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World Youth Day Travel Advice

Advice for pilgrims travelling to Brazil for Mission Week and World Youth Day (WYD).

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


‘Please note that the WYD events originally scheduled to be held in Guaratiba on 27th and 28th July will now take place in Copacabana. This is due to heavy rain effecting the Guaratiba site.

Please monitor local media and The World Youth Day website for further information

As well as this advice, check out the FCO travel advice for Brazil.


Mission Week (16-20 July)

World Youth Day (23-28 July)

Venues for main events:


23rd July – Opening Mass (1 million people expected)

25th July – Papal Welcome Ceremony (1.5 million people expected)

26th July – Stations of the Cross (1.5 million people expected)

27th July – Vigil with the Pope (all night) (2.5 million people expected)

28th July – Final Mass (2.5 million people expected)’

Further information from the World Youth Day organisers is available here.

Arriving in Brazil

  • You don’t need a visa to travel to Brazil if you’re staying less than 3 months as a tourist, but your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after entry
  • Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is not valid in Brazil, so travel insurance is essential. It could save you a lot of money if you get into difficulties
  • It is necessary to carry Photo ID with you at all times (it does not have to be your passport)
  • There have been social protests across Brazil including in Rio in recent weeks. You should avoid all protests and demonstrations. Monitor local media and follow the guidance of local authorities and the WYD Organisers. The FCO Travel Advice for Brazil will provide updates if the situation changes

Arriving into the city

Information desks at airports and bus stations will indicate the best way to get to your destination. All individuals (registered and unregistered) will need to pay for transport from the airport/bus station to their accommodation. The WYD Organisers plan to have English speaking volunteers in all key entry points to assist pilgrims. They may not be there for late night/early morning arrivals so have details of the location you need to get to and ensure you have adequate cash.

Only use licensed taxis. The international airport in Rio has licensed taxi desks inside the baggage reclaim area. You can pay for your taxi in advance using a credit card or cash inside the airport rather than on the street. There are also standard taxis (taxi ‘comum’) and buses available throughout the city. While cheaper than licensed taxis, lack of spoken English will make communication more difficult. Standard taxis can also, on occasion, try charging more or claim that the meter is not working, thus charging a higher rate.

Always take a note of the license plate and company that your taxi belongs to (stated on the rear side of the car above the wheel). This will be required if you need to report any incident or need to try and reclaim items that have been left in the vehicle. Taxi drivers need to display their official Photo ID inside the taxi. This is usually displayed on the dashboard or front windscreen. If in any doubt, do not use the taxi.

Getting to the venues

The transportation network in Rio comprises of buses, subways, trains and ferries. Registered pilgrims will be provided with a transportation card in their Pilgrim Kit. This will be valid for dates depending on the package that you purchased. The card will only be valid for up to eight trips per day. Plan ahead and make sure you have adequate cash if you will be travelling by taxi or not using your transport card.

Buses to the overnight Vigil in Guaratiba will be clearly marked. Please note that the final stop of the buses will be 13km from the access gates. You will be required to walk the remaining distance. Pilgrims with disabilities will also be required to complete the 13km journey to the site of the Vigil.


Not all the venues will have a metro station nearby.

The metro system operates Mon-Sat from 05:00 to midnight, Sunday and holidays 07:00 to 23:00. It is made up of two lines – Line 1 (orange), Line 2 (green). Opening hours will be extended during World Youth Day.

Individuals that do not have a WYD transport card can purchase a pre-paid card (similar to Oyster in London) to travel. These are available from machines at all stations.

Parts of the metro, including where stations are closed or not yet completed, are operated by Subway Bus Lines (Metrô Na Superfície). The pre-paid card includes travel on these bus routes.

Costs and metro maps are available from the Metro Rio website in english


Only use licensed taxis. You can pick up a licensed taxi from the many recognised taxi ranks around the city. Due to road restrictions and closures that will be in place during major events, your journey will take longer than normal and the taxi may not be able to drop you near to the venue.

At the venues

  • Follow the signs and instructions from your group leader and/or the volunteers
  • Access to the venues will be slow. You should get to the venues early


  • As in any other large city beware of pickpockets and bag snatchers at airports, bus stations, around tourist areas or when using public transport. Only carry what you need and leave spare cash and valuables in your hotel safe
  • Avoid dark and empty streets, especially at night. Keep valuables out of sight. If approached, hand over your belongings and avoid confrontation
  • Health care can be very expensive in Brazil. Make sure you have adequate travel insurance for everything you want to do. Medical expenses for serious accidents, diseases or repatriation may not be covered by insurance provided as part of World Youth Day registration. Remember too that sports like hang gliding and surfing may not be covered in your standard policy
  • Brazil has a zero tolerance policy on drink driving. If you are caught driving under the influence of alcohol, you will probably be prosecuted Penalties range from fines to imprisonment for up to 3 years
  • Do not leave your drinks unattended. Also note that spirit portions are much larger in Brazil compared to the UK
  • Drinking tap water is not recommended. Most restaurants and bars use filtered water for ice
  • Take special care not to leave jackets or bags containing wallets or passports unattended in restaurants and bars
  • Keep sight of your credit/debit card at all times. Notify your bank in advance of your trip to avoid your card being blocked
  • Most bank cash machines have a daily limit for cash withdrawals of R$300 (approximately £100) when using an international bank card

British Consulate address and telephone number

British Consulate-General Rio de Janeiro
Praia do Flamengo, 284 – 2 floor
Rio de Janeiro – 22210-065

Phone: +55 21 2555 9600 (including out of hours assistance) Website

Emergency services numbers

  • Ambulance – 192
  • Fire - 193
  • Police – 190

Tourist Police

Rua Afrânio de Melo Franco; Corner of Rua Afrânio de Melo Franco and Rua Humberto de Campos
(DEAT) - +55 (21) 2332 2924. Open 24hrs - English spoken.

Further information

  • ‘Like’ our Facebook page British Travellers – South America. This will help you stay in touch with us for the latest news and information, including the latest travel advice.
  • The World Youth Day website has further detailed information for pilgrims, as well as an FAQ section
Published 3 July 2013
Last updated 26 July 2013 + show all updates
  1. Added - Information on event avenue change from Guaratiba to Copacabana Added - Main event dates in Copacabana Removed - Main event dates for Guaratiba
  2. First published.