Brazil,Destinations,South America

Brazil travel tricks – What to know when going to Brazil?

Before visiting a new country, especially if it’s a vast and extraordinary country like Brazil, you have to be aware of a few things. So I summarised what to know when going to Brazil, like how to get around, the best time to visit, what to see, must-try food and drinks, safety, prices and what not to do in Brazil. 

Brazil is a must-visit destination. Its rich culture and tremendous territory make it a special place. It doesn’t matter which type of traveller you are… City lover, hiker, beach person, backpacker, or everything together? Brazil’s diverse nature, architecture and food are waiting for you. 

Brazil travel tricks - What to know when going to Brazil? | Aliz’s Wonderland

A few general information about Brazil

  • Continent: South America
  • Population: 212 million
  • Area: 8,516 million sqm
  • Capital: Brasília
  • Largest city: São Paulo
  • 5 regions: North, Northeast, Central-west, Southeast, South
  • 26 states 
  • Official language: (Brazilian) Portuguese
  • Currency: Real (BRL)
  • Religion: Christianity (88%)
  • Time zone: UTC -2 to -5
  • Driving side: right

What is the best time to visit Brazil?

There’s no short answer to this… As Brazil is a huge country with more seasons and different weather conditions, you’ll have to decide what you prefer… Hot and rainy weather vs less warm and less rainy weather…

Wet season (summer) vs dry season (winter)

The seasons are reversed from the South of the Equator, so the Brazilian summer is from October to March, and winter is from May to August. Most of the country has a tropical climate, and it’s warm all year round. For this reason, Brazilians prefer to use wet and dry season naming instead of summer and winter. 

  • Northern Brazil has an equatorial climate. So it’s rainy and hot all year, though there’s less rain from July to September. So that’s the perfect period to visit the Amazon Rainforest.
  • The middle of the country has a tropical climate, where the 1st part of the year is wet and hot, and the second is drier and still warm. As the country is vast, the seasons are a bit shifted.
  • South Brazil has a subtropical climate with hot and rainy summers (September-March) and moderate winters (May to September). 

The wet season is called wet season for a reason. Usually, it rains every day, sometimes for an hour, but sometimes for days. Streets could be flooded and vehicles stuck because most drainage systems weren’t designed so well.

The high season is from December to March because of the warmer temperature. And Europeans and North Americans want to skip winter 😉 I made that a few times 😀 March is a popular month because the Carnival attracts many people. Just be aware that the prices are higher during the peak season.

Pro tip!

When researching the weather, I always check Climates To Travel, where I can find everything about the climate, average temperature, weather conditions, the best time to go and even what to pack.

What is the best time to visit Brazil? - Brazil travel tricks - What to know when going to Brazil? | Aliz’s Wonderland

What to know about travelling to Brazil? 

Visa requirements

Tourist visa 

A tourist visa (not an actual visa) will be enough for most countries. When entering, you’ll get a “90” stamp into your passport, which means you can stay in Brazil for 90 days within 180 days. So if you’re hopping into another country and returning to Brazil, your 90 days won’t restart. 

Depending on your nationality, you might have to apply for a visa to enter Brazil. I always check Passport Index to be aware of the rules. 

You can request information at your local Brazilian consular. For different visa types (work, student and business), usually, you have to apply before your travel.

Digital nomad visa to Brazil

Brazil launched a digital nomad visa in February 2022, so it will be possible to stay in Brazil for a year, and it can be extended by another year. It’s still new, so not every data is available, but you’ll need:

  • Own a valid passport 
  • Visa application and proof of visa payments
  • Prove that you’re a digital nomad or freelancer
  • Have a monthly income of min 1500 USD or 18000 USD on your banc account
  • Have health insurance valid in Brazil
  • Criminal record certificate 

For more information, visit Agencia Brasil and contact your local Brazilian consular.

Vaccination 

Before travelling overseas, I always check CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) to find out what kind of vaccines are recommended. You’ll also find important information about staying healthy and safe on your trip, detailed information about diseases and what kind of medicines you should bring. 

