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Grand Escapades’ Budget Guide To Brazil

Expensive If You Are On A Budget, And Very Expensive If You Are Flashpacking

Sunset over the Pantanal, Porto Jofre, Brazil

Sunset over the Pantanal, Porto Jofre, Brazil

Type Of Travel

My two visits to Brazil couldn’t be more different: in 2007, I was on a Round The World Trip and hence traveling on a budget. In 2015, I was on a 6 week trip to Brazil, and was actually Flashpacking: mostly pleasant Pousadas instead of Hostels, indulging quite a few activities and local tours, usually flying instead of long bus drives and also going to less traveled areas like Brasilia, Bonito & the Northern Pantanal, which turned out to be very expensive.

Itinerary & Time Of The Visit

In 2007, I spent 4 weeks in Brazil and entered the country from Venezuela, discovering Manaus, Recife & Olinda, Fernando de Noronha, Salvador de Bahia & Morro de Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro & Sao Paulo. In 2015, I spent 6 weeks there and visited Salvador de Bahia & Morro de Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais (Belo Horizonte, Ouro Preto & Tiradentes), Rio de Janeiro & Ilha Grande, Iguazu (both Brazilian & Argentinian sides), Bonito, the Northern Pantanal (entering from Cuiaba and going to Porto Jofre), Brasilia & last but not least Sao Paulo.

Global Budget

In 2007, I wrote: “Brazil is definitely no longer a budget destination. This made us actually shorten our stay here and with lots of guilty feelings we decided to skip certain destinations such as the Chapada Diamantina National Parc or the whole Minais Gerais region to spend more time in cheaper countries such as Peru or Bolivia.”

This was all the more true in 2015: Brazil is no budget destination and seems to focus on mid-range (local) tourism. More often than not, a pleasant Hostel (private ensuite room) will cost almost as much as a nice Pousada. Moreoever, distances are huge and except if you are ready to spend nights and days on a bus, you have to fly on several legs of your trip. And all activities and local tours are quite expensive, at times even mind-boggling (the Northern Pantanal, but also Bonito). And I must add that the exchange rate turned out to be quite in my favour in 2015, with the Reals reaching an all-times low in September 2015!

Note that the budget in 2007 does not include Fernando de Noronha, a beautiful but outrageously expensive island off the shores of Recife (we spent there 750 € per pax in 4 days! Yes, that hurts, especially o a Round The World Trip…). Also keep in mind that your total budget will be strongly influenced by what you do and where you go in Brazil… See “Reduce Costs” further bellow…

Costs per Person per Day in € 2007 2015
Long Distances’ Transport € 8,30 € 21,30
Short Distances’ Transport € 2,40 € 5,30
Total Transport € 10,70 € 26,60
Hotels € 12,10 € 35,10
Restaurants & Food € 9,80 € 10,00
Drinks & Going Out N.A. € 5,40
Every Day Life € 5,30 € 2,70
Total Living € 27,20 € 53,20
Visits & Tours € 3,50 € 29,70
Activities € 0 € 2,00
Total Tours & Activities € 3,50 € 31,70
Total Country: € 41,40 € 111,50

Hostels & Hotels

Accomodation in Brazil is expensive, and not only in major cities or touristy places. I neither tried the really budget hostel category nor stayed in dorms, but interestingly, most pleasant and somewhat popular Hostels are almost as expensive as the nicer and very famous Poudasas. With an averygae of 35 € per person per night (double room), accommodation in Brazil is now far more expensive than any other destination I know of in South America.

City (2015) Hostel / Hotel
per Night (€)
(1 to 5 Stars)
Salvador de Bahia Pousada do Beluarte 51,4 ****
Morro de Sao Paulo Pousada Bahia Bacana 69,4 ****
Belo Horizonte Vila Rica Suites Cenarium 26,3 ****
Ouro Preto Pouso do Chico Rey 68,4 *****
Tiradentes Pousada d’Oleo de Guignard 60,6 *****
Rio de Janeiro Casa da Carmen e do Fernondo 73,8 ****
Illha Grande Pousada Ancoradouro 65,6 ****
Foz do Iguacu (Brazil) Pousada Sonho Meu Foz 38,3 ****
Cataratas de Iguazu (Argentina) Guest House Porto Iguazu 68,4 ****
Bonito Bonito HI Hostel 30,9 ***
Cuiaba Slaviero Executive Cuiabá 37,9 ***
Cuiaba Nobile Suite Cuiaba 39,5 ***
Brasilia Bonaparte Blue Point Hotel 48,8 ***
Sao Paulo We Hostel Design 47,9 *****
Total Brazil 55,20  

Restaurants & Food

In every accommodation in Brazil, breakfast is included, and is both plentiful and excellent. As a consequence, I saved a lot on food, as I seldom had lunch or a late lunch and no dinner. Restaurants are expensive in Brazil, though, especially if you go mid-range or higher…

