So you’re thinking about travelling to Brazil… and considering Brazil is giant, you’re probably planning to stay a while.
Whether you’re dreaming of an adventure packed trip of a lifetime or a cruisy, relaxed beach vacation, knowing the cost of living in Brazil while you travel will help you to start budgeting, saving and planning for your epic journey.
In this post I’m going to cover the average amount of money I spent on accommodation, transport, food and activities during a 5 month period of travel in Brazil and I’m also going to give realistic scenario’s for Brazil travel itineraries that might be similar to yours.
Please note that becauseDan is from Brazil and also because we run this travel blog, we’ve mostly been able to exchange our services for accommodation or stay for free with family for the duration of our journey with the exception of a few weeks in Rio de Janeiro.
Prices here are based on the months of January through to May and are noted in both BRL and USD.
Please be aware that during these months we were travelling in Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba, two of the most expensive cities in Brazil, along with São Paulo and Brasilia.
If you plan to travel in the Northeast of Brazil, don’t expect to spend as much.
According to numbeo.com, you would need around $9,200 BRL ($3,016 USD) per month if you were to rent/live in Rio de Janeiro as opposed to $6,600 BRL ($2,160 USD) per month if you were to rent/live in Fortaleza, located in the Northeast of Brazil.
Travelling rather than staying in these places, however, will alter your cost of living, which is why I’ve put this guide together.
How much does it cost to travel in Brazil? Cost of living in Brazil
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1. Cost of Brazil Tourist Visa
This is a quick one as there’s not much involved in this expense.
If you are not exempt from traveling to Brazil without a pre-approved Brazil Tourist Visa (see list of countries here), you will need to apply and pay at least one month before you plan to arrive.
I believe I paid around $60 AUD in Australia for a 90 day Tourist Visa.
I think this price is fairly consistent throughout most of the world.
If, once you’ve stayed in Brazil for 90 days, you want to renew your Tourist Visa for another 90 days (up to the maximum length of stay in one year), you can apply and pay for this at a Federal Police Department within Brazil.
I believe this costs around $65 BRL ($20 USD).
If you plan to stay in Brazil for up to 6 months, I would budget $100 to cover your visa and postage expenses.
2. Cost of Accommodation in Brazil
Given that you’re probably going to travel in Brazil for length of time, the cheapest accommodation options in Brazil include Couchsurfing (which is free), staying in hostels, or, if you do have slightly deeper pockets, staying in pousadas (similar to guesthouses) or Airbnb lettings.
The average amount we’ve paid for a shared room inside a hostel per night has been between $9 in low season (May) and $15 in high season (January).
For a cheap pousada you’re likely to pay around $40 in low season and $70 in high season and we recently paid $224 for week in a nice, private Airbnb room, located in the São Paulo neighbourhood of Higienópolis. (June).
During the high season (summer) and when major events take place, such as Carnival, you will see a spike in Brazil accommodation rates, however, as it moves into winter, the rates drop considerably.
Due to the humidity in Brazil during the summer, you’re better off travelling closer to the months of April and May anyway so you can still enjoy warm temperatures without the constant rain.
If you travel to Brazil during low season you’re probably looking at spending in the region of:
- $50 – $80 per month on Couchsurfing (if you want to contribute to your stay by cooking dinner, buying gifts, etc)
- $350 – $400 per month on hostels
- $1,500 – $1,800 on pousadas or
- $800 – $1,000 for a nice Airbnb room (not whole apartment)
If you travel to Brazil during high season you’re probably looking at spending in the region of:
- $50 – $80 per month on Couchsurfing (if you want to contribute to your stay by cooking dinner, buying gifts, etc)
- $420 – $500 per month of hostels
- $2,000 – $2,300 on pousadas or
- $1,000 – $1,600 for a nice Airbnb room (not whole apartment)
3. Cost of Transport in Brazil
Possibly one of the most annoying things about traveling in Brazil is the fact that there is no train line.
Within major cities such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo you have the underground metro which can come in handy during peak hour traffic periods, as well as local buses, taxi’s, Uber’s and bicycles to get you from place to place.
If you need to travel long distance however, you only have 2 choices – bus or plane.
Much like in any other country, these prices go up and down all the time so it can be a little difficult to estimate what a trip around Brazil by bus or plane is going to cost you.
