Brazil here we come! Your guide to the cities hosting the 2014 World Cup
Bom dia! Brazil here we come! The eyes of the football world will be on Costa do Sauipe on the samba nation’s tropical Bahia coast on December 6 for the 2014 World Cup draw.
Fifa is planning a 90-minute live broadcast to 193 countries, which will reveal where Roy Hodgson’s England team will based.
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Gary Lineker will host BBC2 coverage, starting at 4.30pm, as the 32 nations, including 2010 winners Spain and Neymar’s Brazil, find out where they will be playing and who they will face when the month-long tournament kicks off on June 12.
To whet your travel appetite ahead of the event, here’s a guide to the 12 host cities:
1 Belo Horizonte
In the south east, it’s known as the food and drink capital. If you enjoy a chilled beer, this is the place to come – there are 12,000 bars, more per capita than anywhere else in the country.
Venue: Estadio Mineirao, capacity 62,547.
The modern-day capital of Brazil was planned by architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1956 after it was decided to move the seat of government from Rio de Janeiro to a more central part of the country. The city is laid out in the shape of a plane, which can be seen as you fly in.
Venue: Estadio Nacional, capacity 68,009.
Both the gateway to the Pantanal wetlands and the Amazon jungle and said to be in the exact centre of South America – 1,250 miles from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Venue: Arena Pantanal, capacity 42,968.
In the south, it’s hailed as an example of sustainable town planning, boasting more than 30 parks and forests.
Venue: Arena Da Baixada, capacity 41,456.
It’s in the north east with long stretches of sandy beaches and crystal-clear water. It’s also famous for its nightlife with the sound of forro (the local music) spilling out of bars.
Venue: Estadio Castelao, capacity 64,846.
The only city located in the Brazilian Amazon jungle, it has a handsome opera house and is also close to the amazing Meeting of the Waters, where two rivers – one with a dark flow, the other light – converge and run side by side for 3.7 miles without mixing.
Venue: Arena Amazonia, capacity 42,374.
In the north east and known as the City of Sun. The beaches are famous for their 170ft sand dunes.
Venue: Estadio Das Dunas, capacity 42,086.
8 Porto Alegre
At the confluence of five rivers in Brazil’s far south and surrounded by countryside, it’s known as Gaucho land, as it’s so close to the borders of Argentina and Uruguay.
Expect plenty of great meat.
Venue: Estadio Beira-Rio, capacity 48,849.
The Venice of Brazil in the north east is criss-crossed by rivers and bridges, boasts fine colonial buildings and glorious beaches.
Venue: Arena Pernambuco, capacity 44,248.
10 Rio de Janeiro
The beaches, mountains and the statue of Christ the Redeemer make this quite simply one of the world’s most incomparably beautiful cities and a must-visit.
The World Cup final will be held in The Marvellous City on July 13.
Venue: Maracana (Estadio Jornalista Mario Filho, named after a famous local sports writer), capacity 76,804.
The capital of Bahia resonates to the sound of drums and dance. Founded in 1549 as Portugal’s first proper colony, it’s a Unesco world heritage site.
Venue: Arena Fonte Nova, capacity 48,747.
12 Sao Paulo
This finance and business centre is the largest city in Brazil, with an urban sprawl of almost 20 million.
There are 420 helicopters registered as commuters take to the skies to avoid traffic jams, which can reach 120 miles long!