- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Brazil Guide (PDF)
Despite Brazil's economic progress, much of the country’s infrastructure is stuck in the past. Roads, bus stations and airports are outdated and often overcrowded.
Location makes a big difference in the available transportation options. Major cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have taxis, buses and metro systems in addition to international and domestic airports. However, in smaller cities, options are more limited. Travel between cities may require planes, buses or boats.
Public transport in Brazil
Boats provide services to get to islands along Brazil’s extensive coastline and various locations along the country’s many rivers. In some places, especially in the Amazon region, boats may offer the only available transportation.
Taxis in Brazil
Driving in Brazil
Brazil’s road system is woefully inadequate. While there are paved highways between major cities, they're frequently in disrepair and can be dangerous. This leads to a high number of road fatalities in Brazil every year. Traffic within and between major cities can be extremely congested.
That said, many expats in Brazil choose to own a car for the flexibility it provides. Some expat employment packages provide drivers and others will support the process of getting a car and licence. Car ownership is expensive, with car and petrol prices quite high. Expats will need a Brazilian licence if they intend to live in the country for a while. Having a valid licence from another country will likely expedite the process, but this varies based on country of origin. All expats will need to undergo some degree of testing to be licensed.
Cycling in Brazil
Cycling is popular in many of Brazil's main cities. Extensive bicycle-rental schemes are often available. Dedicated bicycle lanes and paths are also available in some parts of Brazil. Cyclists should, however, avoid cycling late at night for safety reasons. Cyclists may find themselves having to cycle in the road or on sidewalks, and in this case, they should be aware of pedestrians and unruly drivers.
Walking in Brazil
In most of Brazil, walking is not an ideal form of transport. Expats who find themselves with no alternative should be wary of possible pickpocketing and mugging. Drivers are prone to ignore pedestrians. Expats will need to be careful when crossing busy roads and should try to use footbridges where possible.
Air travel in Brazil
For domestic travel, unless one has days and weeks of time to spend on buses, a flight will be the best option. Flying can be expensive, but advance purchase can help offset the cost. Every major city has an airport. Many of these also received much-needed renovations before the 2014 World Cup.
Jennifer Sikes is an American writer currently living in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, with her husband and dog. She has travelled extensively in her personal and professional life across Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. Website: www.anotefrombrazil.wordpress.com
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