BRAZIL TRAVEL GUIDE - ALL ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR FIRST TRIP
Are you planning a trip to Brazil? I am from Brazil and I can help you with very valuable inside insights. This Brazil Travel Guide has everything you should know before you go on your trip, how to travel around, and how to stay safe, how much it cost, what to expect about the food and the local culture and finding accommodation, my Brazil travel guide will answer all your questions!
BRAZIL AT A GLANCE
This Brazil Travel Guide will give you the inside scoop on what you should know when planning your trip.
When I say Brazil, what comes to your mind? Carnaval...Rio de Janeiro...Samba...Soccer (Futebol)...Beaches...Amazon forest? Most people have some association with Brazil from popular culture. I am here to EXPAND on those associations so that you can get to know this amazing country, diverse culture, and incredible people.
Brazil is a large, diverse, complex, and fascinating country. When you visit Brazil, you will encounter a unique culture that is a blend of Portuguese, African, European, and undeniably Brazilian ways of living life.
There is so much to see and so much to explore (jungles, dry steppes, mountains, beaches, waterfalls, food, history, etc.), that you could visit Brazil every year and not see or experience everything it has to offer.
Because of the size of Brazil, it is impossible to travel around and get to visit many places on your first trip. You will need good planning and longer than a week to visit 1-2 States.
This Brazil Travel Tips Guide will point you in the right direction, by giving you tips on what to visit, typical cost, what is the best time to visit, and how to get around. Even better, prepared by a local Brazileira, especially for you!
WHY GO TO BRAZIL
Brazil is one of the most awe-inspiring places to visit in the Planet, and I really mean it. Visit the natural beauty of the falls at Iguaçu, meet the locals at the Copacabana beach, see one of the Seven Wonders of the New World, Christ the Redeemer, learn how do dance samba, enjoy a barbecue, and cool off with a caipirinha and be able to cruise around some of the largest jungles in the planet, Pantanal and Amazon. Brazil offers it all from solo travelers to a family vacation trip of a lifetime.
BRAZIL TRAVEL TIPS ESSENTIALS
The official language in Brazil is Portuguese. English and Spanish are not widely spoken.
CREDIT CARD & ATMs
A credit card is widely accepted in Brazil. ATMs can be easily found in the commercial areas, but it may be closed at night for security reasons.
BRAZIL TRAVEL TIPS - WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
WHERE IS BRAZIL
Brazil is the largest country in South America and the 5th largest country in the world, with a population of 212 million people (2.75% of the total world population). Brazil might be the largest country most of the world doesn't know a whole lot about. Brazil's economy ranks 1st in South America, 2nd in the Americas, and 8th in the world.
Although Brazil covers an area equal to 88% of the US and therefore is almost as large, being the size of the US without Alaska.
The coastline of Brazil measures 7,491 km, which makes it the 16th longest national coastline of the world. Throughout the coastal areas, geographical features can be found like islands, reefs, and bays.
WHERE TO VISIT IN BRAZIL
When talking about visiting Brazil, everyone seems to gravitate to either Rio de Janeiro, Iguaçu Falls, or the Amazon. I regret to say that those places are very far distance from each other. Therefore, if you have only 2-week to visit Brazil you would need to pick one destination over another. Just take a quick glance at a map to figure this out, I have picked my top 10 places to visit and pinned the map to help to give a better perspective of each location:
- São Paulo (São Paulo State) - Largest city, very metropolitan and cultural, great cuisine
- Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro State) - Second largest city, amazing natural beauty, and beaches
- Paraty (Rio de Janeiro State) - 4 hours driving from Rio, Brazilian imperial town by the ocean
- Curitiba (Paraná State) - Large city praised with one of the world's best models of urban planning
- Florianopolis (Santa Catarina State) - Island in the South with perfect beaches and excellent surfing
- Pantanal (Mato Grosso & Mato Grosso do Sul State) - The world's largest inland wetland area, one of the best to spot animals
- Bonito (Mato do Grosso State)- Aquatic natural playground with rivers caves and waterfalls
- Amazon Forest (Amazonas State)- The largest tropical rainforest in the world
- Jalapão (Tocantins) - Large variety of landscapes including sand dunes, rivers, waterfalls, and Savana
- Natal (Rio Grande do Norte State) -Stunning beaches, white sand dunes, and rich diverse culture.
PRICES TO VISIT BRAZIL
Brazil is one of the most expensive countries to visit in South America, but because of the exchange rate, when converted, prices are still very affordable. If you travel outside of Christmas or Carnival, flying to Brazil can be quite affordable.
