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Backpacking Brazil: tips from a local for traveling on a budget

Brazil is the largest country in South America and a backpacker’s paradise. From culture and nature to great people, you have to start experiencing brazilian adventures now.



From the Amazon rainforest to the vibrant cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil offers something for everyone. Backpacking in Brazil is a great way to explore the country and its culture, while meeting locals and fellow travelers. 

Backpacking in Brazil can be an unforgettable adventure for travelers seeking to explore a country with a diverse culture, stunning landscapes, and friendly people.

As the largest country in South America, there are endless pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and the world-famous Carnival celebration. Backpackers in Brazil can discover a country with a unique blend of african, european, and indigenous cultures that are reflected in its food, music, dance, and art. 

Whether you’re looking to hike through the Amazon rainforest, learn how to samba in Rio de Janeiro, or relax on the beaches of Bahia, Brazil has something to offer for every type of traveler. In this article, we will delve into what makes backpacking in Brazil such an exciting and rewarding experience and answer a question that may appear in your mind - is Brazil safe?

Why backpacking through Brazil?

There are several compelling reasons why backpacking through Brazil should be on every traveler's bucket list. Here are some of the top reasons why you should consider:

Cultural diversity: Brazil is a country with a rich cultural heritage that reflects a unique history in South America. This diversity is evident in Brazil's music, dance, art, food, and language. Backpacking in Brazil offers an opportunity to experience this vibrant culture firsthand and gain a deeper understanding of the country's history and people.

Natural wonders: Brazil is home to some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the world, from the Amazon rainforest to the stunning coastline of Bahia. Backpacking through Brazil offers a chance to explore these natural wonders and experience the country's incredible biodiversity.

Friendly people: Brazilians are known for their warmth, hospitality, and friendliness towards visitors. Backpackers in Brazil can expect to be welcomed with open arms and experience the country's vibrant culture through interactions with locals.

Adventure activities: Brazil offers a wide range of adventure activities for backpackers, from hiking through the Amazon rainforest to surfing on the beaches of Florianopolis. Backpacking in Brazil offers a chance to explore the country's natural beauty while participating in thrilling outdoor activities.

Festivals and celebrations: Brazil is home to some of the world's most famous festivals and celebrations, including Carnival, which takes place every year mainly in Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Recife. Backpackers in Brazil can experience these colorful and lively celebrations firsthand and get a taste of the country's vibrant culture.

Backpacking through Brazil offers an incredible opportunity to experience a country with a rich cultural heritage, stunning natural beauty, friendly people, and thrilling adventure activities. 

Is Brazil safe for backpacking?

Brazil is the size of a continent, and each state has different accents, climates and customs. So answering this question becomes a complicated task. Is it possible to an entire continent to be dangerous? I don’t think so.

What happens in Brazil is a huge social inequality, as result of colonization and slavery that happened relatively a few centuries ago. So traveling to Brazil is also about keeping an open mind to know its history and the structures in which this society was been created.

Traveling as a tourist in Brazil, only for a few days, can even help reinforce stereotypes such as it's unsafety. But living a volunteering experience and spending some time in the destinations can be exactly what you need to not let the fear prevent you from knowing such a diverse country in landscapes and experiences. 

If you take the necessary precautions, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip to Brazil. We recommend researching your destination beforehand, avoiding unsafe areas at night, not wearing expensive jewelry, and keeping your belongings close to you (just like in any other big city).

Backpacking Brazil: 7 best things to see and do

1. Visit Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is a must-visit destination for any backpacker traveling to Brazil. The city is known for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and iconic landmarks like the Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf Mountain. 

While it's easy to get caught up in the touristy areas of Rio, we recommend exploring the city's vibrant neighborhoods like Lapa and Santa Teresa for a more authentic experience.

2. Explore the Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon rainforest covers over 50% of Brazil, and is home to some of the world's most diverse ecosystems. Backpackers can explore the Amazon by booking a guided tour or opting for a more budget-friendly option like camping or volunteering with conservation organizations. 

Keep in mind that the rainforest can be challenging to navigate, so it's important to research your options beforehand and prepare accordingly.

3. Visit the Historic City of Salvador

Salvador, the capital of Bahia state, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its vibrant Afro-Brazilian culture and historic architecture. 

