Rio de Janeiro Layover Guide (GIG)

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Tours/To do | Relax/Sleep | Internet/SIM | Transport | Storage | Money

Rio de Janeiro–Antonio Carlos Jobim/Galeão International Airport (GIG) is the main international airport serving Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is estimated to be 17 km (10.6 mi) from the center of Rio de Janeiro. The airport started having commercial passenger flights in the 1970s. Rio de Janeiro is a vast seaside city famed for its tourism with beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema, the Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf Mountain. The city is also known for its sprawling Carnaval festival, night life, entertainment, history, art, culture as well as international trade and commerce.

Can you leave Rio de Janeiro Airport (GIG) airport during a layover? Do you need a visa?
It's possible for many travelers to visit Rio during a layover but in some certain cases, a visa will be required. (more info).

Tours, Things to do, Sightseeing

Brazil Organized Tours

Christ the Redeemer Official Cog Train

Make sure to book your Corcovado Official Train Ticket in advance so you get an up-close view of one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, Christ the Redeemer. Travel through the beautiful Tijuca National Park before taking in the stunning views of Rio de Janeiro. The giant statue of Christ overlooking the beautiful city of Rio from the 709-meter summit of Corcovado is widely known and recognized as the city’s symbol. This landmark was erected between 1922 and 1931. It was financed almost entirely by contributions from Brazilian Catholics. It was created by French sculptor Paul Landowski and built by the Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa, in collaboration with the French engineer Albert Caquot. These great minds have undoubtedly come up with a wonder for the world to marvel at. » book this tour

Rio de Janeiro: Sugarloaf Cable Car

Take the famous Sugarloaf cable car from Praça General Tibúrcio as you explore one of the most famous attractions in Brazil. Visit the top of Morro da Urca, the lower peak and then the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain to see beautiful panning views across Rio de Janeiro. From here, you can see the entire mountainous coast that rings the bay and its islands. The rock peak of Sugarloaf is the best known landmark in the city, it is 394 meters above the harbor » book this tour

Rio De Janeiro: Half-Day Rocinha Favela Walking Tour

Enjoy a walking tour through the Rocinha Favela in Rio which is the largest favela of Brazil. This tour is an eyeopener into life in Rio. Learn about the city’s famous shanty towns with one of the local guides as you meet the residents and experience their lives away from stereotypes. Learn the history of the favela and its social and economic challenges, you could even make monetary contributions to the favela community at the end of the tour. » book this tour

Brazil Things to do / Sightseeing


Just a few cities have the chance of taking a quick short stroll to get the beach and Rio de Janeiro is of such lucky cities as they are blessed with the beautiful Copacabana sand beach at its heart, the beach stretches four kilometers along one entire side of its downtown. You’ll find appealing century-old buildings, popular restaurants,cafés, and fine hotels. The much-respected monarch of the area, and of Rio hotels, is the renowned Copacabana Palace which was built in the 1920s and is now protected as a national monument. The Copacabana Palace was featured in the 1933 film “Flying Down to Rio” and hosted royalty and glamorous movie stars. The Palace recalls the halcyon days of power, wealth, and elegance when Rio was the capital of Brazil.

Time required: 1 hour.

Airport to here: From Santos Dumont Airport, it takes 10 minutes to make it here by taxi.


As a continuation from Copacabana’s four-kilometer strand, the beautiful beaches of Ipanema and Leblon are divided by the Jardim de Alá Canal, which drains the lagoon, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. There are large hotels, sidewalk cafés, and restaurants along the seafront promenade. These two districts are best known for their beaches, one of which was made world-famous by the song The Girl from Ipanema. They have a lively cultural life, with art galleries, cinemas, and an avant-garde theater among many other attractions.

Time required: 1 hour.

Airport to here: It takes a little above 10 minutes to get here by taxi and 32 minutes by bus.


The Maracanã will be of immense interest to soccer fans especially when a match is scheduled. Being Brazil’s largest stadium, this was where the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games were held. It now holds more than 78,000 fans after it was completely renovated for the FIFA World Cup 2014. The stadium is mostly used for matches between Rio’s major football clubs, the Flamengo, Botafogo, Fluminense, and Vasco da Gama,and for other concerts as well.

