World Cup Wanderlust: Brazil Without the Crowds

by  Tommy Burson | Jun 12, 2014
Punta Del Este, Uruguay
Punta Del Este, Uruguay / LuckyViks/iStock

There's no way  around the fact that Brazil's major cities are going to be crowded in the next few weeks. And we're not talking about morning traffic crowded -- we mean 4 million extra bodies in a country that has a population of 200 million to begin with. Beyond the fact that hotel rooms are starting at $700 per night, you can also expect long lines, expensive meals, and a lot of inebriation in all the World Cup host cities.

Just thinking about it is making us tired, which is why we're pointing you to other parts of the region, beyond Brazil's major hubs. Once you've paid for your expensive visa, get out of town and enjoy:

Beyond Rio: Iguazu Falls & Antonina
While the world’s eyes tend toward Rio, there's much more beyond the carnival-crazed city. One oft-overlooked city we particularly love is Curitiba. Many who make the stop are usually on their way to or from Iguazu Falls, but spend a couple of days in the city and you'll connect to a laid-back side of Brazil. From there, you can take a scenic train to the small colonial town of Antonina. Be sure to indulge in a Bala de Banana -- a delicious banana candy made in the area -- and sit along the river in summer.

Experiencing Nature
Brazil is filled with lush wildlife that you’d never see in the U.S.. Why not completely leave the cities behind and adventure in the country’s fantastic national parks? Vale da Lua, a 1.8 billion-year-old rock formation in Brazil’s highlands is a stunning option. The park’s perfect for hiking the famous Valley of the Moon and observing endangered wildlife like pampas deer and giant armadillos. If trekking through a humid forest doesn't appeal, try the desert -- but we don't mean the cactus-littered kind. Lencois Maranhenses National Park is the only desert in the world with thousands of freshwater lagoons instead. Take your pick among the 400,000 acres of cool swimming spots.

Just go to Uruguay
Compared to Brazil, Uruguay offers similar South American charm and soccer obsession for half the price. Local socialites have long been fixtures in Punta, a glamorous Atlantic coast resort known for its nightlife and beaches. But the city also showcases an artistic side, especially with the Casa Pueblo museum. To truly get off the grid, the Cabo Polonio peninsula has no roads, no electricity, and no running water. But that’s precisely what makes this beach so appealing.

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