3 Weeks In Brazil Itinerary

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I wasn’t originally going to Brazil. I was coming from Europe and wanted to see Peru or Colombia. But the most affordable flight that I could find with fewer connections was direct to Brazil from Europe. I mean, I know what Brazil is known for, but for some reason, it wasn’t on my top list.

That changed, though, after I realised that I would land in Fortaleza (northern region) and I could go to the local’s favourite destination called Jericoacoara. Instead of just doing a layover, I decided to stay for a few days.

That was in 2018. I loved it so much that a few years passed, and I finally decided to come back and dedicate a 3-week trip to Brazil. This itinerary will help you plan where to go around Brazil, the cost, how to get around, what to see, and even what to eat.

Brazil is the largest country both in the south and Latin America. It is also the fifth-largest country by area and the sixth-most populous country in the world. Since it is a large country, it has four time zones.

It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language. In this itinerary of 3 weeks in Brazil, I will take you to stunning beaches, delicious local dishes, and of course – the Amazon River.

Brazilians are well known for their love of football. If you are familiar with the World Cup, FIFA 2014 was held in Brazil. They also currently have the most wins in FIFA. Aside from their love of the sport, Brazil is also known to have the largest carnival in the world.

These reasons alone are enough to start planning a trip to Brazil but don’t worry because there are still a billion other things to see and experience in this country.

Brazil is also the world’s largest exporter of coffee a perfect destination for all the coffee lovers out there. These don’t even cover half of the sights, sceneries, and activities that you could do here.

There’s no denying that Brazil is a popular destination. If you have 3 weeks in South America and want to maximise your time, make sure to include Brazil.

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING BRAZIL

bridge over sunset, amazon green forest and blue river, christ the redeemer statue, sugarloaf mountain - 3 WEEKS IN BRAZIL ITINERARY
Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge, Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, and Amazon River

Here is some basic yet important information that you must know before planning a trip or booking anything. It covers when to go, transportation, visa, and more:

Best time to go to Brazil

Brazil has four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. Because it is in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are the other way around here.

Summer lasts from December to March and is the busiest time to visit Brazil as there are tons of activities you could do. This includes island hopping, surfing, spending time on the beach, and even visiting the Amazon River. You can also visit botanical gardens, go paddleboarding, watch the sunset or go to the Iguazu Falls.

The shoulder seasons in Brazil are typically April to June and August to October. These periods are considered the best times to visit due to milder weather and fewer tourists compared to the peak season.

During these months, the temperatures are more comfortable, especially in northern regions like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, where summer can be particularly hot. Additionally, prices for accommodation and travel are often lower.

The rainy season in Brazil varies by region but generally occurs from December to March, particularly in the southern and southeastern parts of the country. It’s advisable to avoid this season for holidays due to frequent heavy rainfall, which can lead to flooding, transportation delays, and hinder outdoor activities.

In the Amazon, the wet season extends from December to May, causing river levels to rise significantly, which can restrict access to certain areas and activities.

Getting around

Metro and subway are the most common mode of transportation around the city, you may also use Uber to get around. There are airports in almost every major city around Brazil for domestic flying.

Due to the size of the country, the cost varies but is still affordable. For example, the Rio to Brasilia flight ticket costs $30 to $100 for one way.

  • Fastest: Domestic flights are the quickest way to travel between major cities and long distances due to Brazil’s vast size.
  • Most Affordable: Buses are the most economical option for intercity travel. They are extensive and can reach most destinations across the country.
  • Around the City: Metro systems in major cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are efficient for urban travel. Buses are also widely available and cover extensive routes.
  • Ride-Hailing Apps: Uber, 99 (formerly 99Taxis), and Cabify operate in many cities, offering convenient options for getting around. They are often preferred for their ease of use and safety features compared to traditional taxis.

RELATED POST: 3 weeks in Central America

Are 3 weeks enough for Brazil

20 days in not much for a country of this size. However, if you know where you want to go and what you want to see, it can help you maximise your time. Every region offers various experiences, so drill down on what you want to experience first.

There are so many places to see, and transportation can take longer if you travel by land. Best if you choose around 4-5 cities to cover and pick the ones not too far from one another or have a direct bus or air travel route.

Another thing to consider is your mode of transportation. Taking the bus might be more affordable, but it’s slow and will take up a lot of your time.

Average cost of 20 days in Brazil

Budget travellers can expect to spend around $1,200 – $1,800 for three weeks. This involves staying in hostels or budget accommodations, eating at local eateries, using public transportation, and focusing on free or low-cost attractions.

For a comfortable experience, a mid-range budget is between $2,000 – $3,000. This allows for stays in 3-star hotels, dining in a mix of budget and mid-range restaurants, participating in some guided tours, and occasionally using taxis or renting a car for convenience.

