Fun + Lifestyle

Budget or Bougie: Brazil on a Little or a Lot

  • Brazil can be affordable if you know when and where to go
  • Visiting the beautiful beaches, partying in the streets, and eating low-cost street food will be kind to your budget
  • If you have money to spend, rent an amenity-filled yacht, dine at the one of the top restaurants in the world, or have a tour company curate the perfect trip for your group

Even lawyers who earn more modest salaries than the high-powered types we all see on TV still want to enjoy traveling.

And who doesn’t have fabulous Brazil on their list of must-visit locations? Luckily, you can visit this vibrant country whether you have a little or a lot to spend.

Budget—Bar Trips and Spending a Bonus

Experiencing Brazil’s beautiful people, energetic samba, delicious food, gorgeous beaches, and breathtaking rainforests can cost a pretty penny, but it doesn’t have to. Don’t travel from December to March, when prices for just about everything are at their highest due to Carnival, New Year festivities, and travel by native Brazilians. You can find great weather in different parts of the country year-round (avoid the southeast of the country from April through July).

Accommodations: There are many choices for cheap accommodations throughout the country, but as in most places, a bed in a shared room in a hostel will cost from $9 to about $15. Small, family-owned hotels can be as low as $30 per night if you would like to splurge for a few days. You might also consider renting a full apartment through Airbnb, which can run as low as $50 per night—a good deal when split between a few people.

Transportation: Again, when you travel will make the biggest difference in how much you’ll have to spend, and this applies to the flight as well. If you’re planning on visiting different parts of the country during an extended visit, you can purchase the Brazil Airpass from two of the main carriers flying to Brazil, TAM and GOL. This pass allows you to fly four or five times within thirty days at a reduced price.

There is also a robust public transportation system throughout Brazil, including an extensive bus network between cities. These long-distance buses are usually quite comfortable, and come in classes just like air travel, so you can save by choosing the lowest of the three available classes. Another helpful feature of the long-distance buses is that some run over night, which means you can avoid paying for a room. The large cities like Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro have both city buses and a safe, easily navigable subway system. However, you will need to take taxis at night; they can be found at taxi stands, flagged down, or ordered by phone.

Things to Do: Rio is the most expensive part of Brazil, so your best bet is usually to check out other locations.

  • Try the lesser-known region of Minas Gerais in the southeastern part of the country, a mining state full of waterfalls, gorgeous mountains, Baroque-style churches, and a unique cuisine that’s worth the trip all on its own.
  • Or try the small, tourist-friendly town of Lençóis in the northeast state of Bahia. Lençóis is easily toured on foot, but most people visit because of its proximity to the Chapada Diamantina, a country-sized national park that includes countless waterfalls, caves, and breathtakingly beautiful sites great for hikers to enjoy. (You’ll need to travel by car for part of your tour.) Entrance to the park is free, but some attractions that encompass private property charge a small fee. You’ll need to hire a guide, who can also book local accommodations for you along the way if you aren’t interested in camping.
  • Though the Amazon is a popular destination, visitors can be disappointed by the expense and lack of wildlife sightings. A less expensive and more satisfying alternative is the Pantanal, the world’s largest wetlands. It has the highest concentration of wildlife in South America and contains several different ecosystems. You’ll see capuchin and howler monkeys, capybaras, toucans, tapirs, and even jaguars and anacondas if you’re lucky, not to mention the over-six-hundred bird species you might spot. There is no shortage of tour guides available to take you into the park, so you should be able to find a deal.
  • Don’t forget the beaches! Whichever parts of the country you choose to visit, you’ll find a beautiful beach nearby.
  • If you do end up in Rio or Sao Paolo on the cheap, don’t worry about going to nightclubs: Live music and dancing in the streets is quite common.

Food: The food in Brazil is diverse, delicious, plentiful, and surprisingly reasonably priced if you avoid touristy restaurants in Rio or Sao Paolo.

  • Filling, yummy street food is everywhere in busy parts of Brazil, and for very little money. What you’ll have the opportunity to eat will often depend on what part of Brazil you visit. Try coxinha, a deep-fried chicken pocket that costs about $2, maybe less. Street stalls and small cafes serve pasteis, a deep-fried pastry with your choice of filling, such as mozzarella and tomato or meat with cheese, and empadinhas are mini pot pies usually filled with either chicken and peas or heart of palm with green olives. Put these low-cost snacks together for a full meal.
  • Fresh fruits and nuts are sold everywhere on the streets in Brazil.
  • Quench your thirst with fruit juices (sucos), caldo de cana (sugar cane juice), and água de coco, (coconut water).
  • For a sit-down dinner, choose an all-you-can-eat barbecue restaurant to get the most bang for your buck.
What are you most looking forward to eating in Brazil? Have you had much Brazilian food?

Bougie—The Partner’s Vacay

If you’re doing so well at your firm that you’re ready to spend on luxury, Brazil is the place to be. Since price is no object, why not travel to Rio or Sao Paolo when everyone else is going: During Carnival! Carnival is held between the Friday afternoon before Ash Wednesday and Ash Wednesday, and depending on the location of the celebrations you attend, consists of large parades organized by samba schools or parades that onlookers can join. There’s live music, dancing, and singing. The many musical styles showcased during Carnival all come from Afro-Brazilian culture. Book your flight and your hotel as far in advance as possible, since the celebration draws people from around the world.

Accommodations: There are luxurious, amenity-filled hotels in just about every part of Brazil.

  • In Rio: The Copacabana Palace. Three five-star restaurants and French décor distinguish this luxurious favorite of celebrities and politicians.
  • In Sao Paolo: The Tivoli Mofarrej. This hotel boasts a private beach and two five-star restaurants.
  • In Buzios: the Insolito Boutique Hotel. Brazilian modern art or photography personally chosen by the owner decorates each room.
  • In southern Bahia: The Txai Resort. This boutique resort marries luxury and comfort with eco-friendliness. It consists of bungalows placed throughout a coconut grove overlooking the ocean.

Transportation: With enough money, chartering a helicopter or a yacht is a great way to get around Brazil.

Things to Do: The sky is the limit if your wallet is full: Specialty companies like Matueté will curate a personal experience for you, including accommodations on a fully-staffed yacht, five-star meals, and special access to lesser-traveled areas guided by experts.

  • Nightlife in Brazil starts at 11 and doesn’t end until the sun begins to rise. Try bouncing from place to place, like Leviano Bar is a former colonial mansion that offers everything from electronica to live samba, as well as an extensive cocktail menu.
  • You may or may not be disappointed by the shy wildlife of the Amazon, but check it out anyway! Book a luxury tour, including perfect details like canopy tree house lodging with a butler, your own hydroplane to take you to your ecolodge deep in the heart of the Amazon, and aerial sightseeing opportunities.
  • Try a guided art tour to see Rio’s famous hidden graffiti art and open-air galleries.
  • Don’t forget the many cultural attractions, such as the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio; Pelourinho, the colorful historic city center of Salvador in the state of Bahia; and Inhotim, an open-air art gallery located on 5,000 acres of botanical gardens that houses sculptures, art pavilions, and interactive masterpieces.

Food: When eating in Brazil, you’re always in for a treat. Just remember: When you’re done checking out some of the fancier establishments, don’t forget to also taste as much street food as you can.

Try Churrascaria Palace in Copacabana for everything you want in a traditional steakhouse—fine cuts of meat and excellent wines. Sao Paolo’s most acclaimed restaurant D.O.M. is one of the world’s best, and features local, authentic ingredients from small farmers and riverside communities.

There’s no way you won’t enjoy a trip to Brazil, no matter your budget. Have fun!