10 Things to Do in Brazil When Not Watching Football
More than 500,000 football fans are expected to descend upon Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.
While last-minute finishing touches are made to stadiums and infrastructure, the host cities are bracing themselves for an influx of tourists looking for something to pass the time while their team isn't playing, or during the seven days of the tournament in which there are no games.
If you are travelling to the samba nation, here are 10 ideas for things to do away from the stadiums, focusing on Rio and the cities in which England will play their group games...
Fight the Crowds at Christ the Redeemer
The most iconic image in all of Brazil is surely the Christ the Redeemer statue, located at the peak of the 2,300ft Corcovado mountain overlooking the city. As you may expect, it is an extremely busy attraction, so be prepared to queue.
Construction began on the iconic structure in 1922 and—unlike several of the World Cup stadiums—it is now finished and has viable transport links.
A visit to the big JC costs just R$50 (£13), which includes a return train journey up the mountain. If you are feeling particularly brave, you can also try climbing up inside it to take a selfie at the top.
Watch England Train
Most World Cup nations are setting up base camps in the south east of the country, with England, Italy, Brazil and the Netherlands choosing Rio.
The Three Lions will train at the Urca military base located at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain. The location looks stunning. If you are able to hike Sugarloaf or climb any of the surrounding peaks, you should be able to spy a look at Roy Hodgson's preparations.
If you're not bringing your paparazzi long lens, however, your best bet to get close to the team will be to find them at their hotel, The Royal Tulip.
The players will be encouraged to leave their quarters and rub shoulders with the locals, much like they did from their Krakow base at Euro 2012.
Visit the Copacabana Beach Fan Fest
No trip to Rio is complete without a stroll along the three-mile stretch of Copacabana Beach.
The world-renowned beach will host one of FIFA's 12 Fan Fests, which is essentially a place to watch all the games on a huge TV with like-minded people.
If the tests at the Confederations Cup are anything to go by, the atmosphere during games is likely to be incredible. On non-match days, it will serve as an excellent location to meet fans from all over the world.
Go to a Bin Laden Bar!
There's no shortage of establishments to imbibe alcohol in Brazil, but for an unforgettable watering hole experience, try a Bin Laden-themed bar.
Sao Paulo bar owner Ceara Francisco Helder Braga Fernandes was reported to the authorities by a customer who thought he may have been the world's most wanted terrorist in hiding. From that point on, he decided to cash in on his likeness to the former Al Qaeda leader, renaming his bar and hamming up his character.
Ironically, his terror-themed pub is just a stone's throw from the US national team's base camp for the tournament.
Astoundingly, this isn't the only Bin Laden-themed establishment in Brazil—Vocativ have located nearly a dozen across the country.
Go to the Inhotim Art Museum
England's final group game against Costa Rica will be held at Belo Horizonte's Estadio Mineirao.
The inland city may not be able to offer beaches, but it has a treasure that cultured souls will appreciate: The Inhotim Contemporary Art Museum.
Set within a forest park, a series of beautiful walking trails take you past curious outdoor art exhibits and botanical gardens containing over 5,000 varieties of tropical plants.
It's a pretty good way to denounce the stereotype of the typical England fan abroad.
Take a Favela Tour
The Favelas of Rio would have been an extremely dangerous place to visit a decade ago, but many have since been pacified to the extent that you can take an organised tour around them.
While it is true that some tour guides have to pay drug lords to ensure the safe passage of tourists, this is the best way to see the true way of life for millions of Brazilians.
See the Meeting of the Rivers
When Roy Hodgson headed to Manaus for his
holiday location-scouting mission in February, he took in the Meeting of the Rivers.
This is a peculiar phenomenon where the dark-coloured Rio Negro and the brownish Amazon River meet. They have different temperatures, speed, density and organic matter within them, so they flow side by side without mixing together.
If you are in the Amazon for the opener against Italy, make sure you take a boat tour to experience this for yourself.
Try a Caipirinha
While it is not advisable to get drunk in an unfamiliar and potentially dangerous foreign territory, you should make sure you try a Caipirinha.
The traditional Brazilian cocktail is made with cachaca, lime, crushed ice and sugar, and is the perfect antidote to high temperatures and the bland offerings of the stadium drinks menus.
But be warned: The Caipirinha is usually very strong!
Hang out on Ipanema Beach
If the Copacabana is too crowded for your taste, head a little further south to the Ipanema Beach.
As inferred by the '60s bossa nova hit, the area is very fashionable and famed for small swimwear, hip locals and surf-friendly waves.
Catching some sun burn with a knotted hankey on your head might look a little out of place in this mecca of cool.
Visit Sao Paulo's Football Museum
Sao Paulo, the host city of the opening match between Brazil and Croatia and England's crunch tie with Uruguay, is a little more industrial and less scenic than cities such as Rio, but there is plenty on offer (aside from Bin Laden-themed bars).
The best tourist spot for football fans is undoubtedly the Football Museum located within the beautiful Estadio do Pacaembu.
Opened in 2008, the brilliant 1.7-acre attraction gives an insight into the history of the Brazilian game and the World Cup through a self-guided tour and plenty of interactive exhibits. Entry is just R$6 (about £1.50).
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