THE 10 BEST Brazil Sports Complexes

Sports complexes in brazil.

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  • Things to do ranked using Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, and popularity.

sports tourism in brazil

1. Estádio Mineirão


2. Parque Olímpico


3. Fazendinha Adventure Park

sports tourism in brazil

4. SESC Pinheiros


5. Parque das Laranjeiras


6. Centro Esportivo, Recreativo e Educativo do Trabalhador - CERET


7. SESC Itaquera

sports tourism in brazil

8. Major Antonio Couto Pereira Stadium


9. Clube Recreativo Dores

sports tourism in brazil

10. Toca da Truta

sports tourism in brazil

11. Gilberto Cardoso Gymnasium Maracanazinho


12. Parque Citta di Marostica

sports tourism in brazil

13. Sesc Pocos De Caldas

sports tourism in brazil

14. SESC Osasco


15. SESC Copacabana


16. Mineirinho - Estadio Jornalista Felipe Drummond


17. Porto do Baé

sports tourism in brazil

18. Fazenda Guaxinduva

sports tourism in brazil

19. Eco Park

sports tourism in brazil

20. Parque dos Patins

sports tourism in brazil

21. Minas Tênis Clube

sports tourism in brazil

22. Parque das Bicicletas


23. Parque da Cultura Votuporanga

sports tourism in brazil

24. Fly Wind Kite School


26. Ginásio Internacional Newton de Faria

sports tourism in brazil

27. Juventus Football Club

sports tourism in brazil

28. SESC Faiçalville

sports tourism in brazil

29. Thermas De Piratininga

sports tourism in brazil

30. Clube Círculo Militar


What travelers are saying

Juninho C

  • Rio de Janeiro is awarded as the main destination for Sports Tourism in South America

sports tourism in brazil

Rio de Janeiro was chosen for the second consecutive time as the main destination in South America in sports tourism. The announcement was made on Wednesday (10/20), in London, by the World Travel Awards, a global initiative that recognizes excellence in travel and tourism. The title came after research carried out by the institution with the main travel, tourism and hospitality brands. All votes were cast by industry professionals and the public, with the nominee receiving the highest number of votes in each nominated category.

According to the minister of Tourism, Gilson Machado Neto, the recognition of Rio de Janeiro is deserved, as the destination is rich in sporting tourist activities. “The capital has already hosted two major events in world sport, such as the Olympics and two World Cups, and it did them very well. There is nothing fairer than receiving this title, since in addition to natural and cultural beauties, Rio de Janeiro also has numerous options for those who travel in search of the sport”, he said.

In addition to international sporting events, the capital of Rio de Janeiro hosts the only Olympic golf course in the world and the only one in Latin America at an international level. The city also has numerous options for tourists looking for destinations to practice some kind of sport. Hang gliding in Pedra Bonita, surfing, windsurfing and yachting in Baia de Guanabara, Kitesurfing in Barra da Tijuca, are some of the options. Travelers can also take trails on the Dois Irmãos hill and on Transcarioca (the largest urban trail in the country, with about 180km), marathons, beach volleyball and footvolley.

We must also mention the world famous Maracanã, in Rio de Janeiro (RJ). The stadium has already hosted two World Cup finals and the Pan American and Olympic games. Recently, the venue returned with its tour that includes a visit to one of the stadium’s locker rooms, decorated with shirts from clubs that compete in the first division of the Brazilian Championship. In addition, visitors can check the pitch, sit on one of the reserve benches and also learn a little more about the great players who have marked history, such as Pelé, Zico and Mané Garrincha.

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11 Outdoor Sports You Have to Try in Rio De Janeiro

Running in Arpoador

Rio de Janeiro’s incredible mix of urban life and natural scenery, coupled with a wonderful climate year-round, creates a local culture of staying active. The beaches, the coastline and the urban forest are all potential sporting grounds and come with stunning scenery. Cariocas (residents of Rio) generally love the outdoor lifestyle , resulting in an abundance of outdoor sports to try in the city.

Waking up to some of the world’s most beautiful coastlines, many Cariocas start their day early by plunging into the bracing waters and surfing the morning waves. Beginners tend to head to Arpoador where the waves are smaller and manageable, whereas experienced surfers love Barra da Tijuca and Prainha for their challenging, bigger waves.

Surfing in Rio

Beach Volleyball

The great climate and abundance of beaches set the right conditions for beach volleyball to become one of Brazil’s most popular sports . Many of Brazil’s beaches have designated volleyball arenas that fill up on the weekends from daybreak. The standards of play are quite high – many people practise regularly, but it’s played in good spirits. Rio has excellent places to play volleyball such as Flamengo Park, Copacabana Beach and Barra da Tijuca.

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sports tourism in brazil

Rio’s picturesque scenery and a variety of terrains create different running routes that a treadmill could never replicate. From challenging, uphill runs through the largest urban forest in the world to leisurely jogs alongside breathtaking coastlines, Rio offers exciting running courses and is one of the most popular ways of keeping fit.

Running in Arpoador

There are several reputable yoga schools throughout Rio, yet the fastest-growing yoga classes are the ones that take place sporadically outdoors. These classes are often free and just request donations. It offers yoga teachers a channel to advertise their schools or retreats and a chance for like-minded people to gather together. Some of the most popular places to practise yoga outdoors are at Flamengo Park, Lagoa (the lake), or on Ipanema Beach.

Think Brazil, and it’s likely that football will be one word that comes to mind. It is one of the most popular and supported sports in the country, with most people passionately following a local team. In Rio, football is often played on the beach, on the streets, or at designated football pitches. It’s a great way to keep fit, especially playing on the beach where the sand adds extra resistance, and fun to watch the skills and passion of locals playing.

Football on the beach

Foot Volleyball

Foot volleyball has the same concept of volleyball, except players can’t hit the ball with their hands and arms, just their legs, feet, chest and head. You can watch the locals playing it on the beach, and it’s easy to assume that it’s not that hard – yet it requires immense precision, skill and coordination, and playing on the sand is tiring. It’s a fun sport that combines Cariocas’ two sporting loves – football and volleyball.

Stand-up Surf Paddle

Stand-up surf paddle involves paddling on a large surfboard on the sea with a double-ended oar. It’s surprisingly easy, and usually, paddlers get their balance after the first few attempts. It can be a great exercise for the arms and stomach, especially when paddling longer distances, such as from Copacabana to Praia Vermelha in Urca. Alternatively, it can be relaxing by paddling out past the waves and slowly drifting along with the tides.

Frescobol is like tennis yet with small wooden bats, no net, and is played on the beach. The aim of the game is to keep the ball going between the two players for as long as possible without it falling. There are no winners or losers – it’s a team game. Experienced players can keep the ball rally going for a long time at great speeds.


One of the sports in vogue at the moment, slackline has become increasingly popular among the younger crowd in Rio. It involves rigging up a flat tightrope between two trees, and lets experienced slackliners perform incredible acrobatic flips and turns. For beginners, the aim is to simply walk from one end to another without falling off, which requires a lot of practice to figure out the perfect balance. Flamengo Park, Lagoa and Ipanema Beach are some of the most popular areas to find this sport.


Capoeira mixes dance, martial arts and acrobatic movements in an incredible display of skill and agility. It was developed by West African slaves in Brazil 500 years ago as a form of martial arts, yet nowadays it is performed as a showcase of talent and ability. There are many schools that teach capoeira , yet sometimes it is performed outside, especially in public shows.

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Plan Your Sports Tourism Trip

Plan Your Sports Tourism Trip

August 25, 2020 by Robert Schrader Leave a Comment

When people think of sports tourism, they often don’t realize what a large umbrella this is. For some travelers, the term simply evokes a day at the polo track in England, or watching an evening basketball game in LA after sunset at Venice Beach

In fact, traveling for sports covers a wide variety of activities in a long list of global destinations. It also encompasses both spectating and, increasingly, participating in the sports that take place in a particular country.

Both of these—watching sports and playing sports—can be rewarding, whether in major golf tournaments you use free bets , or you show off your fancy footwork with locals on the beach in Rio de Janeiro. Let’s dig deeper into the world of sports travel, shall we?

What is Sports Tourism?

As its name suggests, sports tourism is traveling in order to enjoy sports. It sounds simple—it is simple enough—but there are many different facets within the industry, which confuses people about its potential and place within the industry. A key place to start your understanding, as I explained in the intro this article, is realizing that people travel both to watch sports and to participate in them, the latter of which has grown alongside the broader trend of experiential travel.

Another key thing to realize is the diversity of sports tourism. This is not just in terms of the many activities it comprises, from traditional competitive sports like soccer (or football) and baseball, to more freeform activities like adventure tourism. Rather, it’s important also to consider the wide range of destinations developing their markets for sports tourists, especially countries where a historical or cultural link to a certain sport exists.

Top Sports Tourism Destinations

Brazil (soccer/football).

If you’re a fan of soccer (or football, depending on where you’re from), there are few better places to go than Brazil . Even before the country hosted the World Cup in 2014, it was famous around the world for the ubiquity of its futebol culture. Watch a match at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro , or hit the sands of Ipanema Beach and join a game yourself.

United States (Golf)

The USA ranks high in many potential categories of sports tourism, but the country has got to have some of the best golf courses in the world. This is true whether you’re watching pros compete at a PGA game, or playing 18 holes yourself, be it at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida or Hawaii ‘s legendary Mauna Kea Golf Course .

Japan (Baseball)

When most people use the words “ Japan ” and “sports” in the same sentence, they think of the delayed (and, potentially, canceled) Tokyo Olympics . Whether or not the games end up taking place, one way to avoid a potential Olympic disaster on your next trip to Japan is to watch the many baseball teams that have been competing in Japanese cities since just after World War II.

Ireland (Rugby)

With all the seemingly endless reasons to visit Ireland , sports tourism might not be at the top of your list. Indeed, while it’s believed that the game of rugby technically originated over the water in England , Ireland is rightly known as a top destination for rugby tourism, whether you watch a match at Dublin ‘s Aviva Stadium , or join locals around the island in one of theirs.

Switzerland (Extreme Sports)

Switzerland might not excel in many traditional sports, but what it lacks in team prowess, it makes up for in solo sport. This is largely due to the towering Swiss Alps , which have made the country a paradise not only for hiking, mountain climbing and bungee jumping, but also for riskier extreme sports like BASE Jumping, which is illegal ins most of the rest of the world.

sports tourism in brazil

Honorable Mentions

I’ve mentioned some classic examples of sports tourism destinations, but others are worthy of your time and consideration if you’re in the same part of the world, or especially interested in a specific sport:

  • South Korea (Golf)
  • Taiwan (Baseball)
  • India (Cricket)
  • Thailand (Muay Thai boxing)
  • New Zealand (Extreme Sports)

(TIP: If you have any feedback to add about sports tourism, or your personal experience with it, I’d love for you to leave it in a comment below!)

Other FAQ About Sports Tourism

What is active sport tourism.

As its name suggests, active sport tourism is when you travel in order to participate in sports. This can encompass both professional athletes, as well as ordinary travelers, such as aspiring Muay Thai boxers who head to the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

What are the benefits of sports tourism?

For travelers, sports tourism can give a purpose to travel, beyond sightseeing and ticking items off a bucket list. For destinations, sports tourism allows more granular targeting of certain travelers, and maximizes chances of conversion given the generally high enthusiasm of sports tourists.

How can sports tourism be improved?

Sports tourism, like the rest of the travel industry, has a unique opportunity to re-invent itself in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Countries can increase both the quantity of sports tourists, as well as the spending of each, by introducing more opportunities for active sports tourism, and devoting a great budget to the promotion of sports tourism more generally.

