We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Driving from SP to Rio

Miami, Florida
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
6,357 posts
130 reviews
Driving from SP to Rio

Greetings:

As an alternative to flying from SP to Rio, I am thinking of driving. How many hours would it take on a weekend (leaving +/- 9:30 AM from SP)?....instead of me renting a car, might it be possible for me to find a driver?...if so, how much might it cost?

Is Angra and/or Isla Grandhe in between?....could I leave in the morning, spend 4 hours on the beach, then continue on to Rio and arrive at night...OR...would it be worth it for me to spend a night (Isla Grandhe?) and continue on to Rio the next morning. Keep in mind I a will be going solo--would there be decent nightlife for me if I stayed over OR are these places better to stay over if you have someone special?

Thanks,

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
429 posts
19 reviews
1. Re: Driving from SP to Rio

Yes, you could leave SP in the morning, spend 4 hours on the beach, and get to Rio by evening. I recently drove to the coast from SP, spent time wandering around some beach areas, took the ferry to Ilha Bela and back, and then drove back to SP. It wouldn't have been much of a big deal to have driven to Rio instead of back to SP.

I haven't been to Ilha Grande. However, I can tell you that Ilha Bela, especially the wild, remote eastern coast, is worth the journey. I noticed many attractive "B&B" type little hotels and hostels along the road. We had drinks and dinner at a cliff-top bar with a to-die-for view . . .

Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
683 posts
22 reviews
2. Re: Driving from SP to Rio

Elchevere,

I have lived in Angra and can confirm that you would be disappointed with the night life there. There just isn't much to do there at night. There is a bar/grill type place which can be okay depending on the night, a few modest restaurants, the shopping mall with a few restaurants and bar/grill and one night club which can get pretty busy after midnight or so on a busy weekend. Ilha Grande is not very big. The night options are basically what the pousadas put on.

I think you would have more fun in Florianopolis at night going solo than here. Just not many options. If you want to go anyway and not worry about the night options, my suggestion is to stay either on Ilha Grande or at a hotel like Blue Tree Park resort (I think the Pestana hotel chain also has a very nice place there now). Very beautiful there. In Angra, you absolutely MUST go for a boat trip for a day. It is absolutely beautiful there out on the water. Lots of islands/coves to go through. If you go for the boat trip, note that the trips on a speed boat or larger boat can be a bit expensive. The best way to go (price wise) is to book with a fisherman's boat in the centro of the city. I say fisherman but it's not like they fish at night and tours by day or anything. They are just simple guys with fishing boats that do tours. They don't really fish. The boats are not fast like speed boats or anything but they get you there and are a great service. They know all the islands and some guys even have books of post cards/photos of different spots you can visit there and you just have to point and say where you want to go. They also usually take you to have your lunch (if you want) at one of the couple of islands that have restaurants. Great stuff. I've got a contact for one of the fishermen if you want it.

Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
683 posts
22 reviews
3. Re: Driving from SP to Rio

Just curious why you want to drive. Why not take the bus? They are much cheaper than renting a car or hiring a driver/taxi to take you. If you make a deal with a common taxi, it will cost you about R$400, I believe. Never did it mind you. Pretty long drive (8 hours?) and the roads aren't what you may be used to.

Also keep in mind that driving can be dangerous for a foreigner by themself. If you drive, absolutely do not drive at night. Also, you can drive with your US valid drivers license but if you are pulled over by a policeman (especially the Military Police), they will tell you that it is required to also have a translation of your DL in Portuguese. Whether or not this is actually a requirement by law I am not sure (had an AVIS car rental clerk swear it wasn't necessary one time) but by yourself in the middle of nowhere Brazil and the MPs with the large automatic rifles in your face, pretty much whatever they say is the law. I am pretty sure the translation requirement is just something that they can use to sweat out some $$ from tourists but it is pretty effective. Not that they might not find some other reason to sweat you out as well (like not having your passport on you). Note that for almost any infraction, they have the right to confiscate the car. Also very convenient for them to sweat you out.

