My bicycle in front of a pousada.

My bicycle in front of a pousada where I stayed while cycling in Brazil.

The tips I write here are based on my own personal experiences from three long distance cycling trips in Brazil over the past four years that has taken me through eleven states in Brazil. Cycling in Brazil is better than most people think.

If you disagree with some of the things I write or think there is something that should be added then feel free to comment or write to me.

Cycling along the brazilian coastline.

Cycling in Brazil

Road conditions for cyclists in Brazil.

Road in Sertao.

Road in Sertao.

I’m sure there are some roads in Brazil that are really bad, but the ones I have used as a cyclist has generally been quite good. And in Brazil you mostly have large shoulders on the main roads that caters to soft traffic which also includes horses in some part of Brazil, but because of the large shoulders I always felt quite safe cycling in Brazil even if the drivers can be real crazy at times.

I have cycled on the coastal road from Porto Alegre in the very south of Brazil to Salvador da Bahia in the Northeast and that road was nicely paved and had good shoulders most of the time and mostly not too much traffic, as long as I was not near any big city.

In the Northeast of Brazil where I have also cycled the roads have also been quite good especially when you get away from the coast. But even the coastal roads have been ok once you are out of the big cities.



Biking Brazil.

Biking Brazil.

Be sure to bring some good tires to Brazil.

Even if the roads are generally quite good they do tend to have a lot of industrial traffic and the trucks tend to dump a lot of rubbish by the side of the road including pieces of metal that can be hard for your bicycle tires.

Some parts of the country, especially inland, has a lot of cactuses and some cactus flowers can puncture your tires unless they are kevlar tires.

Good news is that it’s quite easy to pick up spare parts these days in Brazil as the number of cyclists has increased a lot in recent years and I never had any problems locating a bicycle store in the towns and cities I went in Brazil.


Dog Chases when cycling in Brazil.

No dogs chasing you in Brazil. Just friendly brazilians who want to pose for photos with you.

No dogs chasing you in Brazil. Just friendly Brazilians who want to pose for photos with you.

Now here is some good news for us cyclists.

While you see quite a few stray dogs on the streets in Brazil they have never been trained to be watch dogs so dog chases are very uncommon in Brazil.

You will get a dog that barks at you from time to time but it’s very very rare that they will chase you.

I find that most dogs in Brazil get a little scared when I come on my bike and run in to the ditch.


Cycling in Sertao.

Rush hour in Sertao.

Rush hour in Sertao.

Sertao is the part of Northeast Brazil where you are away from the coast.

This is a very hot and mostly dry part of Brazil and this is also a very poor part of the country.

Many people in the big Brazilian cities will warn you against going to Sertao as the favelas they have in the big cities are mostly populated by people from Sertao who was driven in to the big city because of poverty.

The favelas are often dangerous places to be. And because of that the big city folks often view Sertao and the people from Sertao with suspicion.

But I have been several times to Sertao and I have never had any problems or felt in danger there.

I actually think it’s one of the safest places to be in Brazil. And it’s where I love to go for slow paced lifestyle and friendly country folks.

Life in Sertao bear no resemblance to life in a favela at all and Sertao is in general a very safe place to travel around.

And from a cyclist point of View Sertao is good news too.

When I went cycling there I took one of the main truck roads going south from the city Teresina. And down towards the state of Pernambuco.

Now when you say truck road then I know it sounds really bad and potentially dangerous. But it was actually really good there because of the large shoulders on the road. And because the truck drivers try to drive as little as possible during the day and more in the evening because of the intense heat. Leaving the roads pretty quiet as there is not so much personal traffic in Sertao.

Only thing you have to be able to deal with is the heat.

35 to 40 degrees celsius is very common in Sertao. And it’s a dry heat that really fries you. If rain comes it tends to be thunderstorms with lot’s of lightnings. So find some shelter if a thunderstorm is coming up as sertao is one of the places in the world that sees the most deaths because of lightning strikes.


Sleep at the gas stations.

Drinking and dancing at the gas station in Mercolandia.

Drinking and dancing at the gas station in Mercolandia, Pernambuco.

One thing that I really like about Brazil is that gas stations often have some rooms they rent out. Mainly to truck drivers.

This in particular in the interior of Brazil that you see this.

These gas stations will almost always also have a little restaurant and even free wifi. So they are good places to stop if you are not near a town by the end of the day and that can often happen especially up in northern Brazil where you have long distances.

This might sound crazy but these gas stations can often be very social places. They often put tables out on the parking lot at night and play loud music. And party and dance the night away in best Brazilian style.