Visit your doctor at least a month before your departure to get the required vaccines and medicines. Save some extra money for that, these vaccines aren’t cheap.  

The essential vaccines for Brazil are Hepatitis A, Yellow fever and Typhoid. More types are recommended for specific areas. Read more about Yellow fever and Malaria on CDC.

And don’t forget to purchase mosquito repellent!

Where to travel in Brazil? 

Brazil has so many famous beauties and even more hidden gems. I still have to visit many, so my blog will have more resources by time, so for now, I’ll leave you only with a few options. Half of them are still on my Brazil bucket list.

Iguacu Falls - Brazil travel tricks - What to know when going to Brazil? | Aliz’s Wonderland
Iguacu Falls - Brazil travel tricks - What to know when going to Brazil? | Aliz’s Wonderland

How to get around in Brazil?

Brazil’s total area is 8,516 million sqm, with this it’s the 5th biggest country on our planet. And almost as big as Europe (10,18 million sqm). It’s 4395 km long from north to south. 

By aeroplane in Brazil

Brazil has apr. 491 public airports, including 27 international airports. Probably you’ll arrive by plane at Brazil’s largest and busiest airport, São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport (GRU). Depending on your departure location, of course. 

The country’s size is vast, so the fastest way to get around different regions is by plane. Although not the most affordable option. If you’re short on time and don’t have low-budget, planes are the best solution.  

The main airlines in Brazil are Azul, Gol, LATAM and Voepass

Pro tip!

On Brazilian domestic flights, you don’t have to worry about the size of the liquid, no restriction for 100 ml. 

How to get around in Brazil? - Brazil travel tricks - What to know when going to Brazil? | Aliz’s Wonderland

Public transportation

Larger cities (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Recife, Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Salvador and Fortaleza) have underground metro system, which is the fastest way for getting around. 

In smaller cities, you can use the bus system. It’s reliable, just sometimes doesn’t follow the schedule. Don’t forget to hold out your arm. Otherwise, the bus won’t stop. 

A bus station might not be signed on smaller roads, so just wave to the bus, and hopefully, the bus driver will stop for you. We did the same next to the botanical garden of Rio de Janeiro, and the bus stopped.

Avoid public transportation in rush hours (7-10 am, 5-8 pm), and always keep an eye on your belongings.

Average public transportation prices:

  • Metro ticket: 4,00 BRL
  • Bus ticket price: 4,440 BRL

Uber in Brazil

Uber is an affordable option in Brazil, especially if you’re not alone. Sharing the cost this way is much cheaper than public transportation. It’s also safer and budget friendlier than taxis.

Be aware that the prices can be triple during rush hours and expect a longer waiting time. 

Long-distance buses in Brazil

Brazil owns a good bus system, including night buses with semi-cama and cama seats. However, the comfort level and the service will depend on the bus company and the price. 

Once, we took a bus ride from Florianópolis to Foz do Iguaçu. The night bus departed at 4 pm, and we arrived at around 7 am at our final destination. The bus was clean, and the seat was comfy, so it wasn’t hard to fall asleep. During the night, the bus stopped every 3 hours, and we could take off, go to the restroom and grab some bites. These stations serve the typical “padaria” and “lanche” food, so mainly Brazilian pastries, sandwiches and you can find warm dishes at a few places. Sometimes it’s better to have your snacks and water for the bus ride.

I’ve found a super helpful article on the Out of your comfort zone website about booking a bus ticket online and the advantages of travelling by bus in Brazil. 

Driving in Brazil

Driving happens on the right side of the road like in Europe and the US. 

If you’re planning to discover a region or more remote areas, I’d suggest renting a car. Localiza is our favourite car rental place and has many locations in the country. 

If you’re in Brazil for less than 6 months, your national driving license should be acceptable. However, an International Driving Permit can be helpful to avoid misunderstandings with rentals and police. 

Pro tip!

Driving in flip-flops isn’t allowed, so wear closed shoes or be barefoot! 

