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Brazil Travel Guide

Sparkling beaches, winding rivers, dense jungles, rocky mountain peaks, colourful coral reefs, and abundant wildlife: there's little Brazil doesn't offer when it comes to natural beauty. From the crowded beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema to the isolated villages of the Amazon, travellers can choose nearly any kind of holiday in Brazil.

In this country, the urban jungles are just as big an attraction as the natural ones. Cosmopolitan cities like Rio de JaneiroBrasilia, and Sao Paulo offer visitors a dizzying array of cultural activities, whether it's sweating through a samba lesson, browsing designer shops, wandering through museums and art galleries, or eating one's way through the diverse restaurants and eateries.

The Brazilians are a passionate people who love to have a good time, packing the beaches full on weekends and filling soccer stadiums to capacity for every match. Festivals like the famous (or infamous) Carnaval showcase this love for life, one that tends to rub off a little on every visitor.

Best time to visit Brazil

The weather in Brazil varies greatly from city to city because of the country's huge size. The best time to visit Brazil is in August and September, when temperatures are moderate and relatively dry in most of the country. Read more on Brazil's Climate and Weather.

What to see in Brazil

-Take in the panoramic views from the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.

-Explore Lake Janauari Ecological Park by canoe.

-Enjoy Brazil's cultural scene at the museums, theatres, and galleries of Sao Paulo.

-Charter a boat to see the mountains, forests, waterfalls, lakes, and secret coves of Angra dos Reis. Read more about Brazil Attractions.

What to do in Brazil

-Play sand volleyball or relax on Copacabana Beach.

-Learn to samba in the nightclubs of Rio de Janeiro.

-Go surfing in Itacaré.

-Ride the roller coasters at Hopi Hari. Read more about Brazil Activities.

Getting to Brazil

Getting to Brazil is rarely cheap due to the long distance travelled from most Western countries. Direct flights to Brazil from the US and Canada are available, mostly landing in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. There are few direct flights to Brazil from the UK; however, connections are available from other cities like Lisbon. Get more information on Brazil Airports.


The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas by Joachim Maria Machado de Assis, and Gabriela: Clove and Cinnamon by Jorge Amado


The Girl from Ipanema (Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz)


Rio (2011), Favela Rising (2005), and Fast Five (2005)


Caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail, made with cachaça (sugar cane rum), sugar, and lime


Churrascaria, or Brazilian barbecue

Buy in Brazil

Havianas, gemstone jewellery and carvings

Pack for Brazil

Casual clothes; very few places in Brazil require formal attire

What's on in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro comes alive for Carnaval each year at the beginning of Lent, Salvador de Bahia's Reveillon festival rings in the New Year on the beach, and the Sao Paulo LGBT Pride Parade each June is South America's biggest gay pride event. Get more information on Events in Brazil.

Some random facts

-Brazil has more species of monkeys than any other country.

-Brazil is the only country in South America that speaks Portuguese. The Portuguese first arrived in 1500.

-Brazil has won the soccer World Cup five times.

A final word

The laidback and fun-loving culture of Brazil is a perfect complement to its stunning natural beauty in creating an ideal South American holiday destination.


The spoken language in Brazil is Portuguese, however Spanish and English are also used in the cities.


The Brazilian currency is the Real (BRL). The US Dollar is also welcome in most tourist establishments. In the main cities, foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks or cambios. There is an extensive network of ATMs in the country and most major international credit cards are accepted.


Brazil has a variety of electrical voltages, sometimes within the same city. The better hotels offer 220 volts, 60Hz. If not, transformers are available in electrical stores. Two-pin plugs with a grounding pin are standard.


Nearly all hotels add a service charge to the bill, usually 10 percent. Most restaurants also add 10 percent or more to the total of the bill, but must make it clear that they have done so; waiters appreciate another five percent if their service was good. Otherwise, a 10 to 15 percent tip is customary.

Brazilians don't normally tip taxi drivers, except if they handle bags, although they may round up the total. Hotel staff expect small tips, and most other service personnel such as barbers and petrol station attendants, are usually rewarded with a 10 to 15 percent tip. Parking attendants earn no wages and expect a tip of around two real.


