Brazil: Bem-vindos ao Brasil!
If you're looking for a place where you can follow up a jungle adventure with a visit to an exciting city, or conclude a day of wandering historic neighborhoods with a walk along a sandy beach, you can find that and more in Brazil. This land of samba music and Carnivale intrigues scores of visitors each year, and you can be next, with help from the Web. We’ve rounded up some excellent online resources revealing Brazil’s most sought-after cities and features, tools to help you find and book your accommodation and transportation to and within the country, plus sites connecting you with other travelers.
With the diverse mix of activities and experiences available in a country this large, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Explore Brazil’s diversity online to get a feel for the unmatched natural features and bustling city life as you begin planning your stay.
- If you see a Web address that contains a ".br," the site will likely be written in Portuguese. Look for a British or U.S. flag or an "Ingles" link somewhere near the top of the homepage to access an English version of the content.
- Brazil is known as "Brasil" to locals. If you're not finding what you want on the Web using "Brazil" as your search term, try "Brasil" instead. Similarly, you might see Carnivale spelled as “Carnaval” or “Carnival.”
- When searching for information about specific cities in Brazil, remember that some cities and states in the country have the same name; Rio de Janeiro is one example. You might need to double check that a Web site isn’t focused on a city when you want to learn about the state, or vice versa.
For an overview …
The Brazilian Tourism Office
is such a good site that we reference it in several places in this guide. With its pages free of distracting ads, you'll easily find extensive information about Brazil here. If you want to start with a good overview of the country and its people, place your cursor over the "This is Brazil" link and then click on the subtopic that interests you.
delves into the culture and history of Brazil using videos, maps, music clips, and well-written text. Enjoy features on Brazil's isolated Indian populations, the sounds of samba music, and an interactive gallery of Latin America.
provides an excellent country profile of Brazil, explaining the history of the country and its political and economic structures.
Lonely Planet TV
has videos submitted by travelers all over the world. This four-minute video is of especially high quality in its overall aesthetic, showing aspects of a traveler’s month-long journey around Brazil. You’ll get a taste of Carnivale, city life, and stunning footage of natural features.
For information about local customs and traditions …
focuses on the culture of Brazil and the Brazilian way of life. If you're looking to learn about Brazilian cuisine, music, sports, or wildlife, this is the place to do it. Unlike many travel Web sites you'll find, DonaBrasil.com is not heavily laden with advertisements. The homepage is clearly organized, and you can also browse the site easily from the “Information” menu on the left of the page.
The Consulate General of Brazil
in San Francisco, California, has a page about Brazilian culture. Learn about Carnivale, folk dance, folk drama, music, the arts, and more.
is an online travel magazine that emphasizes cultural immersion and publishes stories capturing just that. This piece is a detailed account of one traveler’s experience in Manaus that offers compelling insight. The site also has photo essays—don’t miss the one of Brazil
For some popular tourist attractions …
has a "The Best of Brazil" section with its take on the must-see festivals and celebrations and the best markets, museums, views, and nightlife. Explore island life in Brazil and check out Lencois Maranhenses, a national park that can only be entered on foot.
The Brazilian Tourism Portal
from Brazil's Ministry of Tourism has a "Destinations and Itineraries" page that allows you to search for various tours and events in Brazil. Just select the type of tour that interests you and your desired location, and the search will return relevant results for you.
by Intelligent Leisure Solutions provides a detailed description of the Amazon River and the history of its surrounding rainforests. Make sure you read the "Amazon Travel Tips"
section for useful items you should take with you if you're planning a trip up the Amazon.
has a feature called “Journey into Amazonia,” that was designed for elementary school classroom use but provides general background information and interactive features on the region’s plants and animals that are helpful for any newcomer to Brazil, regardless of age.
New 7 Wonders
reveals the newest Seven Wonders of the World, which were officially recognized in September 2007. The list includes Christ the Redeemer, a nearly 38-meter-tall statue of Jesus on Corcovado Mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro.
is the official site of Iguazu Falls, the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site shared by Brazil and Argentina. Iguazu is known for powerful falls, a foggy atmosphere, and rainbows. Find more description, as well as practical information regarding how to get there and where to stay, on this site.
