Planning a Trip to Brazil: Ultimate Brazil Travel Guide + Tips From a Local

If you are planning a visit to Brazil, this is your one-stop guide for your Brazil trip, plus all the useful tips before you travel to Brazil prepared by a Brazileira ;-).

When you think about 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 and should be on your Dream Destination Bucket List. 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.

This Planning a trip to Brazil guide will point you in the right direction, by giving you tips on what to visit, the typical cost, what is the best time to visit, and how to get around. Even better, prepared by a local Brazileira, especially for you!

Brazil trip planning

Why you Should Travel to Brazil

Well, amigo, let me start by saying why you should travel to Brazil. Brazil is one of the most awe-inspiring places to visit on 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 to dance the 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 for any travel style –  from solo travelers to a family vacation trip of a lifetime, to adventure travelers, to one of the best routes to backpack in South America

Brazil is a very vast country, and because of its size, 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.

Paraty, Rio de Janeiro – Brazil

Brazil Travel Tips Essentials

LANGUAGE: The official language in Brazil is Portuguese. English and Spanish are not widely spoken.

CURRENCY: The currency in Brazil is the Brazilian Real, and the U.S. Dollar is not accepted. Check here for the latest conversion rate.

VISA: Visa-Free Entry to stay up to 90 days for American, Canadian, Japanese, and Australian passport holders. Consult this website for more visa requirements.

CREDIT CARD & ATMs: A credit card is widely accepted in Brazil. ATMs can be easily found in commercial areas, but they may be closed at night for security reasons.

PLUGS: In Brazil, the power plugs are type N, the standard voltage is 127 / 220 V, and the standard frequency is 60 Hz. I recommend buying a universal adapter and using a converter for hair dryers. 

CELL PHONE: Your international cell phone will work in Brazil. However, to avoid high international calling charges, you’ll want to pick up a local SIM card and get a local calling plan. You can buy these at street-corner kiosks (called bancas) and some supermarkets.

WI-FI IN BRAZIL: You can get Wi-Fi service in Brazil pretty much everywhere (unless you are planning to visit some remote areas). Normally the hotels, restaurants and shopping malls offer free internet service.

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 in the world. Throughout the coastal areas, geographical features can be found like islands, reefs, and bays.

Planning a trip to Brazil
The beautiful nature of Cabo Frio

What is the Visa Requirement to Travel to Brazil?

You need a valid passport for at least 6-months from the date of entry is required by all nationals referred below.

A visa to Travel to Brazil is not required by all nationals of EU countries for stays of up to 90-days. A Visa to travel to Brazil is required by nationals of Australia, Canada, and the USA.

Visa-Free Entry to stay up to 90 days for American, Canadian, Japanese, and Australian passport holders. Consult this website for more visa requirements.

What are the best Flights options to Brazil?

There are numerous options for flights to Brazil and many gateways in the US and Canada.

Direct flights leave from:  Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York, Orlando, Washington, and Toronto.

TAM is the only Brazilian carrier serving the US at present, while the North American airlines are American, Air Canada, Continental, Delta, and United.

Most flights go to either Rio or São Paulo. If your ultimate destination is somewhere other than these cities, it is usually best to connect in Rio or São Paulo.

Planning a trip to Brazil
Iguaçu Falls

What are the Best Places to Visit in Brazil?

When talking about visiting Brazil, everyone seems to gravitate to either Rio de JaneiroIguaçu 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. You can see some ideas of the Best Brazil Route here

Just take a quick glance at a map to figure this out, I have picked my top 10 places to visit in Brazil and pinned the map to help to give a better perspective of each location:

  1. SÃO PAULO (São Paulo State) – Largest city, very metropolitan and cultural, great cuisine
  2. RIO DE JANEIRO (Rio de Janeiro State) – Second largest city, amazing natural beauty, and beaches
  3. PARATY (Rio de Janeiro State) – 4 hours driving from Rio, Brazilian imperial town by the ocean
  4. ANGRA DOS REIS (Rio de Janeiro State): The most beautiful coastline in Brazil with over 2,000 beaches to choose from
  5. CURITIBA (Paraná State) – Large city praised with one of the world’s best models of  urban planning
  6. FLORIANÓPOLIS (Santa Catarina State) – Island in the South with perfect beaches and excellent surfing
  7. PANTANAL (Mato Grosso & Mato Grosso do Sul State) – The world’s largest inland wetland area, one of the best to spot animals
  8. AMAZON FOREST (Amazonas State)– The largest tropical rainforest in the world
  9. JALAPÃO (Tocantins) – Large variety of landscapes including sand dunes, rivers, waterfalls, and Savana
  10. NATAL (Rio Grande do Norte State) -Stunning beaches, white sand dunes, and rich diverse culture.
Brazil travel guide map

How much does a Trip to Brazil Cost?

