Brasília, the capital of Brazil and the seat of government of the Distrito Federal, is a planned city. Inaugurated in 1960 in the Central Highlands of Brazil, it is a masterpiece of modernist architecture listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and attracts architecture aficionados worldwide. Brasilia is also an important transportation hub for travel within Brazil.
The basic structure of Brasilia was completed in just four years, from 1956 to 1960, under the leadership of President Juscelino Kubitschek, with the slogan "fifty years of progress in five", and the city is in a sense a memorial to him. The cathedral has six columns representing two hands reaching up to almighty heaven.
The city is designed in the shape of a giant bird or airplane, with various separated zones assigned for specific functions such as housing, commerce, hospitals and banking. Running down the center of the "airplane's" fuselage is the thoroughfare called the Eixo Monumental ("Monumental Axis") and at one end lay the government buildings. The arched "wings" are residential zones, with several rows of medium-rise apartment blocks with small commercial districts. The intersection is the commercial and cultural hub, with stores, hotels, and the cathedral. A huge artificial lake serves the city as both a leisure area and to diminish the effects of low humidity in drier months (see Climate below).
Fifty-three years after its creation (1960), Brasilia is still developing a culture of its own. The city has often been criticized as a failed utopia where rationalized modernist planning has buried the human element. Yet Brazilians are quite proud of their capital, embodying a vision of a future when Brazil is no longer considered merely a "developing" country.
Orientation and addresses
Getting a grasp of Brasilia's addresses may be a little perplexing at first, as they are usually shortened to acronyms. Here are some useful tips:
The Monumental Axis divides the city into north and south sectors. Acronyms ended in N refer to sectors on the northern side, while those ended in S are on the south.
- SHS/SHN - Hotel sectors (Setor Hoteleiro)
- SCS/SCN - Commercial sectors (Setor Comercial)
- SQS/SQN - Residential sectors (Superquadras)
- CLS/CLN (or SCLS/SCLN) - Local commerce sectors (Comércio Local) along the wings.
- SES/SEN - Embassies sector (Setor de Embaixadas)
Temperatures seldom hit extremes. 17°C to 28°C (63 to 82°F) are the average lows and highs, but it can get as low as 1°C (34°F) in winter and get as hot as 34°C (92°F) in September/October. In dry season (August–September) the city's landscape, normally very green, becomes desert-like and everyone must drink lots of water to prevent the unpleasant effects of dehydration. On the other hand, during those months the city is blessed with a gorgeous sunset in spectacular shades of orange, pink and red. The best months to go are probably May and June - still green, but no longer so hot, with fewer chances of rainfall.
Official tourist info can be obtained from State Secretariat of Tourism of the Distrito Federal (in Portuguese). There are also stands in the airport, the new rodoviaria and the Praça dos Três Poderes.
Due to long distances and falling prices in air travel, flying has become a practical way of getting to Brasilia. The city is a national air travel hub, and there should be plenty of flights. In fact you may find your plane touching down at Brasilia airport even if you're not starting or ending anywhere near, such as Salvador to Belém. On the other hand, despite being a major international capital, getting in directly from abroad is difficult to impossible in most cases. Virtually all flights are domestic, and you will have to go through Brazilian customs and immigration elsewhere and re-board. Currently, there are only non-stop flights from Lisbon (TAP Portugal), Lima (Lan and Avianca), Bogotá (Avianca) , Miami (TAM Brazil) and (American Airlines), Panamá City (Copa Airlines), Montevideo (Pluna), Atlanta (Delta Airlines) and Paris (Air France).
Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport (IATA: BSB), Brasília's airport (phone:+55 61 3364-9000, fax: +55 61 3364-9251), is situated 11 km (7 mi) from the city center and has one of the few tourist information services in town (phone +55 61 3033.9488, from 7:30AM-10:30PM). It also has an exchange office at the arrivals area, another one at Banco do Brasil (open Mo-Fri 11:00-16:00, departures area) and several ATMs.
There is an Executive Bus from airport to hotel zone and the central region for R$10.
Taxis are annother convenient means of getting from the airport into the city. They are relatively expensive for Brazilian standards and the 20-minute drive to the hotel zone should cost about R$30–40. Regular buses number 102 and 102.1 are frequent and significantly cheaper. They link the airport to the main bus terminal at Rodoviária, from where you can catch buses or the subway to other parts of the city.
Due to its central location, Brasilia is well served by a bus network that connects it with the rest of Brazil. Travel times are about 15 hours from São Paulo, 18 hours from Rio, 10 hours from Belo Horizonte and 3 hours from Goiânia. Buses from other states arrive at a dedicated bus station called rodoferroviaria (phone:+55 61 3363-4045), that is located at the west end of the axis and is connected to the city center by bus (number 131, frequency each 10–20 minutes, from 5AM to midnight) and taxis.
