Brazilian Carnival survival guide


Salvador. ©Mauricio Simonetti

From 24 February until 1 March, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro will see millions of locals and hundreds of thousands of visitors celebrate in a five-day spectacle of non-stop parties and parades all over Brazil, in what is considered to be one of the greatest parties on earth.

Carnival 2017’s vibrant atmosphere is unlike anything else in the world, and if you’re looking to get in on the action like thousands of fun-loving Aussies each year, you’ll be sure to have an amazing and memorable experience.

Here’s the fool-proof guide to getting the most of your Carnival adventure in Brazil:

1. Join the celebrations
While Rio de Janeiro is considered to be the heart of Carnival, there are plenty of celebrations taking place all over Brazil during the five-day fun fest. Allow time to visit other towns and villages such as Recife, Salvador, São Paulo and Ouro Preto. You’ll be rewarded with an unforgettable and immersive experience in regional culture, food and music.


Recife. ©Breno Laprovitera

2. Plan early
As soon as your travel dates are confirmed, book your accommodation straight away. Accommodation books out fast during Carnival and you don’t want to miss out on your preferred location. Also, the sooner you book, the more likely you’ll save money too, as prices fluctuate during busy periods such as Carnival.
If you’re wanting to go all out and get into costume for Carnival, there are plenty of online costume hire places, it also pays to plan ahead, as these fly out the door in the lead-up to the big event!

3. Brazilian Carnival goes 24 hours
Street celebrations tend to run all day, every day, so you can easily expect sleep to be come a rare commodity during Carnival. The sound of samba beats, music, laughter, and singing from the “blocos” (street parties) may make sleep difficult but we say if you can’t beat them, join them! You’ll soon find the energy and enthusiasm is contagious and there are also lots of great food and drink options available to give you a boost. The smoky barbecued meats and caipirinha cocktails are a must-try.
For a change of pace, head to the beach – while the high profile sands of Ipanema and Copacabana may be crowded, there are plenty of low key options to provide respite.


Recife ©Secretaria de Turismo de Recife

4. Check your driver’s licence
Check the validity of your licence and identity documents like passports before you travel, to ensure they will be current during your stay. It is an Australian requirement that your passport be valid for at least six months after your return.
If you’d like to experience Brazil and Carnival by car and hold a current Australian driver’s license, you can drive in Brazil provided your stay is less than 180 days. If you plan to stay longer, you’ll need to obtain an equivalent Brazilian license.

5. Money
Whilst there are plenty of places to exchange currency and travellers cheques in Brazil, it’s helpful to purchase some Brazilian money (known as the Real R$) before you depart Australia. Once you’ve settled in, you can arrange additional local currency through most banks, travel agencies and authorised hotels. Most of the restaurants and shopping malls accept credit cards and you can withdraw money at most ATMs. It is important to look at the back of your bank card to see which networks are listed to ensure you use the right ATM with a matching symbol.


Rio de Janeiro. ©Riotur/ Embratur

6. Visas
Australians visiting Brazil for Carnival are required to have a tourist visa. It is not a complex process, and you can lodge your application in person or by mail with the Embassy of Brazil in Canberra or the Consulate-General of Brazil in Sydney. Applications in person require an appointment; tourist visas, when requested in person, are usually processed for the next working day. For more information please contact or

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,