As a rough idea, we usually spent around $75.00 BRL ($25.00 USD) for a one-way bus ticket (approx. 7 hour journey) and $250.00 BRL ($80.00 USD) for a one way flight (approx. 2 hour journey).
Shorter distance mini-bus rides between cities in Rio de Janeiro (usually less than 1 hour) normally cost us up to $20 BRL each ($6.50).
Fares for public buses within each city range from around $2.20 BRL ($0.70 USD) to $3.50 BRL ($1.10 USD) and taxi’s start at around $4.50 BRL ($1.45 USD) and charge about $2.50 BRL ($0.80 USD) per Kilometre.
If you plan to travel long term in South America I wouldn’t recommend hiring a car in Brazil because you’ll end up spending a fortune.
If a road trip is more your thing, you would probably be better off buying a car and then selling it at the end.
For a while we were looking into doing this until we unexpectedly ended up setting up base in São Paulo for a while.
Because we really wanted to get into the true spirit of a wild South American road trip, we were looking into buying an old Kombi.
You can easily pick one up for $8,000 BRL ($2,590 USD).
There are a few small expenses involved with getting the car to comply with safety standards in Brazil but nothing too outrageous.
Then there’s fuel… Expect to pay around $3.50 BRL ($1.15 USD) per litre of petrol (far too expensive if you ask me).
So let’s break it down a little…
Bus and Public Transport in Brazil Realistic Scenario:
Assuming you want to visit all the most popular destinations in Brazil, stopping by a number of smaller cities in between, you would be better off to go by bus and public transport.
A one-way 7 hour bus ride costs on average $80.00 BRL ($26.00 USD).
Let’s say there are 15 major places you want to visit in Brazil (which are likely to be around 7 hours apart).
That’s $1,200 BRL ($390.00 USD).
Then let’s say you do 3 shorter distance bus rides around each city at approx. $20 BRL ($6.50 USD) each.
That’s $900 BRL ($300 USD).
Then let’s say in each city you use public transport on average 6 times and walk the rest.
That’s about $300.00 BRL ($100.00 USD).
Throw in a 10 minute taxi ride for each city (as it usually goes), that’s $225.00 BRL ($73.00 USD).
If you want to spread your journey out over a 3 month period, here’s a rough estimate of what you’d be looking at for cost of transport in Brazil per month:
$1,200 + $900 + $300 + $225 = $2,625 BRL
$2,625 / 3 months = $875 BRL
$875 BRL = $280.00 USD per month
To be safe, I would budget more than this because there is always the chance of missing your bus, needing to get somewhere fast, etc.
Personally, I would budget $100 USD more per month.
Flight and Public Transport in Brazil Realistic Scenario:
Now let’s take the same scenario but turn 5 of those bus rides into flights at $250.00 BRL ($80.00 USD) each.
That would be $800.00 BRL ($260.00 USD) on buses and $1,250.00 BRL ($405.00 USD) on flights.
$800 + $1,250 + $900 + $300 + $225 = $3,475 BRL
$3,475 / 3 months = $1,158 BRL
$1,158 BRL = $375 USD per month
Again, I would take an emergency back-up amount of another $100 USD.
4. Cost of Food & Drink in Brazil
After saving all of our receipts for a month, I’m absolutely certain that we eat and drink the majority of our monthly budget.
The thing is, when you travel, experimenting and tasting all the different flavours is an incredibly important part of understanding the culture you are immersed in – and to do this, you need money.
Eating out is actually one of our favourite things to do, especially in cities like São Paulo where you are absolutely spoiled for dining choices.
If you are traveling on a tight budget then I obviously wouldn’t recommend eating out every day.
Lately, to save some money, we have been buying ingredients at the supermarket to make simple dishes like stir-frys at night time.
The good thing about Brazil when you want to eat out is the self-service option (like a buffet).
It is often very cheap (charged by the Kilogram or at a set price) and most of the time you are spoiled with a variety of different salad, vegetable, meat and dessert options.
You also have churrascarias (the Brazilian steakhouses) which are often presented in a similar way with a focus on meat, that can also be great value for money.