Drivers coming from southern and Center-west states will arrive by the Saída Sul entrance. From other states, you'll enter Brasilia by Saída Norte. After you're inside the Federal District, keep following the Brasília indicating traffic signs and Zona Central if you're staying at the hotel sector. The Eixo Rodoviário Road, that crosses the city's south, central, and north sectors, can be identified by the characteristics double strip of yellow raised pavement markers (Cat's eye) separating the two lanes of the road.
Rent a car, ride the buses, take a cab, hitchhike, but whatever you do, don't plan on getting around Brasilia on foot. The city was designed under the assumption that every resident would own an automobile. Obviously things didn't turn out that way, and the city's public transport is a solution to an almost deliberately designed problem. Fortunately it works fairly well. Note that the roads have few crosswalks or traffic lights, so being a pedestrian also requires some caution.
Most local buses start from or go through the rodoviária, at the precise center of the city, and run along the "wings" - serving the residential zones - or through the Monumental Axis. Some bus lines are very useful for moving around, as they link the central area of Brasilia (Setor Comercial, Setor de Diversões etc.) to Esplanada dos Ministérios, the airport and some of the main avenues (L2 and W3). These used to be stripped red-and-white buses called "zebrinhas" (little zebras) but now they are only distinguished from other bus lines by their numbers.
Unlike many other Brazilian cities, passengers in Brasilia board buses by the front door. Buses must be flagged, otherwise they will only stop when a passenger requests to hop off. Single fares are R$2.00 for travel within Brasília. There is no advance sale of tickets, pay as you board.
Taxis are relatively expensive in Brasilia and usually cannot be hailed on the streets. Taxi stands, however, are close to all tourist attractions and any hotel will be able to call a cab or provide the phone number of the best known dispatch offices. All taxis must have taximeters and can start charging only after the passenger has boarded.
The Metrô subway system started operating in 2001. Its Y-shaped line starts in the main bus station (Rodoviária de Brasília - "Central" station) and makes its first stop at Setor Comercial Sul ("Galeria" station), which is fairly near some hotels South of Monumental Axis. It runs along the south wing, stopping at blocks 102, 108, 112 and 114, then going through suburbs. The subway uses to operate 6AM-11:30PM from Monday to Friday (some stations stop selling tickets at 10:30PM), and from 7AM-7PM on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Its common to be offered special timelines on some holidays, like New Year's Eve and the April 21st (city's anniversary).
It's not particularly useful for tourists, as it does not visit the main attractions but does stop at attractions such as the Buddhist Temple (EQS 115/116, access by "114 Sul" Station). Single fare: R$3.00, R$2.00 on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
Before going on the subway remember to have pocket money in small bills or coins - the Metro doesn't accept credit cards and won't give change above R$20.
If you are not using "city tour" services, it would be a good idea to have a car available. The urbanistic plan of Brasilia was highly based on individual motorized transportation, so it is not surprising that a visit to the city will be much more pleasing having a car.
Unlike other Brazilian big cities, traffic in Brasilia is not a major problem, although there are some jams during rush hours.
There are public parking lots available at main sites, although it can be hard to find spots sometimes. As in other Brazilian towns, there usually are some "watchers", people that offers to watch your car (supposedly to protect it from robbers), expecting to get some money in return; they usually behave like beggars, although they can turn violent towards the cars if not paid, scratching or chipping the paint job, so it would avoid some trouble to just give a little money, something around 2 reais. If it bothers you, you can always park your car a little further from the main destinations, where there are no watchers, or in a paid garage, when available.
Also, drivers behave a little differently than in other places in Brazil:
- Stop at pedestrian crossings - pedestrians will wave a hand before crossing or usually simply start walking. Keep an eye on the sidewalks at all times. Policemen enforce this rule and you can get fined if you disrespect it. Other cities are beginning to enforce this law as well.
- Use of horns - do not honk unless you really need to for safety reasons. Brasilienses hate it and really appreciate their driving to be as silent as possible.
It is paramount to have a detailed map in hand when driving through the city, especially in the central area. It is far more convenient to have a good GPS system, because the access of some streets can be confusing, as there are lots of elevated interchanges and ramps. Do not expect the signs to be clear and ubiquitous, there are no signs telling you on what avenue you are on and streets rarely intersect. Smaller streets do not have names as they are defined by being between this and that square. This said, once you have understood the logic that rules ramps and intersections, theoretically you can throw your map away.
