With the Summer Olympics in Brazil just around the corner (Aug. 5-21), the Brazilian Tourism Board (Embratur) is sharing the following tips on where to go and what to see – as well as an insider’s guide on saving money – while in Rio de Janeiro and surrounding areas.
While most Olympic events will take place in Rio de Janeiro, four additional cities will host futebol matches.
- Where to Eat
The “Kilo” Restaurant – All over Brazil there are self-service restaurants with a sign that says “comida por quilo” or “food per kilogram.” Customers have the freedom to pick from a variety of dishes from organic to gourmet foods presented in a buffet-style layout. This is a great money saving tip that also benefits a traveller with dietary restrictions or picky eating habits.
PF (Prato Feito) – The term “Prato Feito” translates into “combined plate,” which describes a dish with protein of your chose and a selection of à la carte items to choose from like rice, beans, eggs, tomatoes, salad and more. If you are at a location close in proximity to the sea, the dish will include fresh seafood, but in São Paulo, beef and sautéed onions are served and in other places, that dish would be replaced with their typical sautéed chicken or fried pork, either way the food is delicious and served to your liking.
Markets and Street Vendors – Even during the Olympics, prices at local markets and street vendors will not drastically increase, especially since it’s where locals go to escape the hustle and bustle. For travellers, markets are a great opportunity to try authentic, fresh and appetizing food of the area, plus, every city has one.
- Where to Stay
Search for “Pousadas” – “Pousadas” are independently owned eco-lodges, inns and boutique hotels. These accommodations range in prices and it is definitely worth searching for a hidden gem in your price range. Guests are more likely to receive their money’s worth when booking a Pousada.
Hostels and B&Bs – Through out Brazil, there are cheap hostels and B&Bs available, but they do get booked up quickly. Make sure to make reservations ahead of time and to confirm your stay before travelling. Also, travellers can avoid booking accommodations within a popular city and explore a smaller city just outside, using the easy transportation provided by larger cities.
AirBnB – After Rio 2016 signed an agreement with Airbnb, the online home rental community, about 20,000 affordable accommodation options in the city will be available to visiting sport fans. The Silicon Valley company was announced as the official alternative accommodation services supplier for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Airbnb will have a presence on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games ticketing platform via a specific landing page where customers will be able to book their listings in Rio.
- How to Travel
Public Transportation – Instead of renting a car and having to worry about parking, take advantage of the cheap and easy public transportation in Brazil. Autobuses are very popular, cheaper than flights and they are an accessible mode of transportation to and from big and small cities. There are guides and maps that will direct visitors to the fastest route from point A to point B. Some autobuses even offer first class seating that allows you to transform your seat into a bed on an overnight bus leaving Brasília and going to São Paulo.
- What to Do
Once in a Lifetime Experiences – When creating a budget, it is important to make sure that to save money, but also, not miss out on those once in a lifetime experiences. Activities like the Jardim Botânico, Christ The Redeemer Statue and Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, are not expensive and are definitely worth the money.
Explore the Culture – By immersing yourself with the locals in the cities’ public parks and beaches, visitors can gain a valuable opportunity to learn about the people of Brazil and their customs. Go out and play soccer, watch street performers, get involved in a game of volleyball and enjoy the day trying something new and exciting at no cost.
Free sightseeing – Below, a list of free museums, markets, cultural sites and famous landmarks to explore in Rio de Janeiro and other cities of the 2016 Olympics.
Manaus: Centro Cultural Palácio Rio Negro; Centro Cultural dos Povos da Amazônia; Museu Amazônico; Centro Cultural Usina Chaminé; Cenro de Artesanato Branco e Silva; Praia da Ponta Negra.
Salvador: Igreja and Convento de São Francisco; Pelourinho; Mercado Modelo; Terreiro de Bodum; Ilê Axé Opó Afonjá; Dique do Tororo; Solar do Unhão; Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia; Igreja do Senhor do Bonfim.
Brasília: Catedral Metropolitana de Brasília; Espaço Oscar Niemeyer; Espaço Lucio Costa; Memorial dos Povos Indígenas; Lago Paranoá; Palácio do Planalto; Palácio da Alvorada; Palácio do Itamaraty; Palácio de Justiça.
Belo Horizonte: Museu Mineiro (free on Sunday); Museu de Arte da Pampulha; Parque Ecológico da Pampulha.
Rio de Janeiro: Parque Nacional da Tijuca; Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas; Forte de Copacabana; Sunset at Arpoador; Copacabana Promenade designed by Burle Marx; Escadaria Selaron, Lapa.
São Paulo: Centro Cultural São Paulo; Instituto Cultural Itaú; Museu do Futebol (free of charge on Thursday); Catedral da Sé; Parque Ibirapuera; Mercado Municipal; Mosteiro de São Bento.