In a little under 5 weeks, the 2014 World Cup will begin. Avid football fans are getting more and more excited as the countdown to the big event draws closer and closer to zero. The games will be held in 12 Brazilian cities, including Rio de Janiero and Sao Paolo. Plenty of visitors are expected to “stadium-hop” from one location to the next, taking in the sights of Brazil in between taking in the thrillingly competitive football games.

If you will be among the throngs of tourists descending on this South American country, now is the time to get your travel plans together. Even if these cities weren’t hosting matches, they would be superb travel destinations, so read on for a few ideas of what to do (and a little about their stadiums) when you visit Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.

São Paulo - Arena De São Paolo

The Arena de Sao Paolo is set to hold the opening ceremony for the 2014 World Cup, the very first match of the tournament, a quarter-final and a semi-final match. Both events will bring worldwide media attention to the largest city in Brazil, touting the incredible statistic of 22 million inhabitants. The city is known for being an economic powerhouse, having a varied cultural menu, and as a hub for food-lovers. Expect a ton of music festivals and parties to take place before, during and after the World Cup matches as this fun-loving cities shows off to the world.

Rio de Janiero – Estadio do Maracana

 

For a place known as the “Marvellous City”, perhaps it isn’t a surprise that Rio de Janiero will serve as the focal point of the games. Their stadium Eestadio do Maracana will host the final as well as six other matches amidst the electrifying environment the fans and spectators create. As the biggest city on this list, and perhaps the most famous, scores of visitors will be staying in Rio de Janiero. While here, hit Ipanema Beach for a glimpse of the good life (strewn between hordes of tourists) and the unusual landscape: jutting up against the western end of the glittering beach, the Two Brothers Mountain (or Dois Irmaos, locally) towers over Ipanema Beach where the fun just begins in one of the world’s great playgrounds.

Recife – Arena Pernambuco

The Arena Pernambuco is a brand-new stadium that is set to deliver four group-stage games to 46,000 spectators. While the stadium is outside city limits, there is a newly renovated metro railway system to deliver you to and from matches. Be sure to head into the city when matches aren’t going on to explore Recife. It is the centre of an extensive metropolitan area that is home to close to four million people. While there is a five-mile stretch of coastline in Recife, keep in mind that swimming is restricted due to the high number of shark attacks in the area. Instead, opt to explore the culture and history of Recife. The city was colonised by the Portuguese and the Dutch and the architecture of the city reflects the rich legacy that was left behind.

Fortaleza – Estadio Castelao

The stadium in Fortaleza stands out for a few reasons. Like many other stadiums it has recently been renovated, but in this stadium, which is set to host four group matches and a quarter-final, specific attention was paid to the design. The new Estadio Castelao aims to minimise the impact of the heat on both players and spectators. Once the matches conclude, head to the city to try forro, a local style of dance and music that originated in north-east Brazil. Music will float through the air, whether provided by the thunderous cries of football fans or by the huge numbers of outdoor forro parties that take place all night long.

Take advantage of everything Brazil has on offer during their time as hosts of the 2014 World Cup—the stadiums, the games and the amazing host cities. They are all sure to take your breath away. Before you leave with your jerseys and face paint in tow, remember to purchase international travel insurance to protect your investment, your health and your holiday in Brazil.

Image courtesy of Flickr user section215.