World Cup Travel Guide
Being situated in the fifth largest country in the world, the 2014 FIFA World Cup will involve a great deal of travel for both players and fans. The wide variety of cities, climates and cultures that this year’s world cup will encapsulate is daunting, so at Holidaysafe, we decided to give you a helping hand; here is a brief guide to Brazil’s venues and host cities for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Manaus – Arena da Amazônia
As the name of its newly constructed football stadium, the Arena da Amazônia, would suggest, Manaus is located at the intersection of the Amazon River’s upper stretches (known locally as the Solimões River) and the Rio Negro. Once the heart of Brazil’s prosperous rubber industry, Manaus is still a centre for trade and commerce. This translates to a large number of attractions and sights for tourists to enjoy; including the Amazonas Opera House, the aforementioned ‘meeting of the waters’, and the CIGS Zoo; which features an excellent cross section of Amazon wildlife.
Fortaleza – Estádio Castelão
Located in the Northeast of Brazil, Fortaleza is the location of the recently refurbished Plácido Aderaldo Castelo Stadium, on which construction was originally finished in 1973. Fortaleza has already played host to three matches of the Confederations Cup, including the nail biting semi final between Spain and Italy. There are many things to see and do around Fortaleza; from admiring the Cathedral in the city centre, to checking out the two main beachfront areas, Praia de Iracema and Meireles, with their wide selection of restaurants and bars.
Natal – Arena das Dunas
Like most of the cities in Brazil, Natal offers far more than sun, beaches and a football stadium. Natal is home to the largest Cashew tree in the world, Maior cajueiro do mundo (literally: ‘’World’s largest cashew tree’’) which has grown so large that it now has a circumference of roughly half a kilometre, and features branches so large that they have taken up roots of their own. As well as being host to one of the largest, most beautiful bridges in Brazil, the Newton Navarro bridge, Natal is also located within easy travel distance of the Barreira do Inferno Launch Center, one of the primary locations of the Brazilian Space Agency, which is open to tourists, by appointment.
Recife – Arena Pernambuco
With the World Cup Venue, the Arena Pernambuco, located about 30 minutes from the city centre of Recife, there is plenty of scope for sight-seeing and the utilisation of the many tourism and cultural attractions in the city proper. Fortunately, Recife, known as the ‘Brazilian Venice’, is a beautiful, waterway and landmark packed city, with many things to see and do. Featuring the expected complement of lush, vendor-populated beaches, Recife also features a vast array of historic churches and museums, as well as art and culture centres.
Salvador – Arena Fonte Nova
Salvador has a rich cultural and historical heritage, so when there’s no football on at the Arena Fonte Nova (the name of which has been recently changed to ‘Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova’, in recognition of sponsorship by Brazilian brewery Itaipava), you can visit the numerous relics and buildings that serve as reminders of Brazil’s past. The Historic Centre of Salvador, or the ‘Pelourinho’, is a neighbourhood packed with sights to see and activities and events to take part in. Salvador is also considered to be one of the original locations for the Brazilian dance/martial arts discipline of Capoeira; so be sure to look out for displays!
Belo Horizonte – Estádio Mineirão
Belo Horizonte translates from Portuguese into ‘’Beautiful Horizon’’, an apt title for such a picturesque city, filled, as it is, with a wide variety of beautiful examples of architecture and civil engineering. Of particular note is the Pampulha district, in which the Estádio Mineirão itself is located. Designed by famed architect Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer, Pampulha was commissioned in 1940, and consists of a variety of daringly designed buildings, amongst them a church, a casino and a yacht club, all located around a central, artificial lake. This represents the early part of Belo Horizonte’s policy of urban development and innovation; the current ‘Vila Viva’ (literally: ‘’living village’’) project is helping the local low-income, heavily unemployed favelas to redevelop; bringing greater prosperity to the region. The upside of this is that previously dangerous or out of the way areas are increasingly being made available for curious tourists to safely explore!
