Destination Guide: Brazil Olympics

Destination Guide: Brazil Olympics

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Description: RIO 2016: Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympic Games from 5 August to 21 August, followed by the Paralympic Games from 7 September to 18 September. This is the first time Brazil, or any South American country, has hosted the Olympics, but the city of Rio is no stranger to major international sporting events, having hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2014. If you’re travelling to Brazil for the Olympics, read up on these essential tips and information.

Travel-size tips: Flight time from Australia to Rio is 18+ hours. A temporary visa waiver is in place for Australian passport holders during the Olympic Games. Dry weather and temperatures of 19°C to 26°C are expected in Rio during games.

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Destination Guide:
Brazil Olympics
What to know before you go
Essential preparation and planning tips
Accommodation and transport





Brazil overview


Phone and internet



Travel-size tips



Know before you go


Travel insurance


Handy links and apps




Health and safety


Getting there and around

Laws and watchouts



Emergency contacts


At the airport


Rio de Janeiro airports


Olympic venues



Planning and preparation
Visa waiver for the 2016 Olympics




Olympic tickets

Who is CHOICE? Set up by consumers for consumers, CHOICE is the consumer advocate that provides
Australians with information and advice, free from commercial bias.




Rio de Janeiro culture, language, health, safety,
laws, scams, emergency contacts and more.

RIO 2016

› At peak times during the Olympics, certain public

Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympic Games from

transport services will be restricted to holders of an

5 August to 21 August, followed by the Paralympic

Olympic Transport Card.

Games from 7 September to 18 September. This is the
first time Brazil, or any South American country, has
hosted the Olympics, but the city of Rio is no stranger
to major international sporting events, having hosted
the FIFA World Cup in 2014. If you’re travelling to

› Brazil may be the home of Havaianas, but it’s
against the law to drive in them!


Brazil for the Olympics, read up on these essential tips
and information.

Travel-size tips

The Olympics are usually a summer event, but since
Rio is in the southern hemisphere, this year the games
will take place during winter. But like the 2000 Sydney
Olympics, a Rio winter isn’t exactly cold. Temperatures

› Flight time from Australia to Rio is 18+ hours.

generally range between 19°C and 26°C, and rainfall
during August is usually at its lowest all year.

› A temporary visa waiver is in place for Australian
passport holders during the Olympic Games.

› Dry weather and temperatures of 19°C to 26°C are
expected in Rio during games.

Know before you go

› Brazilian culture is made up of European, African
and indigenous traditions. Rio de Janeiro’s
food, architecture and culture all have a strong
Portuguese influence, with the city having been the
hub for Portuguese colonialism between the 16th

› Brazil is experiencing an outbreak of the Zika virus,
which is particularly dangerous to pregnant women.



and 19th centuries.


› Religion and family life is very important to
Brazilians; most people are Catholic.

› Brazilians make the effort to dress well and look
their best (women pay particular attention to their
hair and nails) so they might judge you if you don’t!

› Brazilians may refer to you as a gringo or gringa.
Don’t be offended, this is just a word to describe

› Brazil may be the home of Havaianas, but you’ll

anyone who isn’t Brazilian. They may also call you

need something more formal than thongs to get into

a marajá – a rich person – and compared to most

the swankier restaurants and nightclubs.

Brazilians, you are!

› Rio, along with other major Brazilian cities, is
› A handshake is the standard greeting, or a kiss on

generally considered gay-friendly. Sexual and

both cheeks (left then right) is appropriate between

gender diversity is accepted in Brazil, with gay

women who know each other.

couples allowed to marry and adopt, and gender
reassignment surgery covered by the country’s

› If giving gifts, avoid the colours black or purple as
these represent mourning.

National Health Service (SUS). However, violence
and discrimination against LGBTI people still
happens, particularly in rural areas.

› Arriving fashionably late to dinners and parties
is the norm (although you’ll want to be on time to
Olympic events!)

› Brazilian men can be quite flirtatious and forward,
so female travellers may find themselves the
subject of unwanted attention. Some hotels now
have women-only floors, and the Rio metro has
pink, women-only carriages to provide a safe haven
from harassment.

› Despite strict anti-discrimination laws, class is
still unofficially determined by wealth and skin
colour. Darker skinned people may encounter
some prejudice and mixed race couples may face
judgemental attitudes.

› A tip of about 10% is standard in restaurants and
hotels, although check your bill as this gratuity is
often already added to the total. Tipping taxi drivers
is unnecessary but appreciated. The same goes for
street sellers who may have a tip box on the counter.
If you’re a Spanish speaker, be careful not to use
the Spanish word “propina” – in Portuguese it
means bribe, not tip. The appropriate word in Brazil
is “gorjeta”.