For major cities …
City of São Paulo
is the official tourism Web site for the city of São Paulo, Brazil. The site is well-suited to tourists with a variety of interests. Browse through the "Sightseeing Tips"
section, which is uniquely organized into recommendations for families, art lovers, romantics, and others looking to explore what city has to offer. The site also features a 36-hour guide to São Paulo
from The New York Times
The New York Times
has a 36-hour guide to Rio de Janeiro that offers lodging, dining, and sightseeing recommendations for this bustling city. Thinking of staying longer than 36 hours? No problem: this page also features recommendations from Frommer's
(look for them on the left side of the page) that point you to the best beaches, best views, and historic neighborhoods worth a visit in the city.
takes you straight into Brazil's capital. By law, Brasilia is not a traditional municipality, but rather an administrative region of the Federal District, with which it occupies the same area
. This Web site is about as straightforward as they come in terms of presenting the information you want. Every page is clearly labeled and simply organized for ease of use. Look for maps of the capital, tourist attractions, lodging, and photos.
is part of the Discovery Travel Network. This Web site serves a variety of people well, as it highlights museum and cultural information about the city, great beaches, the nightlife, and several other attractions. If you have specific needs, try using the search options in the "Site Search" section. For example, you can search for nonsmoking restaurants that welcome children.
pinpoints the best of Belo Horizonte, a vibrant city “in the heart of Brazil.” Learn what it has to offer, find places to stay, and explore the surrounding area. You'll primarily navigate the site by placing your cursor over the links across the top of the page. After the additional links appear, make sure to move your cursor to the right, as some great content is unfortunately hidden (the "Services" section contains some particularly useful contact information for car rental agencies, hospitals, and more).
Favela Tourism Workshop
is a company that leads sustainable tours through Rocinha, the biggest slum in South America and one of more than 800 in Rio alone. The company provides tourism workshops for favela residents, teaching them how to lead tours through their own intriguing neighborhoods, helping them to learn English, and taking them on trips around Brazil that they otherwise could not afford. The trend of favela tourism is also growing in India
, but not everyone approves of the practice, according to the New York Times
For festivals and major events …
The Brazilian Tourism Office
details the history of Carnivale in Brazil, lists Carnivale dates, and offers great advice about obtaining tickets and good seats at the Sambodromo stadium, which is a central hub of activity during Carnivale.
Brazil World Cup Blog
is part of the BootsnAll Travel Network. Here you can track the progress of Brazil's soccer team and its preparations for hosting the 2014 World Cup, along with news and updates about some of Brazil's best and most popular players.
For news from Brazil …
publishes news from the World News Network. Review breaking news updates in the top half of the page or scroll down toward the bottom, where news about Brazil is sorted by categories such as "Culture & Religion," "Education & Society," and "Health & Medicine."
You’ll want to know when the Brazilian skies will be blue and welcoming, and you’ve got to track down essential health and safety information before you take off. The sites in this section can enhance your trip and may just get you out of a heap of trouble by pinpointing the Web’s best pre-trip resources.
- Some people mistakenly think that Brazilians speak Spanish. In fact, the official language of Brazil is Portuguese, making it the only Portuguese-speaking country in South America. A few native tribes also speak their own language.
- If you are planning a lengthy stay in Brazil (or any foreign country for that matter), it is important that you register with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to make sure proper officials know your whereabouts in the event of an emergency. The U.S. Department of State allows you to register online.
- In addition to an Embassy in Washington, DC, Brazil has eight Consular Offices around the United States. If you have questions as you plan your trip to Brazil, a Consular Office might give you a quicker answer than the Embassy will. Make sure you check to see which office has jurisdiction over your state.
For safety advisories …
The U.S. Department of State
provides this Consular Information Sheet with safety particulars and other important information you should know about Brazil. The section on the high rate of crime in Brazil is fairly detailed. Also use this page to familiarize yourself with Brazil's visa and passport requirements.