The city is home to colorful colonial buildings, lively street markets, and world-renowned cuisine. Backpackers can explore Salvador by foot or bike, or take a guided tour to learn more about the city's rich history.

4. Meet other travellers in Florianópolis

Florianópolis is a beautiful island off the coast of Brazil known for its stunning beaches and laid-back atmosphere. It's a popular destination for surfers and backpackers alike, and offers a variety volunteer opportunities for a budget-friendly experience. 

Some of the best beaches to visit in Florianópolis include Praia da Joaquina, Praia Mole, and Lagoinha do Leste. You can also hike to the top of Morro da Cruz for a stunning view of the city.

5. See the Frevo in Recife

Recife is a bustling city in northeastern Brazil known for its rich history and vibrant culture. It's home to several museums and historic sites, like the Museum of the Northeastern Man and the Recife Antigo Historic Site. 

You can also explore the city's vibrant street art scene or attend a frevo dance performance. For a budget-friendly accommodation option, consider volunteering in a hostel in the Boa Viagem neighborhood.

6. Experience the nightlife of São Paulo

São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil and a must-visit destination for any backpacker. It's known for its incredible food scene, which includes everything from traditional Brazilian dishes like feijoada and churrasco to international cuisine. 

The city also boasts a thriving nightlife scene, with countless bars and nightclubs to choose from. For a budget-friendly accommodation option, consider volunteering in artistic projects in the Vila Madalena or Pinheiros neighborhoods.

7. Explore the nature in Pantanal

The Pantanal is a vast wetland region in western Brazil known for its incredible biodiversity. It's home to a variety of wildlife, including jaguars, caimans, and capybaras. 

Backpackers can explore the region on foot, bike, cars or by canoe. There are several budget-friendly accommodation options and volunteer opportunities to live in Pantanal like a local.

Money-saving tips for backpacking Brazil

Opt for public transportation

While taxis and rideshares are available in Brazil, they can be expensive and add up quickly. Instead, opt for public transportation like buses or the metro to get around. Most major cities in Brazil have affordable public transportation options, and many even offer discounted passes for tourists.

Cook your own meals

Food can be a major expense for backpackers, but there are ways to save money while still enjoying Brazil's delicious cuisine. Consider staying in hostels or homestays with kitchen facilities, and cook your own meals. This not only saves money, but also allows you to try out local ingredients and recipes.

Consider a volunteer program

Work exchange programs like Worldpackers are a great way to save money while traveling, and also allows you to experience Brazil like a local. Worldpackers is a brazilian-founded platform that connects travelers with hosts around the world who need help with various tasks in exchange for accommodation and other benefits. Here are three examples of Worldpacker hosts in Brazil:

  • Organic Farm in Florianópolis 

This host is located in the southern state of Santa Catarina and offers volunteers the opportunity to work on an organic farm, learn about sustainable agriculture, and enjoy the region's natural beauty.

  • Hostel in Rio de Janeiro 

This host is located in the lively neighborhood of Lapa and offers volunteers the opportunity to help with daily tasks at the hostel, like cleaning and reception, in exchange for accommodation and other perks.

  • Eco-Lodge in the Amazon Rainforest 

This host is located in the heart of the Amazon and offers volunteers the opportunity to help with conservation efforts, like reforestation and animal care, in exchange for accommodation and meals.

These are just a few examples of the many Worldpacker hosts available in Brazil. The platform offers a variety of options for backpackers looking to save money and immerse themselves in the local culture.

General tips for backpacking Brazil

Learn just a bit of Portuguese

While it's possible to get by with just english in major tourist areas, learning some Portuguese can go a long way in helping you navigate Brazil and connect with locals. Consider downloading a language learning app or taking a class before your trip.

Be mindful of your belongings

Pickpocketing is a common occurrence in Brazil, so it's important to keep your belongings close to you at all times. Consider investing in a money belt or secure backpack, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash or expensive items.

Embrace the local culture

Brazil is known for its vibrant culture, from its music and dance to its food and festivals. Embrace the local culture by trying new foods, attending a samba, or joining a street party. Not only will you have a more authentic experience, but you'll also make lasting memories.

In conclusion, backpacking through Brazil can be an incredible experience for budget-conscious travelers. And don't forget to consider work exchange programs like Worldpackers for even more budget-friendly options.

