South America

Safety in Brazil and important things to know before visiting

Brazil such as most countries in South America have serious issues with all sorts of crime. They are generally safe to visit, if you follow the some basic safety rules, which are mostly common sense. But you should definitely put Brazil high up on your bucketlist, because it is freaking amazing. Check out our article on top 10 things to do in Brazil. We have put together some tips regarding safety in Brazil – here are some specialties of this country you should definitely consider:

Where to stay and how to book hotels

Booking.com is a reliable source for hotel bookings. It is just especially important to check the reviews. If there are none or only a few available, we would advise not to stay there. Just to be double safe.

Don’t make the same mistake as we did, and do not book any motels in Brazil. In contrast to lots of other countries, motel means sex hotel in Brazil and you will find yourself in a room with plastic blankets and a menu where you can order adult toys as room service. It is usually also a place where you find lots of drug use, criminals and people you don’t want to get involved with.

Always check which areas of a city are safe to stay at and avoid non-touristy areas. Be especially aware when booking hotels close to GRU airport in Sao Paolo; this area is not safe as this place is the home of some local gangs. We tried twice to avoid the very expensive hotels directly at the airport, and as a result found ourselves in hotels which weren’t exactly any different than a motel.

How to travel around Brazil safely

Depending where you want to go, the safest way to travel around the country is by plane. Busses in general are prone for all sorts of crime;, reaching from simply thefts to armed robberies or even worse. Fortunately, the government has instated a law as a consequence of this issues, and companies are now responsible for the safety of their passengers and can be sued for it. The big intercity busses are now travelling with armed convoys at night. Hence this has become one of the safest ways to travel in Brazil. Although, these security efforts only apply for touristic bus companies and not the local ones.

Traveling by car in Brazil is relatively safe during daylight apart from driving in the big cities. We have heard that there is a high risk of robbery and car hijacking if you do get tuck in a traffic jam. It is even legal to drive over red lights at night if any danger occurs. We did rent a car, because we like to keep matters in our own hands. It is a bit pricey though – considering you should definitely get a third party insurance.

If you decide to rent a car you should also know that only the main intercity connections have very good road conditions. However, we were surpised how much and how often you pay for tolls. (Note: they only accept cash) The huge majority of the roads in Brazil are either unpaved or in very bad conditions. Especially on the North East Coast (around Lencois Maranhenses), we struggled with massive potholes on the streets.

How to communicate with Brazilian people

Apart from Rio de Janeiro, not a lot people speak English or Spanish. The only officially spoken language is Portuguese. And in combination with their strong dialects, it makes your Spanish skills pretty useless. Therefore make sure you get the offline version of Google Translate or buy a prepaid sim card to have internet access.

Strangest question of our Brazil trip: Gunshots or fireworks?

If you travel in Brazil, we can almost guarantee you, that at one point you will hear something that sounds alarmingly close to gunshots. But we can assure you, it is most certainly fireworks. It is a huge thing in Brazil to shoot fireworks at all sorts of occasions such as sport games, birthdays and all kinds of parties. So you can calm down – everything is okay. Expect if you decide to stay close to GRU airport in Sao Paolo, where gun shots and violence occasionally happen between gangs.

Best way for you to stay safe is not go out at night, except at tourist spots. If you are travelling alone, especially as a woman, make some friends at your hostel and always stay in groups. Being a girl alone in such countries, attracts more attention and makes you an easy target.

In general: listen to your intuition and go with your gut feeling. If you adhere to some basic safety guidelines, there is not much to worry about. We wish you the trip of a lifetime.

PS: If you have any questions regarding safety in Brazil, we are happy to help. Leave us a comment below or send us a DM on one of our social media channels. 🙂


Top 10 things to do in Brazil

Dying to visit Brazil, experience some kick-ass adventures and cross visiting Rio de Janeiro off your travel bucketlist? We got you covered.

Brazil quickly made it to one of our favourite countries of South America. It is one of the few places on earth, that are super versatile and can keep up with delivering every aspect a true adventure needs. Moreover, Brazil is bigger than some other continents, making it the perfect place to explore for some weeks.