Here’s a breakdown of what we normally spent per grocery shop and meal out:
Groceries: $50 BRL ($16 USD) – x 8 per month
Dinner Out: $40 BRL ($13 USD) each (includes 1 alcoholic drink) – x 18 per month
Lunch Out: $30 BRL ($10 USD) each (includes 1 soft drink) – x 20 per month
Breakfast Out: $15 BRL ($5 USD) each (includes 1 coffee) – x 13 per month
Coffee/Snacks Out: $15 BRL ($5.00 USD) each – x 30 per month
Night Out (2 drinks): $30 BRL ($10 USD) each x 7 per month
^^ As you can see, we’re not exactly party people. Also, we often tend to skip breakfast or lunch.
Amount we spent on food per month:
Groceries: $400 BRL (approx. $130.00 USD)
Dinner Out: $720 BRL (approx. $235.00 USD)
Lunch Out: $600 BRL (approx. $200.00 USD)
Breakfast Out: $195 BRL (approx. $64.00 USD)
Coffee/Snacks Out: $450 BRL (approx. $147.00 USD)
Night Out: $210 BRL (approx. $69.00 USD)
TOTAL: $2,575 BRL = $830 USD per month each
Please also note that you can eat in Brazil for much less than this if you are on a tight budget. We just happen to love eating… A lot.
5. Cost of Entertainment in Brazil
What’s a trip overseas without some fun?
You can entertain yourself in many shapes and forms when you travel and the good news is that you can often do it for free.
But some things are not so easy to get for free, for example, tickets to festivals or tours.
How much you spend on entertainment, however, really depends on your style of travel.
If you’re traveling in Brazil on a tight budget or you’d rather travel off the beaten path, you’re not likely to be going on any tours or the like.
But if you’re staying in Airbnb’s and have more budget than is essentially needed, you may be tempted to spend your money on experiences, such as visiting Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro or going on a boat tour in the Northeast.
During our trip around Brazil, the only time we really did “touristy stuff” was when we visited Rio de Janeiro.
All the rest of the time we were living very “local”, staying with family and friends in less visited neighbourhoods.
With that said though, we still spent quite a lot of money on entertainment, such as going to the cinema, water parks, taking day trips to different places, etc.
Here are a few of our one off entertainment expenses:
Boat tour in Arraial do Cabo: $50.00 BRL ($16.00 USD)
Water park in Rio de Janeiro: $90.00 BRL ($30.00 USD)
Cinema: $20.00 BRL ($6.50 USD)
Christ the Redeemer: $40.00 BRL ($13.00)
Sugarloaf Mountain: Walk up the hill and they’ll shout you a free cable car ride back down!
Itaú bicycle rental: $5.00 BRL ($1.60 USD) per hour
Obviously, when you’re traveling long term, these expenses need to be carefully budgeted for as they can unexpectedly demolish your bank account.
I think that it’s fair enough to say that budgeting for one – two activities (other than eating out and doing free stuff) per main destination in Brazil would be enough.
Going back to that whole 15 destinations in 3 months scenario again, I would personally budget $300.00 BRL ($100.00 USD) for per month for entertainment expenses (note – this does not include nights out, I categorised that under food and drink).
6. Other Travel and Living Expenses in Brazil
Then you have the rest….
The toothpaste that seems to run out twice as fast as it did when you weren’t traveling…
The replacement of clothes that keep mysteriously going missing…
The phone credit… and so it goes on.
These “things” that you might often forget to think about at the beginning of your journey will sneak up on you so be diligent about where you splurge when it looks like you have leftover budget.
Most beauty and hygiene products are not so cheap in Brazil. In fact, some are almost as expensive as the products in the UK and Australia.
So for this reason I wouldn’t suggest bringing those little travel bottles of shampoo and soap, thinking you’ll just get the rest when you arrive.
Clothing prices vary but overall, it’s not too expensive, unless, of course you like to wear brands.
Gadgets are expensive!
Don’t let your Mac give up on you whilst traveling in Brazil.
You might pay up to double the amount you would in the US – that also goes for other lap-top brands, smart phones, tablets, etc.