The Bottom Line

Sports tourism is an underrated, undeveloped market, but one that’s almost certain to grow in the near future. This is true whether you’re a spectator (how does a baseball game in Japan sound?) or an athlete yourself, be it a rugby player in Ireland to kick it, or an adventure sports enthusiast in Switzerland. As the coronavirus pandemic wanes and borders continue to re-open, traveling for sports is poised to enter a new and exciting phase, particularly with three Olympic games scheduled to take place in the next four years. Where will you go first?

sports tourism in brazil

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Words, images and design ©2009-2024 Robert Schrader, All rights reserved. Read Privacy Policy or view sitemap .

Must Visit Sports Destinations: A Travel Checklist For The Lover Of Sports

1. barcelona, spain.

Barcelona, Spain

2. London, England

London, England

3. Haryana, India

Haryana, India

4. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

5. New York, USA

New York, USA

6. Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil

Rio and Sao Paulo, Brazil

This post was published by Yash Saboo

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11 Most Popular Sports in Brazil

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September 27, 2023

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Most Popular Sports in Brazil

Have you ever explored the vibrant spirit of Brazil?

It’s not just in its Carnival or samba!

When it comes to sports in Brazil, soccer rules supreme.

But what other passions fuel Brazilian enthusiasm?

Uncover the most popular sports in Brazil in our list.

Most Popular Sports in Brazil:

  • Brazilian jiu-jitsu

sports tourism in brazil

Table of Contents

#2 Volleyball

#3 basketball, #4 capoeira, #6 swimming, #7 athletics, #8 handball, #11 brazilian jiu-jitsu, what is the most popular sport in brazil, what is the national sport of brazil, what are the most watched sports in brazil.


  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Brazil: Late 1800s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Brazil: Pelé (Brazilian)
  • 🌍   Estimated Number of Players in Brazil: 13 Million

Soccer, or football, is the undisputed king of sports in Brazil. It’s more than just a sport – it’s an integral part of the country’s culture and identity.

The Campeonato Brasileiro Série A is Brazil’s premier soccer league, where top teams compete fiercely for the national title. No soccer conversation in Brazil would be complete without mentioning Pelé, the legendary player often considered the greatest of all time.

Brazil’s national team, with a record five FIFA World Cup victories, continues to capture the hearts of fans worldwide, solidifying the country’s status as a soccer powerhouse.

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  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Brazil: 1910s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Brazil: Giba (Brazilian)
  • 🌍   Estimated Number of Players in Brazil: 8 Million

Volleyball holds a special place in the hearts of Brazilians. The sport’s dynamic, fast-paced nature draws both casual and dedicated fans.

The Brazilian Superliga is the country’s highest level of volleyball competition, featuring electrifying games and unyielding talent. Giba, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, is a household name and a stellar performer in Brazilian volleyball history.

Both the men’s and women’s national teams have captured numerous international titles, including Olympic golds, making Brazil a dominant force in the world of volleyball.

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  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Brazil: Oscar Schmidt (Brazilian)
  • 🌍   Estimated Number of Players in Brazil: 1.2 Million

Basketball is a popular sport in Brazil, with both players and fans deeply passionate about the game.

The Novo Basquete Brasil (NBB) serves as the top-tier professional men’s basketball league in the country. Oscar Schmidt, a scoring sensation and Olympic legend, ranks as Brazil’s most famous basketball player.

Although the national team’s glory days might currently be in the past, Brazilian basketball remains a thriving sport, with talent development and enthusiasm consistently on the rise.

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  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Invention: 16th Century
  • 🌟 Most Famous Practitioner from Brazil: Mestre Bimba (Brazilian)
  • 🌍   Estimated Number of Practitioners in Brazil: 6 Million

Capoeira, a unique Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music, is deeply rooted in the country’s history and culture.

Developed by African slaves in Brazil, Capoeira has since evolved into a global phenomenon. Mestre Bimba, a pioneer of the modern Capoeira style known as Capoeira Regional, is widely regarded as one of the most influential practitioners.

Though not a traditional competitive sport, Capoeira’s graceful movements and rhythmic flow continue to mesmerize followers, both in Brazil and around the world.


  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Brazil: 1930s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Surfer from Brazil: Gabriel Medina (Brazilian)
  • 🌍   Estimated Number of Surfers in Brazil: 2.5 Million

Surfing is a wildly popular sport in Brazil, thanks to its extensive coastline and world-class waves. The sport’s exhilarating nature and vibrant culture have captivated the nation.

The Brazilian Surfing Championship, or CBSurf, showcases the best local talent, while international competitions like the World Surf League (WSL) draw enthusiastic viewers. Brazilian surfer Gabriel Medina has made a significant mark on the sport, becoming the first Brazilian World Champion in surfing history.

From beautiful beaches to thrilling performances, surfing is undoubtedly an integral element in Brazil’s sporting culture and lifestyle.

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  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Brazil: Early 1900s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Swimmer from Brazil: Cesar Cielo (Brazilian)
  • 🌍   Estimated Number of Swimmers in Brazil: 4 Million

Swimming has long been a favored sport in Brazil, both for fitness and competition. The country boasts numerous promising swimmers who have excelled on the international stage.

The Maria Lenk Trophy is a significant event in Brazil’s swimming calendar, showcasing the nation’s top talents. Cesar Cielo, an Olympic gold medalist and former world record holder, is one of Brazil’s most decorated swimmers.

Brazilians’ passion for swimming continues to grow, inspiring the next generation of athletes to dive into the sport and make their mark globally.

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  • 🌟 Most Famous Athlete from Brazil: Joaquim Cruz (Brazilian)
  • 🌍   Estimated Number of Athletics Enthusiasts in Brazil: 5 Million

Athletics holds a special place in Brazil’s sporting panorama, with countless enthusiasts engaging in various disciplines, from track and field to racewalking.

The Brazilian Athletics Confederation (CBAt) organizes numerous events and championships, nurturing homegrown talents. Joaquim Cruz, an Olympic gold medalist in the 800 meters race, is an inspirational figure for aspiring Brazilian athletes.

Brazil’s participation and achievements in international athletics competitions, such as the Olympics, bolster the nation’s pride and passion for the sport.

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  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Brazil: Eduarda Amorim (Brazilian)
  • 🌍   Estimated Number of Players in Brazil: 500,000

Handball is a growing sport in Brazil, known for its fast-paced gameplay and strategic challenges, which attract a dedicated following.

The Brazilian Handball League serves as the nation’s premier handball competition, featuring intense matchups amongst the country’s best teams. Eduarda Amorim, a standout player nicknamed “Duda,” has garnered international accolades, elevating Brazil’s profile in the handball world.

Whether it’s local championships or international stages such as the Olympics, handball in Brazil continues to capture the nation’s imagination and nurture new talent.

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  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Brazil: 1920s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Judoka from Brazil: Rafaela Silva (Brazilian)
  • 🌍   Estimated Number of Judokas in Brazil: 1 Million

Brazil has a long-standing tradition of embracing martial arts disciplines, and judo is no exception. As a sport that requires focus, discipline, and strategic thinking, it has attracted an expansive populace throughout the country.

The Brazilian Judo Confederation organizes numerous national championships and competitions, fostering talent and growth in the sport. Olympic gold medalist Rafaela Silva stands as one of Brazil’s most notable judokas, inspiring countless athletes to pursue the sport.

Brazil’s success and passion for judo continue to elevate the nation’s global standing as a judo powerhouse.

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  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Brazil: Falcão (Brazilian)
  • 🌍   Estimated Number of Players in Brazil: 2 Million

Futsal, a variant of soccer played on a smaller scale with five players on each team, is especially popular in Brazil. Its fast-paced nature and emphasis on individual skills make it a thrilling sport to both play and watch.

The Liga Nacional de Futsal (LNF) is the premier futsal league in Brazil, featuring exciting match-ups and fierce competition. Brazilian superstar Falcão is widely regarded as one of the greatest futsal players of all time, earning numerous accolades and international recognition.

Brazil’s futsal legacy continues to produce skilled players that captivate fans and elevate the sport on a global scale.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Invention: Early 1900s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Practitioner from Brazil: Gracie Family (Brazilian)
  • 🌍   Estimated Number of Practitioners in Brazil: 1.5 Million

Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a ground-based martial art rooted in judo and Japanese jiu-jitsu, has become a defining symbol of Brazilian sports culture. The art’s cleverness, technique, and adaptability have captivated practitioners and spectators alike.

The Gracie Family, synonymous with the evolution of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, has produced several renowned practitioners, such as Hélio Gracie, Royce Gracie, and Rickson Gracie. Various tournaments and competitions, including the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, showcase the best talents in the sport.

With its widespread appeal and influence, Brazilian jiu-jitsu continues to shape the martial arts landscape not only in Brazil but across the world.

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sports tourism in brazil

Soccer, also known as futebol, is the most popular sport in Brazil, deeply rooted in the nation’s culture and boasting an extensive fan base, with millions passionately supporting local and national teams.

The national sport of Brazil is soccer (futebol), holding a significant position within the country’s cultural and sporting traditions and captivating the hearts of countless Brazilians.

The most watched sports in Brazil include soccer (futebol), volleyball, basketball, mixed martial arts (MMA), Formula 1 racing, and surfing, each drawing substantial viewership and fan interest throughout the country.

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Max is a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. He founded & runs (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton and Mini Golf (competed on national level in Germany), started learning ‘real’ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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8 Fun Activities in Brazil to Keep Adventure-Seekers Busy

by Julia Zaremba - Last updated on May 24, 2023

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Wondering what to do in Brazil? Everyday life in Brazil might seem enough of an adventure, with capoeira presentations on street corners, samba shows on beaches, and daily soap opera episodes on Globo. However, if you want to make your stay in Brazil even more caliente, why not indulge in adventure travel abroad programs in Brazil ? Taking up 47% of South America’s land mass, there’s space for endless Brazil activities that provide adrenaline rushes equal to any neighborhood soccer match.

Adventure travel in brazil activities

Go wild during adventure travel programs in Brazil!

Between the largest river in the world, some of the highest waterfalls, jungle still uncharted, volcanic mountain ranges, and sand dunes perfect for sandboarding, the many extreme ecosystems of Brazil provide a scenic backdrop to all land and water adventures. Considering that the country’s highest mountain peak is shrouded in clouds so high above civilization that it wasn’t even discovered until 1950’s, the chances for geographic and self-discovery are pretty high.

So, test your limits, step out of your comfort zone, and utter a prayer to Christ the Redeemer before jumping out of a plane or throwing straw potatoes on top of your hot dog. Reach new levels of loco with some of these fun activities in Brazil for adventurous travelers!

8 fun recreational activities in Brazil

1. animal conservation.

Adventure travel in brazil activities

We’re macaw-LL about it when it comes to animal conservation in Brazil.

With 64 national park and over 200 conservation programs, there are as many opportunities to get involved with wildlife as there are types of birds in the jungle (hint: it’s a lot). With over four million animal species, Brazil is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries and will give you plenty to gawk at. Not only does Brazil boast the largest diversity of monkey species in the world, but there are pink dolphins and endangered animals that needs your help (cue giant anteaters and otters). Especially appealing to those that love to be active outside and participate in field work, animal work is sure to be a hoot.

  • Recommended program: Mammal Inventory
  • Browse ALL animal conservation programs in Brazil

2. Rainforest Tours

Adventure travel in brazil activities

Rainforest canopy tours will keep your heart thumpin’.

Between fishing for piranhas and swimming with pink river dolphins, the Amazon is guaranteed thrill when it comes to activities to do in Brazil. Before entering this vast territory full of wild beasts and crawly critters, programs offer some sort of orientation and training session of basic jungle survival skills. Then, it’s off to river crossings in canoes, muddy treks, hammock beds, and poison dart frogs sightings. And with hundreds of indigenous tribes tucked away between riverbends, a hospitality stop at a traditional Amerindian community is usually included in the package. Unleash the Tarzan within!

  • Recommended program: Extreme Amazon Survival
  • Browse ALL rainforest tour programs in Brazil

Adventure travel in brazil activities

Get involved in new sports like Capoeira & Footvolley or stick to your old faves, like futebol.

