Brazil has gotten a lot of media attention in the last few months, and not for the happiest reasons. Coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions all over the world haven’t made it easy for us travelers planning our next adventure. But, if you are like me, we can’t help it: we need to keep dreaming. So why not Brazil? There is so much this amazing country has to offer! Home to amazing landscapes, the friendliest people, caipirinhas, and the world’s most famous carnival. Are you planning on backpacking Brazil? Then welcome to our destination.
PASSPORT AND VISA (FOR SOME)
For visiting Brazil, you will need to have a valid passport with at least 6 months’ validity from the arrival date. If you are from South America, a valid national ID will do.
Most countries don’t require a visa to enter Brazil as tourists. However, nationals of some countries do, and you can find them on this list:
Afghanistan – Albania – Algeria – Angola – Antigua and Barbuda – Saudi Arabia – Armenia – Azerbaijan – Bahrain – Bangladesh – Belize – Benin – Belarus – Botswana – Brunei – Burkina Faso – Burundi – Cape Verde – Cambodia – Cameroon – Canada – Cazaquistan – Chad – China Cyprus – Comoros – Ivory Coast – Cuba – Dominica – Egypt – the United Arab Emirates- Eritrea – Estonia – Ethiopia – Gabon – Gambia – Georgia – Ghana – Grenada – Guinea – Guinea-Bissau – Equatorial Guinea – Haiti – India – Indonesia – Iran – Iraq – Cook Islands – Fiji Islands – Kiribati Islands – Maldives Islands – Marianas Islands – Mauritius Islands – Solomon Islands – Seychelles Islands – Tuvalu Islands – Jamaica – Jordan – Kenya – Kyrgyzstan – Kosovo – Kuwait – Laos – Lesotho – Latvia – Lebanon – Liberia – Libya -Macedonia – Madagascar
Malawi – Mali – Mauritania – Micronesia – Moldova – Mongolia – Montenegro – Mozambique – Myanmar / Burma – Nauru – Nepal – Nicaragua – Niger Nigeria – Oman – Palau – Palestine – Papua New Guinea – Pakistan – Qatar Kingdom of Bhutan – Central African Republic – Republic of Congo – Republic of Malta – Democratic Republic of Congo – Dominican Republic – Rwanda – Western Samoa – Saint Kitts and Nevis – Saint Tomé and Principe – Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – Saint Lucia – Senegal – Sierra Leone – Singapore – Syria – Somalia – Sri Lanka – Swaziland – Sudan – South Sudan – Taiwan – Tanzania – Tajikistan – East Timor – Togo – Tonga – Turkmenistan – Uganda – Uzbekistan – Vanuatu – Yemen – Djibouti – Vietnam – Zambia – Zimbabwe
Make sure you check the current requirements in your embassy website or Brazil’s migration site, before planning your trip to Brazil.
Any traveler excepted for a visa can stay in Brazilian territory for up to 90 days. Before that time is over, you can extend your permanency time for another 90 days. If you fail to leave the country on time, you will be charged with a fee of 100 reais for every extra day.
Extending your permanency is really easy. But unlike Peru, you will have to present the request in person. So check out Brazil’s migration site to find the closest office in your location. You will have to pay 100 reais as a processing fee.
To visit brazil you won’t be obligated to get any vaccine. However, you should keep in mind that yellow fever is not uncommon in the country, especially in jungle areas. So we strongly advise getting the Yellow Fever vaccine at least 10 days before you travel.
Make sure you have your vaccination agenda up to date before going to Brazil. And pay special attention to immunity against hepatitis and tetanus.
Mosquito transmitted diseases are very prevalent in Brazil. Don’t forget to always use repellent to avoid Dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya.
Brazilian’s unique culture was born of the encounter of African, Indigenous, and European ethnicities. The result is an incredibly wealthy mix, that reflects in the country’s food, music, and the warm spirit of their people.
The official language in Brazil is Portuguese. But it’s certainly different from the one spoken in Portugal. As time was passing by, and different cultures intervened, Brazilian’s Portuguese grew apart from Portugal’s Portuguese.