- The Three Powers Square (Praça dos Três Poderes) at the eastern end of the Monumental Axis. Includes the seats of the country's 3 highest authorities: the Congress, the Presidential Palace (called Palácio do Planalto) and the Supreme Court. The axis itself is aligned such that on April 21 (Tiradentes Day, marking the death of the Brazilian independence martyr), the sun rises precisely between the two towers of Congress. The bronze statue of two abstract figures is named Os Candangos and represents the pioneering spirit of the workers who built the city. There's also a "blind justice" statue by the Supreme Court, a small museum about Juscelino Kubitschek, the Pantheon, the Eternal Flame monument, and a model, built to scale, of Brasilia itself, in an underground space.
- The façade of the Palace of Justice has waterfalls that contrast with its stern geometrical beauty.
- Congresso Nacional, Palácio do Congresso Nacional - Praça dos Três Poderes, ☎ +55 61 3216-1771, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 9:00-17:00. Daily, Brazilian National Congress offers a guided visit. It starts every half hour from 9AM, in Salão Negro (access the main ramp). It lasts for 50 minutes. Note that you cannot enter wearing shorts and slippers from Monday to Friday. Free entrance..
- Itamaraty Palace, ☎ +55 61 3411-6148. guided visits from 2PM-4:30PM on weekdays and Sat-Sun 10AM-3:30PM.. houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and stands out among the ministry buildings at Esplanada dos Ministérios for its beautiful architecture and sculptures.
- Brasilia Cathedral, ☎ +55 61 3224-4073. Mon and Sat 8AM-5PM, Tue-Fri and Sun 8AM-6PM. With its sixteen curved 90-ton concrete pillars and stained-glass panels, is one of the world's most amazing modernist buildings.
- Brasilia National Museum (Monumental axis. Near the Brasilia Cathedral). Brasilia's newest museum was built to be the city's home for renowned national and international exhibitions. As of 2012, the outside space has become a regular venue to free concerts and events, and very popular for skating, but its collections are temporary and severely lacking both in size and importance. However, give it a try, it's free.
- Television Tower - In the middle of the Monumental axis, it used to be the best place for a sweeping panorama of the city, until the opening of the new Digital Tower. It's the second best now. There is also a crafts and typical food market at the base of the tower. Open tue-sun 08h-20h. Entrance is free.
- The Juscelino Kubitschek Memorial on the western part of the axis, the city's highest location, is a museum dedicated to the life and accomplishments of the president, and houses his remains as well. It's located underground and has a slightly spooky 1960's science-fiction feel to it.
- Palácio da Alvorada (Palace of Dawn) - The President's official residence, by the Paranoá lake. Not open to visitors. Its arches are icons of the capital.
- Espaço Cultural Contemporâneo (ECCO), ☎ +55 61 33272027. SCN quadra 3, Bloco C. A gallery that has many works of contemporary art. Mostly sculpture and paintings. Open Thu-Sun from 9h until 19h.
- CAIXA Cultural, ☎ +55 61 32069450. SBS, Quadra 4. Interesting permanent display of historical items. Usually holds photography, musical concerts, movies and contemporary arts exhibitions. Entrance is free most of the time.
- Monetary Museum, ☎ +55 61 34142093. SBS Quadra 3 Bloco B. Maintained by the Central Bank of Brazil, it has everything related to money: rare coins, paper money from various countries, medals, gold bars, old machinery used to print and cut etc. It also keeps the biggest gold nugget ever found in Brazil, weighing 60.8 kg. Thu-Fri 10h until 17h30. Sat 14h until 18h. Entrance is free.
- National Theater Claudio Santoro - Brasilia's main theatre features 3 main halls for plays and concerts, art galleries and temporary art exhibitions. Tickets: +55 61 3325-6239 / 3325-6256, from 12h until 20h.
- Public works of art - Some of the finest Brazilian artists have created works in Brasilia: Burle Marx (landscape design), Athos Bulcão (geometric tile panels), Oscar Niemeyer (buildings and sculptures) Ceschiatti and Bruno Giorgio (sculptures). These can be seen on the streets, open air and for free.
Along the Wings
- Dom Bosco Church, Av. W3 sul, quadra 702. A beautiful modern church built on concrete and blue stained glass. Bosco was a 19th-century Italian priest whose writings, some say, prophesied the creation of Brasilia. It's impossible not to notice the huge crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the square church.
- Little Church (Igrejinha), EQS 307/308. First one built inside Plano Piloto, was inaugurated in 1958 and looks somewhat like a nun's hat. Designed By Niemeyer and clad with Bulcão tiles.