One of the most fun activities in Brazil is cultural immersion! Serving as the nation’s backbone and primary pastime, ‘sports’ are practically synonymous with ‘Brazil’ and program activities come in all ball sizes. Soccer is the main cheer here, but beach volleyball, capoeira, various dance styles, and rugby are strong contestants. Whether you want to train yourself or teach disabled children, there is a sporting opportunity to get your heart rate up. Who knows; you might just meet (or be) the next Pele!

  • Recommended program: Oyster Worldwide
  • Browse ALL sports programs in Brazil

Adventure travel in brazil activities

Surf is literally ALWAYS up in Brazil & no one’s complaining.

With 7,491km of coastline and remarkably beautiful beaches, surfer culture is at high tide and one of the most fun activities in Brazil. Jump on the wave with a surfing program that will test your core and shape your balance! After training sessions and plenty of guided practice, relax barefooted in the sand, capirinha in hand and golden sun overhead. With program lengths flexible and locations ranging form hippie beaches to cosmopolitan backdrops, the pull of the surfer current is strong and always a good option.

  • Recommended program: Rio Surfing Adventure
  • Browse ALL surfing programs in Brazil

Adventure travel in brazil activities

Feeling inspired to make your next great masterpiece is exhilarating!

While at first look, it might not sound like one of the most adventurous activities to do in Brazil, art plays a big part in the Brazilian scene and is anything but dull. With lots of childcare programs and public work opportunities, favelas are a particularly needy area for artwork to keep street urchins out of trouble and in creative outlets. Not only does art unify communities, but it offers much-needed pride to low-income areas that are desperate for culture and attractions. Programs are usually organized as after-school activities, with plenty of time during the day and on weekends to explore the city and hunt for inspiration.

  • Recommended program: GoEco
  • Browse ALL art programs in Brazil

Fresh air, jungle forest, brightly colored birds? These hikes have a payoff like no other.

Boasting 21 UNESCO sites and several extreme ecosystems, there is a wonderful walk for every day abroad. Whether you are looking for a one-day mountain hike or a weeklong trek through the jungle, exploring Brazil on foot is a great way to connect with Madre Tierra. There are volcanic treks, mountain trails, beach walks, and Amazon tours that take you to places otherwise unreachable, which makes this one of the most rewarding (and fun) activities in Brazil. Hikes usually include a knowledgeable guide, transportation to/between trail points, any potential camping equipment, and trekking buddies, so all you have to do is follow the alpha and remember to take plenty of photos on the way!

  • Recommended program: Rosemary Dream
  • Browse ALL hiking programs in Brazil

Adventure travel in brazil activities

Namast-ay here 5ever.

Sometimes, the wildest journey is the one happening inside of you when sitting perfectly still. With cultural influences both from Western and Easterns strands of philosophy- not to mention plenty of indigenous tribes and their own naturalistic beliefs-, there is a rich foundation of spirituality to support internal growth. Daily mindfulness, artistic expression, and connection with nature are prevalent themes in wellness programs, and setting ranges from jungle immersion to island retreats. As muscles are stretched and the mind is disciplined, new strength will glow within and allow you to tackle all adventure activities in Brazil with a calm mind.

  • Browse ALL yoga programs in Brazil

8. Homestay

Adventure travel in brazil activities

Get to know your new lil’ sister during homestay programs in Brazil!

If organized group adventure activities don’t appeal too much, homestay programs are the solution for daily authentic adventures in and outside of the house. Explore the cuisine, traditions, and music of local Brazilians while adopting new overseas families. Every day is an opportunity for cultural immersion, with language practice and culinary treats abound (who would turn down homemade cheese bread?). And with Brazil being the largest lusophone population in the world, there are literally millions of people waiting to be you friend and greet you with a bem vinda!

  • Recommended program: TalkTalkBnb
  • Browse ALL homestay programs in Brazil

9. Study Abroad

Nothing screams adventure travel like the chance to live long term in an exciting Brazilian city and get to know life there as a student abroad. From weekend trips around the region to classes at wineries (yes, this has been known to happen!), knocking out course credits amidst samba festivals and backpacking trips is tough to beat. Trade in your midnight pizza binges for pão de queijo binges and ace that next exam.

  • Recommended program: ISA Study Abroad in Florianópolis, Brazil
  • Browse ALL study abroad programs in Brazil

[Still wondering what to do in Brazil? Browse ALL Brazil Adventure Programs ]

Next steps to adventure travel in brazil.

Now that you have the inside scoop and know where to have the most epic adventures in Brazil, it's time to choose who you want to travel with! Choosing an adventure tour program isn't as hard as it sounds , especially if you follow these steps:

  • Decide where to go. Figuring out where YOU want to adventure in Brazil is paramount. Have a short list of locations that sound ideal for your goals—mountains? Amazon? The coast? Don't let your adrenaline hold you back—choose a place that's right for you.
  • Pick your adventure. Do some reflection on just how much adrenaline you want to get pumpin', and which type of company or organization would best satiate your adventurous appetite.
  • Choose from the best adventure travel abroad programs in the world. Pay attention to past participants’ reviews, program reputation, and how the adventure at stake matches your preferences. Some programs may even share contact info for ambassadors or past participants if you want the REAL dirt. Here are more considerations to make as you figure out how to choose the right adventure tour for you . Pro tip: You can use MyGoAbroad to compare programs side-by-side.
  • Plan your finances. Sort out funding before you go to afford daily essentials and splurge on unplanned travel (in addition to tour costs and airfare). Be sure to raise a little extra money to donate to the organization that you'll be working with. Learning how to raise money for a trip fast will serve you (and your wallet) well!
  • Get prepared! Preparing for backpacking and adventure travel abroad is as fun as it sounds ( eight essential to do's here! ). With the days til departure number dwindling and your excitement boiling, it can be easy to overlook the details. Lean on us to help guide you through your pre-departure process—that's what we're here for.

You’re ready to tackle these Brazil activities!

Adventure travel in brazil activities

With all these Brazil activities within reach, you’re bound to have a blast abroad!

Is your heart pounding yet, just imagining swinging through vines with monkeys and mastering the fast footwork of samba steps? Are your palms sweaty thinking about swimming alongside whales and throwing spears at piranhas? Then you’re on the right track. Recreational activities in Brazil are calling!

Next, ask yourself what can you do in Brazil that would really offer you the time of your life, download an adventure travel guide , then start exploring organizations and select the program that best matches your interests, budget, and time frame . [And thank Brazil for being the largest export of coffee while you’re at it, ‘cuz you’re gonna need it to finish shifting through all of the options and to keep yourself energized while flitting through all of those fun Brazil activities!] 

Throw on some Havaianas , inhale a deep breath, and take a leap of faith into the craziness that is Brazil. Whether you are scaling the tallest volcanic peaks or diving into new depths of underwater caves, there is an adventure waiting just for you; indulge. After all, ¡la vida es un carnaval!

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Seamester is the educational adventure of a lifetime! For more than 40 years, we have offered unparalleled educational voyages where students spend a semester at sea sailing between islands, countries, and even continents. We design our programs to provide engaging learning ex...

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GoEco is one of the world’s top volunteer organizations, with award-winning and ethical programs selected by sustainable travel experts. Since 2006, tens of thousands of volunteers have taken part in projects and internships worldwide, focusing on wildlife and marine conservat...

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Sports Cooperation

By creating ties with other nations and contributing to the promotion of Brazil's image, sport became an important instrument of diplomacy in the 21st Century

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs employs sports diplomacy as a tool to strengthen bilateral relations and to attract and hold sporting mega events in Brazil. In addition, sports diplomacy is essential to promote the services of Brazilian sports professionals abroad and to export products of the Brazilian sports material industry. Created in 2008, the General Coordination for Tourism and Sports is the section at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responsible for these themes.

Brazil experienced a “Decade of Sports”, during which it hosted the Military World Games (2011), the Confederations Cup (2013), the World Cup (2014), the World Indigenous Games (2015), the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games (2016) and the Copa America (2019).

The fact that all these sporting mega events were held in Brazil is an evidence of the country's growing importance in the international community. It is no accident that, in recent years, all BRICS countries have hosted or were chosen to host sporting mega events (Beijing 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games, 2010 World Cup South Africa, Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and 2018 World Cup Russia). In February 2022, the Chinese capital will host the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Sporting mega events represent opportunities for development and social inclusion, in addition to contributing to the fight against racial, ethnic and gender discrimination. They are also instruments for the promotion of peace and cooperation, making use of and strengthening the Brazilian soft power. Brazil has already signed sports cooperation memorandums with more than 70 countries, and the demand for this type of agreement has increased. The theme has also been increasingly present at the multilateral level, and, given Brazil’s visibility as the host country of the world’s major sporting events, the role of the Brazilian diplomacy in these forums have intensified.

Within the United Nations scope, Brazil has co-sponsored General Assembly resolutions for the "Olympic Truce" (A/RES/66/5 and A/RES/68/9) and the resolution for the creation of the "International Day of Sport for Development and Peace" (A/RES/67/77). In 2010, Brazil sponsored resolution A/RES/65/4 on “Sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace".

In the Human Rights Council, the Brazilian Government worked towards approving the resolutions on the “Promotion of the Declaration of Human Rights through Sport and the Olympic ideal” (Resolutions 24/1 and 18/23), holding high-level panels on "Racism and Sport" (October 2013) and on "Promoting Human Rights through Sport and the Olympic Ideal" (February 2012 and 2013). At the opening of the 14th Paralympic Games in London, the Governments of Brazil, the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Korea issued a joint statement linking the Games with the promotion of human rights.

Within the scope of the Organization of American States (OAS), in 2016 Brazil was the proponent, with co-sponsorship from Argentina, of the declaration adopted in plenary “Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games for the Celebration of Peace and Promotion of Development through Sport” (AG/DEC.87) (XLVI-O/16) .

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18 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Brazil

Written by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers Updated May 26, 2022

The largest country in South America, Brazil occupies almost half the continent. Nearly all of it is in the Southern Hemisphere, and much of it is tropical, with vast stretches of rainforest filled with exotic plants and wildlife.

Brazil's 7,400-kilometer Atlantic coast is lined with golden-sand beaches , and its interior is filled with mineral resources. Gold from Brazil's mines still lines the churches of Portugal, the colonial power that ruled Brazil until 1822. This strong Portuguese influence is evident in Brazil's colonial architecture , in decorative arts such as the glazed tiles in its churches and convents, and in the language.

For tourists, Brazil is both a tropical paradise and an exciting cultural destination with attractions for all tastes, from idyllic beach holidays and jungle explorations to world-class art museums and the pulsing rhythms of Rio's Carnival.

To discover the best places to visit and things to do, use this handy list of the top tourist attractions in Brazil.

1. Cristo Redentor and Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro

2. sugar loaf, rio de janeiro, 3. iguaçu falls, 4. copacabana, rio de janeiro, 5. carnaval, rio de janeiro, 7. amazon rainforests, 8. brasília's modernist architecture, 9. salvador's pelourinho, 10. ouro preto, 11. museu do amanhã (museum of tomorrow), 12. ibirapuera park, são paulo, 13. museu oscar niemeyer, curitiba, 14. botanical garden of curitiba, 15. porto de galinhas & pernambuco beaches, 16. art museums of sao paulo, 17. belo horizonte, 18. escadaria selarón.

Cristo Redentor, Rio de Janeiro

With arms outstretched 28 meters, as if to encompass all of humanity, the colossal Art Deco statue of Christ, called Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), gazes out over Rio de Janeiro and the bay from the summit of Corcovado.

The 709-meter height on which it stands is part of the Tijuca National Park , and a rack railway climbs 3.5 kilometers to its top, where a broad plaza surrounds the statue. Completed in 1931, the 30-meter statue was the work of Polish-French sculptor Paul Landowski and Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa, and is constructed of reinforced concrete and soapstone.