For a luxurious experience, plan to spend upwards of $5,000 – $7,000 or even more. This includes staying in 5-star hotels or resorts, dining at high-end restaurants, taking private tours, and using comfortable and convenient transportation options.

Visa

Visas for tourists in Brazil are pretty easy; they used to require a visa, but have updated that since. Now, nationalities from all of America, Europe, Oceania, and some places in Southeast Asia are free of visas for 90 days.

Travellers from most of Africa, South Asia, and some East and Central Asia must apply for a visa before arrival in Brazil.

Other basic travel tips

These are the sites and travel tools I use whenever I’m travelling anywhere in the world. These services are quite flexible, offering free or reduced prices if you need to cancel for whatever reason.

I recommend you book your accommodation and flight in advance though because the prices rise up as the dates come closer.

PINNED MAP OF THE MUST-SEE PLACES IN BRAZIL

Click the icon on the top right to enlarge the map. Credit: Map data: Google

3 WEEKS IN BRAZIL ITINERARY

Brazil is among the world’s most biodiverse countries with around 4 million plant and animal species. The country’s highest mountain wasn’t discovered until 1950 because it is almost always shrouded by clouds.

This is a great destination for those who want to explore South America’s nature and wildlife. However, planning is important because getting from one place to another can be tricky.

This itinerary is perfect for first-time visitors to Brazil. You don’t have to follow this plan religiously. You can choose bits and pieces and fill out the gaps depending on what you want to see and do.

Day-to-day overview

  • Day 1: Arrive in Rio de Janeiro, travel from the airport to your hotel bus or a private transfer, catch up with sleep and maybe get a local sim card with data
  • Day 2-3: Explore Rio’s top attractions and check out the Ipanema beach
  • Day 4: Day trip to Paraty/Ilha Grande or Angra dos Resis
  • Day 5: Go paragliding or hang gliding
  • Day 6: Get to Sao Paulo from Rio by bus, 6-7 hour trip
  • Day 7: Explore Sao Paulo
  • Day 8: Travel from Sao Paulo to Brasilia, book a 1 hour and 45-minute flight, the drive is over 12 hours
  • Day 9-10: Discover Brasilia
  • Day 11: Travel from Brasilia to Manaus to reach the Amazon River/Forest, there’s a direct 3-hour flight
  • Day 12-15: Cruise along the Amazon River and stay in a lodge
  • Day 16-18: Chase waterfalls and explore the caves, go piranha fishing and spot alligators
  • Day 19: Explore Manaus town proper or travel from Manaus to your city of departure
  • Day 20: Board your flight home or to your next destination

Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo for 8 days

To simplify, Sao Paulo is like a business hub of Brazil so it’s perfect for those who prefer tourist spots with a modern vibe while Rio de Janeiro has a more laid-back vibe

Rio is a great place to start since many flights will land here. From Rio, you can pretty much get anywhere in Brazil, whether by plane or land.

Rio de Janeiro is one of those cities that don’t need any introduction. It is popular for its chill and relaxing vibe filled with people who are enjoying a suntan, surfing, football on the beach, and other water activities.

For the ultimate experience, you could actually stay in both places. In terms of food, Sao Paulo is what you can call a gastronomical spot as this business district has attracted immigrants all throughout the years while Rio de Janeiro is more well-known for its beautiful scenery.

Copacabana beach, mountain in the background, colourful stairs - 3 weeks in Brazil itinerary

What to do in Rio de Janeiro

Where to stay in Rio

cathedral with coconut tree line, bridge - 3 weeks in Brazil itinerary

Sao Paulo is the capital of the largest state of Brazil. It has numerous cultural institutions and a rich architectural heritage. And since Brazilians are well known for their love of football, they have their own football club called Corinthians. They also hosted the 1950 and 2014 FIFA World Cup. 

You can travel from Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo via bus, plane, rideshare, or by driving a car. If you want the fastest route, then flying is recommended. It will take 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach your destination.

Meanwhile, if you prefer the cheapest option, then riding a bus is your best bet, but it would take a longer time to reach Sao Paulo, around 6 hours and 15 minutes.

What to do in Sao Paulo

Where to stay in Sao Paulo

Brasilia for 3 days

arch , statue, bridge - 3 weeks in Brazil itinerary

After the 9-day stay in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, next in our 3 weeks in Brazil. We are now heading to the capital city of the country. The flight from Rio or Sao Paulo to Brasilia is less than 2 hours. There are many flights throughout the day.

Brasilia was chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its modern architecture. There are also interesting cultural institutions like museums, galleries, and theatres. But what I liked the most about stopping in Brasilia is because it’s not as touristy as Rio or Sao Paulo.

I was able to take a bit of a break from a busy itinerary. I walked around downtown and visited cafes where I could process my first week in Brazil. But at the same time, since I’m heading north, this is a great stop while chopping a long flight into two.

