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Brazil Travel Guide

Brazil is the largest country in South America and fifth largest in the world. First time travelers to Brazil may feel slightly overwhelmed by the vastness of the place and find it difficult choosing one city to visit, but most Brazil flights stop in either Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo. From there, travelling around the rest of the country is easy. Just prepare yourself for a country of infinite beauty.

Firstly, one cannot talk about Brazil without mentioning the Amazon. Hidden behind unexplored rainforests are calm rivers and lavish land. Travelers booking trips to Brazil with the intention of touring the Amazon – which encompasses around 2.7 million square miles of river and jungle spread across nine different countries (the majority of which is located in Brazil) - have loads of options. Entry into the Amazon is available via bus, boat or airplane. Manaus is the most populous city located in the Amazon rainforest and is the capital of the large state of Amazonas; it is also considered to be the gateway for travelers wanting to visit the surrounding rainforest. In addition to the Amazon, you'll find your fair share of adventure in Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland area which is located mainly in western Brazil's Mato Grosso do Sul state.

But there’s more to do in Brazil than just play in the jungle. Book a trip to Rio de Janeiro – a city so seductive it leaves visitors wanting more. Here you’ll find the popular resort areas of Copacabana and Ipanema, where five-star accommodations line the sparkling beaches and people lounge in style. Rio is undoubtedly Brazil’s heart and soul, and of course, where Carnival takes place every year attracting thousands to book flights to Brazil. During the city’s Carnival and New Year, people are in full party mode - a little dancing on the sand isn’t unheard of in Rio. For those looking for the secluded legendary beaches of Brazil, head further northeast to Recife, Fortaleza and Natal. And while Rio is known as the party city, Sao Paulo is where Brazil’s financial center lies and is also its richest city. Further north, the city of Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia, was once the country’s main arrival port for ships carrying slaves from Africa. Now, it’s home to a buzzing and vibrant atmosphere. Then there’s the capital of Brazil, Brasilia, which may not be as much of a tourist hot spot as Rio or other cities, but does have the distinction of being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its modern architecture and unique urban planning.

While the natural beauty of Brazil will surely leave you awestruck upon first glance, the thing most people notice first when they visit Brazil is the eclectic mix of its people, which numbers over 200 million in total. Brazil is one the most diverse countries in the world as immigrants from Portugal, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and indigenous Indian population have been living harmoniously here for generations. Together they make up a truly unique cultural landscape. Sao Paulo has the largest Japanese community outside of Japan while Rio Grande do Sul, Parana and Santa Catarina in the south have the highest concentration of Germans and Italians.

Undoubtedly, when you think of Brazil several things spring to mind; its joie de vie attitude, stunningly beautiful people, untamed landscapes, soccer-mad fans and a party lifestyle. However, like every country on earth, Brazil has its issues including areas with high levels of poverty and violent crime. But with a growing economy, the country's future is looking bright.

With so much to see and do, you are going to have to make sure you plan ahead to make the most of your Brazilian escape. Whether flights to Brazil take tourists to the jungle or to the beach, there is undoubtedly a good time to be had. Here are some tips to help you plan and enjoy the smoothest possible trip to Brazil.

What’s the weather like in Brazil?

Brazil is an enormous country and has many climatic regions. In fact, it has five: equatorial, tropical, semi-arid, highland tropical and subtropical. Sao Paulo and Brasilia, on the plateau, have a mild climate with average temperatures ranging in the mid 60’s to 70’s (Fahrenheit) throughout the year. Coastal cities, including Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Natal and Salvador, have warmer climates balanced by the trade winds. Rio's average temperature of low to mid 70’s (Fahrenheit) rises to the high 70’s, low 80’s, during summer (December, January and February in Brazil). However, there may also be days where the temp in Rio goes beyond 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. The southern Brazilian cities of Porto Alegre and Curitiba are subtropical, with hot summers and frosts and temperatures that sometimes reach below zero in winter. In the Amazon, days are generally warm, wet and humid but temperatures rarely rise above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Generally speaking, the rainy season in Brazil picks up in November and lasts through May, as well as a not-so-rainy season, which goes from June to October.

When is the best time to fly to Brazil?

Peak Season:

The peak season in Brazil, and the summer season, is during the winter in the U.S, due to the fact that Brazil lies in the Southern Hemisphere. That means the warmest time of year for flights to Brazil is between December and March. This is also when flights and accommodations are most expensive as well. Christmas can be a fantastic time of year to spend a week or two in Brazil, and in February there is the extravagant Carnival which shouldn't, and couldn't, be missed if you are in Brazil at that time of year. However, for events like Carnival and such, it’s extremely important to book your flights to Brazil as early as you possibly can to save money. The week of Easter is also another popular time to visit.