There are also over 180 indigenous languages spoken in Brazil, in addition to other languages brought by immigrants. But you will mostly encounter Portuguese during your backpacking adventure in Brazil.
The currency used in Brazil is the Real. At the moment of writing this post, one dollar equals 5, 22 Brazilian reais.
The interesting thing about Brazilian currency is that it has been stable for a really long time. But during 2020, the value fluctuates constantly. So check out the updated values before exchanging your money.
Backpacking around Brazil can be really cheap, or it cannot. It depends mostly on what do you want to do and see, how much time you have and the kind of travel you want to experience. What does this mean? That if you are hoping to see 5 destinations in just one month, you would probably end up spending a lot in transportation. The same applies if you want to stay in luxury accommodations and hire day tours to see all the highlights.
These prices are the estimated cost of the basic stuff you will need when backpacking Brazil:
Brazil is known for being a tropical country. But it’s so extensive, that it holds a wide variety of climates and landscapes. So, depending on where you are going you will encounter different conditions.
The southern regions of Brazil have the 4 seasons marked during the year. But, even so, winter does not become so cold nor summer so hot. Moving north, the region that goes from Bahia to the North of the country, is the warmest throughout the year. The temperatures there remain more constant, and the only difference between winter and summer is the amount of rainfall.
Brazil is a rich country in nature. When you visit it, you will be able to see some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, yes. But also lagoons, rivers, waterfalls, deserts, and mountains.
So when you are planning your trip to Brazil, remember to pack mostly for summer but make sure you pack some rain clothes and light jackets too. A good pair of walking shoes is a good idea. But don’t forget your flipflops!
CAPITAL: Brasilia, even if the largest city is Sao Paulo!
AREA: 8.5M km2
TOP 5 TO DO:
1- Copacabana beach (RIO DE JANEIRO)
2- Christ the Redeemer (RIO DE JANEIRO)
3- Florianópolis (SANTA CATARINA)
4- Iguaçu Falls (FOZ DE IGUAÇU)
5- Amazon Rainforest (AMAZON)
Brazil is one of the most diverse countries regarding its culture. From one region to another, its people, its music, and its gastronomy can completely differ. Brazil is also the fifth-largest country in the world. It occupies over 42% of the South American territory.
As I longtime traveler, I’m proud to say Brazil is like my second home. I have lived in this country for almost 3 years – counting all the 3 times I came and left – and I’ve been blessed with the opportunity of getting to know its people and beauties.
Of course, as a backpacker and a resident, I haven’t always taken the most touristy trails. I’ve never gone to the Cristo Redentor in Rio, can you believe it? However, I got to know a lot of magical places I would like you to get to know too.
So here we go: check out some of the best destinations for backpackers in Brazil.
The first mandatory stop in Brazil is the beautiful Rio de Janeiro. Worldwide known for hosting the biggest carnival, Rio de Janeiro is a gigantic metropolis that receives over a million travelers a year.
When in Rio, Copacabana beach is a must. It’s the most iconic beach in Rio de Janeiro, along with Ipanema Beach. Take a walk around the seashore and swim a little bit. The water is clear and warm, and the surroundings are beautiful. It is a great spot for joying a football match in the sand and bond locals and travelers from all over the world.
Pan de Açucar is another must. It’s a hill almost 400 meters high. Surely you have seen photos of this natural scenery since it is one of the most iconic places in Rio. I recommend you to go up on the cable car for two main reasons. First, because is faster and easier. And second, because you will avoid putting your self at risk on the way up.
And, no one should leave Rio de Janeiro without visiting the famous Cristo Redentor. Well, except maybe for me! But I will be back soon to cross it from my bucket list!
If you are looking for more beaches, check out Arpoador Beach, Barra da Tijuca, Leblon, and Botafogo. You can’t run out of beaches to visit in Rio! And, for amazing views and contact with nature, why not going to the Tijuca National Park? Make sure you have enough time to visit Lage Park. Also, don’t miss the Botanic garden, a charming garden in the middle of the city.
