Brazil is the largest country in South America, encompassing around half of the continent’s land area and population. Spread out over a large landmass, the country packs in very diverse landscapes and experiences: from the rainforests of the Amazon to the wetlands of Pantanal and beaches of Rio. Brazil is also home to the world’s biggest Carnival celebrations. Time your trip to coincide with the Rio Carnival, and you’ll be experiencing Brazil at its best. This is EVERYTHING you need to know if you are planning a trip to Brazil.
Tourist Visas for Brazil
Tourists entering Brazil are required to apply for a tourist visa in advance. You can apply for a tourist visa for Brazil here. Tourist visas for Brazil cost approximately $80 USD ($45USD for the visa and $35 USD Processing fee) and are valid for 90 Days. Processing time is approximately 6 days so it is recommended to apply for your visa at least one week in advance. You will also need to ensure that your passport is valid for 6 months after your expected departure date.
Currency in Brazil
Brazilian Real is the currency used in Brazil. You can use the XE currency conversion tool to check the exchange rate of the currency in Brazil.
What is the Langauge in Brazil?
The main language in Brazil is Brazilian Portuguese. I recommend studying basic Portuguese terms before your arrival as not everyone speaks English. Duo Lingo is a great App for studying Portuguese.
Flights to Brazil
There are over 50 airports in Brazil. The major airports are located in Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro. Use Skyscanner to find the best flights to Brazil.
Getting around Brazil
Brazil is HUGE and therefore domestic flights are often the best way to travel around Brazil. If booked in advance, domestic flights are affordable.
Once in a destination, hiring a car is the safest and most efficient method for getting around. Search for rental cars here.
Travel by bus is also an option, but as the country is so large, expect long and overnight bus rides in between destinations.
Map of Brazil
Accommodation in Brazil
Brazil has plenty of accommodation options, ranging from hostels to motels, luxury hotels and Airbnbs. Prices vary from city to city and, of course, the quality of the place you’re staying at. I recommend using booking.com to search for accommodation. If you book using this link, you will receive $25 cash back after your stay.
Bucket List Destinations in Brazil
Putting together an itinerary for Brazil can be quite a challenge. The country is the 5th largest country in the world and distances between highlights are vast, meaning you will have some choices to make! These are some of the key destinations you must add to your Brazilian Itinerary.
Rio De Janeiro – Rio is a truly magical city; known for its Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mt. Corcovado, Sugarloaf Mountain, Selaron Staircase and its Carnival festival. See my guide to Rio.
Ilha Grande – Ilha Grande is a beautiful Brazilian island, located 150 kilometres from Rio de Janeiro. The island is full of stunning beaches, perfect snorkelling and diving conditions and abundant hiking trails – something for everyone.
Sao Paulo – The metropolis of Sao Paulo is a bucket list stop for those who love exquisite culinary experiences. Fine dining options are in abundance. Outside of Sao Paulo is perhaps my favourite destination in Brazil, Camps Do Jordao.
Campos Do Jordao – Brazil’s best-kept secret. A sweet country escape just a few hours from the metropolis of Sao Paulo. In Campos Do Jordao you will find hiking trails and an abundance of outdoor adventures.
Fernando de Noronha – Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago of 21 islands in the Atlantic Ocean, 354 kilometres from the coast of Brazil. It is famous for its pristine white beaches and fabulous landscapes of ridges, coves and lush vegetation. Fernando de Noronha is a diver’s paradise, but even if you prefer to stay above water – the beaches and laid-back island lifestyle are worth the trip alone.
Florianopolis –The island, dubbed “Floripa” for short, is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil and is very popular amongst surfers. The island is 33 miles long and offers travellers tasty seafood, white beaches, show-stopping nightlife, and quiet Azorean fishing villages.
Iguaçu Falls – The impressive Iguacu Falls are right on the border between Argentina and Brazil which means you can see them from the two countries. If you love waterfalls, this is one to add to the Brazil bucket list.
Bonito – The area surrounding Bonito is known for crystal-clear rivers such as the Rio da Prata, a snorkelling destination abounding with fish. The Abismo Anhumas is a huge, stalactite-covered cavern that offers abseiling and diving in an underground lake.
