Depending on the region, women traveling alone will experience a range of responses. In São Paulo, for example, where there are many people of European ancestry, foreign women without traveling companions will scarcely be given a sideways glance. In the more traditional rural areas of the Northeast, where a large percentage of the population is of ethnically mixed origin, blonde-haired and light-skinned women, especially those not traveling with a male, will certainly arouse curiosity.

Safety Precautions

If you encounter unwelcome attention, you should be able to stop it by merely expressing displeasure.

Although most of Brazil is nearly as safe for women as for men, it’s a good idea to keep a low profile in the cities at night and to avoid going alone to bars and nightclubs.

Similarly, women should not hitchhike alone or even in groups (even men or couples should exercise caution when hitching). Most importantly, the roughest areas of the North and West, where there are lots of men but few local women, should be considered off-limits by lone female travelers.

What to Wear

Once you’ve spent an hour or two in Copacabana or Ipanema, where some women run their errands wearing fio dental (dental floss – the famous skimpy bikini), you’ll be aware that in some parts of Brazil, the dress guidelines aren’t quite as strict as in others. What works in Rio will probably not be appropriate in a Northeastern city or in a Piauí backwater. It’s best to adapt your clothing to local standards.