World Cup Travel: A Guide To Avant-Garde Brasília

The 2014 World Cup is right around the corner, and thousands of tourists will soon flock to Brazil for the games, as well as all the culture, beauty and excitement that the host country has to offer. To give travelers – and anyone interested in Brazil – a sense of the possibilities, Fox News Latino has compiled a concise list of things to do, places to stay, what to eat and more for each of the 12 cities that will host World Cup matches.


The Town: The capital city of Brazil is also the youngest city to host World Cup games and one of the most architecturally interesting. The city was built in the middle of the vast South American wilderness and was designed by famed architect Oscar Niemeyer and landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx. When the city was completed in 1960, it showcased an ultra-modern, avant-garde design and wide boulevards that facilitated car and bus transit between various federal buildings. While Brasília may lack the cultural flair of city’s like Rio de Janeiro and Recife, it is where President Dilma Rousseff spends her time when in country.The center of the city is the Praça dos Três Poderes (Three Powers' Square), where the country's seats of Executive and Legislative Power as well as the headquarters of the Supreme Federal Court are housed. Brasília is the only city built in the 20th century that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Stadium: The distinctive architecture of Brasília extends into its sporting life, with the massive Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha being a prime example of the city’s unique look. Built in 1974 and renovated for this year's World Cup, the stadium is named after famed Brazilian soccer star, Garrincha, and can house 68,009 spectators – second in Brazil only to the mighty Maracanã. The original was all but demolished during renovation and rising from the ashes emerged the new arena, which sports a new facade, metal roof and stands, as well as a lowered pitch that enables unobstructed views from every seat. The stadium will host seven Cup games, including Brazil’s June 23 match against Cameroon as well as the third-place match.

Weather: Brasília has a tropical savanna climate with temperatures in June and July averaging in the mid-60s and rarely dropping below the 50s even at night. In other words, almost perfect whether for soccer. While it can rain on the capital, the Cup is being held during the dry season so no need to worry about any massive downpours.

What To Do: Visiting Brasília is sort of like visiting Washington, D.C., except with crazy architecture. Start by checking out the Niemeyer-designed buildings that house the three branches of Brazilian government around the Praça dos Três Poderes. Each features a curvy, sinuous Niemeyer design. The Planalto Palace is the place that Presdient Rousseff currently calls home, while the towers and domes of the National Congress loom close by. Besides the seat of government, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasília and the Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge are the most iconic structures in the city. Can you guess who designed them?

If that doesn't sate your appetite for seeing giant hunks of metal, than go check out the Television Tower. Its observation deck is the best place to get a sweeping panorama of the city.

Where To Stay: If you’re looking for luxury when staying in Brasília, there’s no other place to look than the Meliá Brasil 21. Located in the heart the city’s federal district, between the Television Tower and City Park, the five-star hotel features a rooftop swimming pool, the popular Churchill lobby bar, which offers a wide range of fine wines and cigars, and the Norton Grill Restaurant, which specializes in grills and international cuisine.

For something a little less taxing on the wallet but still cushy, the Esplanada Brasília Hotel should do the trick. Air-conditioned rooms with flat-screen TV’s keep visitors comfortable when lounging in their rooms and the hotel’s central location is close to a slew of shops and restaurants. Besides these local favorites, a number of international hotel chains – Comfort Inn, Sun and Carlton – all have locations in the city.

Where to Eat: Out the vast Brazilian savanna one of the popular food staples is beef and ask anyone – except maybe an Argentinian – and they’ll tell you that Brazilian beef is some of the best in the world. Brasília, however, has a much more varied cuisine than juts steakhouses. If you want the best meal in the city – and possibly your life – then chef Simon Lau’s pre-fixe Aquavit is the place for modern, artistic dishes. Nossa Cozinha Bistrô is a casual spot that serves up delicious entrees like their signature pork ribs at a fair price.

Not sure what you want? Head to Pier 21 where a massive selection of food and drink offerings are sure to whet your appetite.

Where to Drink: Looking more like a Rio de Janeiro botequim (the equivalent of a Spanish bodega) and decorated with 1950s photos of Brazil's former capital, Armazém is a popular happy hour spot for those slaving away in the Brazilian capital. The place heats up on Saturdays with live samba and hearty servings of feijoada meat stew to keep you energized long enough to hit the dance floor. If you’re just a dancing fool, then head to Clube do Choro, which specializes in choro and bossa nova. But be warned, this place isn't for wallflowers.

Day Trip: The 550-foot high Itiquira Falls is only about a two-hour drive from Brasília and is one of the region’s most impressive sites. The falls are formed by the drop of the Itiquira River from the higher central plateau into the deep Paranã River valley. The waters are unpolluted, and a bottling facility is located just above the falls. Drink it in.

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