13 Brazil Travel Tips That Might Save Your Life
Brazil is one of the most intoxicating countries to travel in with its natural wonders, enticing cities and seductive culture . It also comes surrounded by stories of high-murder levels and armed street crimes. The reality is the majority of tourists will leave Brazil thinking the media paint an unfair picture, yet unfortunately incidents and accidents do happen and not always crime related. Here’s how to ensure you have a safer trip to Brazil.
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Places such as the Pantanal and the Amazon rainforest are two of the most fascinating natural environments in Brazil with an extraordinary collection of rare and wonderful wildlife . They are also the home of potentially dangerous animals such as panthers, anacondas, caimans, poisonous spiders and parasites. Always remember you are a guest in these regions and life-and-death survival becomes a real issue if you don’t take sensible measures. Always go with a reputable guide to the Pantanal or the Amazon rainforest to get the most out of your trip and avoid getting lost.
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Don’t be the hero
If you or your friends face the unpleasant situation of being robbed, don’t try and negotiate, hold onto your things or fight back. Hand over your possessions, count your blessings that you just lost nothing more and see it as a dramatic travel-story to tell. Fighting back can risk your life as many robbers feel they have nothing to lose and don’t fear going to prison. Even if you can’t see a gun or knife, assume it is there as it may be concealed.
Take care in favelas
Favelas (slums) receive a bad reputation and much of the time, it’s not deserved. However, many favelas are often run by gangs that make money through the drug trade. This causes shoot-outs between gangs and suspicion of strangers entering the community (after all, it could be the police and not a tourist) leading to a ‘shoot first, ask later’ reaction. In Rio de Janeiro, the majority of the favelas in the south zone are safe to go to, such as Rocinha, Vidigal and Tavares, and have great, friendly parties or favela tours there. Best avoid the ones in the north zone. In other cities, ask around at your hostel or hotel for recommendations.
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Drive through the red traffic signals
Contrary to what everyone learned at driving school, it is usually acceptable to drive through red traffic signals late at night in big cities, provided there is no other traffic. The logic underlying this is that stopping at traffic signals on an empty street may leave you at risk of being robbed you at gunpoint from your car. Driving through the red lights is a precaution to avoid this possibility.
Use mosquito repellent
Mosquitos are rampant in some areas of Brazil and some come bearing unwanted gifts such as dengue, zika and chikunguny, the latter being the current epidemic in Rio de Janeiro. The effects of these viruses can be devastating, such as serious birth defects and even death for the very vulnerable in the population. Avoid the drama by using mosquito repellent every day and before going to sleep.
Make copies of your documents
Carrying a proof of identity is required in Brazil and even though you may never be asked to show it, in the rare cases you do, you will be expected to have it. Rather than carry your passport, driving license or any other form of identity on your person, just carry clear, clean photocopies of your identity, ensuring it is photo ID.
Use sunscreen and drink lots of water
A tan is a wonderful temporary reminder of travelling to exotic lands; blisters and red skin aren’t. The heat in Brazil in summer is intense and the sun is immensely strong. Rio de Janeiro sees temperatures of up to 50 degrees celsius. Since Brazil has so much to offer outdoors, it is best to constantly apply sun protection to avoid skin damage. Also drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, at least two liters a day.
Do not drive a motorcycle in the cities
With the heaving traffic of the big cities, whipping around on a motorcycle can seem like a time-saver. Yet it comes with a high risk, on average nearly three people a day die from motorbike accidents in Sao Paulo city. For those that don’t know the roads or are not used to driving in Brazil, the risk can be higher. Best to lose a bit of time taking public transport than to risk your life.
Travelling to Brazil doesn’t necessarily mean you need vaccines, especially for trips to cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Salvador or visits to the south of the country. However, if your trip includes a tour of the Amazon rainforest , than vaccines are highly recommended. Among the essential vaccines are Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Yellow Fever. Malaria is also recommended.
Keep an eye on your bag
A bag that crosses over your body is the best kind. Avoid carrying around larger, expensive handbags or bags with an open pocket which is easy for pick-pocketing. When at bars, keep your bag on your lap and on the beach tuck your bag under your beach towel. Don’t leave your bag with your possessions in unattended. There is a risk it will be stolen.
Say no to drugs
Using drugs in Brazil is completely illegal and not only does drug use expose users to risky areas such as favelas and gang-owned zones, it also comes with harsh prison penalties with lengthy waiting lists for trial. Prison conditions in Brazil are bad and face severe overcrowding issues, police brutality and deadly riots.
Use a condom
HIV is controlled nowadays in Brazil, yet the country still makes up one of the 15 countries that represent 75% of the global population that have the HIV virus. It’s a small risk but use a condom to minimize it. Also, be aware that getting the morning after pill is tricky in Brazil, you will need a prescription from the doctor to be able to get it from the pharmacy (and there is no guarantee that you can see the doctor on the day that you need to).
Take caution with taxis
Most taxi drivers are good and honest people, yet some try to overcharge tourists and give other taxi drivers a bad name. When you get into a taxi, make sure the taximeter is running to get the accurate price and check the route on Google maps to ensure you’re not being taken on a roundabout journey. At the airport, pay for a licensed taxi as it will guarantee a fixed price whatever the traffic or route.
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Brazil Travel Guide
Your complete brazil travel guide, with our tips, ideas on things to do, and best things to see in brazil. great for first-time travelers..
Brazil is the largest country in South America and a top tourist destination. In fact, Brazil has its own Ministry of Tourism, which ensures touring is as easy as possible for visitors.
It is a fun, vibrant country and home to iconic landmarks, including Iguazu Falls and the towering Christ the Redeemer statue.
Explore the Amazon Rainforest, go to one of many (over 2,000) beaches, meet friendly and diverse locals, or try some authentic Brazilian cuisine. There is a lot to see and do here.
This Brazil travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
- Rio de Janeiro
- Iguassu Falls
- Brazil Cuisine
Table of contents.
Table of Contents
Fast Facts about Brazil
- Power voltage is 127V- 220V at 60 Hz depending on location. About 60% of households use 127V. Plug C and N.
- Brazil’s currency is the Brazilian Real (R$) and 1 R$ is equal to 0.26 USD.
- Traveling by bus is considered the best way to get around Brazil.
- You no longer need a tourist visa, just a valid US passport.
- The most popular cellular networks in Brazil are Vivo, TIM, and Oi. You can purchase a prepaid SIM card through these networks.
- VAT: The state average value-added tax (VAT) comes at 17%, though it goes 18% in São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Paraná, and 19% in Rio de Janeiro.
- Language: Remember Brazilians do not speak Spanish, they speak Portuguese. Try to avoid speaking to Brazilians in Spanish as its not the same language and they won’t necessarily understand what you are saying. Furthermore, English is not widely spoken, even in tourist cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, so brush up on some basic Portuguese words and sayings before you go. Remember it’s not Gracias but Obrigado | Obrigada.
Things to See and Do in Brazil
- Fly ov e r Rio de Janeiro: Rio needs to be seen from a helicopter to truly take in the scope of its beauty. Helisul is the premier helicopter tour operator in the city, and we can understand why, these guys were friendly, welcoming and top-notch.
- Go See Iguassu Falls : Iguassu Falls is one of the must-see natural wonders on earth. As a matter of fact, it was recently named one of the new 7 Natural Wonders in the world.
- Sandboard in Floripa: Sandboarding at the dunes of the famous Joaquina beach, one of the most famous beaches of Florianopolis.
- Visit the Ecotourism capital of Brazil: if you are craving an adventure, than Bonito in Mato Grosso do Sul is the just the place for you. Our recommendation? Abismo Anhumas a huge, stalactite-covered cavern that offers abseiling and diving in an underground lake.
- Visit the Amazon and stay at the Uakari Lodge : the lodge is managed by shared management among Mamirauá Institute and the communities from Mamirauá Reserve. The enterprise’s aim is to generate income for the local people and to contribute to natural resources’ preservation. Ten communities from the reserve act managing the Lodge, the employees, the contractors, and the salespeople.
- Visit Copacabana and Ipanema Beach: While in Rio, we tried three different hotels on three different beaches. If you are going to stay in Rio, you may be interested in one of these three Rio hotels.
- See Christ the Redeemer: One of the most iconic things to do in Rio de Janeiro is to visit Christ the Redeemer. It’s one of the most recognized in the world. When picturing Rio, this is what everyone envisions. Christo Redentor stands proudly over the city at the top of Corcovado Mountain.
- Visit Jericoacoara: Jeri is a very special fishing village on the northeast coast of Brazil in Ceara, 330 kilometers northwest of Fortaleza. It was once hailed as having one of the ten most beautiful beaches in the world by the Washington Post. Jericoacoara is surrounded by dunes, freshwater lagoons and set in a national park. The only way to get to Jeri is a 4×4 Jardineira vehicle or buggy. It is known as the perfect place for kitesurfers and surfers. Paradise is waiting.
- Take a Favela Tour: If you want to learn more about Rio culture, take a favela tour to visit local communities. There are 800 favelas in Rio and nearly 1.5 million people inhabit these communities.
- Explore the Downtown of Rio de Janeiro: Downtown Rio is definitely worth spending a day to explore. The alleyways are charming mazes filled with cafés and stores. There’s markets, cathedrals, museums, and monasteries. If you get a chance, be sure to take a Rio City tour.
- See the Museum of Tomorrow: Opening in December 2015, it is one of the world’s most extraordinary architectural designs.
- Go on on an Afro-Walking Tour: Did you know that Rio was the largest slave port in history? It is also the birthplace of samba. Learn about the rich history of Rio de Janeiro on this incredibly informative walking tour.
Brazil Travel Guides
- Things to do in Rio de Janeiro
- Things to do in Iguassu Falls
- Top Brazil Cuisine
Budget: Brazil offers many hostels in the range of 50-100 Brazilian Reals per night.
Mid-Range: For mid-range hotels, expect to pay around 190-260 Brazilian Reals per night.
High-End: Upscale hotels will cost 350-750 Brazilian Reals per night.
Check out our favorite booking platforms Booking.com , Tripadvisor and VRBO for the best deals on accommodation.
Brazil offers many exciting options for food. Bolinhos de bacalhau (codfish balls) and pastels (deep-fried stuffed pastries) are some of the things you can find when in Brazil. Expect to pay around R$15 for a meal, or R$55 total per day.
Food: If you’re hungry, we would highly recommend visiting a por kilo restaurant. The concept is just like a buffet but in the end, you weigh your food and pay in terms of weight. The por kilo restaurants have a huge variety of delicious food, including some Brazilian favorites like farofa [a toasted cassava flour mixture], feijão, pastel [think deep-fried empanadas] and of course grilled-to-order meat [with garlic sauce!]. Yum!
Drinks: Make sure to drink a Caipirinha! It Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça, sugar, and lime. They also make fruit caipirinhas, we would recommend the maracujá [passion fruit] caipirinha.
The tap water in Brazil is increasingly safe to drink. However, as a result of the treatment process, it still doesn’t taste great. To be on the safe side, drink bottled or filtered water (most Brazilians do). All brands are reliable; ask for agua sem gas for still water and agua com gas for carbonated water.
Water: If you ask for water in a restaurant, you will be served with a bottle of water (charged to your account) unless you specifically request água da casa [water of the house].
The Best Ways to Get Around Brazil
Getting to brazil:.
Getting to Brazil: If going to Rio de Janeiro, the Galeão Airport is one of the best and is located just 12 miles from the city center. For those traveling to São Paulo, São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport is the best.
You can check for the best flights on Skyscanner .
Bus: Buses are a cheap way to get around Brazil, as well as the preferred way to travel locals. Fares are 3 to 4 Brazilian Reals for one way.
Train: Trains are rarely used in Brazil except for cargo, though there are a few train rides made for tourists. To learn more, click here.
Renting a car: To rent a car in Brazil, you must be at least 21 years old, have a valid driver’s license and passport. Prices start around 8 Brazilian Reals per day. Check out Rentlcars.com to compare the best rates
When to go To Brazil
As the temperature is great year-round (an average of 80s degrees Fahrenheit), the best time to visit depends on what you want to do.
If you want to see as many animals in the Amazon as you can, going between April to October is your best bet.
If traveling to Rio, December to March is the driest season and is also the season when popular events like the New Year’s Eve celebration (Réveillon) and the Fat Tuesday festival occurs.
For the cheapest flights, go in March.
Where to Stay in Brazil
Hilton Barra Rio de Janeiro: This 5-star hotel is bus accessible and a short walk to the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center, Citibank Hall, and the beach. The Hilton provides a full range of services, including babysitting, laundry, room service, bicycle rentals, a fitness room, outdoor pool and lounge area, and wheelchair ramps, as well as gorgeous views of Rio de Janeiro.
Hotel Nacional Inn Campos do Jordão: This three-star hotel is located in the entertainment center of Sao Paulo. Whether traveling alone, with a partner, or with a family, this hotel has multiple options for rooms, including a Quadruple room for up to 4 guests, and a romantic room complete with complimentary rose petals. Free high-speed Wi-Fi, a fitness room, minibars, sport court, and game room, and breakfast are also included.
Sol Bahia: Right by the water, this casual hotel offers beautiful ocean and beach views from the hotel. It’s just a few miles from Salvador shopping. The hotel also comes with a children’s play area, restaurant and bar, an outdoor pool, free Wi-Fi, single and family rooms, and LCD TVs with cable, among other things.
Read our recommendations at Three Great Hotels in Rio on the Best of the City’s Beaches
Brazil Accommodation Guides
- Three Great Hotels in Rio on the Best of the City’s Beaches
- The Top 18 Most Excellent Things to do in Rio de Janeiro
- Ultimate Iguazu Falls Tour
What to Pack for Brazil
Packing for Brazil can be tricky depending on the areas that you will be visiting and the time of year.
Temperatures below the equator are high and there is very little seasonal variation, although at times it can get cool enough to wear a jacket.
If visitors venture more South, especially during Brazil’s winter months [June – September], expect much colder temperature with the possibility of frost or even snow [although rare].
The cities of Belo Horizonte and Brasília have moderate temperatures, usually between 15 and 30 °C (59 and 86 °F). Rio de Janeiro, Recife, and Salvador on the coast have warm climates, with average temperatures of each month ranging from 23 to 27 °C (73 to 81 °F), but enjoy constant trade winds.
Winter in Rio de Janeiro can be chilly. The cities of São Paulo, Curitiba, Florianópolis and Porto Alegre have a subtropical climate similar to that of the southern United States, and temperatures can fall below freezing in winter.
- Leave your valuables at home – New Apple watch? Expensive diamond earrings? Gold chain? Leave all your shiny, expensive valuables at home.
- Classic Basic items – You do not need to be a fashionista to blend in. The key is in embracing neutrally toned items that can be mixed and matched easily. Avoid logos, baseball caps, shorts, hoodies, flip-flops, and running shoes as these items scream tourist!
- Personal Safety products – Certain areas in Brazil are known as pickpocket hotspots; before leaving for your trip, make sure to pack some personal safety products , like money belts and locks, so that you can keep
- Get Medical Insurance – adventure and eco-travel is common in Brazil; if you plan on trekking in the Amazon; paragliding and/or hiking, make sure to be covered just in case .