Be ware that smaller hotels in Brazil are usually called “Pousadas”. So this is the sign you should first of all look for, not just at gas stations but all over Brazil when looking for a cheap place to spend the night.

hanging out with the locals at a Sertao gas station.

hanging out with the locals at a Sertao gas station.

City cycling in Brazil.

City cycling in Joao Pessoa.

City cycling in Joao Pessoa.

My big city cycling in Brazil is based on my experiences with cycling in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Teresina, Porto Alegre, Florianopolis, Santos, Curitiba, Vitoria and Joao Pessoa.

My experience is that it’s very good if you go along the coastal roads, where you mostly have beaches as they always tend to have good bicycle lanes there and lot’s of other cyclists.

The rest of the cities can be quite a challenge. And I often resort to cycling on the pavement.

Bike lanes are becoming more and more common in Brazil these days. Some cities are surprisingly well equipped with bike paths. Especially the state of Sao Paulo has a lot of good bicycle paths. But there are still plenty of places that needs more bike lanes. So do not expect some bike haven, but a fairly good place to have a bicycle.

I once lived three weeks in the center of Rio de Janeiro. I took my bike every day along the beaches of Flamengo, Botafogo, Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. And the cycling there was world class and you have a lot of girls to look at along the beaches and some of them are biking too 🙂

bike path at Ipanema Beach.

bike path at Ipanema Beach.


Cycling in the southern part of Brazil.


When cycling in Brazil, I have also been to the southern states on Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Parana, which are quite different from the rest of Brazil. They are first of all not tropical. They can be quite cold between may and september, when it’s winter in Brazil. But if you are cycling in Brazil, then these states are quite good for cycling too. Just be ware that there are some very industrial parts there, as this is where Brazil makes money. The area around Porto Alegre for instance, is quite industrial. And not always the prettiest. But it’s a part of Brazil where cycling is quite hip, so you have many good bicycle shops. So it’s a good place to start your journey when cycling in Brazil, as you can easily buy a bicycle or get spare parts there.

Cycling in Brazil.

Cycling in Brazil.


The worst part about cycling in Brazil.


The thing I like the least about cycling in Brazil is when I need to get in and especially out of the big cities.

Traffic in and out of big cities tends to be very congested. And that destroys the roads and create big potholes that fills with water if it rains. So you can’t see how deep they are.

The favelas also tend to be in the outskirts of the big cities. These places are sometimes controlled by criminal gangs. So it can be potentially dangerous to cycle past them.

Good news is that they have become a little safer in recent years. But you should still try to cycle past them as quickly as possible as they can be potentially dangerous.

If you have the chance to throw your bike on a bus or in a car and have it transported out of the city. Long distance busses in Brazil are generally very accepting to putting bikes on the bus and I have used bus to get in and out of cities like Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba for instance.

Is cycling in Brazil dangerous?

I have a longer blogpost about my thoughts about the safety issue in Brazil, seen from a cyclist perspective. You can read about it on this link.


Cycling is hip in Brazil.

City bikes in Recife.

City bikes in Recife.


I have been coming to Brazil for the past 28 years and one big change I have seen is how cycling has grown from something only poor people did, cause they could not afford a car, to something that has become very popular with the hip city crowd.

If you cycle along the big city beaches in Brazil you will see dozens of Brazilian cyclists in cycling outfits.

Brazilians like to go cycling in groups and I have met many groups of young Brazilians on the roads of Brazil especially on Sundays where they tend to meet up.

They are usually very happy to chat away with a foreign biker as they are few and far between in Brazil.

Knowing some Portuguese here can be very helpful, as english is not that widely spoken in Brazil. But even if you speak no Portuguese you can still socialise with them, as Brazilians are usually so genuinely curious about foreign cyclists, that they are ready to be very patient in order to understand you.

Monument for a dead cyclist in Joao Pessoa.

Monument for a dead cyclist in Joao Pessoa.

My final verdict on cycling in Brazil.

Finally I would like to recommend Brazil as a cycling destination. Especially if you like to take a cycling trip in a place that sees few foreign cyclists.

Just remember to bring some suntan lotion. Some good tires. And last but not least, look people in the eyes when you talk to them. this is one thing Brazilians really appreciate as it’s considered a little rude not to do so.

I have not met many tour cyclists when I have been cycling in Brazil. And the few I met have all been South American cyclists. I have heard of a few other europeans and North Americans who have been cycling in Brazil. But it’s still not that common, but does not mean that it’s not good. And it is not nearly as dangerous as most people think.

