!

Cons of Traveling Around Brazil By Plane

High ticket prices.

Obviously, the biggest con of traveling by plane is that the airfare is one of the biggest expenses of the trip , alongside accommodations. Even local flights in Brazil are expensive, which is why local citizens do their best to plan their trips ahead, as you can get way better prices by buying your tickets earlier.

Luggage Limitations

While traveling by bus or car allows you to bring a much larger amount of luggage, boarding a plane could make you want to pack lighter.

The dispatching rules in Brazil have changed in the last few years, limiting the passenger to board only with a handbag, which must weigh 22lbs (10kg) or less . If it exceeds the weight limit, it will be dispatched and charged separately.

Traveling Around Brazil By Car

Although flying is indeed necessary to come to Brazil, a lot of people aren’t keen on the idea of boarding in and out of planes every time they visit a new location. Aside from that, there are a few locations that are only accessible by car, so depending on the kind of trip you’re planning, renting one can be the best way to transport.

Before we move on to our topics, don’t forget to take a look at our Ultimate Guide for Driving in Brazil , as we highlight all laws, documentation requirements, and the major details you must know in regards to driving in the country.

best bus travel in brazil

Pros of Traveling By Car in Brazil

Passenger control.

Having only familiar people or acquaintances in the car is a major advantage for me, as it makes the trip much more personal and fun. It’s also a far cry from the ordinary bureaucracies at the airport or even at the bus stations, like standing in line to board or dispatching your luggage.

Still touching on the Covid-19 subject, traveling by car is also the safest way to travel nowadays, as you’re able to keep control of the people who’ll be joining your trip, as you can all agree to quarantine before hitting the road.

Not depending on a company with predetermined schedules to take you to places can really have its perks. You can make as many pitstops as you like, you can bring as much luggage as you like, and you won’t depend on Ubers or cabs to get you around once you arrive at your destination .

Driving can make your trip much more flexible, allowing you to explore your points of interest anytime your want.

Cons of Traveling By Car in Brazil

Higher risk of accidents.

Car accidents are amongst the top 3 causes of death in Brazil, and while on the road, things can sometimes get uglier than in the big city. That is because some drivers disregard the traffic safety rules, exceeding way over the speed limit or try to surpass slower drivers .

Aside from that, the pitstops are not always very welcoming, depending on where you are, so make sure to check for safe stops on your route before you hit the road.

Road Condition and Traffic

Another thing that could bother you driving is the condition of the road you’ll be taking to get to your destination. Some of the roads are in pretty bad shape, which could slow down your pace, and consequently, ruin some of the trips .

We went through the best roads to drive in Brazil in this post , so make sure you check more on that if you’re interested in learning more about where the best and safest roads are located in the country.

The traffic is another annoyance that you may face, Sometimes the most simple accident could lead to miles and miles of traffic , so be prepared for everything and have those emergency playlists ready just in case!

Driving Can Be Very Tiresome

Getting behind the wheel and driving for 3+ hours maybe a piece of cake for some, but many people find spending too much time in a car very discomforting. Generally speaking, people are mostly OK with traveling distances like 300 miles or less, but anything over that is considered too much.

If you have more people with valid driver’s licenses joining you, this becomes way less of a burden, as the driver not only gets physically tired from steering the wheel for too long but also mentally and visually exhausted from paying attention to the road for that many hours .

That was it for our guide on the main ways of transportation in Brazil! While planning your trip, take all the topics we just went by under consideration and choose whatever works best for you!

While you’re here, I think we might interest you with these: 5 Vacation Ideas In Brazil For All Kinds Of Travelers – Interested in the tips of a local on how you can enjoy your vacay in Brazil? Look no more! 9 Off-The-Beaten-Path Places To Visit In Brazil – Tired of the same suggestions? We’ve got just the right list for you! 10 Historical Places In Brazil You Need To Visit – Everything you need to know about the most prominent historical places to visit in Brazil!

Cover Photo Credit: Flickr | Trey Ratcliff

Related Questions

Is it possible to travel in brazil by train.

No, traveling throughout the Brazilian territory is not possible. The country’s train lines only meet the purposes of carrying the local population to destinations within that region, so it’s not possible to reach different cities or states by train as it is in Europe for example.

Bruno Reguffe

What's up, everyone! I'm Bruno, and I'm a nutritionist living in Rio de Janeiro. I've been a longtime friend of Ana's, and I'm excited to help her expand on all things Brazilian with y'all, as well as sharing some of our culture and a few personal experiences while living in the country!

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best bus travel in brazil

Cheap Coach Tickets in Brazil

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Popular routes in Brazil

What popular bus companies operate in brazil.

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What are the top visited cities in Brazil?

Buses to São Paulo

Plan your next bus trip in Brazil

  • Bus from Florianópolis to São Paulo
  • Coach Florianópolis - Foz do Iguaçu
  • Bus Foz do Iguaçu - Florianópolis
  • Rio de Janeiro - Angra dos Reis
  • Bus from Angra dos Reis to Rio de Janeiro
  • Coach Rio de Janeiro - Foz do Iguaçu
  • Bus Lençóis - Salvador
  • Rio de Janeiro - Salvador
  • Bus from Salvador to Recife
  • Coach Foz do Iguaçu - Rio de Janeiro
  • Bus São Paulo - São Sebastião
  • Florianópolis - Rio de Janeiro
  • Bus from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro
  • Coach Salvador - Itacaré
  • Bus Rio de Janeiro - Arraial do Cabo

Most popular airports and destinations

  • Santos to Congonhas Airport
  • Congonhas Airport to Campinas
  • Hotel Panamby Barra Funda to São José do Rio Preto
  • Hotel Panamby Barra Funda to Sorocaba
  • Paraty to Royal National Hotel

Top bus and train stations

  • Buses to Novo Rio
  • Buses to Barra Funda
  • Buses to Estação Rodoviária de Curitiba
  • Buses to Terminal Rodoviário de Salvador
  • Buses to Terminal Rodoviário de Belo Horizonte

best bus travel in brazil

Brazil: Discover all the cities you can travel to by bus

  • Aliança do Tocantins, TO
  • Alvorada do Norte, GO
  • Alvorada, TO
  • Anápolis, GO
  • Angra dos Reis, RJ
  • Aparecida, SP
  • Aracaju, SE
  • Aracati, CE
  • Araguari, MG
  • Arapiraca, AL
  • Arapongas, PR
  • Atibaia, SP
  • Balneário Camboriú, SC
  • Balneário Piçarras, SC
  • Barra Mansa, RJ
  • Barra Velha, SC
  • Barreiras, BA
  • Belo Horizonte, MG
  • Blumenau, SC
  • Brasília, DF
  • Brusque, SC
  • Cajazeiras, PB
  • Caldas Novas, GO
  • Campinas, SP
  • Campo Grande, MS
  • Cândido Sales, BA
  • Caraguatatuba, SP
  • Carazinho, RS
  • Cidade Ocidental, GO
  • Contagem, MG
  • Cristalina, GO
  • Curitiba, PR
  • Duque de Caxias, RJ
  • Embu das Artes, SP
  • Erechim, RS
  • Feira de Santana, BA
  • Floriano, PI
  • Florianópolis, SC
  • Formosa do Rio Preto, BA
  • Formosa, GO
  • Fortaleza, CE
  • Francisco Sá, MG
  • Goiânia, GO
  • Guarulhos, SP
  • Ibotirama, BA
  • Itaberaba, BA
  • Itapema, SC
  • Jaborandi, BA
  • Jacobina, BA
  • Jaraguá do Sul, SC
  • João Pessoa, PB
  • João Pinheiro, MG
  • Joinville, SC
  • Juazeiro do Norte, CE
  • Juazeiro, BA
  • Jundiaí, SP
  • Limeira, SP
  • Londrina, PR
  • Luis Eduardo Magalhães, BA
  • Luziânia, GO
  • Marília, SP
  • Maringá, PR
  • Matozinhos, MG
  • Montes Claros, MG
  • Mossoró, RN
  • Paracatu, MG
  • Passo Fundo, RS
  • Patos de Minas, MG
  • Patrocínio, MG
  • Pedro Leopoldo, MG
  • Petrolina, PE
  • Pirapora, MG
  • Porto Nacional, TO
  • Pouso Alegre, MG
  • Regeneração, PI
  • Resende, RJ
  • Riachão das Neves, BA
  • Ribeirão das Neves, MG
  • Ribeirão Preto, SP
  • Rio de Janeiro, RJ
  • Rio Verde de Mato Grosso, MS
  • Salgueiro, PE
  • Salinas, MG
  • Salvador, BA
  • Santa Rosa, RS
  • Santo André, SP
  • Santo Ângelo, RS
  • São Bernardo do Campo, SP
  • São José dos Campos, SP
  • São José dos Pinhais, PR
  • São Paulo, SP
  • Senhor do Bonfim, BA
  • Sete Lagoas, MG
  • Sorocaba, SP
  • Tabocas do Brejo Velho, BA
  • Teresina, PI
  • Três Lagoas, MS
  • Três Marias, MG
  • Ubatuba, SP
  • Uberaba, MG
  • Uberlândia, MG
  • Valparaíso de Goiás, GO
  • Vespasiano, MG
  • Vitória da Conquista, BA

Nomadic Matt: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Better

Brazil Travel Guide

Last Updated: April 29, 2024

The iconic view over Rio de Janeiro in Brazil as seen from the Wonder of the World Christ the Redeemer

Brazil is impossible to summarize in just a few paragraphs. It’s the largest country in South America and home to cosmopolitan cities like Rio de Janeiro and its Wonder of the World Christ the Redeemer statue, the rambunctious and world-famous Carnival, the Amazon River and rainforest, and an abundance of lush and untamed nature.

Brazil has more plant and animal species than anywhere else in the world, making it a paradise for travelers who love the outdoors. It’s also home to the towering and awe-inspiring Iguazú Falls.

In other words, you’re going to need longer than a week to visit this massive, diverse country.

Meet the locals at Copacabana Beach in Rio or spend an evening learning how to dance the samba. Cruise the wetlands of the Pantanal or the Amazon River while keeping an eye out for exotic wildlife like toucans and pink dolphins. Gorge on a barbecue feast, and cool off with caipirinha , Brazil’s official cocktail of sugarcane liquor, sugar, and lime.

Throw in passionate fútbol (soccer) matches, beautiful people, and low prices, and it’s easy to see why Brazil is one of the most popular destinations in the world.

This travel guide to Brazil will help you plan your trip, save money, stay safe, and make the most of your time in this amazing country.

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Brazil

Click Here for City Guides

Top 5 things to see and do in brazil.

The expansive Iguazu Falls in Brazil within the lush rainforest at sunset

1. Visit Rio de Janeiro

Home to over 12 million people, Rio de Janeiro has dozens of museums, the world-famous sandy beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, countless party spots, the towering Christ the Redeemer statue (a New Wonder of the World), Sugarloaf Mountain, Tijuca National Park (the largest urban rainforest in the world) right in the city’s backyard, and so much more. No visit to Brazil is complete without a stop here. It’s fun personified, especially if you come during Carnival!

2. Visit Florianópolis

Florianópolis is one of Brazil’s most popular coastal cities, (especially for surfers taking advantage of big waves). Brazilians love to vacation here, and it’s a big spot for backpackers too, thanks to its powdery beaches, cheap seafood, fantastic hiking, and awesome nightlife. Come here to party, lounge, hike, and enjoy the sunshine!

