Yes. It’s safe to travel to Brazil. That’s the short answer. Here’s the longer one:
Many countries in south and central America are considered dangerous, but Brail has the worst reputation of them all. This reputation might have been justified in the past, but today not so much.
Let me start off by saying that I’ve traveled to Brazil several times and got my passport and iPhone stolen. My friends got their credit cards stolen, and some were threatened with a knife. Butttttttt don’t let these stories intimidate you!
When I got my passport stolen, I was in the central bus station in Rio (infamous for being a picketing spot), and my passport was in my back pocket of the backpack that has no zipper. Completely exposed. When my friend got his wallet stolen, he was passed out in a pool party and took off his pants with the wallet in them.
So as you can see, The majority of unpleasant incidents occur because we, tourists, don’t take the necessary measures to keep our staff safe. Just like you have safety measures you take in your country Brazil has its own rules, but once you take these measurements, you will minimize the chances that anything terrible will happen and ruin your trip.
General Safety tips
These tips are relevant to most of Brazil but mostly to big cities like Rio or Sao Paulo and neighborhoods like Lapa or other infamous spots.
– In Rio and in other main cities you shouldn’t wear flashy jewellery. And yes I know we all want that hot picture on Copacabana but you’ll have to take one with no accessories.
– You must not take your phone out in the streets! If you need to get an uber, text or call someone to go to a store in the area and do it there.
– The most recommended way to get around after dark is with an Uber. It’s cheaper and safer than taking the metro/bus and walking at nighttime. And don’t leave your hostel until the Uber gets there (don’t worry they’re used to it and would even wait for you until you go inside the building when they bring you back).
– In Rio, you can drive through a red light after 10pm so be careful when you’re crossing the road (but, as I said before, you shouldn’t be walking outside at night time anyways).
– If a stranger touches you, pushes you, taps your shoulder, or even stands too close to you immediately make sure that you have all your belongings. In general, do not engage with intoxicated people in the streets.
– Do not get separated from your group or wonder alone to dark allies (even if you have to pee do it where everyone else does).
Should you travel to Brazil as a solo female traveler? Yes!
Just like Colombia and other places (New York for example) men might whistle or catcall in the streets. Ignore it. Know this- Brazilian men are aggressive so you should avoid uncomfortable situations and take precautions. On the other hand, Brazilian men are charming so if you get hit on, as long as you feel, allow yourself to safe have some fun.
If you’re traveling in Brazil alone, of course, you should not leave the hotel alone after dark, don’t walk off with anyone to dark allies.
In case you’re traveling with other women and men are harassing you, I noticed that once you pretend you’re lesbians it helps a bit ( especially during carnival) but remember that Brazil is not LGBT friendly even though it appears like it is (crime rates against the community is horrifying) so be careful.
For some more safety warnings for female solo travelers click here.
Carnaval Safety Warnings:
Carnaval and the month before it, is the period pf time when you should be the most careful from getting pickpocketed or robbed. Parties, alcohol, and the overall atmosphere of craziness are the main guideline of this period.
The celebratiosn, most of them, take place in the streets with the “people” so you’ll encounter all types of crowds that you usually don’t meet in touristic parties.
Carnival in Salvador is considered the most dangerous but Rio and São Paulo are right behind it. Florianopolis on the other hand is considered safer.
How to be extra careful during Carnaval?
Try to leave your phone at home or have a cheaper phone with you. You can also have only one person from your group taking their phone with them.
Have your phone inside a money belt or inside your clothes. For girls- you might be half-naked during carnival, but I just carried everything inside my top.
Try using uber after the sunsets.
Arrastrão– a group of teenagers and kids that storm crowded spots and basically try to rob as many people possible before running away. This phenomenon takes place around carnival time. When you see a crowd of teens, always try to walk away.
Here are examples for incidents that happened to my friends or me during carnival (that you can avoid):
Pickpocketing a guy’s cellphone even though it was hidden at the bottom pocket of his pants.
Stealing my friend’s phone while she was sitting in an Uber with her window rolled down. The guy simply ran next to the car shitting in traffic and took the phone from her hand through the window.
A group of kids was walking in the street in my direction and one of the girls simply walked by me and took my sunglasses. It was a busy street so I managed to take it from her while screaming at her.