There is so much to say about Rio! So we are working on a complete post about it. In the meantime, you can check out all the accommodations in Rio de Janeiro here.
Not many international travelers know about the lovely Armação dos Buzios, and that’s kind of a shame. Buzios was “placed in the map” thanks to Brigitte Bardot, a famous actress that discover this paradise in the sixties.
Armação dos Buzios is a marvelous peninsula, 170 kilometers away from Rio de Janeiro. It’s a place that Argentinians, Uruguayans, and Chilenians frequent a lot. So don’t be surprised if you hear more Spanish than Portuguese while you are there.
If you visit Buzios, you will be rewarded with 23 beautiful beaches, each one of them different in extension and landscapes. There are beaches perfectly fit for watersports, like surfing and standup paddling. The best one for this is Geriba.
If you are more into calm waters and gentle currents, try going to Tartaruga, João Fernandez, Azeda, and Azedinha. Those are great beaches to do some snorkeling and discover beautiful colorful fishes.
The place is filled with hills and natural paths, so it’s also a great spot if you love hiking. If that’s the case, you can hike from one beach to another instead of riding in the main avenue. Most of them are connected by hill paths. And the best hiking? Ponta do Pai Vitorio. Check it out and tell me if you agree.
Have I convinced you of visiting this incredible place? Then check out our complete travel guide to Buzios.
São Paulo is the gateway for most tourists in Brazil, as the cheapest flights from and to all over the world, land, and departure in its airport. It’s one of the biggest cities in Brazil and the most populated one.
If you are not a fan of big cities, you might want to skip it. I visited São Paulo once but the frenzy of the city drove me a little crazy. However, if you like them, São Paulo is a great place for you.
The first stop in São Paulo? The Avenida Paulista. A 2,7 kilometers extension avenue hosting the Museo de Arte de São Paulo, several cultural centers, and other interesting historical buildings.
You can use your time in São Paulo to take a free walking tour and get to learn some interesting facts about its history while enjoying the landmarks. And if you are looking for some night fun, you can check out Vila Madalena, a bohemian neighborhood famous for its animated nightlife.
But don’t just stay in the city. São Paulo’s surroundings are beautiful! You can use the occasion to go to Ubatuba, Ilhabela, Santos, São Sebastiao… There are countless stunning locations around São Paulo, and spending a few days getting to know them is a great idea.
The Iguazu Falls are considered one of the Natural Wonders in the World, and it’s easy to see why. Located in the border between Argentina and Brazil, the majestic waterfalls receive over a million and a half tourists a year.
It’s definitely a mandatory stop for backpackers in Brazil. We are talking about a national park that consists of 275 falls. 80% of them are located on the Argentinian side, so that means from the Brazilian side you will have an incredible view.
We highly recommend you to visit both sides of Iguazu Falls. It’s a common say that “from the Brazilian side, you can see the waterfalls, and from the Argentinian, you can live them.” And we absolutely want you to experience both.
When you are visiting this marvelous place, don’t forget to check out the Garganta del Diablo’s lookout. An impressive view of the waterfalls is waiting for you there.
And if you are looking for a romantic night, what would be best than a full moon walk through the park. You can hire a tour of any tourist agency. It departures 5 nights a month, and it includes a train ride and a guided trek.
Florianópolis is also known as the magic Island, or Ilha da Magia in the local language. Located in the Brazilian South, it’s a beautiful city divided between land and an island connected by a bridge. It’s the capital city of the Santa Catarina State, and it’s absolutely a must when backpacking Brazil.
If you love surfing and spending time on beautiful beaches, Florianopolis is the right destination for you. It’s also great for those who love hiking, as there are countless “trilhas” (small hiking paths) to enjoy.
There are 42 beaches in Florianópolis. Yep, that’s a lot! So you could easily spend a month there and never got to know them all. But just to put things easily, you should visit 3 specific regions of the island.
