Help a Reader Travel: Brazil

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Welcome to another post of helping a reader travel! As I’ve mentioned before, I have not been to every destination (unfortunately), but do get questions from friends and other blog readers on all sort of travel destination questions. Thus far, we’ve been able to help other readers travel to MauiThe Greek IslandsPacific Coast HighwayArgentina /Buenos AiresCosta RicaCape Cod & The IslandsIcelandGenevaCanadian RockiesRomeIsraelPeru / Inca Trail, StockholmChicagoParisHanoiAustinPuerto RicoBrugesSalzburgIstanbulLas Vegas, Jamaica, India/Golden Triangle, Auckland, Singapore, Moscow, The Oregon Coast, Seattle, Portland, and Hawaii Islands, and Alaska Skiing.

So this weeks travel destination includes Brazil. I received the following email from reader Jennifer:

“A friend and I are looking to go to Brazil in the next year and were hoping that your readers might be able to help us. We are two single females in our mid-20’s and looking to go for about 10 days. First off, is Brazil safe for females (we are responsible and well traveled)? Second off, where would you recommend going? We absolutely want to go to Rio and Copacabana – we were thinking about staying at the JW Marriott there and using our Marriott points. Aside from that city, where else should we go? We love the beach and activity and are adventurous. All recommendations are much appreciated. Thank you in advance.”

If you’ve ever been to Brazil please help out reader Jennifer by commenting below.

Also, if you have any upcoming travel where you need some help, feel free to email me at to be a featured “Help a Reader Travel” Monday special. Thanks!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. I went with my friend Svetlana to Rio for 8 days in December. We are also two females in our twenties. I would say we never felt unsafe, but we are very careful. We stayed in the main beach and tourist areas and didn’t carry any purses or cameras with us. We generally just carried some cash and credit cards on our person (not in back pockets!). We also went out to a few night clubs.

    Copacabana and Ipanema are nice areas. Rio is not that big and you can get to most of the important places by cab within 10-15 minutes. The best value, in my opinion, is the Rio Sheraton Resort & Spa in Leblon. It’s not on the main stretch of beaches (it’s at the end of Leblon), but at 12,000 Starwood points a night over New Year’s, you cannot beat that value. JW Marriott is far more expensive with points and, although it is in THE main area, it’s really only a 10 minute cab ride away. The cab cost is something like $10 USD. Starwood also does a 5th night free on their awards.

    The main attraction in Rio is the view you get from tourist sites atop a mountain. Check out Pao de Acucar and Corcovado (where the Cristo Redentor statue is) for completely different panoramic views of the city. The background picture on my site Facebook page is the view from Corcovado. Enjoy!

  2. Check out Florianopolis(got married there and we visit every year). Cheaper and better than Rio in my opinion. Just google it up. You’ll find some pics and articles including one from NY Times. It’s got fishing villages, surfer hangouts, and south beach style all in one island (40min end to end) with 40+ beaches. For housing, hostals or rent an apt/beach house.

  3. -> The Miles Professor, The Sheraton is not an ideal location especially at night. The hotel is situated around the bend from the beach and that corner is very dark and not that safe at night. You will need to take a taxi in and out of the hotel and the taxi’s are not always avail. Plus there is a “LOVE” hotel down the road which attracts many shady people.

    I would stay at The Marriott. It’s newer has better facilities such as lounge and fitness area with a roof top pool. Yes, it’s not as a good value vs. Sheraton but when one is talking safety that trumps value in my opinion. The hotel is on Copacabana beach and is walking distance to everything. Including grocery stores, bars and restaurants. You can’t beat the location. Just make sure you don’t get an Atrium room as they are rooms with no outside view. They look into the atrium of the hotel.

    BTW… Marriott also offers 5th night free on awards.

  4. I have personnaly been to Brazil 3 times. All trips I was met by someone local because we were on a mission trip, however we have traveled after the trip on our own for pleasure for a day or so. Last trip was coming back from Rio, before they were awarded the Olympics. My best advice ould be to find someone you trust before you go to pick you up at the airport. Realize that you are 2 young women traveling in a city of millions where the native language is Portuguese. Brazil is a huge country with many lovely people, but the criminal element is around you in Rio and Sao Paulo. Keep your wits about you and you will be fine.
    I would imagine that Rio is getting cleaned up quite a bit for the Olympics.

  5. As a Brazilian (living in Sao Paulo) I can tell you that Brazil can be safe or dangerous depending on how you act, where you go, and with whom you hang out. And the rules apply equally to men and women. While you probably won’t be able to “not look like a tourist,” don’t act like one. Dress and act simply and don’t carry much money or ANY gadgets. Leave that professional SLR at home unless you feel suicidal or hire a bodyguard. Even an iPhone will attract attention. Of course many Brazilians carry them, it’s just that criminals look at tourists as easier targets.