The official language of Brazil is Portuguese.
English isn’t widely spoken or understood, so it’s a
good idea to learn a few words of Portuguese before
you go, and to pack a phrase book or download a
translation app on your phone.
That said, if you’re mostly just coming and going from
Olympic events and seeing the sights in Rio, language
shouldn’t be too much of a barrier. The city has been
going to great lengths to prepare for the arrival of

bad. The safer and tastier option is bottled water.

international visitors for the big event, so you’ll find

Boiling the tap water is another way to ensure any

plenty of English-language signage, as well as a higher

nasties are killed off. Water in rural areas may not be

proportion of English speakers in and around the

safe to drink. Check with hotel staff. Some hotels filter

Olympic zones.

their tap water.

Health and safety

Zika virus
Brazil is currently experiencing an outbreak of the Zika

The Brazilian health care system has no reciprocal

virus. The illness is often asymptomatic, but in one

deals with Australia, which means if you get sick,

fifth of cases it causes non-fatal flu-like symptoms

you’ll have to pay your own bills. Public hospitals can

that rarely require hospitalisation. It’s primarily

be overcrowded with long waiting times and limited

transmitted through mosquito bites, but there have

facilities. The standard of private hospitals and

been a few cases of sexually transmitted Zika, with

medical centres in major cities, such as Rio de Janeiro,

Olympians being issued Zika proof condoms for the

is comparable to services in Australia, but the bills can

Olympics. For the rest of us mere mortals, normal

be high. As with any overseas destination, it’s essential

condoms will do the trick.

you have travel insurance. Some doctors or hospitals
may ask you to pay upfront, or prove that you have

The risk to pregnant women, however, is extreme,

insurance before they’ll treat you.

as the virus can cause children to be born with
microcephaly – a seriously underdeveloped head

Outside of the major cities, quality health care can

and brain. The Australian government currently

be hard to find. The cost of medical evacuation to the

recommends that pregnant women, and women who

closest city could be extremely high, so again: travel

are trying to become pregnant, should reconsider their

insurance is a must.

need to travel to Brazil.

Drinking water

Brazilian authorities are going to great lengths to

Tap water in the major cities, including Rio, is

control the spread of the virus and to eradicate

considered safe to drink, however, it can taste pretty

mosquito breeding grounds near the Olympic zones.




Although mosquitos should be less prevalent in Rio

So far the protests have been relatively peaceful, and

during the drier winter months, visitors should try to

it’s unlikely any major unrest will take place in Rio

avoid bites by covering up in light coloured clothing

during the Olympics. Still, it’s best to steer well clear

and wearing repellent containing DEET or Picaridin.

of any demonstrations should they arise.

It’s also a good idea to check whether your hotel has
mosquito nets, if not, pack your own.

For the latest advice on health and safety risks
including terrorism, conflict, natural disasters and

Check Smart Traveller’s Zika Bulletin and the World
Health Organization’s Zika factsheet for the latest
advice and read CHOICE’s article about how the Zika

outbreaks of disease visit

Laws and watchouts

virus could affect your travel insurance.
Mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria, dengue

› It’s no surprise that there are drugs in Brazil,

fever, chikungunya fever and yellow fever are also a

particularly cocaine, but if you’re caught using or

risk in Brazil, so avoiding mosquito bites is a must.

transporting them the penalties and jail time will be
significant. Police regularly search tourists outside

Civil unrest

nightclubs, in taxis and on the coastal drives from

Despite spending millions on hosting the Olympics,

Rio to Búzios and Rio to São Paulo. Even coca leaves

Brazil is experiencing its worst recession in a century

and coca tea aren’t tolerated. Marijuana use tends

and many citizens are very unhappy with their

to be overlooked by police, although it is still very

government. The country's leadership has experienced

much illegal, so really not worth the risk.

a big shake up in 2016, with millions of people taking
to the streets in protest against the government, and
President Dilma Rousseff suspended from office amid
allegations of corruption.



› Brazil has strict zero-tolerance drink driving laws
and penalties are severe for driving with a blood
alcohol level above zero.


› The legal drinking and smoking age is 18.

official looking man who claims to be a police officer
escorting tourists outside of the airport and then

› Under Brazilian law, foreigners must carry their

pushing them into a car and robbing them. Another

passports with them at all times, however, because

involves a scout identifying cashed up tourists as

of the risk of theft, Smart Traveller recommends

they get into taxis, then phoning ahead to their

you leave your passport safely in your hotel if

friends on motorbikes who rob the cars once they’re

possible and carry a photocopy instead.

out on the road.

