Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are the two most populated cities in Brazil and the highway between these cities experiences high volumes of traffic daily. The city of São Paulo is 429 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro and buses travel along the President Dutra highway which is also crossed by some of the other major highways of Brazil.
The bus from Rio to São Paulo takes about 6 hours and connects the Novo Rio bus station and the São Paulo Tietê bus station. There are a number of companies which run this route and between them, you can find departures every 15 minutes from about 07:00am until 02:00am. Here are five of the better companies which cover the route:
Origin City = Rio de Janeiro - RJ (TODOS)
Destination City = São Paulo - SP (TODOS)
With all the companies that operate this route, you can choose departures on buses with different types of seating which also affects how much you will pay for the ticket.
Convencional - fair recline good enough for daytime travel but not the best for sleeping.
Executivo - Good recline, can get some good rest during the trip
Leito - Close to flat and best for sleeping. Least number of departures.
Note: If the bus is showing DD - it means it is a double-decker
All of the above classes are air-conditioned and feature an onboard lavatory. Sometimes the air conditioning can run too strong and its best to take something warm just in case. No food is offered on the bus but they do make about two comfort stops during the trip where you can use bathrooms and purchase snacks and drinks.
If you purchase your ticket at the Novo Rio terminal directly, try to be there about an hour before the departure of the bus you want to have a chance to get a seat, more to be super secure. During high season and public holidays, you may wish to go some days before or pre-purchase your ticket online.
The companies accept credit cards, and once you purchase your ticket from one of the desks on the second floor of the Novo Rio terminal, check which platform you will depart from which will be printed on your ticket. If you pre-purchased your ticket, you still need to collect it from the company's counter at the terminal.
If traveling with large baggage then once your bus arrives take the bags to the back of the bus where an attendant will put them in the under storage compartment and give you a small receipt which you must produce to collect your luggage in Sao Paulo. Before boarding your bus the attendant will also check your passport and note down the details; this is common in Brazil if you are traveling between states.
Costa Verde Route
If you have a couple of days to make your travel between Rio and Sao Paulo then consider taking the tourist route along the coast. The Costa Verde (Green Coast) route from Rio to Sao Paulo includes places such as the beautiful Ilha Grande and Paraty which you may wish to visit.
The bus takes 6.5 hours on average to travel the 429 kilometers (266 miles) from Rio to São Paulo. During peak times you will experience delays on the road out of Rio and also on the road into São Paulo due to traffic. The overnight buses are usually quicker due to less traffic.
All the companies offer similar quality buses, so picking a bus would depend on how much you wish to recline during the 6.5-hour trip. Look for the "Leito" class buses if you want to lie flat. Expresso Brasileiro advertises they have 4G internet.
The bus from Rio to São Paulo departs from the main bus station in Rio de Janeiro which is called the Rio Novo Rodoviaria. It is on the outskirts of downtown and you can take public transport there. Click on the button to read about how to get there.
Most buses arrive at São Paulo's largest terminal which is called Tietê, with the exception of the Catarinense company whose buses arrive at the Terminal Barra Funda. Both these terminals are joined by the Metro.
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