Updated on April 27, 2019 by Asher Fergusson
What should I pack for my Brazil trip?
One thing is for sure: Brazil is an extremely welcoming country. No matter which part of the huge country you visit, you’ll experience Brazilian hospitality at its finest, and plenty of local culture.
Packing well is the key to making your trip enjoyable and stress-free. I’ve put together this list to help! You’ll learn what to wear in Brazil, what NOT to bring, seasons and weather, and the answers to top Brazil FAQs.
Open hearts and open minds are key to travel here – you’ll be welcomed with smiles and fun!
6) Virtual Private Network (VPN) – A good VPN like NordVPN provides an additional level of security that could mean the difference between safely going online at cafe’s, airports, and BnBsetc and having your private information like credit card numbers hacked or stolen. It’s a scary prospect, but this inexpensive and easy-to-use service can keep you safe with one touch of a button!
Other items you may need in Brazil
Yellow fever vaccine
Copies of your photo ID and passport
Scrubba Wash Bag
Quick dry towel
Brazil Travel Guide
Travel Antiperspirant Wipes
Rain Jacket – Men’s & Women’s
Compact Pocket Blanket
SPF lip balm
UV sun protector shirt – Men’s & Women’s
Wide tooth comb
Device Floatation Straps
What should I wear in Brazil?
Overall, Brazil is a casual country and you won’t need to dress to impress unless you are going out at night or are staying in a large, urban city such as São Pauloor Rio de Janeiro. Brazilians dress their best when they go out on the town at night or for formal business meetings. Everyday wear can consist of shorts, a tank or tee and some sandals and you won’t look out of place. Brazil is a large country and it is very biodiverse, which means you should plan your wardrobe based on the region you are visiting. Some parts of Brazil can reach cooler temperatures, especially at night so you will want to keep this in mind when planning your trip.
Overall, Brazilians dress casually but like to dress up at night. During the summer months, the heat and humidity are very intense so you’ll want to make sure you pack clothes that are comfortable- think breathable fabrics like cotton.
As a woman I found that shorts, tanks, dresses, comfortable pants and sandals was what I wore for the most part while in Brazil. I also would recommend bringing a few dressier blouses that can be paired with shorts or pants. Remember, Brazil is a large country and the geography is very diverse so depending on which part you are traveling to you will need to pack accordingly. There are parts of the country that get cold! I highly suggest bringing a rain jacket and one sweater, especially if you will be in any mountainous regions. Bring a few fancy outfits for nightlife in cities like Rio and São Paulo. Brazilian women show a lot of skin, especially on the beach, and you may find yourself feeling a little out of place wearing a full length maxi dress or capri shorts.
During the day the majority of Brazilian men wear either pants or shorts and a casual shirt, preferably button down paired with tennis shoes or sandals. Cities such as Brasilia, São Paulo or Rio you will find that most men dress business casual, but since you are just visiting there is no need to dress the part. It is perfectly acceptable to wear casual, comfortable, clothing during the day and save nicer outfits for nighttime. For your packing list you should bring several pairs of shorts and a few casual tees and tanks and then pack some dress shirts for going out at night. If you will be conducting any sort of business while in Brazil, bring a nice pair of slacks too instead of jeans. Also keep in mind that the climate does vary from region to region and there are parts of Brazil that can get rather cold so bringing a lightweight jacket and some extra layers is always a good idea.
What NOT to wear
For the most part Brazil is very hot and humid! There is no need to wear heavy fabrics or boots unless you will be doing some trekking in the mountains. Stick to casual clothing for daytime and wear your dressier apparel when going out at night or in more metropolitan cities.
DO NOT wear anything made from polyester – this is not a good material for Brazil’s warm climate.
DO NOT wear heavy boots – unless your trip will consist of a lot of hiking there is no need to bring any boots. Evaluate where you will be traveling and the types of activities you will be engaging in. A comfortable pair of tennis shoes should be appropriate in most scenarios.
DO NOT wear expensive jewelry or watches – if you want to accessorize make sure the items you wear are cheap and things that you won’t be too upset about if they are lost or stolen.
What to wear to the beach
With beaches in Brazil comes culture shock for most westerners. The local swimwear consists of tiny bikinis for women and sungasfor men. In Brazil it is very common to show a lot of skin, regardless of body type. Brazilians are much more comfortable with their bodies and it is reflected in their beachwear. When going to a beach in Brazil you can wear what you feel most comfortable in but be aware that most people around you will be wearing very little. Don shorts and a tank top or dress when going to the beach. Also, do not bring a towel, most locals simply bring a sarong to the beach or let the sun dry them off, bringing a huge beach towel screams tourist.
Women, wear a swimsuit you feel most comfortable in but if you are feeling adventurous give the famous Brazilian bikini a try! There are lots of local shops that sell them! Also keep in mind that women do not go topless at the beach and tan line are to be praised.
