Brazil Travel Guide: All you need to know to visit Brazil in 2023

Welcome to Brazil

Known for its unique cuisine, rich culture, samba beats during carnival, beautiful beaches, and breathtaking nature. When it comes to tourism Brazil offers something for everyone. Let’s explore!

Whatever your ultimate holiday looks like, you’ll find it in Brazil. From the lively city of Rio de Janeiro to the serene waters of the Amazon. In this ultimate Brazil travel guide you’ll read all the travel advice you need to prepare for your trip, from visas to weather and things to do.

Document Checklist for Brazil

  • Visa (if applicable)

  • Valid passport (valid for at least six months beyond the length of stay)

  • Sufficient funds

  • Return airline ticket

Essential Brazil Travel Information

  • Currency - Real (R$). $1 is equivalent to approx. R$5.28

  • Daily budget for 1 person - Allow a daily budget of R$350 ($66)

  • Languages - The official spoken language in Brazil is Portuguese. English is spoken by most in bigger cities, but learning a few words of Portuguese is recommended

  • Socket type - Types C and N, 220V supply voltage and 60Hz

  • Time zones - Brazil is divided into four different time zones: Acre Time BRT-2, Amazon Time BRT-1, Brasília Time BRT, Fernando de Noronha Time BRT+1. Most people live in the BRT time zone on the East Coast of Brazil

  • Top 3 cities to visit - Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Salvador

  • Top 3 landmarks/monuments - Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, and Escadaria Selarón

Visa Information for Brazil

If you need another visa for Brazil, such as a long-term residency permit or work visa, please contact your nearest Brazilian embassy or consulate for more information on how to apply.

Typical Costs and Budget for Brazil

A basic guide to what you'll spend on a daily basis traveling through Brazil on an average budget.

Daily spending - Around R$350 ($66)/per person/per day on a budget vacation. This includes:

  • Meals - R$30 ($6)

  • Transport - R$4.30 for a one-way ticket on a bus ($0.20)

  • Hotel - R$295 ($56), for two people

A trip for two, for one week, will cost an average of R$3,800 ($740).

Transport and Best Ways to Travel around Brazil

Brazil is a country with easy local travel. Generally, public transportation outside the Amazon is by bus or plane, though there are a few passenger trains as well. Regardless of how you travel, services will always be available, crowded, and, aside from planes, fairly affordable.

Traveling by plane

Brazilians rely heavily on air travel, which is pretty affordable for most tourists. In some parts of the Amazon, air connections are more important than roads and rivers. Any town has at least an airstrip, and all cities have airports. LATAM, GOL, and Azul are some of the most popular airlines.

Bus system

The Brazilian extensive bus system makes traveling around the country easy, comfortable, and economical, despite the distances involved. In most cities, intercity buses depart from a station called a rodoviária on the outskirts of the town. Luxurious buses, called leitos, also run overnight between major cities.

Trains and metros

Most trains in Brazil are meant for cargo. However, there are great metro rail systems in Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Brasília. A few train journeys are worthwhile for tourism purposes, mostly in the South of Brazil, such as the Serra Verde Express, the Pantanal Express, and the Vitória-Minas Railway.

Car rental

It is possible to rent a car in Brazil, but driving is not for the faint of heart. Road quality might be bad, and the country has one of the highest rates of driving-related accidents in the world.

Safety in Brazil

Although Brazil has a bit of a reputation, it is relatively safe for tourists to explore. You should always take precautions while hiking and walking around in major cities, and always take official taxis after dark. It is also always better to walk around in groups in major cities, to create safety in numbers.

Keep your personal belongings secure by your side or in a locked safe at your accommodation to avoid becoming a victim of pickpockets and bag snatchers. If you are swimming at a beach or driving in a car, never leave your valuables in plain sight.

Weather in Brazil

Except in the mountains and southern regions, Brazil is a year-round destination with temperatures rarely dropping below 20°C (68°F). The climate varies from hot and dry in inland places to humid and sticky in the rainforests up north.

The summer season lasts from December to March, and the winter season lasts from May to September.

Popular Cities and Towns in Brazil

In addition to being the largest country in South America, Brazil is also one of the most popular tourist destinations. It boasts a plethora of incredible attractions. Here are some of the most popular towns and cities to visit on a trip to Brazil.

  • Rio de Janeiro - Rio de Janeiro is known for being one of the most vibrant cities worldwide with its golden beaches, majestic mountain backdrops, and iconic landmarks. It is also popular for its pumping nightlife, and of course, the spectacular carnival festivities.

