There are several booking engines that are suitable for comparing flights and prices between different companies, a decent one is Skyscanner.com. They list all the potential airlines and routes with no extra fee, however, it is cheaper to book on the airline website sometimes. Air service covers most of Brazil, a good amount of flights stops en route, particularly in hubs as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro or Brasília. Majority of the airports with regular passenger traffic are operated by the federal company Infraero, that has a website, with English and Spanish versions. It lists all the airlines operating in each airport, and also has updated flight schedules.
The main Brazilians airlines are TAM followed by GOL, and Azul. Portuguese TAP has a few domestic code shares with TAM,including flights leaving Portugal to Fortaleza. There are also a number of regional companies, such as NHT (Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina).
Travelling by plane is not that cheap, although sometimes Tam and Gol have one day promotion or promotional weekend sales available online, making flying easier and cheaper.Tam Airlines offers an air pass that depends on the number of destinations you want to visit and should not exceed the maximum of 9 stopovers.
Booking on the national airlines websites can be a challenge for foreigners. Usually, a CPF (national identity number, equivalent to Social security number in America) is requested when paying by credit card. One solution that might work is to visit one of the airline international website, but usually there is no promotional fair available, you will pay the full price. Many flights can also be found on foreign booking engines where no CPF is needed. If you book weeks in advance, most airlines will give you the option to pay by bank deposit (boleto bancário), which is actually payable by cash in banks an other convenience stores like supermarkets and post officesin Brazil. Buying a ticket with a travel agent is generally a bit more expensive however , is less stressing than dealing with CPF issue.
Bear in mind that many domestic flights have many stops en route. Always check your flight number and confirm with the air company staff.
Summing up,the main Brazilian airlines are:
The Brazilian road network is the largest of Latin America with over 1.6 million kilometres and Brazilians have a love affair with speeding. In the major cities there is always a chance to get stuck in the traffic during the rush hours;when people leave home to work between 7-8 am and when they come back home between 5-6 pm. A car is a good idea if you want to explore scenic areas, e.g. the historic cities of Minas Gerais, the Rio-Santos highway, or the beaches in North-East Brazil. There are the usual car rental companies at the airports.
Many roads are well preserved, especially the ones located in touristic routes. Google maps covers majority of the main cities in Brazil.In rural areas, many domestic animals walk freely on the roads and highways! Pedestrians take enormous chances crossing the road, since many drivers do not bother to slow down if they see pedestrians crossing,unless you are in Brasília, where you just need wave your hands at the cross walk (uk: zebra).
You can either drive with an international driver’s license or with a foreign license, which is valid for up to six months. Major international car rental chains such as Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Localiza can usually be found throughout all major cities and airports.Prices don’t necessarily include insurance, so check in advance.
Some notes about driving in Brazil:[list style="yellow"]
- In Brazil cars are driven on the right hand side of the road.
- A flashing left signal means that the car ahead is warning you not to pass, for some reason. If the car ahead of you wants to show you that it is safe to pass it will flash the right signal. The right signal is the same signal to indicate that you’re going to stop on the side of the road, so it means you’re going to slow down. On the other hand the left signal is the same signal to indicate you’re going to pass the car ahead, meaning you’re going to speed up.
- Flashing, twinkling headlights from the cars coming on the opposite side of the road means caution on the road ahead. Most of the time, it indicates that there are animals, police or speed radar ahead.
- Keep the doors locked when driving, especially in the bigger cities, as robberies at stop signs and red lights are quite common in some areas. You’ll make it much easier for the robber if he can simply open up the door and sit down. Be equally careful with keeping your windows wide open, as someone might put their hands inside your car and steal a wallet, for instance. Leave your handbags and valuables out of sight.[/list]
Using a taxi to get around the city is handy and usually cheaper than in North America or Europe. You can flag one down anywhere. City taxis are metered and have two rates, or bandeiras.Bandeira 2, which is more expensive than Bandeira 1, is in effect after 8 p.m. and on Sundays and holidays, and sometimes during the “holiday” month of December. Sometimes, cab drivers will refer to a rate sheet—this happens when fares are raised but haven’t yet been factored into the meter.
If you hit it off with a cab driver, ask for his/her card. Often he/she will give you special rates for trips to airports or other long journeys. In small towns and for longer trips in cities, you can often propose a set price instead of paying the metered fare. On arrival in Brazil, ensure that you use licensed airport taxis. You can pick up licensed taxis from the many recognised taxi ranks around Brazilian cities as well – a driver’s photographic licence on display is a good indication that a taxi is registered. Most Brazilian airports have licensed taxi desks inside the baggage reclaim areas.
In smaller cities and towns the bicycle is a common means of transport. This does not mean that cyclists are usually respected by cars, trucks, or bus drivers, because they are not.I strongly don’t recommend cycling in the city center of São Paulo unless you want to risk your life. But you may find roads with little traffic outside the cities. Cycling paths are virtually non-existent in cities, except along certain places, such as Rio de Janeiro (160 km of cycling path)Recife and now São Paulo.
Brazil’s railway system was mostly wrecked during the military regimes. Today there are a few passenger lines left and some designed only for tourists,here I list the passenger lines:[list style="yellow"]
- The Serra Verde Express from Curitiba to Paranaguá. This scenic 150 km long railroad links the capital of Paraná to the coastal cities of Morretes and Paranaguá, through the beautiful Serra do Mar mountains covered with mata atlântica forest. The trip takes about 3 hours and has bilingual guides. Trains leave daily at 08:15 and prices start from about R$ 50 (round-trip) – More information at Serra Verde Express.