Here are some average costs of living in Brazil:
Sim card: $10.00 BRL ($3.30 USD)
Basic phone credit: $18.00 BRL ($6.00 USD)
Shampoo: $8.00 BRL ($2.50 USD)
Toothpaste: $5.00 BRL ($1.60 USD)
Flip-flops (Havaianas): $25.00 BRL ($8.00 USD)
Jeans (Zara): $75.00 BRL ($24.50 USD)
Haircut (female): $50.00 BRL ($16.00 USD)
Haircut (male): $30.00 BRL ($10.00 USD)
Self service laundromat (wash & dry large load): $25.00 BRL ($8.00 USD)
Band-aids: $6.00 BRL ($2.00 USD)
Mosquito repellent: $10.00 BRL ($3.30 USD)
Most of these things you’ll probably only need to buy once, for example, a sim card, mosquito repellent (unless you get hardcore attacked like me) and flip-flops (if you even need them).
Other things you will be paying for more regularly, such as phone credit, toothpaste (seriously, the stuff disappears fast) and laundry.
Now, Dan and I are not exactly the most frugal travelers.
We do try to keep costs low but sometimes can’t help ourselves from over-indulging a little, which is why I would probably budget $250.00 BRL ($80.00 USD) per month for “other” items but you might be able to get away with half that (depending on your style of travel).
Don’t underestimate how much can go wrong while you travel!
An emergency fund is a necessity and should be kept separate from your everyday travel fund.
You probably think I’m over-exaggerating but since traveling in Brazil my lap-top has failed on me twice – the first time costing $250 BRL ($80.00 USD) to fix and the second time it mysteriously turned back on 2 weeks later (phew).
Public hospitals in Brazil are not advised for tourists so if anything happens you’ll be faced with a hefty private fee, which, unless you’re covered by travel insurance, will leave a deep hole in your pocket.
Then there’s the emergency flight out of the country because something goes wrong with your visa (It happens), then it can get problematic if you don’t prepare yourself financially.
So, how much would I recommend keeping as emergency back-up while you travel in Brazil?
Based on my experiences I would personally carry an extra $770.00 BRL ($250.00 USD) per month on top of my travel budget.
So, altogether, how much does it cost to travel in Brazil?
Before we get to rough figures I just want to let you know that the slower you travel, the cheaper it will be.
The reason for this is because you can save money on accommodation by renting a property, on food by having a kitchen and cooking yourself, on transport because you’ll be less likely to visit so many places, and so on.
I calculated this guide based on the average Brazil travel itinerary of a backpacker or gap year traveler, which is why I have allowed for so many destinations and covered a variety of different expenses.
If you plan to travel more alternatively, for example, camping, hitch-hiking or volunteering, I believe it would be possible to spend less than half of the “Couchsurfing” total.
These are rough calculations based on my own travel experiences in Brazil and are merely a guide to help you plan, save and budget for your trip.
- Cost to travel in Brazil staying in Couchsurfing and traveling by bus: $4,800 BRL ($1,560 USD) per month
- Cost to travel in Brazil staying in Couchsurfing and traveling by plane & bus: $5,100 BRL( $1,660 USD) per month
- Cost to travel in Brazil staying in hostels and traveling by bus: $5,000 BRL ($1,625 USD) per month
- Cost of travel in Brazil staying in hostels and traveling by plane and bus: $5,283 BRL ($1,720 USD) per month
- Cost to travel in Brazil staying in guesthouses/Airbnb and traveling by bus: $5,800 BRL ($1,880 USD) per month
- Cost to travel in Brazil staying in guesthouses/Airbnb and traveling by plane and bus: $6,100 BRL ($1,980 USD) per month
Brazil Travel Resources
While it’s fresh in your mind, I recommend checking out your Brazil accommodation options now.
Want stylish accommodation you can afford? Enter your dates and Hotels Combined will scan all the top booking sites (Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, etc) for the cheapest prices possible:
- Click here to search hotels in Brazil (Hotels Combined)
- Click here to search apartments in Brazil (Airbnb + $25 discount)
- Click here to search hostels in Brazil (Hostelworld)
If you are flying to Brazil it is beneficial to use a flight compare site to find the cheapest flights. We recommend and use Cheapflights.com.
Did you find my cost of living in Brazil/cost to travel in Brazil guide helpful? If that’s a yes, please don’t forget to share it with anyone you know who’s thinking about traveling to Brazil!