Rio de Janeiro – Estádio do Maracanã
The second largest, as one of the most internationally well known, cities in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, predictably has a lot to offer tourists looking for a break from the ongoing World Cup. Numerous world-famous landmarks are available to be visited by the discerning traveller; most famous of all is the ‘Christ the Redeemer’ statue, located on the peak of the Corcovado Mountain, in the centre of Rio de Janeiro. A landmark the world over, if you’re visiting Rio, you owe it to yourself to pay a visit! Also of note in the Rio area is the Tijuca forest itself, in which the Corcovado Mountain is located, is thought by some to be the world’s largest urban forest, and is entirely hand planted.
São Paulo – Arena de São Paulo
The largest city in Brazil, and one of the largest cities in the world, São Paulo is brimming with exciting tourist locations. Befitting such a titanic urban area, São Paulo is home to the tallest building in Brazil, the Mirante do Vale. It is possible to be admitted entry to the top floor, which isn’t widely open to the public, but it is worth bearing in mind that it does not offer the highest view in the city. As it was constructed in a valley, there are actually some buildings that, despite being shorter, offer a superior, higher view. As you would expect from a city of its size, São Paulo also boasts an astonishing collection of bars, restaurants and clubs; as well as museums and cultural sites. You’ll be exceptionally hard pressed to see even a fraction of what this giant city has to offer in one trip.
Curitiba – Arena da Baixada
Curitiba’s name translates literally into ‘’pine nut land’’, due to the proliferation of Brazilian pine trees in the area. Curitiba is one of the most economically prosperous cities in Brazil, which translates into many tourist activities and diversions for a traveller seeking something to do in a between-match World Cup lull. A museum dedicated to the aforementioned architect, Oscar Niemeyer is a popular attraction, featuring work from artists located all over Brazil. The Panoramic Tower allows for superb, 360 degree views of the city, perfect for getting your bearings!
Porto Alegre – Estádio Beira-Rio
Featuring the Estádio Beira-Rio, one of the largest football stadiums in Brazil, Porto Alegre is also the home town of Ronaldinho; furthering its formidable footballing pedigree. If you fancy escaping football for a few hours, Porto Alegre features a large number of museums dedicated to the extensive range of fossils recovered from the Paleorrota geopark – a large area nearby Porto Alegre which is famed for its abundance of paleontological artefacts. Porto Alegre also features a large number of beautiful open public places and parks, amongst them the Farroupilha Park, which is home to a multitude of statues and monuments.
Cuiabá – Arena Pantanal
Located in the exact centre of South America, Cuiabá is known as the ‘’Southern gate to the Amazon’’, indicating its proximity to the Amazon region. Cuiabá is notable as a melting pot of different climates and cultures, being located in a transitional zone between Brazil’s Amazonia, Cerrado and Pantanal ecosystems, as well as featuring prominent African, Amerindian and Portuguese influences in its culture. As well as a complement of bars and restaurants inspired by the variety of cultures present in the city, there’s also an opportunity to take in the amazingly diverse wildlife found in the region; there are guided hiking tour with nature spotting as the primary objective, as well as a fascinating natural history museum.
Brasília – Estádio Nacional
The capital of Brazil, Brasília, was designed by Oscar Niemeyer (three mentions in one article!) and his mentor Lúcio Costa, and as a result is one of the youngest cities in the region. One of the most striking things about Brasilia is it’s civic design; both the placement and design of the buildings lends the city a futuristic, utopian feel; it’s unlikely that you’ll have seen anything like it, and it looks particularly alien when compared to the tightly packed structure of other Brazilian cities. In terms of specific sites to see, as Brasília is the seat of Brazilian government, there are many landmarks to visit; such as the Brazilian National Congress building, and the Palácio da Alvorada, the residence of the President of Brazil, and a far more modern, intriguing looking building than the White House or 10 Downing Street!
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