For health information …
explains the vaccinations, medical advisories, disease outbreaks, and other health precautions you should be aware of both when you are in the planning stages of your Brazil adventure and when you're in the country.
For information about when to go …
explains that Brazil's size creates considerable climate variation depending on what part of the country you visit. Brazil is also in the southern hemisphere, which means the seasons will be opposite those in North America (summer lasts from December to March in Brazil).
bases most of its "when to go" recommendations on the activity in Brazil, noting that the holiday schedule greatly affects airfare and hotel prices and whether Brazilians will be spending time indoors with their families or enjoying festivities out in the streets. A good review of the weather patterns, including general temperatures for the regions of Brazil, is also provided.
For a few Portuguese phrases …
Language section covers Portuguese, including lessons and multimedia features geared specifically to beginner- and intermediate-level speakers, and to those in need of a language “Quick Fix” before a trip.
The Brazilian Tourism Office
offers this page of useful Portuguese phrases. The main disadvantage is that there are no audio files, so you’ll have to figure out pronunciation on your own.
For currency conversion …
is a reliable and comprehensive provider of foreign currency information on the Web. The site’s “FXConverter” provides up-to-date conversions for all world currencies in an extremely user-friendly format.
Maybe you’ve got your heart set on arriving in Brazil via the mighty Amazon, or perhaps you need a flight that won’t break the bank. Below you’ll find general tools to help you find and book transportation anywhere in the world, as well as Brazil-specific sites catering to travelers who will settle for nothing less than an authentic journey.
- Flights to Brazil typically land at airports in São Paolo and Rio de Janeiro, both of which are served by most international airlines. From the United States, some of the airlines offering flights to Brazil are United Airlines, Continental, and Delta. It may be worth visiting individual airlines’ Web sites to find slightly lower fares; airfare search sites sometimes tack on extra fees for their services.
- If you want help contacting a Brazilian airport directly, visit the Brazil Tourism Portal for an interactive map that provides airport contact information.
- A number of great discount airfare sites like Kayak and Sidestep provide the same basic service: they search through flights to any destination by collecting and comparing values from various consolidators (like Travelocity and Orbitz) and individual airlines. For more on the differences between these sites and how best to use them, see the findingDulcinea Travel Web Guide.
- For travelers planning a more inclusive South American sojourn, consider a Mercosur Air Pass, which is valid for flights between Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile for up to 45 days. The cost of a pass varies depending on how many miles you intend to fly. For additional details, visit Aerolineas Argentinas, the site of the Argentinean airline. To learn more about different countries on the continent, see our findingDulcinea South America Travel Web Guide.
- Train travel between South American countries is not a popular or generally safe option. In fact, there is a backpacker train often referred to as the “Train of Death” that travels between Bolivia and Brazil.
- You can take a bus to Brazil from Paraguay, Argentina, or Uruguay on relatively good roads. However, you’ll probably have to purchase tickets when you arrive, as most bus Web sites for South America are neither helpful nor in English. The National Land Transport Authority of Brazil provides listings for international bus lines, but only in Portuguese.
- It is possible to reach Brazil from Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela via an old-fashioned Amazon River Boat, but the trip is a 12-day upriver marathon, making it more of an expedition than a mode of transportation.
For an overview of getting there …
offers an organized rundown of tips and advice regarding transportation to Brazil. In addition to information about crossing Brazil's borders to enter or leave the country, Lonely Planet explains air, bus, and car options.
For air travel …
The Brazilian Tourism Office
lists several airlines with routes between the United States and Brazil and offers links to their respective Web sites. If you're wary of planning your travel arrangements on your own, a listing of Brazil travel specialists
is also provided.
BootsnAll Travel Network
finds flights to Brazil and other South American destinations from many U.S. cities. Try "Flights to Brazil"
for a short list of destination cities in Brazil. Select your destination city and then the U.S. city you will be traveling from to search for flights.
allows you to search flights from many of the most competitive discount services. Among the companies represented on the site are Expedia.com, Orbitz, CheapTickets, Kayak, and Travelocity.
is Brazil’s national airline, offering service to and within the country. Varig reaches 14 destinations within Brazil; consult this site for news, routes, and timetables.