In the north, visit Jurere, Canasvieiras and Praia dos Ingleses. In the east center, Barra da Lagoa, Praia Mole Campeche and Joaquina. And in the south, visit Armaçao, Matadeiro, and Lagoinha do Leste, the main atraction.
The best places to stay on the Island are the north and the east center. Personally, after 3 months in Barra da Lagoa, I recommend the east center. You could check out Submarino Hostel, in Lagoa da Conceição, and get to know all the other zones from there.
It’s also a great idea to use your time in Florianópolis to visit some other near destinations in Brazil, like the beautiful Praia da Rosa. Located 80 kilometers away, this amazing beach is another must when backpacking Brazil.
Salvador de Bahia is the capital city of the Bahia State, in the Northeast region of Brazil. It’s a large city with lots of contrasts, where you will be able to enjoy incredible food, discover beautiful beaches and learn about Brazilian history and culture.
Salvador is where the African and American cultures had met. It was actually the first capital city in Brazil. That means it’s full of History. But, Besides finding a lot of history, you will find some of the most beautiful beaches in South America.
When backpacking in Brazil, you should definitely go to Salvador de Bahia at least for a few days. Among the best things to do there, visiting Pelourinho, the Historical Center in the city is the first mandatory one. There, you should try the typical aracaje. You will notice how local women are dressed in their typical white costumes.
While you are in the area, don’t forget to visit the famous Mercado Modelo. In there you will find lots of Artcraft I’m so venues and souvenirs. To do this, you should use the Lacerda elevator. I’m an iconic Long-running elevator.
The Nightlife in Salvador he’s one of the most animated in Brazil. if you’re looking for some night fun you should check out Rio Vermelho’s surroundings. But first, as the afternoon arrives, make sure you don’t miss the frequent performances of Odolum, a classic Afro-Brazilian percussion group.
Pelourinhot’s also a great place to find accommodation don’t I know they’re great ones. Other great places to stay in are Rio Vermelho and Barra. Check out all the accommodations in Salvador here.
Morro de São Paulo is an island located 64 kilometers away from Salvador de Bahia. It’s a growing touristic destination that receives more and more travelers every year. The beaches in this place are basically paradisiac. The water has a wonderful warmly temperature and the nature surrounding it is simply stunning.
Arriving in Morro requires some time and planning, but it’s completely worth it. You can buy your tickets in the Mercado Modelo, but remember to go early in the morning or buying them at least one day ahead.
In Morro, you will find some of the most stunning beaches in the country, beautiful nature, and a vibrant nightlife.
It’s a really famous destination for Backpackers in Brazil, especially people from Israel, Argentina, and Chile. You should stay at least four days in Morro de São Paulo to fully enjoy it. And I recommend you to take the Around the Island tour, so you won’t miss any spectacular spot.
We have written a complete travel guide to help you visiting Morro de São Paulo on a budget. Feel free to check it out.
Praia da Pipa is one of my personal favorites. Located in the Rio Grande do Norte State, just 40 kilometers away from Natal, this charming little town is famous for its natural beauty and its stunning biodiversity.
And, after spending 6 months in that amazing place, I have to recommend you to visit it. You will encounter incredible beaches surrounded by nature, wildlife all around, and a friendly youth atmosphere.
There are mainly 4 beaches in Praia da Pipa. The most characteristic one is Baia dos Golphinos. The water there is clear and warm. It’s surrounded by a giant natural cliff, which gives it a stunning view. And the best part, dolphins are swimming a few meters from the coast.
Pipa is also a great place to practice surf, sandboard, and stand up paddle. And a perfect destination for people backpacking Brazil looking to combine nature and nightlife fun.
It’s a small city, but it’s definitely worth staying at least a few days. If you want to know more about Pipa Beach, check out this Pipa travel guide we wrote for you.
Jericoacoara is a beautiful village in the Brazilian North region. It’s located in between the desert and the ocean, surrounded by dunes and magical blue water lagoons. Its streets are simply drawn in the sand, giving it a natural bohemian vibe. Animals wander free, people walk around barefoot, and the only transportation means you will need are your two feet.