- Universidade de Brasília (UnB), big campus in North Wing. also features very interesting modern architecture, from the 60s until the 2010s. Its Olympic Center is by the lake; not much visited by tourists, but has some nice options for hiking/jogging/swimming.
- Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB) - SCES, Trecho 02, lote 22. Tel +55 61 33107087. Holds all kinds of exhibitions and cultural events. Russian paintings, musical concerts, documentaries, plays, thematic movie festivals, photography, you name it. There is no permanent exhibition or attraction so you've to check the programme before going or just go there and enjoy what's available. The easier way to reach it is through its own free bus line that runs from the city center and back. Check the official bus schedule for an up-to-date information. Opens Thu-Sun from 9h until 21h. Entrance fees may vary greatly or even be free depending on what's going on. But one thing is certain: it's usually CHEAP!
- Espaço Cultural Renato Russo, ☎ +55 61 34431559. SCRS 508. A government-maintaned building for cultural events. Commonly used for musical concerts and plays. No official schedule available.
- Parque Olhos D'Água - A park in the northern wing of the city that is mainly used for jogging. It also has many springs, streams and a small pond. Many of its facilities include a playground and two outdoor gyms.
- Paranoá Lake - Pontão has lakeside restaurants and a park while the Ermida Dom Bosco (near SHIS QI 29, bus line 100/123) chapel provides gorgeous views of the city from across the Lake, an excellent place to watch Brasilia's famous sunsets. You can swim in the lake at the Ecological Park next to the Ermida.
- City Park (Parque da Cidade), South Wing. With 4.2 km², it's slightly larger than NYC's Central Park. This wide green area is the city's hot spot for sports such as jogging, cycling, skating and even kart racing, as well as barbecues and other outdoor activities.
Outside the wings
- TV Digital Tower (Cerrado Flower), Colorado neighborhood. Newest TV tower that was inaugurated on April 21, 2012. Designed by Niemeyer. It's 180 m tall, from which 120 m are a concrete structure, and the rest the metallic structure of the TV antenna. Two glass observatories complete the structure. The highest one, 80 m above the floor, will contain a restaurant with a panoramic view. The other one will be used as an art gallery.
- Brasilia National Park - Cerrado vegetation and fauna, plus natural swimming pools.
- Poço Azul - A waterfall forming beautiful blue pools on a quartz rock.
- Ermida Dom Bosco (Next to QI 28 in Lago Sul). Daytime. A monument, chapel, and park on the edge of the lake, dedicated to an Italian monk who prophesied the construction of a new civilization at the site of Brasilia. Free entry..
- Cinema Festival - Brasilia hosts one of the most important festivals of Brazilian cinema. The Festival de Cinema Brasileiro takes place late October/early November and screens independent and mainstream movies that will hit the theaters the following year. Both short and feature films are presented, but the movies have no subtitles.
- Japanese Festival, Honpa Hongwanji Temple, EQS 315/316. Weekends of August - Sat and Sun from 6PM. The Japanese community of Brasilia celebrates the Obon Festival, with bon odori dances and stalls selling typical food and other Japanese items. Free.
- Porão do Rock. Usually happening in July, August or September, it's arguably the biggest music festival in Brasilia. It's dedicated to rock 'n' roll and all its variants. Local bands share the two mains stages with national staples and some international bands.
- Chapada Imperial. Tel. +55 61 9965-2461 / 9961-9068 / 9984-4437. 50 km from the city center. It's a natural park with trekking trails, camping area, typical cerrado birds and waterfalls.
- State Secretary of Culture of the Distrito Federal | Agenda - The biggest cultural schedule of Brasilia. It keeps track of all exhibitions and shows playing in the city. You can choose the listings by month or type of attraction or see the complete schedule for the current month.
- Basketball - If you happen to be in Brasilia between January and June, you should not miss the games of Brasilia's home team Universo BRB for the national league of basketball. Runner-up of the 2009 season, Universo is well known for playing great games and drawing a big audience (for Brazilian standards), which peaked 11.000 people during the 2009 finals. The season games happens in 'Clube da CEB' (CEB's club), at SGAS 904. Ticket costs R$10.00. If you actually want to play basketball, the city's park has plenty of courts available for public use. Your best chance to catch some locals playing is going on the weekends.
- Golf, ☎ +55 61 3224-2718. Brasilia Golf Club. SCES Trecho 2, lt 2. Prices per game: R$120.00 tue-fri and R$180.00 sat-sun and holidays.
- Jogging - Brasilia's most popular sport by far. There are running tracks in the National Park and in the City's Park. The Eixo Rodoviario road is closed to traffic on Sundays (8h-18h) and can be also used for jogging, cycling and skating. Jogging on weekends in the City's Park is one the most popular activities among locals. Don't miss the coconut water vendors. Besides that, 5 km and 10 km races happens almost bi-monthly.
