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The Ultimate Traveler’s Guide to Brazil for 2023

If you are planning a trip to Brazil or are already in this immense and diverse country, this travel guide is a compact but useful tool to help you along your journey.

A colorful graffiti of a woman's face on a brick wall

Photo by Alfredo Viana

11 de oct de 2023

Getting Started


Visa Requirements

Brazil requires visas for citizens of some countries. Check the official Brazilian government website or your nearest Brazilian embassy or consulate to determine if you need a visa. Tourist visas are typically valid for up to 90 days and can be extended for another 90 days within Brazil. Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date.


Currency

The currency in Brazil is the Brazilian Real (BRL). Credit cards are widely accepted in urban areas, but it's a good idea to carry some cash for smaller establishments and markets. ATMs are common in cities.


Packing Tips

Brazil's climate varies, so pack accordingly. Essentials include lightweight clothing, comfortable shoes for walking, swimwear, sun protection (hat, sunscreen), insect repellent for some areas, and a power adapter (Brazil uses Type N sockets). If you're visiting the Amazon, consider quick-dry and long-sleeved clothing.


Best Time to Visit

Brazil's climate varies, so the best time to visit depends on your destination. In general, the dry season (June to August) is ideal for most regions. However, the Amazon is best explored during the wet season (December to June) when water levels are higher, and wildlife is more active.


Time Zones

Brazil is a vast country with multiple time zones. Brasília Time (BRT) is the standard time zone for most of the country. Be sure to check the local time zone of your specific destination.


Emergency Numbers

In Brazil, the emergency number for police is 190, and for medical emergencies, it's 192. You can also reach out to your country's embassy or consulate for assistance.


Health Tips

It's advisable to have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies. Brazil is a tropical country, so be cautious about mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, Zika, and yellow fever in certain areas. Consult a travel clinic for vaccinations and health recommendations.


Language Basics

When visiting Brazil as a tourist, knowing these three essential words will greatly help you interact with locals:

-Hello: "Olá" (oh-LAH)

-Please: "Por favor" (poor fah-VOHR)

-Thank you: "Obrigado" (if you're male) or "Obrigada" (if you're female) (oh-bree-GAH-doo/oh-bree-GAH-dah)


Click here for more language basics for Brazil.


What to do and see


Explore Rio de Janeiro

If you go to Brazil, you have to visit the vibrant city of Rio de Janeiro. Visit the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, explore the historic streets of Santa Teresa, and soak up the sun on Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. As the day turns into night, head to the Copacabana Promenade and enjoy the bustling nightlife or the lively street parties in Lapa.


Sample Brazilian Cuisine

Don't miss the chance to taste traditional Brazilian dishes. Try feijoada (a hearty bean stew), moqueca (a rich coconut seafood stew) coxinha (a deep-fried chicken snack), pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread), and açaí bowls. Explore local markets and small local “mom-and-pop” joints for authentic street food experiences.

Moqueca (Brazilian seafood stew)

Moqueca (coconut fish stew) at the market Photo by Santiago Londoño

Discover the Amazon Rainforest

Take guided jungle tours to spot exotic wildlife, explore the tranquil waters of the Amazon River, and visit indigenous cultures in the Brazilian Amazon or the Xingu Indigenous Park to learn about their unique traditions and sustainable way of life. Stay in eco-lodges for an authentic rainforest experience.


Experience Salvador's Rich Culture

Head to Salvador, Bahia, to dive into Afro-Brazilian culture. Explore the historic Pelourinho district, visit colorful churches, and witness vibrant Capoeira performances. Enjoy Bahian cuisine, including acarajé (fried pea fritters with shrimp) and moqueca (Brazilian coconut seafood stew), at local markets.


Trek the Chapada Diamantina

This gigantic national park shelters an impressive variety of caves and waterfalls. Hike to Cachoeira da Fumaça (smoke waterfall), one of Brazil's tallest waterfalls, explore the Gruta da Lapa Doce, a vast underground cave system with stunning rock formations and unique geological features, and witness the mesmerizing landscapes of this area.


Visit the Pantanal Wetlands

Explore the world's largest tropical wetland area, the Pantanal. It is located mostly within the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul but extends beyond Brazil’s border. Go on a wildlife safari to spot jaguars, capybaras, and diverse bird species. Stay in rustic lodges on site and enjoy boat excursions on the rivers.


Enjoy the Beaches of Bahia

Relax on the beautiful beaches of Bahia, including Morro de São Paulo, Itacaré, and Praia do Forte. Experience the laid-back Bahian lifestyle, sample local street food, and dance to the rhythms of samba and axé music. If you ask locals, most will tell you that Bahia is the spot for chill, laid-back vibes.


Discover the Historic Center of Ouro Preto

Step back in time in the UNESCO-listed town of Ouro Preto in Minas Gerais. Admire the stunning Brazilian baroque architecture, visit historic churches like São Francisco de Assis, and explore former gold mines.


Experience the Cultural Diversity of São Paulo

Get lost in Latin America’s largest city. Explore the diverse neighborhoods, visit world-class art museums like MASP, and savor international and Brazilian cuisine in the city's vibrant food scene.


Relax on the Beaches of Jericoacoara

Head to the remote paradise of Jericoacoara in Ceará. Relax on sandy beaches, go windsurfing or kiteboarding, visit the Pedra Furada rock formation, and unwind by the Blue Lagoon. Come evening time, enjoy the buzzing nightlife by the beach.

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls Photo by Diego Rezende

Marvel at the Iguazu Falls

Located at the border with Argentina, Iguazu Falls is one of the largest waterfall systems in the world. It consists of approximately 275 individual falls spread out over nearly 3 kilometers. The widest of these falls, known as the "Devil's Throat," spans over 150 meters. They are set within a lush rainforest, which is home to a diverse range of wildlife. Take boat trips to get up close to the cascades and explore hiking trails in the surrounding national park.


Relax on Ilha Grande

Escape to the tranquil paradise of Ilha Grande in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Along with its pristine beaches, secluded waterfalls, and laid-back atmosphere, a special feature of this island is that it is completely car-free. Relax and breathe in the fresh clean ocean air of this pedestrian and hiker-friendly isle.


In conclusion

Brazil, a land of captivating beauty, lively culture, and culinary delights, welcomes you with open arms. Whether you're exploring the depths of the Amazon rainforest, dancing to the rhythms of samba, or savoring açaí by the beach, you will never have a dull moment in this diverse nation.


So, pack your bags, brush up on your Portuguese, and get ready to immerse yourself in the heart and soul of Brazil. Your journey through this multifaceted country promises a kaleidoscope of experiences that will stay with you long after you've left its shores.

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