It’s a beautiful destination that you shouldn’t miss when backpacking Brazil. Jericoacoara is located about 300 kilometers away from Fortaleza, the capital city of the Ceara State.
Arriving there is an adventure, as the only accessible path is trough the dunes. So you will have to book a 4×4 vehicle normally departing from Jijoca, a small nearby town.
The best things to do in Jericoacoara are, of course, enjoying the beach, going to the lagoons, watch the sunset in the “Por do Sol” dune, and having a fun night at the beach drinking a caipirinha.
If you plan to go include this destination in your itinerary, check out this complete guide to Jericoacoara we wrote.
Itacaré is a small fishermen town famous for hosting amazing waves to surf. It’s located in the Bahia State, almost 6 hours away from Salvador de Bahia.
It’s a famous destination for backpackers in Brazil. Just like Morro de São Paulo, is visited every year for thousands of Israeli tourist. It’s kind of incredible, but many locals have learned to speak Hebrew before English to provide better service for their visitors!
If you are looking for gorgeous beach destinations, please, consider Itacaré. Its beaches are some of the most amazing virgin-like paradises I’ve ever seen. There are around 15 different beaches there. And on top, there are also enchanting waterfalls, rivers, and hiking paths.
At night, the town center comes to life. Picturesque little bars are filled with young people from all over the world looking for fun. The main street, called Pituba, and the footbridge of the village are the places where the greatest number of people get together.
Check out also our complete travel guide to Itacaré.
Maceio is a beautiful city, capital of the Alagoas region, in the Brazilian Northeast region. Is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil. I dare to say, some of the most beautiful beaches on the continent. But besides its beaches, this coastal city has a lot to offer.
Between the best things to do in Maceió, you should spend a few days enjoying the urban beaches. Jatiuca, Ponta Verde, and Pajuçara are some of the best. To move from one to another, you could use the famous Orla. It’s a 4 kilometers-long boardwalk corridor that was recently elected as the most beautiful in the country.
You could use your time there to visit also some nearby beaches. Praia da Gunga and Praia do Frances are two great options. And, if you have some extra time, you won’t regret going to São Miguel dos Milagres.
Besides natural beauty, Maceió has a lot of history. Don’t forget to take a walk around the historic city center and get marvelous by the beautiful old buildings.
And if you are looking for some active nightlife, it’s definitely the place for it. So if you are considering going during your backpacking adventure in Brazil, check out this complete post on Maceió we wrote for you.
Sadly, we haven’t been in the Amazonas jungle just yet. But we are planning to do it soon! So stay tuned for our Amazonas travel guide.
But we’ve been told that, when you are backpacking in Brazil, the Amazon Jungle is an experience you shouldn’t miss. Especially if you are an adventurous soul.
The capital city of the Amazonas Brazilian State is Manaus. That’s also where most backpackers begin their adventures in the area. Once in Manaus, you can choose between a lot of different amazing experiences.
From what I know, you could navigate the Amazon River for a few days. And even get in contact with native indigenous tribes! There are also national parks, museums, and beaches. For now, we can recommend you this Lonely Planet Amazonas travel guide.
If you thought everything is brazil was about the beach, you were wrong. There is much more! And, in this case, I want to talk to you about an incredible natural park, the Chapada Diamantina.
It is an immense mountain region in the interior of the state of Bahia. There, you will find rivers, mountains, and stunning waterfalls.
To visit Chapada Diamantina you could go the municipalities of Lençóis, Mucugê, Andaraí, Ibicoara, Palmeiras, Rio de Contas, and Vale do Capão.
Personally, I decided to stay in Vale do Capão, and I recommend that you do so as well.
There are many treks to do in the area. Some are more difficult than others, and for those, you will need local guides. One of the best treks is the one that leads to Cachoeira da Fumaça. It is not complicated, and you can do it yourself.
If you are planning to go to Chapada Diamantina, I recommend you to stay at least 4 days. You will fall in love with the outstanding nature, the quietness, and the bohemian vibes.
