Catch A Taxi In Rio Without Paying A Fortune

How I Got Hustled Catching A Taxi In Rio

Fresh off the airplane in Rio de Janeiro, I headed out of Galeão airport looking for transportation to get to the Botafogo hostel where I’d be staying for a night.

It was my first time in Brazil and I was a big eyed 21-year-old college kid from DC not ready for the hustle and bustle of Latin America.

Sure, I finished 2 semesters of Brazilian Portuguese in preparation for my spring break trip, but all those classes conveniently evaporated in my brain once the shoe shining kids outside shouting gíria tried to convince me to have my sneakers scrubbed and rubbed.

I politely declined with “não obrigado” and headed towards the taxis.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been. I pretty much went with the first taxi driver that bombarded me and off we went. I gave him the sheet of paper of the address and tried to make small talk along the way.

We arrived and he told me 70 reais. I thought this was great deal and added an extra R$ 10 for a grand total of R$80. Eighty freaking reais to get from the international airport to Botafogo.

After learning that the trip from Galeãoto Botafogo should have been less than R$50, I chalked it up to paying my dues to being an ignorant “gringo” and vowed to never get overcharged again.

The Bus Is Cheap

My recommendation is to take the Real Auto Bus from Galeão to the South Zone (Leme, Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, São Conrado, Barra de Tijuca (West Zone)) where you are likely staying.

At the time of this post, the fare for the 2018 line to the South Zone is R$13.75. Just follow the signs to buses and you should have no problem finding them. They are big blue buses and you will see people lining up for them.

If You Got Money To Spend

But if you must use a taxi in Rio or just feel more comfortable having prepaid transportation, you should be able to pay for a taxi for no more than 60 reais to Copacabana.

There are taxi service booths with women shouting at you once you walk out of the Arrival area. It always helps to have basic Portuguese knowledge to haggle a little bit if needed.

Also, if you are staying in a hotel you may be offered airport transportation services with your accommodation. These offers are usually hiked up and should be avoided unless your trip is being paid for by someone else.

To avoid being overcharged while taking a taxi in Rio during your stay, your knowledge of Portuguese and the city will play a much bigger part.

Related Article: Semantica Portuguese: The #1 Online Brazilian Portuguese Course

More posts on getting around Rio will be made in the future. Até logo.


  • gíria – slang
  • não obrigado – no thank you
  • reais – Brazilian currency
  • Até logo – See you later