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Free Lions Guide to Rio De Janeiro (Brazil)

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

England play Brazil on Sunday 2nd June in the Maracana, Rio de Janeiro. Situated in south eastern Brazil and renowned for its flamboyant annual carnival, the state capital of Rio de Janeiro is one of the country’s most popular cities and is rich in culture and natural beauty.

Resorts line golden sandy beaches – Copacabana (above) is probably the most popular. Locals are known as Cariocas. 

Many of the popular attractions in the region are easy to reach from the airport and include Corcovado Mountain, at the top of which stands the giant ‘Christ the Redeemer’ statue.

The Corcovado is best reached by special train, which operates from Cosme Velho station every 30 minutes (8am-7pm, adult return R46). Capacity is limited but online booking is newly available via www.corcovado.com.br.

ESTADIO DO MARACANA

The Maracana is located in the northern part of the city and is easily accessible by both a metro subway station and a bus station in front of it. It takes approximately 40 minutes from Copacabana, Ipanema, Flamengo and Botafogo.

The original stadium was built for the 1950 World Cup and named Estadio Journalista Mario Filho but is better known as the Maracana, which provided the venue for the 1950 World Cup Final between the host nation and Uruguay – apparently one of the most dramatic games in the history of the competition where the underdogs Uruguay won.

The stadium will once again host the final of the World Cup 2014 tournament, hosting seven games in total, including the final on July 13th, more than any other venue. The Maracana was once the largest stadium in the world with attendance of over 200,000 for the 1950 World Cup final but it will have a reduced capacity of just under 77,000 for the 2014 final.

The refurbishment will respect most of the original layout of the stadium but it will include the demolition of the lower ring of seats and be replaced with a new ring offering improved visibility, the expansion of the access ramps and replacing all of the seating. The pitch will be reduced from its original 110m x 75m to 105m x 68m to meet FIFA’s demands. 

The stadium will also be fitted with a new roof complete with a rainwater collection system. The facade, which has been listed by the National Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage, will remain untouched.

The stadium is Rio’s second most popular tourist attraction (behind the big concrete bloke on the mountain), and attracts football fans from all over the world, even as it undergoes its refurbishment which began in 2010. The Torre de Vidro (Glass Tower) is a viewing spot where you can watch the stadium being refurbished and you can even take a piece of the old stadium away with you as a souvenir. 

GETTING THERE

BY AIR

Both British Airways and TAP fly direct to Rio but these flights won’t be cheap. Airline companies that offer indirect, cheaper flights include KLM, Lufthansa, Air France, TAM, Iberia and Emirates.

Most flights arrive at Aeroporto Galeão (Also known as Aeroporto António Carlos Jobim), 15 km north of the centre. The airport’s facilities include left-luggage facilities, ATMs, currency exchange, an internet cafe, a couple of pharmacies, and a few shops and restaurants. If you are travelling to Rio from São Paulo or other nearby cities you will most likely arrive at Aeroporto Santos Dumont in the city centre which has even fewer facilities. 

You’ll have to fill in customs & immigration forms on arrival. Immigration officials will keep half of the immigration card and you will keep the other half. When you leave you will need to produce the second half; keep it safe otherwise there could be lots of hassle, delays and unnecessary costs for you.

Make sure you passport gets stamped on arrival, if it isn’t, you could be liable to a fine on your departure. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Brazil. If you are a national of the EU you won’t need a visa.

You shouldn’t need any immunisations if you are just going to Rio for the football and general tourism but if you are intending to travel to a number of regions it’s best to check with your doctor at least 6 weeks before you go if you require jabs, tablets etc.

GETTING FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE CITY CENTRE

The ‘Real Auto Bus’ known as the frescāo runs from the airport to the centre (departing from Arrivals Hall of Terminal 1 or the ground floor from terminal 2). The bus runs every 20-30 minutes from 05:20-12:10 daily; a one-way fare is approximately R$8. Going back to the airport from the centre you can catch the bus in front of any of the major hotels on the main beaches, but don’t expect to find any bus stops – you have to flag it down.

