All along the Brazilian coast there are many exceptional diving sites. Equipment for diving can normally be rented locally. Locations rated among the best in the world for diving include the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, the coast of Pernambuco around Recife, and the marine park of Abrolhos off the southern coast of the state of Bahia.

Dress Code

Brazilians, even in the major cities, dress casually outside the office. None of the country’s top restaurants insist on collar and tie although the occasional club does.
Collar and tie still predominate in formal office and business surroundings in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and most working women wear dresses or skirts. Ladies should remember to pack a jacket or shawl when coming to Brazil as some of the buildings and restaurants can be a little over enthusiastic with the air conditioning. When packing, keep in mind that cities like Rio and Sao Paulo are big, fashionable, cosmopolitan cities and not a small tourist resorts. If you forget to bring some item of clothing with you, you will certainly be able to find what you forgot in any of the big shopping centres.

Duty Free Goods

Brazil’s international airports are unusual in that they offer duty free goods on arrival and visitors, on presentation of their passport and ticket, will be allowed to purchase up to US$500 worth of duty free products, including drink and tobacco. It is worth noting, especially when visitors are leaving Brazil, that by law the duty free stores are not allowed to accept Brazil’s own currency, the real, but will be happy to accept all other major international currencies and credit cards.
As in most other countries, travellers under 18 years of age are not allowed to buy any alcoholic drinks, tobacco products or similar restricted goods.

Electrical Current

In Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the current is 127 volts (60 cycles) but many of the larger hotels also offer 220 volts. If there is any doubt, check with the front desk of the hotel or the owner of the house or apartment. Transformers to boost the current from 110 volts to 220 volts are available in most good electrical supply stores.
Not all of Brazil is 127 volts, however. Salvador and Manaus, for example, are, while Recife and Brasília are 220 volts. For most electric appliances Brazil uses a two-round-pinned socket.

Food & Drink

Like the hamburger and the banana split in the United States, Brazil’s cuisine is the product of tradition. Each region of Brazil – depending on its indigenous culture, which European group colonized it, nearness to rivers or the ocean, annual rain and soil conditions – developed its own very diverse cuisine. The cuisine from Bahia, for example, dates back to the time of slavery when the masters saved the leftovers from the previous day’s meal to give to their slaves. In the Amazon region a favourite dish is pato no tucupi which consists of pieces of duck in a rich sauce that is loaded with a wild green herb that tingles the stomach for hours after eating. In Rio Grande do Sul churrasco is the main dish. It consists of pieces of beef, skewered onto a metal sword, and roasted outdoors over hot coals. There is a tomato and onion sauce to go over it. Churrascarias (barbecue houses) can be found throughout Brazil. If there is one dish that typifies Brazilian cooking it is probably feijoada. It is a complicated bean dish prepared with air-dried beef, smoked sausage, tongue, pig’s ears and tails, garlic, and chilli peppers. It is customary to fill a plate with white rice and spoon feijoada over the top, covered with farofa (cassava flour) to thicken the sauce. The whole dish is garnished with spring greens and slices of oranges.
The legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages in Brazil is 18. Brazil produces or imports most of the major international brands. Brazilian beer is a very good lager which is served in draught form (chopp) or bottled. The national drink is cachaça, made from crushed sugar cane, which is the basis of the popular caipirinha. Cachaça is also the basis for batidas, a mix of cachaça and fresh fruit juices. Soft drinks are no less spectacular and the most popular is Guaraná. Brazil is, of course, the world’s largest coffee producer.

Guide Books

Most of the major guidebook series publish titles that cover Brazil. Many also produce a separate guide for Rio de Janeiro. It should be possible to find a selection of the guides listed below in most good book stores in the UK. If not, they are easy enough for the shops to order or they can be bought over the Internet at sites such as www.amazon.co.uk orwww.stanfords.co.uk. It is highly recommended that visitors take the time to read at least one guidebook before arriving in Brazil.
If you are going to be touring in Brazil you should, on arrival, get hold of a copy of the Quatro Rodas Guia Brasil, published by Editora Abril. This is essentially Brazil’s Michelin guide and is simple enough to follow even if you don’t speak Portuguese. If you do speak Portuguese, check Abril’s travel website.

Health & Insurance

Brazil has an excellent network of private hospitals in the major metropolitan centres. Private medical care is expensive, so it is advisable that all visitors take out medical insurance prior to their arrival. Even without insurance, Brazil has a public health service that will look after foreign visitors in an emergency.


Most hotels in Brazil offer web access and there are cyber-cafes in many of the main shopping centres.


Brazil has many fine newspapers but the size of the country dictates that the majority must be regional. In Rio de Janeiro, the big three are O Globo, Jornal do Brasil and O Dia, while in São Paulo they are Folha de São Paulo, Estado de São Pauloand Folha da Tarde.
Foreign newspapers and periodicals are not difficult to find in Brazil. The international editions of the Miami Herald, USA Today and Herald Tribune are flown in each morning from Miami and distributed by noon to most hotels and selected newsstands in Rio and São Paulo. Time, Newsweek and The Economist can also be bought at most quality newsstands.