3. Spend time in the Amazon

The Amazon covers 8% of the earth’s surface and is home to 50% of its biodiversity. There are so many ways to experience it: take a jungle cruise down the Amazon River, do a guided multi-day trek , or join a wildlife tour. You can also visit indigenous communities and learn how they live in such a unique place.

4. Go to Fernando de Noronha

Fernando de Noronha was Brazil’s first national marine park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The sandy beaches with turquoise waters and excellent snorkeling (there are lots of dolphins here) will take your breath away. 70% of the island is protected, and less than 500 people are permitted at a time, meaning the island is largely empty. It’s one of the most gorgeous places in South America, though be prepared to pay for it in higher accommodation and food costs, as well as a daily visitor tax (87 BRL per day, plus a 330 BRL 10-day visitor pass).

5. See Iguazú Falls

Other things to see and do in brazil, 1. attend a fútbol match in rio.

Fútbol (soccer) is a religion here, and the chaos and excitement during a match are contagious! Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro is one of the largest stadiums in the world, and it seats 100,000 supporters. The best games are the local teams (Flamengo, Vasco, Botafogo, and Fluminese) because you’re guaranteed a game full of singing, cheering, and insult-slinging. You can buy tickets through the teams’ websites or the FutebolCard site. Tickets can be as low as 20 BRL. To learn even more about the sport and stadium, you can take a stadium tour for 77 BRL.

2. Enjoy Rio Carnival

The Rio Carnival is an epic festival of music, samba, and revelers dressed in elaborate, colorful regalia as they take to the streets by the thousands. It’s one of the biggest celebrations in the world (2 million people hit the streets every day during Carnival). The entire celebration is one last hurrah before the start of Lent’s quiet period. Prices for accommodations triple during Carnival (held every February) so be sure to book far in advance for the best deals. You can reserve your 2024 Carnival tickets in advance here (highly recommended – they sell out quickly)!

3. Visit Brasilia

Brasilia is the often-overlooked capital of Brazil. This futuristic city was established in 1960 and is a hub for modernist architecture, including the National Congress, with its odd bowl-shaped structures, and Santuário Dom Bosco church which boasts long, narrow windows made of blue-colored Murano glass that represents a starry sky. Visit the 60,000-acre Parque Nacional de Brasilia and walk the trails between tall Cerrado trees while looking for wildlife like anteaters and pampas deer.

4. Explore the Pantanal

Located in Western Brazil, the Pantanal is the largest wetland in the world, stretching into parts of Bolivia and Paraguay. Over 11,000 species of animal live here, including the rare marsh deer, the giant anteater, and the hyacinth macaw. The two main access points are Cuiabá and Campo Grande. I recommend the latter as it tends to offer more affordable accommodations and tour options. Most wildlife and sightseeing tours are multi-day and cost a minimum of about 1,325 BRL per day.

5. Relax in Recife

Located on the eastern tip of the country, Recife is the place to be if you want to relax and enjoy some of Brazil’s scenic beaches. Boa Viagem, the 7-kilometer (4-mile) stretch of sand between Pina to Piedade, is very developed with cabanas and sun chairs for rent. Piedade is equally as beautiful but less touristy, lined with restaurants and bars where the locals hang out. For an even more low-key beach area, head south to Porto de Galinhas, where the beach is virtually empty.

6. Visit Salvador

Salvador was Brazil’s first capital city, and today it remains the country’s cultural capital, thanks to its vibrant Afro-Brazilian community. Located down the coast from Recife, Nosso Senhor do Bonfim is a perfect example of this community’s unique spirit: it’s a church that peacefully combines Catholicism and Candomblé (a religion originating from West Africa). Furthermore, the pastel-painted colonial buildings and cobblestone scenes of the Pelourinho neighborhood are extremely photogenic, and if you stay in this area, you’ll have easy access to shopping, restaurants, bars, and live music. Local tour operator Your Tour Brazil offers many different tours to help you dig deeper into Salvador’s culture, including their African Heritage & Acarajé Tasting tour .

7. See São Paulo

São Paulo, the fourth-largest city in the world and the largest in South America, is home to over 23 million people. This sprawling metropolis is for anyone who loves wild nightlife, great museums, interesting street art, live samba music, and fine dining. Every area is like its own micro-city and it’s a completely different vibe than Rio (taking a walking tour is one of the best way to get a handle on this gigantic city). São Paulo also has a flourishing art community, which you can discover through its many experimental theaters and art-house cinemas (including CineSala, an independent street theater founded in 1959).

8. Try capoeira

Capoeira is a combination of dance, music, and martial arts created nearly 500 years ago by enslaved West Africans to disguise their combat training. It kind of looks like breakdancing, emphasizing flow over specific stances. In Brazil’s larger cities you can sign up for intro classes, including in Rio de Janeiro, where classes start from 70 BRL. Angola N’Golo is an affordable school to check out.

9. Unplug in Ilha Grande

You’d never know from the look of it that the tropical island paradise of Ilha Grande was once a pirate’s hideout, a leper colony, and a high-security prison. Nowadays people (especially locals from nearby Rio) come here on the weekends to hang out on the pristine beaches, like Aventura Beach and Palmas Cove. There are a handful of hostels and accommodations here, but mostly the island is made up of undeveloped jungles and beaches. Come here to lounge, disconnect, and chill out.

10. Visit Ouro Preto

Ouro Preto, a 17th-century colonial town, is one of Brazil’s most picturesque towns for its brightly painted houses, Baroque churches, and large leafy plazas. Located around 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of Rio, Ouro Preto sits in a valley at the foot of the Serra do Espinhaco, and up in the hills surrounding the town are 23 churches you can hike to visit.

11. Learn samba

Samba is a musical genre and dance born in Rio de Janeiro’s Afro-Brazilian communities in the early 20th century. Today, it’s an important Brazilian cultural symbol, but Rio remains one of the best places in Brazil to learn how to dance. Rio Samba Dancer is my favorite for its all-levels group classes, especially for the classes combined with social outings to samba clubs. Classes start from about 105 BRL.

12. Admire the Azorean fishing villages

Brazil has 7,400 kilometers (4,500 miles) of coastline with many historic fishing villages to explore. Florianópolis has a number of particularly beautiful ones, including Santo Antonio de Lisboa and Ribeirão da Ilha, where you can indulge in delectable oyster and seafood dishes and enjoy secluded beaches, cobbled streets, and jellybean-colored houses. Sights in Ribeirão da Ilha include the Acoriano Casario Church and museum Ecomuseu do Ribeirão da Ilha, where you can learn more about the natural and Azorean cultural history of the area. Museum admission is 5 BRL.

13. Hike in Tijuca National Park

Tijuca National Park is the largest urban rainforest in the world, stretching across 8,300 acres. The area is home to over 350 different species of mammals, birds, and reptiles, including howler monkeys, which only came back to the park recently after a 100-year hiatus. The Corcovado (Christo) hike through Parque Lage to the top of Corcovado is a steep climb, but it’s shaded and only takes about three hours. Another scenic hike is to Tijuca Peak, starting in Rio’s North Zone and going past waterfalls and through dense rainforest. This hike only takes about two hours, and you’ll be rewarded with views over Niteroi and Guanabara Bay. Entrance to the park is free. This is a place where it’s really worth it to go with a tour though. You’ll not only have a more in-depth experience, learning history of the rainforest as well as how to recognize native flora and fauna, but get round-trip transportation to/from your accommodation as well. There are tons of tours available, from the popular jeep tours to full-day adventure hikes that go to lesser visited sections of the rainforest.

14. Visit Paraty

This incredibly well-preserved Portuguese colonial town and UNESCO World Heritige site is located almost halfway between São Paulo and Rio, making it an excellent place to stop and unwind for a few days as you travel between Brazil’s two largest cities. The picturesque cobblestone-lined streets of the 16th-century town are lined with handicraft shops, bars with live music every night, and great restaurants (go to family-run Vinicius for a superb homecooked meal). Located on Brazil’s Costa Verde (Green Coast), there’s a lot of adventure activities to be had here too, including jungle tours of the Atlantic Forest (usually with stops to visit historic cachaca distilleries, as the area is famous for brewing Brazil’s most popular spirit), and boat tours with snorkeling and beach stops. You’ll be able to see and enjoy all the main things to do in about three days here.

  For more information on specific cities in Brazil, check out these guides:

  • Fernando de Noronha Travel Guide
  • Florianópolis Travel Guide
  • Sao Paulo Travel Guide
  • Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide

Brazil Travel Costs

A street lined with brightly colored historic buildings in the city of Salvador, Brazil

Accommodation – Brazil is a huge country (it’s the 7th-largest in the world) and accommodation prices fluctuate from city to city and from season to season (with huge increases during Carnival). Prices in places like Rio de Janeiro and Salvador are pretty consistent, but for beachy destinations like Florianópolis, prices change dramatically depending on the time of year.

A 4-6 person dorm costs about 75-85 BRL per night, while a bed in a 8-10 person dorm costs 60-70 BRL. More remote places like Fernando de Noronha have higher prices, with dorms costing up to 150 BRL per night.

A private double room in a hostel costs about 225-300 BRL, but sometimes you can find rooms for as low as 150 BRL per night.

A budget two-star hotel room in the center of town costs 200-300 BRL per night with air-conditioning and breakfast included. If you’re willing to leave the city center, you can sometimes find rooms for as low as 150 BRL per night.

Airbnb is another great budget option, with private rooms averaging around 100-150 BRL per night, while entire apartments or homes start around 275 BRL.

Campgrounds are plentiful by the beaches and national parks. Expect to pay around 40-70 BRL per night for a basic plot. Amenities generally include free Wi-Fi, bathroom facilities including hot showers, and charging stations.

Food – Brazilian cuisine — like the country itself — is a mix of many cultures, with European, Amerindian, African, and Japanese influences. As such a large country, food varies per region, with seafood plentiful on the coastlines and Brazilian barbeque dominating in the south. Rice and beans are a staple no matter where you are.

Common vegetables include tubers like cassava and yams, tomatoes, red peppers, okra, and more. Being a subtropical country, there’s a huge variety of fruits, with the most famous being the superfood açaí, though cupuaçu, mango, papaya, guava, orange, passion fruit, and pineapple are all common as well.

Feijoada , Brazil’s national dish, is a meaty bean stew that is traditionally eaten for Wednesday or Saturday lunch. Other popular dishes include moqueca (fish stew), polenta, and vatapá (a stew of bread, shrimp, coconut milk, and peanuts) among countless others.

Some popular street food snacks include pão de queijo (cheese bread rolls), acarajé (black eyed pea and shrimp fritters), coxinha (chicken croquettes), and pastéis (savory fried pies with assorted fillings).

All of this is to say that Brazil has such a variety of food and flavors that you never have to go far to find an affordable meal.

Street food like pastel (a deep-fried pastry with filling) or coxinha costs around 8-10 BRL. An açaí (served pureed and frozen, with toppings you can choose from) from a street stand or takeaway spot is 15-20 BRL. A sandwich and drink at a juice bar should be no more than 35-40 BRL, while a combo meal at a fast-food restaurant (think McDonald’s) is around 30-35 BRL. A meal at a Chinese takeout restaurant costs about the same, at 35 BRL for a dish like fried rice. Burgers cost 25-30 BRL and pizzas are around 50-60 BRL.