City Restaurant
Food (€)
(1 to 5 Stars)
Morro de Sao Paulo Pedra Sobre Pedra 6,49 ***
Ouro Preto Casa de Ouvidor 11,06 ****
Ilha Grande Lua & Mar 22,33 ****
Ilha Grande Cafe Do Mar 20,09 ***
Rio de Janeiro Mango Seco 7,14 ***
Rio de Janeiro Antonio’s 8,58 ***
Rio de Janeiro Ellas 9,87 **
Rio de Janeiro Bar Do Mineiro 11,87 ****
Foz Do Iguazu Gaucho 8,82 ***
Cuiaba Deck Avenida 12,54 ***
Brasilia Surf Bar 12,21 ***
Sao Paulo Dr. Tche 28,51 ****
Total Brazil 13,29  

Drinks & Going Out

Drinks are cheap in Brazil. A beer is normally a 650 ml bottle that can be shared by two people, and Caipirinhas are (very) strong and quite cheap. So yes, if you are in a party mood, Brazil is the place to be! Always take a cab if you come back late at night after a few drinks…

City Bar
Type of Drink Price
Drink (€)
(1 to 5 Stars)
Morro de Sao Paulo Pedra Sobre Pedra Cocktail 3,65 ****
Ouro Preto Chopp Real Cocktail 3,47 **
Ouro Preto Café Gerais Cocktail 3,76 *****
Rio de Janeiro Armazém São Thiago Beer 2,50 ****
Ilha Grande Lua & Mar Cocktail 3,79 ****
Ilha Grande Cafe Do Mar Cocktail 3,03 ***
Rio de Janeiro Mango Seco Beer 3,11 ***
Rio de Janeiro Carioca Da Gema Beer 2,60 *****
Rio de Janeiro Antonio’s Beer 3,43 ***
Rio de Janeiro Salgueiro Cocktail 2,08 ***
Rio de Janeiro Bip Bip Beer 1,30 *****
Rio de Janeiro Pedra do Sal Cocktail 2,60 *****
Rio de Janeiro Bar Do Mineiro Cocktail 3,43 ***
Foz do Iguacu Gaucho Wine 10,26 ****
Bonito Taboa Cocktail 3,21 ****
Cuiaba Deck Avenida Beer 2,99 ***
Sao Paulo Dr. Tché Wine 19,05 ****
Total Brazil 4,37  

Tours & Activities

Interestingly, some local tours are not all that expensive and might give you another perspective on the places you visit, taking you to some places Off The Beaten Track even if you are in a very popular place like Rio de Janeiro or Salvador de Bahia. The 2 tours I took in Salvador & the one in Rio de Janeiro to visit Rocinha were excellent.

On the other hand, most activities (like Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, Helicopter Ride…) are very expensive, so you should be very selective there if you are on a budget:

The Helicopter Ride above Iguazu (95 USD) was extremely disappointing, especially for a Photographer like me: the large helicopters catering for 6 people now in use are clearly not designed to take pictures, even if you have a “window seat”, which is not always the case…

In Bonito, Snorkeling (approx. 40 USD for a half day) was outstanding but not cheap, and other activities were extremely disappointing and expensive…

Last but not least, a tour in the Northern Pantanal is a very expensive undertaking, especially if you want to go to Porto Jofre to see Jaguars. Be ready to spend large amounts of money. If you are on a budget, consider going through Campo Grande.

Splurge At Reasonable Costs?

No matter if you consider Pousadas, Restaurants, Bars, Local Tours, Activities, … Mid-range and high-end experiences are expensive in Brazil, almost as expensive as in Europe or North America, and sometimes even more if you go to really special places like Fernando de Noronha. So Brazil is not exactly the ideal place to go for “something crazy” or to splurge a little if you are on a budget!

Nevertheless, keep an open eye on offers, as many nice Pousadas might cost the same as a double room ensuite in a Hostel. This is also true for transports: flights can be cheaper than very long bus rides, so yu might there save a lot of time with very little extra costs.

But all in all, always keep an eye on your budget, or you will blow this very budget… big time! I personally ended spending far more than all I had expected to do!

Reduce Costs?

First, your budget will depend from the places you visit: large Brazilean cities in Brazil like Rio de Janeiro are expensive, no matter how you travel; also more remote and Off The Beaten Track places do not always have a developed infrastrutucre for Backpackers and hence target more Brazilean mid-range tourists; I also heard that northern Brazil is much cheaper, but this is no first hand information, as I have never been further north than Recife (except Manaus)… Therefore, if you are on a budget, rather focus on the Coast and on more popular places, or on the northern parts of the country.

Then, the time of the year you travel will also deeply impact your overall budget. Avoid at all costs the Peak Season if you are on a budget (Carnival and 2 months after and July / August), as prices tend to go through the roof, especially during but also right after the Carnival.

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