Driving in Brazil: Things to Know (part 3)


On a normal day, you will probably only face some traffic as leaving the city for the road.

In the present, if you plan your Brazilian road trip during a national holiday, know you may have to face traffic jams on the road. Most Brazilian roads, even in big cities, have one to three lanes, so there is not much space for the total number of cars leaving town.

If you are coming to Brazil in summer, roads are also filled with cars during the weekends, especially on the way to the beach. So, plan ahead and visit the city on a weekday, when most people will go to work and out of the road.

Parking in Brazil

When you are driving around a city in Brazil, there is just a few options for parking.

If you want to park on the street, remember that there are certain parking spaces for elders and disabled people and you won’t be allowed to park there. You’ll only be allowed to park in general parking spaces, which are marked with a white line on the street. Meanwhile, yellow line means you can’t park there at any time.

If you are in doubt, find “Estacionamentos”, which means parking garages where you can pay by hour or day.

Driving safety

Generally, tollways are very safe in Brazil, even at night. While on the road, you may notice that there are a lot of trucks since Brazil’s main mode of transportation for consumer goods is through roads and trucks.

Road regulations in Brazil

On Brazilian roads, cars must always keep their headlights on, even during the day. Most roads have radar speed signs and even police officers with speed guns.

In general, speed limits go from 60 km/h to 100 km/h in Brazil, but some roads go lower or higher than that. The limit will vary a lot, so look out for the signs.

Driving in Brazil: Things to Know (part 2)

What to expect when driving in Brazil?

When driving in Brazil, you have to take into consideration the traffic. Especially when you’re driving in big cities such as Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo, it is highly recommended that you should avoid driving at rush hour, at about 6 p.m, when it may take twice or even three times as long to go from point A to point B since the number of cars and motorcycles on the street gets so big.

In order to avoid rush hour, look for a nice restaurant nearby to relax, have your meal, and go back to your hotel.

Road maintenance

Most touristic cities have well-preserved streets and roads around them, so you don’t have to worry so much about road maintenance. Although some streets that are far from the city center may have road maintenance problems, the chance that you have to drive around them is very low.

Driving safety

Many things have been said about Brazilian safety. To have a safe trip in Brazil, the main tip is to be always aware of the place where you are.

It is almost always safe to drive around the country. Every day, Brazilians go to work and school by car, bus, train, or subway and they have learned to pay attention to their surroundings at all times.

If you are a bit anxious about it, just avoid leaving the touristic areas of the city and always close the windows while driving at night. Most of the serious stuff in Brazil you see in the news don’t happen all the time like you may imagine.

Driving regulations in Brazil

In Brazil, driving is pretty straightforward. If you are feeling somehow apprehensive, you should take a taxi to your hotel and try to get acquainted to the street signs and speed limits, instead of picking up your rental car right away. Remember that most of the biggest cities in Brazil have very strict speed limits as well as many radar speed signs.

Driving in Brazil: Things to Know

If you have a plan of visiting Brazil, a car rental to take road trips can be a good option. Here are the most necessary things that you need to know before starting your journey.

Brazil is the size of a continent so it’s not always easy to take part in transportation there. However, this country has some cities and beaches that are more easily accessed by car than by airplane or train. Of course, driving in another country with different regulations always has its challenges, and driving in Brazil is not an exception. So it is very useful if you are planning on visiting a city or historic town nearby.

The requirements to be able to drive in Brazil

If you want to drive in Brazil legally, you must be 18 years old or older and have a driver’s license. If you are a foreigner, you can drive in Brazil with your home country’s license and your valid passport.

The requirements for a car rental in Brazil

If you want to rent a car in Brazil, you must be at least 21 years old, have a valid and original driver’s license held for at least 24 months and a valid passport. You will need to present a personal credit card for the security deposit, too.

What side of the road to drive in Brazil?

Like in the US, drivers ride on the right side of the road in Brazil.

How about the speed limits in Brazil?

In Brazil, speed limits are displayed in the metric system: km/h (kilometers per hour), not mph (miles per hour). In general, cities will have a speed limit of 40km/h to 60km/h, highways will go from 60km/h, and around suburban areas to 100 or 110km/h.

Gas stations work in Brazil

There is no self-service gas station in Brazil. There is always someone who is going to help you with that and commonly, you will pay directly to this person.