Buffets, where you pay by weight, are very common throughout Brazil. You usually pay around 65-80 BRL per kilo.

A meal at an inexpensive restaurant serving typical Brazilian dishes costs about 20-40 BRL, depending on the region and city. A meal with two courses at a casual restaurant starts from 60 BRL, though prices at restaurants along the beach can go much higher, often starting at 80 BRL for a dish.

If you want to splash out, a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant costs about 150-180 BRL, but you can expect to pay nearly double this price at some places in Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo.

Dishes at higher-end seafood restaurants cost 150-225 BRL and up. At many restaurants in coastal areas, seafood dishes and platters are meant for two (often served with an entire fish) – it’s a huge portion of food that could easily be split between three people.

A domestic beer costs about 10-15 BRL, while a cocktail is 15-25 BRL. Wine is expensive (and not very good) in Brazil, so expect to pay at least 15-20 BRL per glass. A soda or juice is 5-8 BRL, and a cappuccino is 9-11 BRL.

Grocery shopping costs about 100-200 BRL per week for basic staples like fresh veggies, pasta, rice, and some meat or fish.

Backpacking Brazil Suggested Budgets

If you are backpacking Rio de Janeiro, expect to spend about 215 BRL per day. This covers staying in a hostel dorm, eating street food, cooking some of your meals, limiting your drinking, using public transportation to get around, and doing mostly free activities like enjoying the beach and hiking.

On a mid-range budget of about 420 BRL per day, you can stay in a private hostel or Airbnb room, eat out for all your meals at cheap local restaurants, take the occasional taxi to get around, take buses between destinations, enjoy a few drinks, and do more paid activities like surfing or samba lessons.

On a “luxury” budget of about 750 BRL per day or more, you can stay in a hotel, eat out for all your meals, enjoy more drinks, take taxis everywhere, fly between cities, and enjoy all the tours and activities you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!

If you’re coming during Carnival, expect prices for accommodations and activities to increase significantly (sometimes triple or even quadruple) — especially if you’re booking last minute.

If you’re staying in Fernando de Noronha, budget double the above suggestions.

You can use the chart below to get an idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in BRL.

Brazil Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Brazil is one of the most expensive countries in South America, but prices depend on where in the country you are and what kind of activities you’re doing. Brazil’s main cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are more expensive than rural areas (unless you’re seeking out less touristy locales, like Fernando do Noronha). Here are some money-saving tips to help you get started:

  • Agree on taxi prices – Agree on the price for your journey with the taxi driver before setting off. Many drivers refuse to use their meters and try to rip you off. It’s much better to take a bus most of the time.
  • Stay with a local – Couchsurfing connects you with locals who can give you a free place to stay and share their insider tips and advice. It’s the best way to meet locals and save money.
  • Visit off-season – December to March is a pretty busy time as people from the Northern hemisphere escape the winter. Try to avoid these dates if you want to keep prices low.
  • Skip Carnival – Carnival might be fun, but it’s also super expensive. If you’re on a budget, avoid visiting during Carnival.
  • Get an Airpass – If you book your domestic flights in advance, the Airpass can save you money on flights. It’s the cheapest way to fly around the country (more on this below).
  • Cook your meals – Eating out here can easily blow your budget so try and stay somewhere with a kitchen so you can do some cooking. It’s not glamorous, but if you live like the locals you’ll save a fortune.
  • Pack a water bottle – The tap water here isn’t safe to drink so bring a water bottle with a filter to save money and reduce your single-use plastic usage. My preferred bottle is LifeStraw as it has a built-in filter to ensure your water is always clean and safe.

Where to Stay in Brazil

Hostels are widespread all over Brazil. You’ll also find a ton of B&Bs and cool Airbnbs. Basically, there are a lot of budget options here. My suggested places to stay in Brazil are:

  • Joy Hostel (Brasilia)
  • Barra Beach Club Oceanfront Hostel (Florianópolis)
  • Submarino Hostel (Florianópolis)
  • The Search House Beachfront Hostel (Florianópolis)
  • Tucano House Summer Hostel (Florianópolis)
  • Hostel e Pousada El Shaddai (Iguacu)
  • Hostel Bambu (Iguacu)
  • Books Hostel (Rio)
  • Selina Lapa Rio de Janeiro (Rio)
  • Mango Tree Hostel Ipanema (Rio)
  • Bamboo Rio Hostel (Rio)
  • O de Casa Hostel Bar (São Paulo)
  • Hostel Galeria 13 (Salvador)

How to Get Around Brazil

Small boats docked in clear turqoise waters along a lush green shoreline in Brazil

Public transportation – City transportation in Brazil is efficient and modern. Many places (like Rio and São Paulo) have an extensive subway system. Fares cost around 5 BRL per one-way ticket. In most places, you can pick up a multi-day metro card to save money.

Buses are everywhere. A one-way ticket costs about 3-5 BRL, and as with the subway, there are usually multi-day metro cards available.

Taxis – Taxis are recommended in the evening when public transportation may not be as safe. Fares start at 6-8 BRL and then go up to about 3-6 BRL per kilometer. Use an app like 99 (formerly 99Taxis) to ensure you get a licensed taxi. Ridesharing like Uber is also available and common here.

Bus – Long-distance buses are a convenient, economical, and comfortable way to travel in the country. There are hundreds of routes. You can use Brazil Bus Travel to check schedules and book your tickets.

A bus from Rio to São Paulo takes 6.5 hours and costs about 180 BRL, or you can book a sleeper bus with a bed for 420 BRL. Rio to Florianópolis is a 20-hour journey that costs about 520 BRL for a regular seat or 1,050 for a bed.

To find bus routes and prices, use BusBud .

Train – Train service is limited to the tourist-oriented steam train that offers transport in between São Joao del Rei and Tiradentes. It’s expensive, so I don’t recommend doing this.

Flying – Air travel is useful if you’re trying to get around the country on limited time (especially if you’re traveling between the big cities, or between places like Rio and the Amazon). The country’s major airlines are:

If you’re booking a flight two months in advance from Rio de Janeiro to Manaus (the easiest way to reach the Amazon), you can find airfare for as low as 1,700 BRL (round-trip). Rio to Salvador is about 360 BRL (one-way), while flights between Brasilia and São Paulo can be as little as 155 BRL (one-way).

An Airpass is a practical option if you’re going to take a lot of flights within 30 days (especially if you’re going to the Amazon, which is far and expensive to get to). With GOL you can get a 90-day pass with four domestic flights in its network for 2,600 BRL. Azul offers something similar with four flights within three weeks for the same price. Brol.com can help you find the right pass.

Just keep in mind that you have to book in advance for these passes so this doesn’t allow for flexible travel. You also cannot use these passes during popular time periods, like during Carnival and Christmas/the New Year.

Car rental – Car rentals cost around 65-90 BRL per day for a multi-day rental. However, the road conditions aren’t great here and drivers are aggressive. Moreover, since break-ins and carjackings are common, I’d likely skip the rental here just to be safe.

When to Go to Brazil

Brazil covers such a large territory that the country is broken up into different climate areas. The “coldest” part is in the far south and southeast, with the winter season lasting from June to September. Brazilians will complain about the cold here, but it rarely dips below freezing. The summer months from December to March are hot.

If you’re sticking to Brazil’s coastal areas, the weather is warm year-round. During the winter (December to March), the temperature is always higher than 25°C (77°F). There’s near-constant sunshine, but there is also a rainy season, which lasts from October-January. The rainy season often starts earlier in Salvador and Recife.

The northeast (around the Amazon) is always hot, with temperatures often climbing to 40°C (104°F). There’s no real winter season. In Manaus and the central Amazon, the dry season is from July-October. This period is also the best time to visit wildlife in the Amazon as the water recedes and animals gather at watering holes. The same goes for the Pantanal.

If you come during the Brazilian winter, you’ll find much fewer crowds and lower prices. I consider this the best time to be here, but only if you’re not trying to escape the North American winter.

If you’re super budget-minded, don’t come during February when it’s Carnival and prices skyrocket!

How to Stay Safe in Brazil

Travelers need to be vigilant in Brazil . Pick-pocketing and other petty crimes are common here, especially in Rio. Don’t flash expensive belongings and always keep your phone and wallet secure and out of reach. Don’t bring anything valuable to the beach either. Be sure to lock up your valuables before leaving your accommodation, whether you’re staying in a hostel dorm or in a private hotel/Airbnb room.

Avoid going out alone in the evenings after dark. If you do need to travel at night to get back to your accommodation, take a taxi (use the 99 app to call one) or an Uber.

Solo female travelers will want to exercise caution here. Avoid walking around alone when possible and definitely avoid walking around at night. Always keep an eye on your drink (even when it’s being poured) and never accept drinks from strangers.

Use ATMs inside a bank or have a friend with you to keep an eye out while you withdraw cash.

To learn which scams to be on the lookout for, read about this post about common travel scams .

Carjacking and break-ins are common, so I’d probably avoid renting here just to be safe.

When hiking, always bring a lot of water and sunscreen. Be sure to check the weather before you depart and dress accordingly. Don’t pick fruit off a tree and eat it without knowing what it is (it might be poisonous). There is also a risk of the Zika virus and/or Malaria in certain areas. Carry bug spray and use it often.

Always trust your gut instinct. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary along to loved ones so they’ll know where you are.

If you experience an emergency, dial 190 for assistance.

For more in-depth coverage of how to stay safe in Brazil, check out this post that answers some frequently asked questions and concerns.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past.

Brazil Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!

Brazil Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Brazil and continue planning your trip:

The 6 Best Hostels in Rio de Janeiro

The 6 Best Hostels in Rio de Janeiro

Is Brazil Safe to Visit?

Is Brazil Safe to Visit?

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The best ways to get around in Brazil

Oct 7, 2023 • 8 min read

best bus travel in brazil

Here are the best transportation options for getting around in Brazil Brasil2 / Getty Images

Think of Brazil and huge swaths of tropical rainforest, swampy wetlands, rolling grasslands, rugged plateaus and green mountains come to mind.

You might assume that traveling around the world’s fifth-largest country would take a lifetime, but – while it can take a bit of planning – getting around this huge nation is surprisingly easy.

These days, you can cross Brazil’s patchwork of ecosystems and unique topography in a variety of relatively swift ways, including traveling by bus, carpooling, using ride-hailing apps and flying to avoid long, uncomfortable journeys by boat across the Amazon.

Whether you come to Brazil for the vibrant cities, the rich history or the natural wonders, here are the best ways to get around.

A commercial jet flies over a built-up city by the sea

Fly to cover large distances and avoid slow travel by road or boat

Because of Brazil’s gargantuan size – several of its states are larger than entire countries – flights across Brazil are handy and often necessary if you want to squeeze in multiple cities on a short trip, though there is a carbon cost. Depending on the distance covered, domestic air services are both pricier and more carbon intensive than traveling by bus, car or boat.

On the other hand, the alternative might be a journey of several days crammed into a bus or riverboat. All of the major cities have airports. Brazil’s biggest carriers, GOL and LATAM , offer regular flight deals if you book in advance, and they tend to be flexible about making changes to flights. Several smaller Brazilian budget airlines, including Azul , also operate services around the country.

