Rio de Janeiro is a very large and quite accessible city that can often be tricky to get around in. Here are all the available options you need to get from Point A to Point B, whatever that destination may be.
These little yellow chariots are quite abundant and happen to be the most convenient and safe way to get around if you are a tourist. A 20 minutes ride in the city costs about $6 US. If you do not feel safe about getting a taxi on your own, ask your hotel or a nearby restaurant to order one for you. Taxis are required to have meters by law, so if a driver asks for a prepayment it probably means his price is inflated. Radio taxis are recommended.
Downtown can easily be explored on foot and most areas in Rio are very enjoyable if strolled through. Leisurely walks are the best way to take in the streets and people. Avoid downtown (Centro) at night and unlit streets in almost all other areas.
Rio uses a complex Brazilian bus service which links the city to hundreds of destinations throughout Brazil. Bus drivers are known to be a little crazy: running red lights and racing other buses. However, during the day they are perfectly safe: just be careful with your belongings during rush hour, for pickpockets are common. Buses should generally be avoided at night. A bus ticket costs 1.5R for a non air-conditioned bus, and 1.7R for one with air conditioning: however, which one you end up on is completely random.
For accessing the downtown areas and other sights such as Maracana, the subway may be a good option. Although small, the subway is safe and reliable. However, it does not go into Ipanema and there is only one stop at the far end of Copacabana. A one way ticket is 1.9R. The metro is closed on Sundays and holidays, and is open from 6 am to 11 pm Monday through Saturday. There are 2 lines, and though it does not serve the entire city, it is quite efficient and very clean.