How to get to Ribeirão Preto (and other information for foreign travelers)
The most convenient way to get to Ribeirão Preto from outside Brazil is to fly from your country to São Paulo. Then, you can travel to Ribeirão Preto either by plane or road (bus or car). There is no railway service for passengers between São Paulo and Ribeirão Preto.
a) From your country to São Paulo:
All international flights to São Paulo arrive at the Guarulhos International Airport (GRU), also known as “Cumbica” airport. Guarulhos (pronounced “gwarooleews”) is the largest airport of South America and receives daily flights from several countries.
From Europe: Flight time from Europe to São Paulo is just over eleven hours depending on your starting point. Most flights leave Europe in the evening and arrive in São Paulo in the early morning. The return flights depart in the late afternoon or early evening and arrive in Europe the following day around lunchtime or earlier. Air France, Alitalia, British Airways, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa, Swiss, TAP, Turkish and the Brazilian carrier TAM (which is a Star Alliance member) all run regular services between Europe and São Paulo.
From North America: Flight time from North America to São Paulo varies in the range from eight and a half hours from Miami to just over twelve hours from Los Angeles. Most flights are overnight flights that arrive in Brazil early in the morning. The same is true for the return legs. Flights are operated by Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta, TAM, United Airlines and US Airways.
From Asia: São Paulo receives daily flights from many Asian cities. Usually the flights are either via the US (e.g. Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas or Atlanta), Europe (e.g. Frankfurt, London, Paris or Barcelona) or South Africa (via Johannesburg). Flight times depend on your starting point. From Japan and Korea the flight time is about twenty-four hours. Besides North American, European and African companies which fly to Brazil and can be used to reach São Paulo from Asia, there are regular flights operated by Air China, Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways, Korean Air, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines.
From Latin America: São Paulo receives daily flights from most Latin American capitals and major cities and is served by Aerolineas Argentinas, AeroMexico, Avianca, Boliviana de Aviación, Copa Airlines, Cubana de Aviación, GOL, LAN, TACA and TAM.
From Africa: There are only three airlines that operate direct regular flights between São Paulo and the African continent: Ethiopian Airlines, which flies from Addis Ababa via Lomé in Togo, ATAAG Angola Airlines, which flies from Luanda, and South African Airways, which flies from Johannesburg.
Oceania: There are no direct flights from Oceania to Brazil. The best options are to fly to Buenos Aires in Argentina or to Santiago in Chile and then to São Paulo.
b) From São Paulo to Ribeirão Preto:
From Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) there are daily flights to Ribeirão Preto (airport code RAO) operated by TAM and the Brazilian regional carrier Passaredo. Another option to go from São Paulo to Ribeirão Preto by plane is to go to São Paulo’s domestic airport, Congonhas (CGH), and fly from there. Congonhas (pronounced “Congonyas”) is the busiest airport in Brazil and has daily flights to Ribeirão Preto operated by TAM.
There is a shuttle bus service linking Guarulhos and Congonhas, called “Airport Service“. Buses (painted blue and red) depart daily about every thirty minutes from 5:30 am to 12 midnight, and then at 1:30 am, 3:00 am and at 4:30 am. Under good traffic conditions the journey takes about one hour. Notice: São Paulo is plagued for very heavy traffic jams, especially on weekdays, so the shuttle bus journey from GRU to CGH can be very frustrating. So, always allow plenty of time between your arrival in GRU and your departure from CGH.
An alternative for those who want to fly to Ribeirão Preto but do not need or want to spend time in São Paulo is to take the international flight to Rio de Janeiro instead of São Paulo. International flights to Rio arrive at the Tom Jobim International Airport (GIG), formerly called Galeão (pronounced “Gahleaum”). There are regular flights from GIG to Ribeirão Preto operated by Passaredo. You can also take a taxi or bus (line 2145) from GIG to Rio’s domestic airport, Santos Dumont (SDU), which is located downtown. TAM operates non-stop daily flights between SDU and RAO.
Passaredo also operates daily flights between Ribeirão Preto and Belo Horizonte (non-stop), Brasília (non-stop), Goiânia (non-stop or via Uberlândia), and Salvador (via Brasília and Barreiras). One also can fly to Ribeirão Preto from any major Brazilian city by TAM, via Congonhas, or by Azul (another Brazilian carrier), via the international airport of Campinas (Viracopos International Airport).
The airport of Ribeirão Preto (RAO) is called “Leite Lopes“. It is a small airport and after your arrival you should take a taxi to your hotel.