You might be able to snag a discounted flight if you use this local travel hack: wait until a weekend day to purchase your flight. The GOL South America Airpass and LATAM’s South American Airpass are also available for non-South American citizens, but you need to also buy an international flight with those airlines or their internal partners.

Buses provide most overland transport in Brazil

For those with more time on their hands, buses are a popular and cheap way to get around Brazil, particularly between major cities and towns, and there are often good views en route. Bus services range from simple comum (conventional) buses to more luxurious leito (overnight sleeper) buses, reaching most corners of the country.

There are hundreds of private bus companies, and their websites sell tickets online:  Águia Branca is one recommended operator. Alternatively, tickets can be purchased from ticket offices at rodoviárias (bus stations mainly built on the city outskirts), as well as through travel agencies. ID cards must be shown both when buying tickets and when boarding the bus.

One of the best value options for booking intercity trips in Brazil is Buser , which caters to thrifty locals and tourists. Book a bus using the Buser app at least a day in advance and a trip from Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo will cost you around R$60, half the usual fare.

Bus services to major cities run at least twice a day from most major hubs, but services are often restricted to daytime routes for more remote villages. Always check exactly where your bus is leaving from; in small villages and rural towns, the departure point could be anything from a gas station to the entrance to a local bed and breakfast.

Tip for taking a bus in Brazil: It’s common for schedules to change at the last minute. Make sure you arrive at least an hour and a half before departure or you risk waiting hours for the next service!

Colorful hammocks strung up on a ferry boat from Macapa to Belem

Boats shuttle around the Amazon and along the coast

What water travel in Brazil lacks in glamour and speed, it makes up for in adventure. Boat services can be divided into riverboat trips inland and short hops along the coast. Ferries and speedboats run by local transport companies such as CCR Barcas and Biotur will zip you to Brazil’s tropical islands from coastal cities across the country. It’s best to buy tickets directly from ticket offices at mainland ports. 

Basic wooden riverboats and large overnight ferries with hammocks strung up on deck serve towns and cities in the Amazon region – indeed, they're often the only way to get around. Ferry terminals known as hidroviarias link large riverside cities, notably Manaus , Santarém and Belém .

Travelers with extra cash can book a luxury cruise, with pit stops at some of the Amazon’s most idyllic beaches and most biodiverse patches of rainforest. For those on a tighter budget, small single or double-level boats and large three-level riverboats are the way to go.

For the large riverboats, tickets can be purchased online from private ferry companies such as Macamazon or directly from operators at the hidroviarias . Ferries tend to depart once a day, but build some flexibility into your schedule because boats don’t always depart at the scheduled times.

One of the Amazon’s most spectacular river boat trips is the journey to the heart-shaped island of Alter do Chão . Departing from either Manaus or Belém, passengers can view the famous “meeting of the waters” – where the dark-colored Rio Negro runs parallel to the sand-yellow Salimoes River – before reaching Santarém. From here, it's an easy bus or rideshare trip to the island.

A busy bridge in a city with lots of traffic on it

Only confident drivers should hit the road in Brazil

Getting behind the driver’s wheel in Brazil is not for the faint of heart. Thanks to a lack of clear signposts and a surfeit of one-way lanes, navigating your way out of big cities such as Rio can be a challenge, and that’s before you’ve dealt with the hectic highways, heart-racing driving standards and widespread potholes.

Self-drive car rental is still an option for those looking for flexibility or if you’re traveling with heavy sports equipment such as surfboards or kiteboards. When renting a car, local Brazilian companies such as Unidas and Localiza offer the best rates, with special offers bringing starting rates down to R$80 a day for compact models. Insurance costs are extra, but it's a worthwhile investment.

If you’re itching to travel by car but want to avoid some of the safety hazards, you can also try the carpooling app, BlaBlaCar . On the app, you can book a ride with drivers who are heading to your destination and have a seat spare. Prices are very reasonable; expect to pay around R$20 for a one-hour journey.

Use taxis and rideshares for short trips

Ride-hailing apps such as Uber and 99 are the go-to in Brazil's major cities. Cars booked through these apps are less expensive than taxis that run on meters, and you'll have the peace of mind that comes from being able to follow and share your journey.

In rural areas, taxis need to be booked by phone; you can find local taxi numbers at bus stations, at your accommodations, or in restaurants and bars. If you do take a taxi, make sure the driver turns on the meter, or you risk paying inflated tourist prices.

Tip for using ride-hailing apps in Brazil: Drivers are sometimes reluctant to take passengers on short journeys; using rideshares for longer trips will reduce the chance of cancellations and delays.

Trains mainly run on heritage routes in Brazil

Because of the challenging landscape, few passenger trains are available in Brazil, and when they are, they are invariably slower and less efficient than buses. That said, if you’re looking for a memorable travel experience, the trains that run in Brazil’s south and Minas Gerais state are an evocative way to get from A to B.

For a trip back in time, hop aboard the weekend tourist train from the charming, UNESCO-listed town of Ouro Preto to Mariana in the mining state of Minas Gerais, and take in magical views of the rolling Brazilian countryside. Tickets can be purchased online from the Vale transport company.

Crowds of people throng the platforms of a metro station

Public transport is efficient in large cities

Big Brazilian cities such as Rio, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte have good transport networks based on metro systems, buses, vans and, in some cases, trains. In sprawling cities such as São Paulo, riding the metro system can be a little overwhelming – routes are confusing and trains and platforms are famously crowded. Still, it’s cheap and often faster than traveling by road through São Paulo’s heavy traffic. 

Before hopping on a bus or the metro in São Paulo, purchase a refillable Bilhete Único smart card from any metro station booth or ticket machine; Rio has the similar Riocard. The best way to find public transport routes and schedules anywhere in Brazil is through Google Maps.

Accessible travel in Brazil

In 2000, Brazil introduced a law that obliged operators to make public facilities accessible for every person with a disability or reduced mobility, but not a lot has been done since then to make this a reality. However, you will find ramps and elevators in shopping malls and at public transport stations, as well as wheelchair spaces on buses and metros.

Curb ramps on sidewalks, signs in Braille and phones for the hearing-impaired are rare, and practically nonexistent in remote towns and villages. Most parking areas in Brazil have spaces for visitors with reduced mobility. For more information on accessible travel, check out Lonely Planet’s free Accessible Travel Resources .

This article was first published Oct 27, 2021 and updated Oct 7, 2023.

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The 10 Commandments of Traveling by Bus in Brazil

September 6, 2013 By Josh Plotkin 37 Comments

Bus in brazil

Traveling between cities by bus in Brazil?

I’ve created these 10 commandments of traveling by bus in Brazil after making dozens of bus trips around the country. Depending on the preparations you make before you travel, your journey can either be a lot of fun or a complete nightmare. If you’re planning on traveling by bus soon, a quick glance over this list will ensure that your trip doesn’t suck.

1. Thou shalt buy your ticket online using  busbud.com

In the old days you used to need a CPF number in order to buy a bus ticket online. Then along came the Canadian startup  busbud.com  which has simplified the process of buying bus tickets in Brazil. Now all you need is a credit card.

The other option is  BuscaOnibus.com.br . You need a CPF number to buy from this site. If you don’t have one, ask a friend or travel agent to buy the ticket for you.

Its not always necessary to buy a ticket before you arrive at the bus station, but you should at least be aware of the bus times. Know which companies leave and with what frequency. Common routes, such as ones between major cities leave at least every hour. Check before to see if you can just show up and catch the next one.

2. Thou shalt arrive half an hour early

This is actually way more time than you need, but its better to err on the safe side. There is probably going to be a long line if you need to print out your ticket and you don’t want to count on the bus being late, which they often are.

3. Thou shalt bring a pen to fill out your ticket

You need to fill out your name, ID number and address on your bus ticket before they will let you on the bus. You can save time by having a pen to fill out this information.

4. Thou shalt bring a jacket, and a blanket if you plan on sleeping

Every single overnight bus in South America seems to have this inexplicable policy of maintaining the temperate on board just above freezing. This makes no sense at all because its already cold as hell outside. The bus driver can’t do anything about the cold so you just have to come prepared. Bring a jacket at the bare minimum, and a blanket too if you plan on sleeping.

5. Thou shalt buy a Leito or Executivo ticket on overnight trips

You’re already going to sleep poorly on the bus. Its worth paying an extra 20 or 50 Reais to have a bigger seat that actually reclines. With practice you can sleep the entire 8 hour trip without waking up once.

6. Thou shalt eliminate the word ‘line’ from your vocabulary

Is your bus leaving in the next 15 minutes? Go to the ticket booth and you’ll see a mass of people all trying to get their tickets. To the foreign observer this may seem like a line, but this is not the case in Brazil. If you want to make your bus on time you have to push to the very front of the line and loudly tell the attendant that your bus is leaving right now. Don’t worry about other people. If they are also similarly pressed for time they will let you know, and if not they wont mind you cutting in front of them. You’re not getting on that bus unless you speak up.

When its time to actually get on the bus, you will see another mass of people that you will also mistake for being a line. If you approach this situation believing that people are let on in order of when they get there then you will be the last one to get on. People are going to push in front of you to get on unless you push first.

taking the bus in rio de janeiro

Brazilians don’t make lines when they want to get on the bus, they mob around the entrance until they are let on.

7. Thou shalt not sit in the back by the bathrooms

People are going to constantly be opening and closing the door, releasing a wave of chemicals and other unpleasant odors to assault your nose. The slamming door is loud and will disturb your precious sleep.

7.1 Thou shalt bring your own toilet paper if you ate food at the bus station.

8. Thou shalt not sit in the front row where its cold as hell

The front is the coldest place on the bus. Some people like being here because you get a panoramic view, but the downside is that its really cold.

9. Thou shalt bring food to eat at the rest stop

If your trip is longer than 6 hours the bus is going to make a rest stop at a restaurant. The prices will be higher than the quality deserves, though the selection is often more than satisfactory. If you’re on a speciality diet you’ll be challenged to find adequate food.

10. Thou shalt fly whenever possible

Riding a bus is recommended when going to a new city so that you can get a appreciation for the size and layout of the city. After that you should fly. At the end of the day your time and good health are worth more than R$40 or R$100 or whatever the additional cost of flying is. Use Mundi to book cheap flights in Brazil.

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About Josh Plotkin

Josh Plotkin is a long term expat and digital nomad who loves exploring Brazil. You can follow him on Youtube.

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best bus travel in brazil

Buses in   B razil

All about bus travel in brazil.

best bus travel in brazil

Title. Double click me.

Brazil's   buses.

Bus travel really gives you a great opportunity to see the real Brazil, while saving on the expensive airfares charged for domestic travel. From your seat on Brazil's comfortable buses you will experience the excitment of the larger cities and the tranquility of small towns pass you by, while also witnessing some beautiful country-side and coastline. So sit back and take in the colorful views while you bus Brazil!

Buses    From

What to expect.

Brazilian bus companies are some of the best in Latin America and offer excellent service in mostly modern clean and comfortable buses. Sometimes there may be delays in departures but in general there is respect for schedules.

All cities have at least one main bus station, known as the  Rodoviária . Buses are usually well air conditioned and those linking cities have on board toilet facilities. No food service is offered on the buses but expect comfort stops every 2 to 3 hours where you can use facilities and purchase food and beverages. 

