20 traditional things you must do in Brazil

20 things you must do in Brazil, by Packing my Suitcase.

Brazil is a huge country, larger than Europe. The cultural mix is unbelievable, going from African to German influence. Each region has it’s traditions, that being with regards to food, drinks, dance or parties, and they can be very different from the other. However, there are things that every Brazilian consider as traditional of the country, and I am not talking only about football.

Being a Brazilian myself, I thought it was time to share with you a little bit more about my country, and decided to make a list of 20 traditional things you must do in Brazil. Some of the things on the list are pretty obvious for tourists, others not so much, but I can only say that after doing every item, you probably will understand the Brazilian culture and people better, and maybe even get the feeling of how is like to live in the country.

Have a caipirinha

20 things you must do in Brazil, by Packing my Suitcase.

Of course, the most popular Brazilian drink should be on the list, and you can’t miss it. You will find caipirinha basically everywhere: restaurants, on the beach, at the bars, and at parties. Try in different places, and find your favourite.

Go to a churrasco

20 things you must do in Brazil, by Packing my Suitcase.

Churrasco is basically a barbecue, but like no other! The Brazilian barbecue means spending the day at someone’s house with your friends, listening to music, grilling meat, and most importantly: eating it with feijoada (Brazilian black beans) and farofa (toasted cassava flour mixture), some caipirinha and Brazilian beer.

Lie on the beach with a canga

20 things you must do in Brazil, by Packing my Suitcase.

Find a beach as soon as possible and enjoy the sun lying down on a canga – a Brazilian beach towel, made out of thin fabric also used to dry yourself and as a satchel – on the sand.

Drink cold coconut water

20 things you must do in Brazil, by Packing my Suitcase.

There is no coconut water like the Brazilian, trust me. Enjoy it by the beach, by the pool and freshen up with this sweet and cold water, which is even better if drank from the coconut with a straw.

Have an Açaí

20 things you must do in Brazil, by Packing my Suitcase.

Açaí is a typical Brazilian berry, purple coloured, from the North of the country. It can be found almost everywhere in Brazil – I even found it here in Germany. It is full of energy, so be careful with the excess.

It normally comes in a bowl with fruits like banana and strawberry and cereals, or in a big glass, in both cases you need to eat with a spoon. It is creamy and should be served cold – if it’s not cold something is wrong.

Go to a Festa Junina

Festa Junina – June Party – as the name says, it happens in June in the entire country, especially in the Northeast region. It’s a typical festival that lasts the entire month, in which people eat traditional food like corn and other dishes made out of corn such as canjica, pamonha, corn cake, and much more. There are also some dance presentations – the quadrilhas – with people dressed up in traditional costumes, bands playing the typical songs of Forró, and even bonfire.

Try pão de queijo

20 things you must do in Brazil, by Packing my Suitcase.

This is one of the most delicious things you will ever try around the world. Pão de queijo is simply a ball shaped cheese bread, normally eaten when still warm, as it melts in your mouth. It is a snack eaten at breakfast or in the middle of the afternoon, mainly with coffee.

Have a tapioca for breakfast

20 things you must do in Brazil, by Packing my Suitcase.

Tapioca is a very traditional food in Brazil, made with cassava flour, which is sticky. It is simply made on a pan in round form, and it is either eaten only with butter inside, or with other salty or sweet fillings, such as meat, cheese, ham, nutella, etc.

Go to a football game in the stadium

Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro. Source.

Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro. Source.

Football is no doubt the national passion, and there is always a game going on somewhere in the country. Even if you aren’t such a big fan of the sport, you must see how the Brazilians are like when they are watching their team play. Then, you will understand how big this passion is.

Drink guaraná

Guaraná is a fruit from the Amazon, filled with energy, its drink was named after the fruit and it is very famous in Brazil. Guaraná can be found naturally made or in cans, just as you find Coke, in the supermarkets, restaurants, etc. The latter is sweeter than the natural one, and now it is being exported to other countries, I have seen them here in Germany very often.

Carnival

The biggest event in the country, and probably the first thing that comes into your mind when you think of Brazil. The Carnival is celebrated in different ways across the country, in Rio and São Paulo there are the samba schools presentations, and in Salvador and Olinda there are the most famous street Carnivals with Axé and Frevo. The annual event happens in February/March, 51 days before Easter.