› Prostitution is legal in Brazil for over 18s, but

› The favelas (the slum-like suburbs in Rio’s hills)

prostitution houses aren’t, which of course creates

are home to gun-toting organised gangs, so be very

a grey area. Authorities cracked down on illegal

careful where you wander. That said, the favelas

brothels in Rio in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup,

are not to be avoided all together and can be a great

so no doubt they’ll be on a similar mission before

place to meet real locals and take in the best views

the 2016 Olympics.

of the city. To visit the favelas safely, it’s best to join
a tour group or at the very least ask a trusted local

› Brazil has strict anti-discrimination laws, so overtly

for advice on where to go.

racist/homophobic statements or actions could land
you in jail.

› Despite Brazil’s high crime rate the good news
is that during the Olympics authorities will be

For road rules, see Driving in Brazil.

› There’s no denying that Brazil has a high crime rate,

doing everything they can to prevent incidents that
could bring Rio bad publicity while the whole world
is watching.

› As a tourist, expect to be charged higher prices by

but as a tourist you’re more likely to be the victim

street vendors and to sometimes be taken the long

of pickpocketing or bag snatching than a serious

way around by taxi drivers. This doesn’t mean that

violent crime. Always keep your valuables close and

everyone is out to get you, but it would be against

out of sight (consider using a money belt), only carry

the ‘Brazilian way’ (‘jeitinho brasileiro’) to pass up

as much money as you need, and avoid backstreets,

the opportunity to make an extra buck.

particularly at night or if you’re alone. If you’re
unlucky enough to be robbed, don’t resist or fight
back – it’s not worth the risk.

› Bank card skimming and credit card fraud is a risk
in Brazil. Cover the keypad with your hand as you
enter your pin, never let your credit card out of your

› Laptop theft is common, so keep yours hidden and
carry it in an ordinary bag not a laptop bag.

sight, use cash where possible, and let your bank
know if you notice any unexplained transactions on
your statement.

› Keep your wits about you from the moment you
get off the plane, as many scams and robberies
begin at the airport. One involves a well-dressed



› Be careful using free Wi-Fi hotspots and avoid doing
internet banking on untrusted connections.


Emergency contacts
If dialling from an Australian mobile
phone, use the country code +55.
Tourist police (English-speaking):
(21) 3399 7170
Police: 190 (some operators speak
English and can redirect your call to
the necessary service)
Fire and ambulance: 193

Hospitals in Rio
Public hospitals are likely to be
overcrowded and the standard
of care may not be as high as in
Australia. Assuming you have
travel insurance (which is a necessity) and it’s not an

Hospital Samaritano

emergency, a private hospital is your better bet for

Rua Bambina 98

quality care.

(21) 3444 1000 / Ambulance (21) 2535 4000

Hospital Copa Dór
Rua Figueiredo de Magalhães 875

Australian Embassy (Brasilia)


SES Quadra 801

(21) 2545 3600

Conjunto K

Hospital Sao Lucas

Lote 7

Travessa Frederico Pamplona 32

Brasilia DF CEP 70200-010


+55 61 3226 3111

(21) 2545 4000

Australian Consulate (Rio de Janeiro)

Hospital Quinta Dór

Veirano e Advogados Associados

Almirante Baltazar 435

Av Presidente Wilson 231, 23rd Floor

São Cristóvão

Rio de Janeiro RJ 20030-021

(21) 3461 3600

+55 21 3824 4624

Hospital Barra Dór
Av Ayrton Senna 3079

24-hour Australian Consular Emergency Centre:

Barra da Tijuca 

From overseas: +61 2 6261 3305

(21) 2430 3600

From within Australia: 1300 555 135
SMS +61 421 269 080




Visas, vaccinations, phone, internet,
power adapters, money, travel
insurance, handy apps and more.

Visa waiver for the 2016 Olympics

in and out of the country, hotel reservations and
proof of funds).

Australian passport holders travelling to Brazil as
tourists during the Olympics and Paralympics will not

If you're visiting Brazil outside of the listed dates,

need a visa.

you’ll need to follow the usual process and apply for
a tourist visa either in person or by mail through

› The temporary visa waiver applies for stays of up to
90 days between 1 June and 18 September 2016.

the Embassy of Brazil in Canberra or the Consulate
General of Brazil in Sydney. It’s important to get
your application in early, as the processing time is

› The waiver also applies to Canadian, Japanese and
US passport holders.

› The waiver doesn't apply to anyone visiting Brazil for
reasons other than tourism (e.g. work or study).