Men, while you will see a lot of sungasand shorter swim trunks, boardshorts are also popular and acceptable to wear, it is all a matter of preference and comfort. The sun can be intense so make sure to wear a hat and sunglasses and lots of sunscreen!
What to wear in São Paulo
São Paulo is Brazil’s vibrant financial center and it is one of the world’s most populous cities. It is a city filled with stunning architecture, vibrant art, and an amazing food scene. It is also a very fashionable city! The streets of São Paulo often look like a fashion runway show. Since it is a financial hub, you will see many people dressed in business attire. When visiting São Paulo, you’ll want to don your trendier pieces or you might feel out of place. Most cities in Brazil are very casual and a tank top with shorts will suffice but in the larger cities you will want to dress to impress.
What NOT to bring to Brazil
2) DO NOT bring any valuables – in addition to expensive jewelry, any highly valuable items should really be left at home or locked in your hotel room safe. The larger cities in Brazil are known for high rates of theft so think twice before bringing all those electronics and other valuables. If you are bringing a camera make sure you have abackpack or case that you can wear securely.
4) DO NOT carry your passport with you when you go out – bring photo copies of ID instead and keep your passport in a safe place at your hotel or guest house.
FAQs about a trip to Brazil
1) Do I need a visa to visit Brazil?
If you are visiting from the United States you do need a visa. Visit the U.S. Department of State website for travel information and Visa requirements. You can obtain a Brazilian visa either online or in person at a Brazilian consulate in the United States. If you are traveling to Brazil from another country be sure to check your country’s government website for visa requirements.
2) What vaccines/medication do I need before traveling to Brazil?
Vaccines and medication are not always necessary when traveling to Brazil but can be an important precaution to take. When I traveled to Brazil I knew I would be staying there for a year so it was recommended to me that I get vaccinated for Yellow Fever and Typhoid and I was given Malaria medication to take with me. For short visits all these vaccinations may be overkill but it depends on which region of Brazil you will be visiting. Malaria is a huge concern in Brazil so do your research before you go and make an informed decision. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/clinician/none/brazil
3) What language is spoken in Brazil?
Portuguese is the official language of Brazil. It is a Latin-based language, like Spanish, Italian and French. If you speak Spanish you will have an easier time picking up words and phrases. Brazil is the only country in South America that speaks Portuguese. In large cities you will find English is quite common but be aware in rural areas you may not run into any English speakers.
4) Is the water safe to drink?
While the water quality in Brazil has increased in many urban areas it is still not recommended drinking it from the tap. Most Brazilians have a water filter system in their house and many hotels and guest houses will have a filtration system you can get water from. It is best to buy bottled water when out and about, ask for aqua sem gas for normal water and agua com gas for carbonated water.
5) Do I need to tip in restaurants?
A 10% service charge is automatically included on most restaurant and hotel bills and you are not expected to tip additionally on top of this amount. You do not have to tip taxi drivers but it is smart to round up the amount to make getting change easier. If you are staying at a hotel and get help bringing your bags to your room it is good etiquette to tip R$1 to R$2 per bag.
6) What is a typical Brazilian meal?
A typical authentic Brazilian meal will consist of rice, beans, a meat and a salad. At many bars you will find sides of barbequed meat on the menu as a snack, Brazil is famous for its delicious meat. Don’t leave Brazil without trying pão de queijo, a gluten-free cheese bread that is crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.
7) What is cachaça?
Dating back to the 1500s, cachaça is made from fermented sugarcane juice and is best known as the fiery kick in caipirinhas – Brazil’s national cocktail. Cachaça has a long history in Brazil and is very similar to rum, although once you taste it you will quickly notice the difference!
8) Why is everyone late?
Brazil is a polychronic culture, meaning time is thought of in a more cyclical, not linear way. Brazilians will often state one time for meeting and show up later than the proposed time, what I like to call “Brazilian time”. I learned this lesson early on in Brazil, when my friends wanted to meet up for drinks at 9:00 what they really meant was 9:30! Most western cultures are monochronic, meaning they value a certain orderliness and sense of there being an appropriate time and place for everything. As an American it took me a long time to get use to the Brazilian sense of time. You may encounter “Brazilian time” during your travels so be prepared.
9) What is capoeira?
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. It was developed in Brazil at the beginning of the 16th century. It has its roots in African slavery in Brazil, it was practiced as form of self-defense that could disguised as a dance. Capoeira is very much a part of the culture in Brazil, along with Jiu Jitzu, you will often see crowds gather in the streets to watch it practiced.
10) How safe is Brazil?
It really depends on which parts of Brazil you visit. Many of the larger cities such as Rio and Sao Paulo have high rates of crime and theft, especially target towards tourists. As in any country, it is best to take precautions while traveling. Do not bring any valuables with you, wear a money belt and avoid wearing expensive jewelry and bring lots of expensive electronics.