Global Citizen Year offers 15 days of independent travel during the months
of December to February. It may not seem like much, but you can do so much
in those two weeks! My independent travel have definitely been highlights
of my year – it’s nice to get out of the routine and see new parts and
people of Brazil. It can be expensive, but with some thought, it can be
I’ll try to detail where I went, what I did, and what I spent.
My first trip was with my real dad and sister, so the budget was a bit
bigger than if I was paying for myself. We visited Curitiba and Foz do
Iguaçu. Here is what we did:
Bus from Florianopolis to Curitiba: takes about 4 hours. One bus ticket
starts at R$50, but you can pay more for more comfortable seats. For a ride
this short, the cheapest seat is probably the best bet.
We stayed in an Airbnb in Curitiba, which was about US$40 and really nice!
It was next to a memorial park and a ten minute walk to the Oscar Niemeyer
Train-ride from Curitiba to Morretes
Things we did in Curitiba:
Oscar Niemeyer Museum (R$10-20/ticket.
Tip: bring your language school enrollment form for student discounts).
Tourist bus: hop on, hop off bus to different tourist sites in Curitiba,
with audio tour. A cool way to see the city (forget the price though).
Jardim de Botânico: famous botanical garden, surrounded by a beautiful
Sunday Market: HUGE, awesome Street market with crafts and other things.
Train-ride to Morretes: such a cool experience. A 4-ish hour train-ride
through the Atlantic Rainforest to Morretes, a cute town. We bought tickets
to a car decorated 1930s-style that came with food and a guide that spoke
English, but cheaper tickets are available. (R$125 to R$235 per ticket,
based on luxury). We took the cheapest ticket back, and it was fine (but
with much more people, less comfortable seats, no food/drink or guide
included). There are buses in Morretes you can take back to Curitiba,
instead of the train.
We primarily ate out, but you can save more money if you cook for yourself.
From Curitiba, we took a last-minute flight to Foz do Iguaçu. Flight is 2
hours vs. a 10 hour busride. If you fly, book in advance!!!
In Foz do Iguaçu, we stayed in an Airbnb in the city. There is a public bus
(R$4) you can take to the falls, but it was extremely hot so we opted for
Uber (MUCH less crowded and with air-conditioning).
If you are planning to go to the falls, which I assume you would if you are
going to the city, go EARLY! We went one day in the afternoon, and the line
to buy tickets was hours long (so we went to the bird park instead). We
went back the next day when it opened and had no problems. You can also buy
tickets online or from other places in town to cut down on time.
Falls at Foz do Iguaçu National Park
Things we did in Foz do Iguaçu:
Parque das Aves: super cool, a nature and rehabilitation park focusing
on birds native to Brazil. Also had some other animals. Really well put
together and a cool experience. Has food vendors and a gift shop. (R$40,
maybe less if you’re a student). It is right across the street from the
entrance to the falls.
Foz do Iguaçu National Park: AMAZING. One of the seven natural wonders
of the world, for good reason. I believe tickets are about R$60.
Macuco Safari: a short, guided hike thru some jungle, followed by a
speed boat ride to the falls. You go under a few smaller ones, and get a
closer view of a few of the larger sets of falls. A really great
experience! You’ll get very wet, so dress accordingly. You can purchase a
locker for extra stuff. Tickets are about R$200.
We took the overnight bus from Foz to Curitiba. As it is a 10-hour ride, we
bought the more comfortable seats, which came with a pillow, blanket, food.
Those were some damn nice seats!! They were pretty expensive at R$250 or
so, but made the trip more enjoyable and comfortable.
Stayed another night in Curitiba, then took the bus back to Florianopolis.
This trip was really nice! Curitiba, the capital of Paraná and known as the
“greenest city in Brazil” has lots to offer and is a good point to stop
before heading to the falls. Foz do Iguaçu is absolutely amazing, with lots
of hiking and activities available in the park.
I finished my second trip a few days ago – I went to São Paulo and Paraty. I
went to São Paulo with another fellow, and continued to Paraty solo. I
spent 3 nights in São Paulo and 3 nights in Paraty, and 2 additional nights
were used up by bus travel. Flights to Sao Paulo, if done in advance, can
be really cheap! So try to do that, and save yourself a 13 hour bus ride.
We took an overnight bus from Florianopolis to Sao Paulo (about R$150). We
stayed at the We Design hostel, in a cute and safe neighborhood – plus the
hostel itself was a beautiful old mansion (about R$50/night). Sao Paulo had
a great, clean, and cheap metro system, so try that out!
Bookstore in Pinheiros, São Paulo
Things We Did in São Paulo:
Saturday Market in Pinheiros. Antique market in a cool neighborhood,
good to walk around.
Ibirapuera Park. Beautiful park with a lake, bikes to rent, and some
museums. We went to an Afro-Brazilian (R$3 with student pass). Walkable
from our hostel.
Liberdade, a neighborhood settled by Japanese immigrants.
Museum of Art, an amazing museum on the famous Avenida Paulista. R$20
with student pass.
Picnic in the park! We made sandwiches and met up with another fellow in
a park off of Avenida Paulista and had a little picnic.
I took a bus from São Paulo to Paraty, a very cute town in the state of Rio
de Janeiro. It is known for its historic downtown, which is full of
colonial-style buildings and cute shops. The bus ride was 6 hours long and
cost about R$80 each way. I stayed at the Remo Hostel in Paraty-Mirim
(R$50/night, amazing breakfast included), an area outside of the main town
(so the hostel was in the middle of the rainforest!!). The local bus from
town to my hostel was R$5 each way and took about 40 minutes. Paraty and
the surrounding area is absolutely gorgeous, I was repeatedly stunned and
inspired by the landscape.
Picture of Sugarloaf Peak during boat-tour in Paraty.
Things I Did in Paraty:
Walked around town (free)
Enjoyed the nature around my hostel and walked to the beach (free)
Boat-tour of Saco do Mamangua and surrounding beaches (R$150). The tour
was 4 hours long and included time at a beach, an island, a tour, and
snorkel mask. Saco do Mamangua is known as a tropical Fjord, and one thing
I wish I had time for was the “Sugarloaf Peak Hike” to the top of a
mountain that overlooks the whole Fjord.
I took the 6 hour bus from Paraty to Sao Paulo, and immediately took a bus
from Sao Paulo to Floripa (about 22 hours total, about R$230). I wish I had
gotten a better seat on the 13 hour Sao Paulo bus – got one of the last
minute tickets and was quite uncomfortable the when time. All in all, it
was a great trip. A perfect mix of city and nature, and traveling with
friends and a nice first time traveling solo. Eating out was a main draw to
Sao Paulo for me, so you can definitely cook more and save money. Although
Sao Paulo does have food of a different quality and variety than
Florianopolis, so it may be worth trying!
Hope this helped with some ideas for how to go about independent travel.
The process of planning a trip was fun, and actually executing it was just