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A first-timer’s guide to holidaying in Brazil
If you’d like to combine intoxicating and lively nightlife with idyllic beaches and natural wonders, then Brazil is the place to be. Immerse yourself in the ever-present carnival atmosphere, in a country where with the sound of samba and bossa nova play the perfect soundtrack to your incredible holiday in Brazil.
Such a vast and scenically diverse country defies belief. Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, so you may struggle to see it all in one trip. There are tours that include Rio, the Amazon and Iguaçu Falls, or you can pick your must-see highlights and let us do all the planning for you. First time visitors should start their magical getaway in Rio - watch the sunset from Sugar Loaf Mountain, gaze at the iconic Christ the Redeemer and lap up the sun on the heavenly beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema.
A trip to see the thundering Iguaçu Falls may be high on your list - one of the world’s most breathtaking sights, it’s well worth the short flight from Rio. Trek through the Amazon jungle or take a boat trip to see an abundance of plants, wildlife and local villages. Go wildlife spotting in the Pantanal and maybe even spot the elusive Jaguar. Or, relax in chic resorts and tranquil villages on the Bahian coast. Wherever you go, a holiday to Brazil promises the trip of a lifetime and incredible memories for everyone.
For more information on Brazil or perhaps extending your trip to combine with another South American country, give our Travel Experts a call. They can help create your perfect pairing of sights and experiences and ensure that all your travel needs are met.
What’s in this guide?
• When to go
• Flights and transfers
• Visa Requirements
• Vaccinations and health
• Time difference
• Festivals and events
• Food, drink and nightlife
When to go
Brazil’s warm tropical climate mean it can be enjoyed year-round. There are some regional changes, but nothing too extreme that would prevent you from travelling as Brazil is in the Southern hemisphere and doesn’t get cold very often. November to March are the hottest months to travel.
The northeast of Brazil has a rainy season from April to July and Rio and the south of Brazil can experience some rain from October to January, but the showers are usually over quite quickly.
Flight and transfers
Flights to Rio de Janeiro International take approximately 12.5 hours, British Airways provide regular direct flights from London Heathrow to both Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Indirect flights are also available from United Airlines and American Airlines, with daily indirect flights via the USA.
Our resorts are situated within a reasonable travelling distance from the airport, but your transfer times will depend on your chosen resort. Usually the driving times can be anything from five minutes to one hour. Pre-book your transfer arrangements with us, and you will be met by a Tropical Sky representative who will guide you to your transfer vehicle.
UK passport holders do not require a visa to enter Brazil. However, passports must be valid for at least six months and a return ticket and proof of sufficient funds may be requested on arrival. Tourists will be admitted for a stay of up to 90 days which is extendable, at the discretion of the Federal Police, for a further 90 days. British Citizens travelling to Brazil require a full British passport which must be valid for 6 months after departure from this country. All travellers should check full entry requirements prior to travel by visiting the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) website or by contacting the relevant embassy.
The official language in Brazil is Portuguese. English isn’t widely spoken here, with the exception of some tourist areas, so you may want to write down any addresses you need before using taxis or buses.
Buses: The bus network in Brazil is great and is suitable for both short and long-distance travel. It’s by far the cheaper option, particularly if you’re travelling to neighbouring cities.
By taxi: Taxis here are very cheap and readily available – there are two rates, with Rate 1 being cheaper and Rate 2 reserved more for airport transfers and Sundays. If you’re travelling by taxi in more rural areas, it’s unlikely that there will be a metre so check the fare in advance.
Car: It’s relatively easy to rent a car in Brazil, with several local and international companies to choose from. The rates are reasonable and car rental offices can be found at all airports here. However, driving standards in Brazil are notoriously erratic so be cautious.
The currency in Brazil is the Real (R$). US Dollars and Euros are usually accepted by hotels and souvenir shops in the cities, or easily exchanged in banks if need be.
Electricity supplies vary between 110V and 220V depending on where you’re travelling to, so check before using. Plugs are two-pinned.
Vaccinations and health
There are no specific vaccinations currently required to enter Brazil, but Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio and Hepatitis A are advised. Check with your GP or specialist travel clinic before travelling for any specific information regarding your travel, vaccine or medical history.
Brazil gets very hot, so be sure to wear plenty of high factor sun cream and avoid excessive sun exposure where possible. Tap water varies depending on where you go, but most Brazilians prefer to have it filtered to remove impurities – bottled water is readily available.
GMT: -3 hours
Festivals & events
Brazil’s breathtaking week-long Carnival is the ultimate party. This colourful parade is one of the biggest and most famous in the world and takes places every year just before Lent. The beat of samba fills the air amid an impressive blur of colourful costumes and floats. Admire the elaborately dressed dancers in their feathers and sequins and not much else and listen to the drums and whistles as the crowds through themselves into the spirit of the Carnival celebrations. There are calmer carnivals and festivals throughout the year in Brazil too, which are just as fun and worthwhile experiences. The Winner’s Parade, which takes place just after Carnival, is one such example. You’ll see the winning samba groups and still experience the sights and sounds, but with less crowds and intensity and without the lengthy minimum-stay restrictions from Rio’s hotels.
Brazilians are fanatical about football, so you shouldn’t miss any opportunity to catch a game at the Maracaña Stadium in Rio. It’s the largest stadium in the world and the atmosphere is always electric.
Food, drink and nightlife
Brazilian food doesn’t really fall into one specific category of cuisine, as it tends to reflect a variety of regional tastes and culture. As such, there’s a wealth of culinary delights to try. The closest Brazil gets to a national dish is feijoada, which is a stew of sausage, pork leftovers, smoked ribs and jerky which is cooked until tender and served with pork crackling and orange garnish. You can try this tasty dish in many restaurants on a Saturday, where it’s served all day long and usually accompanied by shots of cachaça. The best way to drink cachaça though is in a caipirinha, a delectable cocktail that consists of rum mixed with crushed ice and plenty of sugar.
Head to Rio-Janeiro if you’re looking for a great night out – this vibrant city has some of the best samba clubs in all of Brazil. The ancient city of Salvador, Brazil’s former capital has a strong African influence. The cuisine is a fusion of Brazilian, Portuguese and African and the music and dance are quite unique. The nightlife in Sao Paolo offers plenty of choice, as you’d expect from one of the world’s largest cities. There are chic nightspots, unique dining places and fantastic live music venues throughout this cosmopolitan city. You’ll find many museums and galleries in Ibirapuera Park and the Jardim District is well known for its great shopping opportunities and café culture.