If you were lucky, then you probably already have your World Cup 2014 tickets before the final batch were released last week. So by now you should be beginning the countdown to the big event. Considering that games will be held in 12 Brazilian cities, including the incredible Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo, now’s the time to get your travel plans together. Here are some tips to make sure you don’t get tripped up along the way.
Get your visa early.
You’ll need to visit your local Brazilian consulate to obtain the visa. As is the norm you’ll need to go through a tedious application process and present a plethora of documents, but one bit of good news for World Cup spectators is that if you have World Cup tickets, you’ll get your temporary visa for free, but be prepared to present confirmation of your ticket purchase to get it. The consular website has everything you need to know.
Don’t try to see everything in one trip.
Although it’s tempting to try and fit in a visit to Rio de Janeiro, the Amazon rainforest and a World Cup match all in one go, it’s probably not going to happen. Remember, Brazil is a huge country and travelling between all of these tourist hot spots can take hours – especially by road, and even by air, you’ll still be looking at a good 2 hours of flight time. If you do want to visit multiple cities then it’s probably best to keep the number down to two or three – especially if you plan to travel around by car.
Learn the transportation systems ahead of time.
It’s true that Brazilian traffic is very very hectic, and full of unspoken rules, but if you have the determination and the patience, navigating shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Before you go make sure you research the websites of the cities you’re visiting, have a look at the public transport routes if you plan to use them, and get well acquainted with Brazilian road laws if you want to drive while you’re there.
Exchange your money before you go.
If you plan on using real (Brazil’s currency), make sure you get it changed before you leave the country, otherwise use your credit or ATM card, though use your common sense and be careful of your surroundings. If you are going to use cash then try and have smaller bills on hand, especially if you’re in a rural area where it may be harder to get change for larger notes.
Before you go, try and learn a few phrases of Portuguese. Nothing too in-depth just the basics such as Hello and Goodbye, My name is etc. As with any country, there are some everyday customs that you should try and adhere to, too. You don’t need to add an additional tip on restaurant bills (nor do you need to tip your drivers), don’t sit on your towel while at the beach and don’t slam car doors.
If you do get a chance for a spot of sightseeing while in Brazil, then we recommend the mighty Rio de Janeiro. Take a look at the beaches – spend a day there, or several if you can – on beaches like Ipanema, Copacabana and Arpoador – if you’re a surfer, then the latter should be your first choice. A must see in Rio is Christ the Redeemer, perched as it is more than 2000 feet above the city on the Corcovado Peak, it is an incredible site – his arms wide open, gazing serenely to the city and the swathes of blue sea below. Nature lovers head to the Tijuca national park – one of the largest urban forests in the world and a great place to hike. Ascend to the summit of Pico da Tijuca for some incredible views of Guanabara Bay and the city. Finally for those looking for some lively nightlife – take a look at the Lapa neighbourhood which has an electrifying energy at night, with clubs and bars spilling out into the 19th century streets – it’s a perfect place for a Caipirinha – the national cocktail.