Using Rio de Janeiro Taxis
Not as Expensive as You May Think!
The "yellow and blue" Rio de Janeiro taxis are very abundant both day and night in Ipanema and Copacabana. The cab drivers cruise the main boulevards, as well as the side streets, and congregate near the better hotels. This is common in all larger cities in Brazil.
Rio de Janeiro taxis and drivers are required to be licensed, and their photo identification documents must be prominently displayed in the car. Taxis are also required to have working meters on the dash. If your cab driver does not have his identification documents posted and/or the meter is not working, ask to be let out of that car immediately. Robberies and scams by taxi drivers are rare in Rio de Janeiro, but as in every large city, isolated incidents do occur.
The meters are started at about R$4, and during the day are set at the #1 position, which charges about R$1 per kilometer. In the evenings, holidays, and some other times during the year, the meter is set at the higher #2 position, with a 20% higher rate per kilometer. It's customary to tip taxi drivers by rounding the fare up to the next R$. For more information, see our page on Tipping in Brazil.
TaxiAutoFare.com is a popular site which provides estimates of fares for Rio de Janeiro taxis and other cities. Simply enter your starting point and destination addresses and you'll be given an approximate fare. We tested the site for taxi rates in Rio and found it to be consistently low by about 10%.
To flag down a taxi, simply stand at the curb, in a spot where a car can pull over, and wave down the driver. If the light on the roof is lit, it means the driver already has a fare or is going to pick up someone.
It's best to have the name and address of your destination written down on a slip of paper. If you don't speak Portuguese, you can try telling the driver where you want to go and at the same time, hand him the paper with the address.
Each time we visit Rio, we invariably find a good cab driver, and we strike a deal with him to take us back to the airport for a fixed price or by the meter (it's usually R$50 - R$60 from Copacabana or Ipanema). We get a business card and set the pickup time and location. It's a good idea to call the driver that day to remind him. Cab drivers like to head to the airport about 3 hours in advance of your flight departure time. The front desk hotel workers can also arrange taxi transfer to the airport.
If you are going to or from the nightclubs in Lapa or Santa Teresa at night, always take a cab versus the city bus. Taxis stand at the curb outside most of the clubs, waiting to whisk partiers back to their hotels in the Zona Sul. When leaving a nightclub in Copacabana late at night, rather than walking, it's safer to take a taxi back to your accommodations.
Instead of booking a tour, you can use Rio de Janeiro taxis to get to Christ the Redeemer Statue and Sugarloaf. This can be cheaper than booking a tour and more convenient, if you plan on seeing just one of the two sights on a given day. Taxi drivers in Brazil will often offer to be your guide for the day, dropping you off and waiting for you at each sight. They do this for a flat fee, usually on their day off. This can be a great way to see the sights, especially if the driver speaks English. Make sure to verify the credentials of the cab driver and to set the agreed price. We prefer to just pay the metered rate and to be dropped off at each sightseeing location. Taxi cabs are always parked at the exits of the Sugarloaf cable car station and at the Corcovado cog train station.
See our Rio de Janeiro Tours page, where we outline the best way to hire a taxi for The Perfect Rio Sightseeing Day.
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