It’s true that football has shaped Brazil’s national identity, but after watching the great soccer action, this vast country still has a lot to offer. In Brazil, there are so many things to do, places to see, events to attend and tourist attractions to visit. In the metropolitan cities where great football clubs play matches every week, including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, you can enjoy exciting entertainment and excellent cuisine, both local and international.
Rio de Janeiro
Rio is Brazil’s most popular city. The world’s largest carnival takes place here. Rio also served as Brazil’s capital for several decades before the new capital, Brasilia was built. So when you are not watching matches at the Maracana stadium, what are the things you should do here? First you should get a nice map of the city and get oriented.
1. Go to Rio’s Splendid Beaches
You will find beautiful beaches in Ipanema, Copacabana and Leblon. When you arrive at any of these beaches, you will have a chance to taste one of Brazil’s most popular local drinks called caipirinha. Caipirinha means “a little cowboy”. It’s made from lime wedges, cachaça, which tastes like strong white rum, and sugar. This drink is very tasty and costs just about $3 at one of the beach kiosks, but you should drink a small quantity at a time to avoid getting intoxicated.
2. Try Local Barbecue
If you like to eat very tasty meat, you should try out the local barbecue (popularly called churrasco). You can get this at a good churrascaria. Here you will be served by an endless procession of Gaucho-dressed waiters, called passadores. As they pass by your table with beef, chicken or pork, you can point at the part that you want them to cut for you. When you are satisfied, you can simply turn over your coaster from the green side to the red side to stop the waiters from coming to you. In addition to meat, you can also enjoy salad, sausages, sushi and grilled fish.
3. Eat Local Pizza
Pizza lovers should try out the pizza rodizio right in the Dock restaurant on Avenida Atlantica in Copacabana, close to the popular Copa Palace Hotel. You will be offered a wide choice of assorted pizzas, both “sweet” and “salty”. The portuguesa and margarita taste great.
4. Shop at Night Bazaars
In Rio, very close to the Dock, along the sidewalk, you will see Copa’s night bazaar. There are scores of kiosks and tents where you can shop for colorful beach wraps, t-shirts and other souvenirs for yourself and/or loved ones. Bargaining is allowed here, so you should be able to get between 10 to 20 percent off the initial price.
In addition to the night bazaar, you could also shop at the market at Uruguaiana. It’s Rio’s brand of a Turkish bazaar. To get to this market, take the metro to the Uruguaiana station; an escalator will drop you right in the center of the market. Here you will find an assortment of kiosks, fixed shops, stalls and pushcarts. You can buy beachwear, leather goods, tennis shoes and even electronics.
5. Enjoy Live Music
Your stay in Rio would be incomplete without enjoying some live music. One of the local favorites is samba. You can enjoy samba music round the clock at Beco do Rato – a small club located in the Lapa neighborhood. It is easier to get here by taxi. You can sit at the small tables inside and have a cold beer, or stand outside and enjoy the music.
This statue of Jesus Christ is an icon for Rio and Brazil. It was built between 1922 and 1931 from soapstone and reinforced concrete. From 1931 till 2010, it was considered to be the largest statue in the world. The statue is 30 meters high and it stands on an 8 meter pedestal. It is located on the peak of the Corcovado mountain in Tijuca Forest National Park. At night, the statue glows beautifully. In 2007, it was chosen as one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
Sao Paulo is home to some of the richest football clubs outside of Europe, including the 2012 World Club Cup champions – Corinthians. It also has one of the best organized state football leagues. Sao Paulo was the venue of the opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup match between Brazil and Croatia. However, this city is well known for its food, markets, museums and architecture. If you are coming to Sao Paulo for the first time, here are some of the things you will definitely enjoy in this city.
7. Eat with Samba Music
On Saturdays, you can enjoy lunch in several of the city’s bars while you listen and dance to live samba music. The locals (called Paulistanos) use this Saturday samba tradition to relax at the end of the week. One of the best places to enjoy traditional Saturday food (called feijoada) is Bar Samba at Vila Madalena. This special meal consists of rice, beans, dried meat, farofa, kale and oranges. The show starts at 1p.m and continues till late at night. You need to get there very early to get a seat.
8. Visit the Benedito Calixto Market
Apart from Samba Saturday, another great way to spend your Saturday in Sao Paulo is to visit the Calixto market. The market opens early in the morning with the sale of handicrafts and antiques. By noon, live music and dancing begins in the central food court. Here you can enjoy another popular Brazilian style of live music called chorinho. In fact, several people troupe to the market just to listen and dance to this.
In addition, you can also get nuts, dried fruits, coconut water, Brazilian sweets and other traditional Brazilian food such as acaraje and esfiha. As you are leaving the market area, you will also see several shops selling several traditional instruments.
9. Go to the Museums
The Museum of Art in Sao Paulo (MASP) is the best art museum in the city. It contains the finest collection of art in Latin America. Several extraordinary temporary exhibitions are held in this museum. This museum is open, free of charge, to the public on Tuesdays.
10. Experience Exceptional Architecture
Before you leave Sao Paulo, you should take time to see the works of Oscar Niemeyer – one of the greatest architects of the 20th century. A good example is the Latin America Memorial which was designed in honor of the struggles and sacrifices of the early Latin Americans to provide a venue for public events and celebrations. The buildings are architectural masterpieces.