I am a recent college graduate and am headed to Brazil for the World Cup. We are headed to Recife and Impanema and are looking for information on places to visit and activities to do at these locations. Thanks in advance!
I'd recommend staying in the Ipanema Beach vicinity rather than Copacabana, which tends to be more dangerous. There are many great Ipanema hotels, but prices for the WC will be outrageous so prepare yourself. Rio is a crazy fun city, with tons of bars, clubs, restaurants, and all the sensuality you can imagine, so you will have a blast. If you have time to explore around WC matches, I'd suggest the north coast for diving, the Amazon, and the south coast for all the quaint coastal cities (like Paraty). It's a very big country, so don't plan to do too much unless you are going to be there for a long time (3-4 weeks).
I travel to Brazil frequently and spend most of my time in Sao Paulo or Rio. I agree with the previous post regarding where to stay in Rio. If you have the $$$ to stay in Ipanema or even better Leblon during the WC then that is definitely the way to go. Do not stay west of Dois Irmaos (the mountain west of Leblon). Try to avoid staying in Copa. I use Airbnb and have had a great experience as long as you do your homework. Usually, apartments are cheap...I'm going to Rio this coming Sunday and I got a 2 bedroom in Ipanema for $150/night only a few blocks from the beach. Do not expect much out of the hotels...they are sufficient, but unless you shell out a lot of money they are nothing special. With the WC, I can imagine that prices are skyrocketing especially since we are so close to June. My advice is to lock in whatever you can get right now because a lot is probably already booked up and prices will only continue to increase as we get closer to the date. As far as things to do or see, I recommend the normal touristy stuff as it is definitely worth it. Pao de acucar, Cristo Rendentor, sunbathing on Ipanema/Copa/Leblon....these are all worthwhile things to do. Be careful swimming in the ocean...the tide is strong! I really enjoy the botanical gardens as well - highly recommend. Also recommend stopping in a shop to get some frozen acai with granola, banana, and guarana. Tastes awesome. Groceries can be cheap, especially if buying produce, so if you get an apartment consider making your own meals to save money. I wouldn't bother shopping for anything other than souvenirs/groceries as everything is more expensive in Brazil. Most importantly, stay vigilant. Keep things casual...do not wear anything that shows you have money (fancy watches) or makes you look like a target (including frequently checking your iPhone or bringing a ginormous camera with you). Stay out of favelas.
I haven't been to Recife so I can't comment too much...my wife is from Sao Paulo and says be extra careful in Recife...very high crime rate. She also says its supposed to be very cool and the people she knows from there are very friendly and they have a cool music scene there.
Bottom line - staying vigilant is very important....but likely you will have an awesome time.
We just posted a blog about shopping in Brazil. I personally have never been and I'm very jealous you're going.