Campo Grande is a modern, pleasant town of 800,000 inhabitants (2007) that sits in the middle of Brazilian cattle country. The city plays an important role as a regional center for services and commerce. For travelers, Campo Grande is the main gateway to the southern part of the Pantanal and to Bonito, a small town surrounded by rivers of clear waters located approximately 300 km far from Campo Grande. It is known in Brazil for as cidade morena (brown city) because of the local soil color. Its inhabitants are called campo-grandenses.
The culture of the city involves a heritage of native Brazilians and other people of diverse origins (Italian, German, Syrian-Lebanese, Japanese, Paraguayans, and Bolivians, among others).
The 1 airport is about 7 km from the downtown area. Tourists can get a bus or taxi on their way to the city. There's no shuttle bus service, so if you want to catch a bus from the airport into town, there's a bus stop about 50 meters to the right of the main avenue right in front of the airport (as you go from the airport to the avenue).
Interstate buses depart from the 2 bus station to numerous destinations, including Corumbá (5–6 hours, on the border with Bolivia), Bonito, Iguaçu Falls, São Paulo (13 to 15 hours) and Rio de Janeiro (20 hours). The bus terminal is reachable from the city by bus (local bus lines going downtown depart from the bus stop in front of the new terminal) or by taxi.
Public transit in Campo Grande is composed by a network of buses. Integration is possible on the terminals, where one can change buses free of charge. Some terminals are as big as a bus station, some look more like a bus stop - such as the one deserving the main shoppping mall.
The fare costs R$ 3,70 (as of May 2018) and most cars only accept payment made with the city transit card. If you don't have a card, you can either ask someone to pass the card for you (have change to pay the person back) or, if you're going to a terminal, ask the bus driver to drop you at the terminal entrance, where you can pay in cash.
Around sunrise and sunset, watch out for big birds flying in pairs: those are usually macaws coming to/fro their nids atop palm trees. Smaller, toucans are identifiable by their long, colorful beaks. At night, capybaras can be easily spotted on park lawns and around 1 Lago do Amor (Lake of Love).
On August and September, the blossom of ipês (golden trumpet trees, Handroanthus albus) makes for a spectacular sight.
- 2 Museu das Culturas Dom Bosco (Dom Bosco Cultural Museum), Av. Afonso Pena, 7000. Now hosted in a modern building, there are exhibits about native groups such as Bororó, Carajá and Xavante, as well as an extensive insect collection.
- 3 MARCO - Museu de Arte Contemporânea (Contemporary Art Museum), Rua Antônio Maria Coelho, 6000.
- 4 Museu da Aviação de Busca e Salvamento (Search and Rescue Aviation Museum) (inside the air base). Created in 1991, it's currently closed for renovation.
- 5 Igreja de São Francisco de Assis (St-Francis of Assisi Church), Rua 14 de Julho, 4213. Built in 1950, it's considered a historic building, by Campo Grande's standards. It's near the former railroad station.
- 6 Cidade do Natal (Christmas town), Av. Afonso Pena. Built in 2008, this cute make-believe village has daily free Christmas-inspired attractions on the last three weeks of December. Out of season, it usually hosts small events and fairs.
- Inferninho - This park, located outside of the urban perimeter, has some waterfalls.
- Ayrton Senna Park - Tu-Su, 8AM-7PM.
- Parque Ecológico do Sóter - It is the newest park in the city. Projected as a model park, it is comprised of 22 hectares of green areas, multi-sports squares, skate park, cycling trails and a churrasco kiosk.
- Park Estadual do Prosa - Area of 135 hectares with motorbike trails.
- Park Florestal Antonio de Albuquerque/Horto-Florestal - A green area of 4.5 hectares with some species of native trees. A prominent landmark of the city, it also possesses a library, snack bar, playground, skate park, and cycling trails. Is located in a walking distance from the city center.
- Itanhangá Park – Kiosks and a children's park. 6:30AM–9:30PM.
- Jacques da Luz Park
- Parque das Nações Indígenas (at Afonso Pena av.) – One of the biggest urban parks of the world, with an extension of 119 hectares. It offers good infrastructure for leisure and sports.
- Parque dos Poderes – The name does not refer to a park, but to a neighborhood of the city where most of the local government buildings are located, among areas of preserved native vegetation. Although urbanized, it's possible to see some species of wild animals walking freely on the streets and paths at the area.
- Ary Coelho Plaza, Afonso Pena av. – Its huge fountain was once a stage for grand political events. It is the most traditional square of the city.
- Praça Cuiabá
- Praça of Araras (Av. João Rosa Pires with Dom Aquino)
- Belmar Fidalgo Sporting Complex
- Praça dos Imigrantes
- Praça Oshiro Takamari - where the Aboriginal Fair functions
- Praça da República, Av. Afonso Pena. Containing a monument to Japanese immigration.
- Praça Vilas-Boas - Known for its fish-like shape.
- 1 Sarau de Segunda (Monday Sarau), Praça dos Imigrantes. Monday from 7pm. This sarau is an open mic event, mix of music jams and poetry slam. You may perform or just watch. Jugglers gather to practice on a corner, and there are drinks and food (including some vegan options) on offer.