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.

The best time to travel to Brazil on a budget is in the off-season. If you travel outside of Christmas or Carnival, flying to Brazil can be quite affordable.

Check the average trip to Brazil cost below – Per day for 2 people – Based on 4 stars hotel, eating all meals at the restaurant, renting a car – Of course, it can be less, it will depend on your travel style:

Average Prices per Day/ 2 People


Planning a Trip to Brazil: Transportation & Getting Around

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.

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. The train system in Brazil is different than the great system we see in Europe, in Brazil it is very limited. 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 to check options and book your tickets.
FLYING IN BRAZIL: 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
PRIVATE TOUR: 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
UBER OR TAXI: 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.
RENTAL CAR: If you decide to rent a car and self-drive in Brazil, just keep in mind that the driving distances are far and they are normally counted in “hours”. Renting a car in Brazil is cheap, easy, and safe if you use a reliable source like this. If you decide to drive in Brazil, make sure to have a GPS with you or use Google Maps. The signs are in Portuguese and you don’t want to miss that turn.

You can get a 15% off your rental car when you book through this site. I use and recommend RentalCar because it is the most reliable rental car source, and it allows you to compare the prices of different places.

Planning a trip to Brazil
On the way to the Sugar Loaf in Rio de Janeiro

Planning a Trip to Brazil: Accommodations

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 booking using because it is a reliable source and also, there is free cancelation policy:


This is my favorite option for accommodations in Brazil. Pousadas are normally family-owned, they are more intimate and in general, are very well located


Another great option for accommodation in Brazil is to rent your own place. I recommend renting your own house or apartment if you are looking to cook your meals, be well located and enjoy the local lifestyle


Depending on your travel style, Brazil has always great options for hotels from 1 to 5 stars, including international chains

What is the Best time to Visit Brazil?

Brazil is one of the few destinations on Earth that is warm year-round. Because of its tropical landscapes, there are several climatic extremes, though none of which are too extreme to deter travelers.

Winter in Brazil lasts from May to September. No matter where in Brazil you are visiting, temperatures won’t drop below 60 F. It’s one of the best times to go sightseeing and hiking in cities like Rio, thanks to plenty of sunshine and cooler temps.

During the spring and summer (November to March), temperatures can get up to 120 F so be sure to stack on a whole lot of sunscreen and prepare for some humidity.

Around February and March is when it happens the largest party on the Planet: Carnival!

What is the 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 climate areas. Check here for the weather in Brazil.

  • 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).
  • The coastal areas in Brazil – If you are visiting the coastal areas, the weather is warm most of the year, with temperatures higher than 77F (25C).
Planning a trip to Brazil

Planning a Trip to Brazil: Safety

Let’s start with a million-dollar question. Every time I engage in a conversation with someone, I am asked this question: “Is it safe to travel to Brazil?”

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 pickpocketing.

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 going 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 to 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 avoiding any seafood. Food is in general fresh and of great quality in Brazil.
  • TRAVEL INSURANCE: Don’t travel to Brazil without Travel Insurance, as anything can go wrong. I use and recommend World Nomads, as they are the best option for travel insurance that fits any kind of adventure.

For more information about safety to travel to Brazil, check out these great 13 Safety Tips for Brazil and stay safe amigos!

Planning a trip to Brazil
Jalapao in Brazil is a great destination

Travel Insurance for your trip to Brazil

I never leave my home without travel insurance which is designed to help cover your expenses if something goes wrong on your trip. Things can go wrong, and you don’t want to get stuck paying tons of money if you get sick or have an accident without travel insurance. 

World Nomads Travel Insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, to cover their trip essentials. Especially if you are like me, travel insurance is ideal for adventurous travelers.

Travel smarter and safer – You can do your quick quote below and find out how little you can pay for the essential benefit of Travel Insurance for your next trip!

What is 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. 

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 Brazilian and 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
Brazilian feijoada
Brazilian Feijoada
Brazil travel guide and the food is amazing
Moqueca – Fresh fish cooked in coconut milk

What to Pack for a Trip to Brazil?

