Americas, South America

Go for the World Cup! A brief introduction to the cities of Brazil

If the previous location of the FIFA World’s Football Championship was in South Africa, now the great 5-week-show is going to happen in Brazil. Depending on your traveling tastes and the kinds of experiences that you’d like to have, Brazil has a lot to offer – it’s a vibrant and passionate country.

If you were visiting the country in any other period, I’d write this article differently. But supposing it’s the World Cup that brings you here, you should know a few things about each of the locations where the games will be held during the worldwide famous competition.

During the World Cup, Brazil will be chaotic!

The millions of tourist gathering here for the event will make it impossible to find out all the information once you’re there – you should never leave your home without having a general opinion on what to expect if not from the games, at least from the places you’ll be visiting. And since the general things to be done (such as minimizing the effect of jet lag) are within reach for anyone who’s using Google properly, it’s the more specific things we’ll be taking care of.

Manaus – a shrine of the arts

The most northern location that will hear the sound of football victories, Manaus is a truly beautiful city. Most of its very famous places are known since ever, such as Teatro Amazonas, which opened in 1896 and it’s popular from the beginning of the 20th century. The artistic life of the city was always pretty surprising for anyone visiting the place, so despite the dilapidated old buildings suggesting there no interest in culture whatsoever, you will be surprised to discover a true shrine of the arts here.

Teatro Amazonas

If you’ll find yourself having some spare time, Museu do Indio helds the ethnographic history of the place – but if you really want to enjoy it, you’d better not expect to visit on of the most imposing buildings, rather an adequate fresco of their history – carefully whitewashed walls, hiding a structure affected by time because of the limited possibilities.

From either Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, the price of a flight usually starts from $400 for a one way ticket – quite a hefty amount, as the demand is high during the world cup. You’ll find the main airline companies online at tam.com.br and voegol.com.br, and you should expect to pay approximately $30 for a taxi ride from the airport. It’s true, it won’t be exactly the place for budget travelers, but all the fun you’ll be having deserves a little spicier pricing policy. You can find a hotel from $110 a night, depending on the facilities and the position, but you can expect the prices to go a much higher during the competition. You could also check a hostel or a cheaper accommodation, but if you haven’t by now, do it soon – people are flocking to Manaus.

The city is accessible by ground via only two highways, reason for which it won’t only be a little more expensive to get here, but you should know that being placed near the Amazon rain forest usually makes it a great destination for whoever is trying to escape the city rush. So if you’re wondering what to do outside the stadium, the answer’s pretty easy: get wild, drive a boat, live a cultural experience, experience the Brazilian lifestyle off the pitch, as well as on the pitch!

The amazing landscape is not something you want to miss when visiting Manaus!

‘The meeting of the waters’, as locals call the place where Negro and Solimones rivers converge is not to be missed, clearly a 9-km-paradise that you’d love to witness. A visit here won’t take more than 6 hours, so you won’t be missing the championship, and the landscape is amazing! Of course, the Amazon is clearly the star of the place, it’s where you’ll experience your finest boat trips and land trips of all Brazil, wandering around the jungle and living the experience of raw nature at first hand.

Fortaleza

Usually a great destination if you want to escape the city rush, unfortunately I don’t think this is going to happen during the World Cup. What remains wonderful even when the city’s going to be teaming with tourists are the stunning beaches and the vivid, colorful nightlife. There’s absolutely no way to ever get bored here, although it may not be the first name to pop into your head when thinking about Brazil.

The best thing about this city is, without doubt, something other than the prodigious panoramas – is the safety. Fortaleza is considered to be the safest city in Brazil, especially for tourists and foreigners. It doesn’t only offer the splendor of everything Brazil could attract you with, but it’s also safe. Its name is the Portuguese for ‘fortress’ and not only will you find its namesake in the center of the city (a true beauty, actually), but the eponym stands as a clue of what you’ll find here – the heaven of freedom, peaceful life and security.

Outside the stadium, Natal is the bliss of all sea lovers and it’s called The City of the Sun, because of the touristic implications of its positions. Pipa is another beach that’s comparable with the international offer, in terms of accommodation, facilities, places to have fun and the state of the beaches.

