When it comes to the largest country in South America, choosing the best time to visit is no simple task. But before you can decide on the when, you have to think about the where.
Do you see yourself riding a cable car over the beaches of Rio de Janeiro or aboard a boat on the Amazon River? Maybe you’re taking an urban approach in the megalopolis of São Paulo, venturing into the northeast’s coastal deserts, or traveling all the way to the country’s edge to gawk at the massive Iguaçu Falls, the world’s largest waterfall system on the border of Brazil and Argentina.
Home to diverse climates and seasons, you’ll need to cross-check your dream destination in Brazil with the usual weather patterns to have the best chances of sun.
However, if it’s one of the country’s iconic events you hope to attend, you can trust that rain or shine, nobody parties like Brazilians. Whether you prefer to dodge the crowds by traveling in the low season or dive head-first into the exuberant frenzy of Carnaval, these are the best times to visit Brazil.
October and November are best for good weather and no crowds
You might think Brazil is always warm, but some regions can get quite wet and chilly if you go in the middle of the year.
To get the best weather – while avoiding the crowds who fill up the beaches once kids are out of school in the peak season – you should visit Brazil in either October or November.
December to March is the peak season for beach days
For travelers crossing the equator to get to Brazil, remember that the seasons in Brazil are flipped. So if you want summertime weather, you should arrive between December and March.
With over 6400km (4000 miles) of coastline, you have plenty of beaches to choose from, but those surrounding Rio de Janeiro are typically crowded with foreign tourists and Brazilian vacationers.
You could travel further north to the city of Bahia, home to a deep Afro-Brazilian history worth experiencing first-hand, or up to the northeastern state of Ceara, which shows off its own unique Nordeste culture amid a backdrop of otherworldly sand dunes. These northern regions tend to be hotter, so expect to find average high temperatures between 87°F and 90°F in the summer.
If you like the summer weather but not the extreme heat of the northern regions, you’ll find beautiful beaches down south in Florianópolis – a coastal city located on a large island. Beaches here are plentiful, long, and sandy, while summer temperatures range between 81°F and 84°F.
February or March is best for Carnaval fans
Brazil’s Carnaval dates depend on the religious calendar, always preceding the week before the Catholic holiday of Ash Wednesday. The week-long festivities are sometimes in February or early March.
Rio’s Carnaval is the most famous in all of Brazil, but no matter where you end up you can find local celebrations, usually with their own spin on the big festa.
There’s a lot of excitement leading up to Carnaval week, so consider an early arrival to enjoy the buzz as each city prepares to break out into song and dance while drenched in color.
Expect higher prices across the board from airline tickets to accommodations. And there will be people everywhere.
Celebrate Brazilian Christmas and New Year’s Eve between December and January
In Brazil, Santa Claus (or Papai Noel) wears Havaianas. The country’s warm weather in December means that Brazilians typically celebrate the holiday season with churrasco (grilled meat) on the beach or at least by the pool.
At this time, kids are also off school for their summer vacation so the big vacation spots tend to be more crowded.
You’ll need to get yourself to the nearest beach to celebrate Brazil’s favorite New Year’s Eve tradition. At midnight, people run into the sea to jump over seven waves, making a wish on each as fireworks illuminate the sky above.
Between July and December, visit the Amazon during its (relatively) dry season
In a place as dense and mysterious as the Amazon, you want to have the weather on your side. The best time to visit the Amazon is during the dry season between July and December, which is when hiking trails are more accessible and low water levels work in the traveler’s favor.
However, don’t be fooled by the “dry” in dry season. This is still the world’s largest rainforest and rainfall here is constant, dry season or not. Conditions at this time just happen to be preferable over the wet season, when heavier rains can pose dangerous conditions.
Between May and September, avoid the crowds during the low season
During Brazil’s winter, the beach crowds are gone but the weather tends to be a bit more damp and cloudy in the southern regions.
Except for July – when many kids have another month off from school and families take time away – you will find better rates at hotels on the beaches, but it may be too cold to enjoy a swim and sun tan.
If you do travel during the low season, consider a northern destination that’s warm all year round so you can still benefit from the low-season slowdown.