- Bug Spray! – As of April 2017, the World Health Organization has updated their yellow fever vaccination recommendations in terms of Brazil as the yellow fever virus transmission continues to expand towards the Atlantic coast of Brazil in areas not deemed to be a risk for yellow fever transmission prior to the review risk assessment.
- As a result of this make sure to cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE, also called para-menthane-diol [PMD]), IR3535, or 2-undecanone (methyl nonyl ketone)(Always use as directed) OR Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents).
- Lastly, if you are traveling from Brazil to another country make sure to check if you need a yellow fever vaccination certificate or might be denied entry.
- Rain gear – if you plan on visiting São Paulo and/or Rio in the wintertime, be prepared for rain; make sure to bring along an umbrella and/or a raincoat.
Brazil Travel Guide: Best Booking Resources
Whenever we travel to we make sure to start with these companies. We have tried a lot of different ones over the years and all of these have consistently proven to be the best when it comes to offering great prices.
We have used every one of these personally and continue to do so.
- Booking.com : This is our go site to when comparing prices for accommodation. It usually has the cheapest prices, especially in Europe and we love their interface. Not to mention you get free cancellation and you are guaranteed the best price.
- Trip Advisor : What we like about Trip Advisor is that we can look at all the reviews and then book our accommodation. TripAdvisor is where we go when we want to compare prices with multiple accommodation providers.
- VRBO : is the main search engine we use when we are looking for a home or apartment rental. It can sometimes be cheaper than hotels and it is the best way to stay in areas that offer a more local feel.
- Hostelworld : With one of the largest databases of hostels in the world, Hostelworld is the go-to site when you are looking for budget accommodation.
- Skyscanner : This is the first place we check for flights. It consistently comes back with the cheapest and best options. It allows us to compare a lot of airlines to get the best price.
- Rome 2 Rio : If you want to see how to get somewhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car Rome2Rio lays it all out for you as well as related costs.I love how they show it all to you on a Google Map and it works offline.
- Get Your Guide: For all your day trip and city guide needs, we use Get Your Guide. It has the world’s largest collection of things to do with more than 30,000 activities in 7500 destinations.
- World Nomads Insurance: When traveling to Italy you should always have travel insurance. We have found the best bang for your buck is by far World Nomads.
Brazil Travel Guide: Related Articles
18 Fun and Interesting Facts about Brazil
Where to stay in Rio De Janeiro In 2023 – The Best Hotels and Neighborhoods
28 Best Things to Do in Rio De Janeiro in 2023
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Travel Advisory October 19, 2023
Brazil - level 2: exercise increased caution.
Reissued with updates to Country Summary.
Exercise increased caution in Brazil due to crime . Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.
Do not travel to:
- Any areas within 150 km/100 miles of Brazil’s land borders with Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and Paraguay due to crime . (Note: This does not apply to the Foz do Iguacu National Park or Pantanal National Park.)
- Informal housing developments (commonly referred to in Brazil as favelas, vilas, comunidades, and/or conglomerados) at any time of day due to crime (see additional information below).
- Brasilia’s administrative regions (commonly known as “satellite cities”) of Ceilandia, Santa Maria, Sao Sebastiao, and Paranoa during non-daylight hours due to crime (see additional information below).
Country Summary: Violent crime, such as murder, armed robbery, and carjacking, is common in urban areas, day and night. Gang activity and organized crime is widespread. Assaults, including with sedatives and drugs placed in drinks, are common. U.S. government personnel are discouraged from using municipal buses in all parts of Brazil due to an elevated risk of robbery and assault at any time of day, and especially at night.
If you decide to travel to Brazil:
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
- Do not accept food or drinks from strangers.
- Use caution when walking or driving at night.
- Avoid going to bars or nightclubs alone.
- Avoid walking on beaches after dark.
- Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
- Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
- Use caution at, or going to, major transportation centers or on public transportation, especially at night. Passengers face an elevated risk of robbery or assault using public, municipal bus transportation throughout Brazil.
- Use increased caution when hiking in isolated areas.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter .
- Review the Country Security Report for Brazil.
- Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist .
- Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.
International Borders – Level 4: Do Not Travel
U.S. government personnel are not permitted to travel to areas within 150 km/100 miles of the international land borders with Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and Paraguay without advance approval from security officials due to crime. Travel to the Foz do Iguacu National Park and Pantanal National Park is permitted.
Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas .
Informal Housing Developments (commonly known as “Favelas”) – Level 4: Do Not Travel
Do not travel to informal housing developments (commonly referred to in Brazil as favelas, vilas, comunidades, and/or conglomerados), even on a guided tour. Neither the tour companies nor the police can guarantee your safety when entering these communities. Even in these communities that the police or local governments deem safe, the situation can change quickly and without notice. While some informal housing developments have clear boundaries or gates, or even names such as “favela”, “vila”, “comunidade”, or “conglomerado”, other such developments may be less obvious, and may be identified by crowded quarters, poorer conditions, and/or irregular construction. In addition, exercise caution in areas surrounding these communities, as occasionally, inter-gang fighting and confrontations with police move beyond the confines of these communities. Except under limited circumstances and with advance approval, U.S. government personnel are not permitted to enter any informal housing developments in Brazil. Read the Safety and Security Section on the country information page and consult the maps on the Embassy’s website for further information regarding favelas.
Visit our website for Travel High-Risk Areas .
Brasilia’s Administrative Regions (commonly known as “Satellite Cities”) – Level 4: Do Not Travel
Without advance approval from security officials, U.S. government personnel are not permitted to travel to Brasilia’s Administrative Regions of Ceilandia, Santa Maria, Sao Sebastiao, and Paranoa between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. (non-daylight hours) due to crime.
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Must be valid on the date of entry
One page required for entry stamp
None required, but see Health section
More than 10,000 BR must be declared to Customs
Embassies and Consulates
U.S. Embassy Brasilia SES 801- Avenida das Nacoes, Lote 03 70403-900 - Brasilia, DF Brazil Telephone: 011-55-61-3312-7000 Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 011-55-61-3312-7400 Fax: (61) 3312-7651 Email: [email protected]
Embassy Branch Office in Belo Horizonte Avenida do Contorno, 4520 / 2nd floor – Funcionários 30110-028 Belo Horizonte, MG – Brazil Telephone: +55 (31) 3338-4000 E-mail: [email protected] Emergency After-Hours Telephone: Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia
Consular Agency in Brasilia’s Consular District Manaus Consular Agency Edificio Atrium, Suite 306 Rua Franco de Sá, 310 69.079-210 Manaus, AM Brazil Telephone: 011-55-92-3611-3333 Emergency After-Hours Telephone: Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia
U.S. Consulate General Porto Alegre Avenida Assis Brasil, 1889 Passo d' Areia 91010-004 - Porto Alegre, RS Brazil Telephone: 011-55-51-3345-6000 Email: [email protected]
U.S. Consulate General Recife Rua Goncalves Maia, 163, Boa Vista 50070-125 - Recife, PE Brazil Telephone: 011-55-81-3416-3050 or 011-55-81-3416-3080 Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 011-55-81-3416-3060 or 011-55-81-9916-9470 Email: [email protected]
Consular Agency in Recife’s Consular District U.S. Consular Agency Fortaleza Avenida Santos Dumont 2828, Aldeota, Suite 708 60150-162- Fortaleza, CE Brazil Telephone: 011-55-85-3223-4902 Emergency After-Hours Telephone: Please contact the U.S. Consulate General in Recife
U.S. Consulate General Rio de Janeiro Avenida Presidente Wilson, 147, Castelo 20030-020, Rio de Janeiro, RJ Brazil Telephone: 011-55-213823-2000 Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 011-55-21-3823-2029 Email: [email protected]
Consular Agency in Rio de Janeiro’s Consular District U.S. Consular Agency Salvador da Bahia Avenida Tancredo Neves, 1632, Caminho das Arvores Salvador Trade Center-Torre Sul, Room 1401 41820-020 - Salvador, Bahia Brazil Telephone: 011-55-71-3113-2090/2091/2092 Emergency After-Hours Telephone: Please contact the U.S. Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro: (21) 3823-2029
U.S. Consulate General Sao Paulo Rua Henri Dunant, 500 Chacara Santo Antonio 04709-110 - Sao Paulo, SP Brazil Telephone: 011-55-11-3250-5000 Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 011-55-11-3250-5373 Email: [email protected]
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Brazil for information on U.S.-Brazil relations.
Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
There are no COVID-related entry requirements for U.S. citizens.
You will need:
- A valid U.S. passport.
- U.S. citizens do not need a visa if they are traveling to Brazil for tourism, business, transit, artistic or sport activities, with no intention of establishing residence.
- For other types of travel, U.S. citizens may need to apply for a Brazilian visa either online here or at the nearest Brazilian consulate in the United States or abroad.
- Find a Brazilian consulate in the United States .
- Find a Brazilian consulate abroad .
Brazilian law requires any minor who is a Brazilian citizen (even dual nationals who are both U.S. and Brazilian citizens) to have permission from each parent to travel within Brazil or exit the country. When a minor travels with both parents, no written authorization is needed. When the minor travels with only one parent or without either parent, s/he must have two original written authorization letters from each absent parent and carry a copy* of the child’s birth certificate or have an annotation in his/her Brazilian passport authorizing travel alone or with only one parent. Brazilian citizen minors without authorization letters and a birth certificate* or an annotated Brazilian passport likely will not be allowed by authorities to pass through immigration or to board a flight departing Brazil.
The U.S. Embassy and its consulates cannot intervene in Brazilian immigration matters or request that this requirement be waived for U.S. citizen travelers.
Written Authorization Letter: If the absent parent is in Brazil, written authorization letters must be in Portuguese and notarized by a Brazilian notary. If the absent parent is in the United States or elsewhere outside of Brazil, the authorization must be done at the nearest Brazilian Embassy or Consulate using the form provided by that office. Again, please note that Brazilian law requires two original authorizations for each absent parent. This is important, because Federal Police may request and retain one authorization upon the minor’s entry into Brazil. Authorities may then request the second original document upon the minor’s departure. Authorizations written in English or executed before a U.S. (or any non-Brazilian) notary public are not accepted by the Brazilian Federal Police. Similarly, birth certificates issued outside of Brazil that are not apostilled * and translated by a certified translator may not be accepted.
Brazilian Passport Annotation: In lieu of carrying authorization letters, parents of dual U.S.-Brazilian citizen minors may instead request an annotation be placed in the minor’s Brazilian passport authorizing the minor to travel with only one parent, or to travel alone or with a third party. This annotation replaces the requirement for written authorization letters until the passport expires. Parents residing in Brazil should contact the Brazilian Federal Police for details on obtaining an annotated passport. Parents residing abroad should contact the nearest Brazilian Embassy or Consulate. The annotated Brazilian passport must not be expired and must be carried along with the minor’s U.S. passport at all times for Brazilian Federal Police to accept it in lieu of an authorization letter. There is no comparable annotation available in U.S. passports.
Children who are not dual citizens of Brazil: Please note that, while Brazilian law related to travel authorization does not explicitly apply to non-citizens of Brazil, Federal Police have, at times, delayed the travel of non-Brazilian minors who lack appropriate authorization from both parents. For this reason, we recommend that families of non-Brazilian minors who may travel through Brazil without one or both parents execute written authorizations (following the instructions in the preceding paragraph) in advance of travel and ensure that the minor, or the minor’s traveling companion, carries the original or notarized copy** of the minor’s birth certificate.
An exemplar of the form used by Brazilian authorities to document parental permission for minors to travel without one or both parents may be found here .
*There is a useful pamphlet published by the Hague Conference called “ The ABCs of Apostilles .” The Brazilian competent authority that issues apostilles is the Conselho Nacional de Justiça .
**If the birth certificate was issued in Brazil, copies must be notarized by a Brazilian notary. If issued outside of Brazil, copies must be apostilled and translated by a certified translator into Portuguese.
HIV/AIDS Restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Brazil.
Find information on dual nationality , prevention of international child abduction , and customs regulations on our websites.
Safety and Security
Crime: The violent crime rate is high in most Brazilian urban centers. Public transportation, hotel sectors, and tourist areas report high crime rates, but these incidents can happen anywhere and at any time. Be aware of your surroundings.
- Informal housing developments in Brazil (commonly referred to in Brazil as favelas, vilas, comunidades, and/or satellite cities), even on a guided tour, at any time of day due to crime. Neither the tour companies nor the police can guarantee your safety when entering these areas. Even in favelas that the police or local governments deem safe, the situation can change quickly and without notice. In addition, exercise caution in areas surrounding favelas, as occasionally, inter-gang fighting and confrontations with police move beyond the confines of these communities.
- Brasilia’s administrative regions (commonly known as “satellite cities”) of Ceilandia, Santa Maria, Sao Sebastiao, and Paranoa during non-daylight hours due to crime.
- Any areas within 150 km of Brazil’s land borders with Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and Paraguay due to crime. (Note: This does not apply to the Foz do Iguacu National Park or Pantanal National Park.)
- Consider avoiding the use of public, municipal buses in Brazil at any time of day, and especially at night. Crime trends indicate an elevated risk of robbery or assault on public bus systems throughout Brazil. The U.S. government recommends against personnel using public, municipal buses in all parts of Brazil.
- Avoid going to bars or nightclubs alone and avoid leaving with strangers.
- Before going on a date with someone you met on a dating app, tell a loved one who you are meeting, where you are going, and the details of the dating application account.
- Be wary about inviting individuals to your residence. If inviting a new acquaintance to your residence, speak to your door attendant in advance about your invited guest.
- Trust your instincts – if something does not feel right or if you suddenly feel ill, walk away from the situation.
- If you believe you may have been drugged, seek immediate medical attention. Some people can have life-threatening reactions to these drugs. After that, report the crime to local police and contact us at the numbers listed below.
- Traveling Outside Metropolitan Areas After Dark: Travelers are encouraged to organize their trips so that they can travel during daylight hours. Road conditions throughout Brazil can vary widely, and travelers must exercise caution due to debris in the road, horse-drawn carriages, unmarked speed bumps, and other infrastructure deficiencies.
- Armed hold-ups of pedestrians and motorists can happen, including at or near public beaches. Personal belongings, left unattended even for a moment, are often taken. If you are robbed, hand over your personal belongings without resisting. Resisting will increase your risk of injury.
- Carjackings and hold-ups can occur at any time of the day or night, especially at intersections and in tunnels. Some robberies involve individuals robbed at gunpoint and taken to make purchases or to withdraw as much money as possible from one or more ATMs.
- Crime on public transportation occurs. Registered taxis have red license plates and openly display company information and phone numbers.
- Credit card fraud and ATM scams are common in Brazil. Work closely with your financial institutions to monitor accounts and keep your credit card in view while it is scanned at a point of sale.
- Avoid using ATMs in unfamiliar, secluded, or lightly protected areas. Be aware that criminals often target ATMs and businesses in the early hours of the morning when there are fewer witnesses and law enforcement response times may be delayed. If you opt to use an ATM, select those that are located inside of secure facilities, such as an airport, hospital, bank, or government building.
- Avoid openly displaying your cell phone. When using a ride share service or taxi, wait for its arrival in a secure area.