› Visitors must arrive in Brazil with a passport that

approximately 15 working days and there is no express
or priority service.
Tip: Never post your passport by standard mail. Use
registered mail or a courier service.
Visa rules may change. For up-to-date information

has at least six months’ validity and at least one

check with the Embassy of Brazil:

blank page for entry and exit stamps, as well as

paperwork detailing their itinerary (transportation




A yellow fever vaccination is strongly
recommended for Australians visiting the
following states in Brazil: Acre, Amazonas,
Amapá, Distrito Federal, Goiás, Maranhão,
Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso do Sul, Mato
Grosso, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, Tocantins.
The vaccination is recommended for Bahia,
Espírito Santo, Paraná, Piauí, Rio Grande do
Sul, Santa Catarina, São Paulo.
If you’re only travelling to Rio de Janeiro, a yellow
fever vaccination may not be essential, but you should

Phone and internet

speak to a doctor about your options. Depending
on your health, where you’re travelling and what

Global roaming and coverage

you’re planning to do, your doctor might recommend

Brazil has good quality mobile phone coverage and

vaccinations for yellow fever, hepatitis A and typhoid.

it’s unlikely you’ll have any connection problems in big

They may also suggest malaria prevention tablets.

cities like Rio.

Check The Travel Doctor’s Brazil fact sheet and ask
a doctor for advice based on your own health and

Most Australian mobile phones will work by

travel plans.

connecting with local GSM networks, but if you use
your phone more than occasionally, you’re likely to see

Tip: Some vaccinations need to be given up to eight

some big bills.

weeks before departure, so get in early.
Check with your telco for roaming rates and to find out
No vaccine, no entry

what steps you can take to avoid bill shock overseas.

Australian customs officers may take an interest in

Some offer special daily add-on rates to keep roaming

you if you return home from Brazil without proof of

prices in check while overseas.

a yellow fever vaccination, but they won’t prevent
you from re-entering the country. You’ll be given an
information card and asked to keep an eye out for
symptoms over the next few days.

› Telstra
› Vodafone
› Optus
› Virgin

If you’re travelling anywhere other than Australia after
visiting Brazil, check that country’s rules as some will

Tip: Switch off data roaming on your phone before you

refuse entry to unvaccinated travellers arriving from

leave Australia. Likewise, switch off your voicemail and

yellow fever-affected regions.

ask friends and family to text you rather than calling
(you’ll be charged if you answer incoming calls).

More advice on health and safety in Brazil.




Local SIM

Travel SIM

A pre-paid SIM could save you quite a lot of money

If buying and setting up a SIM when you’ve only just

if you’re planning on using your phone regularly –

landed in Brazil sounds too daunting or difficult, pre-

particularly if you use data. Vivo, TIM, Claro and Oi are

paid travel SIMs are another option. They can be found

the four main providers in Brazil, check their websites

at some Australian travel stores, phone stores and

to compare coverage and pre-paid rates. You can buy

post offices, or ordered online before you leave.

and set up a local SIM (or “chip”, as they’re called in

Rates are unlikely to be as cheap as with a local

Brazil) fairly easily. Pre-paid (“pre-pago”) SIMs are

Brazilian SIM.

sold at mobile phone stores and at most bancas de
jornais (news agency/snack kiosks) for around R$10.

Remember: Your phone will need to be unlocked to

Make sure you buy the right size chip for your phone,

accept a SIM from another network.

and once you’ve activated it using codes sent to you by
text message, ask the seller for “recarga” (recharge)

Beat global roaming bill shock – our guide to

or buy credit via the phone company’s website or app.

unlocking your phone and changing your global

If you buy from a mobile phone store, you may be able

roaming settings.

to get the seller to help you with set-up.
Tip: The seller may ask you for you CPF (similar

Wi-Fi is available in most hotels and many cafes

to a tax file number) as this used to be a legal

and bars. Public hotspots are common – even Rio’s

requirement to buy a pre-paid SIM. A new law was

beaches have free Wi-Fi, although flashing an

passed in 2012 allowing foreigners to use their

expensive laptop or phone at the beach probably

passport number instead.

isn’t the best idea. To search for free hotspots try or download an app such as WeFi
(Android) or Wi-Fi Finder (Apple or Android).





Important: Tell your bank about your travel plans
two weeks before you leave. Card activity in a foreign

Standard voltage: 127/220V

country could be mistaken for fraud and you could find

Frequency: 60Hz

your account is frozen.

Voltage varies from 127 to 220V depending on which


region of Brazil you’re in. It’s impossible to tell just by

Cash machines are easy to find in Brazil, and even

looking at the electrical socket, so do your research

small villages will have at least one. Some ATMs may

before you go. Voltage in Rio de Janeiro is 127V, much

not recognise certain foreign cards, so it’s worth

lower than Australia’s 230V. The frequency of 60Hz is

bringing a couple of different options along with you.

slightly higher than Australia’s 50Hz.

Travellers tend to have the most success with ATMs
from the major banks HSBC and Banco do Brasil.