Check for some average prices in Brazil per day for 2 people - Based on 4 stars hotel, eating all meals at the restaurant, using a private driver - Of course, it can be less, it will depend on your travel style:
Average Prices - Per day/ 2 People
- Accommodation $70
- Restaurant $40
- Transportation $35
- Activities $30
GETTING AROUND AND TRANSPORTATION
If you are visiting more than one state, I recommend flying instead of traveling by bus or car. The distances are long, and flying will save you time and allow you to visit more locations in less time.
- Flying - I recommend flying and book in advance to check promotions, as you can find reasonable flights. The best domestic flights options are GOL and Azul
- Public Transportation - The large cities transportations in Brazil are efficient and modern, and some large cities like São Paulo, Rio, and Curitiba have an extensive subway system.
- Train - Different than the great system we see in Europe, in Brazil it is very limited.
- Buses - If you decide to go on a long journey, buses are economical and comfortable options to travel inside Brazil. There are several options for the route, you can check buscaonibus.com.br to check options and book your tickets.
- Taxis - Taxis and Uber are a great option, as they are affordable and safe. On arriving at an airport in Brazil, book your taxi through one of the agencies or use the 99 Taxis app to ensure you get a licensed taxi.
- Private driver - You can also book a private driver for a day or several days through a reliable source, and have someone driving you around. It is a reliable, easy, and free of headaches option in Brazil... Check options here
- Self-driving - If you decide to self-drive, just keep in mind that the driving distances are far and they are normally counted in "hours". I recommend renting a car from reliable Rental Cars, just request a free quote below.
ACCOMMODATION IN BRAZIL
Prices and options will vary a lot, depending on what area of Brazil you are visiting and what time of the year you are visiting. But the good news is that because of the exchange rate, the prices will be very affordable when converted. I have selected 3 options for the most popular accommodation options in Brazil, and I recommend to book using Booking.com because it is a reliable source and also, there is free cancelation policy:
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO TO BRAZIL
The best time to visit Brazil is March-November. During these months, Brazil weather sees cooler temperatures and less humidity. Brazil receives heavy rain from December-February.
February-March is Carnival time, and prices normally go up, so if you are not planning to participate in the Carnival party, and you are looking for a less crowded and lower prices, avoid Carnival time.
WEATHER IN BRAZIL
The summer months are from December to March and winter is from June to September
Because of the size of Brazil, the country is broken into different climates areas. The south of Brazil is the coldest part, with winters that can even be seeing some snowflakes. The Nort of Brazil, where you can find the Amazon forest, is always hot with temperatures climbing up to 100F (40C). If you are visiting the coastal areas, the weather is warm most of the year, with temperatures higher than 77F (25C).
HOW TO TRAVEL SAFELY IN BRAZIL
Let's start with a million-dollar question. Every time I engage in a conversation with someone, I am asked this question. Safety is a big concern for Brazilians. Drug gangs control certain territories, police corruption is not uncommon, and if you are not aware, you could become a victim of theft or pickpocket. With that being said, Brazil is not a dangerous place, and every year millions of people visit Brazil and it is not a reason you should avoid a trip to Brazil, just follow some basics suggested safety tips:
- While visiting a large city - like any other large city in the world, it is advised to not flash any expensive belongings, keep your passport in a safe and carry a copy with you instead. Use an ATM inside a bank and avoid to go at night. Avoid going out alone in the dark. Don't hang your bag in the back of a chair at bars and keep an eye on your belongings, including if you are using public transportation.
- While visiting the beach - do not bring any value to the beach and don't go swim and leave your belongings in the sand.
- While visiting the jungle and forest areas - Always carry a bug spray with you, in some areas of Brazil there is a risk of Dengue and Malaria. Don't go hiking by yourself, always have a local reliable local guide with you.
- While self-driving - Always keep your doors locked and keep your bag, wallet, or cell phone out of sight. If driving at night, be careful with the red lights, as it is common for other drives do not stop. Buy travel insurance, as it is better to be safe than sorry.
- Visting Favela - Favelas (slums), which in the past were dangerous places to go, have become tourist attractions. NEVER visit a Favela on your own, instead, you can sign up for a tour of a Favela and see how the poor communities live.
- Water & Food - It is advised to drink bottled water, we Brazilian people do not drink tap water. If you are at the beach, you will be offering many "beach food" and I just recommend to avoid any seafood. Food is in general fresh and great quality in Brazil.