- Avoid large groups or events where crowds have gathered. Public events of any nature, including concerts and sporting events, can unexpectedly turn violent.
- Travel to any areas within 150 km of the international borders with Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and Paraguay, except in limited circumstances with the appropriate U.S. Department of State approvals. Individuals with ties to illegal criminal networks operate along Brazilian borders. Travel to the Foz do Iguaçu National Park and Pantanal National Park is permitted.
- Enter any informal housing developments in Brazil (commonly referred to in Brazil as favelas, vilas, comunidades, and/or satellite cities), except in limited circumstances with the appropriate approvals.
- Enter Brasilia’s administrative regions (commonly known as “satellite cities”) of Ceilandia, Santa Maria, Sao Sebastiao, and Paranoa during non-daylight hours.
To reduce the chance of becoming the victim of a crime, in addition to the above recommendations, please review the below precautions:
- Limit the personal belongings you carry with you. Carry your money in your front pockets and limit the number of credit cards you carry. Make copies of all of your personal documents – including your credit cards, license, passport, etc. – and keep them in a safe place. This will be helpful if you lose your documents.
- Do not carry or wear valuable items that will attract the attention of thieves. If you need to wear expensive jewelry or carry a camera, conceal it until you arrive at your destination.
- Be aware of the street environment and avoid contact with those who may be looking for robbery targets. Seek a safer location. Go into a store, bank, or simply cross the street.
- Do not walk on beaches after dark. Assaults are common.
- Use increased caution when hiking in isolated areas, particularly near popular tourist locations in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Demonstrations and strikes are common in urban areas, may occur unexpectedly, disrupt transportation, and may escalate into violence.
- Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly become violent.
- Avoid areas around protests and demonstrations.
- Check local media for updates and traffic advisories.
- Check the website of the Embassy or Consulate nearest you for current information on demonstrations.
International Financial Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information.
Victims of Crime:
U.S. citizen victims of crime should contact the local authorities to file a Brazilian police report before departing Brazil. In most instances, you can report crimes to the tourist or civil police. U.S. citizens should also inform the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
- Police number - 190
- the U.S. Embassy at 011-55-61-3312-7000
- the U.S. Consulate General in Porto Alegre at 011-55-51-3345-6000
- the U.S. Consulate General in Recife at 011-55-81-3416-3050 or 011-55-81-3416-3080
- the U.S. Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro at 011-55-21-3823-2000
- the U.S. Consulate General in Sao Paulo at 011-55-11-3250-5000
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas .
- Replace a lost or stolen passport
- Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- Help you find appropriate medical care
- Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- Provide information on victims' compensation programs in the U.S .
- Provide a list of local lawyers who speak English
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Brazil is divided among four services:
- 190 - Policia (Police)
- 191 - Policia Rodoviaria (on interstate roads)
- 192 - Ambulancia (Ambulance)
- 193 - Bombeiros (Fire Department)
Victims of Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault: Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate for assistance after contacting local authorities.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities are inconsistent. Hazardous areas/activities are normally identified with appropriate signage in major urban centers but may not be in other locations. Tourism industry staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate and timely medical treatment is consistently available only in or near major cities. First responders can face delays accessing areas outside of major cities to quickly provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage .
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.
Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Firearms: Brazil forbids importing, exporting, and possessing firearms without prior authorization of the Brazilian Government. U.S. citizens are subject to arrest and prosecution in Brazil for possession of unauthorized firearms or firearm components anywhere in the country, including airports. This prohibition extends to spent shell casings or ammunition, even if inside luggage during transit, regardless of whether those items were legally purchased in the United States or elsewhere.
Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.
Water Hazards: Many of Brazil’s beaches have very dangerous riptides, even if the water looks safe. Ocean currents and waves are unpredictable, even in popular beaches frequented by tourists. Shark attacks are reported in the waters of some beaches in northeastern Brazil, particularly near Recife. Always observe posted warnings and never swim while under the influence of alcohol. Follow local authorities’ guidance and refrain from swimming alone in areas marked with red warning signs or at beaches where there are no municipal lifeguards or first responder services.
Electricity Blackouts: Power failures in large urban centers are common and sometimes followed by increased crime. Most tourist hotels are equipped with generators, minimizing the impact of a blackout, but you should remain cautious.
Natural Disasters: Flooding and mudslides occur throughout the country and can be fatal. Monitor news and weather reports and adhere to municipal advisories before traveling to areas prone to flooding or landslides. Many of Brazil’s larger cities have frequent heavy rainstorms that cause flash flooding and can disrupt traffic.
Customs Restrictions : Contact the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, D.C. or one of Brazil's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding import and export regulations. Please also refer to our information on customs regulations .
- Brazilian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporarily importing or exporting items such as firearms, antiquities, mineral samples, tropical plants, wildlife, medications, and business and communication equipment.
- In the Amazon region, there is special scrutiny of exporting biological material. People raising, growing, or exporting biological materials without permits can be charged with “biopiracy.”
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report – see country reports
- Human Rights Report – see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: Brazil does not have legal restrictions on same-sex marriage, relations, or events coordinated by LGBTI organizations. However, according to the 2019 Human Rights Report, violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals was a serious concern, with local NGOs reporting 297 LGBTI persons were victims of hate killings. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Brazilian law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities in employment, education, and access to health care. However, accessibility to public transportation and the ability to accommodate the needs of physically disabled persons are limited in most areas.
Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips .
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers .
COVID-19 Testing: Brazil is a very large, diverse country with varying medical resources, both private and public, throughout the country. Many private labs perform COVID-19 testing at various prices, typically between $20 and $100. PCR, serology-based antibody tests, and antigen tests are available. Turn-around time varies widely depending upon location. Please verify turn-around time with your chosen lab before taking the test. Express results within 2-4 hours are available in many locations at an increased fee, including in the Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo and Galeão International Airport in Rio de Janeiro. Testing is available in the private sector without a doctor’s prescription, but a prescription may be required for insurance payment.
In the public healthcare system, each Brazilian state has its own COVID-19 testing plan. We recommend that you contact local/state authorities for more information. Typically, a COVID-19 test is ordered by an emergency room physician and then sent to a public lab. Turnaround time is much slower and can take up to seven days, but tests are generally free. Information on testing sites and procedures is available through the official app of the Ministry of Health.
COVID-19 Vaccines: The COVID-19 vaccine is available for U.S. citizens to receive in Brazil once they register with the public Unified Health System (SUS) . According to the Ministry of Health, available vaccines include AstraZeneca/Oxford (Fiocruz), CoronaVac (Butantan), Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), and Pfizer (BioNTech). For more information on local availability of COVID-19 vaccines, please see the Brazilian Ministry of Health’s website and also contact local health authorities .
For emergency services in Brazil, dial 192.
Ambulance services are not present throughout the country or are unreliable in most areas except in state capitals and other large cities.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Government of Brazil to ensure the medication is legal in Brazil. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Though the yellow fever vaccine is not required to enter Brazil, travelers wishing to be vaccinated should consider receiving it prior to travel, as local supplies are limited. Please note that the yellow fever vaccine should be administered ten days prior to travel for it to be effective.
Also note that, while yellow fever vaccine is not required to enter Brazil, some neighboring countries (French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Bolivia, and Paraguay) do require travelers with recent entries in Brazil to show proof of yellow fever vaccination.
All travelers to the country are advised to carry documentation, such as a vaccination card, that they have been appropriately vaccinated for yellow fever.
The following diseases are prevalent in Brazil:
- Travelers' diarrhea
In recent years, outbreaks of these diseases have also been detected in certain areas of Brazil:
- Yellow fever
Elective Surgery : Although Brazil has many elective/cosmetic surgery facilities that are on par with those found in the United States, the quality of care varies widely. If you plan to undergo surgery in Brazil, make sure that emergency medical facilities are available and professionals are accredited and qualified. Some “boutique” plastic surgery operations offer luxurious facilities but are not hospitals and are unable to handle emergencies.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for information on Medical Tourism, the risks of medical tourism, and what you can do to prepare before traveling to Brazil.
Non-traditional Medicine: Several U.S. citizens have died while seeking medical care from non-traditional “healers” and practitioners in Brazil. Ensure you have access to licensed emergency medical facilities if seeking such services.
Further health information:
- World Health Organization
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Travel and Transportation
Public Transportation: Consider avoiding the use of public, municipal buses in Brazil at any time of day, and especially at night. Crime trends indicate an elevated risk of robbery or assault on public bus systems throughout Brazil. The U.S. government recommends against personnel using public, municipal buses in all parts of Brazil.
Public buses are one of the main modes of inter-city road travel. Buses can range (depending on route and price) from luxurious and well-maintained to basic and mechanically unsound. Bus hijacking can occur at random.
Road Conditions and Safety: Driving on Brazil's roads poses significant risks. Poor driving skills, bad roads, and high-density traffic make road travel more hazardous than in the United States. Road maintenance is inadequate in many areas and some long-distance roads through the Amazon forest are impassable much of the year due to flooding.
Apart from toll roads, which generally have their own services, roadside assistance is available only sporadically and informally through local mechanics. The fastest way to summon assistance in an emergency anywhere in the country is to dial 193, a universal number staffed by local fire departments. This service is in Portuguese only.
Traffic Laws: Travelers planning on staying for more than 180 days should obtain an Inter-American Driving Permit to carry with their valid U.S. license if they plan to drive in Brazil. Such permits can be obtained through AAA or other sources. Please note:
- Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt. Brazilian federal law requires child seats for all children under the age of 7 ½. From age 7 ½ years to 10, children must only ride in the back seat.
- Drivers must yield the right of way to cars on their right. Compliance with stop signs is rarely enforced, so many motorists treat them as yield signs. It is common for drivers to turn or cross one or more lanes of traffic without warning.
- Drivers often flash their lights or wave their hand out the window to signal other drivers to slow down.
- Pedestrian crossings are only observed in some places, such as Brasilia.
- Drivers must have their daytime running lights on during the day and headlights on at night on Federal Highways.
- Under Brazil’s Lei Seca (“Dry Law”), you cannot operate a vehicle with any measurable blood-alcohol level. Checkpoints are often set up in urban areas, and randomly chosen drivers are required to perform a breathalyzer test. Those in violation are subject to legal penalties and having their vehicle impounded.
See our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of Brazil’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety .
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Brazil’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Brazil’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page .
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Brazil should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts . Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website , and the NGA broadcast warnings .
For additional travel information
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution and Travel Advisories .
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook .
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
Brazil was cited in the State Department’s 2022 Annual Report to Congress on International Child Abduction for demonstrating a pattern of non-compliance with respect to international parental child abduction. Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Brazil . For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act ( ICAPRA ) report.
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A beginner's guide to Brazil
Jan 21, 2016 • 7 min read
A couple with backpacks overlook Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
What do you get if you combine cinematic landscapes, kaleidoscopic culture, head-spinning biodiversity and a constant rhythm of carefree joie de vivre? Welcome to Brazil!
The world's fifth-largest country commandeers the lion's share of South America , all the way from the Amazon Basin – the world's largest tropical rainforest – to the pampas of southernmost Rio Grande do Sul, delivering 7500kms of sun-toasted sands in between.
It is these postcard-perfect shores for which Brazil is arguably most famous, but this Latin giant boasts far more than beaches. Lush jungle? Check. Colonial villages? Check. Unparalleled wildlife? Check. Delectable restaurants and pulse-pumping nightlife? Check. Stunning waterfalls, canyons, mountains and dunescapes? Pronto, pronto, pronto and pronto!
Brazil owes its language and much of its cultural potpourri to Portugal – both unique compared to its Spanish-settled South American neighbors – whose explorers arrived in the 1500s and settled what was then a land of largely indigenous inhabitants numbering between two and four million people. Waves of immigration from Africa , Europe and the Middle East have shaped and enriched the country throughout history. Today, with a population of nearly 200 million, Brazil is one of the world's most diverse nations.
A tropical wonderland
A visit to Brazil usually begins in Rio de Janeiro , one of the world's most vibrant urban landscapes, where dramatic, rainforest-crowned mountaintops surround a city nestled picturesquely between jungle and sea. The Amazon region – and its namesake river – are home to the planet's greatest collection of plants and animals, and this enigmatic landscape has long intrigued explorers, naturalists, novelists and travelers alike. Brazil's other hotspot for biodiversity, the Pantanal , is the world's largest wetland, where every moment throws up another photo opportunity full of colorful birds and wildlife.
The roar of Iguaçu Falls will redefine your idea of the power of Mother Nature; this torrent thundering over the edges of cliffs is a spectacle without rival. And in a country with no shortage of world-class beaches, the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha serves up three of the best, and then adds the distinction of being Brazil's top spot for diving and surfing, and one of the best places on Earth to mingle with endangered sea turtles and Spinner dolphins.
But wait, there's more! Pristinely preserved colonial villages (Ouro Prêto, Tiradentes, Paraty , Olinda), scenic national parks (Lençóis-Maranhenses ( parquelencois.com.br ), Chapada Diamantina , Chapada dos Veadeiros ( whc.unesco.org/en/list/1035 ), Chapada dos Guimarães ), idyllic tropical islands ( Ilha Grande , Ilhabela , Ilha de Santa Catarina, Morro de São Paulo , Boipeba, Ilha do Mel) and an even longer list of diverse regional cuisine and culture, from the African-fueled state of Bahía to the heavily German and Italian-influenced states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul , all unite in a seductive marriage that ticks off a traveler's wishlist.
Olympic fever (and fears)
Summer 2016 brings the Olympic Games to Rio de Janeiro, the first time the world's most important amateur athletic event has been held on South American soil. From August 5-21, 2016, the world's spotlight will once again focus on Brazil in much the same way it did for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. And much like the world's greatest football tournament, the lead-up to the event has not been without controversy and concern.
For starters, the Brazil of 2016 is a very different country than the Brazil of two years prior, so economic woes and rising inflation have plagued costs and budgets. Several of the 14 under-construction Olympic venues are behind schedule, as are most infrastructure projects associated with the event, such as the new metro line built to link the city with the Olympic Park in suburban Barra di Tijuca. Finances and construction woes aside, a 2015 Associated Press investigation revealed dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria in all of Rio’s Olympic water venues, most notably Guanabara Bay, the host site for sailing and windsurfing events, and Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, which will host rowing and canoeing events. The lead-up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup spawned similar pre-event outcry, but despite deeply concerning construction, budget, crime and social unrest woes, Brazil pulled off an excellent party in the end – and by all accounts, from athletic and spectator perspectives, the tournament was a roaring success.
The bottom line? Brazil has its fair share of problems, but throwing a party isn't one of them. The friendliness and hospitality of the Brazilian people and a deep pride in proving the naysayers wrong when the world's eyes are focused on the country will always prevail in the end. It's safe to say you can expect a wonderful Olympic Games, made all the more cinematic against the backdrop of one of the world's most remarkably gorgeous cities, Rio de Janeiro.
If you're planning on traveling to Brazil in 2016, and are a citizen of the United States, Canada, Japan or Australia, you're in luck. Brazil has announced the waiving of visa requirements for those nationalities entering the country through September 18, 2016, for a stay of up to 90 days.