Road quality

Brazilian roads aren’t high quality. The best ones are probably the highways called Rodovia and signed like BR-101. The speed limits are 80 to 110 km/h (120 km/h). The payments happen via tolls, so have cash with you. The fees vary between 1 and 20 BRL. For example, from São Paulo to Ilhabela (200 km), we spent 22,70 BRL on toll fees. From São Paulo to Florianópolis (800 km), the fees costed around 50 BRL.

Smaller roads can have worse quality. The rain can damage the streets made of low-quality materials, and sometimes they are covered with huge potholes. A few years ago, when travelling from Jericooacara to Parnaíba, the car (and we) suffered a lot because of the bad road.

Our other least favourite part is speedbumps called lombadas. They are designed to slow down the traffic, so always pay attention to the enormous speedbumps on the road, usually signed with yellow stripes.  

Safety on the road

Do your research about the safety of areas and regions! There are some places where you shouldn’t stop the car, otherwise, you might get robbed. 

Waze sometimes uses weird shortcuts to save you a few minutes. Always review the planned route and ensure it won’t lead you to narrow, suspicious streets and dangerous neighbourhoods. 

In larger cities, avoid driving in rush time! For example, in São Paulo, driving in rush time is mainly waiting in the traffic. Not so fun… If you are stuck in traffic, keep the windows up.

Try to stay in the middle of your lane because motorbikes always find a way to cross between cars, you’ll hear them honking all the time. 

Driving in Brazil - Brazil travel tricks - What to know when going to Brazil? | Aliz’s Wonderland

Is Brazil safe?

If you’re watching the news, I’m sure you think Brazil is too dangerous. 

Is it?

It depends…

You can be robbed in any country, especially in touristy areas of big cities. However, Brazil is not as dangerous as you think. You just have to follow some rules…

  • Avoid bad neighbourhoods and abandoned streets. 
  • Try to travel in groups.
  • Don’t show off, and don’t wear fancy clothes with huge gold jewellery. You know what I mean 😉 
  • Keep your phone and camera gear in your bag and use them only if needed.
  • Always pay attention to your belongings.
  • While driving and standing in a traffic jam, keep the windows closed.
  • Have a fake wallet with a blocked credit card and/or an extra older phone.

These are some general rules to pay attention to. Of course, different behaviours apply to various regions and cities. For example, you have to be extra careful in the centre of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. 

Is Brazil safe? - Brazil travel tricks - What to know when going to Brazil? | Aliz’s Wonderland

Eating and drinking in Brazil

Brazil is a foodie heaven, and it offers so many delicious food and drink options, so I wrote another blog post about what to eat and drink in Brazil

Must-try food in Brazil

  • Fruits, fruits and more fruits
  • Acai bowl – ice cream made of acai, topped with granola and banana
  • Salgados (salty pastry) like coxinha (croquette), pão de queijo (cheese bread), empada (mini pie) and pastel (deep-fried filled pastry)
  • Churrasco, the Brazilian barbecue 
  • Feijoada – black bean stew with pork
  • Carne seca – jerked meat/dried meat
  • Seafood and sushi 
  • Brigadiero – creamy chocolate bonbon
  • Pudim de leite – pudding similar to the Spanish flan
Must-try food in Brazil - Brazil travel tricks - What to know when going to Brazil? | Aliz’s Wonderland
Must-try food in Brazil - Brazil travel tricks - What to know when going to Brazil? | Aliz’s Wonderland

Must-try drinks in Brazil

  • Água de coco (Coconut water) 
  • Cachaça – Brazilian spirit made of cane sugar
  • Caipirinha – the famous Brazilian cocktail with cachaça, lime, sugar and ice
  • Fresh fruit juices
  • Mate tea
Must-try drinks in Brazil - Brazil travel tricks - What to know when going to Brazil? | Aliz’s Wonderland
Must-try drinks in Brazil - Brazil travel tricks - What to know when going to Brazil? | Aliz’s Wonderland

Is tap water drinkable in Brazil?

It’s not recommended to drink tap water in Brazil. 

Many households and hostels have filtered water, such as a big brown gallon or an extra tap at the kitchen sink. If your accommodation doesn’t have either, I’d suggest buying mineral water.