Check out this great 13 Safety Tips for Brazil and stay safe you' all!
THE FOOD IN BRAZIL
Maybe you are already family with the Brazilian steakhouse. Yes, steak is very popular in Brazil, it seems that every weekend you will have at least 2 invites for a churrasco (barbecue) at your family or friend’s house. A churrasco usually includes sausages and several different cuts of meat, grilled over hardwood charcoal, sliced to bite-size pieces, and eaten hot off the cutting board.
In addition to churrasco, there are many other delicious Brazilian foods to experiment with:
- Açai: Antioxidant super fruit gaining popularity outside of Brazil – açaí bowls are very popular
- Pão de Queijo: They are getting very popular in the US, they are the heaven version of cheese bread.
- Cachorro Quente: It is the Brazilian version of hot dog, it is another level
- Moqueca: Anyone who tries it, falls in love. Fresh fish cooked in coconut milk
- Brazilian Pizza: My vote goes to the Brazilian pizza. Want to know the difference between the Brazilian and the American pizza?
- Feijoada: Brazilian comfort food, which is a slow-cooked black bean, beef, and pork stew served with rice – a truly must try the traditional dish, that every time I cook it and invite my friends to try, they leave asking me for the secret recipe.
- Brigadeiro: Sweet like a bonbon and extremely scrumptious and delicious
- Creme de papaya: a perfect ending to a big meal, papaya helps digestion.
- Caipirinha: It is the Bazilian popular drink. Strong is the definition, made by sugar cane, sugar, lime, and ice.
- Guaraná: the Brazilian soda – loaded with caffeine from the guaraná plant
WHAT TO PACK FOR BRAZIL
I recommend to pack light, and if you forget anything, buy it there. Brazil makes very good quality clothes and shoes and the prices are really good. The packing will depend on what area of Brazil you are planning to visit, and what time of the year. But in general comfortable, light and colorful clothes are the best option. Some MUST PACK items are:
- Colorful casual clothing: tank top, t-shirts, shorts, skirts, summer dresses
- A pair of jean
- Shawal - is always a great item for the cooler evening
- A light rain jacket
- a pair of Havaianas
- Bikini/ bathing suit
- Hat, sunblock, sunglasses
- Dress shoes/ sandals - to go out at night
- Long sleeve shirt/ nice dress - to go out at night
- 1 pair of sneakers
- LifeStraw water bottle with a purifier
- socks/ underwear
- A day backpack
- Universal charger/ adaptor
PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO BRAZIL
Brazil is a very large country, and you will need to plan accordingly before your visit. Make sure you have the places you want to visit highlighted. Brazil offers everything from large cities to the Amazon Rainforest to stunning beaches.
Below are the 8 ESSENTIAL STEPS for a well-planned trip to Brazil:
- CHOOSE A LOCATION TO VISIT: Start by checking other itineraries and tips that I have prepared, as I am providing the best information for you to plan an independent trip to Brazil on my BRAZIL GUIDE.
- BUY A GUIDE BOOK: An excellent guide book that I recommend is Lonely Planet Brazil Guidebook, as it has tons of great information on main attractions, places to stay, and many curiosities about Brazil culture.
- BOOK YOUR FLIGHT: There are great options to fly direct to Brazil to the major airports of the country. Book in advance to try to get a better deal. The flights are approx. 6-8 hours.
- BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION IN ADVANCE: Brazil has great options for accommodations, but make sure you book in advance to take advantage of the best prices and best options. I recommend Booking.com as it has a great policy of free cancelation.
- BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE: Wherever you go or do during your travels, don't travel anywhere in the world without travel insurance; the unexpected can, and often does, happen. I strongly recommend reliable travel insurance through World Nomads
- START PACKING: It will depend on each area of Brazil you will visit to pack accordingly. Check my recommended packing list. Don't forget your bathing suit 😉
- BE A RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER: Responsible and Ethical traveling is REALLY IMPORTANT. Check my complete guide
- BOOK ANY TOUR IN ADVANCE: There are great options for group or VIP tours in Brazil, just make sure you check the many options and book in advance. Check here for options or check some options for you below:
WHERE NEXT? My top picks to make your trip the best experience
Please note: Some of the links on this post are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase using these links, I receive a very small commission at no extra cost to you. Please note that using these affiliate links, you are directly supporting Paula to continue to Pins the Planet, and any running cost of this site, and my ability to provide you with free awesome content on travel and healthy lifestyle. Thank you very much!