- From São João del Rei to Tiradentes - This 35-minute ride on a steam train is almost like time travel. The train operates Fri-Sun, with departures from São João at 10:00 and 15:00 and 13:00 and 17:00 from Tiradentes. The round trip costs U$20,00.It’s operated by Ferrovia Centro Atlântico.
- From Belo Horizonte to Vitória - Daily trains operated by Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (the second largest iron ore mining company in the world),the train leaves Belo Horizonte at 07:30 and Vitória at 07:00. Travel time is about twelve and half hours. Tickets are sold at the train stations, there are coach and executive fares. Seats are limited and it is not possible to reserve, so it is advisable to buy in advance.
- From São Luis to Parauapebas - interesting because part of it passes through the Amazon rainforest,the railway is operated by Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, the same that runs Belo Horizonte to Vitória.
- From Macapá to Serra do Navio- 193 km, the trip takes 6 hours.The railway is ran by the iron ore company MMX.The trip costs R$4,00 reais each way(November,2011).[/list]
You can check a list of authorized trains for tourism and passengers from the Brazilian government Agency of Transportation :ANTT.
By intercity bus
One of the most impressing characteristics of Brazil is the continental size of the country.
Long-distance buses are a convenient, economical, and sometimes (usually if you buy the most expensive ticket), rather comfortable way to travel between long distance journeys. The bus terminal (rodoviária) in cities replaces the train stations in Brazil, as railways are almost nonexistent. Just to mention the Rodoviária Tietê in São Paulo has the largest bus terminal in Latin America , and the second largest in the world, after the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City.You should check travel distance and time while traveling within Brazil, going from Rio de Janeiro to the south region could take more than 24 hours, so it may worth going by plane if you can afford it.
Brazil has a very good long distance bus network. Basically, any city of more than 100,000 people will have direct lines to the nearest few state capitals, and also to other large cities within the same range. Pretty much any little settlement has public transport of some kind (a van service) to the nearest real bus station.
Mostly you have to go to the bus station to buy a ticket, although most major bus companies make reservations and sell tickets online with the requirement that you pick up your ticket sometime in advance (some offer the e-ticket service others don’t). In a few cities you can also buy a ticket on the phone and have it delivered to your accommodation for an extra charge of some 3-5 reais. Some companies have also adopted the airlines’ genius policy of pricing: In a few cases buying early can save you more than 50%. The facility of flagging a bus and hopping on (if there are no available seats you will have to stand, still paying full price) is widespread in the country. This is less likely to work along a few routes where armed robberies have happened frequently, such as those leading to the border with Paraguay and to Foz do Iguaçu.
There is no bus company that serves the whole country, so you need to identify the company that connect two cities in particular by calling the bus station of one city. ANTT, the national authority for land transportation, has a search engine (in Portuguese) for all available domestic bus lines. Be aware that some big cities like São Paulo and Rio have more than one bus station, each one covering certain cities around. It is good to check in advance to which bus station you are going.
Bus services are often sold in three classes: Regular, Executive and firstclass (Leito, in Portuguese). Regular might not have air conditioning,although this only happens in rare cases. For long distances or overnight travels, Executive offers more space and a folding board to support your legs.First-class has even more space and only three seats per row, making enough space to sleep comfortably.
All trips of more than 4 hours are covered with buses with bathrooms and the buses stop for food/bathrooms at least once every 4 hours of travel.
Brazilian bus stations, known as rodoviária or terminal rodoviário, tend to be located away from city centers. They are often in pretty sketchy areas, so if you travel at night be prepared to take a taxi to/from the station. There will also be local bus lines.
Rodoviárias include many services, including fast-food restaurants, cafés, Internet cafés, toilets and left luggage. As a general rule, the larger the city, the more expensive the services.
When buying tickets, as well as when boarding the bus, you may be asked for proof of ID. Brazilian federal law requires this for interstate transportation. Not all conductors know how to read foreign passports, so be prepared to show them that the name of the passport truly is the same as the name on the ticket.
Main intercity buses companies:
- Aguia Branca
- Real Expresso
- Nacional Expresso
For further information about the different type of buses check (http://www.onilinhas.com/categories/index.html)
By city bus
In most cities you have to wave to stop the bus when you want to take it.The bus lane is usually very narrow and many buses stops in the same spot.
Most buses often have a front section, before the turnstile (in Portuguese: catraca), reserved for the elderly, handicapped and pregnant women . Typical prices are around R$ 3,00.In São Paulo you can purchase the Bilhete Único magnetic card, then a single fare payment allows you to take other buses for free for the next 3 hours after touching in the card. Simply scan the card in front of the card reader, and the turnstile will be released,other big cities offer a similar service.
You can try asking the conductor to warn you when the bus is close to your destination. Depending on whether he or she understands you and feels like helping you, you may get help.
In addition to large city buses, there are often minibuses or minivans (alternativo). You pay the driver when you go aboard.
Subway service is present in 15 cities in Brasil.To check the information about subway/metro service in Brasil check Urbanrail.net (http://www.urbanrail.net),they have listed the subway in Brazil’s biggest cities :Recife, Brasília,Belo Horizonte,Rio de Janeiro,São Paulo and Porto Alegre.
Metros are very handy to get to know big cities like São Paulo ,Rio de Janeiro and Brasília, and they are usually clean and efficient, avoid it in the rush hours.
In the Amazon region as well as on the coast west of Sao Luís, boat travel is often the only way to get around to nearby cities, you can even find floating supermarkets and banks made to serve the population that live around the Amazon basin.