The eight-meter base encloses a chapel that is popular for weddings. Although this is one of Brazil's most readily recognized icons, it is often mistakenly called The Christ of the Andes, confused with the older statue marking the boundary between Argentina and Chile.

A mid-point stop on the railway leads to trails through the Tijuca National Park, a huge forest that protects springs, waterfalls, and a wide variety of tropical birds, butterflies, and plants. Several more viewpoints open out within the park.

  • Read More: Top Attractions & Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro

Sugar Loaf, Rio de Janeiro

The easily recognized emblem of Rio de Janeiro, the rounded rock peak of Sugar Loaf juts out of a tree-covered promontory, rising 394 meters above the beaches and city. Its summit is one of the first places to visit for tourists, for views of Rio and the harbor, and for the thrill of riding suspended in a cable car between Sugar Loaf and the Morro da Urca , a lower peak from which a second cableway connects to the city.

Rio's first settlement began below these peaks, near the long Praia da Urca beach, and you can tour one of the three early forts there, the star-shaped Fort São João .

Iguaçu Falls

At the point where Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina meet, the Iguaçu river drops spectacularly in a semicircle of 247 waterfalls that thunder down into the gorge below. Just above the falls, the river is constricted to one-fourth of its usual width, making the force of the water even stronger.

Some of the falls are more than 100 meters high and they cover such a broad area that you'll never see all of them at once, but you do get the broadest panorama from the Brazilian side. Catwalks and a tower give you different perspectives, and one bridge reaches all the way to one of the largest, known as the Garganta do Diabo (Devil's Throat).

You can cross to the Argentinian side for closer views from catwalks that extend farther into the center of the falls. The two sides offer different perspectives and views, so most tourists plan to see both.

The falls are protected by the UNESCO-acclaimed Iguaçu National Park , where subtropical rainforests are home to more than 1,000 species of birds and mammals, including deer, otters, ocelots, and capybaras.

Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro

Downtown Rio's most fashionable and famous section follows Avenida Nossa Senhora de Copacabana and is bordered all along one side by four kilometers of white sand and breaking surf. The beach is separated from the buildings and traffic by a broad promenade paved in black and white mosaic in an undulating pattern reminiscent of streets in Lisbon, Portugal.

The beach isn't just for show. It's also a popular playground filled with sun-worshipers, swimmers, and kids building sand castles whenever the weather is fine. Stroll the streets here to find restaurants, smart shops, cafés, and beautiful old buildings from the days when Rio was Brazil's capital.

One of these, the famed Copacabana Palace , is protected as a national monument. Inside its lobby, you can easily imagine seeing the royalty and film idols who have stayed here.

Carnaval, Rio de Janeiro

Few shows match Rio's pre-Lenten Carnaval (Carnival) extravaganza for color, sound, action, and exuberance. Make no mistake, this is not just another rowdy street party, but a carefully staged showpiece, where spectators can watch the parades of competing samba dancers from a purpose-built stadium designed by none other than Brazil's best-known architect, Oscar Niemeyer.

Called the Sambódromo , this long series of grandstand boxes provides ringside seats to a 700-meter parade route where dancers and musicians from the competing samba schools strut their stuff in a dazzling explosion of brilliant costumes.

If mob scenes are less appealing to you than more spontaneous celebrations (that are equally riotous and colorful), you'll also find Carnivals in Salvador , Bahia, Recife, and other Brazilian cities.

Aerial view of Ipanema and Leblon Beach

Beyond the beaches of Copacabana, the glorious white sands merge into the just-as-famous beaches of Ipanema. The same wave design of Copacabana's wide promenade continues here, separating the sand from the line of hotels, restaurants, cafés, art galleries, and cinemas that make this a popular social zone year-round.

Farther along, beyond the Jardim de Alá Canal, which drains Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, are the beaches of Leblon . With more locals and fewer tourists, these beaches are favorites for families. Sunday is especially busy, with an antiques market at Praça de Quentaland and the Feira de Artesanato de Ipanema , alive with music, art, handcrafts, and street food.

The waves at Ipanema and Leblon can be very strong and unpredictable, so be careful where you swim. Follow the locals and stay out of the water where you don't see others swimming. If surf is what you're looking for, head to the stretch between Copacabana and Ipanema, where the surfers hang out.

Amazon Rain Forest

About 20 kilometers southeast of Manaus, the dark Rio Negro waters meet the light muddy water of the Rio Solimões, flowing side by side for about six kilometers before mixing as the Amazon. Boat trips from Manaus take you to this point, called Encontro das Aguas , meeting of the waters.

Other boat trips take you into the heart of the rainforests and the network of rivers, channels, and lakes formed by the three rivers. In the Rio Negro, the Anavilhanas Islands form an archipelago with lakes, streams, and flooded forests that offer a full cross-section of the Amazonian ecosystem.

You can see monkeys, sloths, parrots, toucans, caimans, turtles, and other wildlife on a boat trip here. Also close to Manaus, the 688-hectare Janauari Ecological Park has a number of different ecosystems that you can explore by boat along its narrow waterways.

An entire lake here is covered with giant water-lilies found only in the Amazon region. While in Manaus, be sure to see its famous Teatro Amazonas , the Italian Renaissance-style opera house, designed to put Manaus on the map as South America's great center of culture.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Manaus

Brasília's Modernist Architecture

Brazil's new city of Brasília was carved out of the wilderness and completed in less than three years to replace Rio de Janeiro as the country's capital in 1960. The ambitious plan by Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer became a showpiece of city planning and avant-garde architecture, and it remains today as one of the world's few cities that represent a completed plan and a single architectural concept.

Without the normal mix of residential and business districts, the entire governmental section is composed of major architectural highlights, which are the city's main tourist attractions . Some of the most striking surround Praça dos Tràs Poderes : the presidential palace, supreme court, and the two sharply contrasting congress buildings, plus the Historical Museum of Brasília and the Panteão da Liberdade (Pantheon of Freedom), designed by Oscar Niemeyer.

That architect's best-known building in the city is the circular Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida , whose curved concrete columns rise to support a glass roof. Another of Niemeyer's landmark works is the Palácio dos Arcos , surrounded by beautiful gardens designed by Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, who worked with Niemeyer on several projects throughout Brazil.

The round Memorial dos Povos Indígenas (Museum of Indigenous People) is patterned after a traditional Yąnomamö round house. But many consider Niemeyer's finest work to be the Monumento JK , a memorial to President Juscelino Kubitschek, the founder of Brasilia. Brasilia has been named a UNESCO World Heritage city.

Salvador's Pelourinho

The Cidade Alta (Upper Town) of Brazil's former colonial capital has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site for its exceptional collection of 17th- and 18th-century colonial buildings, the finest such ensemble in South America.

Called the Pelourinho, this old quarter is where you'll find Salvador's most beautiful churches and monasteries, built at a time when Brazil was the source of Portugal's riches, and the plentiful gold was lavished on the colony's religious buildings.

The finest and most opulent of the city's churches is São Francisco , built in the early 1700s and filled with intricate carvings covered in gold. In the choir and cloister, you can see excellent examples of Portuguese tile panels, called azulejos.

This was the friary church, and next to it is the church of the Franciscan Third Order. It's impossible to miss the riotously carved façade covered in statues and intricate decoration. The interior is just as ornate, surpassing even the Portuguese Baroque in its opulent detail.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Salvador

Ouro Preto

The wealth of Brazil's state of Minas Gerais in its glory days of the colonial period is easy to imagine from the interiors of the churches in its old capital, Ouro Preto. Entire walls are washed in gold that flowed – along with diamonds – from the mines surrounding the city in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Cascading down the sides of a steep valley and surrounded by mountains, Ouro Preto is a jewel of a colonial town, but its steep narrow streets and mountain setting – however captivating for tourists today – didn't meet the needs of a growing provincial capital. The government moved to the newly built capital of Belo Horizonte, leaving Ouro Preto in its time capsule.

The 17th-century Baroque and Rococo churches of São Francisco de Assis and Matriz de Nossa Senhora do Pilar are the best examples, but the entire town is so rich in colonial architecture that Ouro Preto has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The steep streets, so precipitous in places that they become stairways, are lined by gracious colonial mansions, and white churches crown its hills with Baroque bell towers.

Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro

The futuristic architecture of the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro gives a clue about its contents. Thought-provoking exhibits invite visitors to think what the world might be like in the future, exploring scenarios of how our planet may change in the next half century.

Examining these times of fast-moving changes in society, technology, and the physical world, the museum prompts viewers to consider various paths into the future, and how each opens up based on the choices made every day as individuals and as a society.

This eye-catching science museum overlooking the waterfront was designed by Spanish architect and artist, Santiago Calatrava.

Address: Praça Mauá 1, Centro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Ibirapuera Park

The most visited park in South America, Ibirapuera Park is a vast green space designed by Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, with buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer. The park is a showcase for modern architecture and a center for Brazilian culture.

Amid its monuments, gardens, playgrounds, trails, and lakes are museums and performance spaces that include Oscar Niemeyer's Auditório Ibirapuera , one of São Paulo's best concert venues. A Japanese Pavilion with sculptures, clothing, and traditional crafts is set in rock gardens with a fishpond.

The Museu da Aeronáutica e do Folclore , the Aeronautics and Folk Art Museum , features thousands of examples of folk arts and exhibits on traditional cultures from across Brazil. The lower floor is devoted to aeronautical equipment and model airplanes. A separate museum, the large Museu Afro-Brasil , features the culture and history of Afro-Brazilians and their contributions.

Address: Avenida Pedro Alvares Cabral, São Paulo

Oscar Niemeyer Museum

Paving the way for the unconventional building shapes created by later futurist architects such as Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava, Oscar Niemeyer left his native Brazil with a treasury of his most iconic buildings. One of these was built as the New Museum, completed in 2002 when Niemeyer was 95 years old, and renamed in tribute to him in 2003.

Balanced on a massive 60-foot pillar, the gallery is formed by a pair of joined arcs that resemble the shape of the human eye, hence its popular name, Museu do Olho – Eye Museum. Access to this raised structure is by a series of curved ramps. Inside the eye, the 2,000-square-foot gallery focuses on architecture, design, and the visual arts, and displays many of Niemeyer's works.

Niemeyer added a later rectangular gallery on the grounds to display changing exhibitions of works by contemporary Brazilian artists. In addition to visiting during its daytime open hours, try to see the Museu Oscar Niemeyer after dark, when it is spectacularly lighted.

Address: Rua Marechal Hermes 999, Curitiba

Botanical Garden of Curitiba

Reflecting the style of 17 th - and 18 th -century French palace gardens, Curitiba's Botanical Garden was opened in 1991. Formal beds are outlined by low sculpted hedges, in a geometric design inspired by the city's flag. The landscape is enlivened by fountains, waterfalls, and ponds, and in the park surrounding the gardens are forests of native trees, with walking paths.

The focal point of the botanical gardens is the main greenhouse, an Art Nouveau-style conservatory made of glass and white metal, reminiscent of the Crystal Palace in Victorian London. Its unusual shape includes three domes that merge into the rectangular base. Inside are plants native to the region.

Even the grass in the Garden of Native Plants of Curitiba is a native variety, and its flowers are especially attractive to butterflies and other pollinators. The Garden of the Senses (Jardim das Sensações) is a 200-yard path through a wisteria tunnel, where the more than 70 plant species are chosen for their fragrance or tactile appeal. Visitors are invited to try walking through it blindfolded to fully appreciate the garden by using their other senses.

Behind the main greenhouse is the Frans Krajcberg Cultural Space, displaying more than 100 large sculptures created from the remains of trees that were burned or illegally cut, calling public attention to the destruction of Brazil's native forests.

Pernambuco Beaches

The crystal waters, tall palm trees, and broad stretches of silver sand are only a few of the reasons why Porto de Galinhas is frequently cited as Brazil's best beach. For a country with more than 7,000 kilometers of Atlantic coast, much of it sandy beaches, that's saying a lot.

