Santos Dumont Airport: Handy Travel Guide

Plane going to land at Santos Dumont Airport.

Did you know that annually, Santos Dumont Airport in Rio de Janeiro welcomes approximately 9 million passengers? As the second-largest airport serving the city, Santos Dumont plays a crucial role in connecting travelers from Brazil and beyond. Located in the city center of Rio de Janeiro, this airport serves as a gateway to various important domestic destinations. In this Dica do Dia, we will provide you with all the necessary information to get to know the airport and to make your journey through Santos Dumont Airport seamless and enjoyable. From transportation options to nearby accommodations and essential facilities, we have got you covered. So, whether you are curious about its airport code, the airport’s history, wondering how to get from Santos Dumont to Copacabana, or simply need reliable information about flights and facilities, this guide is your go-to resource for all things related to Santos Dumont Airport! Let’s dive in and start exploring.

A Brief Introduction to Santos Dumont Airport

Santos Dumont Airport is a popular destination for travelers flying to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Located in the city center, it offers convenient access to popular tourist spots, business centers, and hotels. Whether you are visiting for leisure or business, flying to Santos Dumont Airport is a great choice, as you are near everywhere in Rio de Janeiro.

Aside from its convenient location and accessibility, Rio de Janeiro Santos Dumont Airport is a very small airport where you don’t need to do long walkings to go around. It is small, clean, nice and easy-going. A favourite airport for a lot of people who used it!

Santos Dumont Airport Code

As one of the busiest airports in the country, it is essential to know its airport code for smooth travel planning. The airport code for Santos Dumont is SDU, which is commonly used in airline tickets, luggage tags, and airport announcements.

Landing at Santos Dumont Airport

Landing at Santos Dumont Airport in Rio de Janeiro is a thrilling experience. Located right in the heart of the city, this airport offers passengers stunning views of the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain and the picturesque Guanabara Bay. As the plane descends, you can catch a glimpse of the vibrant beaches, lush green forests, and the bustling city below. The landing at Santos Dumont Airport truly sets the stage for an unforgettable visit to Rio.

Where is Santos Dumont Airport?

It is located in the downtown area. So, where is Santos Dumont Airport exactly? Well, it sits right on Guanabara Bay, making for a stunning arrival or departure experience with breathtaking views of the city’s iconic landmarks.

For those planning a trip to Rio de Janeiro, it’s worth noting that Santos Dumont Airport receives primarily domestic flights from various Brazilian cities. It is the preferred choice for those visiting Rio for business or leisure as it offers a more convenient location compared to the other major airport in the city, Galeão International Airport. 

Getting from Santos Dumont Airport to Copacabana, Ipanema and City Center

To travel from Santos Dumont Airport to Copacabana, Ipanema or city center, you have several transportation options available. Whether you prefer public transportation or private transfers, there’s a convenient solution for everyone.

Traveling by Uber or taxi from Santos Dumont Airport offers a host of advantages. First and foremost, it saves you the trouble of navigating through public transportation with your luggage. Additionally, it provides a more personalized and comfortable experience compared to crowded buses or metro trains. You can sit back, relax, and enjoy the spectacular views of the city as you make your way to your desired location. Uber may be better when you don’t know the city as more difficult to get tricked by the driver and you can have the chance to protest to have the money back.


You can take bus line 483 his bus will take you to Copacabana and to Rio & Learn Portuguese School. Be aware that you may need to pay with cash (just small quantities allowed) as you may not be able to buy a bus ticket on the airport.


If you prefer a more direct and comfortable option, taxis are readily available at Santos Dumont Airport. You can easily find a taxi outside the terminal, and the journey to the city center is relatively short. It is the fastest way to leave the airport. Check out our dica about taxi in Portuguese to learn how to communicate with your driver.


There is a great Uber point at the Santos Dumont airport. Open the app, and go to the Uber point before ordering your Uber. Be aware of possible cell phone internet charges, so try to order from a wifi point.


If you want a hassle-free and personalized experience, you can arrange a transfer from Santos Dumont Airport to your destination in Rio de Janeiro. Many private transfer services are available, providing a comfortable and convenient way to reach your desired location. You can buy this service if you are student at Rio & Learn Portuguese School.