Estrada Real in Minas Gerais, one of the most famous cultural road trips in Brazil

  • Type of road trip: cultural road trip (colonial towns, rococo churches, baroque).
  • Quality road: Unpaved but generally well-maintained.
  • Time to drive: Accessible all year.
  • Accommodation or Camping: All towns have guesthouses and a lot of rough camping opportunities along the way.

The Estrada Real, or the Royal Road, runs from Diamantina, some 250 kms north of Belo Horizonte, down to Paraty lying along the coast west of Rio de Janeiro. The road meanders mainly through the state of Minas Gerais with a variety of natural beauties. Along the road, you can find great places for rough camping as well as marveled at the rich historical heritage that is visible in some dozen exquisite colonial towns.

That gold was discovered here in the late 17th century resulted in a gold rush of unprecedented proportions. By the middle of the 18th century, the mines were turning out half the supply of gold in the whole world. The wealth generated during this period of time bought the services of the best current artisans and artists and filled the towns with magnificent baroque architecture, government buildings, churches, and chapels.

For those who only have limited time and want to focus on the central part, from Ouro Preto to Caxambu, there have so many picturesque towns and dozens of baroque and rococo churches with the best-known town Ouro Preto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ouro Preto is perfect destination for a stay of a few days since you will have time to explore its atmospheric center, steep streets, as well as awe-inspiring churches. In terms of places to eat, you should try Contos de Réis restaurant and Bené da Flauta restaurant (next to the San Francis de Assisi church) that serve local specialties in cosy surroundings.

Paraty and Diamantina are more than worth a visit and don’t mind driving those additional kilometers. Try visiting Diamantina on a Saturday evening between May and October when a big-band concert is held with the musicians playing from the balconies around the plaza.

The Ultimate Road Trip Route across the Northeastern Coast of Brazil (part 2)

The route then takes you through a number of the region’s state capitals: Fortaleza, Recife, Maceió, Natal, João Pessoa, and Aracaju, as you start to snake south towards your final destination, the amazing city of Salvador.

Usually overlooked by foreign travelers, Fortaleza is one of the biggest cities of the country and is made absolutely gorgeous by its party atmosphere and idyllic beaches.

The pretty José de Alencar theatre is worth seeing, with its Art Nouveau décor dating back to the 1910s. Then you should have a night out around Praia do Iracema, which is one of the north-east’s most happening spots once the sun goes down.

The next major destination will be Natal, located on Brazil’s north-eastern tip and the capital city of the state of Rio Grande do Norte. The city itself doesn’t have much going for it, but the surrounding region makes Natal a must on any north-east road trip.

Before making it into the city itself, you will pass the lovely coastal locations of Galinhos, São Miguel do Gostoso and Genipabu, all of which are worth a stop. While most of the towns and cities on the journey so far have an overwhelmingly relaxed and chilled-out atmosphere, Recife is decidedly more urban and as such has great character and culture.

In Recife, the suburb of Boa Viagem is the most popular destination for tourists with its excellent nightlife and restaurants. Just don’t go into the water, as Boa Viagem’s beaches are notorious for shark attacks.

The last stop on the journey is Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia. Salvador is arguably the most African city outside of Africa, and is a rare example of a South American city where the culture of black slaves has been so well preserved and celebrated.

If after all that, you are still looking to go a bit further, head to the southern parts of Bahia state to visit the towns of Ilheus and Porto Seguro, which are also worth a visit. It takes you around 40 hours of driving for the entire trip, so give yourself plenty of time to enjoy your stopovers.

Stadium to Stadium: The Three Most Stunning Road Trips in Brazil

It’s Brazil. And, unsurprisingly, the world is headed to this South American nation. We know you would like to indulge in some Football frenzy and Salsa your way through the country.

We are taking you on a whirlwind behind-the-wheel adventure through the notorious Brazilian Rodovias. You’ll catch the matches, but getting to these 12 host cities is what we are excited about. From long coastal roads to swamps and potholes, you’ll see Brazil beyond the decked-up stadiums and after-match parties. So, get yourself a ride, steal a map and throttle on for a road trips in Brazil.

1. São Paulo to Porto Alegre

  • Distance: 1140 km
  • Time: 14 hours
  • Route: BR 116/376/101/290

Leave the football frenzy in Sao Paolo behind and gear up for the long, coastal road to Porto Alegre. You’ll be flirting with the BR-101 (Brazil’s longest highway) through most of it. The highway might test you in bits and pieces all through its length with undulating potholes and intermittent construction, but the spectacular ocean views and enticing stops along the way more than make up for it.