Most electrical appliances, such as laptops and

Remember you’ll be charged a transaction fee and a

phones, are designed to work on multiple voltages

conversion fee for using your Australian card.

and frequencies, but it’s always best to check. If your
appliance or charger is marked 100-240V, 50/60Hz

Tip: ATMs often close between 10pm and 6am for

then it will work in all regions of Brazil. Cheaper

security reasons, or they limit the maximum amount

appliances such as hairdryers and plug-in shavers are

you can withdraw at night. Always be careful when

less likely to have variable voltage and frequency – in

withdrawing money: cover the keypad as you enter

the best case they simply won’t work, in the worst

your pin and try to use machines that are inside banks

they’ll overheat and catch fire (the same warning

rather than on the street.

applies to electrical goods bought in Brazil and
brought back to Australia). A transformer can adjust

Credit cards

the voltage for you, but it’s quite a bulky item to travel

Credit cards are widely accepted in shops,

with. If you really need a certain appliance, consider

restaurants, hotels and even in some taxis. Remember

buying a cheap one once you’re in Brazil.

your bank will probably charge additional fees for
using your card overseas. If you’re worried about fees,

Power sockets:

Type N
Brazil’s type N power sockets and plugs are different
to Australia’s type I, so you will need an adapter.

Currency: Real (BRL/R$) (Pronounced “hey-ow”,
plural reais, “hey-ice”.)
Check for the latest exchange rates.




before your departure. You could also load a travel
money card with Aussie dollars, but you could be
charged conversion and/or withdrawal fees, similar to a
debit or credit card, as well as the initial card issue fee.
Tip: Carry at least two credit/debit cards and more
than one cash currency (e.g. US dollars and Brazilian
real). Split your money and cards between separate
bags. That way if you lose one, you have a back-up.
VAT varies from state to state, but you needn’t worry
check with your bank to see if they have a better card

about it too much as the number you see on the price

available for travellers. Credit card skimming is a

tag or bill will always be the price you pay (there’s

common problem in Brazil, so don’t let your card out of

no sneaky sales tax added, like in the US). A 10%

your sight when paying bills.

service gratuity is sometimes automatically added to
restaurant or hotel bills – otherwise, it’s courtesy to

Money changers

leave a tip. Unlike some other countries, VAT can’t be

Currency exchange desks are easy to find in tourist

claimed when leaving Brazil.

areas, just look for the “cambio” sign. You can also
change money at banks and some hotels. Exchange
rates will likely be higher at the airport than in town,
but you may want to pick up a few reais as soon as you

For more advice, see the CHOICE travel money guide.

Travel insurance

land, or even before you leave Australia, just for peace
of mind.

Travel insurance is essential. Buy insurance at the
same time as you book your trip, that way you’ll be

Travellers’ cheques

covered if you have to cancel for some reason before

Travellers’ cheques aren’t so common these days,

you go.

and you’ll have trouble finding many places that can
cash them. If you’re using travellers’ cheques, foreign

To choose the best cover, see CHOICE’s travel

exchange booths and major banks are your best bet.

insurance reviews and comparisons.

Travel money cards

Ask your insurer about exclusions that may affect you,
including extreme sports such as jet skiing and bungee

A travel money card isn’t a great option for Brazil as

jumping, motorcycle or scooter accidents, as well as

there are no cards available from Australian financial

pre-existing medical conditions. If you’re planning

institutions that can be loaded with Brazilian real (or

to drive a car, check what level of cover your travel

any other South American currency). Of course, this

insurance offers, so you don’t end up paying extra for

may change in the lead-up to the Olympics, so if you’re

unnecessary insurance from the car rental agency.

particularly keen on using a travel money card for

If you’re pregnant, your travel insurance may not cover

security reasons, check what’s available a few weeks

you if you contract the Zika virus in Brazil.




Be aware that anything that happens to you while

› Search for free Wi-Fi hotspots at

under the influence of drugs or alcohol is unlikely to be

or download an app such as WeFi (Android) or Wi-Fi

covered by insurance.

Finder (Apple or Android).


› Keep a print-out of your travel insurance details
with you at all times while on your trip.

Tip: To save a map onto your Apple or Android mobile
device for offline use, select the area on Google
Maps then select ‘Save offline map’ from the menu

› Share your insurance details with family or friends
before you leave.

Handy links and apps
Consider adding these links and apps to your phone,
tablet or laptop before you go.
Tip: If possible, choose apps that work offline so they

and follow the directions on the screen. Your GPS
positioning will still work on the saved map, even when
you don’t have access to the internet. Alternatively, go
to ‘Offline maps’ in the menu and select a city.

› – the official website of the 2016
Olympic Games.

› – the official tourism website for Rio .
› for the Australian

won’t chew up your mobile data or stop working when

government’s latest advice on the safety of the

you’re in remote places.

region you’re travelling in.

› Travel apps such as Triposo (Apple or Android)
include maps and info about popular destinations.
Many are designed to work offline.

