Travel to Brazil & Portugal

Are you planning to pack your bags and take a trip to Portugal or Brazil? Whether as tourists on vacation or travelers on business, you’ll need to speak Portuguese – at least enough to get by – in order to get the most out of your travels. In extreme cases, you’ll need the language to stay safe and make it back with you and all your possessions intact.

Allow me, as an avid reader and reviewer of Portuguese language books and longtime Portuguese learner, to offer some tips and recommendations for your voyage. These resources will help you negotiate the Lusophone world without having to learn the whole of Portuguese with native fluency.

Travel books for Brazil

For starters, you’ll want to buy yourself an indispensable travel guide. Lots of books offer advice on everything from tourist attractions to food, hotels & lodging.

Frommer’s Brazil is a very “grown up”, straight-laced book with recommendations on selected hotels and restaurants, as well as the expected sites, attractions and historical, cultural and social info.

Tourists planning a budget trip to Brazil, or looking for a bit more adventure, can check out Moon Handbooks Brazil and also Lonely Planet Brazil.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Brazil and Insight Guides Brazil both offer more colorful, visual summaries of the country with photos of Brazil on every page, but the places and features are hand-picked and the information a bit more succinct.

Culture Shock! Brazil provides a relatable, travel journal-style approach to learning about Brazil. It’s a great beach book that captures the Brazilian spirit, but it’s poor in traveler-oriented facts and figures. Something similar can be said of the literary feel of Brazil: Life, Blood, Soul. Both books deliver a sense of vicarious travel and adventure.

Although Brazil is a vast and diverse country, most travelers head to one of a handful of cities. If that’s you, and you’re off to Rio, read through Lonely Planet Rio de Janeiro, Eyewitness Top 10 Rio de Janeiro and the Rio de Janeiro Insight City Guide. Michelin Green Guide Rio de Janeiro holds some good info, too.

If São Paulo’s your scene, pick up a copy of Moon Spotlight São Paulo or the Unibanco São Paulo Guide. Fodor’s also offers a guide to both Rio and São Paulo.

Travel guides for Portugal

Travelers destined for Portugal have a wealth of good travel books at their disposal, more than you might expect given the smaller size and population of the country. (That’s been true of language courses, too.)

Lonely Planet Portugal and the Rough Guide to Portugal will find you some gems and even take you a bit off the beaten path.

If you’re after the information first and foremost, then check out Michelin Green Guide to Portugal.

If you’re a bit more civilized, Fodor’s Portugal, Frommer’s Portugal and – if you appreciate his style – Rick Steves Portugal may be worth a purchase.

For a visual, photography-rich journey through Portugal, take a look at DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Portugal.

For genuinely unique perspectives, try Living in Portugal and this lovely book dedicated to the Food of Portugal.

Phrase books & Lessons for Travelers

Those tourist guides mentioned above tend to give a short list of Portuguese phrases in an appendix. However, to use the language more confidently, you’ll need to look into phrasebooks and short beginner lessons for travelers.

The first thing many travelers reach for is a bilingual resource that translates survival phrases into Portuguese. These can be useful to make yourself understood, provided you can pronounce words adequately. Simple examples include the Lonely Planet Brazilian Portuguese Phrasebook for Brazil and Rick Steves’ Portuguese Phrasebook for Portugal.

Berlitz Portuguese Phrase Book gives plenty of themed, organized phrases, treats both Brazilian and European Portuguese. It even goes a step further by including an audio CD so you can practice your pronunciation.

Of course, you can go even further if you understand the structure of the language. Start putting the pieces together with an audio course like Pimsleur Brazilian Portuguese or the equivalent Compact European Portuguese for those headed to other side of the Atlantic.

It’s also worth browsing my reviews of lesson courses and dictionaries to get a sense of other resources that can really help you on your trip. Whatever you choose, I hope my recommendations help you get the most out of your travels. Boa viagem!

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