The town stretching along the beach is laid-back, colorful, and just the right blend of old-fashioned beach town fun and chic boutiques. Its hotels and resorts lie close to the land instead of soaring in high-rise blocks.

Jangadas, picturesque sailboats, will take you out to reef-top pools where brilliant tropical fish swim around your feet in ankle-deep water. You can also take a boat to a lagoon where tiny seahorses swim, and you can scuba dive to explore impressive coral reefs or shipwrecks, kayak in the lagoons and estuary, or buy a fanciful kite from a beach kiosk to fly in the steady breeze. Nearby Maracaipe is popular with surfers.

Porto de Galinhas is just one of the beautiful beaches on Pernambuco's 187-kilometer coast. Closer to Recife, 17th-century Olinda is a UNESCO World Heritage Site overlooking a popular beach. The main beaches in Recife itself are Praia da Boa Viagem, São José da Coroa Grande, and the Carne De Vaca.

Art Museums of Sao Paulo

São Paulo holds some of the best collections of fine arts in Latin America, and the buildings in which they are housed are architectural landmarks as well. The Museu de Arte, MASP, displays the continent's most comprehensive collection of western art, with representative works by artists from the Renaissance through modern masters.

There are 73 bronze sculptures by Degas and works by Renoir, Manet, Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, and Miró. From its beginning, the museum has concentrated on works of mid- to late-20th-century artists, and the building designed by architect Lina Bo Bardi is a Modernist landmark.

Oscar Niemeyer designed the Pavilhão da Bienal de Artes in Ibirapuera Park , home to the Museu de Arte Contemporânea. More than 8,000 works of art - one of Latin America's largest collections of 20th-century Western artists - includes Picasso, Chagall, Kandinsky, Miró, and Modigliani along with major Brazilian painters.

Set above Versailles-inspired formal gardens, Museu do Ipiranga houses paintings and decorative arts.

For another kind of art, don't miss Batman's Alley , an open-air gallery of street art by local and international artists. It is in the bohemian Vila Madalena neighborhood, where you'll also find art galleries showing the works of well-known and rising Brazilian artists and craftspeople.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in São Paulo

Praca da Liberdade, Belo Horizonte

The capital of the state of Minas Gerais gave the pre-eminent Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer his first commissions, and today, these early Niemeyer buildings draw tourists and fans of Modernist architecture to the city.

His first major work, which immediately set him apart from conventional architects, was the parabolic-curved São Francisco de Assis church, beside a lake in the Pampulha neighborhood. On the hillside above it, and connected by gardens designed by landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, is Niemeyer's earlier casino building, now an art museum.

Overlooking the large Praça da Liberdade in the city center is the sinuous apartment building, Edificio Niemeyer , one of his most famous early works. The clean geometric lines of his later Palácio das Artes mark the edge of the Municipal Park, housing the Minas Gerais Craft Center featuring works of contemporary craftsmen.

The postmodern Rainha da Sucata – Queen of Scrap Iron – is another landmark building in Belo Horizonte, this one the work of Éolo Maia and Sylvio Podestá. It now houses the mineralogy museum.

Read More: Top Attractions & Things to Do in Belo Horizonte & Easy Day Trips

Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro

For 13 years, until his death in 2013, Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón covered the long stairway that formed the street in front of his house with a mosaic of colorful ceramics and glass fragments. Broken tiles and pottery, mirrors, and colored glass were worked into exuberant designs that largely feature the colors of the Brazilian flag.

Selarón called this "my tribute to the Brazilian people," and as the work grew year by year, people began bringing him shards to incorporate. First these were from his Santa Tereza neighbors, then as the fame of the stairway spread, contributions came from all over the world. Now more than 60 countries are represented in the 250 colorful steps.

Address: Rua Manuel Carneiro (off Rua Joaquim Silva), Rio de Janeiro

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What it is : Sports tourism is a type of tourism activity which refers to the travel experience of the tourist who either observes as a spectator or actively participates in a sporting event generally involving commercial and non-commercial activities of a competitive nature.

Why it Matters : Sports tourism is a fundamental axis, generating around 10% of the world’s expenditure on tourism. It has an estimated growth rate of 17.5% between 2023-2030, moving masses intra and intercontinentally. Sports tourism can promote social, economic and environmental action, it accelerates development and can leave a long-lasting positive legacy.

Sports and Tourism are interrelated and complementary. Today, sports tourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors in tourism. More and more tourists are interested in sport activities during their trips whether sports are the main objective of travel or not. Sport events of various kinds and sizes attract tourists as participants or spectators and destinations try to add local flavours to them to distinguish themselves and provide authentic local experiences. Mega sport events such as the Olympics and World Cups can be a catalyst for tourism development if successfully leveraged in terms of destination branding, infrastructure development and other economic and social benefits.

Sport Tourism - Surf

Sports Tourism Events

sports tourism in brazil

1 st World Sports Tourism Congress

Sport Congress 02

2 nd World Sports Tourism Congress

UNWTO International Conference on Tourism and Sports

UNWTO International Conference on Tourism and Sports

sports tourism in brazil

UNWTO / South Africa International Summit on Tourism, Sport and Mega-events


3rd World Sports Tourism Congress

3 rd World Sports Tourism Congress (more information coming soon)


Sport & Tourism

Sport & Tourism

Sport and Tourism are two driving forces for the promotion and sustainable economic development of tourism destinations. To better understand the links between tourism and sport and to increase the awareness of the benefits of their joint contributions, UNWTO and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) jointly organized the First World Conference on Sport and Tourism in Barcelona on 22-23 February 2001. This publication contains the studies prepared for the Conference as well as the speeches delivered there.

Sport & Tourism

Sport Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Tourism can contribute to sustainable development and the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This overview illustrates how sport tourism can contribute to the SDGs and what needs to be considered when developing sport tourism to ensure its contribution to sustainable development. The comparative strength of sport tourism lies in: Engagement in physical activities; Opportunities for interactions; and High development potential almost anywhere. Thanks to these characteristics, sport tourism can play an important role in achieving various SDGs if developed with consideration.

Maximizing the Benefits of Mega Events for Tourism Development

Maximizing the Benefits of Mega Events for Tourism Development

A mega event benefits a host destination in terms of attracting visitors to the event and drawing global attention to the destination. However, in addition to such short-term benefits, it can be a catalyst for longer-term tourism development in various aspects from economic to social. This publication on Maximizing the Benefits of Mega Events for Tourism Development provides practical references on what a host destination can do to fully leverage the event opportunity for tourism development with a variety of illustrative cases. Although the report refers to insights from mega events, the practical references can be applied to any scale of events in any destination.

Walking Tourism – Promoting Regional Development

Walking Tourism – Promoting Regional Development

Walking tourism is now one of the most popular ways to experience a destination. It allows tourists to better engage with local people, nature and culture. It also meets the growing demand of travellers of outdoor activities in general, including when they travel. Walking tourism can be developed anywhere as a sustainable tourism offer with a relatively small investment. It can bring about social and economic benefits to residents and communities if properly developed and managed. This report showcases various successful examples of walking tourism and aims to serve as a practical reference for destinations with a focus on the role of walking tourism in regional development.

Sports Tourism in Latin America

Sports Tourism in Latin America

Tourism and sport are key cultural elements of today’s world and have significant impact on modern society and international tourism. With this in mind, the WTO has carried out a new study aimed at providing a more complete analysis of the role that sports tourism and sports in general among the products offered in Latin America by European tour operators and tourism websites.

Sport and Tourism – Introductory Report

Sport and Tourism – Introductory Report

Sport and Tourism have a major socio-economic impact, appreciated in most civilian societies and increasingly recognized by governments. This is one of the many conclusions of this report which was prepared for the First World Conference on Sport and Tourism jointly organized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and WTO.After developing a theoretical framework for the system of Sport and Tourism and analysing the future trends of sport and sports tourism this report looks at the different socio-economic impacts of sport and tourism and how they can be managed best.

Sport Activities during the Outbound Holidays of the Germans, the Dutch & the French

Sport Activities during the Outbound Holidays of the Germans, the Dutch & the French

The World Tourism Organization (WTO) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) prepared this study on the level and characteristics of the sport activities engaged in during holidays abroad. Germany, the Netherlands and France were chosen for this study. These countries ranked among the leaders in terms of international tourism expenditure in 1999. Even though this study does not cover all the major generating markets, we are sure that it gives a clear picture of the importance of sport activities in tourism, and it makes many suggestions. This study also deals with many practical aspects, e.g.: length of stay, expenditure, seasonal demand, booking patterns, accommodation, and consumer profiles such as gender, age, social status, and area of residence.

The 8 Most Adventurous Things to Do in Brazil

sports tourism in brazil

Astrid was the Senior Special Projects Editor at TripSavvy.

sports tourism in brazil

Need a break from the glitz and glamour of Rio? There are astoundingly diverse activities for travelers to do in Brazil, and adventure travelers, in particular, can find plenty to love in the country's more remote regions. Destinations like the Amazon rainforest and the Pantanal wetlands may require more travel time, but for those seeking true adventure in one of the world's most beautiful places, your efforts will be rewarded.

In a country so large, travelers can have their pick of mountains, land or sea, as well as the opportunity to get up close to some of South America's most amazing flora, fauna, and wildlife. These adventurous excursions are perfect for adventurous travelers looking for authentic experiences off the beaten path. Just don't forget your bug spray.

Explore the Pantanal Wetlands

 Chris VR / TripSavvy

While the Amazon gets most of the attention for adventure destinations in Brazil, there are other areas that offer a stunning level of biodiversity as well. The Pantanal is one of the largest wetland regions in the entire world, featuring a dizzying array of flora, fauna, and wildlife. Covering more than 55,000 square miles, the region is home to more than 1000 species of birds, over 400 fish and reptiles, as well as 300 different mammals, such as the puma and the tapir. The region has seen a sudden rise in interest in Brazil thanks to the 2022 revival of the '90s telenovela "Pantanal," following the trials and tribulations of a Brazilian family living in the wetlands. If you visit, you'll have plenty of family-owned eco-lodges to choose from, like the beloved Hotel Fazenda Baía das Pedras , which allows visitors to explore the surrounding wetlands, savanna, and rainforest that all come together to create the Pantanal. 

Visit the Amazon

There are few destinations on the planet that conjure up clearer images of adventure than the Amazon rainforest—and it's a classic for a reason. Both a massive river and jungle, the Amazon is home to some of the most unique and distinct plant and animal life on the planet, making it an easy destination to recommend to travelers. Brazil provides some of the best access to the rainforest with the city of Manaus serving as a gateway to the region itself. Take a boat or canoe out onto the Amazon River to spot the legendary river dolphins that frequent the area or spend a night at a local eco-lodge to experience the forest first hand. Of course, no visit to Manus is complete without dropping by the legendary Opera House as well. 

Go Hiking in Serra da Canastra National Park

Located in the southeastern region of Brazil, the Serra da Canastra National Park is radically different from the wetlands of the Amazon or the Pantanal. Huddled in the Canastra Mountains, the park is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to an array of beautiful waterfalls. Hiking trails wander across the remote landscapes, with plenty of small streams and rivers flowing nearby. The treks can actually be quite strenuous with lots of climbing and descending, with some beautiful views to be taken in along the way. The best part is that the park is seldom visited, even by locals, so chances are you might have trail completely to yourself depending on when you visit. 

Go Diving on Fernando de Noronha

Just off the northeast coast of Brazil is an archipelago by the name of Fernando de Noronha. Made up of 21 small islands, this beautiful destination is a national marine sanctuary and one of the best places to go diving and snorkeling in Brazil. Highlights include deep canyons, several shipwrecks, and a wild dolphin colony that stays permanently rooted to the area. You'll also spot rays, turtles, reef sharks, and countless other colorful tropical fish that call the region home. The pristine waters often offer visibility to more than 50 meters in depth, which only helps to enhance the experience even further. 

