The majority of international flights arriving in Brazil will land in either São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. You will need to transfer to another domestic flight to Florianópolis, but don’t worry – there are plenty of flights per day and the journey is only 1 hour, 10 minutes from São Paulo and 1 hour, 35 minutes from Rio.
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Arriving in Rio de Janeiro
International flights into Rio de Janeiro will land at Galeão Airport. This airport is the country’s second busiest airport, and is located on an island, about 30 minutes by car from the zona sul (south zone) of Rio.
Where to stay in Rio de Janeiro
Some international visitors want to spend a night or two in Rio, just to rest and adjust before continuing their journey. We recommend you stay in the Zona Sul part of town, as this is safer and more suited to tourists. Zona Sul neighbourhoods (Flamengo, Botafogo, Copacabana, Leblon, Ipanema, Barra da Tijuca, Urca, Lagoa, Jardim Botânico) are more expensive, but in Rio, location is important, as some neighbourhoods are not simply safe for tourists to enter.
Taxis from Galeão Airport
Tourists usually will arrive at the airport, walk straight outside from Arrivals and find many white taxis waiting for them. These taxis will always cost you more, because they know you are a new arrival and unsure of the appropriate price. We recommend you take a yellow taxi from Departures. Jump into a cab that is dropping off passengers at the airport. Also, it is best if the taxi uses the meter. Simply ask them “Pode ligar o taxímetro por favor?”
Taxis use two fare rates, labelled 1 and 2, and you will see which fare type is being used on the meter. Rate 1 (Bandeira 1) applies from 6am to 9pm Monday through Saturday. Rate 2 applies from 9pm to 6am and all day Sunday and public holidays. In December, taxis use rate 2 at all times. Make sure your driver is using the correct fare rate.
Please, always use licensed yellow taxis when in Rio. Do not be tempted to take public transport after dark to save money. Once in the city, you can get around more cheaply using Uber, but Uber is not allowed to collect passengers from the airport. You can estimate how much your taxi will cost by using the Taxi Fare Finder website.
Flying from Rio de Janeiro to Florianópolis
If you are not staying in Rio de Janeiro and wish to transfer straight through, you will still need to collect your luggage, clear customs and immigration before boarding your next flight.
If you are staying in Rio de Janeiro for a short period before travelling on to Florianópolis, you have two options for airports to depart from. Santos Dumont Airport is located in the city, so it is much cheaper to reach by taxi. The views over Sugarloaf Mountain and downtown Rio are stunning as you depart. However, there are no direct flights to Florianópolis from this airport, so you’ll need to connect in São Paulo.
Alternatively you can return to Galeão International Airport for direct flights to Florianopolis.
Arriving in São Paulo
International flights into São Paulo will arrive into Guarulhos Airport, which is the busiest airport in the country. Guarulhos is not located in the city of São Paulo itself. It’s actually located in another city (called Guarulhos, hence the name). The airport is a 30-minute taxi ride away from the heart of the city.
Where to stay in São Paulo
If you are just staying overnight for a quick rest, we recommend just booking an airport hotel. There are some nice, cheap hotels in Guarulhos and you might find it less stressful than dealing with the traffic and chaos of this concrete jungle.
However, if you want to experience the rat race that is São Paulo, we recommend you stay in and around Consolação, Jardins, Jardim Paulista, Brooklin, Vila Madalena, Moema, Vila Mariana, Bela Vista and República.
Taxis from Guarulhos Airport
Some airport hotels may offer a shuttle bus from the airport, but if you are staying in São Paulo itself, we recommend you take a taxi into town. Similarly to Rio, tourists usually will arrive at the airport, walk straight outside from Arrivals and find special airport taxis (Guarucoop radio taxis) waiting for them. These taxis charge a flat rate to the city, which is more expensive than the regular price that the ordinary taxis will charge. However, if you are travelling between 6-8pm, you will hit traffic, so the flat rate fare might be a better idea.
If you are travelling outside of these hours, and you want to save some money, we recommend you take a regular taxi from departures. Grab one that has just dropped off passengers at the airport. São Paulo regular taxis are all white with TAXI SP on the side. It is usually best if the taxi uses the meter. Simply ask them “Pode ligar o taxímetro por favor?”
Taxis use two fare rates, labelled 1 and 2, and you will see which fare type is being used on the meter. Rate 1 (Bandeira 1) applies from 6am to 8pm Monday through Saturday. Rate 2 applies from 8pm to 6am and all day Sunday and public holidays. Make sure your driver is using the correct fare rate.
Please, always use licensed white taxis when in São Paulo. Do not be tempted to take public transport after dark to save money. Once in the city, you can get around more cheaply using Uber, but Uber is not allowed to collect passengers from the airport. You can estimate how much your taxi fare will cost by using the Taxi Fare Estimator website.
Flying from São Paulo to Florianópolis
If you not staying in São Paulo and wish to transfer straight through, you will still need to collect your luggage, clear customs and immigration before boarding your next flight.
São Paulo has several airports. If you chose to stay at an airport hotel out at Guarulhos when you arrived, it makes sense to leave from there. If you decided to stay in São Paulo, it is better to leave from Congonhas Airport, as it is centrally located and much cheaper to reach by taxi. The views over the São Paulo skyline are spectacular as you leave. There are direct flights to Florianópolis available from both airports.