Country profile

Plastic surgery in Brazil: Travel and accommodation

International flights from Europe and the US land at the international airports of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Recife or Salvador, where there are connecting flights to most other major Brazilian cities and rather than flying directly into Rio, most scheduled flights from Europe fly first to São Paulo and then go on to Rio de Janeiro.  Rio’s international airport is called Galeão, and is also known as Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport.  It was the country’s main international airport but São Paulo’s International airport, Guarulhos, took its place in the eighties.  Galeão is located approximately 14 miles north of central Rio, on Governor’s Island and São Paulo’s International airport, Guarulhos is located 18 miles north east of the city.  Rio and São Paulo both also have airports closer to their city centres which are used for the 55 minute air-shuttle between the two cities and other regional services.

Getting to / from the airports

The Avenida Brasil and Linha Vermelha link Rio’s airport with its city centre and taxis can be hailed from outside the terminal building.  For taxi journeys get a pre-paid taxi ticket from the State Tourism Authority counter, these are usually slightly more expensive but they will ensure there is no confusion over journey prices.  Alternatively, an airport shuttle bus leaves every hour and serves major hotels and beach areas, (journey time around 45 minutes), and a public bus goes to into the city centre every 30 minutes between 6am and 9pm.

From São Paulo airport prepaid radio taxis also serve the terminals and an airport bus connects with Congonhas Domestic Airport and the city centre.  A shuttle minibus also runs to the city centre as well as an executive city bus (located on the arrivals floor), for which tickets must be pre-paid.  The journey time into the city centre is between half an hour to an hour depending on traffic.

In Brazil taxis are meter run and are plentiful in most of the cities, in Rio for example, one in three cars is a taxi.  The regular, metered yellow cabs can be flagged on the streets while “Taxi Especial" (special taxis) are larger vehicles with air conditioning so are more expensive and usually located at airports, outside hotels or booked by phone.  Although the meter is used in the taxis hailed on the streets, the driver will also refer to a chart taped to the rear side window of the vehicle upon arriving at your destination.  Both Rio and São Paolo have efficient and fast Metro trains which are an easy way to get around town.  Driving isn’t recommended in Rio.

Travelling within the country

Long distance journeys in Brazil are generally done by air or bus – with the faster option obviously being by air.  Brazil has several domestic airlines offering inexpensive fares from Tam, Vasp and Varig as well as no frills airlines; Gol, Fly and Ocean Air.  If you’re intending to do more than a few flights in Brazil ask your travel agent/tour operator about the ‘Airpass’, this is an economical way to travel within the country, is valid for 21 days and can incorporate up to nine internal flights with VARIG, TransBrasil, TAM and VASP Airlines, however it must be purchased before arrival in the country. 

Instead of train travel, Brazil has an extensive bus network with modern buses linking major cities with services between Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo every 15 minutes.  Bus stations in Brazil are called ‘Rodoviárias’, and you'll find departures to virtually anywhere at any time of the day.  Bus travel may be cheap but the distances can be quite considerable even on the luxurious (leitos) buses.  Fortaleza, in the north east, for example, is as far from Rio de Janeiro as Buenos Aires is so for really long journeys it’s worth booking a seat on one of the more expensive buses with seats which stretch out like beds.

The usual rental car companies are located at the airports and driving is on the right.  Driving standards in Brazil are not considered to be very good so if you are planning to travel around Brazil by car the tourist office recommends getting a copy of the “Quatro Rodas Guia Brasil” which is published by Editora Abril and is effectively Brazil's Michelin guide.


There are a wide range of hotels in Rio to suit all budgets.  The average cost for a double room on the famous Copacobana beach for example in a three or four star hotel is €60.00, including buffet breakfast.  There are also apartments available from €35.00 per night which can be more convenient home from home experience for medical tourists staying more than a week.  For more information about accommodation in Brazil, Brazilian Wave Tours lists a wide range of hotels in Rio, and the rest of Brazil.

The Brazilian monetary unit is the Real (BRL) with 100 centavos to the real.  €1 = approximately 3 R$ (BRL).

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