During the much ballyhooed Brazil boom of the early 2000s, there was no sugarcoating it: Brazil was expensive. By 2016, however, the Brazil boom had flip-flopped to the Brazil gloom. The overvalued r eal has come crashing back down to earth amid a fast and furious economic collapse spurred by government mismanagement, rampant corruption scandals, alarming inflation and a president, Dilma Rousseff, who may or may not make it through her second term (impeachment proceedings remain a dark and looming cloud over her head). But what does a Brazilian economy in tatters (and projected to decline further) mean in practical terms from a tourism perspective? Brazil is on sale! With the r eal spending the better part of recent times hovering around R$3.7-4 to US$1, that gourmet burger that cost nearly US$20 in 2011 now costs just US$7. Bom apetite!
Brazil's official language is Portuguese. English is still under-spoken by most Brazilians, even by folks working in hospitality in major tourist destinations.
Brazil is home to extensive air and bus networks. The country's major domestic airlines include Latam ( latam.com) , the re-branded offering from the recent merger of Lan and Tam Airlines; Gol ( voegol.com.br ), Azul ( voeazul.com.br ) and Avianca ( avianca.com ). Most visitors arrive at Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport (Galeão; aeroportogaleao.net/en ) in Rio de Janeiro or Aeroporto Internacional de Guarulhos (GRU Airport; aeroportoguarulhos.net/en ) in São Paulo , but there are also international arrivals in Brasília , Fortaleza , Natal , Recife , Salvador , Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre , among others. Flights are expensive, though competition-spawned mega-sales are common and, if you are covering a lot of ground, a Brazil Airpass is your new best friend. Miami-based BR Online Travel (BROL; brol.com ) specializes in passes, which are available only to foreign visitors.
Itapemirim ( itapemirim.com.br ) and Cometa ( viacaocometa.com.br ) are two of the biggest and best bus companies. For a national database of bus routes, try Busca Ônibus ( buscaonibus.com.br) or ClickBus ( clickbus.com.br) , the latter accepting international credit cards and PayPal for payments. Fares begin around R$10 to R$12 per hour for the cheapest services and rise from there in price and comfort level.
In addition to the usual traveler precautions, malaria is a concern in certain areas of the Amazon and northwest Brazil. Travelers should weigh the risks of an appropriate preventative (chloroquine is not effective here), and cover up as much as possible to prevent mosquito bites. Brazil has become the epicenter of mosquito-borne dengue fever in Latin America, especially in and around Rio and in Bahía. Pregnant women in particular should take extreme caution against mosquitoes while in Brazil as an alarming surge in cases of the Zika virus in 2015 was blamed for 20 times more cases of an incurable fetal deformity known as microcephaly than previous years.
Tap water is safe in most urban areas but doesn't win any taste competitions. Bottled water is preferred by most Brazilians.
Brazil receives a lot of bad press about its violence and high crime rate but the country is generally safe for tourists. That said, extra precaution should be taken in major urban areas, Rio de Janeiro, Recife and São Paulo in particular.
Besides all of the standard-issue traveler safety provisions, heed some added warnings: never take anything of value to the beach, use ATMs only inside banks or shopping malls, and do not walk along empty streets, deserted parks or urban beaches at night.
This article was first published in December 2013 and updated in January 2016.
Explore related stories
Oct 25, 2023 • 19 min read
We've released our Best in Travel 2024 list of the top destinations and experiences for next year. Find out the best time to make these dream trips a reality.
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- How to get to Brazil
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Unless you’re entering Brazil overland from a neighbouring country, you’ll almost certainly arrive by air. Airfares always depend on the season: specific dates vary between airlines, but high season is generally July and August, then again mid-December to Christmas Day; low season is any other time. Fares don’t normally rise over Carnaval (Feb–March), but getting a seat at this time can be difficult. Airline competition is fierce, however, and offers are often available.
From the US and Canada
From the uk and ireland, from australia, new zealand and south africa.
Meet your Brazil local travel expert
9 days / from 2042 USD
Brazilian Beaches: Copacabana, Botafogo and more
Begin at Foz do Iguaçu, where you will stand in awe of the huge Iguaçu Falls. Next up, we'll head to the lively city of Rio de Janeiro, home of the legendary Copacabana, Botafogo and Flamengo beaches, and of course, Sugar Loaf Mountain and the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue.
10 days / from 1700 USD
Welcome to a lavish journey that marries adventure with style, featuring stays in carefully chosen four-star hotels. This reinvigorating trip will have you sightseeing in São Paulo, gazing at the spectacular Foz do Iguaçu falls and relaxing on Rio's finest beaches before you know it.
10 days / from 2683 USD
Breathtaking Brazil: Rio, Beaches and Waterfalls
Explore the lively city of Rio de Janeiro, home to Ipanema and Copacabana beaches; experience the stunning Foz do Iguaçu National Park and see the world’s largest waterfalls system; immerse yourself in cultural Salvador, the magnificent former capital of Portugal’s New World colony.
3 days / from 590 USD
Iguazu - from Brazil and Argentina
Imagine two nights in this breathtaking destination, coupled with an exhilarating full-day excursion to witness the majestic Iguazu Falls, both in Argentina and Brazil. Experience the power of nature up close, with private services ensuring an intimate and personalized journey.
5 days / from 1920 USD
North Pantanal in 5 Days
Spend the first night in Cuiaba before heading to the Pantanal. Over the next two days, indulge in exciting daily activities, ranging from boat trips to horseback riding and hikes. All lodges include breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The internet is rapidly making specialist travel agents less of an essential first stop, but you may want to use one if you prefer to book your first few days’ accommodation before you arrive or you’re looking for a tailor-made package. Apart from discounted tickets, it’s worth checking fares directly with the airlines that fly to Brazil; they frequently offer competitive fares, especially during low season, although these may carry certain restrictions such as having to spend at least seven days abroad (maximum stay three months).
If you plan to do a fair amount of travelling within Brazil, think about buying a TAM air pass with your main ticket, available whether or not you fly your international legs on TAM – though the price will be higher if you arrive with a different airline. Depending on your itinerary, it can save you a lot of money, but can only be bought outside South America. For more information, see Getting around for details of the various options.
There are numerous gateways to Brazil 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; Japan Airlines and Korean Air also carry passengers between the US and Brazil. Most flights go to either Rio or São Paulo ; if you want to fly anywhere else, your options are limited to TAM from Miami to Manaus, Belém, Recife, Belo Horizonte and Salvador; American , also from Miami, to Belo Horizonte; and Delta from Atlanta to Fortaleza, Manaus and Recife, although Copa will fly you to Manaus via Panama if you want to focus your trip on the Amazon. If your ultimate destination is somewhere other than these cities, it is usually best to connect in Rio or São Paulo.
Excursion-fare ticket prices vary depending on your length of stay in Brazil: count on spending at least US$150 more for a ticket valid for up to three months than a ticket for up to one month. Fares to Rio and São Paulo are almost always the same. Excursion fares are around US$1000 out of New York, US$900 out of Miami; for unrestricted fares, add at least US$400.
It’s worth going to some trouble to avoid São Paulo’s Guarulhos airport , where queues can be nightmarish and the airport layout is extraordinarily confusing. Even if you have what on paper looks like a direct flight to Rio, make sure that it doesn’t stop at São Paulo on the way, where you will almost always have to deplane and hang around for a weary couple of hours, or even change planes to Rio – take care with TAM on this, since they are ruthless about shunting international passengers onto domestic connections in São Paulo even if your ticket is to Rio.
Flights via other countries
For slightly cheaper fares (but longer flight times), or if you’re tempted to break your journey, it’s worth checking out what the national airlines of Brazil’s South American neighbours have to offer. Aerolíneas Argentinas , for instance, flies to Rio and São Paulo from Miami and New York via Buenos Aires. Others routings worth investigating include travelling via Bogotá with Avianca , Panama with Copa Airlines , Lima with LAN Peru and Santiago with LAN Chile . If you can get yourself to Lima, Santiago, Buenos Aires, or Santa Cruz in Bolivia, the Brazilian no-frills airline Gol has cheap onward fares to Rio and São Paulo. If you do route yourself via another South American country, however, you may need a vaccination certificate for yellow fever.
If you plan on travelling in other South American countries besides Brazil, the TAM South American Airpass is a good-value option.
There are plenty of choices of carrier to Brazil from the UK , with São Paulo and Rio being the usual points of arrival. If your ultimate destination is neither of these cities, it is usually best to connect in Rio, or connect with a flight on the continent, where your options are TAM to Recife from Paris, or TAP via Lisbon to Recife, Salvador, Fortaleza, Natal, Belo Horizonte and Brasília. If you only want to go to the Amazon, Manaus via Miami with TAM is your best bet, but it’s unlikely to be cheaper or quicker than a flight to Rio or São Paulo and then a connection north.
British Airways and TAM operate direct flights to Brazil from the UK; despite BA having newer planes and a much higher level of service, their official fares are usually very similar, starting at around £700 return to Rio or São Paulo in low season, £900 high season (July, Aug & Dec 14–25). With these tickets, return dates are in theory fixed, but once in Brazil both airlines will allow you to change the date (within 30 days) for a fee of around £75. You can usually get the same tickets through websites and specialist travel agencies at reduced prices; fares are sometimes as little as £500 in low season, rising to around £800 for high-season departures. The cheapest fares , however, are often offered on routes via Europe – with Air France via Paris, TAP via Lisbon, Iberia via Madrid or Lufthansa via Frankfurt, all to both Rio and São Paulo. Other inexpensive options to São Paulo include Alitalia via Milan, KLM via Amsterdam and Swiss Airlines via Zurich. Prices tend to be the same whether you begin your journey in London or at one of the UK’s regional airports .
As Brazil is such a large country, an open-jaw ticket – flying into one city and leaving from another – may, according to your itinerary, make sense. Rio and São Paulo offer most airline possibilities, but flying with TAP broadens your options, including also Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Fortaleza, Natal, Recife and Salvador.
There are no direct flights from Ireland to Brazil: connect via London or other European capitals. The best deals are available from budget or student travel agents in Ireland, but it’s also worth contacting specialist agents in England for cheap fares, an unusual route or a package.
Other ticket options
Several airlines offer stopovers to or from Brazil at no extra cost. Apart from the airlines with European transit points already mentioned, stopover possibilities most commonly involve the US . United Airlines via Washington or Chicago is generally the least expensive option (around £550 low season, £800 high season) with good deals also sometimes available with American Airlines via Miami, Continental via Newark or Houston, Delta via Atlanta or Air Canada via Toronto.
Combining Brazil with a longer trip in the southern hemisphere, or putting together a Round-the-World (RTW) ticket , is possible but expensive. The most popular ticket option is a one-way to Sydney via Brazil and Argentina and a separate ticket back to London via Southeast Asia or North America. Another possibility is onward to Johannesburg from São Paulo on South African Airways.
The best deals and fastest routing to Brazil from Australasia are offered by Aerolíneas Argentinas and LAN Chile. There are fewer options flying via the US, flights take longer and the tickets are more expensive. Round-the-World fares that include South America tend to cost more than other RTW options, but can be worthwhile if you have the time to make the most of a few stopovers.
From Australia , flights to South America leave from Sydney. The most direct route is with Aerolíneas Argentinas, which flies via Auckland to Buenos Aires, from where there are good connections direct to Florianópolis, Porto Alegre, Rio and São Paulo. LAN Chile has a weekly direct flight via Auckland to Santiago, with connections to Rio or São Paulo. More long-winded, there are twice-weekly connections via Papeete and Easter Island with Air New Zealand and LAN Chile to Santiago. Travelling through the US, United Airlines, American Airlines or Delta can fly you to São Paulo or Rio via either Los Angeles or San Francisco and Atlanta or Miami. From New Zealand , you can pick up one of the United, Aerolíneas Argentinas or Air New Zealand/LAN Chile flights in Auckland.
In general, fares depend on the duration of stay, rather than the season – cut-off points when flying via Chile and Argentina are 35 days, 45 days, 90 days, 6 months and 1 year; flying via the US they are 21 days, 45 days and 180 days – but bear in mind that availability is a problem during Christmas and Carnaval (Dec–March). On the more direct routes with Aerolíneas Argentinas you should be able to get a return fare for A$2400/NZ$2600. Flying via Santiago with LAN Chile, you can expect to pay around A$3100/NZ$3300, while fares via the US will be at least A$3500/NZ$3700.
An open-jaw ticket can work out to be a convenient option. Flying into Rio and out of São Paulo (or vice versa) on Aerolíneas Argentinas or LAN Chile, for example, won’t cost you any more than a straight through-fare to Rio.
From South Africa , Brazil can be reached directly from Johannesburg with South African Airlines to São Paulo. For indirect flights, your best option is Malaysian Airlines from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Buenos Aires and a separate onward ticket to a Brazilian destination. Also worth investigating are flights with TAAG Angolan Airlines from Johannesburg to Rio via Luanda.
The Rough Guides to Brazil and related travel guides
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Travel advice for Brazil
From travel safety to visa requirements, discover the best tips for traveling to Brazil
- Eating and drinking in Brazil
- Getting around Brazil: Transportation Tips
- Travel Tips Brazil for planning and on the go
- Best time to visit Brazil
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Brazil Travel Tips for First-Time Visitors
When we think of visiting Brazil , we think of a few main things in particular, such as the famous Amazon Rainforest , the beach of Copacabana in Rio , the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain, as well as the alluring Iguazu Falls , but it is no wonder many people wish they had a long time to explore.
To help you get the most of your trip, we’ve highlighted our top Brazil travel tips.
Brazil has to be one of the most diverse countries in the world, and that’s what makes it appeal to all kinds of travelers, whether you are a wildlife enthusiast, a festival goer, an avid hiker, or one who loves to stroll through the streets of quaint towns and villages. Brazil has it all!
If this country is on your list – and it should be, then we’re excited to give you the lowdown on how to not only plan the trip of a lifetime but to do it in a truly sustainable and eco-friendly manner, all of which is more than possible. Keep reading for our top Brazil travel tips for first-timers.
Make sure to stay connected during your Brazil trip with an eSIM from aloSIM . It starts at only $6 for the fastest, cheapest local data package to ensure that you stay connected without paying for the cost for roaming.
Why should you visit Brazil?
If you’re wondering what makes Brazil so special, you’re in luck. We could go on and on about the amazing aspects of this country, from the range of incredible attractions and activities on offer to the delicious food, party culture, festivals…. you get the point.
It’s safe to say that no matter your reasons for traveling to this South American country, you will certainly have no regrets. And if you plan your trip with Baboo Travels , you’re safe in knowing that your trip will be exceptional, tailor-made by local experts and that you will be giving back to the community in the process, but stay tuned for more on that.
Weather in Brazil
Brazil is a huge country, which means the weather can vary from place to place. As well as this, it is good to have an idea of the seasons in Brazil and what to expect at which time of year – which will make sure you enjoy your trip to the fullest.
Brazil is the only country in the world to have the Tropic of Capricorn to the South and the Equator to the North, so as you can imagine, this can play a huge part in the weather and climate of the country. As an overview, you can expect a tropical climate overall, with the hottest month being February, the coldest being July and the wettest being December, but as this can vary from region to region. Your Baboo Destination Expert will make sure to offer some advice when planning your trip to Brazil.
