The 2014 FIFA World Cup is still a year away, but when it comes to booking travel plans for Brazil, it's never too early to start planning. Today, millions of soccer fans all over the world tuned in as FIFA made it official announcement about ticket prices (the projected on-sale date is still August 20). If you're considering whether or not to attend the festivities next June, here are a few important questions you should be asking:
1. What airlines are flying there?
New routes are being launched as we speak – in addition to the current options between the U.S. and Brazil, by 2014, new flights from American Airlines and Delta will expand service from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Detroit, and Charlotte. TAM, a Brazilian airline, is showing many sold-out flights in Economy; other airlines like American and United have availability, but their prices are going up (a flight from NYC's JFK to Galeão International Airport in Rio de Janeiro next month is going for around $1,083 on American Airlines (nonstop), but in June 2014 United starts at $1,693, with two stops).
2. How many international airports does Brazil have?
There are almost 200 airports scattered throughout Brazil's 26 states, with the busiest ones being São Paulo's Guarulhos International Airport and Galeão International Airport in Rio.
3. How long should I go for?
The World Cup has 12 host cities in Brazil, so if it's going to be your first time in the country, it could be worth checking out multiple destinations. Cites like Fortaleza, Manaus, and Porto Alegre (which offer plenty of their own attractions) are more than five to six hours away from each other by plane. Meanwhile, Rio, São Paulo, and Belo Horizonte are very close (as are Salvador, Fortaleza, and Recife).
4. What Rio neighborhood is the Maracanã Stadium in (the main stadium for the Cup)?
South America's largest stadium, Maracanã, is located in the neighborhood of Maracanã (or "Great Tijuca"), an old, middle-class neighborhood a bit inland that's worth exploring, though the main hotels lie mostly along the coast.
5. Are hotel rooms starting to sell out?
Yes. Places like Sheraton Rio Hotel & Resort and Copacabana Palace are showing no availability during the tournament, though there are certainly other places that still have rooms left. Our tip? Start scouting hotels now, so by the time FIFA releases tickets, you'll already have a sense of where you want to stay. Big chains like Novotel, Ibis, and Courtyard by Marriott are also showing sold out rooms during June and July 2014. Another thing to keep in mind: By the time the games happen, there will be 147 new hotels open in the country, so keep an eye out!
6. Anything else happening in Brazil next winter (Brazil's winter is during our summer), aside from the World Cup?
Every June, Brazil celebrates St. John's festivities, which are very popular, especially in the North and Northeast, with typical food, drinks and music.