Car Hire

If you prefer the flexibility of having your own vehicle, car hire options are available. Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore Rio de Janeiro at your own pace and visit various attractions in and around the city.

Choose the transportation option that best suits your preferences and needs to make your journey from Santos Dumont Airport to Copacabana, Ipanema or city center a smooth and enjoyable one.

BusCost-effective option
UberDirect and comfortable
TaxiBe aware with driver tricks on the route
TransferPersonalized and hassle-free
Car HireFlexibility and convenience

Santos Dumont Airport Airlines

Today, flights operated from the airport are domestic ones. Popular domestic routes include:

  • São Paulo-Guarulhos
  • São Paulo-Congonhas
  • Brasília

As one of the major airports in Rio de Janeiro, Santos Dumont Airport accommodates several airlines, ensuring a wide range of options for travelers. The primary airlines operating include:

  • Azul Brazilian Airlines
  • Gol Transportes Aéreos
  • LATAM Brazil
  • Voepass

These airlines offer reliable service and a multitude of destinations, allowing travelers to easily connect with national locations.

Santos Dumont Airport Facilities

Santos Dumont Airport offers a range of facilities to enhance your travel experience. Whether you need banking services, baby care facilities, or a place to relax, the airport has you covered. Here are some of the key facilities available:


The airport provides banking facilities, ensuring that you can easily access ATMs and currency exchange services. So, you won’t have to worry about running out of cash during your trip. See how to manage in the bank in Portuguese.

Baby Care Facilities

Traveling with little ones can be challenging, but our Airport makes it easier with dedicated baby care facilities. These include baby changing rooms and private nursing areas to cater to the needs of parents and caregivers.

Free WiFi

Stay connected throughout your time at the airport with free WiFi available across the terminal. Whether you need to check emails or update your social media, you can do so without using your mobile data. You can use to ask for your Uber!

Duty-Free Shop

Indulge in some retail therapy at the duty-free shop, where you can find a wide range of products, from fragrances and cosmetics to electronics and souvenirs. Take advantage of tax-free prices and shop to your heart’s content.

Restaurants and Cafés

Satisfy your hunger or grab a quick bite at the airport’s restaurants and cafes. Whether you’re in the mood for local cuisine or international flavors, there are plenty of options to choose from.

There are two highly recommended restaurants next to the aiport, the Xian Rio restaurant a delicious and highly recommended asian restaurant, one of the best restaurants in Rio de Janeiro and Orla 21 that has one of the best views in Rio de Janeiro.

View from Orla 21 Santos Dumont Airport Restaurant.
View from Orla 21 Santos Dumont Airport Restaurant


If you’re looking for a more comfortable and secluded space, the airport lounge is the perfect place to relax before your flight. Enjoy amenities such as comfortable seating, refreshments, and access to charging points. It is a small but good-looking and modern airport!


For any essential medication or health-related needs, Rio Santos Dumont Airport has a pharmacy conveniently located within the terminal. You can find over-the-counter medicines and other health products to ensure you stay in good health during your travels.

These facilities at Santos Dumont Airport are designed to make your journey more convenient, comfortable, and enjoyable. Whether you need to take care of banking, find baby care facilities, or simply relax in the lounge, the airport has everything you need.

Is Santos Dumont Airport Dangerous?

While Santos Dumont Airport is not considered dangerous, it does have a unique feature that can be nerve-wracking for some passengers. Its runway is one of the shortest among major airports worldwide, which means pilots have to be highly skilled during takeoffs and landings. This has earned the airport a reputation for being challenging, resulting in awe-inspiring moments for passengers and pilots alike.

Like any major airport, Santos Dumont has implemented extensive safety measures and protocols to ensure the well-being of its passengers. It operates under strict guidelines set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Brazilian aviation authorities. These regulations cover various aspects of airport operations, including runway maintenance, air traffic control, and emergency procedures.

One concern that some travelers might have is the safety of being near an airport. However, Santos Dumont Airport is not dangerous and is well-maintained with strict security measures in place.