If you’re looking for having a beach view without spending all your money on it, the best thing to opt for are the hotels in Praia Do Meio in the capital city, Belem. Not all the islands can be visited, but ‘the city of mango trees’, as the island Carateua Belem is called, is one of the most outstanding attractions because of its mango trees modeling the entire panorama of the area. The gateway to Amazon, this is what makes this place even more special.

Once you’re here, you just have to taste the very tasty, spicy Indian food of the natives here (who descend preponderantly from India) with lots of flavors. The richness of the foods could make even the most exquisite chefs take some notes about blending, savoring and seasoning with herbs and spices.

 

Recife and Salvador

If that you’re looking for during your stay includes sandy beaches with palm trees along the seafront, cliffs and small islands one next to another, then you definitely shouldn’t skip Salvador and Recife – amazing touristic attractions without too spicy prices, and stunning views that would complete your experience in Brazil. As it is in any other Brazilian region, tipping policies are not something you should take into account. People here won’t be expecting any, but if the serving’s impeccable somewhere it would be a shame not to show some gratitude.

If Fortaleza is the safest place in Brazil, you should have imagined that there also exist some areas less tourist-friendly from this point of view. And Recife is one of them, but just as long as you’ll be taking all the necessary precautions you should be fine. These would include not taking public transportation at night or not visiting the famous parks and beaches during the night. If you’re visiting during the summer (which you will), our best advice for you would be to take good care of possible sunburns.

Olinda is the following very important point in Recife. Called ‘the Venice of Brazil’, you’ll definitely fall in love with this city. Not only classy and well preserved, but very tourist-friendly and jammed with all these crazy shopping places where you can buy all the souvernirs you’ve ever dreamt of. And maybe some clothes (since the Brazilians are very proud about their fashion). We’d usually tell you about the carnival, but since it seems that the entire country’s shutting down its any other activity during the World Cup, we’ll focus on boating and diving, the best things to do out of the stadium.

Since you’re already accustomed with the fact that the Brazilians have made creative and descriptive nicknames for almost everything, check this out: ‘Brazil’s capital of happiness’ because of the largest carnival in the world.

The next thing you should know about Salvador is that it’s divided into the upper town and the lower town, and you’ll see the escarpment marking the territory accordingly – so for starters, get a map if you’ve got no orientation. You probably have nothing to fear about here, since the city was host to the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2013 so the administration knows how to handle large events.

The Guardian named the city beach the world’s 3rd best, so there’s the main attraction. But if you’re into pub crawling or midnight late concerts of no name local bands, you’ll love this place. People call it cultural, because of the artistic spirit of the locals here. But don’t imagine the amphitheaters of high-rated universities. It’s the little things that define people here – the combination between primitive, rustic and sophisticated, the creative process and their result, the smile on people’s faces when they see your painting or listen to your song for the very first time.

So go out. This is what I’d recommend here – have fun, meet people, and they’ll be open and friendly. As long as you take care of your belongings, you should be good to go!

Cuiaba

The best offers in terms of tourist attractions don’t literally belong to it. Whenever you find yourself having some spare time, a visit to Pantanal is more than welcome for anyone out there who’s into ecological excursions. Museu Historico de Mato Grosso is where you’ll learn the most important periods of the history, and all the odds and ends will illustrate a different period of time in each room of the museum. Interactive and fun, the museum has no admission fee.

Mistura Cuiabana is where you’ll eat the best food in the state, with all kinds of regional dishes and the best choice for the trip would be renting a car.

Brasilia

Its history is interesting and twisted, not only because it’s the capital city, but because it was built from the grounds, and where only five years beforehand there would be a large desert with no people, plants or any type of civilization whatsoever, in 1960 when it was inaugurated the world’s most famous architects will have built a dazzling city. Straight and rounded shapes make you immerse in the Brazilian universe and see the capital as a developed city, with a retro-futuristic appearance.

Calmer and safer than Rio de Janeiro where rumor has it that all the fun happens, the natural park with mineral springs and a marvelous waterfall is what’s going to make you relax after all the tense atmosphere on the stadium. Hiking sounds great as well for all of you who are into sports, so why not take a three hours buss ride and have some fun?