Snorkel in Bonito

Giordano Cipriani / Getty Images

Bonito is tucked away in the corner of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, a three hour drive from the largest city of Campo Grande. Yet despite being so far from the coast, some of the country's most incredible underwater activities can be found in this eco-minded community. That's because this region takes its commitment to sustainability seriously, mandating that its highly regulated excursions to natural features be limited to small numbers of travelers at a time, even before the pandemic. If you're visiting, snorkeling in the Rio da Prata ecological center is a must—but be sure to book in advance.

Surf Florianópolis

Blessed with an abundance of coastline, Brazil is an excellent place to go surfing for both experts and beginners alike. Few places can compare to the town of Florianópolis however, where you'll find excellent swells all year round. The region offers 42 different beaches, each with its own distinct culture and feel, allowing you to find the place that best suits your level of experience and vibe. Beginners will find plenty of places to rent gear and get lessons, while the more advanced surfers should head to Joaquina Beach to test their skills. Either way, the results will be the same. A wholly fulfilling surf experience paired with excellent restaurants and a thriving nightlife. This is Brazil after all. 

Explore the Caves of Chapada Diamantina

jeilson / Getty Images

One of the most beautiful and expansive national parks in Brazil, Chapada Diamantina offers challenging hiking and rock climbing opportunities for those chasing otherworldly vistas—there's a reason it's known as Brazil's "Lost World." If you're planning a trip, you will certainly need several days to explore all it has to offer. Dedicate at least one of those days to the national park's enchanting blue water caves, like Gruta Azul. Formed by underground rivers and erosion, the water here get its intense sapphire blue color from mineral deposits. To explore these caves you’ll need a guide, so it's best to research a few tours in advance, such as Amazon Adventures .

Kiteboard in Jericoacoara

Fred Cardoso / Getty Images

This tiny village's pristine coastline and steady wind have made it a must-visit for kiteboarding lovers around the world. Adventure seekers fill its shores during prime wind season, July through January. The winds here are suitable for both beginner and advanced kiteboarders, with lighter wind conditions easily found in the morning and towards the end of the day. The winds blow until the sun goes down, and the water is just as welcoming as the weather. After a day spent catching waves, kick back and enjoy a stunning sunset at the top of the 200 foot sand dune that overlooks the town. You deserve it.

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What Is Sports Tourism?

Sports Tourism

While sports tourism has not always been extremely popular, it is definitely on the rise.  A recent report estimates the value of the global sports tourism market was $587.87 billion in 2022.  The industry is expected to grow at a rate of 17.5% through 2030.  The popularity of events like the Olympic Games, the NBA, and the FIFA World Cup have contributed to this growth.  While these events have economic short-term benefits for an area, they can be a catalyst for longer-term tourism development opportunities.

In 2004, the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) and the International Olympic Committee issued a joint statement that illustrates the strong dynamic between sport and tourism, “Tourism and sport are interrelated and complementary. Sport – as a professional, amateur or leisure activity – involves a considerable amount of travelling to play and compete in different destinations and countries. Major sporting events, such as the Olympic Games, football and rugby championships and auto racing have become powerful tourism attractions in themselves – making a very positive contribution to the tourism image of the host destination.”

What are the Different Types of Sport Tourism?

There are actually four primary types of sport tourism. These include:

  • Event-based tourism : Sports event tourism involves traveling to another city or country to watch a sport event.  Examples of sports tourism in this category include traveling to watch major sporting events like the Olympics or the Super Bowl.
  • Active sport tourism :  This form of sports tourism revolves around actually participating in a sport while visiting a destination.  Some travelers choose tourism destinations known for a specific sport or outdoor activity.  Examples of active sports tourism include surfing in Hawaii or skiing in Colorado.
  • Sports heritage tourism : Sports heritage tourism involves visiting places with historical significance to sports.  Examples might include visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame in New York, Camp Nou in Barcelona, or a sports museum.
  • Sports-themes cruises or tours :  These organized trips combine travel with a sporting event or activity.  Examples include cruises for people who love to play tennis or tours that take sports fans to different stadiums around the world.

Technology is Key

sports tourism in brazil

While the technological advances in recent years may not have appeared to make a huge impact on the sport industry, they most certainly have. Sports fans can purchase tickets online through various admissions sites, access which was not available a decade ago.

People are also more aware of when and where the games and competitions will take place in advance.  Fans are able to prepare for the cost and time that is needed to be able to attend mega sport events. Sport tourism has not only managed to find a place in the technological industry, but it has increased because of it.

Tourism Consumers

The types of sports tourism consumers vary from sport to sport. The most generalized statistics are that most sports tourists are males between the ages of 18 and 34, and they are in the middle-class economic groups. Delving deeper into the study will help to get a more accurate statistical rank on class, status and age. For example, cricket and rugby fans are generally older and have more disposable income than basic football and basketball fans. While different sports have different sports tourism consumers, all sports have taken a popularity increase in recent years.

Simplifying the Term

Sports tourism is not difficult to figure out. Sports tourism refers to the act of traveling specially for the purpose of enjoying sports in one way or another.  For example, one who travels from Chicago to Houston with the goal of seeing the Houston Texans play is considered a sports tourist . However long or short the trip is does not define the tourism part. The defining factor is whether or not the person is traveling to see a sports competition or traveling with another agenda. If one travels from Chicago to Houston in order to visit family, but happens upon tickets to the Texans game, said individual is not considered a sports tourist, because the main agenda was to visit family.

Related Resource: Sports Medicine Jobs

While the sports tourism industry has gained popularity in recent years, one must stop and consider what it really is and why it has become so popular among the sports fan crowds. Not only has it managed to steadily increase each year, but it has also taken a spot among the top reasons for traveling and vacationing. It appears as though more and more people are using their well-earned vacations to see their favorite players in action. So, what is sport tourism ? Sports tourism refers to an industry that combines a passion for sports with the desire to explore new destinations and experiences.  This creates a memorable and immersive sports related experience.

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Brazil: ad spend in culture, leisure, sports & tourism 2016-2018

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sport tourism (4)

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The European market potential for sports tourism

Sports tourism is a very diverse market. Sports events fans, as well as group and individual participation in sports are important niches. Before the COVID-019 pandemic, sports tourism was one of the largest growth markets. We expect many opportunities to reappear as travel restrictions are lifted. This is especially true for individual participation in sports, which contributes the most to sustainable and stable revenues.

Contents of this page

  • Product description
  • What makes Europa an interesting market for sports related tourism?
  • Which European countries offer most opportunities for sports related tourism?
  • Which trends offer opportunities on the European sports related tourism market?

1. Product description

Sports tourism involves travel to watch, practice or compete in a sporting activity or event. It can be segmented into nine niche markets.

Table 1: Niche market within the sports tourism sector

Source: Molgo/ CBI

This study does not address walking tourism .

A sports tourism trip is defined as a holiday for the purpose of watching a major sporting event, such as the Olympic Games, or participating in an organised sporting event or activity, as part of a group or as an individual. The sports tourism trip consists of three specialist niches:

  • attenders of mega sports events
  • group participation in sports
  • individual sports participants

Figure 1: The niches, specialist niches and passion groups of sports tourism

The niches, specialist niches and passion groups of sports tourism

Source: CBI

This study provides an overview of sports tourism as mentioned in figure 1, but mainly focuses on sports tourism trips. Some niches, such as cycling tourism , diving tourism and wellness tourism , are covered in separate CBI studies.

2. What makes Europa an interesting market for sports related tourism?

The organization of sports events can stimulate tourism. Hosting events will attract sporters and spectators. A large share of these spectators will use the opportunity to spend money at your destination. They will eat in your restaurants, sleep in your accommodations and participate in the culture, adventure or nature trips you provide. The benefits of sports tourism are thus not limited to the host of the event. They help the entire community. Collaboration between hosts of sports events and providers of tourism is therefore important.

European sports tourists are very interested in immersive experiences. In general, they are very active travellers. They are therefore likely to want to get to know your country and enjoy all kinds of side activities. This offers opportunities for tour operators who provide cultural tourism , adventure tourism and nature tourism as well.

In the coming years, sports tourism from Europe is expected to grow, especially for participants and their families. Globally, the annual growth rate has been estimated at 35%. This growth is due largely to an increased feeling amongst Europeans that they are responsible for their own health. The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated this need to work on personal health.

Another advantage of attracting sports tourists is that these tourists tend to spend more money than the average tourist does in the destination country. Sports tourism offers year-round activities, leading to a more balanced stream of revenue throughout the year. It also stimulates sports for locals. Investment in sports tourism further helps to improve the domestic sports infrastructure in the destination.

Sports tourism represents about 10% of the global expenditure on tourism . According to VynZ research, Europe had the largest market in the global sports tourism industry in 2019 , followed by North America. The global sports tourism market was valued at €1.5 billion in 2018 and was expected to grow to close to €7 billion by 2023, which is an average annual growth rate of 36%, making it the fastest growing tourism market.

Opportunities within niche market s

The opportunities in outbound sports-tourism trips from Europe vary by niche market and by specialist niche market. Table 2 provides an indication of the size of these markets by describing the share of European tour operators offering trips within these niches.

Table 2: Niche market within sports tourism

Source: ETFI, 2021

This section describes opportunities for all niche markets, as well as for some specialist niche markets.

Water sports

Europeans are interested in many different water sports, both as a main activity and as a side activity. Two specialist niches that offer many opportunities are surf tourism and canoeing/kayaking.

Most surfers visit single destinations, from which they visit several different beaches. Surfing tourists generally spend a large portion of their money at the destination. You can profit from this by offering the basics, such as surf courses, surfing gear rentals, food, beverages and accommodations. Many surfers are also interested in side activities (e.g. snorkelling), wellness (e.g. yoga and meditation) and cultural trips to nearby towns (including fishing areas). In addition to excellent waves, many European surfers prefer to avoid large crowds. For more information, read our study on surf tourism from Europe .

Canoeing and kayaking offer opportunities mainly as primary or secondary activities. One example of canoeing as a primary activity is a 13-day safari along the Zambesi River . Many Europeans enjoy the opportunity to combine physical exercise with true immersion in nature. When offering these activities, it is very important to be specific about the level of fitness and experience required, as well as to provide sufficiently specific details about the length of the trail and the materials provided. As an alternative, many trips include a trip of several hours in a kayak or canoe as a secondary activity. 

Important aspects to consider when providing water sports include safety measures, safety protocols and expertise.

Snorkelling and diving

Snorkelling and diving tours are also very popular with European tourists. Operators can provide them as either a main activity or a side activity. The disappearance of coral reefs has increased both the demand for visiting coral reefs and the importance of protecting them. Informing your customers about how to behave underwater is therefore very important. For more information, read our study on dive tourism .

Figure 2: A beautiful, well-preserved underwater environment can attract many tourists.

A well-preserved, beautiful underwater environment

Source: photo by Leonardo Lamas on Pexels

Fishing tourism

Fishing tourism can take place in either fresh water or sea water, and from either a boat or the coast. Incorporating sustainability into your fishing tour is a must for many Europeans. You can do this in many ways. The following are several examples:

  • Provide jobs to fishery workers who have lost their jobs (due to overfishing), thereby giving back to the community.
  • Do not fish in areas that are important for breeding, thereby giving nature the opportunity to replenish itself.
  • Eat your catch as a replacement for the meat or fish that tourists would otherwise consume.
  • Release your catch, unless it is an invasive species.
  • Take measures to reduce litter.

Germany has about 1.73 million anglers who hold fishing permits, more than 3 million people who have fished at least once, and 174 thousand recreational sea fishers.

The United Kingdom has around 823,000 sea anglers. The number of fresh-water anglers is unknown. The Netherlands has about 1.12 million anglers, including 500,000 who occasionally fish in the sea. This represents 6.4% of the population, which is a very high ratio compared to other European source countries.

More statistics and other information on angling in European countries is available on the website of the European Anglers Alliance .

