Updated on February 19, 2020 by Asher Fergusson
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!
What to Pack for Brazil – 17 Essentials
1. Neck Wallet
These are nice to have for the sake of organization and easy access while traveling. I used to not want to wear these because I had a fear of “looking like a tourist” but after years of traveling and some experiences with theft, I learned that it is better to be safe than sorry. If you are going to carry your phone, credit cards or cash I would highly suggest using a neck wallet like this one. You don’t have to advertise you are wearing it, simply tuck it beneath your clothes.
You can’t go wrong with a portable phone charger while traveling! This one is great because it is small and compact and easy for on-the-go charging. These are especially helpful if you are using your phone to take a lot of pictures and videos while in Brazil.
Brazil can be very hot and humid and you may find yourself sweating a lot! Bringing electrolyte tablets that you can put in water will not only help replenish electrolytes you lose when you sweat but will also make you feel a million times better if you find yourself with a hangover after a night of Caipirinhas.
Especially if you plan to travel during the summer, you can expect at least a few rainy days during your trip to Brazil. Be prepared with a windproof travel umbrella so you and your belongings stay dry regardless of the rain! This umbrella is convenient because you can fit two people underneath.
Traveling to other countries often results in an upset stomach, whether it’s caused by the traveling itself or by eating something that doesn’t agree with you. Either way, activated charcoal is an absolute must-have. The charcoal absorbs toxins in your system and helps you carry on with the many fun parts of traveling.
You will need to bring a universal power adapter when traveling to Brazil. In Brazil the standard voltage is 127 / 220 V and the frequency is 60 Hz, the power sockets are type N and round. Different regions of the country will use different voltage so keep in mind that you cannot plug in your devices if the local voltage exceeds the maximum voltage that is listed on your devices.
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 Airbnbs 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 the touch of a button!
A trendy and comfortable swimsuit cover up is a necessary part of your packing list for Brazil. Be aware that Brazilians like to show a lot of skin on the beach, and if you opt for a Brazilian-style swimsuit without much coverage, you may feel more comfortable covering up from time to time.
Packing cubes will revolutionize the way you pack for vacation! These brightly colored cubes vary in size and will help you to keep your belongings organized and avoid overpacking. This particular set is awesome because it comes with separate cases for dirty laundry and shoes.
10. Sturdy Sandals
Bring a pair of comfortable, waterproof sandals that are versatile and can be worn at the beach or around town. Many Brazilian cities are best enjoyed on foot so make sure the footwear you bring is comfortable enough to walk in for long periods of time. This pair is sturdy, reliable and perfect for any trip to Brazil.
11. Gorgeous outfit
For evenings out, Brazilians like to dress to impress. You’ll want to look the part when you spend a night on the town, whether you’re dancing samba and drinking caipirinhas or enjoying the flavors of traditional Brazilian cuisine. This jumpsuit is lightweight and perfect for any occasion.
This is an absolute must for traveling in Brazil. If something bad happens on your trip – theft, accident, medical emergency – you’ll need a plan, and travel insurance from World Nomads is the answer. We swear by it. Plus it’s affordable and an easy way to relieve the worry of potential problems so that you can fully enjoy your trip.
A daypack is nice to have if you know you are going to be venturing out from your hotel or guest house for most of the day. Theft is common in Brazil so always be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables locked in your hotel safe and do not bring them with you while touring around. This day pack is great for bringing around just the essentials on a full-day excursion.
Having a phrasebook like this one by Lonely Planet is extremely useful while traveling in Brazil. In large cities like Rio and São Paulo you will find many English speakers and be able to communicate easily. However, in the more rural towns of Brazil it can be very hard to find English speakers. Having a few phrases under your belt goes a long way in Brazil and even if you get the pronunciation wrong locals will be very happy that you at least tried to speak Portuguese!
From beaches and lakes to rivers and streams, in Brazil you will likely constantly find yourself near water. Make sure you protect your phone by investing in a high quality waterproof phone case! Having this type of reliable case will not only protect your phone from water, but sand and dirt as well.
16. Quick Dry Towel
An incredibly versatile item, you can’t go wrong bringing a quick dry towel with you to Brazil. Perfect for a day at the beach, a boat ride, or a hike through the rainforest, this microfiber towel is lightweight, dries incredibly quickly, and can easily be tossed in your beach bag or daypack. This will also come in handy as a bath towel should you find yourself in need of one.
17. Hiking shoes
Bring a pair of comfortable hiking shoes for day trips and hikes. Many cities in Brazil have old cobblestone streets and pavement so having a good pair of shoes is a necessity. Whether you’re hiking Sugarloaf Mountain or trekking through the Amazon, you’ll be glad you brought a pair of good hiking shoes with you.
Other Brazil packing list items you may need
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.
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.
What NOT to wear in Brazil
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.