Just try never to cycle at night. And be a little careful when going in and out of big cities and you should be fine. I have personally never had a single incident where I felt unsafe when cycling in Brazil.

Have a nice trip. I am sure you will enjoy Brazil 🙂


From the coast between Rio and Sao Paulo.

From the coast between Rio and Sao Paulo.



  1. Spot on .I agree with all of it

  2. Dorrise Humes

    Claus, I love your blog..Brazil looks amazing and it is great to get a hands on point of view as you cycle around. I am enjoying the ride.

  3. Great post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I love to hear that you spent so much time touring the Country.

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  5. Jerry Griswold

    Hi Claus, I’m considering a cycling trip to Brazil, probably from Rio De Janeiro down the south coast to Rio Grande. I’d like to cycle about 50 miles per day. Will I be able to find accommodations all along that route? I ride a carbon road bike so like pretty smooth pavement. Thanks for any advice, Jerry

    • Hi’ Jerry.
      The pavement is fairly smooth in southern Brazil, so this should be of little worry for you. And as long as you stick to the coast, then you should be ok with accomodation too.
      If you have problems finding a place to stay then try the gas stations as they often have a few rooms that they rent out to truck drivers and other people passing by.

    • Jerry Griswold,

      Most gas stations in the south and south-east have showers with hot water, either free or nominally priced and if they don’t have a room, they will let you camp on the property if you ask. I’ve done this a number of times on bicycling trips through Brazil.
      How do I know? I’m an ex-pat living in Brazil for 45 years. —> Ben

  6. Hi Claus,

    I am planning on cycling north from Brazil through French Guyana, Suriname and eventually to somewhere in Venezuela.Have you done much cycling there and what is a good time of year to go in these places?

  7. Hi, I have enjoyed reading your blog. What would you recommend to be a great gift for a cyclist that is going to Brazil- a must have or a great to have for your bike. GPS, anti theft devices….

    • Hi’ Marilyn.
      Thank you for your comment.
      I think a good present would be a really good regional road map of Brazil, if we are talking about a foreign cyclist, cause they are almost impossible to obtain outside Brazil. Many cyclists prefer to use old fashioned paper maps for planning our trips. 🙂

  8. Hi Claus – thanks for a very interesting blog.
    I like climbing routes the most (been to the Alps several times), so I wonder if the mountainous area north of Rio de Janeiro would be a good choice for cycling – e.g., Petropolis – Teresopolis – Guapimirim. (I just picked these places from the map since I’ve never been to Brazil).

    Have you any idea about cycling in this region?
    Perhaps accommodation would be a problem outside the cities?
    And bike rental – there are probably different options around Rio?

    Thanks and regards

    • Hi’ Øjvind.

      I have not been cycling in Minas Gerias myself, but I have visited the region and checked out the towns and the roads. As long as you are ready to stay in smaller hotels and maybe gas station Pousadas, then you should be ok with accommodation. Minas Gerais is very hilly and it’s climbing almost all the time there. I would try to move a little north of Petropolis though and get properly in to the state of Minas Gerais, as this is nice and rural and a very pleasant part of Brazil. I do not know that much about renting bikes in the Rio de Janeiro region. I have always been there with my own mountainbike. I bought a decent mountainbike last year in Brazil though, so you could consider that. The Brazilian brand Caloi do some high quality mountainbikes that are quite affordable.

      • Thanks a lot Claus for useful information.
        I’ll do some more research, and perhaps I’ll come back to you with some questions.

        Kind regards

        • Hi Øyvind. Have you been to Brazil yet? If you don’t mind dirt roads, Minas Gerais is the right place to go. Look for a route called Estrada Real… It’s a set of roads used by the portuguese empire to take gold and diamonds from the mines to the coast – beatiful sights, historical villages, very friendly people and great food. If you prefer paved roads, the Mantiqueira range is the place, located on the limits of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Minas Gerais states.

  9. Dear Claus,

    Useful information. In 2011 we cycled from Holland to China and further to Thailand.
    This year we will cycle to Barcelona and from there take a containership that will bring us to Itaguai, near to Rio de Janeiro.
    So, we are looking for a safe road to cycle from Itaguai to Rio and from there to Sao Paulo, The waterfalls near Argentina, Buenos Aires, The deep south and up north to Colombia.