I recommend packing 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:


If you are planning to carry a backpack for your trip to Brazil, I have compiled a very detailed review of the Best Backpacks for Travel in the market today – Also, it doesn’t matter if it is summer or winter, it is always smart to carry a jacket with you, so check my complete review guide on the Top Jackets for Travel and pack smart!

Brazil tip planning
Natal in the state of Rio Grande do Norte – offers amazing natural beaches

Photography Gear in Brazil

We all know that Brazil is a very unique and magical place. It is impossible to not take many pictures and want to capture the amazing moments while traveling around Brazil.

Therefore, do not forget to bring your camera equipment with you:

8-Steps for a well-planned trip to Brazil

  1. 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 BRAZILTRAVEL GUIDE.
  2. BUY A GUIDE BOOK: An excellent guidebook 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 Brazilian culture.
  3. 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. The best way to start your South America backpacking route is to fly to a large city. 
  4. 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 as it has a great policy of free cancelation.
  5. 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 
  6. START PACKING: It will depend on each area of Brazil you will visit to pack accordingly. Check my recommended packing list and my expert review on the Best Backpacks for Travel here.
  7. BE A RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER: Responsible and Ethical traveling is REALLY IMPORTANT. Check my complete guide
  8. 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:

Planning a Trip to Brazil Conclusion

Brazil is a very large country, and you will need to plan accordingly before your visit. Preplanning, researching, and understanding what you are looking for will help make your travels far more successful and safe.

Make sure you have the places you want to visit highlighted. Brazil offers everything from large cities to the Amazon Rainforest to stunning beaches. You can visit my Travel Planning and print the easy 10-steps to plan an international trip.  

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49 thoughts on “Planning a Trip to Brazil: Ultimate Brazil Travel Guide + Tips From a Local”

    • Thank you! I am excited to continue to write about Brazil, and hopefully you will be there soon too. You will love it!

  1. I’ve always wanted to go to Brazil, but got lost in the vastness. This is so helpful, thank you!

    • It is hard to pick a destination when you are going to a big country. There is so much to explore in Brazil. My recommendation is start with São Paulo and/or Rio de Janeiro e explore the surrounding. You should go with me sometime 😉

  2. Nice post Paula. I have always loved Brazil since childhood – from their football! 🙂 Someday I would like to visit the Amazon rainforest and the Iguazu falls in this large diverse country. Do you plan to write about these destinations?

    • I am so happy you liked my post and that you loved Brazil. Yes, I am planning to cover every special corner of the country on my blog and planning to write about Amazon and Iguaçu also. I saw you have some great content on Peru and I cannot wait to go back and explore more, I will be using your blog for reference.

  3. What a great article Paula! A great resource to demystify a lot of the misconceptions about Brazil and encourage travelers to visit our beautiful country. Also thanks for linking to my article about the difference between Brazilian vs American pizza. ? As “Brazileiras” we know which one will always win. Hehehe ?

  4. Adorei o texto e o contexto…muito útil para amantes viajantes!!!! Nosso lindo país vale a pena ser visitado, experimentado, com tanta diversidade, fauna exótica, praias de tirar o fôlego, montanhas cheias de charme e tranquilidade, você certamente encontrará vários países dentro de um só. Aproveitem e pesquisem sobre Rio Grande do Sul, especialmente Gramado e Canela, Pantanal Mato Grossense, Nordeste e seus encantos, nossa culinária que é um grande patrimônio. Paula parabéns por este post completo e maravilhoso.

    • Obrigada Patricia – sim, o Brasil tem vários países dentro de um só, e com um lugares tão unicos e incriveis para visitar.

    • Thanks Mal, and I am so glad you have visited and enjoyed Brasil. Actually I read your blog about Brazil and make me so happy to see that you are helping to promote my beautiful home country.

  5. Brazil is absolutely one of my favourite countries in the world. I’ve been 3 times, but still have so much to see. I haven’t been for nearly 15 years, so I’m definitely due a return visit!

    • Time to go back again Deborah 🙂 and really makes me so happy that you love Brazil. There is so much to do and so many places to visit. It is so awesome you have been 3 times and love it!

  6. I’ve only been to a few places in Brazil and I fell in love with it 🙂
    This guide will be very helpful when I plan my next trip 🙂 Thanks!

    • Hi Or, I am so glad you found this guide helpful. Brazil need to be explored on many trips. I am from Brazil and I still haven’t explored half of this vast country.

  7. This post comes to me just in time as I am actually planning my trip to South America next year! I was a bit concerned about travelling safely in Brazil, and luckily found lots of useful tips from your post. Thank you!

