Rio de Janeiro

By | 16th January 2018

Should you rent a car in Rio?

Do you need a car in Rio de Janeiro > Should you rent a car in Rio de Janeiro Brazil > Rio de Janeiro ( GRU )

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.

Do you need a car in Rio de Janeiro? Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

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.

Why should you rent a car in Rio de Janeiro?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Rio de Janeiro?

Rio de Janeiro Car hire summary

Overall drive rating



Cheapest rate for one week




How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?





Free parking score

Total 1194 - of which 237 have free parking. [full notes - parking]




Essentially, a car is going to be useful for a few reasons:

  • Firstly, if you are staying somewhere out in suburban Rio where bus services are a lot more spread out and where they’ll take forever to get anywhere, then a hire car might be a very marginal benefit.
  • Secondly, the real reason to get hold of a car is to head along the coast roads outside Rio and open up views of some of the spectacular scenery that surrounds it. This might only be something to do for a day or two, or perhaps one day heading south along the coast and another day heading north. There are also a few driving loops worth looking at which involve heading along the coast and then diverting inland and then round the circle back to Rio.
  • There are numerous national and other state parks within a one day drive of downtown Rio.

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.

Why not? Visiting Rio de Janeiro without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Rio de Janeiro public transport quick facts

Train score



Water travel score


Overall public transport score


Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)


  • For anything in the city of Rio itself, no car is needed.
  • The most famous attractions of Rio involve iconic trips on public transport:
    The cable car up Sugar Loaf Mountain; and
    The rack railway to the statue of Christ the Redeemer.
  • For anything remotely sport or carnival related, Rio car hire options are equally useless.
  • Rio has an extensive bus network, together with a reasonable sized metro system.

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).


Car rental in - Rio de Janeiro Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Rio de Janeiro?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.

Is it worth hiring a car in Rio de Janeiro?

Based on value for money

Should you rent a car in Rio de Janeiro?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Rio de Janeiro if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?


Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Rio de Janeiro if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?


What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Rio de Janeiro if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?



Final score:


Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Would you hire a car in Rio de Janeiro?

Have you driven in Rio de Janeiro? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Rio de Janeiro?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

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