One country, 12 host cities and 3.3 million tickets. The 2014 FIFA World Cup is from June 12 to July 13 in Brazil, and it’s guaranteed to be festive to the extreme. In preparation, Brazil is currently doing renovations in 13 airports and reworking the infrastructure of 12 cities.
Time to start planning your trip. Here’s some education on where to go (and not to go), what to eat, how to avoid getting ripped off and keep money in your pocket.
By air: Most visitors will fly into Guarulhos International Airport (formerly Cumbica International Airport) in Sao Paulo or Tom Jobim International Airport (also known as Galeao) near Rio de Janeiro. Because the matches are in numerous cities around the country, consider getting a World Cup package from a travel company that includes flights, accommodations and city transfers. If making your own arrangements, look into a TAM Brazil Airpass to save money.
By land: Bussing across Brazil is easier than you might think, according to Footprint Travel Guides. Because there are so many entry points from surrounding countries, this might be a good chance to tour a portion of the continent, not just Brazil. Surrounding countries are Peru, Venezuela and Argentina. Getting around by car is an option, too; just be sure to have the proper documents.
By sea: Since this is the trip of a lifetime, you could take the opportunity to go big. You can start your trip with a cruise around the most southern part of South America, traveling through Argentina, the Chilean fjords and Peru on Celebrity cruise lines. Then, head over to Brazil for the World Cup.
Where to Stay
You can either choose to follow your team from city to city and hope there is lodging available or stay near Rio’s coastline, Copacabana beach, Ipanema or Leblon. For a more offbeat experience, the Guardian recommends a boutique hotel in Santa Teresa. If you’re thinking more along the lines of a hostel, look into Vidigal or Tavares Bastos for a favela hotel.
Popular tourist destinations and landmarks include:
- Christ the Redeemer statue
- Copacabana bars and beaches
- Amazon National Park
- Sugar Loaf Mountain
The lesser-traveled sights:
- Wildlife watching in the Pantanal
- Iguacu Fall (across the border in Argentina but worth the side trip)
- Salvador: the capital of happiness and UNESCO World Heritage Site
- The Manaus Municipal Market: 12,000 sq. meters of local shopping
What to Avoid
Police make regular appearances in tourist areas so safety has improved, according to the Guardian. Always be aware of your surroundings. Be wary of dark streets, keep your money and documents close to your body and avoid wearing jewelry of value. Don’t stand out or openly talk on your smartphone. Bring an old flip phone if you need one at all. Avoid ATMs at night. Be careful of street distractions or anything that diverts your attention from your surroundings.
Also, don’t bring your newest souvenir—the plastic, rattling caxirola—into any World Cup stadium. The are banned due to fans throwing them onto the field in a test event.
Brazilians are known for their tan skin and beautifully sculpted bodies. Before you go, begin your beach workout by taking Brazilian dance classes like the samba and lambada. Knowing these local favorites will have the locals shouting, “Viva!” (“Cheers” in Portuguese).
When you’re there expect a diet of rice, beans and beef. Give your body room ahead of time for the impending gluttony.
WorldCupRioBrazil.com offers a free seven-day email course to prepare visitors for the event. It includes expectations, what to bring, lodging, safety, transportation, culture and cuisine. While summer 2014 may seem like far away, it’s going to get expensive if you wait much longer.
About the author: Dylan is a musician and writer from Albuquerque, N.M.