    • I am so glad to hear that this guide was helpful for you Fiona. Yes, it is a good start, Brazil is so big and so diverse. Let me know when you are getting ready and if I can help you with your plans.

  8. I loved Brazil but sadly could only stay for 2 days! I need to go back and see more places there for sure, and will definitely keep this comprehensive guide handy! Thank you! 🙂

    • Only 2 days! Girl, you need to go back and with the photography skills you have, you will have the best time of your life just photographing and exploring this amazing country. Thanks for stopping by.

  9. This is such an amazing and comprehensive post about Brazil! I will definitely be saving this for when I go in the future!

    • I am so happy to hear you like it Marisa. I hope you get to visit Brazil one day, you will love it and see how diverse this amazing country is.

  10. I last went to South America in 2009 but have never been to Brazil so it’s always been on my bucket list. I’ve recently been watching Race Around the World so now I’ve moved it right at the top. I really want to go and photograph animals in the Pantanal. So this is a really great overview for a beginner like me!

    • You will absolutely LOVE Brazil. I have been in Pantanal twice and I was planning to go back this year again. Whenever you want to go, just let me know, maybe we can go together! Pantanal is so unique from any other place in the Planet.

  11. Thanks for the guide! I have a colleague who lives in Brazil, and I would love to go visit! Your photos of the fresh fruit are calling my name. Also, love the link to the Brazilian pizza 101 article. Yummm!

  12. It’s my dream to participate in Carnival in Brazil haha I love the costumes so much. Also really want to go to the Amazon and Iguazu falls. But like you said, they are so far from each other. Might have to be more than one trip 😛 These are such great tips! Always love hearing from someone from the country.

    • I am so glad o hear you like this article Viola. I also have the Amazon on my bucket list, I haven’t been yet and I cannot wait to visit. You will love Brazil! Maybe we can go together one day 🙂

  13. I went to Recife for two weeks this year. You are right, not many people speak English, it was a hurdle we had to get over. But the FOOD! Wow! a lot of the stuff we ate was regional (not even on your list!) and it was all SO good!

    • Amy, I am so happy to hear you visited Recife and loved it. Yes, Brazil is very diverse and each region has it’s own accent, food, culture…In order to explore all the amazing food, someone would need to spend at least a year traveling around the country. The food is really amazing!

  14. The size of Brazil has always been so intimidating to me – I’ve never known where to start. Thank you for simplifying the top points, especially the key areas to visit. I hope to make it to at least one of them some day.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Katie. I hear that a lot, that people don’t even know where to start because Brazil is so big. If you evern decide to go, reach out to me and I will be happy to help you with some ideas of places to visit.

  15. What a comprehensive guide, and i love the mention on being a responsible traveler! I have to say its one of my dream destinations, but the safety aspect has always concerned me! Thank you for sharing it Paula!

    • hi Tia, I am so glad you found my guide helpful. I agree with you about the safety aspects, but during my last trip to Rio last year, I was as a solo and I felt really safe and enjoyed the beauty of this incredible city.

  16. This is such a helpful guide, thanks so much for putting this together! I’m hoping to visit Brazil when we can travel again, so this is great!

    • Hi Emma, I am so glad you enjoyed this guide. I hope so too that you get to travel to Brazil one day, you will love it.

  17. Brazil is very high on my bucket list. I love how vast and diverse the country is. Thank you for this great guide. Definitely will keep it handy for when I plan my future travels to Brazil. 🙂

  18. What an incredibly helpful guide. I especially loved the section on safety as well as suggestions for what to pack. As always, your pictures are stunning! I just pinned for future inspiration 🙂

  19. Paula, nice blog. I’m heading to Brazil in 10 days for a 2 month trip. How do you deal with your camera equipment when passing through customs? I’m a wildlife photographer so I will be taking a camera body and several large lenses. For non-resident travellers, it appears that camera equipment over $500 dollars must be declared on the customs form.

    • Hi Shane, I am glad you found my blog and enjoyed it. That is a great question, and I always traveled to Brazil with a lot of electronics – 2 laptops (personal and work), 2 cell phones (personal and work), and my camera gears (lots of lenses, filters, etc.) and I never declared anything as they are all my personal items. Where are you planning to travel to, Guarulhos (GRU in Sao Paulo)? or any other city? It will depend on when you are traveling, but my experience is that if you are traveling to GRU you won’t have any issues if you are only carrying your personal electronic items.


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