- Wakeboard - Wakescola de Brasília. The only wakeboard school in the city. Tel +55 61 3380-2171 / +55 61 9982-3562. Expensive.
Brasilia's residential wings have many local shops such as groceries, drugstores, bakers, restaurants, hairdressers and so forth, and that is where townspeople do much of their daily shopping. The now somewhat decadent W3 avenue used to be the equivalent of a city's high street and still concentrates a large portion of the city's street commerce. Shopping malls, however, also play an important part when it comes to shopping in town.
- The Setor de Diversões is a fairly nice shopping area at the center of the city, very close to Rodoviaria. The northern side, called Conjunto Nacional, is a bit more upscale, while the southern side has interesting small shops with books, music, and clothing that appeal to the local skateboard-riding youths. Notice that this southern side at night is very dangerous, being the favorite spot for hookers and drug dealers.
- On Sundays there is a flea market at the base of the Television Tower. Half of the stands are also open during the week and you can get local crafts and souvenirs hard to find in shopping malls.
Some off-center places can also be of interest for travellers:
- The imports market (popularly known as Feira do Paraguai) is the place to go for cheap electronics (cameras and replacement accessories, batteries etc.) and other travel items such as backpacks, flashlights and so forth. From Rodoviaria, take bus 124.2 (shorter trip) or bus 124.
- Records and books - FNAC, at the Parkshopping mall has a good assortment of English-language travel guides and Brazilian music CDs. Livraria Cultura, at the Casa Park mall, has bilingual staff and an extensive collection of Brazilian CDs and foreign-language literature (especially in English, French, Spanish, Italian and German). Both malls are close to each other and can be easily reached by subway through the (almost self-explanatory named) Shopping station.
Brasilia does not have a typical, regional cuisine. Nevertheless, restaurants serve food from many Brazilian states, as well as international fare. Self-service (por quilo) restaurants are very common and usually cheaper than their à la carte counterparts. Most of Brasilia's "real" (table service) restaurants are located at the residential wings, usually a bus or taxi ride away from most tourist attractions. One of the most popular streets is the CLS 405 (from rodoviaria, take bus 114), with choices ranging from sushi to Brazilian, Mexican and French food. Regarding tips, visitors are expected to pay at least 10% of the bill. Such amount is commonly printed on the invoice and most of the time it's OK to include the tip in your credit/debit card since most of the restaurants share the total amount with all employees. Self-service restaurants usually don't charge tips.
- A convenient place for finding reasonably priced food is the food court of the Conjunto Nacional mall (also see Buy, above). The mall is located right beside the main bus terminal (rodoviaria) and at walking distance from many hotels and of the main attractions such as the Three Powers Square.
- SCLS 201. Right beside Banco Central's main building, this street is packed with cheap self-service restaurants and a few ranging from mid-range to splurge.
- Local chain Giraffas (several locations around town) rivals McDonalds in the fast food market by serving sandwiches and cheap beef/chicken + rice-and-beans set meals.
- Pizzaria Dom Bosco. The oldest active pizzeria in Brasilia. Sells reasonably cheap pizza by the slice. R$1.50/slice.
- Green's has lots of options for vegetarians or people craving healthy food. Imagine, sprouts! They also have fish and meat. (That is definitely not a cheap place)
- Velha Guarda 302 Norte, Bloco D - It may be the most Brazilian experience a foreign visitor could have, a cheap and totally "out of the beaten path" restaurant. Very simple profile and accommodations, but very well served in what matters, the food. They have "menu of the day", which varies along the week but always with a huge portion of beef/poultry/pork plus salad, egg and rice & beans. Price: R$9.00
- Don Durica – SCLN 201, Bloco A, +55 61 3326-1045. (Mo-Sat 11:30AM-3PM/6PM-midnight). This all-you-can-eat buffet offers more than 50 dishes for lunch, mainly from Minas Gerais cuisine.
- Vegetarians may try and escape ubiquitous meat dishes of Brazilian cuisine at Bardana - SCLS 405 bloco A, +55 61 3242-3532. Try the tropical juices too.
- El Paso Texas, SCLS 404 - Bloco C , lj 19, ☎ +55 61 3323-4618. A favorite with American expats and locals alike. Besides the Tex-Mex dishes, try the great frozen margaritas and whatnot. On its street there are also several other restaurants to choose from. R$20-40.