Standard taxi cabs (comun) are cheaper than Radio taxis but probably not as safe. A yellow-blue comun taxi should charge roughly R$40 – R$50 to Ipanema; make sure the meter works and is set before you start your journey – if the driver tells you it isn’t working get another cab with one that works. Radio taxis will cost around R$80 to Ipanema or Copacabana. Radio taxis have a booth at the airport and you can pay the fare by credit card before leaving the airport if you prefer. 

DEPARTURE TAX

There is a departure tax but it could be that it has already been included in the price of your ticket but it’s best to check to be sure. If it isn’t added to the ticket you’ll have to pay it in cash at the airport before you leave. It can be paid in R$ or US$ 

BY TRAIN

The central train station is located at Praça Cristiano Ottoni, Centro. Details of times and prices can be found at www.supervia.com.br. The site is in Portuguese but most browsers offer translation. Please note that trains are only suburban trains for Rio and don’t run to any other cities in Brazil. 

BY CAR

The following car rental agencies also have offices at the international airport:

  • Avis, Av. Princesa Isabel 350, Copacabana. Tel: 2543 8481 www.avis.com.br
  • Hertz, Av. Princesa Isabel 500, Copacabana. Tel: 2275 7440 or 2275 7168 www.hertz.com.br

 Car rental is cheap but if you expect to do a lot of driving it’s worth noting that petrol is expensive. Expect to pay more for a hired car with air conditioning. 

IN THE CITY

METRO

The metro subway system operates Mon-Sat from 05:00 to midnight, Sunday 07:00 to 23:00. It’s made up of two lines – Line 1 (orange), Line 2 (green). Both lines are air-conditioned, clean, fast and safe.

You have to buy an electronic ticket to travel. These are available from machines at all stations. There are a number of ticket options available:
Pre-paid card – similar to an Oyster card, a minimum initial charge is R$10 and minimum refill is R$5. You can refill it with any amount from R$5 upwards and it can be used in every station as well as on the Subway Bus Lines.

Single Ride – fare R$3.20. Ticket is only valid on the day of purchase and for the following two days before it expires. Metro card and Subway Bus Lines – fare R$3.20. This ticket can be purchased at any station or any of the Subway Bus Lines.

Ipanema’s subway station General Osorio is currently closed for the foreseeable future due to improvements of a new station in Leblon. 

BUS

The city is well served by buses which run daily from early morning until late. It is advisable to try and avoid rush-hour travel and if you do have to travel at this time, keep an eye on valuables and leave anything not needed on your journey in your hotel.

You won’t always find a bus stop; just look for a group of people stood waiting on street corners. Route numbers and destinations are clearly marked on the front of the bus. Single journeys range from R$2.75 – R$3.50; keep some lose change handy as you have to pay as you enter, via a turnstile, that does not take notes.

There are four bus terminals in total in the city – three in Centro and one in São Cristóvão (Santo Cristo). The three Centro ones are located at Rua Senador Pompeu, Praça Mauá and Rua São José. The Novo Rio bus station (Rodovíaria Novo Rio) is located at Av. Francisco Bicalho, São Cristóvão, about 2km northwest of the centre. 

If you intend to travel by bus it’s best to buy tickets in advance. Some travel agents in the city centre sell bus tickets. 

If you arrive in Santo Cristo by bus it’s a good idea to take a taxi to your hotel as the bus station is in a rather seedy area. There is a booth on the first floor of the bus station where you can arrange a taxi. Fares are around R$40 to the airport or R$35 to Copacabana or Ipanema.

TRAMS

The yellow open sided trams (known as bondes and pronounced bon-jees) are the cheapest form of transport. There are two lines operating from the tram station located at Carioca Metrô station which is just off Rua Senador Dantas. The line to Santa Tereza is currently under repair and therefore buses are being used. Keep an eye on your belongings and keep bags held in front of you – never on your back. Trams run daily every 30 mins from 06:40 – 20:40. A one-way ticket costs approx R$4. 