Sleeping in Santos Dumont Airport

If you find yourself in need of rest while at Rio de Janeiro SDU Airport, don’t worry – the airport provides a range of options for a comfortable and restful sleep. Whether you prefer a public area or a private sleeping pod, you can find the perfect spot to catch some Z’s.

First, the airport offers cushioned benches in the departure lounge, where you can relax and get some shut-eye. These benches provide a comfortable seating option for weary travelers who simply need a quick nap before their next flight.

If you’re looking for a more exclusive sleeping experience, you can gain access to sleep-friendly spaces through lounge passes. These spaces feature reclining chairs, ensuring you have a peaceful sleep. Just imagine sinking into a cozy chair and drifting off into dreamland while you wait for your next flight.

To enhance your sleep experience, consider bringing along essentials such as eye masks, earplugs, and travel pillows. These items can help create a calm and serene environment, allowing you to fully relax and recharge before continuing your journey.

Prodigy Hotel Santos Dumont Airport Rio de Janeiro

Located just next to the Airport, this hotel offers convenience and comfort for those arriving or departing from the airport.

In addition to its convenient location, the Prodigy Santos Dumont Hotel also offers easy access to the city’s attractions. The hotel is within close proximity to popular tourist spots such as Sugarloaf Mountain and Copacabana Beach. For those who prefer to explore the city by foot, the hotel is also near public transportation options.

For travelers arriving or departing from Rio de Janeiro on a tight schedule, the Prodigy Santos Dumont Airport Hotel is the perfect choice. With its convenient location, comfortable accommodations, and excellent service, this hotel provides an ideal base for enjoying all that Rio de Janeiro has to offer. So whether you are coming for a vacation or a business trip, make sure to consider the Prodigy Santos Dumont Airport Hotel for your stay.

Santos Dumont Airport History

Early Beginnings

It was originally built in 1936 and was named after the famous Brazilian aviation pioneer, Alberto Santos Dumont. It was the first airport in Brazil to have a paved runway and quickly became a hub for air travel in the country. The airport was designed by French architect, Henri Sajous, and its Art Deco style can still be seen in the terminal building today.

Expansion and Renovation

In the 1950s, Santos Dumont Airport underwent a major expansion and renovation project, which included the construction of a new terminal building and the addition of a second runway. This allowed the airport to accommodate larger aircraft and increased its capacity for both domestic and international flights. The airport also became a hub for the Brazilian airline, Varig, which operated flights to major cities in Brazil and other South American countries.

Prodigy Hotel Santos Dumont Airport Rio de Janeiro

In 2016, the airport underwent another major renovation project, which included the construction of a new terminal building and the addition of a third runway. This project also included the construction of the Prodigy Santos Dumont Airport Rio de Janeiro Hotel, a modern and luxurious hotel located within the airport complex. The hotel offers convenient accommodations for travelers with early or late flights, as well as a rooftop pool and bar with stunning views of the city.

Future Plans

In recent years, there have been discussions about expanding Santos Dumont Airport even further to accommodate the growing demand for air travel in Brazil. Plans include the construction of a new terminal building and the addition of a fourth runway, which would make it one of the largest airports in South America. These plans are still in the early stages, but if they come to fruition, this airport will continue to play a major role in the country’s aviation industry.

As we can see, Rio SDU Airport has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the 1930s. From its Art Deco design to its modern facilities and convenient location, it has become an integral part of Rio de Janeiro’s transportation infrastructure. 


In summary, Santos Dumont Airport is the gateway to Rio de Janeiro, providing easy access to the city. Whether you’re arriving or departing, the airport offers a range of transportation options to get you to your destination in the city center. From taxis to buses, trams to transfers, you’ll find a convenient way to navigate Rio de Janeiro.

Overall, Santos Dumont Airport ensures a seamless and enjoyable travel experience for visitors to Rio de Janeiro. With its convenient location, essential facilities, comfortable resting options, and airport hotel, the airport serves as a reliable guide to exploring the vibrant city and its surroundings. Do you know that if you study Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro we will take you to Santos Dumont Airport to learn travel and airport Portuguese vocabulary?

Click on the links below to see more related Dicas

Santos Dumont
Airport in Portuguese
Portuguese for Travelers

This post is also available in: English Português (Portuguese) Español (Spanish)

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