As a whole, Brazil experiences a wet season from March to August and a dry season from July to November, so depending on which time you plan to go, it’s worth preparing well for either hot weather or rainy weather.
Things to do in Brazil
If you’re the kind of traveler who doesn’t like to stay still, but instead loves to take on challenges, explore hidden gems, attend local festivities, and get up close and personal with awesome wild animals, then Brazil will blow you away. The fact that there are so many activities on offer here ensures you’ll never get bored, and ultimately means that you may extend your stay or at least plan another trip back to finish what you started. Let’s face it though, you can never truly ‘finish’ traveling Brazil.
Some of the best activities in Brazil include hiking, canoeing, and piranha fishing, oh and did we mention swimming with pink dolphins? And that is just in the Amazon Jungle!
Brazil is home to some unbelievable hidden gems, which include dunes, lagoons, mangroves, and sensational beaches – and that’s just in Lencois Maranhenses National Park (located in Maranhão state in northeastern Brazil).
As well as this, attending the world-famous Carnival Festival (which is celebrated celebrated five days preceding Ash Wednesday every year), hiking the Sugarloaf Mountain, and soaking up the sun on Copacabana Beach are all must-do activities – and of this can all be done in Rio de Janeiro .
So, as you can imagine, when there are this many activities from region to region, you will most likely never get bored of Brazil, which is what makes people return to time and time again.
Tourist attractions in Brazil
Brazil not only has some awesome thrilling and unique activities to take part in, but there are a host of unmissable attractions which make this country so famous. Brazil is of course home to the giant Iguazu Falls , which is one of the country’s biggest attractions and straddles the border of Argentina .
Places such as the cobbled street town of Paraty (a coastal historic town in the state of Rio de Janeiro) and the island of Ihla Grande (an island in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro ringed by beaches, covered by Atlantic forest and crossed by winding trails) are two spots that cannot be overlooked, as well as the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio and the food and coffee which are highlighted by themselves.
We don’t want to give away all of Brazil’s secrets, but we can assure you that this country will continue to surprise you as your trip progresses, and your Baboo Destination Expert is on hand to make sure your itinerary fully suits you.
See also: Most Beautiful Regions in Brazil for Motorcycling
How to plan a sustainable trip to Brazil
So now your traveler’s heart is set on going to Brazil, but how do you start the planning process? Of course, planning a trip by yourself is more than doable, but it’s worth noting that it takes a lot of time (an average of 37 hours of research), and stress, which ultimately takes away from the whole planning process.
Planning any trip should be enjoyable and at the end of it all, you should feel rewarded and satisfied that you have done good for the world, whether that means traveling sustainably, giving back to local communities, and contributing to sustainable projects – or all of the above. That is where Baboo Travel comes in, not only will you have a connection to a local destination expert, who will plan your trip to perfection, but you’ll save time and stress as well as know that you’ll be contributing to the Brazilian people directly.
These awesome experts know Brazil inside and out, which means that you will save hours of research, and instead, uncover hidden gems, and gain local Brazil travel tips, advice and recommendations that research just cannot match. What if we told you that 2% of your trip cost will go directly to combating climate change and protecting the local environment, culture, and diverse wildlife? That is what sustainable travel is all about, and there is no better time to plan a feel-good trip.
Book your Brazil trip with Baboo
If you’re a traveler that likes to give back to the community, make sure to book your trip with Baboo Travel . Not only will you support community projects that combat climate change and empower locals, but you’ll get a dedicated Italy travel expert to take the hassle and stress out of planning your trip.
Meet your Brazilian travel expert
Jade is a seasoned traveler, having been to 90 countries over the past 14 years. Contact Jade and the Baboo experts to get your own customized itinerary for your trip to Brazil.
We enjoy exploring our planet and want to do our part to keep it healthy for future generations. We love, and aim, to create the perfect match in every journey while making the world a little better: - by empowering our Local In-destination Experts - by driving real value to their local communities, and - by helping our travelers to be carbon positive and their travels regenerative.
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10 Tips for Visiting Brazil for the First Time
Brazil is one of the most popular countries to visit in South America with so many amazing attractions and places to go.
It can though be quite daunting planning a trip to Brazil, especially if you have never been before and don’t speak the language. But there are lots of ways to make your trip easier, cheaper and also safer.
Check out our guide to some of the most important things to know before you travel to Brazil including recommendations to make sure you have the most amazing trip possible.
1. Getting to Brazil
Brazil is quite isolated and far away from almost everywhere. Flights to the main destinations like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are expensive no matter where you are coming from.
Unlike flying to destinations like California, Dubai or Bangkok, there are limited airlines which fly direct to Brazil and the lack of competition has made getting to Brazil very expensive.
You can expect to pay around $1000+ from North America for a return trip, £600-£1200 from London, or €500-€1000 from European counties like France, Netherlands or Portugal.
Using a website like Skycanner and booking flights well in-advance will help to bring the cost down. Also avoiding peak travel times like December/January around the holiday period, and also Carnival in February, can save you a lot of money.
There are some cruises which travel to South America, this is if you have a big budget, enjoy the slow pace of travel and also have the time – some trips take months.
2. Weather & Best Time to Visit Brazil
Brazil has a tropical climate and you can expect warm weather all year round. There is no perfect time to visit the country, and even if you visit in winter you are still likely to enjoy sunnier and warmer weather than European summer.
December and January can be an expensive time to visit due to the Christmas/New Year break. This is also summer, when although temperatures are really hot, it can rain a lot especially in January.
If you would like to experience the world famous Carnival check book flights during February but check start/finsih dates before.
March and April are recommended times to travel due to temperatures being slightly cooler and costs being cheaper due to coming after the holiday season.
Brazil is a very expensive country by South American standards, but if you are coming from North America or Europe you will find prices cheaper than what you are used to back home.
How much you spend depends on what you want to do, where you want to go and also the exchange rate at the time you visit. The Brazilian economy has been struggling in recent years and at the moment the dollar, euro and pound currencies are strong. Currently you can get around 5-6 Brazilian reais to $1, when in previous years this was 2/3 to $1.
There are lots of per kilo restaurants in Brazil where you literally pay for how much you eat, which is a great affordable way to eat. If you are planning to visit Rio de Janeiro and fancy dining at some of the fancy beachside restaurants in places like Copacabana expect to pay a premium. The average cost of a Mcdonalds meal is around 35 reais, this is about $5.
There are lots of hotels, hostels, guest houses and also Airbnb options when visiting Brazil. Staying in a hotel, hostel or guest house is recommended for tourism as you can ask local staff for advice. Whilst Airbnb’s will give you more space and also a kitchen.
Accommodation is likely to be your biggest outgoing costs wise but there are options for all budgets. If money isn’t an issue you can stay in some of the most stunning and lavish hotels in the world, but there are also lots of more affordable options for general holidaymakers and backpackers.
Prices vary depending on your location but Rio and São Paulo city centre are usually the most expensive places to stay.
Hotels, or pousadas as they are known locally, can be an affordable place to stay and are located throughout the country.
Be sure to buy an extensive travel insurance policy before you depart just to cover yourself just in case something does go wrong – this is often overlooked but it can be lifesaving.
Weather in Brazil can be scorching hot and the sun is intense, be sure to buy a high sun protection lotion and drink lots of water. Avoid drinking too much alcohol as this can easily dehydrate you especially when you have just arrived and are acclimatising.
Another important thing to consider is mosquitos and buying insect repellent. Brazil can be a scary country to visit when you check hazards, like malaria and dengue fever are a real issue.
If you are going to party say no to drugs, you don’t really know what you will be taking. Also if you do happen to meet someone special, make sure first they aren’t going to ask for payment and also wear protection to avoid catching any sexually transmitted diseases. Prostitution can be an issue in Brazil even in upmarket hotspots like Rio, and it’s best to avoid any potentially challenging situations.
Check latest news about covid-19 and any travel restrictions before departing, this gets updated regularly.
Crime in Brazil is quite bad when you check the stats vs other countries, and this can be enough to put a lot of people off who are contemplating visiting.
The chances are you will visit Brazil, fall in love with the country and think the worries regarding safety and crime is blown out of proportion. But to some tourists, unfortunately, bad things do happen. There are ways to try to avoid this happening though.
Brazil is a country with a huge divide between the rich and poor, possible one of the biggest in the world where you can have mega expensive luxury tower blocks across the streets from favelas and extreme poverty.
Some simple tips for staying safe in Brazil include not carrying too much cash, not flashing valuables in public, keeping an eye on your belongings, avoiding certain areas, taking official taxis or Uber, sticking to the tourist trail, avoiding getting heavily drunk and also taking extra caution at night. Sometimes trusting your instinct is best, and if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
You will find some places are much safer than others, and when you arrive at an accommodation it’s always recommended to ask for advice. Also thinking it might be fun to explore a favela in Rio de Janeiro to get photos but not having any idea where you are going is a terrible idea. You don’t want to end up in a bad neighbourhood and increase the chances of getting robbed.
If by the awful chance someone does try to rob you, it isn’t worth trying to be a hero. You can always replace the stolen money or phone, but your health is most important.
Crime can happen anywhere in the world, but in Brazil you do have to be extra cautious. Booking a tour can be one of the safest ways to travel, see more information about tours below under the getting around section.
Make sure you have copies of important documents too, just in case you lose them or get asked to show them. You could keep backup photos on your phone.
People in Brazil speak Brazilian Portuguese, a beautiful language to learn and speak which sounds softer and smoother than Portuguese from Portugal. Not many people in Brazil speak English, even in the tourist hotspots like Rio de Janeiro, so learning at least the basics of the language will help you. You can try online language courses or even use Google translate when in the country if you are struggling. Learning basic Portuguese will impress the locals, make travelling easier and it’s fun to speak another language.
8. Itinerary & Things to Do
If you are keen to plan a trip there are incredible places to visit in Brazil , whether you love cities, beaches, mountains, countryside or jungle – there are places for all interests. Highlights can include Rio de Janeiro, Paraty, São Paulo, Foz do Iguaçu, Pantanal, Bahia, Fortaleza and the beautiful Amazon jungle. Where you go depends on what you would like to do, and also how much time you have.
Brazil is a country of continental proportions and distances can be huge, so consider this when planning a trip. For example, if you would like to experience some of the best beaches in Brazil you will need to travel to the north east of the country, but this is around a 5 hour flight from Sao Paulo and Rio – is it worth it for a short trip after a long international flight? We don’t think so. Most major cities apart from inland like Belo Horizonte, Brasilia and Manaus are located on or close to the stunning coast.
If you are short on time, 1-2 weeks can easily be spend in Rio de Janeiro exploring the city and nearby top rated locations. This city is a great introduction to the country too, and can give you a taste for if you want to see more. You could even do a short trip between Rio and São Paulo stopping off at places like Paraty, Trindade, Ubatuba, São Sebastião, Ilha Bela and Guarujá.
There are lots of amazing activities which can be booked online on a website like Get Your Guide before arriving or once in a destination. Popular things to do for tourists include sightseeing tours, surfing, scuba diving, paragliding, bird / wildlife watching and more. If you would like to give back you might like to view inspiring volunteer abroad programs .
9. Getting Around
There are lots of ways to navigate Brazil. Internal flights are the quickest way to get around and see all the main tourist highlights and what we recommend if you are short on time.
If you are on a budget, there is an extensive bus system connecting the whole country. Bus journeys can be long, but usually there is the option to travel overnight from some of the main cities like São Paulo to Rio.
Unfortunately there isn’t a great train network in Brazil, and this means you might be stuck with bus or plane as the only option. This is even if you are trying to travel from São Paulo city centre to Santos, a beachside city, which isn’t even that far away.
If you want to see as much of the country as possible we recommend small group tours. Lots of international travel operators like G Adventures offer small group tours showing you the best places in a safe and structured itinerary. You’ll get accommodation and transport included in the price you pay which can make your trip easier and hassle free, perfect also if you don’t speak Portuguese.
Renting a car, motorbike or moped in Brazil isn’t recommended unless you are a really experienced and skilled driver. Traffic, the road system and safety can be an issue especially in the larger cities like São Paulo.
The people are one of the things which makes Brazil as a country so special. Locals are very friendly and hospitable, especially if you try to converse with them in their local language. Most people will likely greet you with smiles and warmth when they learn you are a gringo, an affectionate term for foreigner.
It is stereotypical but local people do absolutely love football, and if you engage locals in sports talk they will really light up. Generally most people in Brazil are very religious, don’t be shocked to see lots of churches and also American style evangelical tv shows.
Sometimes it’s best to avoid talking politics, even though people love to discuss it. Tensions are quite high in Brazil between the left and right, and you never know which way a person votes.
Brazil is, with no doubt, a special country to visit, and is one of the best places to see in South America. Cities like Rio de Janeiro are places you need to add to your travel bucket list, and hopefully our tips have given you some ideas for how to prepare for visiting Brazil.
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22 Things To Know Before You Travel To Brazil in 2023
Brazil is one of those landmasses that is way too big to try to describe in a single sentence.
However, regardless of the area of the country, you decide to visit, here are a few tips that cover important basics that will be beneficial to you at any stage of the trip.
Traveling to Brazil during COVID pandemic
Foreign tourists are currently allowed entry with the following COVID -19 restrictions: Fully vaccinated travelers must present proof of COVID -19 vaccination as follows:
- Prior to boarding, passengers 12 years of age and older must provide the airline with proof of vaccination status (electronic or paper).
- The vaccine must be approved by the World Health Organization or the appropriate health authorities in the country where the vaccination was administered.
- The vaccination certificate must be written in English, Portuguese, or Spanish and include the manufacturer’s name, lot number, and date(s) of administration. (Vaccination certificates in QR -code format or other coded language will be rejected).
Rio de Janeiro Is Not The Capital City
It was the capital city until the year 1960. After that , the capital was moved to Brasília in the middle of Brazil.
Rio de Janeiro City is now known as the capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro.
Spanish Is Not The Widely Spoken Second Language Or Native Language
Many tourists that arrive in Brazil are under the false impression that if they know a bit of Spanish they will be fine, yet Portuguese is official language in this country . However, most Brazilians learn Spanish and English due to the requirements of the business industries.
While Portuguese and Spanish may be fairly similar , this does not mean that speaking Spanish will automatically make traveling around Brazil easier.
In addition, the English language is not widely spoken. However, some residents in São Paulo along with a few of the more popular tourist’s destinations in Rio de Janeiro know how to speak English.
If you want to impress a few of the locals, learn a few of the Portuguese expressions.
Beer Is Always Served In Small Glasses
All over Brazil, most of the places that serve beer will do so in smaller glasses that are usually smaller than the ½ pint glasses. The idea behind this makes sense as most areas in Brazil experience heat that is extreme, and the larger glasses warm up faster.
In the bars, the beer is typically served in the 600ml large bottles served with a smaller glass that you can drink from, or in a chopp, which is draft beer served in small glasses.
The exception to the small glasses can be found in the southern parts of Brazil, where German-influenced towns serve the large-sized beers.
A Green Man At A Crossing Does Not Always Mean That It Is Safe To Cross
When in Brazil always wait for every car to stop completely before you decide to cross a road , regardless of whether there is a green man telling you are allowed to cross.