In Brazil's metropolitan areas, crime is a fact of life. Rio, in particular, is regarded as one of the most crime-ridden cities in the world and, although violent crime is generally limited to the favelas, foreigners are advised to take precautions. Visitors should not attempt to visit these township areas, even on a guided tour. Violent crime is on the increase due to the establishment of drug and criminal gangs around Rio and São Paulo.

Muggings are frequent and visitors should dress down, conceal cameras and avoid wearing jewellery or expensive watches. Bank- and credit card fraud is common, including card cloning from ATMs, so tourists should keep sight of their card at all times and not use an ATM if they notice anything suspicious.

Thefts are common on public beaches and visitors should avoid taking valuables to the beach. The threat of personal attack is lower outside the main urban centres, but incidents do occur. Women should be aware that sexual assaults have been reported in coastal holiday destinations. Beware of unofficial taxis and those with blacked-out windows, and be particularly careful on public transport in Rio, Recife and Salvador.


The international access code for Brazil is +55. Hotels, cafes and restaurants offering free WiFi are widely available in tourist centred areas. As international roaming costs can be high, purchasing a local prepaid SIM card can be a cheaper option.


Mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria are prevalent in Brazil, so insect repellent and protective clothing is essential if visitors will be travelling to the countryside. Malaria exists below 2,953 feet (900m) in most rural areas, and outbreaks of dengue fever occur frequently.

Visitors travelling from infected areas outside the country require a yellow fever certificate, and vaccination is recommended for those travelling to rural areas, as outbreaks have occurred in recent years.

Typhoid vaccinations are recommended if travellers intend to spend a lot of time outside of major cities. Milk in rural areas is not pasteurised, so it's best to avoid it. Hospitals in the major cities are fairly good, with cash and card payments both acceptable and travel insurance common.

Public Holidays

New Year's Day1 Jan1 Jan
Carnival / Mardi Gras23 Feb15 Feb
Good Friday10 Apr2 Apr
Tiradentes Day21 Apr21 Apr
Labour Day1 May1 May
Corpus Christi11 Jun3 Jun
Independence Day7 Sep7 Sep
Our Lady of Aparecida12 Oct12 Oct
All Souls Day2 Nov2 Nov
Proclamation of the Republic15 Nov15 Nov
Christmas Day25 Dec25 Dec


Business practices vary quite substantially from city to city in Brazil: highly formal in São Paulo but more relaxed in Rio de Janeiro and other centres. Multinational companies have similar business etiquette to those in Europe or the US, while local businesses require a few more considerations, particularly preferring face-to-face meetings over phone calls or written communication.

Brazilians place a high value on personal relationships within business environments and will generally only conduct business through personal connections or with those whom they have already established a personal relationship. Nepotism is considered not only acceptable but actually desirable, because it is seen as ensuring trust and good relationships in business.

All meetings are preceded by handshakes and small talk, and visitors should avoid the temptation to rush things. Even after the meeting is over, it's considered rude to rush off. Entertaining is common, either at a restaurant or someone's home, again with the emphasis on building personal relationships. Punctuality is flexible, except when meeting at a restaurant, when tardiness is considered impolite, and a small gift or flowers for the host is common when invited to a home.

Business suits are expected, especially for first meetings. Portuguese is the dominant language, and although English is widely spoken in business, an interpreter might be required. Business cards, as well as written documents, should be printed in both English and Portuguese. Business hours are 8.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday.

Passport & Visa

All visitors require passports that are valid for at least the period of intended stay in Brazil but we strongly recommend that passports be valid for six months after intended date of travel. Border control may well deny entry to holders of passports valid for the period of intended stay. Sufficient funds to cover their stay in Brazil, as well as a return or onward ticket and documentation required for further travel, are necessary for all travellers. Visa requirements vary from country to country.


Brazil is a diverse cultural and ethnic melting pot, but most social customs will be familiar to visitors. As a result of three centuries of colonisation by the Portuguese, the Brazilian culture is actually recognisably European in many ways. Physical appearance is considered important by most Brazilians and care is taken to dress well but generally not too formally.