Off Season:

May to October is the winter time, but if you're happy with temperatures in the middle to high 60’s (Fahrenheit), then you can grab cheap flights to Brazil then. In fact you can find bargains on your flight tickets if you book in advance during the winter. There are also less crowds and cheaper accommodation rates, making the off season a perfect time to visit.

When is the best time to book a flight to Brazil?

You should book your flights to Brazil as soon as you can afford it. The prices generally creep up the closer to the date of desired travel and bargains are only found if you book early for the winter months. If you are visiting during a special event or for the Carnival, you should book months in advance to find the cheapest flights to Brazil. If however you are flexible with your vacation time, you can scout the net for a week or so and decide which month offers the cheapest flights to Brazil, and then research if there are any events near that time. If you do search for flights regularly, make sure to delete your cookies to get cheaper results.

How long is the flight to Brazil?

On average, flights from the United States to Brazil last nine hours. There are many direct flights to major cities, such as Rio de Janeiro. Nonstop flights from New York City to Rio de Janeiro are approximately ten hours, from Los Angeles about thirteen hours, from Chicago about eleven hours, and from Miami just under nine hours. Nonstop flights to Sao Paulo are similar. Other Brazilian cities to consider include Brasilia, Porto Seguro, and Fortaleza.

Which airlines fly to Brazil?

Several U.S. major airlines fly to Brazil, so you should be able to find a carrier that services your city. Look for flights with Delta, United, or American Airlines.       LATAM Airlines Brasil and Azul Linhas Aereas Brasileira are the major Brazilian air carriers with flights to and from the United States.

What should you pack for a flight to Brazil?

Brazil is a large country with a tropical climate ranging from 60 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so you will want to pack plenty of clothes suitable for warm weather. Since it is in the southern hemisphere, the coolest temperatures are from May/June to September/October, while the hottest times begin in December. Casual clothes, such as tank tops, sundresses, or shorts, are perfect, with a few light jackets and longer pants for when the sun drops. If you are going to the beach, a swimsuit, cover-up, and sandals are a must. You will also want to wear sunglasses during the day, and insect repellent if you plan on touring the Amazon.

How to get around Brazil

There are multiple international airports in Brazil, including Rio de Janeiro-Galeao International Airport, better known as Galeao International Airport (GIG), and Sao Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (GRU), officially called Governador Andre Franco Montoro International Airport. Here are a few tips for getting to where you need to go from each of these airports.

Sao Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport:

Sao Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport is the busiest in Latin America and is around 18 miles away from the city. The main transportation to and from the airport is a taxi. The best taxis to get are blue and white Guarucoop radio taxis. These are safer than the “common” taxis and you're more likely to get a fairer fee. You'll know the difference as the common ones are normally plain white. There are also several bus options too, the cheapest being a budget bus to the Metro (subway system) and then continuing your journey from there.

Rio de Janeiro-Galeao International Airport:

The city center is located around 10 miles or so from the airport. To get there, air conditioned buses run every twenty or thirty minutes from the airport to the beaches and downtown Rio, and are a great option for tourists wanting to ride some local transport and save some money (as opposed to a taxi) while also getting conveniently to their hotel. The bus stops along the route on request so you can get off pretty much exactly where you want. You can also get a taxi directly to your hotel, but these will set you back more than a bus unless you can split the fare between a few people. If that’s the case, taxis can be a great option. It's best to use a pre-paid booth to order your taxi to ensure you don't get ripped off.

If you are looking to go beyond Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, it cannot be overstated how huge the country of Brazil really is. The best (though not the cheapest) way to get around the country is by taking domestic Brazil flights. If you're planning to visit a few regions or cities within the country, purchase a Brazil Airpass when booking your airline ticket as it will help you to save some money when traveling within Brazil.

In major cities the most convenient, and safest, way to get around is by taxi. Buses are a good, reliable option for long-distance travel, and all major cities are linked by bus. Major cities like Rio and Sao Paulo also have subway systems which you can use as well. While rental cars are available at the airport, be warned that driving can be incredibly frustrating and often dangerous within the country.

What are some things to do in Brazil?

Brazil has a thriving beach culture and one of the most famous beaches is the Copacabana in downtown Rio. Walk through the streets along the beachfront to visit cafes, restaurants, and upscale boutiques, then settle down in the sand for a lazy day of lounging in the sun. Further along the coast in the town of Pernambuco is Porto de Galinhas, a more laid-back beach where you can scuba dive to coral reefs, take a sailboat out to watch tropical fish, or kayak through the lagoons.