Source

Mangueira School. Source.

Watch a samba school rehearsal

If you are not in Brazil for the Carnival, you can still get the feeling of it by watching a samba school rehearsal in Rio or São Paulo. They happen all year long every week and are mostly free, all you need to do is to contact the samba school you like. Here is a list for Rio and São Paulo.

Eat a pastel with sugar cane juice

This is something very typical to do in São Paulo, but you don’t have to have both at the same time. Pastel is a salty pastry fried in oil, normally filled with for example cheese, meat, and other fillings; it is normally eaten as an afternoon snack.

In São Paulo a pastel already asks for a sugar cane juice, which is something very Brazilian and you definitely must try, it is sweet, strong and delicious.

Get some extra calories with Brigadeiro

If you never heard of and never tried Brigadeiro in your life, you don’t know what you have been missing. Brigadeiro is a mixture of cocoa powder, lots of butter and sweet condensed milk (you can find my personal recipe at the end of the post… shhh it’s a family secret) cooked in low heat for half an hour or so. It can be eaten warm, but most typically they are served in mini balls toped with granulated chocolate. It is a sweet and thick chocolate mostly seen in birthday parties and weddings.

Get a Fita do Bonfim (wish ribbon)

Fita means ribbon, and Bonfim is the saviour of Bahia – or Jesus Christ. The tradition of this wish ribbon first appeared in Bahia, in 1809. It is 47cm long, the correspondent size of the right arm of Jesus Christ’s statue found at the church Senhor do Bonfim, in Salvador, Bahia.

This ribbon is a lucky band used on the wrists or ankles, it is found in different colours with the message “Lembrança do Senhor do Bonfim da Bahia” or in remembrance of the saviour of Bahia. The tradition is to knot it 3 times, and for each time you should make a mental wish. It is said that once your band naturally breaks, your wishes will come true!

Buy a pair of Havaianas

20 things you must do in Brazil, by Packing my Suitcase.

Every Brazilian owns at least a pair of Havaianas. They are found in several colours and special editions, from cheap to very expensive, from simple to fancy ones. It is probably the best souvenir you can buy in Brazil.

Play football on the beach

No need to be professional, but playing football on the beach is one of the most Brazilian things you will do, and it’s fun!

Lie and swing on a hammock

You have probably lied on a hammock before, but what you don’t know is how much this is typical in Brazil. Especially in the Northeast and North region of the country, where having a hammock at home is a must, and it is one of the things I most miss from Brazil.

This tradition came from the native aboriginals, who already inhabited the country before the colonisation period, and today it is something as normal as having a bed at home.

Ride a beach buggy

Beach buggy is very popular in the Northeast region of Brazil, where it is possible to find dunes by the beaches. You can either take a tour, or rent one. It is a very fun and traditional activity in the country’s beaches, and a nice way of exploring them.

Dance

That being samba, pagode, axé, forró or funk – I know, so many weird names – go dance among the Brazilians and learn from the best!

 



 Brazilian Brigadeiro Recipe

Prep time: 25 – 30min

Ingredients

1 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (this is the most important ingredient, so make sure you get the right one)

1 Tbsp of Margarine (no salt)

7 Tbsp of cocoa powder

Chocolate sprinkles (optional)

How to prepare

In a small sauce pan, in medium heat melt the butter, add the sweetened condensed milk and the chocolate powder. Mix with a wooden spoon, and don’t stop mixing until the mixture starts to thicken and come off the pan, which takes around 15 minutes or more. Then, it’s ready!

My secret tip is: be patient and don’t stop mixing!

How to serve

Wait for the mixture cool down a bit if you want to eat it on a bowl, we call it Brigadeiro de Panela (pan’s Brigadeiro)

If you want to make the mini balls, first you will need to let it cool completely. Then you will need to butter up your hands and grab a small portion of the chocolate and roll it in your hands, shaping it as a ball. Once the mini balls are ready, you can garnish with chocolate sprinkles.

Servings: around 30 mini balls.

Bom apetite!



 

Pin it up!

20 traditional things you must do in Brazil, by Packing my Suitcase.