It’s common for cars to start speeding up from far away when the light has turned orange and then skip through these lights once they have turned red, which really annoys the drivers from the other junctions.
This may be classified as a general safety rule , but skipping red lights is so common in Brazil that it is something you need to be aware of.
You Can Pay Almost Everything by Debit / Credit Card – GET REVOLUT
Even tho there is a lot of fraud, Brazil is very friendly with card payments especially in bigger cities or tourist hotspots.
We recommend getting a REVOLUT card or any other similar service for full control over your card via mobile app, great conversion rates, and security.
FUN FACT: YOU CAN PAY CARPIRINHA ON THE BEACH IN RIO BY CARD! 🙂
EDITOR’S NOTE: I have my Revolut card linked to my actual account in my country. I only TOP-up REVOLUT CARD (for free) with some minimum amounts of 100 – 200 USD. Topping-up takes only a few seconds via MOBILE APP.
If I see any suspicious activity I FREEZE the card or DEACTIVATE. If I’m late, I only lose MAX of those 100 – 200 USD.
Brazil Makes Really Good Wine
The wines from France, South Africa and France might not need to be too concerned about new competition anytime soon, but the Brazilian wines, particularly the sparkling varieties like the Brut Champenoise which comes from the south of Brazil are exceptionally good.
They also have a few outstanding reds and wonderful rosés, which originate from local wineries based in Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro.
You should definitely pay a visit to the Winehouse and Canastra in Rio de Janeiro so that you can sample the best of the best Brazilian wines. Canastra, which is French-owned only sells Brazilian wines, while Winehouse sells both Brazilian and national wines.
Brazil Is Not Always Hot, In Some Areas It Even Snows
Brazil is a country that also gets snow. In the southern tip of the country, the temperatures plummet below freezing during the months of winter with occasional snow.
The snow is usually very light , but definitely, enough to dash your hopes of tropical, warm days.
In the north part of Brazil, the climate is tropical throughout the year, but if you are visiting the south it is very cold in winter and could come as an unpleasant surprise for travelers who only packed flip-flops, t-shirts, and shorts.
Brazil Hosts An Oktoberfest
In the south of Brazil, there is significant German influence in food, architecture and traditions.
In San Catarina, every October the town of Blumenau holds a traditional celebration known as Oktoberfest. This celebration is held over a number of days that honors German heritage along with lots of beer, dancing, singing and traditional food.
This event is known as the 2nd largest beer festival across the globe , shortly after the Oktoberfest in Munich.
You May Need a Visa
A trip to Brazil may require you to have a visa before you go. Depending on the country you are a resident in or where your passport is from, you may require a visa.
If you do so then consult the experts in this area – you will find out more if you visit the website .
The Subway Features Women-Only Carriages
Subways in the main cities offer carriages for women only, yet this rule is only applicable during the peak hours from 6am to 9 am and 5 pm to 8 pm from Monday to Friday.
If men enter one of these carriages, they could face a fine of as much as R$1,000 which translates into $320USD. Outside the peak hours, both women and men are permitted to use these carriages.
The security on these subways does not tolerate any excuses , especially since the carriages state women-only warnings that are painted in both Portuguese and English.
Avoid Going On A Jungle Trek On Your Own
The Amazon is easily the most incredible habitat in the world. It also really big and comes with potential dangers to those that want to explore this habitat alone.
If you would like to venture into this rainforest, always use reputable and qualified guides that know the risks and the paths in the Amazon. This same rule is applicable to Pantanal.
Brazil Is Usually Safe For Tourists But You Have To Be Always Very Careful
Brazil is one of the least safe countries in South America and is renowned for the bad press when it comes to violence, crime, and higher murder numbers.
However, the reality behind these statistics is mainly to do with the criminal activities between the gangs that are based far away from tourist destinations.
In general, Brazil is relatively safe for visitors and tourists. The scenarios that involve tourists usually involve non-violent pick-pocketing or muggings, but in most cases, tourists usually do not encounter these issues. It is still wise to practice precautions in the main urban areas like Salvador, Recife, and Rio de Janeiro, and safeguard your belongings.
Brazil has one of the most beautiful islands in South America
Florianopolis is a must-go when traveling in Brazil! It’s a paradise and comes with everything you can demand from the island. Floripa (as locals call it) is heaven for backpackers, travelers, hikers, party people, surfers but also a great spot for some nice family time.
EDITOR’s note: In one of our recent articles, we’ve selected 8 best beaches in Florianopolis but in total Floripa has 42 beaches around the island.
Best time to visit Florianopolis is between November and March , otherwise, the temperature is dropping down since it’s located quite south.
There are many small villages and towns around the islands where you can score some fancy hotels, affordable Airbnb’s or some amazing backpackers’ hostels with great vibes.
Brazil or Brasil? Which is right?
Brasil (written with S) is the official name of the country in the Portuguese language. On the other hand, Brazil (written with Z) is the English version.
Therefore, both works but if you want to be 100% correct, follow this simple rule.
Brazil Can Become Expensive
It’s often assumed that South America is a budget-friendly place to visit and in general, this is an accurate assumption. However, a few of the main cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo can be costly, especially in wealthier neighborhoods like Leblon and Ipanema which are also some of the top tourist areas.
Check out our roundups of best hostels in RIO & SAO PAULO for backpackers.
Brazil is also not a country that you want to purchase electronics from. With the increased import taxes, a few items are often double sometimes even more than the price that you would have paid in Europe or the U.S. Accommodation, drinks and food are also pricey in the peak seasons like the Carnival and New Year where the prices are known to double or triple.
Avoid Hanging Your Bags Over The Back Of Chairs
Even though Brazil is regarded as safer than the press makes it out to be, theft and muggings do happen, and tourists should always be aware of this.
Hanging your belongings over a chair is not wise as it is easy for a person to grab your things and quickly run away. It is far better to keep your bag wrapped around the legs of a table or keep your belongings close to your body.
Consider Flying Instead of Traveling By Bus
If you travel outside of Xmas or Carnival, flying in Brazil can be quite affordable and cheaper than traveling by bus. Also, the infrastructure in many regions is not very developed and the travel time can be actually counted in DAYS.
You Can Drink Tap Water in Brazil, but You Won’t Like It
Drinking tap water in Brazil is safe but due to its treatment process, the taste is not very good. Therefore, most Brazilians choose to drink bottled water instead of tap water.
Book Your Taxis Through The Airport Agencies or Use Uber
On arriving at an airport in Brazil, book your taxi through one of the agencies or call uber opposed to using the unofficial cabs . Even though it costs more, you will not be subjected to additional charges when you arrive at your destination.
There is also no change in the price caused by traffic which means you will arrive at a hotel without having to take unnecessary routes. Most of the taxi drivers are regarded as honest, yet there are a few that will take advantage of a foreigner that lacks local knowledge.
You can avoid these issues by booking your taxi through the airport agencies or getting a SIM card with data and calling yourself uber.
Brazil has the biggest carnival in the world
Rio Carnival draws 2 million people to the streets of Rio de Janeiro to enjoy dancing, music, and parades in amazing carnival costumes.
During Carnival, the most famous and largest carnival celebration in the world , street parades, blocos and bandas take place all over Rio. At any given time, there could be more than 300 bandas playing music.
Kissing strangers is customary
In Brazil, getting to know people is a quick process. Brazilians have an easier time breaking through the emotional gap since they don’t value personal space.
When a male is introduced to an adult female, it is usual for him to kiss both cheeks – and then go.
Body language is as crucial as Portuguese in this context.
Guys aren’t scared to wrap an arm around another male in order to stress a point.
A touch on a shoulder, a bear hug, and a salvo of air kisses are all part of an intricate social dance that culminates in a welcoming environment for visitors.
I wish to travel to Brazil with my girl friend. I wish if a local person can give me a letter of invitation. Any help here?
Hi, the best bet would be to reach out to a few hostels or hotels in Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo.
Hi! I’m a Brazilian student — I’ve never been to Mato Grosso, but i think I can guide you a little! I dont’ know if you’re American, but if you are, you should know that in Brazil, high school is only grade 10, 11 and 12! Grade 9 is part of elementary school, which we call “ensino fundamental”. Usually our public schools aren’t that good, and only upper middle class gets to have a good education, but there are some exceptions, especially in São Paulo and Brasília. You usually start a grade on January, February or March and finishes it on November or December — basically, every year is a different grade. We have a lot of love for tourists, who we call “gringos” and also a lot of local slang. Sometimes, if you are southern, there’s a chance you won’t fully understand what a northern teenager is saying. We’re very diverse, loving and very touchy — don’t be scared! People view hugs and kisses on the cheek as a way of saying “hello” and “goodbye”, but if you feel uncomfortable, you should know you are not obligated to kiss every person you meet as well! We have lots of love for Brazilian music, like funk, sertanejo and pagode. Our public universities are the best in Latin America. You get in usually by taking ENEM, which is an exam close to SAT. It basically tests your level of knowledge on subjects you learnt in high school. Overall, I think you’ll love it! I know I do, lol. It really isn’t THAAAT dangerous. I’ve actually never been robbed or mugged, but I have to say that I’m very privileged and have only lived in areas that are commonly known as safe areas. You shouldn’t be scared, cause people will help you and have empathy, especially teachers. High school is still very stressful and very hard to keep up. In Brazil, every class is mandatory. We usually study Philosophy, Chemistry, Physics, Portuguese (literature and grammar), English, PE, Math (algebra and geometry, they’ll usually be different classes w/ different teachers), History, Geography, Arts, Biology, Sociology and maybe Spanish. School usually starts at 7am and ends at 1pm, but it differs a lot. I hope you have a good year and a good education. Thank you for giving us a chance and sorry for my bad English!
Hey. I’m going on an exchange to Brazil 2021. Can someone please give me tips about high school in Brazil and a state named Cuiabá!?
Hi Marie, I’m not sure if you saw but Sofia posted some advice on your question in the comments. Have a look.
hi, my name is Clara and I’m very happy to read your article. So I’m brazillian and I know that Brazil can be dangerous but is not in every place, there are som many places that can be safe for tourists and natives, like north coast of Sao Paulo is so safe, but is too expensive(I know this ’cause I live there). And you forgot to say about Maresias beach at north coast of sao paulo, it is so famous ’cause of surf competions and of “Instituto do Gabriel Medina” a very famous profesional surfer who won so many cpmpetions. And about you say that english is not a second language at Brazil, but here haves a lot of people who speakes english, like me, and also i’m 13 and I learned english at my school and a little be of spanish. thanks!
Thanks for the feedback. I think would be definitely a good idea to add list of safe places such as Porto de Galinhas, North of Sampa, Florianopolis and other examples. But the idea is to keep people aware of a situation which eventually makes travelers cautious.
Can you tell me if Salinas is safe for tourists? It appears a bit off the beaten path. Thanks
Hi Mike, to be honest, I don’t know. I suggest reaching out to some of the hostels in Salvador or Belo Horizonte (via email or FB page) and ask for them for the advice. For example: https://www.facebook.com/thehostelsalvador
Very informative guide. I’ve heard of Oktoberfest Blumenau before and was about to book a trip for October 2020. How much is Brazil affected by coronavirus? Do you think it’s reasonable to make any travel plans for this year? Also, I’d like to know more about the women-only carriages in the subway. It sounds like a serious matter. Does it apply to tourists too? Will it create lots of inconveniences if I visit with my husband and son? Should we better opt for other means of transportation? Thank you.
Hi, my personal opinion would that by October we should be over with Corona. But who knows. Do not rush your plans and wait until August at least. Don’t worry about the metro, people are easy-going.
Hi i am from india I like to purchase carnival dress for re-sale purpose. Where can i purchase at low price& when to visit.please reply. Thanks.
Hi, we recommend checking out Guide to Dressing for Carnival in Brazil post https://theculturetrip.com/south-america/brazil/articles/a-guide-to-dressing-for-carnival-like-a-local/ . Carnival season is during Feb / March across the whole country.
Hi… Nice tips… May highlight some points? About english speakers, it’s a little bit common find brazilians in Rio and São Paulo, in the Capital City Brasilia who speaks english. It’s a secondary language in brazilian’s high school. In Rio, Ipanema isn’t the safest neighboorhood at all!! It is Barra da Tijuca, which receives nearly 50% of the tourist nowadays, because safety.. Leblon still the most glamourous spot in Rio, Ipanema the most popular as Copacabana as well, but they requires more carefull.
Hi, thanks for your input. I agree that Barra da Tijuca is a great place and very safe but a bit outside of RIO. We’ll mention in the next update of this article.
Hi this is thé first time i go to south america and i will go to brazil in february basicaly i planned things in a way to be kind of i volved in à humanitarian project i wanna see almost many things but im travelling solo and getting really scared bexquse every single person i know ask me to not do it alone so i was glad readibg your article thank you do u have other recommandation for me ? I will be in Sao Paolo Rio and olida
You will be fine. Brazil is dangerous but you can get by easily and safe by using common sense. 1. don’t walk at night around too much 2. use uber 3. know where you going 4. ask locals at the reception of your hotel/ hostel 5. be aware of your surroundings 6. don’t make yourself a target by using a phone on street too much, don’t wear jewelry and watch. Brazil is an amazing place, you gonna a great time! It’s good to be warned by friends but it’s not a reason NOT TO GO.
I WANT TO GO BRAZIL HOW SHOULD I APPLY TO GO BRAZIL FOR FEW DAYS I WANT TOURIST VISA AND COUSIN BROTHER WAS THIER ONLY IN RIO DI JENERIO
Hi, it really depends on your nationality. Check-in google if you are required for visa or not 😉
Im going to Brazil in Nov. for 10 days. Not too sure how much money should I exchange in Canadian. For me mostly i spend on food/drink, not too much on the shopping side. Hotels already paid for it.
It’s difficult to say since I’m not sure how long you are planning to stay and what type of traveler you are. But your best bet is at least cash as possible. Get a hundred bucks on you and that’s it, just in case.
ONE THING that surprised me in Brazil was how easy is to pay everywhere by card. It’s all around, even beach sellers carry terminals. I was using REVOLUT, which is super fast, easy and safe. You can block it anytime on your app and it gives the best (middle exchange rate). We wrote more about REVOLUT card in this article: https://www.travelinglifestyle.net/best-travel-websites-budget-travellers/
How much is the sour honey in Brazil
Hi, that’s a tricky question 🙂 I would suggest going to “Expats in Sao Paulo” facebook group and ask there. Or look for any English speaking FB community and I’m sure they will be able to help you. An alternative could be also contacting some Pharmacy in Brazil.
We are travelling to Brazil in November for a wedding in Maceio Our travel agent has only booked flights for us to Recife from Australia and we wanted to know if it is safe to go by bus from Recife to Maceio and can you recommend a bus company
Hi, try not to look too “fancy” around Recife, more like a backpacker and use uber. Recife is not safe but doable, I spent there 3 weeks and nothing happened. For the bus, I only see “Real Alagoas”. That should work fine. Do it in the day time. Those places by the coast where you going should be very safe. I was in Porto de Galinhas and that was 100% safe area.
Going to Brazil to visit wife’s family. Would you recommend getting a SIM card from a local carrier there or pay for international calling on my mobile plan here in the states?