- Fogo de Chão, ☎ +55 61 3322-4666. SHS quadra 5, Bloco E. Traditional Brazilian steakhouse. It features an all-you-can eat salad buffet, imported cheese, Brazilian side dishes and 15 kind of cuts of fire roasted meats that are brought to your table almost non-stop. Service is top-notch. R$92.00/person. Opens mon-fri 12h til 16h (lunch) and 18h til 0h (dinner), sat-sun 12h-0h (non-stop).
- Patu Anu, Setor de Mansões do Lago Norte - ML trecho 12, Conjunto 1, casa 07., ☎ +55 61 3369-2788, e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-Sat 08:30 to 02:30, Sun 13:30 to 18:00.. A hideout at the distant Lago Norte zone that serves creative dishes that mix international recipes and national ingredients such as jacaré (alligator), Brazil nuts, tropical cherry cokes etc. Booking recommended. Main dishes from R$40.
- Villa Tevere, CLS 115 Bl. A, ☎ +55 61 3345-5513. Mo-Sat 12-15:00 and 19:30-1:00. Su 12-17:00. Cosy Italian restaurant with good wines and quiet live Brazilian music on the poop deck
- Bottarga Ristorante - SHIS QI 05 conjunto 09 - +55 61 3248-4828 - Tue-Sat 12:30-15:00 and 20:00-00:00. Sun 12:30-16:30. French-Italian inspired cuisine. Main dishes from R$49 (simple risotto) to R$99. Good selection of wines (for Brasilia).
- Aquavit. Setor de Mansões Lago Norte - ML12 conjunto 1 casa 5 - +55 61 3369-2301. Open for dinner only, Thu-Sat. Run by Danish national Simon Cederholm, this restaurant offers a six-course meal, which changes every month. Inspired by Nordic cuisine, the place is popular with Nordic visitors to Brasilia. Reservations are a must.
Despite not being particularly famous for its nightlife, Brasilia has some hangouts that save visitors from night-time boredom. Please observe that smoking on the dance floor is not allowed - all clubs have a smoking area, so people can smoke (or just get some fresh air) without leaving the club.
- Bar do Calaf. SBS Quadra 02 Edifício Empire Center - Asa Sul, +55 61 3325-7408. Famous for its Spanish cuisine and for its parties. On Monday night, it has one the of the best parties in Brasília, the black music oriented Criolina. On the other days of the week, you can enjoy samba music.
- Beirute - CLS 109 Bloco A (near 108 Sul metro station), +55 61 3244-1717, . Opens daily, until 2AM. One of the oldest and most traditional bars in town, serves reasonably priced beer and Arab food, and attracts a mixed crowd of students, journalists, gay people and intellectuals. Is also one of the best places to pick up flyers and find out the best parties to go.
- Club 904 - SGAS 904 - Asa Sul +55 61 3224-5519. It hosts two of the parties that gathers most of the youth in the city. 5uinto on Thursdays, an electronic music party and Play!, on Fridays, a rock music party.
- Clube do Choro, ☎ +55 61 3327-0494, fax: +55 61 3425-1448, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Setor de Divulgação Cultural (Near the Convention Center). Considered by many to be one of the best places for instrumental music in Brazil, this club is also a school of choro, a genuinely Brazilian instrumental popular music style, usually played with a flute, guitar and cavaquinho (a small chordophone with four strings). Located near the TV tower, it has weekly presentations of national choro artists. Call in advance to check availability, as tickets are limited and often sold out days before the shows.
- Gate's Pub - CLS 403 Bloco B (near 102 Sul metro station). +55 61 3225-4576/3322-9301 (email@example.com). This pub-cum-club has a dartboard and is one of the few places to offer a week-round choice of nights, ranging from Brazilian music to alternative electronic stuff. Opens Mo/We 9PM, Tu/Thu/Sat/Sun 10PM. Fri 11PM. Admission R$5 - R$18 (there are usually discounts before 11PM).
- Pôr-do-Sol - CLN 408 BL C, s/n lj 24 - Asa Norte. +55 61 3274-8861. Favorite bar of University of Brasília students. It is always crowded, so it is a great place to see different people. The beer doesn't get any cheaper elsewhere. You have to get it on the counter, though. You can see the youth of Brasília over here, drinking beer and talking about anything. Some consider the whole 408 quadra as a sort of "alcoholic set-up", due to the many bars.
- "Bar Godofredo" CLN 408 Bl C - Asa Norte. A charming bar where you can find good music and many types of beers. It is on a block with plenty of bars that's near the university and is normally frequented by young people.
- UK Brasil Pub - SCLS 411 BL B Lj. 28 - Asa Sul. +55 61 3346-5214. Live music with local bands, mostly covers of famous bands. Doesn't accept credit cards. There's a separate room where you can smoke. Tu-Sa from 18h.