 

About Allane

A Brazilian living in Germany. Married to W. mommy to a baby girl and a Golden Retriever. Traveler, writer, aspiring photographer, diver, wine appreciator, Formula 1 fan, avid reader of historical and young adult fictions books. City girl, nature lover, believer of a better world, one little change at a time.

  • Places People Stories

    Great list! I have not done all of these thing the two times I have been in Brazil. But next time, I complete the list 🙂 I really need to experience the carneval one day 🙂 And play football on the beah 😉

    • Thank you so much Hanne!
      hahaha yaaaay how awesome!! I hope you do complete it! 😀

  • Yum – the brigadeiro recipe sounds delicious Allane! Great list and gives you a flavour of what Brazil must be like – I love the look of the hammock I can just imagine lazing an afternoon away in one! Hope you’re having a lovely weekend 🙂

    • Hmmmm brigadeiro is great, and very easy to make! I hope you try it sometime 😀
      The hammock is something I really miss around here, I can spend a whole day in one reading a book 😀
      I wish you a great week!!

  • Thank you Andrew!!
    There are several traditional Brazilian dishes, soon I will share some of them 😀

  • Awnnn I am so happy to know that!! I hope when you go to Brazil you get to do some of the things on this list! The food in Brazil is indeed amazing, so I am sure you will like it 😀

  • hahahaahahha the food is the best part! The thing I miss the most 😀
    I really hope you go to Brazil someday, if you do you have a place to stay in Fortaleza 😀

  • Thank you dear!! I hope this list will be useful to you 😀

  • hahahaahha you’re most welcome! I am very happy to know that you like it!!
    Yessss, I could do with a churrasco everyday too 😀

  • hahaaha awesome!!!! I’m glad you liked the list and hope you will get there soon 😀

  • hahaaha me too!!!

  • I hope one day your guys get to visit Brazil 😀
    if not, I hope you like the Brigadeiro!! 😀 <3

  • hahahahaha awnnnn how sweet Laura!
    Congrats on the baby <3
    I hope you do get to visit Brazil sometime, it's no doubt fun for the whole family 😀

  • Thank you Clara 😀
    Oh really? How awesome!
    Yesss do get a hammock, it’s probably the best thing you will get after a bed 😀
    There are also Havaianas here in Europe, though more expensive than in Brazil, so every year when I go I buy some hahaha

  • Yes I like the sound of a churrasco! And I love Havaianas, the only shoes I wear all summer.

    • hahaha same here!! Actually, I wear Havaianas every day… it’s my normal house shoes 😀 can’t take them off!

  • Phoebe Thomas

    I love that so many things on this list involve food and drink and that your first thing is a delicious caipirinha! I’d love to visit Brazil, especially for carnival. Great list, I’m pinning it for future reference.

    • hahaha glad you liked it Phoebe! Yes, food plays an important role in the Brazilian culture, and they are delicious and varied! I hope you get to visit it someday and try the food and enjoy the carnival 😀

  • Thank you so much for posting this blog! I went to Brazil in 2003 and my family and I loooved a drink there but we could never remember the name of the drink! caipirinha! Mystery solved! And the meat was FABULOUS!! we went somewhere and they just shaved the meat right off the skewer on to our plates! Ugh! mouth is watering now! xx #MondayEscapes

    • hahahaaha glad I helped you remember the drink’s name, it’s just the most famous drink of Brazil 😀
      Yesss, I miss the meat! There is a Brazilian restaurant here in Munich, maybe you should try it! They have great meat and also in the skewer 😀

  • I haven’t been to Brazil but I’ve eaten in a Brazilian restaurant in London…and let’s say there was a lot of food involved!! We have a similar looking dessert to Brigadeiro in Greece and we call it “truffle”…have no idea what’s inside though! I’ve never owned Havaianas, but right now I own flip flos from a brand called Ipanema!