› Currency conversion apps help you work out costs
in Australian dollars.

› Language translation apps can help with



› for the latest currency exchange rates.
› for crowd-sourced
information on culture, travel tips and more
(may not always be accurate).


Flights to Rio de Janeiro, transport to and from Olympic
events, accommodation, airport guide and more.


proving you have transport out of the country,
accommodation, and sufficient funds for your stay.

Flight time from Australia: 18+ hours
Upon arrival, you’ll receive an entry card. Make sure

› There are no direct flights between Australia
and Brazil.

you don’t lose this as you’ll need to show it when
leaving the country and could be fined if you can’t
produce it.

› Airlines that fly to Rio from Australia with stopovers
include Qantas, Air New Zealand, LAN and TAM

Brazil has similar import restrictions to Australia

Airlines and Emirates (your booking may include

when it comes to importing fruits, vegetables and

a codeshare combination of two or more airlines).

other natural products like seeds and wood, so you’ll
need to either declare these or avoid packing them.

› You can compare fares on airline booking sites such

If you’re transiting through another country, such

as,, or with

as the US, be sure to check their entry and exit

a travel agent. See our tips on booking flights.

requirements as well. They may have different laws

At the airport

about bringing medications or other items into the
country, and you may need a visa if you’re planning
a stopover.

If you’re arriving in Brazil on an Australian passport
between 1 June and 18 September 2016 you won’t need

Rio de Janeiro airports

a visa. However, you will need at least six month’s
validity on your passport and at least one blank page

Tom Jobim International Airport (GIG)

for entry and exit stamps. According to the Embassy

› More often known by its previous name, Galeão

of Brazil, you may also be asked to show paperwork



International Airport.


› 20km north of the city centre.
› Taxis queue up directly outside the terminal. Yellow

domestic flights.

› 2km from the city centre.

taxis are metered, ‘radio taxis’ (usually blue, green
or white) charge a set rate, which you can organise
at a kiosk desk before leaving the terminal. In
theory the yellow taxis should be cheaper, but that

› Airport website:

Olympic venues

depends on whether or not your driver gets stuck in
traffic or decides to get creative with the fare.

The Olympic and Paralympic events will take place in

A radio taxi might be a safer bet if you prefer to

32 different venues across four regions of Rio, as well

know upfront how much you’re paying.

as five football co-host cities: Belo Horizonte, Brasilia,
Manaus, Salvador and Sao Paulo:

› The BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) runs 24/7 express
services to Alvorada Bus Terminal in Barra da


Tijuca (the main Olympic venue), making stops at

Situated in the coastal south-west of the city, Barra da

Fundão Bus Terminal, and Vicente de Carvalho and

Tijuca (known to locals simply as Barra) is the main

Madureira metro stations (connecting to the city

Olympic zone. It is home to 15 competition venues.

centre). Non-express BRT services make many
more stops along the way. BRTs leave from Gate H

Barra Olympic Park contains the Carioca Arenas 1

at Terminal 1 and Gate D at Terminal 2. Tickets are

(basketball, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair

only a few real and must be bought in advance from

rugby), 2 (judo, wrestling and boccia) and 3 (fencing,

a cashier desk inside the airport. The ticket is called

taekwondo and judo), Future Arena (handball and

a RioCard and can either be a one-off ticket or a

Paralympic goalball), Maria Lenk Aquatics Arena

rechargeable one.

(diving and synchronised swimming), Olympic Aquatics
Stadium (swimming and water polo), Olympic Tennis

› Private bus company Real also runs air conditioned

Centre (also the venue for five-a-side football during

services between 5:30am and 11:00pm to Santos

the Paralympics), Rio Olympic Arena (artistic and

Dumont Airport, Rio Central Bus Station, Alvorada

rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and wheelchair

Bus Terminal in Barra, and various other popular

basketball) and the Olympic Velodrome (track cycling).

spots including Copacabana and Ipanema.
Near the Olympic Park are Riocentro Pavilions 2

› Car hire desks are located in Terminal 2. Options
include Avis, Budget and Hertz, as well as local

(weightlifting and powerlifting), 3 (table tennis), 4
(badminton) and 6 (boxing and Paralympic volleyball).

companies Locaralfa, Car Rental Brazil and Transnet. 
The Olympic Golf Course is in Barra, just south of the

› Airport website:

Olympic Park.

Santos Dumont Airport (SDU)

At the southernmost point of Barra is Pontal, the
beachside location of the walking events and some

› Rio’s second major airport, only used for


road cycling events.


Barra is also the location of the athletes’

Maracanãzinho (or ‘Little Maracanã’) will host the

accommodation and the Olympic Beach and Rua

volleyball events.