Things to experience in Brazilian Culture

Backpacking Brazil can be an incredible experience to immerse oneself in the vibrant and diverse Brazilian culture. Brazil is a country of contrasts and has a rich cultural heritage that is reflected in its music, religion, and different accents.

Brazilian music 

Music is an integral part of Brazilian culture and is a reflection of the country's diverse ethnic heritage. Brazil is known for its music styles like samba, bossa nova, forró, and funk. 

Bossa nova is a more relaxed style of music that is often associated with the beaches of Rio. Forró, on the other hand, is a traditional dance music that originated in the Northeast of Brazil and is known for its fast-paced accordion rhythms.

Popular festivals in Brasil

The popular festivals include Carnaval (a massive street party celebrated in cities across the country), Festa Junina (a celebration of Saint John's Day in June), and the Lavagem do Bonfim (a religious festival in Salvador). 

During Carnaval, backpackers can join in on the festivities by attending parades and street parties, or even by participating in a samba school.

Different religions 

Religion is also an important part of Brazilian culture, and the country has a diverse mix of religions. The majority of Brazilians are catholic, but there are also significant populations of protestants, spiritists, and from afro-brazilian religions like Candomblé and Umbanda. These religions are a blend of african, european, and indigenous traditions, and they often incorporate elements of music and dance into their celebrations.

Many accents

Finally, Brazilian Portuguese has a wide range of regional accents, each with its own unique characteristics. For example, the accent from Rio de Janeiro is often associated with a relaxed, beachy vibe, while the accent from São Paulo is known for its italian roots. 

Best beaches to visit in Brazil

And we could not talk about Brazil without mentioning that the country is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. And backpackers can easily explore all of them on a budget. Some of the best beaches to visit include:

Praia do Forte in Bahia

Praia do Forte in Bahia is a beautiful beach located just an hour's drive from Salvador. It's known for its calm waters and natural beauty, with miles of white sand stretching along the coastline. 

Backpackers can take a dip in the warm waters or explore the nearby the Tamar Project, which is dedicated to the conservation of sea turtles.

Jericoacoara Beach in Ceará

Jericoacoara Beach in Ceará is a stunning beach located in a remote area of northern Brazil. It's a popular destination for backpackers, thanks to its crystal clear waters, towering sand dunes, and laid-back atmosphere. 

Backpackers can try their hand at windsurfing, kiteboarding, or simply relax on the beach with a cold drink in hand.

Praia da Pipa in Rio Grande do Norte

Praia da Pipa in Rio Grande do Norte is a popular destination for backpackers, thanks to its stunning beaches, lively nightlife, and laid-back vibe. 

The beach itself is surrounded by towering cliffs and is known for its clear waters and excellent surfing conditions. Backpackers can also explore the nearby town of Pipa, which is home to a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops.

Praia do Rosa in Santa Catarina

Praia do Rosa in Santa Catarina is a beautiful beach located in southern Brazil. It's known for its natural beauty, cliffs and rolling hills framing the turquoise waters

Backpackers can take a hike along the beach, explore the nearby sand dunes, or simply relax on the sand and soak up the sun.

Baía do Sancho in Fernando de Noronha

Baía do Sancho in Fernando de Noronha is consistently rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It's located on an island off the coast of northeastern Brazil and is only accessible by boat or small planes. 

The beach itself is a stunning crescent of sand surrounded by towering cliffs, and the waters are crystal clear and perfect for snorkeling.

These beaches offer stunning views, crystal clear waters, and plenty of opportunities for hiking, swimming, and surfing. And with budget-friendly accommodation options like hostels and guesthouses, backpackers can easily make the most of their time in Brazil's beautiful coastal regions.

Backpacking Brazil with Worldpackers

With Worldpackers, you can choose from a variety of projects throughout Brazil, including teaching English, working on eco-farms, or assisting with social projects in urban areas. These projects not only provide valuable assistance to local communities but also offer a chance to experience Brazil in a unique and authentic way.

It is a unique and affordable way to experience the country's culture and natural beauty while giving back to local communities. Whether you're interested in teaching, farming, or social projects, Worldpackers offers a wide range of opportunities to suit every interest. By volunteering with Worldpackers, you can experience Brazil in a way that is not possible through traditional travel, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

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