Brazil stands as the largest gem in South America, boasting the bustling metropolis of Sao Paulo as its most populous city. The nation is a tapestry of colourful landscapes, featuring the crown jewel, the Amazon Rainforest, amidst its lush rainforests.
Beyond nature’s wonders, Brazil beckons with sun-kissed beaches and a plethora of tourist attractions, ensuring a destination that is anything but dull. While it’s wise to heed travel precautions, don’t let them overshadow the excitement as you plan your trip to this sunny destination!
1. Exercise caution
Before locking in your travel plans, the question, “Is Brazil safe to travel to?” may loom in your mind. As of 9 October 2023, the U.S. Department of State issued a Level 2 travel advisory for Brazil, cautioning visitors against certain areas due to organised crime and prevalent gang activities.
A prudent approach is advised, especially within a 100-mile (150km) radius of Brazil’s international borders with Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay, and neighbouring countries, where organised crime thrives. Exercise caution around housing developments, which are known hotspots for such activities.
Venturing into urban pockets of Brazil will require heightened awareness, as car-jackings, robberies, and even murders can occur at any hour. Thus, tread with extreme caution and consider the following essential safety measures during your trip:
- Opt for bar outings accompanied by a trusted friend or family member rather than venturing solo.
- Secure your valuable jewellery in your accommodation, minimising the risk of being targeted while strolling through Brazilian streets.
- For U.S. citizens and nationals, enrol in the Smart Traveler Enrolment Program (STEP) to ensure swift assistance in case of an unfortunate emergency.
2. Learn a little Portuguese
Approximately 98% of Brazilians communicate in Portuguese, making it highly beneficial to familiarise yourself with some basic Portuguese words and sentence patterns before your trip. There are some ways to practice the language to ensure travel readiness. Opt for these activities to get you started with learning and speaking Portuguese:
- Immerse yourself in Portuguese music.
- Get a Portuguese tutor to teach you the language.
- Use apps like Duolingo to learn the language yourself.
- Watch Portuguese films with subtitles in your native language to pick up words and phrases.
3. Be ready to party, as Brazilians do
Prepare to unleash your inner party spirit when you’re in Brazil. Even when the two major party extravaganzas aren’t rocking January and February, local beaches and bars are perennially alive with festivities.
Brazilians have an infectious love for celebration, so if newfound friends extend an invitation to a party, it’s practically a social obligation to attend. Even if you’re not typically a party enthusiast, why not say yes and experience it?
The Rio de Janeiro Carnival, an annual spectacle in February, draws around one million visitors annually. Meanwhile, the New Year’s Reveillon, marking the year’s culmination on 31 December, sets the stage for an unforgettable celebration. The pinnacle of this event unfolds at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, promising an unparalleled New Year’s bash.
4. Bonus: Attractions in Brazil
Now that you know a few key things to learn before visiting Brazil, let’s get to the fun part: the attractions! From witnessing the wildlife in the Amazon Rainforest to relaxing at beaches in Rio de Janeiro, there’s something fun for everyone to do.
1. Amazon Rainforest
No journey to Brazil can be deemed truly complete without immersing yourself in the wonders of the Amazon Rainforest. Encompassing a vast expanse, this ecological marvel hosts over 40,000 plant species, providing a haven for many unique animals. Encounter pink river dolphins, poison dart frogs, and other rare and fascinating animal species as you delve into the heart of this unparalleled natural sanctuary.
Here are some of the activities you can enjoy in the Amazon:
- Piranha fishing (We highly recommend going with trusted tour companies)
- Swim with rare pink dolphins in the Amazon
- Jungle-walking or trekking
- Kayaking or canoeing in the Amazon River
- Visiting the Manatee Rescue Centre
2. Rio de Janeiro beaches
Among the 2,095 beaches that adorn Brazil’s coastline, two of the most renowned gems grace Rio de Janeiro – Ipanema and Copacabana. Copacabana, taking the lead in popularity, is a hub of beach volleyball and soccer activities against the backdrop of its scenic glory. The beach also doubles as a venue for live shows, offering a chance to experience cultural performances amid the sun and sand.
Meanwhile, Ipanema is nestled close to local businesses, inviting both locals and tourists to leisurely stroll or skate along the sidewalk and bask in the sun on the sandy shores. Take in the breathtaking landscape, dominated by the Morro Dois Irmãos, the distant twin hills that add an extra layer of allure to the Ipanema beach experience.
3. Sugarloaf Mountain
Before wrapping up your exploration of Rio de Janeiro, a must-visit destination is Sugarloaf Mountain. This famous peak earned its name due to its resemblance to a loaf of sugar, a moniker harking back to the sugarcane trade of the 16th century, during which Brazil imported significant quantities of this sweet commodity.
Attaining the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012, this iconic peak invites you to revel in its splendour. Whether you ascend in a cable car for a closer perspective or gaze up at its towering 1,283-foot elevation from the base, Sugarloaf Mountain promises a breathtaking experience.