About Brazilians

Brazilians are super friendly 🙂 Probably you’ll get a half or full hug at welcoming. They are also passionate, know how to dance and speak loudly. 

Don’t expect many people to speak English. In my Brazilian boyfriend’s family, no one talks English, so it was a bit hard to communicate with my modest Portuguese. But no one cared about it. Everyone was super nice and welcoming. In larger cities, you’ll find more people speaking English.

Brazilians are always late. Expect them an hour later. 

What’s Brazil’s official language?

Brazilian Portuguese is the official language of Brazil. 

It’s similar to Portuguese spoken in Portugal, but some words are different, and the pronunciation also varies. For example, “s” in Portugal is harder than in Brazil. That’s why I prefer the rhythm and sound of Brazilian Portuguese.

In South America, Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking country. Words and accents sometimes can be different in regions.

Important Portuguese phrases to know

  • Hi = Oi/ Olá
  • How are you? = Tudo bem?
  • Thanks/ Thank you = Obrigado/ Obrigada (Obrigado if you’re male, Obrigada if youre female)
  • You’re welcome – De nada
  • Please = Por favor
  • A beer, please! = Uma cerveja, por favor!
  • Sorry = Pardon/ Desculpe
  • Cheers = Saude
  • Bye = Tchau 
  • Yes = Sim
  • No = Não 
  • Exit = Saida 
  • Open = Aberto
  • Closed = Fechado
  • Where is the bus station? – Onde é a estação de ônibus? 
  • With sugar/ Without sugar – Com açúcar/ Sem açúcar
  • Suco de manga – Mango juice

How expensive is Brazil? 

Brazil isn’t considered expensive. Unfortunately, with the pandemic, the prices increased. Brazilian products are usually affordable, though imported items are more pricey, especially electronics. 

The rest depends on you and your budget… Do you go to a fancy restaurant or a lanche at the corner? Do you want to stay in a luxurious hotel or a hostel? You can find pricey places and super affordable options as well. 

It might be expensive to travel to Brazil, so spend more time in the country discovering different parts. 

Average prices in Brazil

  • Breakfast & brunch – 10-20 BRL
  • Meal (main course in a good quality restaurant) – 30-50 BRL
  • Salgados in a bakery (padaria) – 3-5 BRL
  • 1 kg of mango – 5-7 BRL
  • Cappuccino in a specialty coffee shop – 8-10 BRL
  • Coconut water from a coconut – 10-15 BRL
  • Fresh juice – 10 BRL
  • Caipirinha – 20-25 BRL
  • 0,5 l water in a supermarket – 1-2 BRL
  • Public transport ticket – 4 BRL
How expensive is Brazil? - Brazil travel tricks - What to know when going to Brazil? | Aliz’s Wonderland

Electricity and voltage in Brazil

In Brazil, the sockets are type C and N (plug C also works with socket type N). 

You don’t have to worry about power plugs with a travel adapter like Skross adapter, which is good in over 220 countries and has a dual USB port for charging USB devices. 

You might have to worry about a voltage converter, especially if you’re coming from the US… Brazil has 110V (127V) and  220V depending on the region. Even in one city and in one apartment, both can be found. So usually, you’ll find a “110V” or  “220V” sticker around the socket. Read more about the most commonly used voltages by cities in this article

Online you can find many voltage converters. However, read the manual before using it because they are only suitable for electrical products like hairdryers, phone and laptop chargers. 

So are you ready to travel to Brazil? 

I hope you’ve found my Brazil travel guide useful and now you know everything about going to Brazil. Wherever you decide to travel, you’ll be surrounded by gorgeous nature and welcoming people. 

Have fun and leave a comment if I missed something 😉

More tips and tricks for your Brazilian trip:

Pin the photos for later to have them on Pinterest. Write a comment also on Pinterest and tell me your opinion.

Brazil travel tricks - What to know when going to Brazil? | Aliz’s Wonderland
Brazil travel lessons - What I’ve learned after living 6 months in Brazil? | Aliz’s Wonderland

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