    • Hmmmm that sounds awesome!! I hear there are some Brazilian restaurants in London!!
      Ipanema is also very famous. As Havaianas were the first ones, every flip flop is just call it by the brand’s name, so it doesn’t matter if you wear a Ipanema or Havaianas, they are all flip flops and we love them 😀

  • Wow, so many great things to do – I especially love all the different foods, not to mention the drinks 🙂 Would love to be sitting in a hammock right now drinking a caipirinha! #MondayEscapes

    • hahaha you are starting to think like a Brazilian, a hammock and a caipirinha, awesome 😀

  • Laia

    Waw, great list! So cool there so many food and drinks in the list 🙂 When I was there I tried caipirinha, churrasco and bought hawaianas. I also ate something that looked like brigadeiro but they were white and topped with coco.

    • Thank you dear, glad you liked it 😀
      That’s awesome you did already some of them… the white one you had was a Beijinho (which means “little kiss”) and I love this one too 😀

  • Mrs ATWWAH

    I’ve never been to Brazil but this post has made me want to – and has also made me hungry 🙂 #MondayEscapes

  • Katrina

    Wow, I have just learned so much about Brazil, I have never been and knew very little about Brazil until your post. I love the idea of the Churrasco! It certainly puts our BBQs to shame, I would love to try that!
    Kat x

    • hahaha happy to know that Kat 😀
      I hope you get to visit Brazil someday and try some of these things on the list!! Our churrasco is awesome, a looot of meat involved 😀

  • Sara (@mumturnedmom)

    Ah, I love this! My aunt and family lived in Brazil for a number of years, so you have just reminded of the wonderful feijoada she used to make, and my cousin introduced me to caipirinhas, a firm favourite now 🙂 I would love to visit Brazil, definitely one that’s on my bucket list x #mondayescapes

    • Awnnn really? How amazing! So you are very familiar with some Brazilian culture 😀
      I hope you can experience it in Brazil someday!!

  • You have made me really want to go to Brazil now, lie in a hammock on a beach and sip my caipirinha… Ahh, now that would be something 🙂 Sounds like a fab list, wish I will have the chance to try all these someday! 🙂 #mondayescapes

    • hahaha thank you so much, I am happy you liked the list!! I hope your trip to Brazil happens sometime soon, I’m sure you will love it 😀

  • Harps Baby Brain Memoirs

    Brazil looks epic! I would love to visit! This post is fab! I’m totally sold. #mondayescapes x

  • I love how many of your items are related to food 🙂 Don’t forget Maracuja, that was my favorite!!

    • hahaha yesss, food is very important in Brazil’s culture… the thing I miss the most 😀
      I love Maracujá too, especially the juice 😀

  • Ruth Rieckehoff

    I have done all the ones related to food and drink. Does that says something about me? I have the luck of living close to a Brazilian community. Therefore, we can enjoy acai and Brazilian lunch plates often.

    • hahaaha really?? How awesome is that!! Happy to know you tried all of this food… I guess I have to come up with some more 😀

  • How cool that you already went to Brazil Megan 😀 I am glad you liked it, and hope you will be back with the kids someday 😀

  • 😀 I hope you Anca… there is a lot to see and do in Brazil!

  • Thank you Sally!! 😀
    Well, more Brazilian than this will be hard, so you really have some insider tips here haha
    I hope you get the chance to try some of those dishes!

  • hahaha yaaay awesome!! I hope you liked it 😀

  • How interesting that you got to live in South America for a while! So nice that you got to love hammocks too 😀 I hope you do get one soon to enjoy it there in South Africa 😀 Did you get to learn Portuguese?

  • Yesss, so many delicious dishes in Brazil!! You have to go back and indulge yourself into some Brazilian food!!
    Oh noo, I’m so sorry you were sick while there 🙁

    And I hope you try the recipe 😀 it’s delicious… specially in those days you are craving for chocolate!!

  • hahaha I hope you do make it to Brazil someday!! This list will certainly make your trip better 😀

  • hahahaa that’s awesome!! Yess, our best stuff is already exported, which is great!! So you still have 17 things to do 😀

  • They are delicious!!! I love them too 😀
    Soo cool that you had a Brazilian flatmate!!
    Glad you liked the list!

  • Kathleen (Kat)

    Wow, I guess with the yummy food and drinks, the best way to look as good as a Brazilian is to shake off those calories with samba dancing, eh? Thanks for sharing, such an interesting post 🙂

  • Sign me up for all of those – even though I’m not sure I would survive the insanity that is the carnival!

