Brazil’s most famous city of Rio de Janeiro is most famous for football, Cocacabana, Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer, samba and carnival. Needless to say, all of these are the sort of things where a car is much more a hindrance than it is a help.
If you only have a few days in Rio, then you certainly aren’t going to run out of enough breathtaking places to see without needing to get around using anything other than public transport and your own two feet. Of course the trains in Rio don’t just mean subways – you have the combination of the cable car going up Sugarloaf Mountain and the rack railway to the Christ the Redeemer statue.
Rio is a city that’s surprisingly walkable, despite the horrendous traffic in some places. Rio de Janeiro is a huge metropolitan area with public transport that’s perfectly good, abut the city is so tightly hemmed in to the tiny footprint it has, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and steep hills on the other.
Why would anyone even consider getting a hire car in Rio? This really depends on how long you are here for, and what else you might want to see immediately beyond. A popular excursion to Niteroi to see the Museum of Contemporary Art. This can still easily be done by bus.
Essentially, a car is going to be useful for a few reasons:
Any sort of road trip from Rio can only be the icing on a cake that is Rio itself. We very much doubt that any sort of Rio car hire deal would need to cover the whole length of your stay. Having a rental car with you in the city centre can result in some considerable parking charges. Since land is astonishingly scarce, car parking charges reflect that.
There are no major long distance rail services in Brazil, so any trip outside the city is going to be by road.
Rio car hire advice summary
Should I rent a car in Rio? There is of course no need to get a rental car at all in Rio, but if you are here for long enough, then hiring a car might be a good idea for 2 or 3 days at the end of your trip. Moreover, if you are even considering Rio car hire in the first place, then the chances are that it’s very much an option that’s still worth looking at.
Verdict – yes (partial rental).