2. Porto Alegre to Curitiba

  • Distance: 700 km
  • Time: 9 hours
  • Route: BR 116 North

Connecting two of southern Brazil’s biggest cities, the BR 116 forges its way up North, leaving the Brazilian Pampas and Gaucho country behind. You’ll drive through Rio Grande do Sul’s and Santa Caterina’s varied geography offering a blend of low mountain ranges, grassy plains and Araucaria moist forests. We recommend a stopover in Brazil’s wine country, Caxias do Sul, for the best of Brazilian wines and Italian cuisine.

3. Curitiba to Belo Horizonte

  • Distance: 1000 km
  • Time: 11 hours
  • Route: BR 116/381

Chances are that you will not want to bid adieu to Curitiba’s easy vibe and the FIFA celebrations in Barigui Park. But, we insist you do. The road to Belo Horizonte will take you through an enticing assortment of landscape ranging from mountains, valleys, vast fertile lands, hydro-mineral spas and coffee plantations. You’ll leave the state of Paraná, rush through São Paulo and enter Minas Gerais, home to Belo Horizonte. Make a stop at the Coffee plantations in the south before dashing upwards to the capital.

The Ultimate Road Trip Route across the Northeastern Coast of Brazil (part 1)

Brazil’s north-eastern coast is famous for its beautiful beaches, unique culture, and stunning weather. Many of the region’s cities are favorite tourist destinations individually but a great way to see them all is to take a long road trip from Maranhão down to Bahia.

The road trip starts in São Luis, with its lively reggae scene and beautiful colonial architecture, before heading to east through two of Brazil’s most beautiful spots: the amazing secluded beach town of Jericoacoara and the gorgeous dunes and lagoons of Lençóis Maranhenses.

Lençóis Maranhenses gets its name from the vast and sweeping dunes covering the park, which are usually said to look like bedsheets (mean lençóis in Portuguese). In the rainy season, pristine lagoons form in between the dunes, which means you can trek over desert-like hills of sand and then take a dip in the gorgeous natural pools below.

The journey on to Jericoacoara is the most complex stretch of this road trip route, requiring a vehicle with a little off-road capability. From the entry point to Lençóis Maranhenses, Barreirinhas, you will need to take some sand tracks east to Paulino Neves, only then will you come back to properly paved roads when you journey through the towns of Tutoia, Camocim, and Parnaiba before reaching Jericoacoara.

The sleepy fishing village of Jeri, or Jericoacoara, as it is called by the locals, is a truly fairytale place for any visitor. With its beautiful beaches and slow pace of life, it is the perfect destination to relax while soaking up the stunning scenery. One of the main attractions is the Sunset Dune (Duna do Pôr do Sol), where crowds gather and see one of the planet’s greatest sunsets when the sun drops into the Atlantic horizon, sometimes creating the famous Green Flash phenomenon.

Estrada Real in Minas Gerais: one of the most favorite road trips in Brazil

The Estrada Real (or Royal Road) is a historic routes series in Brazil. It spans the states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais. These roads (a total of 1,600km in length) was built in the 17th/18th centuries by the Portuguese colonists.

They were used to transport diamonds, gold, and other minerals in the hinterland of Minas Gerais to the Atlantic coast’s ports such as Rio de Janeiro, as well as to Portugal. The Minas gold rush, having brought much wealth to Portugal and financing the Industrial Revolution in England, led to towns along the roads with the construction of mansions, ornate government buildings, and elaborate baroque churches.

These days, the Estrada Real is the only way for visitors to explore the lush nature and rich cultural and historical legacy in this part of the country.

  • Quality: Unpaved but generally well-maintained.
  • When to drive: Accessible all months of year.
  • Accommodation / Camping: All towns have guesthouses and lots of rough camping opportunities.

The Estrada Real runs from Diamantina, about 250 kms north of Belo Horizonte, then splits into two roads: one ends in Rio de Janeiro and the other continues to Paraty in São Paulo. The road has much natural beauty and meanders mainly through the state of Minas Gerais. You can find great places for rough camping at the rich historical heritage in some exquisite colonial towns.

If you don’t have much time, you might want to focus on the central part of the road, from Ouro Preto to Caxambu, with a lot of picturesque towns and dozens of rococo and baroque churches. One of the best-known town is the UNESCO World Heritage Site Ouro Preto.

Paraty and Diamantina are really more than worth a visit so don’t mind driving those additional kilometers. You should visit Diamantina on a Saturday evening from May to October to attend a big-band concert taking place with the musicians playing from the balconies around the plaza.