  • Pão de queijo and tapioca sound really delicious! I have never tasted tapioca with nutella but would love to try it 🙂 Great list, Allane, it makes me want to visit Brazil! Fingers crossed it happened sooner 🙂 xoxo

    • Yessss, delicious!! When you come to Munich I will bake you some pão de queijo!!
      And I hope you can go to Brazil sometime soon, maybe we can meet there and dive in Fernando de Noronha. But be prepared because diving in Brazil is pretty expensive, unfortunately. I am going there next month and was dying to try some diving, but it’s like 100 euros per day for 2 dives 🙁

  • Ah, I haven’t been to Brazil since my honeymoon – managed to tick a few off your list though! #mondayescapes

  • How nice that your husband wants to learn Portuguese!! And yes, lucky you that in SA they speak English. Do you like living there? I always wanted to visit SA.

  • Yesss that would definitely be awesome!! We can see when the both of us can go… I go to Brazil once a year (though I’m not sure about next year, because this year I will be there for the second time already).
    Yes, it’s pretty expensive… in Natal is cheaper, around 60 euros for 2 dives. In Ilha Grande I am not sure, but there is a place you have to dive in Brazil, it’s near Sao Paulo too, in Santos, it’s called “Laje de Santos”. It is a protected area with incredible marine life, you can even see mantas there 😀 I wanted to go this year, but it’s a bit out of the budget right now 🙁 so I will leave it to when we go together 😀

  • Hi Kendra 😀
    Yess, I hope you visit Brazil someday to finish up the list!! I am sure you will like it 😀

  • AMAZING!! Way to go, as a Brazilian I am ashamed to say that I have never been to Iguassu yet! Oh my!

  • hahaha yaaay awesome!! It will be hard to pick only one 😀
    By the way, have a safe trip and have fun 😀

  • Yess, I have to do that!! Some friends of mine did it and loved it 😀

  • Yaaaaay sounds awesome!! Yes, it would be awesome to meet there!! I would love to show you guys around 😀

  • Thank you Gina!! I hope you get to visit Brazil someday 😀 there is a lot to see!!

  • Ohh really? hahaha I hope you include it on your list, it’s a very pretty country, with soooo much to see 😀

  • ahahaha yes!! Food in Brazil plays a very important role in the culture, and these things you really need to try 😀

  • Mabel Kwong

    Oh wow! So many things about Brazil. I like it, it’s like your home country is very colourful! I want to try the caipirinha but is it alcoholic? And coconut water, I absolutely loooove that 😀 So much food to eat everywhere, will never go hungry 🙂

    • hahaha yess, caipirinha is alcoholic 😀 made with “cachaça” something like a Brazilian tequila 😉

      Coconut water is the best <3
      Brazilian food is amazing, I hope you get to try it someday!

      • Mabel Kwong

        Ahahaha. So I don’t think I will be drinking caipirinha 😀 I’m sure there is more than enough coconut water to keep me happy. I like the green sugar cane juice when I’m in Malaysia, so I’m sure I’ll like this Brazillian yellow sugar cane juice when I try it 😀

        • hahaha no need, there is plenty coconut water for you 😀
          It’s been such a long time since I last had a sugar cane juice. I actually miss it 😀

  • 😀

  • Heeey Ali,

    I think we have “spoken” on instagram right?
    Thank you for stopping by, I’m very glad that my tips are helping you out in Brazil. Shame that I still haven’t been to Porto Alegre to give you some tips! Sorry about that.
    I hope you are enjoying your time in Brazil!! 😀

  • Heeey Claudia. You’re welcome, happy to know you are going to visit my country soon 😀
    Shorts, tops, bikinis and flip flops (buy them there at Havaianas, it’s cheaper) are enough. But it’s true, people in Brazil really do dress well to get out at night, so you might want to take some nice tops and maybe a pair of heels 😀
    Yes, there are lots of artwork to purchase. You can always find some by the beach.
    As for money, I’m afraid I have no idea :/ because it really depends on which cities you are going (Rio and São Paulo are more expensive), but so you have an idea, 40 – 50 Reais is the normal price you pay to eat in a restaurant (a normal one, per person). Transportation I think you will spend more with Taxi/Uber.
    I hope it helps! Let me know if you need any other tips!