Reliable buses link all the major centers, and in some cases transfer companies offer van services between towns such as Rio de Janeiro to Ilha Grande . There are an astonishing number of long-haul buses connecting most major cities, regardless of how great the distance is. If your journey crosses between states, then you will be required to fill out a form with your details before boarding.

Road conditions and bus services differ by region. Southern Brazil has the most and  the best roads, with wide coastal highways which are generally good, while the roads in the Northeast are not great. There is a great Road Atlas (Quatro Rodas Atlas Rodoviário), which helpfully marks out the worst stretches of roads.  

Travelling by bus in Brazil is always a great way to see the country and mingle with the locals. If you are travelling alone, it is always fun to meet fellow travelers heading in the same direction. Although crime is not a major problem on Brazilian buses, it is always good practice to look after your belongings and never leave your luggage unattended at the terminals.  

It is best to plan out your visit carefully when travelling by bus around Brazil, because it is a huge country where distances between destinations are usually large, making doubling back a lengthy prospect! Bus travel is the predominant transport mode in the country and everywhere can be reached by bus.

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Brazil Bus Travel 

5 tips for your trip.

1. Arrive Early

Just to be safe, get to the bus terminals in larger cities at least 40 minutes earlier than your scheduled departure, even earlier if you do not already have your ticket. Just before buses depart you will find large queues at the ticket windows of people trying to collect their pre-bought tickets or buying directly at the last minute.

2. Checking in Luggage To store your bags under the bus, just go directly to the back of the bus before boarding and there should be an attendant who will take your luggage and put it in the large storage compartment under the bus. They will hand you a small ticket which you must show to collect the bags at your destination. Make sure you put the ticket in a safe place where you will remember where to find it when your bus journey ends!

3. Filling Out Pre-Boarding Documents If you are taking a long distance bus which will cross State lines, you will be handed a form to fill out and give back to the attendant before you enter the bus. You will need to fill in your details such as name and passport number. So remember to bring a pen with you , otherwise you will have to ask someone to borrow theirs.

4. Bring Warm Clothes In such a hot country it is great that the buses are airconditioned, but this can turn into a nightmare as they tend to blast it so much that over time it gets frosty. The driver rarely adjusts it to be a comfortable temperature, even when you beg. This is not good if you are caught without something warm to put on and are trying to sleep. Its a good idea to take a jacket even on the hottest day in summer. The front of the bus tends to be colder than the back.

5. No Food Service on the Buses No bus in Brazil provides food, rather they make stops at gas station and snack bars. If going long distance, many of the stops have restaurants, and the driver allows you  a bit of time to have a quick feed. When you walk into the restaraunts or gas stations, you maybe handed something where they will write what you consumed on, and you hand this to the register attendant to pay on your exit.  Sometimes this is a bit of plastic with a chip in it, which they scan.

Also be aware that sometimes the restaraunt stops are at a per kilo buffet, and in this case you load your plate and they weigh it to determine the price.  If you have a special diet then bring your own food and snacks as selection is not always great. 

best bus travel in brazil

and Seat Recline

Bus classes.

Brazilian buses have different classes you can choose from for your journey between destinations. All long distance buses have onboard lavatories and air conditioning, but there are different classes of comfort. 

Convencional Buses -   seat recline of about 35 degrees to verticle. 42 to 50 seats

Executivio Buses - seat recline of about 55 degrees to verticle. 42 to 46 Seats

Leito Buses - seat recline of about 80 degrees to verticle. 24 to 26 Seats

Obviously the further the seats recline the higher the price of the ticket. The more expensive buses also usually have less seats with more distance between them.

CPF Numbers and Bus Tickets

In Brazil a CPF number works like a social security number, it is for tax and identification purposes and each Brazilian has a unique number.

They need it to purchase things like property, white goods, vehicles, registering a phone, and unfortunately buying a bus ticket online.

This does not help foreign travellers secure their tickets in advance and you may need to find an online travel agency to help with purchasing your ticket.

Above is a portal where vistors to Brazil can make bookings for buses without a CPF

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Getting Around Brazil: Transportation Tips

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Brazil hogs the lion’s share of the continent of South America and is easily reached in most cases via redeye flights from North America and Europe, departing late at night from the U.S. or the U.K. and arriving in Brazil at the crack of dawn. With a little sleep on the plane, you can usually keep jet lag manageable.

Once in country, an extensive air and bus network makes getting around Brazil pretty easy. Keep in mind, though, that the country is deceptively large, and it’s easy to misjudge distances looking at a map. For example, a domestic flight from Porto Alegre (in the deep Brazilian South) to Manaus (in the heart of the Amazon) is nearly five hours. A recent influx of flights from Miami to Northern Brazilian cities like Manaus, Belem and Recife has cut flight times from the U.S. to Brazil by two to four hours in some cases.

Read on to learn more about your best Brazil transportation options.

Flying to and Around Brazil

The two main gateways for international visitors are Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, though transatlantic flights to Belo Horizonte, Recife, Natal, Manaus and Belem are becoming more and more popular. A laundry list of international airlines serves the country, including Air Canada, Air France, American, Avianca, British Airways, Copa, Delta, Emirates, GOL, LATAM, Lufthansa, South African, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines and United, among others.

Brazil has four main domestic airlines: Avianca, Azul, GOL and LATAM (along with a handful of regional carriers serving remote areas of the Amazon and Pantanal). Flying is definitely the easiest way around the country, though airfares can be notably pricey. Non-Brazilian residents can save a bundle on domestic airfare with an Azul Brazil Airpass or GOL Brazil Airpass, which give you discounts on flights within Brazil when purchased in conjunction with an international flight. Brazilian travel specialists like Miami-based Brol can plan and book air passes that best suit your travel needs.

One tip: Almost every airline flying to Brazil allots passengers a generous two checked bags at 70 pounds each (a full 20 pounds more than the U.S. standard per bag), but the domestic limit is one checked bag at 23 kilograms (about 50 pounds) — so come in light, but leave stuffed with goodies for everyone back home!

Brazil Airline Resources: Avianca.com.br Brol.com LATAM.com VoeAzul.com.br VoeGOL.com.br

Renting a Car in Brazil

Driving in Brazil will certainly test your patience, skills and sanity, but once you get the hang of it, the highway systems and roads are generally good, and driving can be a great way to give yourself a little extra freedom on your visit.

Logistically, renting a car is pretty straightforward (you must be 21 years old; valid driver’s license, credit card and passport required), but prepare yourself for sticker shock, both to rent and for gas. Most Brazilian cars run on both gas ( gasolina ) and ethanol ( alcool ). These hybrids are known as Flex, but be sure to check ahead of time whether your vehicle accepts both. Ethanol is cheaper but burns less efficiently.

The biggest local rental company is Localiza, but most international brands of note are represented as well, including Budget, Hertz and Alamo. It’s a good idea to carry an international driver’s permit along with your home country license. It’s not required to rent, but if you are pulled over, the police won’t be able to read an English license.

Some words of warning: Brazil relies heavily on an electronic radar camera system. They are irritatingly frequent along highways and in cities and towns. Keep an eye out for signs warning of Fiscalizacao Eletronica . It is also illegal to turn right on red in Brazil, and there is a zero tolerance law when it comes to drinking and driving. Don’t even think about it.

If driving is your thing, there are some amazing stretches of coastline, especially the beautiful Costa Verde between Rio and Sao Paulo.

Brazil Car Rental Resources: www.Localiza.com LocarAlpha.com.br (Portuguese only)

Brazil by Bus

Brazil is extremely well connected by its long-distance bus system; it is, after all, the main method of transportation for the majority of Brazilians. Though buses here don’t approach the comfort and service levels of those in neighboring Argentina , buses usually range from pretty tolerable to very comfortable, depending on class of service.

The cheapest is convencional or comum , which will usually make more stops and will not likely have air conditioning. Next step up is executivo with air-con and reclining seats. Leito , the top level of service, is designed for comfortable overnight trips and offers seats nearly reclining to flat position, air conditioning, blankets, pillows and usually an attendant serving coffee and meals.

Tickets for buses are most easily purchased by foreigners at the bus station itself ( rodoviaria in Portuguese). Advance purchase and reservations can be tricky online, as most bus companies require a Brazil tax ID number (known as a C.P.F.) in order to process reservations. The best national companies are Itapemirim and Cometa, but most services are regional. For extra-long routes between major cities, always compare flights with bus fares before pulling the trigger — sometimes they are comparable.

With the exception of certain routes (overnight trips from Belem, for example), buses are generally safe. Take the usual precautions with your personal items, wear your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.

Resources: BuscaOnibus.com.br Itapemirim.com.br www.ViacaoCometa.com.br

Brazil by Riverboat

Considered an adventure by tourists and a means to an end by locals, traveling through the Amazon by riverboat is a popular way to traverse the world’s largest tropical rain forest. Service varies wildly, from basic riverboats where everyone slings up a hammock to luxury cruises with private cabins and all the modern conveniences. The Amazon Clipper is an excellent middle ground. Either way, navigating the Amazon’s massive waterways in this manner is the dream of many.

Trips vary from overnight to five-night extravaganzas (Belem to Manaus, for example) with all manner of food, comfort level and passengers. Bring insect repellent (though mosquitoes often can’t compete with the wind generated by the movement of the boat), a good book or two, your camera (pink river dolphin spottings are not uncommon) and a lot of patience.

Brazil Riverboat Resources: AmazonasTravel.com.br AmazonClipper.com.br AmazonStar.com.br AmazonCruise.net Brol.com/cruises RainforestCruises.com

Brazil Motorcycle and Bicycle Hire

Motorcycle rental in Brazil isn’t widespread, but there are some amazing landscapes to take in on the open road throughout the country, like the Royal Road through Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais states, and from Rio de Janeiro to Iguazu Falls. Some motorcycle rental agencies might be hesitant to rent to foreigners unless you can prove your competence beforehand. A specialty motorcycle license from your home country is mandatory.

Renting long-distance road bikes is unheard of by cyclists; Brazilian roads are not cycle-friendly. While many folks enjoy localized bike tours, taking to the streets on your own on a bicycle would be ill-advised.

Brazil Motorcycle and Bicycle Hire Resources: BoxerAdventure.com.br

Chartering a Sailboat or Yacht in Brazil

Riding the wind along the coast of Brazil is a popular activity for sailing enthusiasts — you have more than 4,000 miles of coastline to work with. More focused trips, especially around the island of Ilhabela in Sao Paulo and Ilha Grande in Rio de Janeiro, are also popular.

Brazil Yacht Charter Resources: BoatBookings.com MareAltaCharter.com.br TheGlobeSailor.com

Brazil by Buggy

Buggy trips are extremely popular in the northeast of Brazil. You can rent your own to get around to the isolated beaches in Fernando de Noronha, or hire a buggy and driver to make the three- to five-day, 434-mile, 92-beach buggy ride from Fortaleza to Natal. The buggies are loud and guzzle gas at astonishing rates, but that’s all part of the adventure. If you are asked if you want the trip “ Com or Sim Emocao? “, the driver is asking how much excitement you want. Be careful how you answer!