Brazil oozes excitement and color, and you can find accommodations capturing the country’s most enticing qualities, and Brazil hotel deals to suit any budget. Below are sites showing a variety of hotels, eco lodges, and budget-friendly hostels.
- If you use a service to book a hotel, the agency will often charge you. Use the sites below to narrow your hotel choices, and then contact each one directly to compare their price to the agency’s price.
- Brazil is a hotbed for ecotourism, and you’ll find countless resorts and lodges capitalizing on the trend, some of which don’t live up to all their claims. Before you book, be aware that true ecotourism is sustainable and benefits locals. Learn more by consulting the International Ecotourism Society.
For hotels …
offers a wide variety of hotel options. Choose your accommodation in a variety of categories including boutique, luxury, golf, casino, beach, spa, ski, and apartment accommodations. Don't miss the "Local Events"
section for a list of events taking place around Brazil.
The Accommodation Search Engine
boasts a database of more than 150,000 properties. In the Brazil section, click on the town name or enter a location or property name into the search tool. The site includes hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, and holiday rentals in its search results.
The New York Times
has an eye-opening article on innovative lodges in the Amazon, which fairly recently developed in response to a growing interest in ecological and adventure tourism. The accommodations featured in the piece allow travelers to go far into the jungle without sacrificing luxury and comfort. Regardless of whether you can afford these pricey lodgings, the article is worth a look for its detailed account of Amazonian surroundings.
For hotel reviews …
collects user reviews of hotels throughout Brazil and other places in South America. Click in the "Hotels"
categories to read and view ratings on numerous establishments. Interesting anecdotes and pictures accompany user opinions.
For ecotourism …
is a tourism directory in favor of minimizing environmental impact and benefiting local people. The site maintains a list of tourism operators offering holidays in Brazil, all of which have been carefully screened and determined to be acting in accordance with the organization’s mission.
For hostels …
is part of the Hostelworld.com network. Book reservations at hostels all over the country. Listings in each city come with a description of the facility and a customer satisfaction rating that includes such aspects as security, cleanliness, staff, and location.
Navigating a foreign country, particularly with the challenges that language barriers can pose, is rarely an easy task. To ease the transition, use the Web to become familiar with the transportation options in Brazil before you arrive.
- If you’re planning on flying around Brazil, you have two options: purchase a 21-day Brazil Air Pass or book flights individually, which may save more money, according to Brazil Travel News.
- Travel by passenger train in Brazil isn't that common or reliable. Thus most of the sites we’ve included in this section focus on road and air travel.
- Consider hopping on a boat going up the Amazon River to experience Brazil’s ecological attractions. The Amazon begins just east of Manaus, Brazil, and is made up of two main rivers: the Rio Negro and the Solimoes. You can catch a boat in Manaus and take it all the way to Tabatinga, which is bordered by Leticia, Columbia, and Santa Rosa, Peru. For further details of the trip, visit Pacific Island Travel, and for insider tips regarding prices and schedule of riverboats consult Virtual Tourist.
- It is best to book basic boat trips once you’ve arrived at a port; for more luxurious boat tours, online tour providers are your best bet.
- Buses can take you all over Brazil, but you’ll probably have to purchase tickets once you’ve reached a rodoviária (bus station) in the country. Online, you’ll find schedules and routes but most information is in Portuguese.
For general travel information …
offers some general travel information tips, whether you're interested in traveling around Brazil by train, plane, car, or bus.
For maps …
has a basic map of Brazil to help you get a feel for the layout of cities, bodies of water, and bordering countries.
provides a driving map of Brazil. Click on the basic map to zoom in for highways around the country, or try the “Hybrid” and “Satellite” versions for different views of the country.
For air travel …
discloses some helpful hints about internal flights in Brazil, including which airline is typically cheapest and which carriers fly in particular regions of Brazil.
