How To Visit Brazil – Sao Paulo, Rio & Iguazu

Interested in visiting Brazil but wondering how to visit Brazil given its size and array of cities? Brazil has a lot to offer visitors, which means you can easily cater your visit based on your budget, time and what you want to get out of your vacation. Regardless of who you are traveling with, be it solo, couple, parent or family or for how long your visit is, this destination guide is for you!

Below you will find; 

  • Brazil knowledge and recommendations
  • My own experience based on my visits
  • City destinations you should add to your trip and why

So you’ve picked your bucket list destination, let me help you start planning your adventure.

How To Visit Brazil Table Of Contents

How To Visit Brazil - Batman Alley Sao Paulo
Photo credit - @pivaphoto

Top How To Visit Brazil Travel Questions

Q: When’s the best time to fly to Brazil? A: I’d say May/June or December. Great weather with slight rain in December.
Q: What are the top cities to visit? A: The top cities/countries to visit in Brazil are;

Sao Paulo (City)
Rio (More Tourist)
Iguazu (Nature)
Q: How to travel between cities?A: Depends on what and how you explore the country. I would recommend flights between cities. For example, Rio and Sao Paulo are a short 1 hour flight and are relatively cheap flights in terms of costs. Check flights HERE.
Q: Is Brazil Safe?A: As a tourist, one should always practice safe travel. In Brazil, don’t carry or show off valuables. Minimize the use of your phone in public as pickpockets are common and use Uber whenever possible.

Visit Brazil Travel Tips

The food is amazing for meat eaters.
English isn’t as common as you would think but there should always be at least one person nearby who speaks English. A big plus is if you know Spanish as this can help since it is similar to Portuguese.
Stick to tourist areas and don’t veer off to the outskirt parts of a city as this is where the real crime is.
Always keep watch for pick pockets as this is really the type of crime a tourist could come across while traveling in Brazil.
For public transport, we use Uber and it is still the most reliable form of transport.
To feel even more at ease and not have to worry about having to plan getting tickets, transport, etc. I would stick to tours. Saves you time planning and thinking when you are there, so it can actually feel like a trip.

Rio Tours
Iguazu Tours
Sao Paulo Tours
Book your travel through WayAway including accommodation as they work with Booking.com. Check it out HERE. 

Getting Around Cities In Brazil

Uber

Thankfully for travelers, Uber does operate in Brazil. Safe, easy to book and many cars available.

Rent A Car

If you prefer a road trip in Brazil, then consider renting a car. A far greater option to move around on your own schedule. See the best rentals HERE.

Cities To Visit In Brazil

Sao Paulo

Time To Spend

Suggest a 2 day stay as the city is a metropolis and I’m sure after your time in Sao Paulo, you will know exactly what is worth showing your family.

Top Sights To See 
  • Batman Alley– This is the neighborhood that is covered with street art and can be done via a tour as most tours are led by local artists. A good spot to visit shops and cafes or grab a drink in the many garden bars. Gallery @a7magaleria offers cool graffiti workshops and has some great art by local artists available.
  • Embu das Artes – 1 hour drive. Cool colonial town. 
  • Guaruja – If you are looking for beach fun close to Sao Paulo, then you have to do a 2 hour drive. This is the popular area to go to.
  • Ibirapuera Park – Largest city park in Latin America and it’s amazing. You never who you will see, including Arthur Fui (Pictured above @arthurfiu ), the Red Bull Capoeira athlete practising his craft with friends.
  • Paulista Avenue & historical center – Visit São Paulo’s Museum of Art (MASP) and historical center. The best day to experience the area is on Sundays when this avenue is closed for cars and full of activities.
  • Mercado Municipal de Sao Paulo – A great spot to try Brazilian specialties including the iconic mortadella sandwich. (Visit “Bar do Mane” as this is the spot that created this hearty sandwich). This 1933 building feels like a train station with one destination: a full belly. Inside of the market it is very safe but outside is another story so be sure to Uber there and back and don”t walk around the neighborhood. Combine this visit with a cooking class HERE.
  • Estadio do Pacaembu – The football museum which is free of charge can be found in this historic stadium.
Bonus Resource

Use my google maps guide HERE which includes additional sights to see, places to eat and stay.

Rio

You come to Rio for the beach and culture. Flights between Rio and Sao Paulo are reasonably priced. See direct flights HERE.

Time To Spend

I suggest a 4-5-day stay based on the amount of cities you want to cover and time available.

Top Sights To See 
  • Ipanema Beach – Sundays are good to visit here as they have a fair and market with live music, food, etc.
  • Sugar Loaf – The peak may be visited using the cable car for those who don’t want the trail walk.
  • Cristo Redentor 
  • Cococabana – This is the best area to stay in Rio.
  • Selaron Steps -This is close to a Favela, so I would suggest doing a tour that includes this as a stop.

Do This Tour HERE.

  • Highly rate this ½ day bike tour; small group, local guide and includes a visit to a favela/Selaron Steps, which you would want to do with a guide.

Iguazu

This is the point where Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina meet by this beautiful fall. 

Time To Spend

I suggest 2-3 day stay based on how your group travels and time available.

Points Of Interest  
  • Good visit if you want to experience more nature, rainforest, jungle vibes.
  • You can cross to the Argentina side while you visit.
  • The Brazil side gives you the best panoramic views of the falls. 

What To Eat In Brazil

Acarajé – Deep fried bean patty.

Mortadella – This is a sandwich you share with friends. It’s made with sliced mortadella sausage, cheese, mayo and mustard.

Açaí – This super food can be found everywhere from smoothies and fruit bowls. A great breakfast option.

Baião – A fried rice-esque dish with meat, bacon, greens and topped with melted butter.

Pão de Queijo – Cheese bread balls. A must try!

Escondidinho de Camarão – Creamy Shrimp topped with manioc puree and served with rice.

Caipirinhas – The national cocktail in Brazil and similar to a mojito. I would go for the classic and request it be made with Cachaças (Brazilian liquor) opposed to vodka.

Cachaças – Brazilian liquor

Brigadeiro – Chocolate truffle like sweet ball. Usually comes in white or chocolate versions but be warned that the chocolate version is the better one.

Final Note

In Brazil, I would say it’s not about being scared but more about being aware of what’s going on around you. Don’t come off as flashy tourists and keep an eye on your belongings. When I first visited, my group and I had no issues, aside from our final day. We let our guard down at the beach, since everything had been well so far. Unfortunately, someone tried to grab our backpack but we noticed quickly enough. They were only able to take our camera from the bag.

Other than that, I followed the “Brazil Travel Tips” mentioned in the beginning of this article and had a really great visit.

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