Brazil Buggy Resources: MarazulReceptivo.com.br TopBuggy.com.br

You May Also Like Where to Stay in Brazil: Lodging Tips Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide The Best Uber Alternatives Around the World

–written by Kevin Raub

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Getting Around in Brazil

Though there are highways and buses, the sheer vastness of Brazil (and the absence of rail travel) makes air travel the only viable option for those who want to visit a variety of cities and regions. However, the Brazilian airline industry has been experiencing turbulent times of late. The last 6 years has seen the bankruptcy of two Brazilian carriers, Transbrasil and Vasp, followed by the near demise of the country's flagship carrier Varig. A new, smaller Varig flew out of bankruptcy protection, minus most of its international and domestic routes. On top of that there has been ongoing labor unrest among air-traffic controllers, set off by a mid-air collision over the Amazon, the blame for which controllers felt was unfairly placed on them. And as if that wasn't enough, a still-unexplained crash (investigators are leaning toward pilot error) at São Paulo's busiest domestic hub led to a complete re-shuffling of Brazil's domestic air routes. All of which has meant delays, delays, cancellations, and more delays. The president sacked the head of the civilian air agency in mid-2007, and the new chief seems to be bringing order back to the skies. However, travelers should stock up on patience before entering a Brazilian airport. (It may well not be required, but you never know). During peak travel times (holidays, high season) long delays are a not unlikely occurrence.

The big winner from all this uproar has been domestic no-frills carrier Gol, which now even offers international flights within South America. Tam has also increased the number of destinations, internationally and domestically.

For those traveling larger distances in Brazil there is also the option of purchasing an air pass with Tam (much to the envy of Brazilians this pass is available to foreigners only). The pass offers travelers four flights within a 21-day period. Air passes need to be purchased and booked outside of Brazil. Only limited changes are allowed once you arrive in the country. Also, it's a good idea to read the small print before choosing your pass. Often flights between Rio and São Paulo's downtown airports are excluded (meaning you have to use the international airports) and the pass does not allow returns on the same stretch.

TAM (tel. 0800/123-100 in Brazil; www.tam.com.br) offers four segments for US$479 if you arrive on an international Tam flight (otherwise the pass costs US$560), with the option of a fifth leg for another US$120. The pass is valid for 21 days. Check TAM's special English-language site for more details on the air pass (www.tamairlines.com). If you're traveling to only one or two destinations within Brazil, it can be cheaper to skip the air pass and buy a separate ticket. You can check the prices with TAM or Gol (tel. 0300/789-2121 in Brazil; www.voegol.com.br). This airline has modeled itself after American discount carriers like Southwest Airlines -- quick bookings online and no-frills flights between popular destinations such as Rio, São Paulo, Salvador, Recife, Fortaleza, Manaus, Belém, Campo Grande, and Brasilia. Tickets can be purchased at the airport or on the Internet. The company flies brand-new Boeing 737s and provides friendly and efficient service.

Domestic Travel Do's and Don'ts -- There are a few tricks to avoiding delays and cancellations when flying domestically in Brazil. First up, if at all possible, avoid flights stopping or connecting through São Paulo. That may be hard to do; the city serves as Brazil's major hub, and its airports as a result have a tendency to get clogged and backed up. Second, travel early in the day: Delays tend to accumulate throughout the day and lead to bigger and bigger backlogs. Third, don't book tight connections, especially if you have to transfer from the domestic airport in Rio or São Paulo to the international airport. For a simple connection within the same airport, give yourself an hour. For a transfer from domestic to international airports, allow for at least 2 hours in Rio and 3 hours in São Paulo.

Bus travel in Brazil is comfortable, efficient, and affordable. The only problem is, it's a long way from anywhere to anywhere else. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time with reserved seats. All buses are nonsmoking, and in most cases people adhere to the regulations. On many popular routes travelers can opt for a deluxe coach with air-conditioning and leito (seats that recline almost flat).

Car rentals are expensive, and the distances are huge. From Recife to Brasilia is 2,121km (1,315 miles); Salvador to Rio is a 1,800km (1,116-mile) drive. Within Brazilian cities, renting a car is only for the bold and foolish: Drivers are aggressive, rules sporadically applied, and parking a competitive sport. That said, there are occasions -- a side trip to the mountain resorts of Rio, a visit to the historic towns of Minas Gerais, or a drive to the Chapada dos Guimarães outside of Cuiabá -- where a car makes sense. Contact numbers for rental companies are given in each chapter.

Each company normally has a national rate, and only rarely are there local discounts or special offers. For a tiny car (a Fiat Palio or Gol) with air-conditioning, you can typically expect to pay around R$70 (US$35/£19) per day plus R$.55 (US27¢/£.15) per kilometer or R$110 (US$55/£30) per day with unlimited mileage. Add to that another R$30 (US$15/£8) per day for comprehensive insurance. Gasoline costs R$2.60 (US$1.30/£.70) per liter, about US$4.50/gallon. Officially you need an international driver's license but we have never encountered any problems having a U.S., Canadian, or European license. To obtain an international license, contact your local automobile association. While expensive, the comprehensive insurance is probably a good idea as Brazilian drivers are not as gentle with their cars as folks in North America. Bumpers are meant to be used, Brazilians believe, and if a bit of nudging is required to get into that parking spot, so be it. Note that Embratur warns travelers to avoid the cheaper local car-rental companies, which sometimes skip on the requisite insurance and maintenance.

Note : This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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Getting Around Sao Paulo: Guide to Public Transportation

best bus travel in brazil

Brazil’s financial capital, Sao Paulo, has a reputation for speed and efficiency, both in business and public transport. The Sao Paulo Metropolitan Rail Transport Network, comprised of 15 lines and nearly 200 stations, is the largest urban rail system in Latin America, transporting five million passengers daily. Though some stations are huge, they’re easy to navigate, and signs are in both English and Portuguese. Other than Ubers or taxis, the metro will most likely be your best and cheapest option for getting around during your stay in Sao Paulo.

How to Ride the Sao Paulo Metro

Everyone takes the Metro, especially now that more sanctions have been put in place on what vehicles can be on the roads during rush hour. Here's how to navigate it so you can get to where you need to go.

  • Fare rates: A single ride ticket costs 4.30 reals ($0.79), regardless of trip time or distance traveled.
  • Different types of fares: Brazilian citizens can get smart card transportation passes with discounts, but these are not available for tourists without Brazilian government-issued IDs. If you plan on making multiple trips in the same day, you can save time by buying all your tickets at once.
  • How to pay : Purchase tickets at the ticket booths inside the Metro stations. Tickets can only be purchased using cash (reals). Use small bills and coins, as ticket sellers are not required to make change for any bill over 20 reals. Credit or debit cards are not accepted.
  • Hours of operation: Lines operate from 4:40 a.m. until 12 a.m. Sunday through Friday, as well as holidays. On Saturdays, lines run from 4:40 a.m. until 1 a.m.; however, a few stations do not open until 10 a.m., while others do not run between the hours of 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Rush hour: Sao Paulo’s infamous traffic is the worst on weekdays from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Severe weather, like heavy rain, can lengthen these times, making the evening rush hour last until 10 p.m. or later.
  • Transfer tip: Wear good walking shoes. Some stations are huge, and you might end up taking escalators for five floors.
  • Accessibility: Stations have elevators and many have wheelchair ramps. Some stations have times for preferential boarding for the elderly, those with babies, the obese, pregnant women, and anyone with mobility restrictions. All of these groups may use the preferential seats in the train cars, as well as purchase tickets and go through the turnstiles without having to wait in the main lines. Guide dogs are allowed on the trains.

You can download the Sao Paulo Metro app or use the trip planner on the Sao Paulo Metro site to plan your route and find out real-time departure/arrival information.

Taking Taxis

Sao Paulo has tons of taxis. Hail them in person or request one through an app. The 99 taxi app and Easy Taxi app are two of the most popular.

Fares are comprised of a start fee (4.50 reals), kilometer fee, and wait time fee (33 reals per hour). The kilometer fee can be confusing, as it has two options, or bandeiradas. The first is 2.75 reals per kilometer, and is for taxis taken between Monday and Saturday during the day. The second is 30 percent more than the first, and is for taxis taken on Sunday, holidays, Monday to Saturday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., and the month of December. In an effort to help cabs compete with Uber, charging the second bandeirada is now optional; you can ask the driver to only charge you for first bandeirada.

If a meter is broken or a driver refuses to use it, get out and get another taxi. Tipping is not common (unless your driver had to wait a long time), but it is appreciated.

Ride-Sharing Apps

Uber is legal and easy to find at Sao Paulo's airports and throughout the city. Ubers can be cheaper than taxis but not always. Compare Uber with the prices on the 99 taxi app to find the best deal. However, taxis have one advantage over Uber in that they can use the bus lanes while Ubers cannot. If you have to travel during rush hour, this can make a huge difference, and might even be cheaper than Uber due to surge pricing.

Riding the Bus

Over 8.8 million passengers daily ride Sao Paulo’s 16,000 buses, which have 1,300 lines driving across 393 miles of bus lanes. SPTrans operates most of the buses and has info about routes on their site. Fares start at 4.40 reals ($0.82). Watch out for pickpockets, especially on crowded buses.

Airport Transport

There are three airports that serve the greater Sao Paulo metropolitan area. Here's how to get to the city from each one:

From Guarulhos International Airport

  • Metro: Line 13 goes directly from outside the airport's cargo terminal. Ride until the end of the line at Engenheiro Goulart station (about 15 minutes). From the station, get on Line 3 at Tautape station, then transfer at Se station to Line 1 to reach the city center. Plan for two hours for the total trip. 
  • Shuttle: The Airport Bus Service bus connects Guarulhos to Paulista Avenue, Tietê Bus Terminal, and Congonhas Airport for 30 to 39 reals ($5.40 to $7). Depending on where you want to go, the travel time is one to two hours.

From Congonhas Airport

  • Bus/Metro: Take the bus for route 609J-10 directly outside the arrivals hall. Ride until the Sao Judas station on Metro Line 1 (about 15 minutes), then take the line to the city center. Plan at least a total trip time of 30 minutes.
  • Shuttle: Same as Guarulhos. Also, Gol and TAM offer a free shuttle from Congonhas to Guarulhos, for passengers with connecting flights. They run on the half hour from 5: 30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. To board, show your reservation to the driver.

From Viracopos Airport

  • Bus/Metro: Take a VB Transportes bus (24 reals / $4.50) to Tietê Terminal. From here, hop on Metro Line 1 and continue to the city center. The trip should be about an hour and 40 minutes.
  • Shuttle: Azul Brazilian Airlines offers a free shuttle to Congonhas, Barra Funda Terminal, Eldorado, and Tamboré Shopping Malls. To board, show your reservation to the driver.

Renting a Car

You can easily rent a car in Sao Paulo. However, given the city’s bumper-to-bumper rush hour and heavy rainstorms, most tourists prefer to use the Metro or Uber instead of drive. If you do rent a car, be aware of the road restrictions in place for the rodízio veicular; this program reduces traffic (and thus air pollution) by limiting what cars can be on the road during the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. during the week. Plates ending in 1 and 2 are banned on Mondays, 3 and 4 on Tuesdays, 5 and 6 on Wednesdays, 7 and 8 on Thursdays, and 9 and 0 on Fridays.

Sao Paulo has 290 miles of bike lanes and great cycle paths like the Ciclovia Rio Pinheiros , a 13.35-mile route that follows the river and goes across the city. However, the current bikeshare program, Bike Itau by Tembici, is not tourist-friendly. The Bike Itau app doesn’t accept foreign cards and has a horrible user interface. Should you want a bike, check with your hotel or Airbnb about rentals from local companies, or book a bike tour .