Belo Horizonte is what you’ll remember as ‚the place where I got confused’. There are just so many things to see in this Metroplex, that in order to clear your mind you’ll first go to Ouro Preto – the municipal stage where the best Brazilian atrists perform.

The nightlife here’s something you’d just have to be crazy to miss  – all kinds of bars clubs and pubs for anyone, with all sorts of people, music and drinks to make you feel like a proper guest. The ‚bar capital’ of the city has lots of places to confirm its namesake, among which the most popular are: Boca de Forno (the best quick snacks in town), Vecchio Sogno (the best Italian food in Brazil), Xapuri at Pampulha is where you’ll savor the best authentic Minas food (and the Brazilians know the place very well and could personally recommend it to you thanks to the best and most loved chef in Brazil). Finally, Cantina do Lucas is located in a building full of bars and it’s the traditional, local place for fun until the morning.

Sao Paulo

You’ll need at least ten visits to Sao Paulo, a lot of time and patience to barely scratch the surface of what it can offer the tourists. The easiest thing to do would be renting a bicycle and walk the 30 km of car-free paths and wander from city park to city park. Yes, the place is spread out and it may seem a little confusing at first, but here’s the best options: Oscar Niemeyer was one of the world’s best architects and is known for the curves looking like defying gravity and one of the most striking places to notice this (besides the city buildings) is Ibrapuera Park.

Themed to your visit’s purpose, the Soccer Museum’s something you should see, especially because of the very interactive and fun exhibits. Benedito Calixto market happens every Saturday without exception and it’s the place where you’ll buy the souvenirs for. The special tip would be to be extra careful – time really passes by when you’re here, and not just if you’re a woman! For the record, any other market happening in the city that you’ll hear about is worth visiting (especially since you’ll have the bikes). But wherever you go, don’t forget to try drinking coconut from a juice bar, they’re not only popular but whoever’s been there knows why I’d move into one.

Rio

‚The Marvelous City’, as Rio de Janeiro is known in Brazil, has lots of places to stand out and to stand for its name. But first of all, get over the carnival! We know it’s THE landmark of the city, but you’ll soon find out there are tons of other places to leave you speechless. The first example’s the outstanding architecture (but you’ve already noticed by now that Brazil’s really got a strong point on that).

From the cutting-edge nightlife we’d most recommend samba music playing in all the good bars and making you feel like taking part of the carnival you’ve heard so many things about. After you’ve got this out of your system, there’s the amazing classical must-sees, most of them outdoor. The best decision here would be heading to Cosme Velho where atop Corcovado Mountain you’ll admire the outstanding Christ the Redeemer statue.

The beach culture’s as amazing as it is predictable for the country’s position, and taking advantage of all the typical, specific wonders in Brazil is truly amazing, especially since you’ll discover that the beaches and the people seem to be different and to have developed their own local personalities (Copacabana would be the most representative example here).

Curitiba

This is where you’ll admire the Oscar Niemeyer Museum, perfectly suitable for any artsy tourist, along with the Panoramic Tower watching over the city. Since you’re there, the telephone museum’s also fun to visit, but you should know that it’s closed on Mondays.

More than 20, 000 Ukranians immigrated to Parana at the end of the 19th century, and there’s a Ukranian Memorial to keep track of all their sacrifices. Not only can you learn some history here and transform your travel into a culture-friendly time, but there are lots of places where you can go crazy on souvenirs as well.

The city’s one of the best examples of urban planning in the world and if in other cities you should get to know the locals and their cultural oddities, here all you’ll have to do would be walking with your eyes wide open.

Porto Alegre

We’d advise you to stay far from the downtown area during night time, basically because of the high crime rate. Sao Pedro Theater is where we’d definitely spend one of our afternoons if we’d be going to Brazil for the World Cup, while for a relaxing walk or a romantic night we’d recommend Guaiba Lake – the sunset here looks heavenly and even if you’d be the most annoying guy alive, any woman would fall for you just because of the stunning scenery.

Supposing you’re here for the football game, we may as well think you’re seriously into sports. Pista de Gasometro is where you’ll have the best 6 km of jogging along the river – you won’t only be in shape, you’ll be the most serene tourist in Brazil.

May the Cup begin!

Iguazu Falls, between Brazil and Argentina

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