If you plan your trip for February, you won’t want to miss Carnival, a colorful celebration that happens annually before Lent. In Rio, sit in one of the Sambodromo boxes for a front seat view of the parades of samba dancers in their extravagant costumes. Carnival happens in most Brazilian cities, so check out some smaller ones in places such as Recife or Bahia.

Adventure-lovers will find plenty to do, such as the subtropical rainforest, Iguacu National Park. Take a hike to catch a glimpse of many species of birds and animals, or walk out on one of the bridges at Iguacu Falls to get a panoramic view of 247 waterfalls. For a trip through the Amazon rainforest, head to Manaus to catch a boat to Encontro das Aguas, where the waters meet, or Janauari Ecological Park, with several ecosystems you can explore.  Closer to Rio de Janeiro is Sugarloaf, with gorgeous viewpoints over the city, and Tijuca National Park, where you can get up close to the 2,326 foot Christ the Redeemer stature.

Those seeking culture and history will find it in Brazil, from art museums to colonial architecture. Take a trip to Sao Paulo to the Museu de Arte, which displays works from the Renaissance through the present. Museu de Arte Contemporanea in Ibirapuera Park houses one of the largest collections of 20th century art in South America. Step back in time with a walking tour through the winding streets of Ouro Preto or Cidade Alta, colonial towns featuring Baroque and Rococo architecture carved in gold.

Tips for your stay in Brazil

  • Rio de Janeiro is Brazil's heart. It hosts one of the world's biggest and most colorful parties each year - Carnival. Each February the city switches to party mode with thousands participating in the samba parade and dancing till the early hours of the morning.
  • Located right in the city of Rio is Parque Nacional da Tijuca. Escape from the hustle and bustle and hike through the rainforest’s lush greenery.
  • Head up 1,300 feet by cable car to Pão de Açúcar, or Sugarloaf in English, for the most magnificent views of the city. Then visit the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain.
  • Book a ticket to a football match at Maracanã Stadium and soak up the unique atmosphere - 100,000 passionate fans cheering on their team.
  • Want to get away from it all? Go kayaking in the serene Amazon. Explore the rainforest by taking a guided tour, then sit back and enjoy a meal prepared by the tour’s chef.
  • Adrenaline seekers can’t miss hang gliding at 2,624 feet above the city of Rio. The views are extraordinary.

Finding Flights from Brazil

Want to use Brazil as a base for exploring the rest of South America, or some other destination? Cheapflights can help get you there. LATAM Airlines Brasil, Gol Airlines, Avianca Airlines, and Azul Linhas Aereas Brasileira fly out of many major Brazilian airports, so you are sure to find a flight that works for you.

Also, since Brazil is such a large country, flying is often the best way to get around it. Some popular flights include Rio de Janeiro to Igaucu Falls, which takes approximately two hours, and Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia, which takes about one and a half hours. You can find terrific flight deals for popular routes from Brazil at https://www.cheapflights.co.uk.

When taking a flight from Brazil, you'll want to arrive at the airport with plenty of time to board your flight. Popular times to visit Brazil are during Easter week or from December to Carnival season in February. These are peak times and the airports may be especially hectic.

Once you choose a destination and departure city, be sure to check out our Brazil airport guides for detailed travel information and helpful tips.

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More useful information about Brazil

  • Some travelers take last minute flights to Brazil for the resort areas of Copacabana and Ipanema.
  • People book one way flights to Brazil to be close to the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer.
  • If you’re a soccer buff then you can’t miss a game at the soccer mecca of the world: Maracanã Stadium.
  • Take a cable car up 1300 feet to Pão de Açúcar and see breathtaking views.
  • There are five climatic regions in Brazil: equatorial, tropical, semi-arid, highland tropical and subtropical.
  • During Carnival and New Year Eve, people are in full party mode.
  • Hike through the tropical jungle of the Parque Nacional da Tijuca in Rio.
  • Many travelers book direct flights to Brazil with the intention of touring the Amazon.

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How much do things cost in Brazil?

3 course meal for 2 $30.69
Cinema ticket $7.67
Local draught beer (0.5 liter) $1.84
Gasoline $5.23
Large bottle of water $0.90
Taxi - fixed fee $1.53
1 hour taxi waiting fee $8.89
Pair of jeans $58.96
Cheap meal $6.14
Bottle of local beer (0.5 liter) $1.44