World cup of travel: Where to go in 2014 - starting with Brazil
Thirty-two countries qualified for the Fifa tournament – but which will be our favourite destinations in 2014 and what do they have to offer that's new? Over a series of articles, Chris Leadbeater studies the form, starting with the hosts ...
Chris Leadbeater is a full-time travel journalist who has written for The Independent since 2009. He specialises in the USA, South America and Europe, but has covered destinations as varied as Mozambique, New Zealand, Indonesia and Lebanon. Prior to becoming a travel journalist, he worked as a music writer and for men's magazines.
Saturday 28 December 2013
The draw has been made, the schedule is complete, and the hyperbole pot is beginning to simmer. By 12 June, when hosts Brazil kick off against Croatia in Sao Paulo, the Fifa World Cup will be inescapable. And it will stay that way – a rainbow of goals, fouls, skill and skulduggery – all the way to 13 July, when the Final is played in Rio de Janeiro.
Yet you don't have to be a football fan to grasp the power of this quadrennial sporting bonanza, or to notice the spotlight that it shines upon the 32 nations to have qualified. In travel terms, each of them can expect an increased profile as a possible holiday destination. And, with this in mind, this series of articles offer suggestions on how you can, and why you should, visit them in 2014 – from France and Italy to Uruguay and Ghana.
Of course, the place in clearest focus will be Brazil. Twelve of its cities – from Porto Alegre in the south to Manaus in the Amazon rainforest in the north – will stage games across a country that is practically a self-contained continent.
If this sparks a desire to explore the country for yourself, then numerous options are available. For example, Discover Adventure (01722 718444; discoveradventure.com) will run a 10-night "Chapada Diamantina & Rio Trek" group trip that starts on 27 September and will spend six days hiking amid the flat-top mountains of Chapada Diamantina National Park, in the state of Bahia. It costs from £2,399pp, with flights. On a less energetic note, The Traveller (01285 880 931; the- traveller.co.uk) is offering "Footsteps Of The Gold Trail" – a 12-day group trip into Minas Gerais that will trace the routes forged by traders during the Brazil Gold Rush of the 18th century, visiting the state-capital Belo Horizonte and the mining town of Ouro Preto. From £3,695pp, including flights, departing on 22 July.
Match tickets have been selling swiftly, but a taste of the football is still possible. Chameleon Worldwide (01962 737606; chameleonworldwide.co.uk) sells a classic 10-day "Costa Verde, Rio and Iguacu Falls" trip (from £2,930pp, with flights) where you can add on a tour of Rio (£60) that calls at the Maracana stadium, the venue for the Final. Or, if you feel flush, Miraviva Travel (020 7186 1111; mira vivatravel.com) can arrange a seven-night break that includes tickets to two climactic games (semi-finals and final), from £11,100pp.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 3 The Grace Dent Christmas Questionnaire
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Travelling by train, boat and plane in 2015: what's in store from ferries to winter sports services
TripAdvisor reveals the top places to visit in 2015
Chic new hotels in 2015: From Britain's first football-themed property to a Facebook millionaire's debut desert resort
Yakutsk: Journey to the coldest city on earth
Top 10 travel destinations for 2015: From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...
£240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...
£27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...