TAXIS

Only use licensed cabs which can be picked up from the many taxi ranks in the city. Local taxi companies:

  • Aerotaxi 2467 7408 
  • Central de Taxi 2195 1000
  • Taxis for reduced mobility (equipped for wheelchairs) – Co Op Taxi RJ 3295 9606 

DRIVING

Driving can be frustrating at the best of times, but it’s good to know a couple of things. The first is that locals don’t always stop at red lights at night because of the risk of robberies at deserted intersections. Instead they slow at red lights and proceed through if no one is around. Another thing to know is that if you park your car on the streets, it’s common to pay an attendant (known as flanelinha) around R$2 for looking after it. Some work for the city whilst others are ‘freelance’, but regardless, it’s common practice to pay them.

REDUCED MOBILITY TRAVELLERS

The metro system is equipped with podotactile floors, Braille signposts and handrail rings, wheelchair signposts, SOS totems, signposts for special needs seating and vertical signalling systems at all stations. A number of stations have vertical platforms, lifts and ramps.

Streets and pavements along the main beaches are wheelchair accessible but most other places aren’t ramped. The majority of public buildings, restaurants etc have steps at the entrance. Older hotels are not accessible but newer hotels offer accessible rooms.

A number of tourist attractions are not directly accessible e.g. there are about 20 steps up to the statue of Christ the Redeemer statue. 

THINGS TO SEE AND DO 

  • Beaches – There can be strong currents so always check advice notices before swimming. There are no reported shark attacks off any of Rio’s beaches. 
  • Copacabana beach – probably one of the best known beaches in the world, is located in the south side of the city. The waterfront is known for its Portuguese designs and is ideal for walking and cycling. Every Sunday the beach avenue (all the beaches on the south) is open for skating, running, walking etc.
  • If you want to look like one of the locals, surfing and ‘stand-up paddle’ classes are offered at Ipanema and Copacabana beaches. No, we don’t know what ‘stand-up paddling’ is either, but we’ve been assured it’s fun. 
  • Boats – Rio has a number of small islands in the bay that you can visit by ferry or catamarans. They run from around 7am until late. Seasonal timetables and current fares are displayed at departure points.
  • Helisight – (www.helisight.com.br) offer various flight options from 6 to 60 minutes, prices range from R$210 to R$1,210. There must be a minimum of three people for the flight to commence. There are three helipads across the city to depart from.

MATCH DAY ARRANGEMENTS 

Many of the match day arrangements – base for the FSF Fans’ Embassy, a signing in point, arrangements for flags etc-  are still to be finalised. We will keep everyone updated on here, our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/FreeLions) and on our Twitter account (@FSF_FreeLions)

EATING AND DRINKING 

Cariocas love socializing in the many botequims (small, casual bars), where they can chat, drink and eat late into the night. Dress code even in the smartest of places is casual, though locals like to dress up for special occasions.

Copacabana and Ipanema have the highest concentration and variety of eateries and bars – but the nearer you get to the beach the more expensive food and drink are likely to be, and the prices don’t always match the food you get. It’s worth exploring the side streets and a go a few blocks in from the beach.

If you are after vegetarian restaurants (which are rare in Brazil) Ipanema is your best area to head to.  Por kilo restaurants offer fresh salads and vegetable dishes and although the national dish, feijoada, is based on meat, it also comes with separate servings of rice, beans, cabbage etc.

For those who like that sort of thing there are numerous McDonald’s outlets around the city, mostly in the Centro area or in shopping malls.

If you want to grab something on-the go, there are plenty of supermarkets that have fresh fruit, sandwiches, deli counters etc; Zona Sul are the most prominent supermarket chain in the city.

For food and drink we’ve concentrated on three areas where England fans are likely to congregate: Tijuca – an area close to the stadium, Copacabana beach and Ipanema beach. All of the bars serve a variety of drinks and food from snacks to main meals.

Tijuca

  • Bar do Adão, Rua dos Artistas www.bardoadao.com.br
  • Praça Varnhagen (Varnhagen Square) the Square is surrounded by bars and restaurants

Ipanema

  • Shenanigan’s Irish Bar, Rua Visconde de Pirajá 112 – mainly frequented by tourists
  • Botequim Informal, Rua Barão da Torre 348 www.botequiminformal.co.br
  • Astor Bar, Avenida Vieira Souto 104-110 (on Ipanema beach). Open Sun – Thur 18:00; Fri – Sat 13:00; Sun 12 noon barastor.com.br
  • Sindicato do Chopp, Rua Farme de Amoedo 83
  • Botequim Itahy, Rua Barão da Torre 334 and also at Rua Maria Quitéria 74a www.botequimdoitahy.com.br