    • Hi’ Dirk. Itaguai is located on the way from Rio to Sao Paulo. The rod between Itaguai and Rio is actually really bad for cycling. you have some bad tunnels that are no good for bicycles. And you will also pass some big favelas on that short stretch of road between Itaguai and Rio. But going from Itaguai to Sao Paulo is fine. It’s a nice coastal road, with good road conditions. My only advice on that route is to cycle to Santos, just outside Sao Paulo and skip the big city. It’s a long climb to cycle to Sao Paulo and the outskirts of the city is not the safest place to be. But you will be fine out on the countryside. In brazil it’s very much a matter of avoiding the big cities when you can as a cyclist.

  10. Hello Claus.
    Nice to read your blog. I am probably planning a bike trip soon. For now my idea is cycling Bolivia, going to Paraguay and there crossing the border to Brasil, heading to Sao Paulo. Do you have some experience around these areas? From there I plan to go back to Peru/Ecuador/Colombia, depending on how much time it takes me. You said travelling by bus taking the bike with you is fine? Or do you now a cheap fly compagnie to travel with?
    Greeting Nele

    • Hi’ Nele. Nice to hear from you. I would for sure recommend bus over plane in Brazil. The airlines will charge you extra for the bike, while the busses will mostly not. And if they charge you, then the feee is much less than if you take it on a plane. The region between Paraguay and Sao Paulo is very doable for cycling. Just be prepared that it’s quite hilly. But traffic wise it’s mostly quite good. That is with the exception of Sao Paulo city. I would not recommend cycling in to the city. The city is surrounded by Favelas (poor neighbourhoods). And it can be dangerous there. The favelas in Sao Paulo are generally speaking more dangerous than those in the other big cities in Brazil. So try to stay clear of them. You can do that by putting the bike on a bus the last 50 kilometers in to the city, if you need to be in the city. Once you are in central Sao Paulo, things are not too bad in regards to cycling. Hope you will have a fantastic trip.

  11. Thanks a lot for the information! Do you believe I can find each time a place to sleep in between paraguay and the coastline of brasil? Just to be sure since I don’t have my tent anymore.

    • Normally it should be ok to find small roadside hotels. But it’s always a good idea to take a look at google maps as you move along for places. And also ask at big gas stations along major roads, as they often rent out rooms too.

  12. Patricia Meneces

    Hi Claus: First of all, thank you for the information on your blog.
    I’m planning a solo trip biking from Bolivia to Curitiba (Going through Mato Grosso, Paraná, Santa Catarina), and my big concern is to know if that trip is dangerous for a female.
    Do you know the area?
    What would you recommend?
    I really will appreciate your input.
    Thank you very much 😉

    • Hi Patricia. It’s always a little hard for me to comment on what it’s like for a female, as I am a male. So it’s a little hard for me to really know what it feel like to be a single female in certain countries. But for cycling the route you are talking about, I would say it should be just fine. I have not cycled Matto Grosso and Bolivia yet, but I have driven through the places and they seem to be very good for cycling, as the shoulders on the roads are large in Matto Grosso. And Bolivia seems quite good too. I am actually thinking about cycling that region too myself, within the next 2-3 years. Parana and Santa Catarina are states that I have cycled in. And they are both fine.As always, try to avoid the big cities whenever you can in Brazil. The most dangerous thing in Brazil cycling wise, is for sure cycling in and out of the big cities, as these areas can be crime ridden. But once you are out on the countryside, then you are very unlikely to encounter trouble. Hope youwill have a fantastic trip.

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  14. I’m looking to buke from Brazil to Argentina. Will likely start in the South. Would like to cycle part on the Coast. Any recommendations?

    • I would advice you to start south of the State of Curitiba. Around Curitiba is not very good for cycling. And neither is the state of Sao Paulo. But once you are south of Florianopolis, then the roads are good for us cyclists.

  15. Hi,

    Lots of information here.. Thanks!

    Wold you recommend road or mountain bike?.. I had a trip scheduled for this July of course it got cancelled because of COVID-19 but as soon as everything is safer i will be traveling to Parana. I will be around the area of Lapa, Curitiba, Campina grande do sul, Morretes and of course will visit the coastal side. I am def be biking the city but I am also interested on doing longer rides outside Curitiba. I few friends on Strava and I am able to see the elevations and some pictures and it looks amazing especially the mountain bike rides but even road riders I see them on mountain bikes. maybe 2 out of 15 have road bikes. Is there a reason for that?


