The World Cup. 32 teams, 33 days. It’s the ultimate sporting event in terms of world-wide passion and relevance. This summer, the tournament returns to the place where it’s loved the best – Brazil. While wasteful government spending has sparked protests across the country, it’s also likely to be the biggest party the cup has seen or will see for years to come. Many tourists will come to cheer on their team in the group stage, which lasts about two weeks. Others will live out of a suitcase or backpack for an entire month.
The twelve cities hosting the games vary greatly in culture and climate. For this reason, I’ve split the clothing list up by region. Most people won’t get to every location – pack for the ones you plan to visit.
You’ll see some overlap on my location-specific lists. Rather than bringing duplicates from more than one list, just wash your clothes once per location. If you’re following a specific team, you’ll probably only spend 4-6 days in any given spot, so if I say “one pair per day”, that’s with the understanding that you’ll never have more than 6 pairs of anything. If you are planning to stay in one place for a week or more, do laundry as needed. This list is geared toward a full month’s stay, so when in doubt, leave it out!
General Clothing and Shoes:
If you’re coming from anywhere outside South America, you’re in for a long plane ride. Think comfy.
1 comfortable tee
1 cardigan or hoodie
Underwear – 4-12 pairs, depending on the type, how long you’re staying, and how often you’re willing to do laundry. (Check out our guide on travel underwear.)
3 bras – 1 black, 1 nude, 1 sport.
Lightweight sleepwear – extra points for tanks and shorts that can double as daywear if needed. If you get chilly, your airplane outfit can double as sleepwear as well.
1 pair flip flops – You’ll need them for the beach or the hostel shower.
1 pair casual flats or Toms – in case you need to look somewhat presentable.
1 pair sneakers – for city walks, jungle hikes, or a game of pick-up.
Location Specific Clothing:
SOUTHERN CITIES: São Paulo, Porto Alegre, and Curitiba
When you tell people you’ll be traveling around Brazil in June and July, they’re more likely to picture an actual jungle than a concrete one. Temps in the south can easily drop below 50F/10C at night. The average daytime high is about 70F/21C. Think Europe in the spring or fall.
1-2 pairs jeans
4-6 tops – layer – bring 1 tank, 2 tees, and 2 long-sleeved shirts.
1 maxi skirt or dress
1 short skirt – wear with leggings or tights if needed.
1-2 scarves – help change up your look without using a lot of space.
1 pair of tights or leggings
2-3 pairs socks
1 mid-weight jacket
CENTRAL CITIES: Belo Horizonte, Brasília, and Rio de Janeiro
The central cities get a bit warmer than the south, with daytime temps hovering between 55-80F (13-27C). Rio is the warmest of the three and the only one with beaches – possibly the most famous beaches in the world. Think Europe in the summer.
1 pair jeans
1-2 pairs shorts
4-6 tops – layer – 2 tanks, 2 tees, and 1 long-sleeved shirt.
1 maxi skirt or dress
1 short skirt or casual sundress
1-2 pairs socks
1 mid to light-weight jacket or hoodie
Beach bag (optional, see list below) for Rio only.
THE NORTHEAST: Salvador, Fortaleza, Recife, Natal
The cities along Brazil’s northeastern coast are known for their easy-going style and beaches. Daytime temperatures average between the low 70s and mid 80s (21-30C). Think Caribbean.
2-3 pairs shorts
4-6 tanks or tees
1 short skirt
1 casual sundress
1-2 pairs socks
1 hoodie or lightweight jacket
Beach bag (see list below)
THE INTERIOR: Manaus and Cuiabá
While national parks dot the country, your closest encounters with nature are likely to be in the Amazon or Pantanal. This is also the warmest region, where temps can easily reach 90F/32C. If you’re planning on doing a guided tour out into the wild, you’ll need to pack a few extras.
1 tee or tank per day – If you’re staying more than a couple days, you may want to bring 1 extra. Workout apparel that wicks away sweat or thin, breathable cotton is ideal.
1 pair lightweight hiking pants – The zip-off kind are great, but make sure you bring the legs to keep the mosquitoes away on any jungle treks or night time excursions.
1-2 pairs shorts
1 bathing suit
1 casual sundress – for group dinner or lounging.
1 pair athletic socks per day – tuck your pants into your socks for a dorky look and bite-free legs.
1 lightweight jacket or long-sleeve shirt – bug-bite protection for evening.
You don’t need an extra bag – just bring the things below to put in your daypack.
1-3 swim suits – Wear what you feel comfortable in, but bikinis are the norm in Brazil, regardless of age, shape, or ability to tan.
Cover-up – that casual sundress I mentioned earlier? Perfect.
Sarong – It takes up much less space than a beach towel, can double as a shawl, blanket, etc.
1 Gallon Ziplock baggie – in case your suit doesn’t dry before a travel day.
Hopefully you’ll get to see lots of games. Remember, washing your jersey after a win is totally unlucky.
Jersey or shirt in team color – La Roja, Oranje, Azzurri – if you don’t have a jersey, bring along a tee or tank in your team’s preferred color(s).
Shorts or jeans – Most games will be during the day, so dress for warmer end of the thermometer in your host city.
Sports bra – If you plan on doing a Brandi Chastain when your team scores.