- Landscape Pub - SHIN CA 7, Bloco F-1 - loja 33 - Lago Norte. +55 61 3468-4678. This pub has two floors: the dance floor and a dance floor lounge upstairs, and an external area when you can smoke, chat and meet new people. It's a reduct of the underground scene of Brasilia (there you can hear Beatles, Strokes and some new DJs).
- Chiquita Bacana - 209 Sul, bloco A - loja 37 - Asa Sul (near 108 Sul metro station) +55 61 3242-1212. It's a nice bar in Brasilia. It's not a cheap one (one Stella Artois Long Neck costs R$5), but they have a good decoration and a good variety of booze and snacks. They have narguiles to rent too.
- Água Doce Cachaçaria - CLS 412, Bl A Lj 3 - Asa Sul (near 112 Sul metro station) +55 61 3345-7169. Specialized in cachaça, the Brazilian destilled beverage made of sugar cane. Opens Tuesday to Sunday until 2AM.
- Bonnaparte - SHS Quadra 02 Bloco J, S/N - Setor Hoteleiro Sul - Brasília - DF - Brasil - 70322-901 The bar is in principle like a canteen with 3-4 TV sets. Keep away from this place, especially if you are on a budget trip. They don't inform you about the entrance fee before you leave. It will cost you 36 reais for a single beer.
Although the city's music scene is no longer as vibrant as it was in the 80s - when it bred some of the greatest pop/rock talents of recent generations with bands like Capital Inicial and Legião Urbana - live shows of local bands are frequent. Daily listings in Portuguese can be found at the local newspapers or the Correioweb and Candango websites.
Most of the city's accommodation is located at the Hotel Sectors (SHS and SHN), two central areas located on both sides of Eixo Monumental. During weekdays, hotels are usually busy due to the capital's political activity and it is advisable to book in advance. Typical prices are R$200 for a double room and R$95 for a single. Most ot the hotels have an off-price for the weekends.
Many simple pousadas are located at W3 Sul avenue. They are often non-regulated by tourist authorities and their quality and security may vary greatly. In 2008, the local authorities shut these pousadas; do not rely on them existing anymore.
- Hospedagem Alternativa, Via W3 Sul, Quadra 703, Bloco G, Casa 61, ☎ +55 61 3224 6775. Many similar in the neighbourhood. Single R$50, Double R$80.
- Hostel Brasília, ☎ +55 61 3343-0531, +55 61 3344-9191, fax: +55 61 3342-2476, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Setor de Áreas Isoladas Norte - Camping - Lote 2 (From Rodoviária, take bus 143). This albergue da juventude is a member of FBAJ, the national hostels federation that is a member of Hostelling International. Although it is cheaper than hotels (Dorms ~R$50), it is also more distant from most urban facilities and attractions.
- Bristol Hotel, ☎ +55 61 3962-6162, fax: +55 61 3321-2690, e-mail: email@example.com. SHS Qd. 04 Bloco F., Central location with easy access to a shopping center and bus lines. From R$231 single per night.
- Brasília Alvorada Hotel, ☎ +55 61 3424-7018, +55 61 3424-7000. SHTN Trecho 1, Conj 1B, Bloco C. Tel. This large hotel by the Paranoa Lake and right next to the Alvorada Palace is reputed as the city's best. Rates from R$250.
- Meliá Comfort, ☎ +55 61 3218-4700, fax: +55 11 3043-8353, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. SHS, Quadra 6 - Conjunto "A" - Lote 1 - Bloco "D". Strategically placed in the Monumental Axis, between the Television Tower and 50 m from the City Park. It is also within easy reach of the Esplanada of Ministries and 13 km from the airport. Rates from R$200.
- Sonesta Hotel Brasilia, SHN Quadra 5 – Bloco B – CEP 70.705-000. A luxury 18-story 148-room hotel, adjacent to the central business and banking districts.
- Brasilia Palace Hotel, ☎ +55 61 3306-9100. SHTN Trecho 01, Cj01.
Designed by Oscar Neimeyer and inaugurated in 1958, this hotel completes the Brasilia/Neimeyer experience. It was the first hotel in the city. Recently revamped maintaining the strict modernist 60's style.
Always remember though, never show off any of your 'splurging'. Not only will this be considered as an insult to less fortunate citizens, you will be an advertising for a mugging.
Brasilia is a safe city, but usual measures should be taken. At night, the area near the central bus station is not considered to be safe (prostitution and drugs). Avoid walking alone at night throughout the city.