Copacabana

  • Café e Bar Pavão Azul, Rua Hilário de Guoveira 71- popular with locals
  • Boteco Belmonte, Rua Domingos Ferreira 242 www.botecobelmonte.com.br
  • Adega Pérola, Rua Siqueira Campos 138 – the food is highly recommended
  • Cervantes, Rua Barata Ribeiro 7 – Open late but closed Mondays www.restaurantecervantes.com.br/
  • Galeto Sat’s, Rua Barata Ribeiro 7 – barbecue bar – open late – next to Cervantes
  • Devassa Copacabana, Rua Bolivar 8, www.devassa.com.br
  • Bar do Adão, Rua Aires Saldanha 13

Key words:

Breakfast – café da manhā;   Lunch – almoço;   Dinner – jantar;   Snack – lanche;   Starters – entradas;   Main course – prato principal;   Dessert – sobremesa;  Drink – bebida;   Carbonated drink – refrigerante;  Beer – cerveja;  Draught beer – chopp;  Wine – vinho;  Fruit juice – suco;   Coffee – café;   Tea – chá;   Fruit – fruta;   Bread – pāo;  Cheese – queijo;  Soup – sopas;  Steak – bife;   Fish – peixe;   Chips – batata frita;   Chicken – frango;  Sandwich – sanduíche;  Rice – arroz;

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

BRITISH CONSULATE GENERAL 

Consulado Geral Britãnico, Praia do Flamengo 284/2˚, Flamengo. Tel: 2555 9600 or visit: www.ukinbrazil.fco.gov.uk   Open Mon-Thu 08:30 to 16:45, Fri 08:30 to 16:30 (local time).

TOURIST INFORMATION

City of Rio de Janeiro Tourism Authority, Av. Princesa Isabel 183, Copacabana. Tel: 2541 7522/ Open 09:00 to 18:00 Mon-Fri.

LANGUAGE

The official language in Brazil is Portuguese although English is widely spoken in tourist areas.

Yes – sim
No – não
Please – por favor
Thank you – obrigado/obrigada (m/f)
Good morning – bom dia
Good afternoon – boa tarde
Do you speak English? – Voce fala ingles?
I don’t speak Portuguese – Não falo Portugues
Hello – ola
Goodbye – tchau
Help – socorro

MONEY

The Brazilian currency is the Real (R$), pronounced hay-ow. Real is made up of 100 centavos. Coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 50 centavos. There is also R$1 coin. Notes are printed in different colours with animals on: R$1 – green/humming bird (this is quite rare and you are unlikely to get one), R$2 – blue/hawksbill turtle, R$5 – violet/egret, R$10 – scarlet/macaw, R$20 – yellow/lion-faced monkey, R$50 – golden brown/jaguar, R$100 – blue/grouper fish

CURRENCY EXCHANGES

There are a number of Cãmbios (Exchanges) on Av. N. Sra Copacabana, in Copacabana. Casa Aliança Cãmbio Passagense Turismo, Rue Miguel Couto 35, Centro.

Banks:

Banco do Brasil branches:

  • Rua Senador Dantas 105, Centro 
  • Rua Primeiro de Março 66, Centro 
  • Av. N. Sra Copacabana 594, Copacabana

Citybank: Rua da Assembléia 100, Centro 

Banks are usually open Mon-Fri 10:00-16:00

Credit cards – Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in hotels, shops and restaurants. Other cards are not as widely accepted so check beforehand. Credit card fraud is rife so keep your card within sight during all transactions. It’s also best if you don’t discard any ATM receipts after making withdrawals, keep them with you and discard them once you’re home. 

Tipping – Cafe and bar staff, 10-15%, Restaurants 10% (usually included in the bill), service workers & taxi drivers 10-15%.

ELECTRICTY

Normally 110v but some hotels have 200v as well.

EMERGENCY NUMBERS

Ambulance – 192
Fire – 193
Police – 190

Tourism Police, Av. Afrånio de Melo Franco at the junction with Rua Humberto de Campos 315, Leblon. Tel: 2332 2924. Open 24hrs – English spoken.