Tips for Getting Around Sao Paulo

  • All transfers between train stations are free except at Tatuapé and Corinthians-Itaquera stations during rush hour.
  • Femitaxi is a taxi company in which all the drivers are women. It was created after female passengers cited problems with male taxi drivers.
  • The Metro trains slow down when it rains, especially on Line 3, as much of it is an open air track.
  • While buses still operate after the Metro shuts down (12 a.m. or 1 a.m. depending on the day), taking an Uber will be the easiest option to get home.
  • To reach the Interlagos race track for the Brazilian Grand Prix, take Metro Line 9 to the Autodromo stop, then walk the 600 meters to the track’s entrance.

Your Trip to Sao Paulo: The Complete Guide

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Local travel in Brazil is always easy. Public transport outside of the Amazon is generally by bus or plane, though there are a few passenger trains, too. However you travel, services will be crowded, plentiful and, apart from planes, fairly cheap. Car rental is possible, but driving in Brazil is not for the faint-hearted. Hitchhiking, over any distance, is not recommended.

By ferry and boat

Amazon riverboats, travel ideas for brazil, created by local experts.

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Welcome to a lavish journey that marries adventure with style, featuring stays in carefully chosen four-star hotels. This reinvigorating trip will have you sightseeing in São Paulo, gazing at the spectacular Foz do Iguaçu falls and relaxing on Rio's finest beaches before you know it.

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Pure Wildlife - North Pantanal & Amazonia

Discover the world's largest continental flood area - the Pantanal, one of the richest places in biodiversity. Continue your wildlife trip to the Amazon River. Your lodges throughout the trip are located right in nature, with easy access to lodge trails around.

It’s hardly surprising that a country the size of Brazil relies on air travel a good deal; in some parts of Amazônia, air links are more important than roads and rivers. Any town has at least an airstrip, and all cities have airports, usually some distance from the city but not always: Santos Dumont in Rio, Congonhas in São Paulo and Guararapes in Recife are all pretty central. The airports of Brasília, Congonhas and, above all, Guarulhos in São Paulo are chronically crowded, with long check-in lines. If flying internationally from Guarulhos, add at least an extra hour to account for the phenomenal queues to get through passport control, and don’t be surprised, on arrival, for it to take an hour or more to clear customs and immigration. If travelling with children, go straight to the front of the lines: families, pregnant women and seniors have priority.

When buying your international ticket, you should consider the possibility of adding an air pass , though note that the emergence of budget airlines in the country means that they now only make sense if you’re planning a series of long-haul trips – from the South to the Amazon and back via the Northeast, for example.

If Brazil is only one stop on a longer trip, consider the Mercosur Airpass , which covers eight airlines of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. The regulations are fairly complicated but the passes basically allow two stopovers per country (plus point of origin) up to a maximum of eight, although an extra stopover is allowed to give you use of both the Argentine and Brazilian airports at Iguaçu Falls. The route must include at least two countries, and the price of a pass is based on the number of miles flown, which always works out costing far less than purchasing regular tickets. Prices may be affected by the time of year that you travel.

If Brazil is your only destination, the TAM Air Pass can be a huge moneysaver. It is valid for thirty days from the first flight and costs US$530 for four flights if bought together with a TAM international flight, US$700 if you fly with another carrier. Additional flights are around US$150 each, much cheaper than you are likely to pay if you book a flight yourself within Brazil.

Lastly, if you have an air pass and change the time or date of your flight, always remember to cancel the original flight . If you don’t, the computer flags you as a no-show, and all your other air-pass reservations will also be cancelled.

Budget airlines

A recent phenomenon in Brazil is the appearance of budget airlines, of which the biggest is GOL ; others include Webjet and Azul , which started operating in 2009. GOL has an extensive network, cheap seats, is efficient and usually much better value than TAM – though, irritatingly, American Express is the only foreign credit-card that’s accepted on its website. In Brazilian holiday periods (July, around Xmas, and Carnaval) flights are often booked up and you need to book as far in advance as you can. Outside these times, if you can be a little flexible on dates and if the TAM airpass does not meet your needs, your cheapest strategy would be to book tickets with Gol after arriving in Brazil at a Gol desk in an airport.

Flying to the Northeast or Amazônia from the South can be tiresome, as many of these long-distance routes are no more than glorified bus runs, stopping everywhere before heading north. In planning your itinerary, it’s a good idea to check carefully how many times a plane stops – for example, between São Paulo and Fortaleza, a flight may stop as many as four times or as few as once.

There are safety issues to consider when flying in the Amazon, where investigations following a recent series of crashes revealed serious problems in a number of regional airlines, notably Rico . Where possible, stick to Gol and TAM when flying around the Amazon. In many parts of Amazônia, air travel in small planes, or aerotaxis , is very common – the regional word for these flights is teco-teco . Before taking one, you should be aware that the airstrips are often dangerous, the planes routinely fly overloaded and are not reliably maintained, and no checks are made on the qualifications of pilots – some don’t have any.

Prices are reasonable in the South and Northeast but climb steeply as soon as the Amazon is involved, where a return flight from Rio or São Paulo can often be scarily similar to the cost of a flight to Miami. It’s always much cheaper to buy internal tickets linked to your international flights if you plan on heading to the Amazon from Rio or São Paulo. If you are flying outside holiday periods in Brazil (July & Dec–March) and you’re not heading to the Amazon, you will probably get a cheaper deal buying a ticket in Brazil after you arrive.

You probably won’t be taking many trains in Brazil. Although there’s an extensive rail network, most of it is for cargo only, and even where there are passenger trains they’re almost invariably slower and less convenient than the buses. Exceptions are the metrô rail systems in Porto Alegre, Rio, São Paulo and Brasília and a few tourist journeys worth making for themselves, especially in the South and Minas Gerais.

The bus system in Brazil is excellent and makes travelling around the country easy, comfortable and economical, despite the distances involved. Inter-city buses leave from a station called a rodoviária , usually built on city outskirts.

Buses are operated by hundreds of private companies, but prices are standardized, even when more than one firm plies the same route, and are reasonable: Rio to São Paulo is around R$80, to Belo Horizonte R$75, to Foz do Iguaçu R$200 and to Salvador R$240, while São Paulo to Brasília is around R$150. Long-distance buses are comfortable enough to sleep in, and have on-board toilets (which can get smelly on long journeys): the lower your seat number, the further away from them you’ll be. Buses stop every two or three hours at well-supplied postos , but as prices at these are relatively high it’s not a bad idea to bring along water and some food. Some bus companies will supply meal vouchers for use at the postos on long journeys.

There are luxury buses, too, called leitos , which do overnight runs between the major cities – worth taking once for the experience, with fully reclining seats in curtained partitions, freshly ironed sheets and an attendant plying insomniacs with coffee and conversation. They cost about a third of the price of an air ticket, and twice as much as a normal long-distance bus; they’re also less frequent and need to be booked a few days in advance. No matter what kind of bus, it’s a good idea to have a light sweater or blanket during night journeys, as the air conditioning is often uncomfortably cold.

Going any distance, it’s best to buy your ticket at least a day in advance, from the rodoviária or, in some cities, from travel agents. An exception is the Rio–São Paulo route, where a shuttle service means you can always turn up without a ticket and never have to wait more than fifteen minutes. Numbered seats are provided on all routes: if you want a window, ask for janela . If you cross a state line, you will get a small form with the ticket, which asks for the number of your seat ( poltrona ), the number of your ticket ( passagem ), the number of your passport ( identidade ) and your destination ( destino ). You have to fill it in and give it to the driver before you’ll be let on board. Buses have luggage compartments, which are safe: you check pieces at the side of the bus and get a ticket for them. Keep an eye on your hand luggage, and take anything valuable with you when you get off for a halt.

Driving standards in Brazil hover between abysmal and appalling. The country has one of the highest death tolls from driving-related accidents in the world, and on any journey you can see why, with thundering trucks and drivers treating the road as if it were a Grand Prix racetrack. Fortunately, inter-city bus drivers are the exception to the rule: they are usually very good, and their buses usually have devices fitted that make it impossible for them to exceed the speed limit. Electronic speed traps are widely used everywhere, and if you get caught by one in a rental car, the fine will simply be added to your credit card. Since 2008, a zero-tolerance law has made it strictly illegal to drive after consuming any amount of alcohol, a response to the enormous death toll caused by drunk drivers. Offenders risk severe punishments if tests detect any alcohol in their blood – expect at least a hefty fine and the threat of imprisonment.

Road quality varies according to region: the South and Southeast have a good paved network; the Northeast has a good network on the coast but is poor in the interior; and roads in Amazônia are by far the worst, with even major highways closed for weeks or months at a time as they are washed away by the rains. Most cities are fairly well signposted, so getting out of town shouldn’t be too difficult; if city traffic is daunting, try to arrange to collect your car on a Sunday when traffic is light. If at all possible, avoid driving at night because potholes (even on main roads) and lombadas (speed bumps) may not be obvious, and breaking down after dark could be dangerous. Outside the big cities, Brazilian roads are deathtraps at night; poorly lit, in bad condition and lightly policed. Especially worth avoiding at night are the Via Dutra , linking Rio and São Paulo, because of the huge numbers of trucks and the treacherous ascent and descent of the Serra do Mar, and the Belém–Brasília highway , whose potholes and uneven asphalt make it difficult enough to drive even in daylight. Where possible, avoid driving after dark in the Mato Grosso and Amazon regions as well; though rare, armed roadside robberies have been known to happen there.

An international driving licence is useful: although foreign licences are accepted for visits of up to six months, you may have a hard time convincing a police officer of this. Outside of the towns and cities, service stations can be few and far between, so keep a careful eye on the fuel gauge. Service stations sell both petrol ( gasolina ) and ethanol ( álcool ), with new cars (including rentals) usually capable of running on either fuel. Álcool is considerably cheaper than gasolina , and there’s no longer a noticeable difference in terms of performance. Service stations in rural areas do not always accept international credit cards, so make sure you have sufficient cash on a long trip. In urban areas, plastic is universally accepted at petrol stations, although a common scam is to charge around twenty percent more per litre when payment is made by credit card rather than cash: always check in advance whether there is a price difference if you intend to pay by credit card.

Parking , especially in the cities, can be tricky due to security and finding a space, and it’s worth paying extra for a hotel with some kind of lock-up garage. A universal feature of city driving in Brazil is the flanelinha , named for the flannel that informal parking attendants wave at approaching cars; these attendants will help you into and out of parking spaces and guard your car, in return for a real or two. Brazilians will go to almost any lengths to avoid paying them, but they’re making a living and providing a service, so do the decent thing. In any event, never leave anything valuable inside the car.

Driving in Brazil is very different from northern Europe and the US. Do not expect Brazilians to pay much attention to lane markings, use indicators or worry about cutting you off or overtaking you on the inside. Use your rear and wing mirrors constantly when city driving. At night, you should cautiously roll through red lights in city centres or deserted-looking streets, to avoid assaltantes . And a crucial thing to know is that flashing lights from an oncoming car mean “I’m coming through – get out of the way” and NOT “please go ahead”, as in the UK and US. It sounds intimidating, and it is for the first couple of days, but it is surprising how quickly you get used to it.

