If you love experiencing local sports culture, a trip to Brazil will not be complete without experiencing the Maracanã Stadium, in Rio de Janeiro. Do the stadium tour, or go to any live event inside the stadium, and you will see the full breadth of Brazilian verve and passion on display.
1. History of the Maracanã Stadium
Maracanã, officially known as Estadio Mario Filho, was built to be the primary venue for when Brazil played host at the 1950 World Cup.
When Brazil played in the cup final against Uruguay, an official monstrous crowd of 173,000 boisterous fans saw the host nation lose 2-1.
The stadium remained much the same over the following decades until a fatal accident forced the Maracanã to become an all-seat stadium, greatly reducing its overall capacity.
Ahead of hosting the 2014 World Cup, Maracanã again underwent further renovations with the additional installation of a roof, completing its journey from a historic hometown stadium to a world-class arena.
2. Stadium Tours of the Maracanã Stadium
You don’t have to watch an enthralling match between Flamengo and Fluminense (the local derby game) or catch a live music performance in order to explore Maracanã.
The stadium is home to the Maracanã Tour that takes guests behind the scenes of the world-famous stadium.
Your tour guide will lead you to the permanent exhibition that puts Brazil’s iconic football history on full display, including jerseys from Brazil’s 1962 World Cup-winning team.
You can also compare your footmarks with legends such as Pelé and Roberto Dinamite.
Later, you will be able to visit the press room and walk out onto the pitch.
The walking tours last around an hour, taking place daily between 9 am and 4 pm.
If you are going to a football match, be sure to arrive early as the last tour will leave three hours before the gates open.
3. How to Get There
Maracanã is found 5km east of downtown Rio de Janeiro and 12km from the popular tourist spot of Copacabana and Ipanema Beach.
The stadium is served by local public transport having its own station on MetroRio Line Two.
You can catch this line from any station in downtown Rio along with the Botafogo and Flamengo districts.
If you are staying in Copacabana or Ipanema Beach, you can jump onto Line 1 and transfer as you go through the city.
Use of the MetroRio is simple and cheap, with a single fare costing less than $1 USD.
If you are traveling through Rio and plan to use public transport often, then consider getting a prepaid card to save time and money.
The MetroRio operates from 5 am to midnight from Monday to Saturday. Sundays and public holidays have a shortened schedule with trains between 7 am and 11 pm.
Buses also serve the stadium, although with traffic, being overcrowded and stopping in less-desired parts of the city, there are drawbacks to using this form of transport.
Uber or Taxis are another popular option and there will be plenty driving around ready to take you to the Maracanã, especially when Flamengo is playing.
Because of the sheer size of the stadium, you will also have the opportunity to grab a ticket at Gate 1 before the game.
The only issue if you buy a ticket before the game though, is that you will have a limited selection of seats to choose from and you may not get the chance to join the sections where the local fans sit, where the fans are most passionate and vocal (if you really want to soak up the atmosphere).
With the Maracanã having just two levels, you will always feel close to the action wherever you sit.
But to experience the best of Brazil’s football scene, from throat-burning singing to jumping up and down, try to get your hands on a ticket in the north or south sections behind the goals.
If you wish you enjoy the fans from afar, you can sit within the relatively calm west section and enjoy a great with of the field from end to end.
Ticket prices vary depending on the section and quality of the seats.
It is not uncommon to find tickets for around USD$6, but tickets can also go as high as USD$50 for more extravagant, VIP sections.
So, if you have ever wished to enjoy football from the best seats in the house, the Maracanã provides the opportunity to do just that on a budget.
5. Matchday at the Maracanã
The former attracts an average of 55,000 energetic fans, with the latter garnering, by comparison, a paltry 20,000 spectators.
If you are experiencing a stroke of luck, you will arrive in Rio de Janeiro in time to watch these two local teams go head to head.
Featuring a storied rivalry that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, these two clubs consistently put on a show and a large crowd always gathers to watch things go down.
Other local teams such as Botafogo and Vasca are also inner-city rivals of Flamengo and create an enthralling matchday experience for fans.
There are bars selling local beer at the entrance to each seating area, the perfect way to lean into proceedings.
Throughout the game, you can expect plenty of drums that break up the supporters singing.
The vibrant atmosphere is surreal and it won’t take long for you to feel a part of one of the most exciting fan experiences on earth.
6. Concerts at the Stadium
Along with throwing invigorating football games for fans to enjoy, the Maracanã also puts on concerts throughout the year.
From hosting the Rock in Rio Festival to getting a visit from Madonna, the Rolling Stones, and Prince, the Maracanã doesn’t shy away from international acts.
With the stadium that holds almost 80,000 spectators opening up the pitch for concertgoers, total crowds at the stadium for live music often exceed 100,000.
SongKick will keep you up to date with all touring artists performing at the Maracanã, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the stadium while seeing one of your favorite musicians live.
7. Before and After Maracanã Events
When you arrive at Maracanã you will be joined by a swarm of excited, hopeful fans. Surrounding the stadium is a large bicycle path where people buy beer from street vendors and talk about the match to come.
Others gather in small “botecos” (Brazilian bars) for a cheap drink before heading inside.
Being a largely residential area, there isn’t a lot for travelers to do around Maracanã and you will find more interesting sports pubs and bars closer to the downtown area.
8. Where to Stay in Rio de Janeiro
With this being a large city, there are plenty of competitively priced hotel rooms available.
Sports Travel Booking Resources
Traveling around the world to watch & experience sports, I tend to always use the same resources for booking trips. These are the ones I use most frequently and that I find to have great customer support and competitive prices.
- Sports Event Tickets – Tickets for all sporting events
- Get Your Guide – is an excellent site as a one-stop shop for booking attractions, local tours, activities, and excursions. Great customer service and an easy-to-use site.
- Booking.com – The best site I have found for hotel and accommodation bookings.
- Flights – are also now offered by booking.com and as I love the brand this is my first port of call now for flights.
- Safety Wing Travel Insurance – I love Saftey Wing as they cover everything I need to be covered and they have a simple-to-use site, and again, I have found their customer service very good, when I needed to ask questions.
- Hostelworld – Book backpacker hostel rooms around the world with Hostel World.