    That aside, Brazil is a stunningly beautiful country and you’ll find the 99% who are not criminals to be warm, fun-loving, and very hospitable. I’m not a fan or Rio, because it’s a “post-card” city that’s beautiful but has little else to offer (even the beaches aren’t great). Go to the north (Bahia or Alagoas) or the south/southeast (Florianopolis, Ubatuba, Ilha Bela) if you want beaches and to Sao Paulo if you want nightlife and dining (among the best anywhere in the world). Shopping isn’t an option as Brazil is many times more expensive than the US (or even parts of Europe), so aside from some souvenirs you won’t be going home with suitcases full of shopping. If you like nature, go to Fernando de Noronha (also has great diving). As for some history, hit Salvador, but only for a day or two as it’s not a very pleasant city due to crime and poverty, although Baianos (residents of the state) are hands-down the nicest in the country! Skip Recife, because it’s similar to Salvador and the latter is more important. Go to Manaus for Amazon-related activities.

    And whatever you do, have a caipiroska (caipirinha with Vodka instead of that other crap) for me! 🙂

  6. @VM: I was just at there 3 months ago and The Sheraton is definitely not unsafe. I don’t know why someone would find the need to walk around that corner at night. We stayed there for 8 days and never found the need to do so. Any shady characters a nearby hotel attracts certainly did not make their way to the Sheraton. You do need to take a taxi, but taxis are always available anywhere you are in Rio (we went at all hours) and it was 10-15 minutes to Copacabana and around $10 in fare. We went somewhere by taxi several days and also went out at night and never had a problem; like I said, we are two women in our 20’s. The Marriott is good if you have points to burn, but you are certainly not compromising safety at the Sheraton. I stayed there for 8 days and would stay there again and again.

    Moreover, our room at the Sheraton had a beautiful view across the whole bay. Here’s a picture:

    It’s actually the only hotel in Rio where you are right on the beach and you will not have such a nice view anywhere else.


    You don’t need to go as far as finding a chaperone, but just be safe. Like A.S. said, don’t act like a tourist. One of us was blonde so we definitely stood out and did not blend in, but as I said before, we didn’t even carry a camera when we walked around the city. And we had a much better time not having to worry about any belongings being stolen or pickpockets 🙂

  7. I just got back from Brazil where I jumped around 5 cities in the South within 2 weeks. If you book flights in more than 3-4 months in advance you can get some inexpensive flights between the major cities in Brazil. I definitely recommend heading out to Iguacu Falls on the Argentine and Paraguayan border. While I wouldn’t recommend it for most travelers, I also went to go visit this tree North of Campinas:

  8. Be sure to check on travel visa requirements! I bought a ticket and only later found out that U.S. Citizens need an expensive visa, with about a month processing time. I had to cancel my ticket, because I didn’t have a month.

  9. Well, as a brazilian as well, living in the US for 10 years now, i can tell you that, I am way more unsafe here in the US then in Brazil. lived in sao paulo for 23 years before I moved to the US. during the last 23 years living there I witnessed 1 robbery about 10 yards from me. 1 shotting where cops killed a couple of gangster. Thats all.
    here in the US in 10 years: Had my apartment broke in 3x (i used to live in a nice neighborhood) had witnessed 2 robberies and 1 morder (a cop was killed in Ohio)… My point is, no matter where you go, caution is always necessary.
    My advise: Get your Visas, go to Brazil, enjoy your trip and share with us your experience 🙂

  10. I second the Sheraton. You could also go to iguazu falls which is great. Stay at the Sheraton on Argentina side and its in the national park. You’ll see monkeys and coatis and toucans all over the place!

  11. You should really reconsider staying in Copacabana….it’s not the place for two young woman to stay…it is not fabulous. In fact, it can be a bit trashy and it is a bit dangerous. I have seen people beaten with a bat right behind the Copacabana Palace Hotel and I would never go back to that area. I have gone to Rio at least 4 times a year over the last 4 years. I usually stay in Ipanema or Leblon and have never had a problem there. They are definitely the safest places to stay for two women. Sheraton is nice and I have stayed there about 5 times, but I would still caution against it. It is right next to a favela, so it still can be dangerous….not all the time, but often enough. Forget the points – if you don’t have the cash, don’t go. It is too risky for two women. For Ipanema, I liked Golden Tulip on Farme and Best Western Sol Ipanema Plaza (they are more reasonable than some of the other big hotels in the area, such as Ceasar Palace). Ipanema Inn and Arpoador Inn are also nice and a bit cheaper (but not full service) options. For Leblon, Marina Palace or Marina All Suites.

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