Shoes – Keep in mind, if it’s a good game, whatever you wear on your feet may end up having beer splashed all over it. Do you prefer sticky flip flops or soggy sneakers?
Cross-body bag/camera case – In the past, FIFA has prohibited bringing in food, drinks (including water – they want you to buy it from them), professional photography equipment (your DSLR is okay, that tripod or foot-long lens probably isn’t), banners or flags larger than 2m x 1.5m, and bags that can’t fit under your seat. Vuvuzelas are banned this time round too.
Tickets – if you can’t have them mailed to you, pick them up at the airport or another FIFA-approved kiosk before game day.
Costume make-up – in your team colors.
Sharpies – you can buy or find paper to make signs on game day.
Scarf, flag, hat or sunglasses that represent your country – Look as ridiculously patriotic as you can, but don’t block the view of the people sitting behind you once the game starts!
Stuff to give or trade with other fans – stickers or cheap pins or bracelets that represent your country can make nice tokens of international friendship or peace offerings, as needed.
Brazil has a huge gap between rich and poor, and with that comes theft. Electronics are especially tantalizing, with a new iPhone costing the equivalent of $1,200 USD. Bring what you think you’ll need for your trip, but nothing you can’t afford to lose.
Laptop/tablet/phone – Remember to download a translation app, as English isn’t widely spoken outside cities.
iPod – Load it with Shakira, K’naan, and Ricky Martin for some thematic nostalgia.
Memory cards – I prefer multiple 4-8 MB cards, in case one gets lost or damaged.
Converter plug – Brazil’s outlets and voltages vary. Depending on where you’re coming from, bring a converter with two flat(A) and/or round(C)-type prongs.
Waterproof camera case/disposable waterproof camera – you may run into some opportunities to snorkel or scuba dive in the northeast. Bringing a disposable camera to the beach is also an option, with the added benefit of not having to worry as much if you want to hide it in a plastic bag and take a quick dip.
Toiletries, Medical, and Accessories:
Cheap jewelry and watch – Even if you don’t usually wear one, consider buying a cheap watch so you don’t have to continually pull out your mobile device when you want to check the time.
Hairbrush/comb and hair ties
Soap and shampoo – Go solid or buy once you arrive, to cut down on weight and TSA liquid allowance.
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Razor and shaving cream
Feminine hygiene products – whatever you’re used to may be hard to find locally, or expensive.
Prescriptions – birth control, etc.
OTC drugs – Aspirin, Imodium, etc. – bring what you’ve needed in the past or think you might need.
Malaria pills – Manaus and Curitiba are both in a risk area for malaria. Keep in mind some malaria meds cause greater sensitivity to the sun.
Bug spray – Malaria aside, yellow fever is a risk away from the coast and dengue is a risk in the northeast. While you can (and should) get a yellow fever vaccination, dengue doesn’t have one – keeping mosquitoes away is your best defense.
Wet wipes – for those times soap or a shower isn’t handy.
Tissues – for public toilets. Watch for signs asking you to throw your toilet tissue in the garbage – some plumbing can’t handle it.
For the Hostel:
FIFA has a monopoly on hotel rooms, which are going for outrageous prices. This leads to A) people grouping up to split rooms, B) renting a room or entire apt/house locally, or C) lots of hostels. If you’re going to be staying with perfect strangers (or new friends, depending on how you want to look at it), consider bringing the following:
Padlock – for your locker.
Eye mask/ear plugs – I can’t use them, but if they help, bring them!
Flashlight – Gind your way back to your bunk quietly and politely.
Travel towel – some people may prefer to bring their own rather than rent one at the hostel, but I’d rather ditch it and save valuable space.
Tide travel sink packs
Clothesline and clothespins
Documents and Money:
Visa – Brazil charges international tourists what their country charges Brazilians in visa fees (reciprocity). However, if you bought tickets to a World Cup game through FIFA, the fee is waived and you can get a 90-day visa for free. You still have to go through the whole application process, but it’s at least one place you’ll be able to save money on this trip.
Itinerary – some people keep everything on their mobile device, but I prefer to have paper copies as well as a back-up stored in my inbox.
A credit card with a chip-and-pin – Brazil has a problem with credit card fraud, especially at airport ATMs. Your chances are better if you only use your card at ATMs inside banks, where machines are more likely to be monitored against skimmers. Chip-and-pin cards can be hard to find in the US, but are more secure than the type you swipe. Just remember to bring the card you used to buy your game tickets and airfare with! To keep your card from being shut down for suspicious charges, call your bank or credit union ahead of time to let them know the dates and general locations you expect to use your card.
A back-up card – just in case your first card gets stolen or flagged and frozen by your credit card company.
Cash – Have at least a bit of cash to exchange at the airport. You won’t get the best rate, but you’ll be able to avoid the airport ATMs and have some money to last until you can get to a bank.
Journal – This is a trip of a lifetime. You’re going to want to remember it!
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About the Author: Polly Beam is an illustrator and art teacher who currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. She became obsessed with soccer about the same time she started traveling internationally, watching France ’98 from South Africa. She has yet to spend a World Cup at home and is looking forward to visiting Brazil and Argentina this summer. You can follow Polly’s travels at her blog, Thursday’s Child or find her daydreaming about her next trip on Pinterest.