  • São Paulo - Brazil's largest city, known for its skyscrapers, culinary scene, and nightlife. A variety of wildlife and nature can be found in the jungles surrounding São Paulo. Parks dot the city, providing a pleasant respite from the city's hustle and bustle.

  • Parati - There are few places in the country that are as beautiful as Parati, and it attracts visitors from near and far. With breathtaking coastal mountains, sparkling waterfalls, and lush forests, it is a tropical paradise.

  • Salvador - A beach destination known for its laid-back atmosphere and great diving, snorkeling, and surfing. It is one of the oldest cities in Brazil and has a colonial past, with lots of heritage and historic attractions.

  • Ilha Grande - This island is a popular weekend getaway from Rio de Janeiro, with white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, and gorgeous forest hiking trails, ideal for a tropical holiday.

  • Jericoacoara - This small fishing village is one of the top windsurfing and kitesurfing spots in Northern Brazil. It's an unspoiled beach town where you can walk barefoot from bar to restaurant to beach. You might just think it's paradise if you don't mind riding a bumpy dirt road for an hour to get there.

Must Do and See in Brazil

Here are some of the best things to see and do in Brazil:

  1. Spend a considerable amount of time in Rio de Janeiro, to experience the carnival, Brazilian culture, Copacabana Beach, and hiking to a viewpoint to see it all at once.

  2. Visit the magnificent Iguazu Falls.

  3. Race around the sand dunes in Natal.

  4. Wander the colorful streets of Salvador.

  5. Sand, sea, sun, and surfing in Florianopolis.

  6. Island hopping at Ilha Grande.

  7. Take a trip to the Amazon jungle.

Typical Brazilian Food to Try

Churrascaria - A type of dedicated barbecue restaurant has become a beloved part of Brazilian culture and a must-try on any trip. Different parts of meat are grilled and put on metal skewers, after which waiters slice it directly onto your plate at your table. Not for vegetarians!

Coxinha - One of Brazil's most famous and beloved street foods. These deep-fried croquettes are made using dough and a filling of chicken, onions, parsley, and scallions. Having rolled the filling into the ball of dough, they are battered, coated in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried.

Brigadeiros - These delightfully simple but absolutely delicious bites of chocolate are made by simmering condensed milk mixed with cocoa, whisking it in butter and then rolling the paste into balls. These are the Brazilian versions of chocolate truffles!

Caipirinha - Not technically a food, but still a typical Brazilian beverage to taste when in the country. The country’s most famous cocktail is made by mixing cachaça, ice, sugar and lime, and none compare to the ones you can get at Rio's beach bars.

Açaí - Perhaps the most well-known of all Amazonian fruits, because of its superfood status. The hard purple berries were originally used as a sauce to accompany fish, which indigenous tribes traditionally consumed as a source of energy. Surfers in glamorous Rio de Janeiro ate it as an energy snack as a result of a clever marketing campaign in the '80s. Now it is served as a sweet, frozen smoothie and is found in every café, bakery, juice bar, and supermarket across Brazil.

Vaccine Information for Brazil

As a precaution, the Brazilian Embassy recommends that all travelers to Brazil have Yellow Fever vaccinations, but other vaccines should also be strongly considered, such as Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Tetanus. Malaria is a significant risk throughout the Amazon region throughout the year. For the most up-to-date info about which vaccines to get before you visit Brazil, check the World Health Organization site.

Celebrating Carnival in Brazil

Carnival in Brazil is celebrated on the Friday before Ash Wednesday. The carnival season is marked by colorful costumes, samba music, grand parades, and food festivals. Brazil's Carnival is much more than just a fun event, the celebration is integral to the country’s history and culture.

Carnival is an expression of culture that includes music, dance, costumes, pageantry and performance. In the south, tourists flock to extravagant Rio de Janeiro and its Sambadrome parades and block parties (blocos), while in the north, tourists flock to sexy Salvador. Many people also travel to Recife or Olinda for a more traditional Carnival atmosphere.

Fun Facts about Brazil

Around 60% of the Amazon rainforest is in Brazil, with more than 24 million people living there, including hundreds of thousands of Indigenous Peoples belonging to over 180 different tribes.

Brazil has around 4000 airports, of which more than 400 are public. Some of the major ones are São Paulo International Airport, Rio de Janeiro Airport, and Deputado Luís Eduardo Magalhães International Airport.

When seen from above, Brasília, the capital of Brazil, resembles the shape of a bird (or an airplane, depending on how you look at it). The name Rio de Janeiro was given to the city's original location by Portuguese navigators on January 1, 1502, who mistakenly thought the bay was a river (rio meaning "river" and janeiro meaning "January”).

Brazil is home to the largest number of Japanese people outside Japan.

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