Time required: 2 hours.

Airport to here: It usually take about 5 minutes to get here by taxi or 20 minutes by bus.

São Bento

The church and monastery of São Bento are located on the hill just above the harbor , and are one of the finest Benedictine complexes in Brazil. The church was originally built in 1617 and was without aisles until it was enlarged in the second half of the 17th century when eight side chapels were added. The finest artists at the time were involved in decorating the interior. The beautiful carving that covers the walls and ceiling was particularly the work of a monk by the name Domingos da Conceição. He was also responsible for the figures of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica on the high altar. This place is too beautiful to miss when you’re on tour here.

Time required: 2 hours.

Airport to here: It usually takes about 15 minutes to get here by taxi or 50 minutes by bus.

Quinta da Boa Vista

The beautiful garden and imperial palaces of São Cristóvão are currently public parks and museums, the Quinta da Boa Vista is located here. Between the period of 1808 and 1889, the palace was the residence of the royal and the imperial family but was later altered and rebuilt as the Palácio de São Cristóvão. It is where the National Museum is found now and it has the largest zoological, botanical, ethnographic, and archaeology collections in the country, totaling over a million items.

Time required: 1 hour.

Airport to here: It takes less than 10 minutes to get here by taxi or almost 15 minutes by bus.

Botanical Garden

Rio’s Jardim Botânico is a combination of an ecological sanctuary with show gardens and a scientific laboratory,covering 350 acres at the foot of Corcovado in a beautiful park-like setting. Best places to be over here, are the Orchidarium, an iron-and-glass greenhouse built back in the 1930s and filled with over 2,000 species of orchids, and the Japanese Gardens also with their lovely cherry trees, wooden bridges, Bonsai and Koi ponds. There is also a sensory garden of aromatic plants and herbs that are signed in Braille. This garden, is a UNESCO biosphere reserve and contains more than 8,000 species of plant life, birds and animals that make this their habitat, including toucans and marmoset monkeys.

Time required: 2 hours.

Airport to here: It will take one about 15 minutes to get here by taxi or 1 hour using the recommended metro Rio.

Santa Tereza and Escadaria Selarón

Santa Tereza is undoubtedly Rio’s most atmospheric neighborhood. The restaurants and cafés here are favorites of intellectuals and artists who add an extra touch to the Bohemian atmosphere. The best places here are surprisingly found by just wandering the streets that usually exhibit beautiful views where there are several attractions and things to do. The church and convent of Santa Tereza, dating to as far back as 1720 is found here.

Time required: 1 hour.

Airport to here: One can get here in 5 minutes by taxi or almost 15 minutes by bus.

Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro Airport (GIG)

Relaxing and Sleeping

Airport Lounges and Relaxing
Several lounges are available in each terminal of the airport. » view all lounges or buy a lounge pass or membership online

Hotel and Sleeping
There are options for transit hotels and many other hotels close to the airport. » view all or book an airport hotel online

Rest Area and Sleeping in Airport
There are no designated rest areas but there are vantage points with reclining chairs throughout the airport.

WIFI/Internet and SIM Card

WIFI/Internet: There is Free unlimited WiFi available, connect to the ”RIO GALEAO Wi Fi” network.

SIM Card: Many shops within the airport that sell SIM cards. » buy a global sim card for Brazil, Rio de Janeiro that you can use for other countries as well!

Transportation to/from airport

Taxi: There are taxis available around the clock just outside the arrival hall of Terminal 2.

Train: There is an airport connection to the TransCarioca Expressa Line. (more info).

Bus: Several buses operate between the airport's terminals and most parts of Rio. (more info).

Shuttle: There are hotel shuttle services.

Car rentals: Car rental options are available onsite in Terminal 2 and can be contacted on the phone or online. » view available cars or rent a car now online

Parking: There are safe and secure parking facilities available at all terminals. You can book your parking slot online.

Luggage Storage & Lockers

There is a secure luggage storage, Malex in Terminal 2, on the Ground floor. » book a luggage storage or locker at Rio de Janeiro Airport (GIG) online (subject to availability).

Money Exchange and Withdrawal

- Rio de Janeiro Airport (GIG) ATMs, currency exchanges and banks