There are an increasing number of cases of "flash kidnap". This consists of attacking people near or inside their own car, robbing and getting away with the car, and sometimes driving with the owner to make them withdraw money from automatic cash machines or even committing other kinds of violence. The local Police give some advice on how to avoid these crimes:
- Try to walk with company, avoiding deserted places or those with bad illumination. Be aware of people approaching to ask for information, especially during the night;
- When coming out of a bank, verify if you are being followed or if there are suspicious people near the vehicle;
- Approaching your car, have the keys ready, to make it easier to get into the car;
- Going home (or to your hotel), do not park immediately. Watch the sides of the buildings and corners and only then stop the vehicle. Do not react to any kind of crime, as the criminals do not act alone.
Police officers are usually polite, but as they have to deal with considerable violence they might appear harsh in situations when they have to be alert. Respect is the key for good interaction. In case of police intervention at a crime (i.e. when they withdraw their guns), lay down on the floor and put your hands on your head and don't make any subtle movement. Do not react if searched. Follow instructions and, as it is possible, inform someone of your situation by phone.
To get police assistance, dial 190 in any public or private phone. For medical emergency, dial 192.
Although drug consumption does not lead to incarceration, it is still a crime in Brazil, and being caught with small amounts of illegal substances may lead to bureaucratic complications when leaving the country. Selling or transporting drugs for use of others is considered trafficking, a very serious crime, and will lead to severe consequences. So, do not use or carry drugs of any kind.
The area code to Brasilia and region is 61 (also add Brazil's 55 if dialing from abroad). All 7-digit telephone numbers have recently been converted to 8-digit by adding a 3 before the number. To reach a number like 241-0000 from abroad, dial +55 61 3241-0000.
- Neon Lights cybercafe , SRTVS, Patio Brasil mall - 2nd Floor, +55 61 3322-8060, email@example.com- Conveniently located inside a large shopping mall next to the South Hotel Sector. Opens Mo-Sat 10AM-10PM. R$6/hour.
- Media Cyber - Brasilia Shopping mall, G1 floor. +55 61 3201-7300. Next to the North Hotel Sector. Has printing and scanning services and sells disks and recordable CDs.
- RedShot, SCLS 409 Bloco D Loja 30 (from rodoviaria, take bus 114). +55 61 3443-4359 - This lan house is aimed primarily at gamers, but has cheaper connections. Opens daily from 10AM. R$3–4/hour
There are also many Wi-fi hotspots scattered around town, including the food court of the airport and various hotels.
- Egypt, SEN Avenida das Nações, Lote 12, ☎ +55 61 3323-8800, fax: +55 61 3323-1039, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 9AM-17:30PM.
- Finland, SES - Avenida das Nações, Qd 807, Lt 27 CEP 70417-900 Brasília-DF, ☎ +55-61-3443 7151, fax: +55-61-3443 3315, e-mail: email@example.com. Mo-Th 8:15AM-5PM, Fr 8:15AM-1:30PM.
- France, SES Avenida das Nações, Lote 4, Quadra 801, ☎ +55 61 3222-3999, fax: +55 61 3222-3917, +55 61 3222-3920 (Emergencies), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Greece, SES Avenida das Nações, Quadra 805 LΤ 22, 70480-900 Brasilia DF, ☎ +55 61 3443-6573, +55 61 8128-2822 (Emergencies), fax: +55 61 3443-6902, e-mail: email@example.com.
- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, SES Quadra 801, Lote 8, ☎ +55 61 3329-2300, fax: +55 61 3329-2369, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- United States of America, SES - Avenida das Nações, Quadra 801, Lote 03, ☎ +55 61 3312-7000, fax: +55 61 3312-7651, e-mail: BrasiliaACS@state.gov.
Nearby attractions include:
- Pirenopolis - an old Portuguese colonial town surrounded by several waterfalls, 150 km west of Brasilia.
- Chapada dos Veadeiros - A national park 230 km north of Brasilia with plenty of cerrado wildlife and spectacular waterfalls.
- Itiquira waterfall - this beautiful 168m-high warterfall is little more than 100 km from Brasilia, a safe and pleasant 2-hour drive going northwest; exit the city through the Ponte do Bragueto and continue on highway BR020 to Planaltina and then Formosa.
- Alto Paraiso de Goias - 230 km North of Brasilia. It's the main gate to the Chapada dos Veadeiros region. It's also known from its hippies and esoteric communities.
- Cavalcante - 320 km north of Brasilia. It's part of the Chapada dos Veadeiros national park. Also known from the Kalunga communitties, descendants of escaped slaves.
- Caldas Novas -300 km south of Brasília. Caldas Novas is popular for its hot springs that attract travellers all year round.