Rio de Janeiro airport travelers will pass through one of two main airports. The larger and busier of the two is the Galeao International Airport. Santos Dumont Airport is a smaller, domestic airport. The former, which handles all of Rio's international flights, can be found approximately twelve miles from downtown, while the latter is adjacent to downtown. Since both are so close to the city, you won't usually waste a lot of time in transit when trying to get to a Rio hotel or vacation rental.
The Galeao International Airport calls Governador Island home. Some of the facilities at this large island airport are shared with the country's air force. A number of international carriers offer flights to this busy Rio de Janeiro Airport, with possible points of origin including New York City, Atlanta, Paris, London, and Lima, among others. Once you arrive at the Galeao International Airport, you will find a bank office on the first floor of Terminal 1 should you need it, not to mention a few ATM machines. Terminal 2's arrival halls include an American Express office.
As far as ground transportation is concerned at the Galeao International Airport, it is possible to take a taxi or hop on a bus. You can also rent a car through one of four international rental agencies or take a shuttle. Those who are interested in Rio airport shuttles should know that a shuttle bus heads to the major hotels and beach destinations on an hourly basis. The cost is relatively cheap. Public buses are another cheap options, and leave the airport about every 30 minutes and are destined for the Centro, or City Center.
When taking a taxi is your preferred means of transportation at the Galeao International Airport, the best option is to buy a pre-paid taxi ticket at the airport's travel information desk. This desk can be found in the arrivals hall. A pre-paid taxi ticket will be more expensive than stepping outside and hailing a taxi yourself, but you will avoid any of the tricks that some taxi drivers like to pull on unsuspecting tourists. Taking a longer than necessary route is one the more popular taxi driver tricks.
If you have down time at the main Rio de Janeiro Airport, the amenities include some shops and restaurants, not to mention a few cafes. The Galeao International Airport might not be the best dining or shopping destination in Rio de Janeiro, but there is enough to keep you busy while you wait for your flight.
The Santos Dumont Airport used to carry the international tag, but these days, it is only used for domestic flights. In fact, this Rio de Janeiro Airport on the Guanabara Bay is primarily used for shuttle flights that travel between it and the Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo. If you are flying from Sao Paulo or another domestic destination to this smaller Rio airport, you can take a bus or taxi to your hotel once you get there. The bus trips to Copacabana or Ipanema from the Santos Dumont Airport only take about twenty minutes on average, and a taxi ride is also relatively cheap. You can also purchase a pre-paid taxi voucher at the Santos Dumont Airport. As for general airport amenities, they include more than 100 shops and a large food court.
A number of good airport hotels provide lodging options for those who need them. If nothing else, staying at an airport hotel the night before your return flight home is worth considering. The downtown hotels are essentially the airport hotels of choice for those who are flying into the Santos Dumont Airport. Over at the Galeao International Airport, there are some decent hotels close by if you want to sleep within easy reach of the terminals. They might not be the best Rio hotels, but they should suffice for a night. These hotels include the Hotel Pousada Galeao and the Luxor Aeroporto Hotel, both of which are found at the airport itself.