Is Brazil safe to travel? This is a very complicated question given that Brazil is such a diverse country. It has an extremely large territory and with that comes great variety regarding nature, landscape, culture and safety.
Just as in other parts of the world, large cities present greater threat and higher criminality rates. Thus, some incidents might happen. For example, armed robberies, stray bullets or the well-known trawlers (where a group of people create confusion on the beach and steal on a large scale), which in other countries are just isolated cases, are not so rare in large cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
Safety levels depend mainly on location. And even within specific cities, there are regions which require more attention than others. Here are some examples of cities which entail more caution.
Given that São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil it is expected to have crowds everywhere you go. An important attitude to keep in mind is to be extra vigilant in crowded places, just as you would be anywhere else in the world. For example, during Carnival celebrations, soccer matches and inside the subway. So, make sure to carry only what is strictly necessary.
It is common knowledge that the Rio de Janeiro slums (“favelas”) are where the less fortunate live. Some of these places are known for being dangerous due to the drug traffic business and rivalry between gangs and the police. Despite being a popular day trip for foreigners, Brazilians would never recommend you visit one the slums. Those communities are full of culture and unique constructions with narrow and labyrinthic streets and should not be visited as if you were driving through a safari because it is not one.
The capital of Pará, Belém, and the capital of Ceará, Fortaleza, are two other major cities in Brazil which require extra care. Walking along with these cities you might at times witness some theft or assault and it does not hurt to be cautious, especially at night. Good advice would be to avoid isolated areas with less civilization, such as dark alleys and neighbourhoods far from the central and touristic spots unless accompanied by a local.
It might come naturally to Brazilians or even to those who are used to big city problems, but some precautions can go a long way when preventing any issues when vacationing in this tropical country. The most important thing is to always be aware of your surroundings. For example, do not carry your cellphone on your back pocket, do not leave your belongings unattended and distribute your money and cards among several pockets. And always remember that if someone approaches you with the intention of robbing you, do not fight back. Do as you are told, and you will most likely get out of this awful situation safe and sound. In general, do not let your guard down, but neither will you travel paranoid. It is all right to travel to Brazil, but do not leave your common sense at home. Always act with your head and you are less likely to have a problem.
Overall, it is safe to travel to Brazil if some precautions are taken. The chances that something serious will happen to you while travelling through the country are slim. Ultimately, one of the biggest problems in Brazil is, without a doubt, violence. But considering it as your holiday vacation due to safety reasons only perpetuates negative (and untrue) stereotypes.
Thank you for reading.