If you have followed us for longer, you know, that we have quite some high expectations of what makes a country or travel destination unique and epic. For us, that means having epic mountains to hike or climb, gorgeous beaches to relax on, windy places to go kitesurfing, the occasional daily challenges of being in a country which language and customs you don’t know, and for sure some super delicious and cheap vegan food places.

That being said: Brazil can cover it all. It can satisfy every type of traveler and adventure thirst. Whether you want to discover Brazil in a few days, week or months, you will find enough adventures to be had.

We visited Brazil for three weeks and for the most of the time we explored the country with our rental car. Read more here on how to get around and how to keep safe while having the trip of your lifetime.

1. Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro has been one of the places we dreamt of visiting since we were little kids. Since at least watching Fast and Furious Five and seeing the epic scene where they fly a helicopter over the Christ Statue, we knew we had to see this epic view for ourselves.

It’s probably the most touristy city of Brazil and it has so much to offer that you should at least spend three days here. Being touristy means also that infrastructure is great, getting around is easy (just call an Uber – it’s sometimes even cheaper than going by metro) and there are epic food places.

Visit Christo Redemeer for sunset (make sure to buy tickets for that time a day in advance), climb Sugarloaf mountain (yep, you read that right – guide following soon) and drink some fresh coconuts at Copacabana or Ipanema Beach.

2. Iguazu Waterfalls

These waterfalls are a true masterpiece of nature and they totally swept us from our feet. Some people we met even told us there are much more impressive than the Niagarafalls. Even though we haven’t seen them personally yet, we are sure its true. The Iguazu waterfalls are massive and as they are accessible either from Brazil or Argentina, you get the most incredible and also lots of different views from them.

3. Lençóis Maranhenses

Lencois Maranhenses is a national park located in northeastern Brazil. It includes 70 km of coastline, and the interior is filled of rolling sand dunes. During the rainy season, the valleys in the dunes fill up with water and turn into gorgeous, crystal-clear freshwater lagoons.

Spend your day there and reconnect with your inner child. Race down the sand dunes like a crazy person and then jump into the light-blue water. Soak up the sun and enjoy your time in one of the most beautiful sand dunes we have ever seen. If you have the extra cash, take a helicopter flight to get a birds view from above. If you are on a tight backpackers budget like we, take your drone or make a friend that has one.

4. Bonito

Bonito, in Mato Grasso do Sul, is the Brazilian ecotourism capital. Its named after the Spanish world “beautiful” and that name says it all. It is true nature heaven, with clear-water rivers with a ton of colorful fishes. You can also find so many amazing waterfalls there, many where you can jump into.

5. Arrail do Cabo

Arrail do Cabo is one of the prettiest beach paradises of Brazil. It is located only three hours away from Rio de Janeiro and you can easily make your way there by taking the local bus.

6. Manaus

Manaus is the venture point if you want to do any epic adventures in the Amazonian rainforest. There are lots of lodges and tour providers, that take you on hikes through the forest, help you spot and hold tarantulas, snakes and small crocodiles or that take you piranhas fishing.

7. Jericoacoara

If you are keen on going kitesurfing or windsurfing, this is the place to go. It’s a cute little fishing village on the north-east coast of Brazil and a super idyllic place to chill out. Jericoacoara is surrounded by beautiful wide beaches and sand dunes; perfect to take a break during your surfing sessions.

8. Pedra de Gavea

Pedra de Gavea is Rio de Janeiro’s highest and most epic hike. But probably also one of the off-the-beaten path locations, that we only got to know of by a local. So extra points for that. The views from there are epic and believe us, it will get your heart racing.

9. Chapada Diamantina

Brazil’s Lost World, also called Chapada Diamantina, is located in the heart of Bahia. It’s an area full of towering rock formations, the perfect destination for any trekking lover. Imagine a landscape full of insane rock formations above the ground and a system of caves with crystal clear lakes and rivers underground. It’s probably one of the most wild eco-adventure place in whole Brazil.

10. Fernando do Noronha

This beach paradise consists of 21 islands and islets. This gorgeous archipelago was declared a Natural World Heritage Site by Unesco. To preserve the prestine nature, the number of visitors is limited. The crystal clear waters, golden beaches and pretty marine life attract people from all over the world. Some of the beaches, such as Praia dos Porcos, Praia dos Leões and Baía do Sancho, are listed as the most beautiful beaches in Brazil.