Although 90 per cent of Brazil is within the tropics, more than 60 per cent of the population lives in areas where altitude, sea winds, or polar fronts moderate the temperature. Plateau cities such as São Paulo, Brasília and Belo Horizonte have mild climates averaging 19°C (66°F). Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Natal and Salvador on the coast have warmer climates balanced by the Trade Winds. Rio, for example, has an average temperature of around 26°C (80°F) which will climb into the high 30s-low 40s (over 100°F) during the summer months. In the southern Brazilian cities of Porto Alegre and Curitiba, the subtropical climate is similar to parts of the US and Europe, with frosts occurring in the winter months (July-August) when temperatures can fall below freezing. Summers are hot, however.
Seasons in Brazil are the reverse of those in Europe and the US:
· Spring: 22 September to 21 December
· Summer: 22 December to 21 March
· Autumn: 22 March to 21 June
· Winter: 22 June to 21 September


At immigration, non-Brazilians must have their passport, visa (if required) and any other immigration formalities checked.

UK citizens holding British passports do not require Visa for travelling to South America but we suggest to kindly check with the concerned embassy before you book your holiday.

Like most airports, the airports in Brazil have different lines for national passport holders and foreign visitors. Foreign passport holders should make sure they get their passports stamped and that they retain half of the immigration form they fill in on arrival. Visitors who miss getting their passport stamped or who lose the form will have to get clearance from the Federal Police to leave the country and may have to pay a fine.

Customs officials normally inspect the baggage of around 30 per cent or more of incoming passengers. Besides clothing and personal effects, tourists entering Brazil may bring in one of each of the following items: radio, tape/CD player, typewriter, notebook computer, movie and still camera

Rail Travel: The passenger rail network in Brazil is extremely limited and not a viable option for travelling around the country. There are, however, a number of scenic routes. Brazil has only 17,500 miles of railways compared to over one million miles of roads.
Religion: Catholicism is Brazil’s largest religion. Evangelical Protestantism, Spiritism, Afro-Brazilian religions, such as Candomblé and Umbanda, and Judaism also have significant numbers of followers.
Sea Travel: Since air travel has become so popular, there is no scheduled boat service between Brazil and the rest of the world, although some cargo lines, such as Grimaldi Freighters, do offer a limited service from Europe. Rio is one of the prime ports of call for cruise ships, especially at Carnival time. Besides Rio de Janeiro, popular ports of call in Brazil include Manaus, Belém, Fortaleza, Recife, Salvador and Vitória.
Telephone Service: Brazil has a well developed telephone network and it is relatively simple to direct dial to anywhere in Brazil or internationally. You can dial direct (DDI), which is cheaper, to most countries in the world, by first dialling 00, the long distance operator code (21 for Embratel or 23 for Intelig) and then the country’s own code followed by the area code and the number you want to contact. Should the area code start with a zero, the zero must be dropped. Therefore the number of the Embassy of Brazil in London would be dialled as 00-(21 or 23)-44-20-7399-9000.
The local telephone directories have a full list of country codes as well as the major area codes but this information is also available free of charge from the international operator on 000333. The operators speak English and also offer a free translation service in French, Japanese, German, Italian and Spanish on 000111.
If you already know the number you wish to call, but want to make the call person-to-person, use your telephone credit card, or call collect, you must first call the operator on 000111.
On 30 June 2001 there were changes to the telephone numbers in the Brazilian states of Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo and Pará. In Rio de Janeiro, the digit 2 has been added to numbers starting with 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7, except for the prefixes 460 and 461, which now start with 3. For example, the number 207 1234 is now 2207 1234 and the number 460 1234 is now 3460 1234. Most guide books in circulation or information in print does not yet reflect these changes.
It is now possible to use foreign mobiles within Brazil but you should first check with your service provider as to exactly what coverage to expect because it does vary from state to state and from one service provider to another. As does the cost.
To dial internationally from your mobile, you may have to follow the same procedure as a land line and choose a long distance operator. For example 00 (for international) followed by 21 (for Embratel), followed by the number of the country you wish to talk to and the full telephone number.
If you mobile phone is not compatible to work in Brazil, it is also possible to rent a handset in Brazil. This can be delivered to your hotel or picked up at the airport.
Time Zones: The parts of Brazil most popular with foreign visitors lie within the Brazilian standard time zone, three hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. The states of Amazonas, Roraima, Rondônia, Pará, Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul are a further one hour behind Brazilian standard time, while Acre is two hours behind. Fernando de Noronha and other oceanic islands are one hour ahead of Brazilian standard time.
In 1985 Brazil introduced daylight savings time. Brazilian summer time comes into effect in October and ends in early February. During this period of daylight saving time, Brazil’s clocks go forward one hour in most of the south east. This when most of the Northern Hemisphere countries, such as the UK, are putting their clocks back one hour and coming off summer time. So, from March to October, when Brazil is on normal time and the UK is on its summer time, the time difference between Rio and London will be four hours. This drops to just two hours when Brazil goes on to summer time and the UK comes off.
Credit Cards & Currency: The Brazilian monetary unit is the real (R$) (plural, reais). There are 100 centavos to the real.
Most major international credit cards are accepted in Brazil. Credit card receipts from stores and restaurants will be priced in reais although you will be billed in the currency of your own country, the official exchange rate having been taken into consideration.
The official exchange rate is published daily in the newspapers. For today’s rate, visit Bloomberg Currency Calculator.
The US dollar is by far the most widely accepted foreign currency in Brazil. There is also an extensive network of cashpoints at which UK cash cards can be used, although you should check with your bank before departure that your card can be used overseas.