sweet sweet brazil
November 15, 2011 3:03 AM   Subscribe

Brazil over winter break: ideas and tips, please!

Hey friends,

So my fiance and I are traveling to Brazil for the first time over winter break. We will be using Florianopolis as our base and hopefully doing some serious r&r for 2 weeks.
Are there any great things that are "musts" within Florianopolis?

Also, one the things we wanted to do was see Iguacu Falls. I've looked through the travel guides but was looking to hear from the hivemind as to the best method of getting to/fro the falls from FLN. Flights are a bit pricey and buses seem like they take a decade. Is the cost of the flight worth it? Are car rentals available?

Any general tips would also be welcomed! We are going from the US and do not speak Portuguese but do have a remedial level of Spanish from high-school days long ago.

Many thanks!
posted by allthingsconsidered to Travel & Transportation around Brazil (4 answers total)
Check out this thread!
posted by Tom-B at 6:03 AM on November 15, 2011

Patience is a must. Your winter break is the middle of our summer, and Florianópolis is a big tourism draw. I am assuming that when you say Florianópolis, you probably mean the island, where most tourists end up. Roads/beaches/restaurants/hotels in and around the island in the summertime are crowded, so give yourself plenty of time to get from one place to another.
My favorite beach is pretty much everyone's favorite beach: Joaquina, followed closely by Campeche. Try the sand surfing at Joaquina, and drink lots of juice and people watch at both places.

As far as getting to the Falls - good luck with that. Driving, it is nearly 1000 kilometers, rentals aren't cheap, and even GPS will fail you. Flying involves a layover or two during Brazil's high season. Tickets will be expensive. You can take a bus there (lots of people where I live do that), but it takes a day. You may want to rethink this idea.

Your remedial Spanish should help you with signage, but I would suggest you check out the Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation guide, because our phonetics are quite different from Spanish, and while words can look functionally identical, their pronunciations in the two languages is miles apart.

If you want some suggestions for heading off the beaten path, you will be looking at heading AWAY from the beach in the middle of summer. I can give some recommendations, but it's likely that if you are going to Floripa in the first place, the beach is one of your biggest draws.

Memail me if you want some other ideas.
posted by msali at 9:27 AM on November 15, 2011

Seconding msali on "patience is a must" when traveling in Brazil. I've done a lot of long (16-24h) bus trips in Brazil - definitely bring a (cheap) MP3 player and some magazines or books for entertainment (roads often go pretty much straight ahead for hours, so reading on the bus is viable). Also, be aware that routes are usually serviced by several different bus companies which vary quite a bit when it comes to convenience.

Concerning Floripa... I have some very fond memories of Armação beach, but I visited in winter and I haven't seen all other beaches yet, so not sure how it compares.

Have fun!
posted by apolune at 9:23 AM on November 17, 2011

I suggest taking a bus north to Curitiba, then flying to Foz do Iguaçu from there. Flights will probably be cheaper, and Curitiba is a great city, well worth spending a couple of nights in.
posted by Opal at 10:06 PM on November 30, 2011

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