BR Online Travel (BROL)
notes that one of the most economical and practical ways to travel around Brazil is with a Brazil Air Pass. Learn more and purchase an Air Pass on this site.
is Brazil’s national airline, and was also mentioned in the “How will I get to Brazil?” section. Varig flies to 14 destinations within Brazil. Check here for news, routes, and timetables but be aware that domestic flights in Brazil are not cheap.
For rail travel …
offers advice on how to travel by train through countries in South America; scroll down to find specific information on train travel in Brazil. The site details various train routes and reviews the experiences. Text is supplemented with links to rail services in a number of countries.
provides metro rail routes for featured cities in South America, including Recife, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, São Paolo, and Porto Alegre. Click the city of your choice for a description of its rail services, along with a map of the travel route and a history of its infrastructure.
For buses …
offers a helpful overview of bus options in Brazil, including the advice that, although bus companies are not difficult to find while you’re traveling, you probably won’t be able to book your ticket online unless you speak Portuguese.
Brazil Travel Blog
offers an essential resource for anyone planning to travel by bus in Brazil. In this entry, the writer provides links to bus companies (whose sites are in Portuguese only) and gives step-by-step instructions for how to use the sites to find bus timetables and prices.
For transportation on the Amazon River …
offers a few recommended boat-tour options on the Amazon River. There’s a promising variety of options for general boat tours, luxury voyages, and information about the most basic option: old-style riverboats.
presents travel stories and photos from real people, including a recent entry about a riverboat journey from Manaus to Tabatinga. You’ll see photos of the wooden riverboat and the people and sights encountered along the way.
For driving …
lists car rental companies with local service in Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Fortaleza, and Salvador. Scroll down to “Browse by Destination” to find the cities and link to operators like Avis and Hertz. Be advised that you’ll have to scroll past ads at the top of the pages to reach content.
For travel by taxi …
has some helpful tips about finding a legitimate taxi driver in Brazil to ensure that you won’t be scammed.
Personal accounts in blogs and forums often capture high and low points of a country that many sites and guidebooks leave out. Below: the real Brazil.
- When you're reading travel blogs, remember that many travelers will often have different goals than yours. Some are seeking adventure whereas others want culture or a taste of a country's nightlife. It's a good idea to read a variety of blogs to get a more complete idea of travelers' experiences.
- Some travel guides offer message boards for travelers to discuss their opinions and ask questions. Frommer's is just one example so if you have a favorite travel guide publisher, check its Web site for these useful forums.
is mentioned elsewhere in this guide for its coverage of riverboats traversing the Amazon; this particular page is filled with blog entries and forum discussions about Brazil. Read "Best Waterfalls in the World"
for a review of the Iguazu Falls that comes with some great photographs, or "Brazil, beans and broccoli"
to learn about one woman's journey down the Amazon. To participate in the forums, you’ll have to register for a free TravelPod account.
has a Brazil section that details a brief history of Brazil and links to a map, photos, a forum and over 2,000 blogs in which travelers have shared their experiences. Choose an area in Brazil to find a blog of interest and start reading. Most of the entries here are pretty short but you might pick up a gem or two that can help you plan your trip.
helps you plan a vacation to Brazil with tips and reviews from travelers who have visited the country. Search for helpful hints by “Popular Destinations in Brazil” or by “Regions in Brazil.” Don’t miss the “Top 5 Pages About Brazil,” listed below the "Regions in Brazil" for worthwhile insight and stunning photos.
maintains travel guides comprised of user-generated stories, advice, and photos, as well as practical information courtesy of the Frommer’s
travel guidebooks. For Brazil, there are numerous travel blogs, bits of personal advice, and colorful photos to help you get prepared for your trip.
Brazil Travel Blog
is written by a Spaniard living in São Paolo and contains firsthand information on the author’s recent excursions around the country, cultural insight, food and drink, practical information, and more, all organized in the “Categories” list on the right sidebar. There’s also a handy “q & a” list
that is a compilation of every question answered in the blog since its inception.
is a comprehensive source of travel advice and news. The site publishes travelogs (dispatches) and maintains blog entries covering various topics relevant to travelers. This section is a compilation of blog entries about Brazil, including past news stories, books and recently published articles about the country, and general tourism happenings.
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