HOSPITALS

  • Rocha Maia, Rue General Severiano 3, Botafago. Tel: 2295 2295 
  • Salgado Filho, Rue Arquias Cordeiro 370, Méier. Tel: 3111 4100 
  • Souza Aguiar, Praça da República 111, Centro. Tel: 3111 2629 
  • Laurenço Jorge, Av Ayrton Senna 2.000, Barra da Tijuca. Tel: 3111 4680 
  • Miguel Couto, Av Bartolemeu Mitre 1.108, Gávea. Tel: 3111 3800 

HEALTH

Foreign nationals are entitled to emergency medical treatment in public hospitals. Public hospitals, especially in major cities, tend to be crowded. Private hospitals will not treat you unless you can present evidence of sufficient funds or insurance. It is imperative that you have comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

The sun can be particularly strong and UV levels are higher than in the UK

It is advisable not to drink the tap water. Bottled water is widely available. 

SAFETY

Crime rates are high especially in highly populated tourist areas including beaches and can include firearms and other weapons. We advise that you dress down and leave expensive phones, cameras, iPads etc at home and take cheaper models with you instead. Both Copacabana and Ipanema beaches have a police presence but this doesn’t appear to deter the criminals. Don’t walk on the beaches at night.

If you intend to travel at night it’s best to get a taxi than use public transport. Avoid walking the streets alone even if they are well lit, especially in the Centro area of the city. If you do become a victim of crime, our advice would be to hand over your belongings without a fuss; thieves are only too willing to use weapons if given provocation. Remember, belongings can always be replaced. 

You are required by law to carry some form of I.D – usually a passport or driving licence. A copy of the information page of your passport should suffice. 

LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Drug trafficking is rife in Brazil and incurs severe penalties. Child sex abuse is widespread in Brazil; if you commit sex offences against children in Brazil you can be prosecuted in the UK. Homosexuality is legal in Brazil and there is wide tolerance although attacks still occur on homosexual couples. 

24 PHARMACIES

  • Drogaria Pacheco, Rua do Catete 300, Largo do Machedo 
  • Farmácia do Leme, Av. Prado Junior 237a, Leme
  • Farmácia Cristal, Rua José Linhares 244, Humaitá 

OPENING TIMES

  • Banks usually open Mon-Fri 09:00-16:00
  • Shops from 09:00 to 19:00 Mon-Fri, 09:00 to 13:00 Sat. There is some variety depending on location and type of business. Shopping malls open 10:00 to 22:00 daily. The main shopping areas are Barra, São Conrado Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon and Centro. Some supermarkets are open 24hrs. 

TIME DIFFERENCE

Rio is 3 hrs behind GMT

COMMUNICATION 

  • The international dialling code is +55 
  • Rio area code is 21 
  • International Operator (English speaking) 000 333 
  • English speaking tourist information 0800 285 0555 or 2542 8080 

Public phones take phonecards (cartào telefônico) which can be purchased from news stands and street kiosks; cards start at R$5 for 20 units. The phone will display how many units you have left after each call. Once you’ve bought your phonecard your next problem will be to find a phone that works!

If you bring an unlocked mobile with you, you can buy a SIM card for around R$10-$15, depending on the network. You will need your passport or a copy of it to purchase a SIM card.

If you prefer, you can rent a mobile for around R$10-R$15 a day plus call charges. If you intend to make a number of calls home this can be expensive. The cheaper alternative is to Skype. Many of the internet cafes now offer Skype.

INTERNET

‘Orla Rio Digital’ offers free Wi-Fi on Leme and Copacabana beaches. Users must register to gain full access. Other options:

Central Fone branches 

  • Carioca Metro Station, Mon-Fri 09:00 – 20:30; Sat 09:00 -14:30
  • Av. Rio Branco 156, Centro. Mon-Fri 09:00 – 19:30; Sat 09:00-12:30

Cyber Copa Cafe, Av. Nossa Senhora de Copacabana 1.077. 24 hrs 

MAIN POST OFFICE

Rua Primeiro de Março 64, Centro

Thanks to Tourist Maker for the imaged used in this guide.

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