Pantanal – Pantanal is the world’s largest seasonal wetland and Brazil’s wildlife capital. Almost 700 species of birds can be found here, along with 80 mammals.
Manaus and the meeting of the river – Manaus sits 1,000 miles inland, at the point where Rio Negro and the Amazon River meet. The city began as a strategic Portuguese fort and only grew after they discovered practical uses for the rubber plant, which grows all over the rainforest. Manaus is home to the only bridge in the Amazon river system, and a new football stadium, used for the 2014 World Cup.
Salvador da Bahia – Pebblestone streets with pastel coloured facades are just the start of what Bahia has to offer. Bahia is home to many tropical beaches at Morro do Sao Paulo.
Budget for Brazil
Compared to the other countries in South America, Brazil is relatively expensive.
$ – Expect to pay around 60 BRL + for a bed in a hostel dorm room.
$$ – Expect to pay around 150 BRL for a basic Airbnb / mid-range hotel room.
$$$ – Expect to pay 300 BRL + for a luxury hotel room.
Domestic flights start at 100 BRL – for example from Sao Paulo to Rio. I recommend booking flights early to get the best deals.
Car hire starts from 50BRL per day.
Food in Brazil isn’t cheap. A meal in an average restaurant is around 20 BRL and a meal in a nicer restaurant is usually around 50+ BRL.
If you are on a diet, Brazilian food will not be your friend. A common meal generally includes meat, rice, beans and potatoes. In addition, these are some of the most traditional Brazilian foods and drinks:
- Pão de Queijo: These puffs of cheesy bread are a must try food in Brazil.
- Churrasco: Brazilian BBQ at it’s best. Waiters will be serving up thick pieces of barbecued meat from skewers.
- Feijoada: If Brazil had a national dish, this would be it. It’s a pot of black beans cooked with chunks of meat, traditionally served with fried kale, rice and farofa.
- Açaí: This renown super-food originated in Brazil, found especially in coastal cities. You can try Acai smoothies, juice or bowls topped with granola and fresh fruit.
- Coxinhas: This hearty snack is made of shredded chicken wrapped up in a gooey, warm dough before being battered and fried.
- Cachaça: Dating back to the 1500s, this Brazilian liquor is made from fermented sugarcane juice, and is best known as the fiery kick in caipirinhas – Brazil’s national cocktail.
Cake and sweets are also very popular in Brazil. You must visit a traditional padaria (bakery) at least once.
Weather in Brazil
Covering nearly 3.3 million square miles of the South American Continent, Brazil does not lack diverse landscapes, ecosystems and climates. Generally speaking, Brazil is a tropical country; cooler weather is typically found during the winter months of May-September and warmer weather from December-March, Brazil’s summer.
Within the country, however, there are 5 distinct climatic regions: equatorial, tropical, semi-arid, highland tropical and subtropical. Rainfall varies greatly throughout the year and has a significant effect on what time of year is best for travel to Brazil’s different regions.
There are over 208 million people living in Brazil, making it the 5th most populated country in the world.
Travel Insurance in Brazil
Safety in Brazil
Brazil is a country where caution is due in all situations. Crimes such as robbery and muggings are common. In Brazil, it is essential that you remain aware of your surrounding at all times, and don’t leave the areas you know to be safe. Even though Brazil does have some safety concerns, I wouldn’t let it stop you from planning a trip to Brazil. To find out more about safety in Brazil, visit the Smart Traveller Website.
Some more safety tips to consider when planning a trip to Brazil include:
- Leave your watches and jewellery at home.
- Don’t parade with your phone or expensive cameras. Instead, carry them in your backpack and only take them out when you need them but never walk around with your camera hanging around your neck.
- Keep a small amount of cash with you (in your purse or pockets), keep the rest of your money at the hotel or concealed in a money belt under your clothes and minimize the bank cards you carry.
- Research which neighbourhoods to look out for, stay close to heavily populated areas as much as possible and never take a street that isn’t well illuminated.
Vaccinations in Brazil
Check the Travel Doctor website to find out what vaccinations you need when planning a trip to Brazil. If you have any further questions regarding vaccinations required for Brazil, I recommend consulting a doctor.
Overseas Travel Checklist
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