Golf tourism

According to GlobeNewsWire, Europe has the largest global golf market , with a 44% market share. The UK has the largest source market in Europe. Interesting trends in the golf market include an increasing market share of female golfers and younger golfers (Generations Y and Z) who are taking more interest in the sport.

Adrenaline activities

Adrenaline activities include many different groups with a passion for specific activities, like rock climbing, mountain boarding, caving, ziplining, heli-biking, snow kiting, snow shoeing, base jumping, wing suiting, bungee jumping, paragliding and many more.

Because all of these activities have the potential to be dangerous without the proper experience, you will need highly experienced staff to organize them. One country that has been very successful with adrenaline activities is Laos, which features two as national highlights. The first experience is tubing in Vang Vieng , where tourists follow the flow of a wild river in a tube. The ticket price includes a tube, as well as a tuk-tuk ride back to town. The second activity is the Gibbon Experience , which offers the opportunity of ziplining from mountain to mountain, with a chance of encountering gibbons.

Some adrenaline activities, including ziplining and tubing, are often side activities. Others attract athletes who are training and preparing at home for these holidays (e.g. rock climbing).

Cycling tourism

Cycling tourism is a growth market, driven by trends including slow and conscious travel, the urge to connect with nature, and the desire to travel sustainably. The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the growth of cycling tourism. Tour cycling is the largest segment within the European market for cycling tourism. The largest source markets for cycling tourism are Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

Several trends in the market for cycling tourism include the increased use of social media and blogs to spark inspiration for trips, the increased popularity of bike-packing and the desire for local experiences and immersion in nature. More information is available in our studies on opportunities in the European market for cycling tourism.

Ski tourism

For ski tourism, the landscape is the most important feature for selecting a destination. Although skiing is obviously the main activity on a ski holiday, many travellers also combine it with off-ski activities, such as wellness services, activities for children, and walking.

Dog-sled rides (68%), outdoor hot baths (67%) and sampling local products (54%) are all very appealing activities for French ski tourists.

One alternative to regular (downhill) skiing is cross-country skiing. While regular skiing is most popular with younger target groups, cross-country skiing tends to appeal to travellers 45 years of age and older.

Running tourism

Running tourism, or ‘runcations’, includes trips as a spectator for a running, competition, travel to participate in a running competition (e.g. a marathon), or travel to run trails without any competitive aim. To tap into this market, you could target the runners coming to visit or join a competitive event, or you could organize your own trail. When organizing running trails, it is essential to transport luggage for the runners. Many companies also provide running guides. Most long-distance running trails are sold through specialized tour operators. One example is a running trail through the mountains of Patagonia .

Fans of mega sports events

Mega sports events make up a substantial part of the sports tourism market. Some of the biggest sports events, such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games, provide great opportunities. In terms of tourism development, these events can be catalysts of economic opportunities, when there is proper use of destination branding and infrastructure development.

Many mega sports events are highly unsustainable from a tourism perspective. Some lead to over-tourism , but only for a very short period of time. Others require a lot of infrastructure that is soon abandoned afterwards. One more sustainable manner of coping with these high numbers of visitors in a short period is to accommodate some visitors with locals. Many visitors are likely to consider it appealing to live with locals for a few days to gain better insight into the culture of the destination country.

The actual game or event is not always the main objective for travellers who visit mega-sports events. Some events that do not qualify as mega-events (e.g. Wimbledon) also attract many travellers for their heritage and traditional value. Other events, like the Super Bowl, attract people for commercial and business purposes.

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and Europeans start travelling again, the number of spectators at mega-sports events is likely to continue to lag behind. Such events attract large numbers of people, thus providing an opportunity for the virus to spread freely . In addition, flying to long-haul destinations just to visit a sports event is not consistent with the trends of slow and sustainable travel.

Figure 3: Example of a spectator event in South Africa

Example of a spectator event in South Africa

Source: Flickr

Group participation in sports

Within group participation in sports, two different target groups can be distinguished: recreational sports teams and semi-professional athletes.

Recreational sports teams are groups that consist of a team, or in some cases an athlete, a coach and family members. The group is usually a team in team sports, like soccer, rugby, basketball, and others. The trips may either be organised by sports clubs, charity sports events or educational institutions, like schools and universities. European sports teams usually have very limited budgets, so they tend to travel domestic or within Europe. When travelling, these sports teams usually make use of their connections to arrange accommodation and transportation. Therefore, recreational sports teams can often be framed in the category of friends, family and relatives tourism . Destination countries where travel costs are low have most opportunity to seize this market. There are also opportunities for cross-selling, as most teams will also be interested in other tourism activities, such as short trips to the main touristic attractions.

Besides sport teams, professional athletes also offer an interesting market. Since these athletes tend to travel with their staff, they normally book as a group. Therefore, even athletes in individual sports, like tennis players, can be included in group participation. Although they are small in number, professional and semi-professional athletes tend to travel a lot for training as well as for competition. They have high demands for locations, as well as for comfort.

Some semi-professional athletes also bring their families on their trips. This target group is mostly interested in accommodation, transportation and sporting facilities, but may sometimes they also combine the sports trip with leisure activities and short trips. In recent years, it has become more common for professional and semi-professional athletes to bring family members with them. This is due in part to a trend in which working online and working while travelling has become common. Partners can keep working while travelling with their partners.

Because professional athletes travel a lot, they normally only work with a few suppliers to arrange their accommodation.

Individual sports participation

Individual sports participants include recreational participation in individual sports like marathon, triathlon and charity sport events, such as the Big Five Marathon in South Africa, which combines a marathon with a safari vacation. There are other events that have both professional and amateur athletes competing in the same event, such as the Kilimanjaro Marathon and Uganda Marathon . Small-scale events create the most positive social effects for locals and improve the image of host cities. Individual sports participants can also be classified in the free independent travellers category.

In addition to the ones above, e-sports also have very large fanbases. IN 2020 alone, e-sports are expected to create a global revenue of €1.3 billion . The fanbases for these sports consists mostly of people who also play electronic games, but on a recreational or sub-competitive level. Fans of e-sports fans vary widely in age, but mostly between the ages of 13 and 40. E-sports are a good target group for pulling in outbound tourists, as more than 70% of the visitors of these events are not local.

One new phenomenon in e-sports is the ‘game hotel’ ( e.g. EBlue ). A game hotel provides all facilities for gamers to prepare for their new tournament. It also provides the opportunity for e-sporters to meet with each other, as well as options for bringing fans and e-sporters in contact with other.

Especially when travelling to long-haul destinations, most amateur sport participants are interested in leisure-time side activities as well, either with or without their families. This offers opportunities to package sports tourism trips with other activities. One example is GlobalRunning, which offers the possibility of running a marathon and combining it with a city trip . They also offer possibilities for extend the trip with customized offerings.

Many travellers do not see a sports event as a principal reason for traveling, but they still seek involvement in competitive or non-competitive sports while travelling. Those events are most of the time loosely structured, non-competitive and socially connected. Most people within this market are physically active at home and want to continue to be while they are travelling for business or leisure.

Figure 4: Most surf tourists are independent travellers

Most surf tourists are independent travellers

Source: photo by Jess Loiterton via Pexels

Examples of developing country tourism companies focusing on sports include:

  • Hooked Cabarete  in the Dominican Republic – This company targets surfers by blogging about surfing on websites visited by the European surfing community. They primarily offer accommodation, but also provide surfing gear and courses in collaboration with other companies. For more information on opportunities in this niche, read our study on surf tourism .
  • Chairn Muay Thai Camp in Thailand – This company offers muay thai training as well as accommodations, but they also sell gear. Another example in the same category is Viator , where a muay thai champion gives lessons to all ages and skills.
  • Aquanaut Diving Club  in Egypt – This company offers diving courses and underwater safaris, but also rents diving gear. For more information on opportunities in this niche, ready our study on diving tourism .
  • EdwinDoran – This is an international organisation based in the UK and South Africa that offers sports tours to many countries, including Malaysia and South Africa. Besides training facilities, they also offer excursions and accommodation.
  • Write blogs or create vlogs to attract sports tourists. Many European sports tourists are active in online communities, such as Wikiloc ,  More Dirt (for mountain bikers), and  Snorkelling Report (for snorkelling). In addition to websites, many apps gather large communities of sports enthusiasts, like  RouteYou  (for hiking and cycling, but also for canoeing and other sports).
  • Focus on the age group between 15 and 39. Europeans in this age category participate most in sports . Although their budgets are generally smaller, students also offer an interesting market, because they participate most in sports, in comparison with other people , and are often open-minded and curious, which makes them a great group of first customers.
  • Communicate with your target group in a way that appeals to them. Ideally, check your communication with your clients. Active sports participants give value to achievement, stimulation, power, and self-direction. While conformity, tradition, and security resonate more with sports fans and passive participants.
  • Organise a small-scale sports event in collaboration with other tourism service providers in the area. Even small events can generate substantial revenue for the local community.
  • Read our studies on specific types of sports tourism, such as cycling tourism , diving tourism , surfing tourism and walking tourism , if your company specialises in one of them.

Sports heritage and nostalgia

A rather small but relevant sports tourism niche is sports heritage and nostalgia, which attracts travellers looking for stadium tours, visits to sports museums, halls of fame, historic sports places and sports themed bars. Sports are an expression of a place’s heritage and help make tourist destinations unique. Some examples of this include sumo in Japan, rugby in New Zealand, and football (soccer) in Brazil. In addition to learning about traditional sports, tourists also want to learn about the local culture , which are often deeply intertwined.

Examples of companies offering sports heritage tourism include:

  • Football Museum in Brazil – Located in the Pacaembu Stadium in São Paulo, the tour shows visitors the origin and history of football in Brazil, and why it is so beloved.
  • Fanattic Sports Museum in India. This museum is a collection of rare sports artefacts related to India.

Sports tourism offers a great opportunity for generating revenue in low season, as many tournaments take place at times in which traditional tourism drops. Furthermore, a sports event is a great way of putting on the map a destination that otherwise would not be known to tourists.

  • Make sure that the local community is friendly and kind to tourists. This offers a positive simulant for tourists to be fully immersed in the local sports and traditions.
  • Turn a sports event into a multi-day festival by organising side events, which may help to extend tip duration and spending. Remember that a large number of visitors for spectator events will not guarantee any visitors in the future. Be creative about tourism activities after the events, for example, offering tours of the stadiums and training facilities.
  • Add local flavours to the events and provide authentic local experiences to distinguish your destination from others. A tour of the stadiums and training complexes of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, can also include visits to local communities.
  • Combine accommodations with sports events, like Sportihome , which has a search tool per sport combined with nearby places to stay.

3. Which European countries offer most opportunities for sports related tourism?

Germany, France, and the United Kingdom offer the most opportunities in Europe, because these are the biggest markets in Europe. Denmark, Finland, and Austria offer smaller markets in size, but their residents do more sports travelling. Scroll over the map below to see the percentage of travellers who mention sports-related activities as their main reason to go on holiday, across different European countries.

Germany offers the largest market for sports tourism

Two-thirds of all German travellers prefer to engage in sports activities while on vacation . In 2017, Germans spent an average of €34 on sports, wellness and activity-related travel. In Germany, football (soccer) is the most popular sport, followed by ski jumping and biathlon. Figure 4 presents data on the most popular sports in Germany, where 66% of the population practise a sport at least once a week.

Most outbound sports tourism trips by Germans were for skiing (4.8 million trips), snowboarding (1.4 million trips), SCUBA diving (1.2 million trips), mountaineering (700 thousand trips), sailing (400 thousand trips), surfing (300 thousand trips), cycling (270 thousand trips), golf (250 thousand trips) and football (210 thousand trips). Egypt and Turkey were amongst the most popular sports tourism destinations.

Together with France, Germany has the second-largest number of golf tourists (4.6 million), and 18% of all Germans enjoy skiing.

