With the World Cup just days away, excitement is hitting fever pitch! Will Brazil send their home nation into a frenzy by getting to the final? Can Spain be the first European team to win a major competition in South America? Will England win a match? Any match will do.
We don’t have the answers, but whether you’ve already booked your flight, are thinking about a last minute trip or you’re just intrigued about the cities hosting the matches, then this blog is for you. Below we’ve listed some great things to do and see in each city when you’re not watching a game.
Rio de Janeiro
The most famous city on the list and the place that every traveller to Brazil will want to visit. Rio de Janeiro is hosting seven matches including the final. If you get a chance to go to the marvellous city, then there are three things you absolutely must do.
First; take a trip to Rio’s Copacabana beach, often referred to as the world’s most famous beach – it runs for three miles along the main area of Rio de Janeiro – is great for catching some rays and taking a dip in the sea. Next up; check out the Corcovado Mountain. On your way there, you’ll travel through the Tijuca Rain Forest. Once you arrive, you will experience the breathtaking views of Rio and have the chance to see the iconic Christ the Redeemer. We also strongly recommend Sugarloaf Mountain. Set in the mouth of Guanabara Bay, it’s one of the world’s most famous natural landmarks and offers some fantastic jaw-dropping views.
Sao Paulo will host six matches during the World Cup. The city also known as Sampa often gets over looked by visitors in favour of the vibrancy of Rio, but there is still plenty on offer if you happen to be catching a game here.
The nightlife scene is regarded as one of the best in the world, so depending on whether your country won or lost, you can either drown your sorrows or celebrate like crazy to the early hours of the morning. Pink Elephant and Kiss & Fly are popular for their great music and lively atmosphere amongst locals and tourists. If you’re into electronic music, then the super-club D Edge is a must. Maybe you’re after something a bit more low-key? If that’s the case, then try out the Sao Paulo Zoo which happens to be the largest zoo in Brazil and has over 3,000 animals to meet.
The capital city of Brazil will host seven matches during the tournament and is known for its structural design in the shape of a bird! Fantastic architecture and awesome art are what you’ll find whilst in the city.
Paranoa Lake is an artificial lake on the east side of the city, and it’s lined with bars and restaurants where you can dine whilst enjoying the pretty views. You can’t miss the city’s modernist architecture, but make sure you see the Palacio do Itamaraty; home to the Foreign Ministry, it’s a fine example of Brasilia’s distinctive architecture and was designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer
The biggest city in the south of Brazil will host four matches during the World Cup, including games involving Italy, Argentina and Germany. Curitiba is known for its thriving theatre scene, so check out a play at one of the theatres whilst you’re there.
The Wire Opera House is a must see. The open-air building has a 5175-square-foot stage with great acoustics that benefit from a 90-foot tall rock wall. The Botanical Garden of Curitiba offer scenic views – created in the style of French gardens, and at night during the World Cup it will change colour to pay homage to the national team.
Fortaleza might not have same level of international fame as Rio, but this north-eastern city provides some great beaches and wild nightlife. The city will be hosting six games at the World Cup including a quarter final match.
We mentioned the beaches and you should definitely take a trip to Cumbuco Beach. Whether you want to take part in some cool watersports, or just kick back and relax on the sand, it’s a good choice for sun-seekers. You can take a guided tour of Morro Branco; the red and white sand cliffs are a pretty extraordinary sight where you can see the beautiful seashore and quaint little ponds.
The footballing mad city of Recife will host five matches at the World Cup. A stay in this Dutch-influenced city mean passionate locals, enjoying some great beaches and wandering through colourful colonial streets.
Thanks to its many canals and bridges, Recife has been titled the “Venice of Brazil”. There’s are plenty of beaches to take advantage of with soft sands and lovely water. The houses recall traditional Dutch buildings, giving the city a European feel. There’s also some great places to shop in Recife, what with it hosting Brazil’s second largest shopping centre.
Cuiaba is located right in the centre of South America and will host four matches during the tournament. No beaches here, this is a very different side to Brazil, in the heart of cowboy country. It’s close to the Pantanal, an incredible area of natural diversity where you can see Brazilian tapirs, giant otters, Capuchin monkeys and 82 species of large birds. If you’re very very lucky there’s a chance you could spot the infamous Jaguar.
Hosting five matches in the World Cup, Porto Alegre will offer visitors a slightly cooler atmosphere, a nice change from the heat of other Brazilian cities. The most southerly of all the hosting cities is home to successful Brazilian team, Internacional.
If you’re looking for some non-related football things to do, then check out the Museum of Science and Technology which was opened in 1998. It is the only interactive museum in Latin America and has a reputation for being one of the best in the world. We also suggest stopping by a street named Rua Gonçalo de Carvalho which has been classed as the most beautiful street in the world by some publications
Natal was founded on Christmas day, hence its name which means Christmas in Portuguese. The city will host four games and is based in the north.
Ponta Negra is a famous beach worth a visit for some down-time in the sun and a dip in the sea. Originally used for fishing, the beach has since become a hot spot for tourists with its soft sands, clear waters and palm trees. Dunas Park, which is the second largest park in Brazil is a good place to take a stroll, have a picnic and enjoy the wildlife living in the park.
Salvador is the biggest city in the north of Brazil, and you’ll note a vibrant African contribution to the Brazilian culture here, due to its chequered past at the heart the slave trade. This is where Capoeira originates, the Brazilian martial art, energetic blocos (drum bands) parade through the streets creating a carnival feel all year round, and the cuisine is notably spicier than elsewhere in Brazil.
The city will host six World Cup matches and if you’re lucky enough to be watching a game there, then in your spare time we suggest checking out the Pelourinho, which is the historical district of Salvador and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. There’s also an awesome beach to check out – Porto da Barra. This is where you want to be catching some rays whilst you’re not watching football.
Leafy boulevards, plenty of space and surrounded by mountains – Doesn’t sound like the usual impression of Brazil does it? The pretty city of Belo Horizonte will host six matches in the World Cup, including a semi-final.
The city is known for having the largest number of bars per capita in Brazil, so even if you don’t have a ticket to a game, you can sit down in a bar and enjoy it with a cold beer. If you get the chance, also check out Marista Hall, it’s a multi-space building that hosts a theatre, arena and sports courts, with many sporting and artistic events taking place there.
Manaus is in the heart of the Amazon and will be the venue for England’s first World Cup game, which takes place against Italy. Due to its location close to the equator, it can get very humid and sweaty, but fear not, you can always take a trip to a few river beaches nearby to cool off from the heat and excitement of the games. And it’s an amazing opportunity to journey into the rainforest.