Some people say that crime against tourists in Rio is exaggerated and I would agree to that to some extent. But trust me when I warn you about the military police here. Especially on your own and in the middle of no where. It's definitely no exaggeration. For this reason, it's just not a very good idea for tourists to be driving here.

Princeton, New...
Level Contributor
3,479 posts
53 reviews
4. Re: Driving from SP to Rio

As a former resident of Sao Paulo I would not advise you to drive if you are not with a Brazilian who knows their way around. Do you speak Portuguese, can you read the roadsigns? It is very easy to get turned around and lose your way in both cities, Sao Paulo is a monster city and Rio is confusing given the many tunnels and the fact that Corovado always seems to be on your left, no matter which way you're traveling. I was stopped a few times by the police while in SP and it was never pleasant, nothing bad happened, but they sure do make you wish you were back in Kansas as threats and "opa amigao, voce vai ter muitas problemas se..." is being tossed around.

The biggest issue for a foreigner is that you won't be able to tell if you're in a safe neighborhood or not and what would you ask if you do get lost? Save yourself the trouble and fly, take the bus, hire a driver (one taxi was charging 300 USD to drive one way from Rio to SP, well worth it in my book. Good luck.

Miami, Florida
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
6,357 posts
130 reviews
5. Re: Driving from SP to Rio

Folks:

Thank you all for the input...definitely looks as though I will fly from SP - Rio.....will also plan on spending 3 or 4 nights in SP at the Renaissance.

One final question: since visiting Rio, I do my once a year clothes shopping in Brazil. It would appear there are even more options in SP, since it is an even bigger city and the fashion capitol of the country...question: can you recommend a store(s) where I might be able to find a leather blazer or leather jacket.....will it be hard(er) to find in late November or is this an item I should be able to find year-round?

Obrigado.

Princeton, New...
Level Contributor
3,479 posts
53 reviews
6. Re: Driving from SP to Rio

For shopping, you could try Oscar Freire, just a few blocks down the street from the Renaissance hotel, the concierge can direct you. Otherwise, try one of the shopping malls, Iguatemi, Morumbi, and a new one I don't know the name of, but the concierge will know.

Leather is an odd thing in Brazil. I lived there for 2 years and never found good leather sandals. The month I moved back to the state I found a great pair of leather sandals at Cole Hahn, they were made in Brazil. Good luck, you might be luckier than I was.

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
831 posts
64 reviews
7. Re: Driving from SP to Rio

don't get put off so easily. driving the Dutra is a cinch and will take you only a few hours. For a more interesting route, along the beach is fun until you get past Angra, then it's pretty bland.

And yes, in Rio you want to park the car and use bus and taxi -- great way to get around!

We drove SP to Rio via Paraty ( because we had to get back to SP for our return flight home), and although we missed the first exit from the Dutra (no signs, or only to the next town -- we were looking for "Paraty xx Km"), and then took an exit which lead us through fabulous countryside, slowly gaining height, always on a great road, little traffic, until we reached the top.

The sign there did say 'end of asphalt' or something like it, but by then it was too late, and we took the little Fiat from Avis down a very steep "road" ( washed out, narrow river bed" would be a better descriptive), but once a truck came up the opposite way and actually managed to pass us, we knew we were on the right "track" (lit.).

Granted, this 'descent' took well over an hour for hardly more than 12 km, but we came out right above Paraty and hit the entrance to the town dead on.

Not that we'd recommend this "direttissima" without a 4 x 4 ( no, no problem returning the car, but I drove very, very careful), but the car enabled us to find a few great beaches along the coast, we'd have never seen otherwise. Paraty has no beach worth the name.

went through two "roadblocks" by cops, but no problems at all. asked two cops on bikes on a Rio highway on-ramp for directions -- no problems, except language.

8. Re: Driving from SP to Rio

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 9:22 am, August 19, 2009