Brazil

A World Cup Venue Travel Guide

by Mjanikian on April 11, 2014

A World Cup Venue Travel Guide

This summer's FIFA World Cup is now just about two months away, and that means that most people who will be attending have already booked travel arrangements. However, one of the joys of attending the World Cup—particularly in a country as vast as Brazil—is in improvising a bit and organizing the details of the trip once you're there! There is a certain thrill to moving about from city to city taking in matches at different venues, and after all, this is sometimes the best way to either see the most matches or follow your own team!

In Brazil, it will be just about impossible for any spectator to see all of the venues. There are 12 host cities scattered throughout the country, and that's a great many places to visit in the span of one month (or really, even less, because some of the destinations are only used through the preliminary group stage of the Cup). So rather than looking at each individual host city, for which you can find small profiles at BBC Sport, we're going to highlight five cities that are worth prioritizing for your World Cup travel.

Porto Alegre

Where: Porto Alegre is the southernmost host city in Brazil, located on the Atlantic coast near the southern tip of the country.

What To Do: Porto Alegre offers a less vibrant atmosphere than some of its counterparts but is ideal for the nature lovers visiting the Cup. Wonderful hiking is available nearby in the Aparados da Serra canyons, and one of Brazil's top wine producing regions, the Vale dos Vinhedos, is also within range. In town, you'll have a good opportunity to simply relax during a long, busy vacation!

World Cup Impact: The riverside Estadio Beira-Rio will host four group play matches, in addition to one round of 16 match. Its schedule is somewhat light, but on June 25th Argentina will play Nigeria in Porto Alegre. This offers visitors a wonderful chance to see Brazil's biggest rival and, according to ESPNFC, their co-favorites.

Fortaleza

Where: The northernmost host city, Fortaleza is located in the northwest of the country on the coastline, roughly 1,200 km due north of Salvador.

What To Do: Fortaleza is not the most glamorous of the host cities, but it could be one of the most festive. Specifically, the city is known as something of a dance hub. As is traditional in much of Brazil, the dance parties have a tendency to last just about all night. It's also worth noting that the city's traditional June festivals will be underway during the World Cup this summer. TheFortaleza beaches should be fun to visit, too, though it will be very hot.

World Cup Impact: The Arena Castelao stadium is one of the biggest in Brazil, and will host four group matches, a round of 16 match, and a quarter-final as well. The highlight will undoubtedly be the Brazil v. Mexico match on June 17, though Uruguay v. Costa Rica and Germany v. Ghana are also appealing—and that's just in group play!

Manaus

Where: Manaus is the farthest west of any host city, and is gaining quite a bit of publicity due to its placement near the heart of the Amazon. It is in the northwest region of Brazil.

What To Do: From boat tours, to hikes, to zoos and other specific attractions, there are all kinds of ways to visit the Amazon rainforest, which truly surrounds Manaus. It will be hot and humid, but the area should offer one of the most unique vacation environments in Brazil. Additionally, Boi-Bumba (a carnival-style festival of sorts) will also be going on during the Cup!

World Cup Impact: Arena de Amazonia is being hailed as one of the most unique and impressive stadiums in use for the World Cup, and while it won't host any matches past the group stage, its early matches won't disappoint. England v. Italy on June 14 should be one of the best matches of the group stage, and USA v. Portugal on the June 22 will also be compelling.

Sao Paolo

Where: Sao Paolo is located on the coast in the south of the country.

What To Do: The list is virtually endless. Home to over 22 million residents, Sao Paolo has it all—bars, clubs, world class restaurants, active beaches, and probably more World Cup enthusiasm than you'll find anywhere else. The Guardian, in a spectacular World Cup venue preview, even notes that the estimation is 720 pizzas per minute are sold in Sao Paolo. Also, the article states that the city will be filled with celebrations specifically designed to show off to the world audience.

World Cup Impact: In part of an ongoing look ahead at the World Cup, Betfair speculates that home advantage may not be what it once was in the World Cup, in which five of the first 10 winners in history were hosts. Try telling that to Brazil when they open Cup play in Sao Paolo on June 12. This city will be about as enthusiastically unified as any athletic venue in the world at any point in history, and that's just the beginning. Sao Paolo will have additional wonderful group play matches (including Uruguay v. England on the 19th), and will host a round of 16 match and a semi-final.

Rio de Janeiro

Where: Just a short distance east and slightly to the north of Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro is also a coastal city.

What To Do: Again, the list is long. Home to rainforest-like surroundings, world-renowned beaches, and a thriving urban center in between it all, Rio is one of the most sought-after travel destinations in the world. The crowds and potentially very hot weather could be downsides, but if you go to Brazil for the World Cup it's an absolute must to pass through Rio. In addition to all of the cultural activity and the various attractions, the Maracana is the most iconic stadium in the entire country and an historic place to catch a match.

World Cup Impact: Rio will host the Cup final on July 13, but there will be plenty of great action before the final as well. Rio will host a round of 16 match and a quarter-final, and its group matches include appearances by both Spain and Argentina, two of the popular favorites for the event.


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