    • Hi’ Julia. I would recommend mountainbikes, simply because there is quite a lot of broken glass and destroyed car tyres with small steel wires that punctures a regular bike easily. When I cycled past Curitiba, I found this a very challenging area for cycling. It was one of the hardest parts of Brazil to bike for me to be honest. But this might very well have been due to me not re searching the area well enough. So my suggestion would be that you try to get in touch with some local cyclist groups on Facebook and ask them for good biking routes. Cause I did not find them myself while I was there. But all the best with your biking adventure to Brazil I hope you will have a blast.

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  18. Hello Claus, love your article having travelled in Brazil many times, I was actually interested in your observations of Senteo. However I was hoping to read about cycling in Carituba, a city with a lot of bicycle paths, but i have been told that there are many crimes on these bikes paths, mostly petty thieves and muggers knocking tourists or immigrants who appear “touristy” off their bikes and mugging, stabbing, and stealing their bikes from them… I visited Carituba for a week and did not cycle there for those reasons, having a wife and child makes it more difficult to take those risks. I was wondering if you cycled there and had any feedback ?
    Great posts and keep cycling best way to travel.

    • Hi’. Roger.
      I have cycled past Curitiba, when I took a trip from Porto Alegre to Salvador da Bahia once. I only stopped for one night in Curitiba, so I can not say much about cycling in that city. But the least friendly bicycle area I have come across in all Brazil is actually the road between Curitiba and Sao Paulo. That is very hard to cycle, as the road is constructed for cars only. In terms of crime towards cyclists, then they mostly happen in big cities in southern Brazil, where the divide between rich and poor is bigger. I heard several stories about people being mugged in the outskirts of Sao Paulo for instance. But once you are out of the big cities you are generally fine. I have personally never had a bad incident on my bicycle in Brazil. But I also avoid riding after dark. And I plan my trips in detail when arriving to, or leaving big cities.

  19. Hello Claus,

    Thanks for your experiences which ment a lot for the cyclists who are keen on discovering new routes. As you will also agree, sound information is everything for a good planning, which is everything for a sound trip. I am considering a cycling trip from Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires by the coast through Uruguay. As far as I can see from your former replies, there aren’t many things to worry about road conditions, accomodation, people etc. What I would like to ask you about is weather conditions. I am planning to do the trip on late November – early December. When I check the weather on couple of forecast sites, they are on a consensus of at least precitipation of 10-15 days per month. Do you have any experience; What kind of a rain is that ? Is it a heavy shower and a long rain which could endanger the trip, or just a spray up for half an hour and don’t bother. I did some road under the heavy rain at tropics which didn’t make huge problems at all. Will that also be a kind of rain like that ? Or is it going hurt specially around Rio Grande where the temperature will be around 22-25C ? If you could help, that would be great. Thanks in advance. All the best…

    • You are pretty much taking the trip the best time of year, when talking weather. Do not warry about the rain. It’s not tropical rain in this part of Brazil. More the type of rain that you have in southern Europe, meaning mostly light showers. Just be aware that southern Brazil has quite intense traffic at times, due to the heavy industry that you see around the big cities. And try to plan your entry to Sao Paulo carefully, in order to avoid riding through too many favelas. Hope you will have a fantastic trip.

      • Thank you Claus, helped a lot. I finalized the planning and pushed the button for a trip starting by bike from Salvador at 25th November, skipping Rio-Curitiba by bus, and then from Curitiba to Montevideo and Buenos Aires by bike again on the coast through the end of December. I hope you don’t mind if I need your advices again 🙂 And your suggestions via here or via my e-mail would be highly appreciated of-course. Thanks again. Be safe and peaceful. Regards from Turkey 🙂

        • Hi’. Kaetal.
          Good luck with you trip.
          Always feel free to contact me if you have any questions and I will do my very best to help, if I can.
          One tip I will give you, if you are arriving to Rio de Janeiro from north, is to follow the coast from Cabo Frio to Niteroi and then take the ferry to Rio from Niteroi. If you travel the other way around the bay, then you are likely to cycle through some very bad neighborhoods. So better follow the coast to Niteroi. There are some really nice small beaches on that piece of coastline as well, that I think you will enjoy. All the best from a Dane that used to live and work in Turkey and still visits the country every year 🙂 .

          • Hello Claus, thanks for the tip, indeed will be very helpful. Good to hear you are familiar with our “one of a kind!!! :)” country. No need to say: You are more than welcome if you ever visit İstanbul again, just let me know beforehand 😉 Write to you soon. Regards, Kartal…

          • One more thing Kartal.
            When leaving Salvador, it’s better to do so by taking the ferry from central Salvador to Itaparica. Going around the bay will take you through some neighborhoods that are not too good. But if you take the ferry to Itaparica and ride from there, then you should be fine.

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