Most German sports travellers book their trips through a German tour operator. They have very high quality standards. To target this market, you must sell a well-prepared and detailed range of products to German tour operators. For more information, read our tips for finding buyers and tips for doing business .

France: A source country with sports embedded in its culture

Sports are a big part of the cultural fabric in France. It is the home of the biggest cycling event in the world, the Tour de France, and the French were the champions of the FIFA World Cup 2018. The population of France is approximately 67 million, the French GDP is €2,4 trillion, which offers a great number of possible tourists and a large market to enter. The possible potential on the French market is showcased in their outbound tourism market: 69% of the population goes on vacation outside of France , the highest percentage in Europe.

In France, football (soccer) is the most important sport to watch, but rugby, tennis and cycling all have large fanbases. Figure 5 provides information into the most popular sports in France.

Together with Germany, France has the second-largest number of golf tourists (4.6 million) , and 13% of the French population enjoys skiing. In France, skiing is most popular with people 15–24 years of age.

The United Kingdom: Home to football, tennis and rugby

The United Kingdom has the second-largest revenue from sports events (behind only the United States). Before COVID-19, United Kingdom revenue from sports was expected to reach €627 million in 2020, with 3.2 million visitors. Football, tennis, rugby and other sports are very popular in the United Kingdom, so British travellers are likely to also experience these sports in other countries, or even plan a whole trip to play in or attend sports events. According to PXCOM, 25% of the British say they plan a vacation where they have the opportunity to attend a football game . In England alone (not the entire United Kingdom), an estimated 4.8 million people attended group exercise classes every week in 2018, and 11.5 million do it monthly, which suggests how the UK can be an interesting target market.

In the United Kingdom, football (soccer) is the most popular sport: 50.5 million attenders, followed by horse racing (5.9 million) and rugby (4.3 million). Figure 6 provides information about the most popular sports practised in the United Kingdom.

For British people who enjoy outdoor sports, cycling is most popular (20%), followed by hiking (12%), mountain biking (9%), BMX 7%), horseback riding (6%), motor sports (5%), rowing and paddling (5%), and skating (5%).

In terms of water sports, coastal walking (13.8%), outdoor swimming (10.4%), canoeing and subbing (3.1%), and angling (1.7%) are most popular with the British.

Over half of the British population (56%) hikes at least once a week.

The United Kingdom has the largest source market for golf tourism, with around 6.7 million golfers.

Denmark has a small market with high spending power

Most people in Denmark, a whopping 74%, claim to participate in sports or other physical activity at least once a week, which is a great indicator of possible interest in doing sports while on vacation. Denmark has a small population of only 5.8 million people, but a very high GDP per capita of €54 thousand.

Danes participate most in cycling (10.2%), followed by running and jogging (6.5%), swimming (5.7%) and football (soccer) (5.4%). Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Denmark in terms of club membership: 350,000 members. Denmark is home to 667 thousand skiers.

Finland: Where almost all people practise sports

In Finland, 69% of the people exercise or play sports regularly or with some regularity , more than any other country in Europe. Finland has the lowest percentage (13%) of people that never play any sports nor exercise. With a population of 5.5 million and a GDP per capita of €45 thousand, Finland is a small but wealthy target country. Finns participate most in running and jogging (16%), followed by cycling (9.5%), gym and fitness (8.1%), swimming (6.65%) and hiking (3.4%). A very large share of the population (23%) goes skiing in winter.

Austria has the highest ratio of travellers with sports activities as the main reason for travel ling

A larger share of Austrians identify sports activities as a primary reason for going on a holiday, as compared to people in other European countries. In addition, 72% of the Austrians participate in sports or physical activities at least once a week. When on holiday, some may be looking to practise on their own, but many search for other challenging or unique activities like canoeing or scuba diving. Popular sports in Austria include football and tennis.

Austrians are very fond of skiing, with 34% of the population enjoying this sport each year, according to Statista.

  • Focus on Austria, Finland or Denmark if your aim is maximum efficiency with a limited marketing budget.
  • Focus on Germany, France or the United Kingdom if your aim is to penetrate the largest European sports markets. Update your knowledge by analysing statistics, for example, about the  German holiday market  and the  British holiday market .
  • Collaborate with European tour operators and travel agents. During the COVID-19 pandemic, most European tour operators reduced their offerings outside Europe. Now that restrictions have been lifted, they will be looking for new collaborations with local travel agents. A list of travel agents specializing in sports tourism is available on the website of the International Sports Travel Agencies Association .

4. Which trends offer opportunities on the European sports related tourism market?

Digitalisation of sports events.

Digitalisation, increased demand for competitive sub-elite events, higher concern for safety, increasing demand for sustainability and changing demographics are the most important trends in sports marketing.

Technology advances have made sports information and sports events better available and accessible, facilitating people planning their trips more in advance. As online platforms improve and user knowledge grows, we expect information accessibility to increase further in the coming years.

Examples of new applications are:

  • Runnin’City is an app that allows users to explore cities by running and to compare their running results with friends, as well as with celebrities. It also provides cities with opportunities for exposure as a runner-friendly destination.
  • ThisRun is an app developed by TCS, a major sponsor of marathons worldwide. The app allows users to post about sites they have visited and to track their running statistics. It also provides interesting highlights of cities. This makes it possible for cities to promote their destinations to athletes.
  • Put tickets and other services like accommodation for sale long before a planned event, so people can learn about it early, then plan and schedule accordingly.
  • If you organise a regular sports event, promote it on social media and other online resources. Look into marketing companies specialised in sports tourism like Stir for inspiration on how to do this.
  • Stream your sports event. Due to COVID-19, many travellers are still hesitant to travel to long-haul destinations for crowded events. Look into different streaming services like YouTube , Twitch and Livestream to see what fits best to your needs. Remember that for a stream of good quality you require reliable internet, software and hardware.

Increased demand in highly competitive sub-elite events

Sports events where individual performance matters more than competing against other participants are growing in popularity. These events include triathlons, Ironman races, mountain biking, etc. Many athletes engage in serious training programmes in preparation for their targeted events, but the difference between them and elite athletes, is that they are self-referenced instead of result orientated.

This demand is due in part to a large number of new sports that have been invented in recent years. Some of these sports have become very popular. One example is paddleball , which is especially popular in Spain.

Figure 9: Paddleball is a sport played on a small tennis court using smaller racquets.


Source: Shutterstock

These new sports offer opportunities for countries to host events, such as tournaments and championships. Another example is earthing . It was invented in Denmark and combines the most popular Olympic sports: running and swimming, for very short distances. Topend Sports provides a long list of new and unique sports , which might inspire you to host new events.

In many sports, it is also becoming more common for destinations to be the initiators of new events. In the past, the over-arching sports bodies were the organizers of events. By organizing your own event, you can also profit from the revenues emerging from other tourism activities, such as food and accommodations. This also generates opportunities for other companies that provide different tourism options for visitors. Partnering is therefore very important when hosting events for new (or established) sports.

  • Plan your event far in the future, so athletes and visitors have sufficient time to plan. To make an event successful, you must attract enough participants. Sites as Eventbrite and Active provide a platform for people to register.
  • Create spots for spectators, as participants often travel with their families and friends, which also creates extra opportunities of increasing revenue from accommodation, food and beverages services.

Concern for safety

The safety of athletes, teams and spectators remains an issue in the sports industry. Terrorism, which was a previous concern, now has been compounded with the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing security concerns around sports events.

  • Train your employees in emergency procedures. Your employees are partly responsible for the execution of an evacuation plan in case of fire, terrorism, gas leaks and other threats to your guests. Look for other tips to ensure safety in sports event s, and read our tips on how to manage risks in tourism .
  • Stay up to date on your own government’s safety regulations and COVID-19 rules.

More demand for sustainable events

Large sports organizations (e.g. FIFA) are increasingly considering sustainability when hosting events. For example, they have become more selective in the infrastructure they use. In the past, new stadiums were built for hosting new events. The focus is now more on the existing infrastructure or the construction of sustainable temporary stadiums. Sustainability is also more often part of the bidding requirements when drafting tenders. Large sports organizations are exhibiting increasing interest in reducing the CO2 footprint of the hosts of sports events.

This trend will mainly affect the organizers of large-scale events. It will also affect their suppliers, as organizers delegate the demand for sustainability to their suppliers. These demands are also likely to affect the organizers of smaller events, especially if they are hosted or supported by large sports organisations.

  • Promote greener transportation (e.g. public transport) for fans.
  • Involve the local community and give them the opportunity to sell their services. Promote local activities, accommodations and restaurants.
  • Make a plan for re-using or recycling materials used for your event.
  • Read the ‘ Green Sports Guide ’ for tips on how to make your event more sustainable, or read our study on how to be a sustainable tourism business .

Experience unique or famous sports places

A growing part of European travellers visit specific locations according to their sports passions, such as experiencing a unique visit to an important venue, visiting a famous sports place or event. In football (soccer), for example, fans often want to attend matches while travelling, such as the Superclásico in Buenos Aires, when local football rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate meet in one of football’s most famous derbies, attracting foreign fans who want to feel the match’s atmosphere.

The face of the sports tourist is changing

In the past, most sports tourists travelling abroad were white men. This profile is changing rapidly, as multi-generational families, female travellers, solo travellers and younger travellers are also booking sports tourism trips.

In general, multi-generational families are hard to satisfy, because—by definition—they include multiple generations, each with its own desires. Providing large accommodations with sufficient space for family members to retreat, as well as offering a ‘common room’ where they can share meals, is a key to success. Another consideration involves providing activities for children, so that parents can freely undertake their own sports activities.

For solo travellers (particularly women), safety and the opportunity to meet other people (in sports activities) are very important. If solo travellers are your target group, it is important to offer sports activities that solo travellers can enjoy and that offer them the opportunity to meet and train together. Safety includes the protection of valuables, as well as the provision of a safe environment for travel and training, where solo travellers will be safe from sexual or other forms of harassment.

Travellers of Generations Y and Z are more interested than other travellers are in immersive niche markets, as opposed to visiting the highlights of your country. Experiences with local communities are very important. One option could be to organize a game of street football with locals before watching a soccer match in the stadium.

  • Use spectator events to attract visitors. Do not focus on one single event but build rather offer a series of events to have a steadier supply of visitors. For example, organise something around a famous football game, but also for another event a week later, and a third event planned two weeks later.
  • Offer a variety of activities related to the sport to create an entire experience, which creates an extra dimension for the tourist to be involved in the sport and tradition they have just learned about. An example from New Zealand is combining a rugby heritage tour that includes a live Haka performance.
  • Inform yourself about more opportunities for upcoming target groups, such as multi-generational families , solo travellers and Generation Y travellers .

This study was carried out on behalf of CBI by  Molgo  and  ETFI .

Please review our market information disclaimer .

  • Entering the European market for sport tourism

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The new world has introduced us to a new traveller with new expectations. A solo traveller, a multi-generational family traveller, a traveller who enjoys open spaces and one who seeks diversity, sustainability and personal empowerment. Sports tourism also encompasses travellers who prefer local community interaction and immersive experiences with local communities, as well as those who prefer to engage and interact with other tourists and who prefer their own cultures and speaking their own languages.  New expectations and new offerings with a twist of what was and what will be—Sports Tourism addresses all these points. Lavonne Wittmann, sports tourism expert
Sports tourism has recently been one of the fastest growing sectors within the tourism industry. There is currently an increasing trend towards experience tourism, with active participation as an important component. If developed according to an appropriate strategy, sports tourism can have strong positive economic, social and environmental impacts at the local, regional and national levels. Countries could therefore incorporate it into their tourism development strategies, as well as for branding specific tourism destinations. I believe that this can be the case for several developing countries, which serve as sports tourism destinations within the tourism industry’ Kostas Alexandris, Professor of Tourism at the University of Thessaloniki

Related research

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  • What is the demand for outbound tourism on the European market?
  • What trends offer opportunities or pose threats on the European outbound tourism market?
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