Renting a car

Renting a car in Brazil is straightforward. Of the big-name international companies, Hertz and Avis are the most widely represented, with Budget and Dollar increasing their representation. There are also plenty of reliable Brazilian alternatives, such as Unidas, Interlocadora and Localiza. Car-rental offices ( locadoras ) can be found at every airport and in most towns regardless of size, although you will pay slightly more for airport pick-up and drop-off. Almost all cars in Brazil have manual gears; automatics are rare.

Rates start from around R$120 a day for a compact car (Fiat Punto or similar) including unlimited mileage; a basic air-conditioned model will start at around R$140, also including unlimited mileage. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are rare and extremely expensive. Prices don’t always include insurance – a comprehensive policy will cost an additional R$25 per day or so with a deductible of R$500. If you have a US credit card, you may find that it can be used to cover the additional liability – check before leaving home. In any case, a credit card is essential for making a deposit when renting a car. It’s not a bad idea to reserve a car before you arrive in Brazil, as you can be sure to get the best available rate.

As you would anywhere, carefully check the condition of the car before accepting it and pay special attention to the state of the tyres (including the spare), and make sure there’s a jack, warning triangle and fire extinguisher: the police will check for these if you get pulled over. All cars have front and back seatbelts; their use is compulsory, and stiff on-the-spot fines are imposed on drivers and front-seat passengers found not to be wearing them.

There are enormous numbers of taxis in Brazilian cities, and they’re very cheap, especially if there are two or more passengers. City cabs are metered, and have two rates: 1 is cheaper, 2 more expensive. The rate the taxi is using is indicated on the taximeter, after the fare. Rate 2 is automatic on trips to and from airports and bus stations in big cities, after 8pm, and all day Sunday and public holidays. Many cities give taxi drivers a Christmas bonus by allowing them to charge Rate 2 for the whole of December. Occasionally, drivers will refer to a sheet and revise the fare slightly upwards – they are not ripping you off, but referring to price updating tables that fill the gap until taximeters can be readjusted to reflect the official annual increases.

Taxis in small towns and rural areas do not often have meters, so it’s best to agree on the fare in advance – they’ll be more expensive than in the cities. Most airports and some bus stations are covered by taxi cooperatives, which operate under a slightly different system: attendants give you a coupon with fares to various destinations printed on it – you pay either at a kiosk in advance, or the driver. These are more expensive than regular taxis, but they’re reliable and often more comfortable. Tipping is not obligatory, but appreciated.

Water travel and ferries are also important forms of transport in parts of Brazil. Specific details are included in the relevant sections of the Guide, but look out for the ferry to Niterói, without which no journey to Rio would be complete; Salvador , where there are regular services to islands and towns in the huge bay on which the city is built; in the South between the islands of the Bay of Paranaguá; and most of all in Amazônia .

In Amazônia, rivers have been the main highways for centuries, and the Amazon itself is navigable to ocean-going ships as far west as Iquitos in Peru, nearly 3000km upstream from Belém.

In all the large riverside cities of the Amazon – notably Belém, Manaus and Santarém – there are hidroviárias, ferry terminals for waterborne bus services. Amazon river travel is slow and can be tough going, but it’s a fascinating experience. On bigger boats, there are a number of classes; in general, it’s better to avoid cabine, where you swelter in a cabin, and choose primeiro (first class) instead, sleeping in a hammock on deck. Segundo (second class) is usually hammock space in the lower deck or engine room. Wooden boats are much more comfortable than metal, but usually slower. Take plenty of provisions, and expect to practise your Portuguese.

The range of boat transport in the Amazon runs from luxury tourist boats and large three-level riverboats to smaller one- or two-level boats (the latter normally confining their routes to main tributaries and local runs) and covered launches operated by tour companies. The most popular route is the Belém–Manaus trip, which takes four to six days.

The Rough Guides to Brazil and related travel guides

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Reuters

At least 10 dead after bus crash in Brazil's Sao Paulo state

S AO PAULO (Reuters) - At least 10 people died and 42 were injured when a bus crashed into the central pillar of a bridge in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo on Friday, the state government said.

According to local authorities, the accident happened just after midnight local time (0300 GMT) near the town of Itapetininga, some 170 km (105 miles) west of state capital Sao Paulo.

The bus had been en route from Itapeva to Aparecida, a religious town known to attract many pilgrims to its Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida.

Injured people were taken to hospitals in Itapetininga and neighboring city Sorocaba, the authorities said in a statement.

(Reporting by Eduardo Simoes and Luana Maria Benedito; Editing by Gabriel Araujo and Angus MacSwan)

A view shows the wreckage of a bus after it crashed into the central pillar of a bridge near the town of Itapetininga in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil July 5, 2024. Civil Defense of Sao Paulo/Handout via REUTERS

Make a splash at these 8 refreshing water parks

Cool off while having a blast

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Four young people take a ride on a colorful raft down a water slide

Visiting a water park is a summer rite of passage, but not all are created equal. These eight aquatic playgrounds stand out from the crowd with inventive rides and slides, a wide variety of attractions and immersive theming. Don't forget the sunscreen.

Beach Park, Brazil

A man splashes into a pool after going down a water slide

The 135-foot Insano slide is one of Beach Park's biggest draws

Beach Park is Brazil's largest water park, a wet and wild smorgasbord of slides, rapids, pools and saunas. Family attractions include the Aqua Circus arena and Enchanted River, with more moderate thrills to be found on the Tobomusik musical water slide. Adrenaline junkies can climb 14 floors up to the top of the 135-foot tall Insano slide, where riders reach speeds of up to 65 mph .

Caribbean Bay, South Korea

Young people on a raft ride at Caribbean Bay in South Korea

The Mega Storm ride at Caribbean Bay will get your heart racing

Any type of pool you might want can be found at Caribbean Bay . There are indoor and outdoor pools, pools specifically for infants and little kids, diving and wave pools and the relaxing Bade Pool, with traditional German thermal baths offering hydrotherapy . Thrill seekers will find plenty to do as well, from the Mega Storm tube ride that plunges you into weightlessness to the Tower Boomerang raft adventure that stars a dizzying array of curves and drops. 

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Cowabunga Bay Henderson, Nevada

People enjoy swimming in the Surf-a-Rama pool at Cowabunga Bay in Henderson, Nevada

Surf-a-Rama is one of several large pools at Cowabunga Bay

Cowabunga Bay Henderson knows how to keep visitors cool. Close to sizzling Las Vegas, this water park "embraces a 1960s theme," Travel + Leisure said, with a lazy river that passes by water features, surfboards and a '67 Volkswagen Beetle and private cabanas by the pools. The slides range from an easygoing race for toddlers on the four-lane Downhill Doggers to a harrowing journey in the dark on the mostly pitch-black Point Panic. But Zuma Zooma puts them all to shame, with riders standing inside a capsule with a trap door that opens to drop them 73 feet.

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, Indiana

A person sitting on an inner tube goes down a yellow water slide

Visitors to Holiday World & Splashin' Safari get freebies like sunscreen and sodas

Visitors to the aptly-named Holiday World & Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana, will experience everything a traditional amusement park and water park combo has to offer. At Holiday World, you can celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween in July (in addition to Independence Day), but Splashin' Safari is "about as far from the North Pole as you can get," USA Today said, "offering myriad thrills to cool guests off in the summer heat." The park is home to Mammoth and Wildebeest, the two longest water coasters in the world, and offers treats for guests like unlimited free sodas and free sunscreen.

Lost Island Water Park, Iowa

A boy goes down a blue water slide at a water park on a sunny day

Lost Island Water Park's dozens of slides keep kids occupied

Lost Island Water Park brings the tropics to the cornfields of Iowa . It feels like an "oasis with swaying palms," Travel + Leisure said, offering more than 20 slides and rides. The main attraction is Wailua Kupua, an extreme hydromagnetic water coaster that can only be found in a handful of parks around the world. For something a bit more relaxing, float down the Kailahi River or visit Mermaid Cove to take a photo with the sirens.

Noah's Ark Waterpark, Wisconsin

The Raja slide at Noah's Ark Waterpark has a King Cobra snake theme

The Raja is one of 51 waterslides at Noah's Ark Waterpark

A day at Noah's Ark Waterpark in Wisconsin Dells can be as exhilarating or relaxing as you want it. Spread across 70 acres, this massive outdoor park (it's the largest in the U.S.) boasts 51 waterslides, two lazy rivers, two wave pools and Flash Flood, a log flume ride. Heart-stopping attractions like Point of No Return, a slide with a near-vertical drop, and Raja, a fast tube ride that twists and turns before a 37-foot plummet, keep daredevils coming back for more.

Siam Park, Canary Islands

A drone shot above Siam Park in the Canary Islands

Siam Park routinely receives top marks from TripAdvisor users

There are three paths you can take at the impeccably themed Siam Park : relaxation, family or adrenaline. Relaxation means enjoying the white sand beach and bubbly in the VIP Champagne Club; those who choose to stick with their family can play on the Lost City water playground and Sawasdee slides designed for kids. And adrenaline seekers can get a rush through freefall water slides like The Tower of Power, the high-speed water coasters Singha and Saifa and an Indiana Jones-esque escapade down Mekong Rapids. Not for the faint of heart. 

Universal's Volcano Bay, Florida

Water rushes from the 200-foot Krakatau volcano at Volcano Bay in Universal Resort Orlando

Volcano Bay is a highlight of Universal Resort Orlando

Volcano Bay at the Universal Orlando Resort provides both "thrills and chills" with its variety of tube and body slides, raft rides and rivers. The centerpiece is the iconic 200-foot Krakatau volcano, the starting point for a wild aqua coaster of the same name — but the most beloved aspect of the park might be the ever-convenient TapuTapu wristband. This is your water-proof key for the day, and to join virtual ride lines, you just have to tap it at the attraction entrance. It also allows you to make cashless purchases and open rental lockers to store your stuff.

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Catherine Garcia is night editor for TheWeek.com . Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and EW.com , The New York Times , The Book of Jezebel , and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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    TAM (tel. 0800/123-100 in Brazil; www.tam.com.br) offers four segments for US$479 if you arrive on an international Tam flight (otherwise the pass costs US$560), with the option of a fifth leg for another US$120. The pass is valid for 21 days. Check TAM's special English-language site for more details on the air pass (www.tamairlines.com).

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    Brazil's metro and subway. The metro is one of the easiest ways to get around major cities like Rio and São Paulo. Fares are around R$3.50 - R$3.80. If you plan to use the metro often, there are rechargeable travel cards you can purchase. The metros are generally cleaner and safer than traveling by local bus.

  21. Visit Brazil 3 Week Itinerary & Travel Guide

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    Riding the Bus . Over 8.8 million passengers daily ride Sao Paulo's 16,000 buses, which have 1,300 lines driving across 393 miles of bus lanes. SPTrans operates most of the buses and has info about routes on their site. Fares start at 4.40 reals ($0.82). Watch out for pickpockets, especially on crowded buses.

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    Local travel in Brazil is always easy. Public transport outside of the Amazon is generally by bus or plane, though there are a few passenger trains, too. However you travel, services will be crowded, plentiful and, apart from planes, fairly cheap. Car rental is possible, but driving in Brazil is not for the faint-hearted.

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