Yes, getting a SIM card is a better / cheaper option. Might need to speak some Portuguese to be able to manage that. Just get few GIGAs and you will be fine.
Is Leblon safe to walk around at night? We are staying at Rio Gran Sheraton for two nights only and will want to go out somewhere for a evening meal. What clothes will I need early December… is it hot?
Leblon is safe but after dark, you should be careful, the same as everywhere in Brazil. Take an uber, it’s inexpensive.
December is really really hot, so you won’t need any warm clothes.
Hi which neighborhood is the safest in Rio de Janiero thanks.
I would say Ipanema is the safest! But at night you have to be careful everywhere 😉
Hello Viktor! Nice artcle, I’d just like you to know that Canadians and American citizens doesn’t need a visa to Brazil anymore. Have a nice week!
Thanks for the update! Will include it.
Thank you for shring the info. We’re planning to travel Brazil this coming August. We love to stay in a really nice ocean view accomm and with a good nightlife closed by, drinking an ice cold beer in a local bar. Do you have any recommendations? Is brazil safe for us tourists?
Hi, absolutely 🙂 Go to Porto de Galinhas in the North or try Florianopolis in South. Both very safe.
Great article, Viktor! Another very important thing to know before travelling to Brazil is that Florianopolis is an amazing city and you gotta visit it! Taking a bus in Sao Paulo, they are only 9 hours of trip… in this site you can buy bus tickets https://brazilbustravel.com/from-florianopolis-sc . I guess you will enjoy it. Nice travels!
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The Backpacker Network
Brazil Travel Tips: Practical Safety and Money Saving Advice
Let’s address the elephant in the room… Brazil doesn’t have a great reputation. Known for its favelas, violent street crime and high cost of living, it is a destination that many backpackers neglect to visit.
It absolutely shouldn’t be though! There are plenty of world-class attractions in Brazil, just begging to be explored. These Brazil travel tips will help to keep you safe and save money on the road, helping you to get the most out of your trip!
Related: (opens in new tab)
- Brazil Backpacking Guide
- Amazing Day Trips from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Great Things to do in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
21 Brazil Backpacking Tips
1. learn some portuguese.
Brazil is one of the only countries in South America that does not speak Spanish as its first language. Therefore, if you are tagging Brazil on to part of a longer extended backpacking trip around the continent, you will need to get some different phrases under your belt to thrive here.
The basics like hello, goodbye, thank you and please should be the bare minimum you learn but information regarding prices and directions also come in handy.
2. Hire a Guide
Brazil is incredibly famous for its biodiversity and seeing this exotic flora and fauna up close is one of the main reasons that travellers make the trip! While the urge to explore the beguiling jungles can be potent, don’t lose your head.
A variety of wildlife calls the Amazon and Pantanal home and not all of it is friendly. Jaguars, caimans, anacondas and Brazilian wandering spiders are just a few of the dangerous nasties you could meet if you wander into the jungle.
To ensure that you stay safe on these kinds of wildlife adventures, always hire a reputable guide. You don’t want to go into the Amazon and never come out again! You should also always do your research to check that your guide behaves responsibly in the area that they are exploring and follows ethical practices around wildlife.
3. Don’t Flash Your Valuables
South America might have a bad reputation when it comes to safety but this advice really does apply anywhere. Always keep your valuables on your person and avoid flashing anything too expensive when you’re out and about. It can make you a target for thieves.
4. Take a Travel Water Bottle
It comes as no surprise to many that Brazil is a seriously hot country. Therefore, travellers will need to make the effort to stay hydrated. Although tap water in Brazil is officially safe to drink, this is disputed by locals and travellers alike – especially in locations near the coast!
If this is something you’re worried about, bring a filtered water bottle with you. If the taste of your water doesn’t concern you, opt for another kind of refillable travel water bottle instead to reduce your single-use plastic.
5. Withdraw Money Before 10 PM
If you want to withdraw a large sum of money from a Brazilian ATM, you should always go before 10 pm. Not only is it safer to withdraw money during the daylight hours but after 10 pm, the withdrawal limit is reduced to around 500R$ .
6. Opt for the Lunch Special
There are hundreds of budget-friendly restaurants in Brazil. If you’re looking to save a little bit extra, head to one of the many restaurants that offer lunchtime specials. These are a great way to treat yourself to some local fare without bursting your daily budget.
If you’re travelling with a partner, take advantage of the huge meal portions and order one dish between two! We also recommend looking out for signs saying ‘rodízio’ (all you can eat). This is likely to be a more expensive option than the lunchtime special but will serve as your breakfast, lunch and dinner (plus dessert)!
7. Splurge on Carnival
There is no denying that South American Carnival is well worth experiencing but it comes with a hefty price tag which may be too much for a lot of travellers. Only attend Carnival if missing it is a dealbreaker for you.
If you can’t bear the idea of skipping the world’s biggest party, make sure you account for it in your budget. Get ready to splurge – prices skyrocket during this time and all accommodation will need to be booked up way in advance!
8. Carry an Anti-Theft Backpack
It is no secret that South America as a whole doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to safety. However, most of the continent’s other countries look pretty tame when compared to Brazil.
To limit your chances of becoming a victim of crime, invest in an anti-theft backpack . Most of these will be slash-resistant, feature lockable zips and also have reinforced straps to foil cut-and-run attacks.
An anti-theft backpack can be a costly purchase, however, they are worth it for the peace of mind that comes from knowing your valuables are protected.
👉 Read More: Travel Safety Accessories 👈
9. Choose Your Accommodation Wisely
If you’re a shoestring traveller in Brazil, make sure that you look into various accommodation options. As well as hostels, bed and breakfasts are also great value for money. If you’re staying long-term, it can be very worthwhile to rent an apartment on Airbnb and get stuck into local life, buying your food at the local market and cooking at home.
If you’re really wanting to get under the skin of the Brazilian way of life, don’t forget Couchsurfing. It’s by far the best way to save tons of money and make connections with locals as you travel.
10. Travel Out of Season
Brazil’s domestic tourism scene is booming, which results in hiked-up prices when the locals holiday. One trick to save your reais is to travel when the Brazilians don’t. Peak holiday season is December to March.
Accommodation prices can double or even triple over New Year and during Carnival (February) so avoid these times if possible. You’ll find that it’s easier to haggle prices down at B&Bs and hostels during off-peak season.
A huge plus of visiting Brazil is that because it is such a huge country, you’ll find somewhere with a great climate year-round – there’s no need to worry about the weather ruining your trip! For example, in northeast Brazil, the best time to visit is between September and October, as heavy rains can occur from April to July.
11. Let Yourself Be Robbed (if You Need To)
This may seem like a kind of nonsensical piece of advice but bear with us here. If someone is threatening to rob you, just hand over your valuables. Robberies are far more likely to turn violent when the would-be victim refuses to cooperate with the thief.
In Brazil, it is not uncommon for those involved in crime to be carrying knives and guns. At the end of the day, all of your belongings can be replaced – your life can’t.
12. Get Travel Insurance
Far more than just a gem of travel advice specific to Brazil, the travel insurance recommendation applies whenever you head out of your home country. Good travel insurance will cover your belongings in case of a robbery, get you out of all sorts of pickles if you get ill and even foot the bill if you need to come home in case of an emergency. Don’t get on a plane without it!
SafetyWing Nomad Insurance
SafetyWing is the travel insurance of choice for scores of backpackers!
- Subscription style insurance
- Cheap and flexible
- Available after your trip has started
13. Don’t Spend All Your Time in Rio
As a popular arrival point in the country, it can be tempting to spend all of your time in Rio. After all, the idea of even knowing where to start exploring the rest of the country can be daunting! But, there’s much more to Brazil than just Rio.
A great state to base yourself in for further exploration is the Bahia state located in northeastern Brazil (it’s also said to be the cheapest region). With beautiful, relatively cheap villages along the coast – try Morro de São Paulo, Barra Grande, Itacaré, Santo André but avoid snazzy hotspots such as Trancoso or Florianópolis. When you’re in Bahia, a trip to Chapada Diamantina National Park is a must!
Also, on the must-see list for budget travellers is the lesser-known region of Minas Gerais, a waterfall-studded mining state that’s both spectacular and inexpensive to travel. Baroque-style churches, gorgeous mountains and a unique cuisine await the curious traveller!
Also read: Free/Cheap Things to do in Rio de Janeiro .
14. Stay Away From Drugs
Drugs are a big no-no in Brazil. Drug gangs are often caught up in nasty business and homicides and other violent attacks are part and parcel of the trade. Taking drugs is illegal throughout the country and comes with very harsh sentences. You won’t want to end up banged up in a Brazilian jail, that’s for sure!
15. An Amazonian Alternative
Trips to the Amazon can be extremely expensive, and sadly, sometimes disappointing. As the Amazonian region is so enormous, it can be very hard to spot wildlife on a short trip. Some tourists return to civilisation feeling let down that they did not see as many animals as they thought they would during their excursion into the jungle.
For a more satisfying experience, why not try Brazil’s amazing alternative, The Pantanal. You’re much more likely to spot interesting wildlife here – not to mention, have a much better value for money trip!
16. Snack on Street Food
To keep your energy levels up and your spending down, head to one of the many local markets in Brazil to pick up some delicious street food! Not only is it mouthwateringly good but it also won’t dent your wallet too much – win-win!
In São Paulo, try pastéis de feira, (like empanadas in the rest of South America) filled with either meat, cheese or vegetables. These will set you back about 3 reais. In Salvador, we recommend acarajé (a pea fritter stuffed with shrimp) sold on street stands by baianas, (women in traditional white dress) for around 6 reais.
In the Amazon, don’t miss tacacá (shrimp and jambu soup) for around 10 reais. And definitely sample coxinha, chicken-filled puffs that are cheap, delicious and make an awesome bus snack! There’s always amazing exotic fruit as well as refreshing juice bars. Opt for a ‘vitamina’ (batido in Spanish) or a smoothie.
Read more: Best South American Drinks & South American Street Food .
17. Take Local Transport
The Brazilian bus system is surprisingly good if you know what you’re doing. While it can be difficult to find bus timetables and price information online (especially in English), you’re best to go to the bus station in person and ask at the ticket booth.
Rio’s and São Paulo’s subway lines are not huge but ideal for getting around the major sights without breaking the bank. In the northeast of Brazil, taxis are also fairly cheap. You may even want to rent a cheap car in the national parks or along coastal routes, so you’re not dependent on expensive tour companies.
18. Party Right in the Street!
Forget expensive bars and clubs – there’s no need to spend money on entry fees and overpriced drinks in Brazil. When live music can be heard all over the bustling cities, you can take the party outside!
The most famous area for its Bohemian street culture is the Lapa neighbourhood in Rio where people pour out of the bars and restaurants to drink and socialise right on the sidewalks. Although an evening here is great, you should beware of pickpockets frequenting the area.
During the day, the street culture is alive and well, with street performers and dancers popping up everywhere to create a lively atmosphere.
19. Buy a Brazilian Air Pass
If you reckon you might end up taking a lot of flights during your trip to Brazil (you may do, it’s a big country!) then a Brazil Air Pass can be a good idea. The major Brazilian airlines all offer these passes that will cost you around $500USD and offer you four flights. The only snag is that the pass is only valid for 21 days so make sure you are going to make the most of it before you buy!
20. Use Mosquito Repellent
If you have already travelled to areas with a mosquito presence, you will already know all about the importance of bite prevention. This is no different in Brazil. As well as the obvious annoyance factor, there is also a high prevalence of the Zika virus in Brazil .
Zika-carrying mosquitos tend to bite between dawn and dusk. The virus can cause a fever and a rash and poses really serious risks to pregnant women and their unborn babies. Always use a strong insect repellent with a high DEET content and practice standard bite avoidance.
21. Avoid the OK Hand Symbol
Whenever you visit another country, you are always recommended to be culturally aware – after all, you don’t want to offend anyone! Commonly used in the United States, making a circle with your index finger and thumb has long been a way of conveying that everything is good, however, in Brazil it comes with a much different meaning.
Essentially, in Brazil, the OK hand symbol is the equivalent of giving somebody the middle finger. It is considered to be very rude and actually offensive to some people. Back in the ‘50s, US President Richard Nixon visited the country and flashed the OK gesture to a crowd , only to be met with a chorus of boos!
Would you add any extra Brazil travel tips to our list? Let us know in the comments!
Nikki Scott | Founder & Editor
Nikki is the founding editor of South East Asia Backpacker. At age 23, she left the UK on a solo backpacking trip and never returned. After six months on the road, she founded a print magazine about backpacking in Asia. The rest is history.
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17 Free (Or Nearly Free) Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
11 Amazing Day Trips From Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
24 Astounding Facts About Brazil
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Is Brazil Safe to Visit?
Offering pristine nature and access to the Amazon rainforest, historic cities and colonial architecture, and lots of affordable food and activities, Brazil has some something for every traveler.
A popular destination for revelers looking to party hard at Carnival, as well as a hotspot for adventure junkies and beachgoers, Brazil is a country known for its amazing weather and gorgeous landscapes.
But is it safe?
Brazil has a reputation for being a rough-and-tumble destination, one where travelers need to be extra cautious and on their guard at all times.
Due to one of the highest rates of income inequality in the world , the country also has some of the highest crime and homicide rates . Luckily, these rates have been declining in recent years, with Brazil’s homicide rate at its lowest in over a decade . Also keep in mind that in Brazil, violent crime overwhelmingly occurs between people who know each other, and it’s usually gang related. Stay out of places with high gang activity (such as the favelas or shanty towns of Rio ), and you’ll largely avoid putting yourself in harm’s way.
Still, petty theft and street crime are common in Brazil, so travelers here need to be vigilant. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid the country. You just need to be a smart traveler. Millions of people visit the country every year and don’t have a problem. As long as you follow the suggested safety tips below, you’ll minimize the likelihood anything bad will happen to you.
Here is everything you need to know to stay safe in Brazil and make the most out of your next trip.
Table of Contents
13 Safety Tips for Brazil
Is street food in brazil safe, is the tap water in brazil safe, are taxis in brazil safe, is brazil safe for solo travelers, is brazil safe for solo female travelers.
- What Part of Brazil is the Safest?
1. Walk with purpose – When out exploring, always walk with purpose. Look like you’re heading somewhere in specific, even if you’re not. Pickpockets and muggers look for travelers who are unsure of themselves. Don’t look like a target.
2. Carry a spare wallet with only a small amount of cash – Bring a spare wallet and only carry the minimum cash needed for the day in it. Keep the rest locked up back in your accommodation. That way, if you get robbed or pickpocketed they won’t get your real wallet (where you’ll keep the rest of your cash and cards).
3. Separate your cards – If you have more than one credit or debit card, keep them separate. Bring one with you for the day (if you think you’ll need it) and leave the other one locked up in your room. That way, should something happen, you always have at least one card.
4. Don’t bring valuables to the beach – When you go to the beach, don’t take anything unnecessary. Towel, bathing suit, and a small amount of cash. That’s it! Anything else you bring is likely to disappear!