Carioca leisure areas.
Getting there: Maracanã is in the centre of Rio, so
Getting there: The newly built Metro Line 4 is set to

depending on where you’re staying, the Olympic

open just in time for the Olympics. It connects Barra

venues should be easy to reach on foot or by bicycle,

with Ipanema (the southernmost station on Line 1). The

or by local bus or train. Maracanã Stadium is easily

estimated time to travel by metro from the city centre

reached from Maracanã Station on metro Line 2.

(using Line 1, then changing to Line 4) is 27 minutes.
Express BRT buses also run to Barra from Tom Jobim


Airport and from Deodoro.

Rio’s famous beach neighbourhood will host the beach
volleyball events in an arena at the northern end of the


3km long coastal strip.

To the west of the city, Deodoro Olympic Park is
home to nine venues including the Deodoro Stadium

Fort Copacabana at the southern end will be the

(hosting the rugby sevens and the combined sections

location for the swimming and cycling legs of the

of the modern pentathlon), the Deodoro Aquatics

triathlons, some road cycling events, the marathon

Centre (hosting the swimming section of the modern

swimming and the Paralympic marathon.

pentathlon), the Equestrian Centre, Hockey Centre,
Shooting Centre, Youth Arena (basketball and

Marina da Glória, north of the Copacabana strip and

wheelchair fencing), Mountain Bike and BMX centres,

close to the city centre, will host the sailing events.

and the Whitewater Stadium (canoe slalom).
Lagoa Stadium, close to the city centre, will host the
Getting there: The Deodoro line is a suburban rail

rowing and sprint canoeing events.

service that runs the 22km from Rio’s Central Station
to the Olympic venue. BRT buses also run to Deodoro
from Alvorada Bus Terminal in Barra.
Just north of the city centre, Maracanã is the
location of the Olympic Stadium (known locally as the
‘Engenhão’) as well as the Maracanã Stadium, which
will host the opening and closing ceremonies. Both
stadiums will host events in soccer, and the Olympic
Stadium will host events in track and field athletics.
Sambódromo (home of the Rio Carnival parade) will
host archery events and the start and finish of the



Getting there: Metro Line 1 runs south to Ipanema


(aka General Osorio), stopping at a number of stations

› Busão Carioca, (Android/Apple) an app with English

that are within walking distance of Copacabana beach.

language settings, can help make sense of Rio’s

Buses also run from downtown Rio to Copacabana.

complex bus system.

Marina da Glória is on Line 1 (Glória Station). Lagoa
Stadium is best accessed by bus.


› is website for planning trips on the BRT
(bus) system in Rio.

› is a website that can help you plan
Olympic Transport Card

short or long journeys, by any means, between

An early plan to make public transport free for

almost any two points in the world.

Olympic event ticket holders (as it was during the 2014
World Cup) has since been scrapped in favour of a paid

Trains and metro

Olympic Transport Card.

Rio has a limited but efficient metro system with
Metro-buses that connect stations with other areas.

Certain public transport services to Olympic venues

An above-ground suburban train network also runs

are likely to be restricted to holders of Olympic

further afield. The metro is a relatively safe and

Transport Cards during peak times. At the time of

affordable way of getting around.

publishing, the city and Olympic organisers were yet
to release any official information about the cost of

Tip: The last carriage on every service is women-only

the card or where to buy it, but it will presumably be

(you can’t miss it – it’s painted bright pink).

widely available and highly recommended if you need
to get to popular events during peak times. According


to reports, the card will be available to everyone, not

Rio’s BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system runs along

just to those attending Olympic events, but the cost will

dedicated bus lanes, so it’s a fast and efficient way of

be higher than standard fares.

getting around and certainly covers more ground than
the metro.

Following complaints from locals about the price hike
and probable inconvenience, a spokesperson for the


Rio Municipal Government said, “The restrictions are

Rio has around 450km of cycle lanes, making biking an

only for specific peak days and times.” Those peak

appealing alternative to joining the crowds taking taxis

days and times are yet to be announced, but you can

or public transport. Bike Rio is the city’s bike share

safely assume that they will include the opening and

program, with stations in more than 250 locations. To

closing ceremonies.

rent a bicycle, you’ll need to register on the website or
via the app, buy credit, then use your phone to unlock

Trip planning

a bike. The downside for international visitors is that

› Moovit (Android/Apple/Windows) is a handy

you’ll need a Brazilian phone number.

real-time app for planning A to B pubic transport
journeys in more than 850 cities worldwide,


including Rio.

Yellow cabs are metered, but watch out for yellow
cars illegally posing as taxis. Official yellow cabs will




have a blue strip on their side. Fares are relatively

Car hire

cheap, although rates are higher from 9pm to 6am

Avis, Budget and Hertz, as well as local companies

Monday to Saturday and on Sundays and holidays.

