Planning a solo trip to Brasilia? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The capital of Brazil, with a population of over 4.2 million.
- The planned city was developed in 1956 and resembles a butterfly when viewed from above.
- Having assumed the post from Rio de Janeiro, the capital is the seat of government and plays host to the headquarters of numerous Brazilian companies.
- Often referred to as a failed utopian city, Brasilia is the youngest capital to be elected to UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its architectural patrimony.
- Nicknames: “Ilha da Fantasia” or Fantasy Island, BSB, Capital Federal
- Currency: Brazilian Real (BRL).
- Spoken languages: Portuguese while Spanish and French are widely understood.
- Best time to visit: December to February mark Brazil’s summer months, with a highlight on the world-famous carnival that sweeps the country on the Friday to Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
- Arriving via airport: Brasília International Airport (BSB) is served by an Executive bus for R$8 to the city centre or by public bus routes for fares of R$3. Taxis charge R$35-R$45.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel for solo travelers in Brasilia: Joy Hostel. A great value pick in a central location. Very clean, cozy, in a safe area, and with friendly English-speaking staff. Not a party hostel, but safe and social enough to meet other travelers.
- Due to meticulous urban planning the hotel and accommodation sectors are designated as SHS (Setor Hoteleiro Sul) and SHN (Setor Hoteleiro Norte) clustered around the Eixo Rodoviario. j
- Fun fact: the commercial, government and cultural sectors are neatly segregated as well. The entire city is a demonstration of modern urban planning (some enjoy it, while others complain about how it’s actually inconvenient to travel from point to point).
- The city was designed for private cars, not public transportation. The Eixo Monumental runs east-west and holds all the attractions while Eixo Rodoviario divides the city into the North and South wings.
- Rental car companies operate out of the airport and across the city, with 1-day hire priced at R$120 and above.
- The main bus station is located at the centre of the cross formed by the two axes and provides reliable service with tickets priced on a zonal system.
- Taxis make travel between the quadrants easy and convenient. A trip from the Hotel Sector (SHS) to the Asa Sul (South Wing) costs R$25. Dial 3325-3030 or 3344-1000 to book.
- Drinking age is 18, and last call is 3 AM.
- Quadrilátero da Bebida has dozens of bars catering to all moods, tastes, and budgets.
- Sector de Clubes is where the locals head to for samba and forró and where the music enthralls until the early hours.
- Avenue of Nations presents a laid-back vibe with cosy bars and theaters.
- Great bars to start your night: Hop Capital Beer, Eye Patch Panda, Velvet Pub, and UK Music Hall (rock themed).
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Cathedral of Brasília was designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer and attracts more than a million visitors a year.
- Santuário Dom Bosco is an impressive feat of modern design dedicated to the Italian saint who dreamed of a utopian city in 1883, featuring windows of stained glass in 12 different shades of blue while a chandelier of 7,400 pieces of Murano glass illuminate the night.
- Brasilia Digital TV Tower brings broadcast signal to the whole Federal District and its beyond but also serves as observation deck from which to admire the meticulous city.
- Juscelino Kubitschek Memorial commemorates the life and accomplishments of the beloved president.
- Chapada Imperial is a nature reserve boasting over 30 waterfalls as well as hills and lakes easily explored on foot.
- Parque da Cidade is Brasilia’s favorite park, complete with an amusement centre, children’s playground and cycling trails.
- Brasilia National Park is an eco-park with mineral water pools and springs, as well as walking trails and designated areas for picnics.
- Paranoá Lake is the man-made lake used to dam the Paranoá River, lined with attractions such as the Olympic Centre and Palácio da Alvorada.
- The capital city took just 41 months to build from desert land. The urban project was undertaken by Lúcio Costa and executed by architect Oscar Nemeyier, whose public structures can be admired throughout the city.
- Great restaurants to try: Mangai, Coco Bambu (seafood), Ticiana Werner (Italian), BSB Grill Sul, Arabe Gourmet (Middle Eastern), Lake’s Restaurante, and Brazilian American Burgers.
- Where to find good cheap eats: Ceilândia offers gigantic servings of northeastern specialties at unbelievable prices on top of excellent baked goods, fruits and vegetables.
- Dangerous areas: the city is generally safe. In any case, exercise caution in crowded and avoid walking by yourself at night.
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days