And to make the experience more authentic, why not staying at an eco camping? Filhos da Floresta is a great choice. Check out here all the accommodations available in Vale do Capão.
Minas Gerais is a state in Brazil where you won’t find beaches either. What you will find, and surely you will love, will be beautiful colonial towns. Also, rivers, mountains, and waterfalls.
On top of that, Mineiros have the reputation of being some of the coolest people in Brazil. They are kind, sociable and funny! Again, sadly, I haven’t been to Minas just yet. But during these past few years in Brazil, a met a lot of Mineiros. And I can totally agree with their reputation.
We are hoping to go to Minas soon. But, until then, here it’s the Lonely Planet Minas Gerais travel guide.
The gastronomy in Brazil is absolutely fantastic. So don’t hold back, and try to experiment as much as you can. You should start with the famous Açaí. It’s kind of an ice cream made from the tropical fruit of the same name. Besides being delicious, it’s great for your health.
And, definitely try the street food! Tapiocas, Salgados, Aracaje, and Pasteis. Coxinhas are my personal favorite. Don’t forget about the Pão de Queijo, a typical baked cheese bread. And, when on the beach, I recommend a Queijo na Brasa. You are welcome!
Once you have tried, let me know in the comments your favorites!
I know this is bad news. But I don’t mean your credit or debit card will be useless. You will still be able to buy with them at any store, or pay at any accommodation.
What I mean is this. Most websites that allow purchases online in Brazil, don’t accept foreign cards. This applies to pretty much everything. Yes, including bus and plane tickets.
The thing is, in Brazil, the citizens and nationals use a CPF number. It’s kind of another Id. And credit and debit cards should be registered with that CPF number. So, if you are not a citizen, you won’t have it. And your card will be rejected.
The good news is you can print a voucher for your purchase and pay it at a Post office or a bank. Problem solved!
So you better get started with your Portuguese lessons! Yes, in the most touristic destinations, like Rio, you will find English speakers. But if you are planning on visiting some other places, you might not find many of them.
And, even if you speak Spanish, don’t think it’s going to be so easy. Portuguese and Spanish are written similarly, true. But the sounds are completely different! Anyway, there are lots of Portunhol speakers around Brazil, so it’s going to be easier to make them understand you.
I recommend you to use Duolingo to learn some basic words and sentences. It’s going to make things a lot easier for you.
Brazil is a gigantic country. It’s so big that, if you have limited time to visit it, you will have to take a lot of domestic flights. Just taking buses won’t do when the distances to cover are long. That’s the case of moving from Rio to Salvador, for example.
Luckily, flight fares are not expensive. With a little bit of planning, you can end up paying pretty much the same that you would for a bus ticket. However, be smart and pack light for backpacking Brazil. Most domestic flights don’t include a lot of baggage for free.
Brazil is one of the most beautiful countries I ever visited. And, despite what people might say, I think is pretty safe for travelers. However, you should be careful with your belongings, especially in big cities like Rio and São Paulo.
Small touristic places are completely safe. You could even walk alone at night, and it would be ok. That’s the case of places like Pipa, Jericoacoara, and Morro de São Paulo. But try not to expose your self when you are in big cities.
That means, don’t carry around too much money. Don’t take off your phone at night. And, especially, don’t miss the sight of your important things in crowded places.
I want to warn you also about the credit cards. It’s a good idea to get a prepaid card to use in Brazil. Sadly, there have been many cases of cloned credit cards. So, in case it happens to you, it’s always better if it’s a prepaid card than your main card.
And finally, it’s a great idea to have travel insurance for backpacking Brazil. Healthcare is for free, but it’s not always the best. in fact, you will find there are many of these destinations where you won’t find great healthcare systems. Besides, after coronavirus, it’s always a smart move to have insurance. Check out our tips to find the best travel insurance.
I hope you have found everything you were looking for. But, if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to write it down on the comments below.
Are there some more Brazilian destinations you would like to talk about? Let us know!
Have a great adventure!