Brazil

Brazil's 12 World Cup Cities

With Brazil set to host the 2014 World Cup, scores of travelers are gearing up for what could be the trip -- and the games -- of a lifetime. Twelve cities across Brazil will host matches during the Cup, a diverse array of towns from the ever-popular Rio de Janeiro to Manaus, a city in the heart of the Amazon. Happily, a number of host cities are coastal, so travelers can take advantage of Brazil's famous beaches. Many host cities have even constructed new, cutting-edge stadiums sure to dazzle soccer fans. Check out our guide to the 12 World Cup host cities and their soccer stadiums.

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1. Belo Horizonte

Spend time admiring the mountainous landscape and strolling the metropolitan streets of Brazil's third largest city, Belo Horizonte, or "Bay-Agah," as it’s known to locals (that's "BH" in Portuguese). Though the city is often overlooked by tourists, there's plenty to do, like testing your bargaining skills at the Mercado Central, exploring the trendy Lourdes and Savassi neighborhoods, and seeing a concert at the Palácio das Artes.

See the Match: Already one of Brazil’s most raucous stadiums, BH's Estadio Mineirão will undergo a massive renovation prior to the World Cup games. Updates include lowering the pitch surface and improving stadium accessibility.
copagov, flickr

2. Brasília

Many first-time visitors to Brazil are surprised to learn that Brasilia is the country's capital, not Rio de Janeiro, the city that admittedly gets the most hype. Built in the 1950s in a massive experiment in urban development, Brasília’s perfect grid of wide avenues, well-planned residential and commercial blocks, and contemporary architecture helped it achieve UNESCO World Heritage status.

See the Match: Brasília's Estadio Nacional is the nation's second largest World Cup venue, seating more than 70,000 fans. Recent enhancements include a new facade, metal roof and stands, and a lowered pitch that will allow unobstructed views from every seat -- perfect for soccer's fervent fans.
Jeff Belmonte, flickr

3. Cuiabá

Located smack-dab in South America's center -- 2,000 miles from either coast -- Cuiabá is a former gold rush mining town dating back to the 1700s. The city is ideally situated as a jumping-off point for exploring the Cerrado region's savannahs, the Pantanal area's wetlands and the Amazon. While in Cuiabá, pay a visit to the nearby Chapada dos Guimaraes mountain range, one of Brazil's most stunning landscapes and home to a national park and nearly 50 archaeological sites with prehistoric cave paintings and fossils.

See the Match: Cuiabá also boasts yet another new stadium built for the Cup. The 43,000-seat Arena Pantanal has been constructed with sustainability in mind, earning it the nickname "The Big Green."

About the Author

Valerie Conners is a freelance writer, editor and producer who has worked with the Travel Channel for more than 14 years, specializing in travel topics including the world's best beaches, outdoor travel and romantic getaways. Her work also appears in many online and print publications including, Aol Travel, Discovery Channel, World Hum, Frommer's Travel Guides, the Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun and Philadelphia Inquirer. She's happiest when eating spicy Thai food, snorkeling with sea turtles in Indonesia and bargaining for bangles in Indian markets. She blogs about her travels at PassengerConners.com.

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