Locaralfa, Car Rental Brazil and Transnet operate

Rio’s congestion can be pretty bad (although it’s hard

out of Rio’s international airport, but you may find

to say whether it will be better or worse during the

a cheaper deal if you pick up your rental car from

Olympics), so be prepared for higher fares if you get

somewhere other than the airport. There are plenty of

stuck in traffic. Radio taxis, which are blue, green or

options along Avenue Princesa Isabel in Copacabana.

white, are more expensive, but they charge a fixed

The big international companies are often a safer bet,

rate so you’ll have no nasty surprises. Most radio

as they’re easier to deal with if something goes wrong.

taxis accept credit cards, but most yellow taxis only

Most companies will only rent to drivers older than 25.

accept cash.
Scooter hire
It’s no use trying to use your Uber app in Rio as the

Zipping around Rio on a motor scooter may sound

city has banned ridesharing services. Easy Taxi is a

more appealing than sitting in traffic and trying to find

commonly used English-language taxi booking app,

a park in a rental car. It’s also a lot cheaper. However,

which allows cashless payment.

be aware that your travel insurance is unlikely to cover

Tip: Most taxi drivers don’t speak English so make

you for a scooter accident. If you don’t have experience

sure you have your destination written down, just in

driving a scooter or motorbike, it’s best not to even

case your pronunciation isn’t up to scratch.

consider trying it for the first time in a foreign country.
In fact, some scooter hire companies in Rio refuse to
rent to drivers with no experience on two wheels.




Driving in Brazil
If you’re only visiting the city of Rio (and particularly

› It is illegal to drive in thongs – so pack something
other than your Havaianas.

if you’re only there for the Olympics) then it’s highly
unlikely you’ll benefit from having your own car.
Public transport will be far more convenient. You may,

› Right of way is given to vehicles already on a

however, like to rent a car to see the sights outside of
the city. If you’re planning on driving, make sure you
have the appropriate skills, license and insurance.
Driving in Brazil is not for the fainthearted. Drivers can
be aggressive and rules are often ignored, some roads

› Keep your windows up and your doors locked – carjackings can happen at traffic lights and stop signs.

› Because of the risk of car-jackings, many drivers
ignore stop signs at night.

are in poor condition and parking can be difficult to
find in cities,

If you’re not keen on driving, consider joining an
organised tour (some offer small, friendly groups) or

License: You don’t need an international license to

hiring a private driver for the day. In a place like Brazil,

drive in Brazil, but you do need a colour photocopy of

it’s not as exorbitant as it sounds and it could save you

your Australian license with an official Portuguese

a lot of stress.

translation (done by a sworn public translator or by
the Embassy of Brazil) as well as photo ID. Car hire


companies are unlikely to ask for this, but the police
could make life difficult for you if you’re pulled over

If you’re visiting Rio during the Olympics and you

and you don’t have it. By law they can seize your

haven’t yet booked your accommodation: do it now.

vehicle for any infringement, and they may use that

Expect high prices and limited availability.

power to get an on-the-spot fine (aka bribe) out of you.
If you have an accident without the proper license, the
consequences could be a lot worse.

› Vehicles drive on the right.
› Seatbelts are compulsory for drivers and all
passengers. Children under 10 must sit in the rear
seats. If a child is too small to use a seat belt, a child
seat must be used.

› Drink driving laws are strict and penalties are severe
for driving with a blood alcohol level above zero.

› Mobile phones can only be used hands-free.
› It is illegal to run out of petrol.


With up to a million people set to visit Rio during


the games, and 80% of the city’s accommodation

Olympic tickets

reportedly already booked by teams, sponsors and
officials, options for tourists will be limited.

CoSport ( is the authorised ticket reseller
in Australia for the 2016 Olympic Games. It offers

You can search for and book hotels and hostels online

individual tickets as well as package deals that include

through sites such as, or

accommodation. Compare booking sites and the
hotel’s website (if it has one) to find the lowest price.

According to reports, scalping began in Brazil almost

Check reviews on before you book.

as soon as tickets went on sale. It’s illegal in Brazil
to resell tickets above their original value, so be

Many of Rio’s residents are taking the initiative to get

aware that if you buy scalped tickets at an inflated

out of the city and cash in on renting out their homes.

price, you could be dealing with a shady character. Be

To find private home rentals, try brazilrentmyhouse.

particularly wary of buying counterfeits.

com and For entire homes, or rooms for
rent within local’s homes, try

Scam alert: Some unlucky sports fans have been is a good place to search

fooled by websites selling non-existent tickets and

for a bed and breakfast (known in Brazil as a pousada)

package deals. To avoid rip-offs, stick to the official

but don’t expect to find many vacancies during the

seller. Read the official Rio 2016 Legal Ticket Guide.