5. Dress to fit in – When out and about, dress down and try to fit in. Leave any valuables or jewelry at home. Don’t walk around flashing your camera or phone (this is the biggest thing that Brazilians will warn you about again and again). If you need to use them, be discreet.
6. Download the Prey app to your phone and laptop – If either device gets stolen, you’ll be able to track it and remotely turn on your camera to photograph the thief (you can also wipe the data and message the thief too). It costs just $1.10/month.
7. Avoid outdoor ATMs – If you need to withdraw cash, only use ATMs inside buildings. Always be aware of your surroundings before you take out your wallet.
8. Double-check your accommodation – No matter where you are staying, be sure to check the doors and windows before leaving for the day and before settling in at night. Don’t leave anything valuable lying around your room; lock everything up.
9. Don’t accept free food/drinks – Never accept drinks or food from strangers. Drugging victims before they are robbed is common, so decline free food or drinks from strangers.
10. Watch out for distractions – Thieves will often try to distract you before they rob you. Be mindful of this common travel scam and stay vigilant.
11. Don’t walk around at night alone – If you have to, avoid city beaches, parks, and empty streets. Generally, even local Brazilians don’t walk around much at night. Take an Uber or taxi back to your accommodation if you’ve been out late.
12. Take precautions when driving – If traveling by car, always keep your doors locked. By on guard at stop signs or red lights, especially at night. Many Brazilians won’t even stop for them to avoid the risk of carjacking.
13. Buy travel insurance – I never leave home without it and you shouldn’t either. With travel insurance, you’re protected against unexpected costs that might arise should something bad happen on the road. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
I recommend SafetyWing for travelers under 70, while Insure My Trip is the best choice for travelers over 70.
You can check out this widget to get a quote for SafetyWing:
For more information on travel insurance, check out these posts:
- What Does Travel Insurance ACTUALLY Cover?
- The Best Travel Insurance Companies
- How to Buy the Best Travel Insurance
Yep! You’ll find all sorts of amazing street food stands in cities like Rio de Janeiro as well as near the beaches and you’d be missing out if you didn’t try them! Just make sure to stick to places where there are a lot of locals gathered. That’s how you know the food is not only safe but delicious too!
I’d suggest avoiding street food with shrimp or seafood as it spoils quickly. For the most part, you’ll encounter places that sell various kinds of meat. As long as it is fully cooked and hasn’t been in the sun all day, dive in and give it a try!
The water in Brazil is generally not safe to drink. Most Brazilians caution against it, instead using filters or drinking bottled water. The tap water has something of an odd taste, due to the purification process, so while it’s fine for brushing your teeth, you don’t really want to drink it when you’re thirsty.
If staying in a hostel or Airbnb you may have access to a filter, though not always. It’s a good idea to bring your own as well, so you’re prepared for any situation. Lifestraw is my go-to choice.
Taxis in Brazil are safe and plentiful. They use meters as well, though it’s always a good idea to ask your hotel or hostel staff for an approximate fare before you head out. There are always a few bad apples that will try to rip you off, so just be sure to pay attention to the meter and make sure it isn’t rising abnormally fast.
Also, it’s always best to call your taxi in advance; you can use the 99 app (formerly 99Taxis) to hail a cab. Never flag a taxi on the street (this is especially true at night). Ubers are also plentiful and affordable across the country.
Brazil is safe for solo travelers, though I would only suggest solo travelers visit here if they have some experience traveling solo already. It’s not the best place for newbie travelers to test the waters.
If you are concerned as a solo traveler, try to meet-up with other travelers at hostels. Traveling together, you can keep each other company and deter any potential petty theft or robberies.
Brazil faces real issues of poverty and crime so solo female travelers will need to be on guard. This is not a destination for new travelers and I would only suggest solo female travelers visit here if they are experienced solo travelers. Even then, you’ll want to make sure you take every precaution that you can.
Check with your hostel or hotel staff to find out if you should avoid any specific areas. Also, learn as much as the local language as you can so you don’t stand out.
What Part of Brazil is Safest?
Florianópolis , Brasilia (the country’s capital), Curitiba, and Belo Horizonte are among the safest cities in Brazil, with some of the lowest crime rates in the country.
Vacation destinations like Fernanda do Noronha are also quite safe.
However, even big cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro , which have higher crime rates, are well-traveled, and as long as you follow the tips above and stay vigilant, you can stay safe while enjoying these incredible cities.
Brazil is an amazing, vibrant country. But it’s not without its risks. Travelers here will need to be on guard and keep their wits about them. Petty theft is common and can be rampant during big events like Carnival, where the many distractions and crowds make pickpocketing easy. But if you follow the tips above you should be able to have an incredible visit while still staying safe.
Trust your gut, use common sense, and make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance . Do that, and you’ll be able to stay safe in Brazil and have a memorable visit to this energetic country.
Book Your Trip to Brazil: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned!
Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. My favorite places to stay are:
- Discovery Hostel (Rio)
- Geckos Hostel (Florianopolis)
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- Safety Wing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Brazil? Be sure to visit our robust destination guide to Brazil for even more planning tips!
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Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.
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Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide
Courtesy of Anna Gibiskys/Getty Images
Why Go To Rio de Janeiro
Known as the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City), this glimmering Brazilian metropolis has certainly earned its title. Resting at the mouth of a bay harbor, the city is lined with white-sand beaches and surrounded by staggered green mountains covered in a lush tropical forest, Rio de Janeiro boasts dramatic views from nearly every angle. From the slopes of Corcovado Mountain, you'll admire the striking 124-foot-tall Christ the Redeemer , who overlooks Rio's pristine beaches. And from the shores of Copacabana and Ipanema , you'll marvel over the picture-perfect backdrop that has charmed Cariocas (native Brazilians born in Rio de Janeiro) and visitors alike for more than 500 years.
But there's much more to Rio than scenic vistas, tropical forests and cerulean seas. Here, diversity, exuberance and a laid-back attitude dominate the city's character. Stroll along Avenida Atlântica in Copa, and you'll find a city brimming with bikini-clad beachgoers. The city is also known for its love of sport. From Maracanã Stadium (home of the 2014 World Cup finals and the 2016 Olympic Games) to beach volley at Flamengo Park (known as Aterro do Flamengo ), the city is alive with activity. At night, you'll hear the energizing beats of samba pulsating through the city streets in Lapa . And if you visit in February — just in time for Carnival — you'll witness Brazil's vibrant parades and heaving blocos (street parties) that draw revelers from across the globe.
Note: Rio de Janeiro isn't without its share of problems, although most violent crime occurs on the outskirts of the tourist areas. In general, low-income urban areas, known as favelas , should be avoided due to gang-related violence. However, Vidigal, a favela near to Rio's affluent neighborhood Leblon, is a popular tourist spot and is widely considered safe (you will have to go through Vidigal to reach the entrance to the very popular Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers) hike, which dozens of tourists do daily, often without a guide). Visitors should consult the U.S. Department of State's website for the most up-to-date travel advisories.
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Best of Rio de Janeiro
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Rio de Janeiro Travel Tips
Best months to visit.
The best time to visit Rio is between December and March, when the weather is warm and sunny enough to hit the beaches, although there may be quick but heavy downpours in the evenings. The city's seductive samba beat and incredible panoramic views last year-round, but arrive in February to experience Carnival. This five-day festival leading up to Fat Tuesday brings tens of thousands of visitors and locals to the streets for parades and parties. Finding an affordable place to stay during Carnival can be difficult; you should consider booking your hotel and flight up to a year in advance. Between January and March, daytime temperatures can sometimes surpass 90 or 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If you prefer more moderate conditions, visit during autumn (April and May) or spring (October and November), when temps fall back to the 70s and low 80s during the day and the 60s at night.
Weather in Rio de Janeiro
Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center
What You Need to Know
Using ATMs Most ATMs accept international credit and debit cards. Most ATMs in banks, supermarkets and shopping malls are open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., and on holidays and Sundays, ATMs close at 8 p.m. Airports and some gas stations and hotels have 24/7 ATMs. If you use cash, make sure you have small bills (ideally less than 50 reais) to make getting change easier.
Cards are accepted Contactless payments are available throughout Rio. When paying by card you need to specify if it's debit or credit; sometimes, a debit card will only work when processed in the card machine as a credit card. American Express may not always be accepted.
Uber is popular Although public transport will get you to all corners of Rio, Uber is a quick and relatively inexpensive way of getting around. It usually works out much cheaper than a taxi and you can get Uber from Rio's airport via the app.
How to Save Money in Rio de Janeiro
Grub by the pound Rio de Janeiro is full of buffet-style restaurants that charge by the kilo. Look for signs that say "por kilo" and then pile your plate – it's a great way to try a selection of typically Brazilian foods, too.
Visit Samba do Trabalhador Although Lapa is known as the vibrant neighborhood for nights out, enjoy an inexpensive evening out at Samba do Trabalhador, a popular event venue among locals for live music every Monday.
Bed down at a pousada Hotel prices are notoriously expensive in the city, especially in beachside neighborhoods. To stay within budget, search for pousadas — the bed-and-breakfasts of Brazil that often include a morning meal in their rates.
Get outside Rio is famous for its dazzling hikes and the tropical Atlantic Forest that carpets the city's mountainous skyline. Best of all, entry into the forest is free. Hikes in Tijuca Forest are well sign-posted and tend to be well-trekked, making most of them safe to go without a guide for a cheap day out.
Culture & Customs
Cariocas (native Brazilians born in Rio de Janeiro) are known for their easy-going demeanor. Friendly, hospitable and always up for a celebration, Cariocas relish eating late, dancing late and dressing up in glittery costumes for Carnival — Rio's most riotous and colorful party.
Portuguese is Brazil's official language. While there are some English speakers near tourist attractions, it's helpful to bring a Portuguese phrasebook. We also recommend writing down the addresses of attractions you want to visit for taxi drivers.
You'll fit in by wearing shorts, T-shirts or a vest top and cover-ups or dresses while walking along the beaches. The classic string bikini is the typical attire on the beaches, but there's no need to feel shy – Rio celebrates all body types and there's zero judgment. Being topless is strictly prohibited on the beach, except for one designated nudist beach called Praia de Abricó. Dress code is usually casual in restaurants and along the main streets in the Zona Sul district. However, it's not unusual to spot lavishly dressed locals rummaging through clothing racks in São Conrado Fashion Mall's high-end stores or in top-end restaurants and bars in neighborhoods Leblon and Jardim Botânico .
As far as tipping goes, it is considered polite to add gratuity; however, most restaurants already include a 10% service charge on the bill. Most restaurants accept credit cards.
The real (BRL) is Brazil's official currency. The favorable exchange rate makes this South American city affordable for U.S. travelers. Check what the current exchange rate is before you go.
What to Eat
Rio de Janeiro is a culinary paradise. Its food scene reflects the city's diverse culture and demographics, blending Indigenous, Portuguese, African and immigrant influences with a mix of traditional and new to create a unique gastronomic experience.
To start your day and finish off your meals like a local, drink an espresso sweetened with heaps of sugar. A must-have dish is feijoada , the iconic black bean stew infused with pork, sausage, and herbs. Modern versions cater to vegetarians, replacing the meat with hearty root vegetables. Seafood lovers will love moqueca , a fragrant fish stew cooked in coconut milk and dendê oil, a staple of Bahian cuisine with a distinct African flair.
A popular dining experience is the all-you-can-eat meat option, called rodízio , where you can indulge in an endless stream of skewered meats. Must-tries include picanha , a prime cut of beef, and chicken hearts, which feature at every Brazilian barbecue.
Truly Brazilian street food includes pastels (deep-fried pastries that can be savory or sweet) served with ice-cold sugarcane juice; coxinhas , deep-fried dough filled with shredded chicken; and pão de queijo , cheese bread made with cassava. On the beach, sip iced tea ( mate ) and lemonade paired with the airy crunch of Globo cassava-based biscuits.
Brigadeiro , chocolate truffles rolled in sprinkles, or a bowl of açaí mixed with your choice of toppings will satisfy a sweet tooth. Don't forget to wash your food down with a classic Brazilian beer served extra cold or a caipirinha, a potent yet refreshing cocktail made with sugarcane liquor ( cachaça ), lime and sugar and poured over heaps of ice.
The tourist area – known as Zona Sul (the South Zone) – is generally safe, although exercise caution when walking around at night, especially downtown (Centro), Santa Teresa and Lapa . In all areas of Rio, remain vigilant with valuables due to pickpocketing, and keep in mind that some tourists have been involved in armed robberies (in these cases, always hand over your belongings). Carnival street parties can be a hotspot for petty theft, so keep your possessions zipped away in a secure belt bag and leave at least one backup bank card at your accommodation. Although rare, robberies have been reported on the city's hiking trails, so consider going with a reputable guide (such as Hike in Rio) or in a group, especially during the week when the hikes are quieter.
Favelas are misunderstood places, and some are perfectly safe to visit (such as Vidigal), or with a guide, such as Rocinha. That being said, most favelas are not tourist-friendly and are best avoided. If you do visit one, be respectful at all times, especially when taking photos (after all, these are people's homes), and avoid straying off the main road. Visit the U.S. Department of State's website for more details.
Getting Around Rio de Janeiro
The best way to get around Rio is by foot, subway or taxi or Uber. Major attractions – such as Lapa , Santa Teresa and other popular sites – can easily be reached by Uber or a taxi, which are not difficult to hail on the city's main streets. The beaches are easy to reach on foot and a cycle path follows the coastline from the neighborhood Glória to Leblon. For a hassle-free means of transportation from Rio de Janeiro International Airport (GIG), you'll want to get an Uber or taxi. The subway is another affordable and safe way to get around the most popular neighborhoods in the South Zone. City buses are also convenient, but unfamiliar riders can be thrown off by the non-English-speaking bus drivers. Renting a car isn't the best mode of transportation around the city, as traffic is heavy and the roads are packed with disorienting street signs and pedestrians.
Entry & Exit Requirements
United States citizens must bring a valid passport and will be granted a visa upon entry, although these rules will change on Jan. 10, 2024, when U.S. citizens will be required to obtain a visa from the Brazilian Embassy or closest Consulate before entering Brazil. A standard visa enables visitors to stay in Brazil for 90 days, which can be extended to 180 days. For more information on entry and exit requirements, visit the U.S. Department of State's website .
Most of the beaches in the city offer spectacular views of the famous mountains.
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Brazil Travel Restrictions
Traveler's COVID-19 vaccination status
Traveling from the United States to Brazil
Open for vaccinated visitors
Not required for vaccinated visitors
Not required in public spaces.
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Can I travel to Brazil from the United States?
Most visitors from the United States, regardless of vaccination status, can enter Brazil.
Can I travel to Brazil if I am vaccinated?
Fully vaccinated visitors from the United States can enter Brazil without restrictions.
Can I travel to Brazil without being vaccinated?
Unvaccinated visitors from the United States can enter Brazil without restrictions.
Do I need a COVID test to enter Brazil?
Visitors from the United States are not required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test or antigen result upon entering Brazil.
Can I travel to Brazil without quarantine?
Travelers from the United States are not required to quarantine.
Do I need to wear a mask in Brazil?
Mask usage in Brazil is not required in public spaces.
Are the restaurants and bars open in Brazil?
Restaurants in Brazil are open. Bars in Brazil are .