It has a tropical savanna climate with two distinct seasons. The rainy season lasts from October to April, and the dry season is from May to September.

What to do in Brasilia

  • Praça dos Tràs Poderes
  • Palacio dos Arcos
  • Catedral Metropoletana Nossa Senhora Aparecida
  • Memorial JK
  • Santuario dom Bosco
  • Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge
  • Congresso Nacional
  • Parque Nacional de Brasilia
  • Pontão do Lago Sul

Where to stay in Brasilia

Amazon River/Forest for 7 days

tall tree, boats on amazon river - 3 weeks in Brazil itinerary

One of the most amazing places in Brazil is the Amazon Rainforest. It is the world’s largest river and one of the fascinating things about it is the amount of biodiversity found in the area. There are around 16,000 tree species and 2.5 million insect species in the Amazon River.

Another interesting fact is that this rainforest is so large that if it were to become a country, it would be the 14th largest in the world. It’s even bigger than Mexico! With that being said, as there’s a lot to explore in the Amazon, you can stay here for 7 days during your 3 weeks in Brazil.

Amazon River Cruise

If you have 3 weeks in Brazil and going to the Amazon Forest, you must do a cruise. There are various types of river cruises that you could avail yourself of. The prices depend on the duration of your trip and the places on Amazon that you would explore.

They have the 4 days Amazon jungle adventure tour, Manaus to Santarem by riverboat, which lasts for 3 days, the Rio negro half-day expedition tour, and the Amazon adventure night tour, which lasts for 5 hours. Here are popular Amazon tours and accommodations:

MUST-TRY BRAZILIAN FOOD AND DRINKS

During your visit to Brazil, make sure to stop and try some traditional drinks and food. You should be able to find these dishes in almost any restaurant across the country.

  • Feijoada – Brazil’s national dish, a hearty stew of black beans with pork or beef, traditionally served with rice, collard greens, and orange slices.
  • Moqueca – A flavorful fish stew made with coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, and coriander, cooked slowly in a clay pot.
  • Churrasco – Brazilian barbecue, featuring a variety of grilled meats often served with farofa (toasted cassava flour mixture) and vinaigrette salsa.
  • Acarajé – Fried balls made from black-eyed peas and onions, stuffed with vatapá (spicy shrimp paste) and caruru (okra).
  • Pão de Queijo – Cheese bread made from cassava flour and cheese, warm and gooey from the oven.
  • Coxinha – A popular snack of chicken wrapped in dough shaped like a teardrop, then breaded and fried.
  • Pastel – Thin-crust pies filled with a variety of fillings such as cheese, meat, or seafood, fried until crispy.
  • Bobó de Camarão – A shrimp dish made with cassava, coconut milk, and dendê oil, resembling a thick, flavorful stew.
  • Pamonha – made from boiled sweet corn and coconut milk, is sometimes compared to tamales but it’s quite different.

Desserts:

  • Brigadeiro – A small, chocolate ball coated in chocolate sprinkles, made from condensed milk, cocoa powder, butter, and chocolate.
  • Quindim – A glossy, yellow dessert made primarily from sugar, egg yolks, and ground coconut.
  • Beijinho – Similar to brigadeiro, but made with coconut instead of chocolate, often topped with a clove.
  • Caipirinha – Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça (sugar cane hard liquor), sugar, and lime.
  • Guaraná – A soft drink made from the guaraná fruit, very popular among Brazilians and known for its refreshing taste.
  • Cachaça – A distilled spirit from sugarcane juice, often drunk straight or used in cocktails like the caipirinha.

SUMMARY OF 3 WEEKS IN BRAZIL

Aside from the famous landmarks and attractions, there are still a lot of hidden gems for you to discover during your three weeks in Brazil, as it has diverse landscapes spread out over a large landmass, both man-made and natural.

From the rainforests of the Amazon to the beaches of Rio and the urban architecture of Brasilia, you’ll definitely never run out of places to explore. Besides that, they even have a very eventful festival called Carnival, which lasts 5 days.

Most of the tourists love the Brazilians’ vibrance. The streets of Rio are filled with Brazilian samba and jazz music, making it seem like it’s a holiday all year round.

Another thing that you need to know about this country is that most people don’t speak English. That’s why it’s handy to be familiar with a couple of Portuguese phrases, especially the ones we usually use when communicating while travelling. Such as “how much is this”, “restaurant”, “airport”, and “thank you”.

They also have a lot of exotic fruits, that’s why their fruit juices taste amazing, so if you’re the type of traveller who doesn’t shy away from trying out new foods or drinks then these fruits and drinks are highly recommended.

I hope that you found this travel guide for 3 weeks in Brazil helpful in writing or creating your own holiday itinerary. If you have any questions, leave us a comment below.

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