Duty Free

Travellers to Brazil can enter the country with 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars; 24 units of alcoholic beverages, with a maximum of 12 units per type of beverage; and goods to the value of USD 500, without incurring customs duty. Restricted items include fresh produce, meat and dairy products. Strict regulations apply to temporary import or export of firearms, antiquities, tropical plants, medication and business equipment.


Brazilian Tourist Institute, Brasília: +61 429 7704 or

Emergencies: 190 (police), 192 (ambulance)

Entry Requirements

Passports must be valid for six months beyond the departure date. Tourists can stay in the country without a visa for up to 90 days.

A valid passport is required. UK passport holders do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days.

Passports must be valid for six months beyond the departure date. Tourists can stay in the country without a visa for up to 90 days.

A valid passport is needed, but no visa is required by South African nationals for up to 90 days.

Irish nationals need a valid passport, but do not require a tourist or business visa for stays of up to 90 days.

New Zealanders need a valid passport, but no visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days.

Embassy Consulates

United States Embassy, Brasilia: +55 (61) 3312 7000.

British Embassy, Brasilia: +55 (61) 3329 2300.

Canadian Embassy, Brasilia: +55 (61) 3424 5400.

South African Embassy, Brasilia: +55 (61) 3312 9500.

Irish Embassy, Brasilia: +55 (61) 3248 8800.

New Zealand Embassy, Brasilia: +55 (61) 3248 9900.

Embassy Consulates

Brazilian Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 238 2700

Brazilian Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7747 4500

Brazilian Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 237 1090.

Brazilian Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 366 5200.

Brazilian Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 475 6000.

Brazilian Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 473 3516.


The attractions of Brazil are delightfully varied, from the endless cultural intrigue of São Paulo to the beautiful beaches of Rio de Janeiro. But the natural wonders are no less enticing, with the Amazon and Pantanal rainforests offering plenty of opportunities to experience its breathtaking scenery and fascinating local cultures.

Every year, thousands flock to the world-famous Carnival in Rio, when the entire city is awash in parties, parades, music and dancing. Rio also features the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, which is one of the New7Wonders of the World, and the architectural wonder that is Samba City. The mild climate of the major cities makes them an attractive destination all year round, with the coastal areas being even warmer and suited to year-round sunbathing. Brazil's major cities are known for their wild nightlife, with enough bars, clubs and parties to satisfy even the most hedonistic revellers.

Brazil's beaches are just as famous, with spots such as Ipanema and Copacabana immortalised in song and pop culture. There are several well-known nude beaches, including one in the relaxed town of Pinho. The southern beaches, including Praia Do Rosa, offer big waves that attract top surfers from all over the world between April and November. There are also many popular scuba diving spots that boast beautiful coral reefs, volcanic islands, caves and shipwrecks.

Brazil is a huge country, and over half of it is verdant rainforest. The Amazon, the world's largest tropical rainforest, covers a jaw-dropping seven million square kilometres and is a wildlife and bird watching paradise, home to countless species of plants and animals you won't find anywhere else on Earth. The pink dolphin, for example, is only found in the Amazon and its tributaries. You might also find jaguars, howler monkeys, sloths, toucans and anacondas, among many other creatures.

The marine world off the coast of Brazil is no less wonderful. Dolphin and whale watching are popular in places such as Fernando de Noronha, and snorkelling in Bonito, which fittingly means 'beautiful', is an absolute delight. Praia do Forte and other beaches are also good places to witness the hatching of sea turtles.


Brazil's weather is quite diverse as there are five different climatic regions: equatorial, tropical, semi-arid, highland tropical and subtropical. Cities such as São Paulo and Brasilia, on the plateau, have a mild climate with temperatures averaging 66°F (19°C). Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Natal and Salvador on the coast have warmer climates balanced by the Trade Winds. Rio, for example, has an average temperature of around 80°F (26°C), which will climb to over 100°F (38°C) during the summer months, between December and February.

In the southern Brazilian cities of Porto Alegre and Curitiba, the subtropical climate is similar to parts of the US and Europe, with frosts occurring in the winter months, between July and August, when temperatures can fall below freezing. Summers are hot, though. Despite the popular image of the Amazon as a region of blistering heat, temperatures rarely rise above 90°F (32°C), and days are generally warm, wet, and humid. The region has two seasons: a rainy season (November to May) and a not-so-rainy season (June to October).

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