Fellow football lovers, if you live under a rock and you are not aware, the next world cup will be held in the cultural melting pot that is Brazil. And if you are planning on watching the matches in person, this is probably the best time to book your tickets and hotels.
As a Brazilian, I award myself the credibility to write this piece on how to get around the country, as well as trying to cope with the skyrocketing prices. these are increasing not only due to the fast-developing economy but also with the hosting of the two biggest sports events in the world, 2014 FIFA world cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
The country has changed immensely in the last few years, where a booming economy has shifted the life of locals as well as placing cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in any list of most expensive cities in the world. As most people think Brazil is in Rio and SP, maybe it’s time to expand your geographical knowledge and cut expenses experiencing the real local life, visiting some of the less known hosting cities. All of them count on very different cultures and lifestyles, which add incredible spices to this extremely patriotic nation.
Belo Horizonte is the fifth largest city in the country, with a population of just over 5 million people, edging Salvador’s population. The city houses many cultural and architectural attractions, with its mixture of colonial and modern buildings. Locals also sport one of the most peculiar accents in the country, and a cuisine that will keep you self-conscious about hitting the beach afterwards.
Local Tip: Sunday Hippie Market. All sorts of kitchy things for sale. Every Sunday. Also you can watch Capoeira, street performers, and eat food on a stick.
Food: Eat pão de queijo, drink cachaça, enjoy a local churrasacaria, and eat by the kilo.
Where to visit: Visit a nearby historic city (Ouro Preto/Tiradentes/Diamantina)
Salvador is a known city for its street carnivals, a relaxed lifestyle and pride of its African roots. The city is home to some of the biggest names in Brazilian music as well as some of the most famous dishes in the country. The city counts on some of the most beautiful architecture and landscapes, with incredible beaches and colonial buildings.
Local Tip: People watching and caipirinha drinking at Praia da Barra ( Porto da Barra beach)
Food: The amazing Acaraje. Order a fria (cold) or morna (warm), the quente (hot) one is the spiciest thing you will ever have!
Where to visit: Visit Morro de São Paulo and its beautiful virgin beaches
Porto Alegre is the capital of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. The city showcases an incredible selection of German and Italian architecture. Walking through the historic city, you can see indigenous figures mixed with Renaissance style. This multi-cultural hub is home to the best barbecue in the country, as well as the world’s most beautiful street. Although it is a chilly part of the country, the beaches are to die for.
Local Tip: Visit Dirt Old Man: A micro brew with delicious local beer.
Food: Churrasco, churrasco and churrasco! (barbecue for locals)
Where to visit: Casa da Cultura Mario Quintana (a place for Cinema and busy cafes)
Brasilia houses the most expensive stadium to host a worldcup in Brazil ( US$ 500 million). The city consists of several creations of Oscar Niemeyer. The entire city seems like an artistic mixture of sci-fi buildings and the “cerrado” vegetation. The city is a special location for the architecture aficionados and also the host of the semi-final match.
Local Tip: Visit the feira do guara for a typical Brazilian experience.
Food: Try the typical chicken rice with “pequi” a typical fruit from the area.
Where to visit: Parque Nacional Agua Mineral
Cuiaba is the capital of Mato Grosso, in the middle of Brazil. The state is famous for its immense fauna and flora. Most visitors flock to see Pantanal and the rustic environment of the city, which for the previous years have been greatly modernized. With great cuisine and amazing scenery the state is a great option for families and nature lovers.
Local Tip: Do the Transpantaneira route to see the night creatures like Tarantulas and Capybaras.
Food: The city’s specialty is fish dishes.
Where to go: The historical museum of Mato Grosso.
Curitiba has a chillier weather than most parts of Brazil, depending of the time of the year you should pack up some warm clothes. The city was awarded the Globe Sustainable City Award, given to cities and municipalities which excel in sustainable urban development around the world. The mixture of nature and modern city is one of the biggest triumphs of this blooming place.
Local Tip: Visit Opera do Arame for unusual architecture with an outdoor stage that hosts several acts throughout the year.
Food: Barreado, Pinhao and Carne de Onca
Where to go: Check Park das Pedreiras for national and international acts throughout the year.
Fortaleza has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, as well as mouth watering cuisine and warm weather. This paradise in Northeast Brazil will also host some of the world cup matches. There you can check the real northeastern culture with heavy afro-brazilian culture and delicious seafood.
Local Tip: Visit the Dragao do Mar
Local Food: The local Feijoada and tapioca are the best in the country.
Where to go: Vira Virao, one of the most famous and picturesque bars in the city.
If you would like more tips, ask in the comments below!