Transport within Brazil is overwhelmingly road based, accounting for about 95% of travel. Because of this the Brazilian bus service is fairly good with high quality buses connecting most major cities.
To go from Guarulhos to Ribeirão Preto by bus you first need to get to the São Paulo Bus Station, known as “Terminal Rodoviário Tietê” (pronounced “Tee eh teh”) or simply as “Rodoviária”, which means bus station in Portuguese, (pronounced “Hodohveeahrea”). To do so you can take a blue and red shuttle bus operated by the company “Airport Service” (the same one which runs buses to Congonhas). Be sure to ask for a bus to the “Terminal Rodoviário Tietê” when buying your ticket because this company also runs buses to other destinations within São Paulo. There is approximately one bus per hour. You can also go to Tietê Station by taxi. If you want to go by taxi you should avoid getting ordinary taxis and take a blue and white (“azul e branco”) or red and white (“vermelho e branco”) radio taxi. The taxi ride should cost between R$ 60-70 (US$ 36-42). Under good traffic conditions the bus or taxi ride from Guarulhos to Tietê Station takes about 45 minutes.
Tietê Bus Station is the largest and busiest bus station in Brazil. There are hundreds of buses serving virtually every corner of Brazil and some South American countries. The bus station is also connected with a subway (metro) station, also called Tietê Station, so you will see a lot of commuters walking around. There are two bus companies which run buses to Ribeirão Preto: Rápido Ribeirão Preto and Viação Cometa. The buses run from 6:00 am to 1:00 am approximately every half an hour. To buy your ticket you would be better off going to the Information Desk (“Balcão de Informações”) located in the upper floor and ask them where are the ticket desks of the two companies. After buying your ticket be sure to know the number and location of the platform from which your bus will depart (they are located downstairs). Notice: Since Tietê Station is a crowded area you should always watch your personal belongings carefully.
The bus ride from São Paulo to Ribeirão Preto lasts about four and a half hours. The rides have a 20 minute stop in the middle of the journey. The buses are equipped with air-conditioning and toilets. Once in Ribeirão Preto the bus makes two stops. The first is at the so-called “Mini-Rodoviária de Ribeirão Preto” and the second is at the main bus station in downtown Ribeirão Preto, which is also the end of the trip. It is better to drop off the bus at the main station. If there is nobody waiting for you at the station it is better to leave the arrival platform and go downstairs straight to the front of the station where there are taxis you can take to your hotel.
If you are courageous enough to drive in São Paulo (it is not dangerous but it requires a lot of patience) you can hire a car at Guarulhos. There you can find several car rental companies including Avis, Budget, Hertz, Localiza and Unidas. Since you will drive to Ribeirão Preto it is advisable to hire a car with air-conditioning. The State of São Paulo boasts the best highways in Brazil and many of them are as good as their counterparts in Europe and North America. To drive in the State of São Paulo you should know that São Paulo highways are referred to by their names instead of by numerical codes. Every highway has a numerical code for sure but nobody uses it and even the official road signals refer to the highways by their names. So, to go from São Paulo to Ribeirão Preto you should take either “Anhanguera” (pronounced “Anyangwerah”) or “Bandeirantes” (pronounced “Bahndeh eerantehs”) highway. Just for completeness, the codes of the “Anhanguera” and “Bandeirantes” highways are “SP 330” and “SP 348” respectively.
After leaving the airport you should follow the directions to São Paulo and then to “Marginal Tietê”. “Marginal Tietê” is a beltway that goes along Tietê River crossing São Paulo from east to west. It is relatively easy to get to “Marginal Tietê” from Guarulhos and once there you should drive for about thirty minutes (if the traffic is flowing) until you see directions to access “Bandeirantes” highway. There will be a sign at the right-hand side indicating “Bandeirantes Saída Exclusiva”, which means “exclusive exit to Bandeirantes”, and you should take it. If you miss it you will have another opportunity to leave “Marginal Tietê” by taking the “Anhanguera” highway exit some kilometers ahead.
Whatever highway you take (it is preferable to take Bandeirantes), once you have taken it you are on your way to Ribeirão Preto. Both highways are private, which means they are tolled. There are eight tolls (“pedágios” in Brazilian Portuguese) between São Paulo and Ribeirão Preto and the total amount they charge is about R$ 50 (US$ 25).
