17 things backpackers MUST know heading to Brazil

paraty brazil

Brazil is a country that tends to be left out of the narrative when people describe everything that they want to do and see in South America.

Having travelled for one month in Brazil, I am honestly not sure why.

There is everything there that the ardent traveller could want from idyllic beaches and tropical islands to the Amazon rainforest and mega-cities like Rio de Janeiro. 

So should you backpack Brazil? Absolutely.

But what do you need to know as a backpacker? Here’s 17 things every backpacker should know before hitting Brazil:

  • The local currency is Brazilian Real. Any amount in Real can be divided by four for a rough estimate of what this will cost in Euros (for example $100 BRL is about €25).
  • The only type of ATM that works for most European and foreign cards is Banco 24 Horas. They are generally easy to find in most cities but for visiting smaller locations, have cash on hand.
  • You are also charged on each transaction so make sure to take out as much as you can from the ATM. 
  • There are plenty of hostels in Brazil but they tend to vary in quality and price. You can expect to pay on average€13-15  per night for a decent bed in a hostel dorm.
  • Sometimes, you can get even cheaper (€ 9 – 11) but you may be compromising on quality.
  • The language spoken in Brazil is Portuguese and most locals only have this language.
  • The second most spoken language is Spanish and then English. It’s definitely a necessity to have the basics of Portuguese down while travelling here. 
  • As with every in a South American country, you must be diligent in terms of safety. In general, we felt quite safe in Brazil and had nothing taken from us. Rio is a story in itself however, which you can read about here.
  • Finding ‘authentic’ Brazilian cuisine can be a challenge and you will find yourself eating a lot of pizza (which is cheap and delicious as most restaurants use wood-fire ovens).
  • Brazilian cuisine tends to be a plain meat or fish dish with rice, salad and a bean soup/ stew.
  • Brazilian ‘bakeries’ are also popular and specialise in delicious freshly-baked cheese and meat breads.
  • If you have one warm shower in Brazil staying in hostels, you are doing a good job!
  • Toilet facilities are similar to most other emerging countries; toilet paper goes not in the toilet but in the bin!
  • Wi-Fi in hostels outside of main cities will be slow.
  • Standard of buses in Brazil are generally high but can be pricey and take a long time to get from one place to another. Always compare with national flights for a good deal and to save a lot of time.
  • Uber is your friend in Brazil and is always much cheaper than local taxis. This will only work in major areas however. 
  • You need Brazilian identification to activate sim cards for phones in Brazil so either do not bother or make some Brazilian friends.

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