Bandeirantes is a modern highway with three or four lanes each way and its speed limit is 120 km/h (74 mi/h). However, it does not go all the way to Ribeirão Preto because it merges with Anhanguera highway at km 173 (around a city called “Cordeirópolis” just after a Nestlé factory at the left-hand side of the road for those who are driving from São Paulo). Anhanguera is a somewhat older highway with two or three lanes each way. Its speed limit is 100 km/h (62 mi/h) until Bandeirantes merges with it and then it becomes 110 km/h (68 mi/h).
On your return ride you should leave Ribeirão Preto by Anhanguera and take Bandeirantes to reach São Paulo by the fastest route. When Bandeirantes arrives in São Paulo it bifurcates into two roads, one to the right and the other to the left. You should take the left one (the signs will indicate “Marginal Tietê – Zonas Norte e Leste”). Then you will be at Marginal Tietê and you should continue along it until you will see the indications to Guarulhos International Airport).
If you are a nature lover and wants to stretch your legs with a walk of about one hour in the middle of your drive to or from Ribeirão Preto there is an excellent option at the Vassununga State Park just beside Anhanguera highway at km 243 (74 km from Ribeirão Preto). You will find in this park one of the oldest living beings on Earth, a “Jequitibá Rosa” tree (Cariniana legalis) about 3,000 years old. The “forrest patriarch” as it is called is a magnificent tree about 40 m (131.2 ft) high with a 11.3 m (37 ft) circumference trunk.
Citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to come to Brazil: (**)
ANDORRA, ARGENTINA, AUSTRIA, BAHAMAS, BARBADOS, BELGIUM, BOLIVIA, BULGARIA, CHILE, COLOMBIA, COSTA RICA, CROATIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, DENMARK, ECUADOR, FINLAND, FRANCE, GERMANY, GREECE, GUATEMALA, GUYANA, HONDURAS, HUNGARY, ICELAND, IRELAND, ISRAEL, ITALY, LIECHTENSTEIN, LUXEMBOURG, MACAU, MALAYSIA, MALTA, MOROCCO, MONACO, NAMIBIA, NETHERLANDS, NEW ZEALAND, NORWAY, PANAMA, PARAGUAY, PERU, PHILIPPINES, POLAND, PORTUGAL, REPUBLIC OF KOREA, ROMANIA, SAN MARINO, SLOVAKIA, SLOVENIA, SOUTH AFRICA, SOUTH KOREA, SPAIN, SURINAME, SWEDEN, SWITZERLAND, THAILAND, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, TUNISIA, TURKEY, UNITED KINGDOM, URUGUAY, VATICAN, VENEZUELA.
(**) Since this list is subject to change at any moment, please confirm this information with the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate in your country before your trip.
Brazil follows the reciprocity principle concerning VISA requirements for foreign citizens from all the other countries, which ask visas for Brazilian citizens.
Details concerning the REQUIREMENTS to get a VISA can be obtained with the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate in your country.
No vaccination is required to come to Brazil unless you are going to visit the Amazon region.
Vaccination against yellow fever is recommended for all travelers when visiting the following states of Brazil: Acre, Amazonas, Amapá, Distrito Federal, Goiás, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima and Tocantins. Please note that yellow fever vaccinations take approximately 10 days to become effective.
If there is any doubt about the need for vaccinations, please contact the Brazilian Embassies or Consulates in your country.
An international certificate of vaccination against yellow fever is compulsory for travelers who, within the three months prior to their arrival in Brazil, have visited or been in transit through any of the following countries: Angola, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, French Guyana, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Peru, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Venezuela and Zaire.
An international certificate of vaccination against polio is compulsory for children aged between three months and six years.
BRAZILIAN AIR PASS
Visitors to Brazil who are interested in visiting different regions of the country should consider the possibility of buying in advance a TAM Brazil airpass. An air pass can only be sold outside Brazil, and to non-residents with a return air ticket.
For more details about the City of São Paulo, please see:
São Paulo Convention & Visitors Bureau: http://www.visitesaopaulo.com/english/index.asp
São Paulo City Official Website: http://www.cidadedesaopaulo.com/sp/en
São Paulo City in Wikipedia:
For more details about Ribeirão Preto, please see:
Ribeirão Preto Official Website (Portuguese only): http://ribeiraopreto.sp.gov.br/
Ribeirão Preto in Wikipedia:
For more details about Brazil, please see:
Official Brazilian Tourism Website: http://www.braziltour.com/index.html?locale=en