- 2 Associação Colônia Paraguaia de Campo Grande (Campo Grande's Paraguayan Colony Association), Rua Ana Luísa de Souza, 610. On Sundays, the Colônia Paraguaia often hosts lunches followed by live music concerts. Entrance can be bought at the door (around R$ 30) and includes the all-you-can-eat buffet and as well as the right to dance your way through their big ballroom. The atmosphere is informal, but those who dress to impress are in cowboy attire (boots, big belts, hat). A great opportunity to witness a social event, pantanal-style.
Learn local dances
On this side of the world, the ballroom kings dance chamamé, vaneira, sertanejo universitário and Paraguayan polka. The dance schools always have beginners courses available, and the first class is usually free (check beforehand). Michel Teló, known worldwide for his hit Ai, se eu te pego! was originally lead singer for a local band playing such ballroom music.
- 3 Harmonia Escola de Dança de Salão, Rua Bahia, 963.
- 4 [dead link] Shama Dança, Rua Eng. Roberto Mange, 467.
Thanks to its Pantanal culture and the presence of many indigenous groups, Campo Grande has a nice offering of local crafts, which can be found at Casa do Artesão and in some smaller shops inside Feira Central.
If you're into natural medicine, barbatimão (Stryphnodendron adstringens) has anesthetic, antiseptic and hemostatic effects and is popular locally on the treatment of skins lesions, hemorrhages and burns. It can be easily found at Mercadão Municipal.
For cheap clothes and shoes, the main destination is Rua 14 de Julho (14 de Julho Street). The biggest, most noticeable hypermarket chain is Comper, but Pão de Açúcar and Wal-Mart have each one unit in town.
- 1 Mercadão Municipal, Rua Sete de Setembro, 65. Mon-Sat 6:30am-6pm Sun 6:30am-midday. The best place in town to shop for spices and local produce, both for quality and cheap prices. Here one can find all types of mate leaves for chimarrão and tereré, molasses and rapadura, local cheeses, polvilho (manioc starch) - used to make pão de queijo and tapioca, and fresh chilies.
- 2 Casa do Artesão (Craftsmen's House), Av. Calógeras, 2050. Mon-Fri 8am-5pm, Sat 8am-2pm. State-sponsored space for local craftsmen to display their works. Features works by the Kadiwéu tribe, the Bugres group, as well as other artisans.
- 3 Camelódromo, Av. Noroeste, 5089. Camelô is a street vendor, usually part of the informal economy. But here they are organized and the stalls give place to boxes — there are 464 of them, most selling cheap items and trinkets. Popular spot to hunt for mobile cables and chargers, pen-drives and plug adapters.
- 4 Shopping Bosque dos Ipês (Bosque dos Ipês Mall), Av. Cônsul Assaf Trad, 4796. To attract costumers in spite of the far-away location, this beautiful mall usually has marketing actions in which you exchange shopping receipts for concert tickets of Brazilian big-names. It's also home to the biggest book store in town (Saraiva). Circus and other temporary attractions often set up in their parking lot.
As with many other Brazilian regions, Campo Grande is a melting pot of many cultures. However, the elements of this mixture are different from those encountered elsewhere in Brazil, and the city might have an exotic flavor even for Brazilians of other parts of the country.
The culinary is marked by use of manioc, cerrado fruits and nuts (pequi, buriti, bocaiúva, guavira, etc), molasses and corn flour (fubá). It's not difficult to find alligator meat - just make sure they're sourced from alligator farms, not from illegal hunting.
Arroz carreteiro (rice with beef cubes and herbs) is the typical dish of the region. Chipa, a variant of pão de queijo made with polvilho doce (mild manioc starch) instead of polvilho azedo (sour manioc starch) is favored by the locals over the Minas Gerais recipe.
Sobá, a type of Japanese noodle soup, is considered a local specialty. Good sopa paraguaya, a savory cake from the neighboring country, can also be found. And as an important center for cattle industry, Campo Grande has meat of high quality, competing with the best of Argentinian and Uruguayan production.
- 1 Pastelaria Parada Obrigatória (inside Mercadão Municipal). Besides the usual pastel (filled fried dumpling) flavors, it also offers pastel pantaneiro (jerked beef and fried banana, R$ 12) and pastel de jacaré (alligator, R$ 28). Good sopa paraguaya on offer, and their house sauce is delicious.
- 2 Feira Central, Rua 14 de Julho, 3351. Wednesday and Saturday evenings. Reminiscent of Southeast Asia food markets, this is the place to go for sobá - most restaurants inside are good, but if you're in doubt, go to Barraca da Anésia (R$ 15-35 depending on the portion size). The stalls usually specialize in a type of food, from pastel to cold stone-style ice-cream to oniguiri to Japanese sweets and kawaii cookies. The larger-than-life soba sculpture on the main entrance is somewhat of a touristic attraction. Free entrance, R$ 5 for parking.
- 3 Delícias do Cerrado, Av. Mascarenhas de Moraes, 2470 (inside Comper Ypê Center). Ice-cream brand specialized in Cerrado flavors. The flagship shop downtown closed, but it can still be found in this smaller shop. R$ 3,50 each - buy 10 get 1 free.
- 4 Confeitaria Árabe, R. Sete de Setembro, 458. Honoring its roots, this shop of simple appearance serves the best Middle-Eastern sweets in town (R$ 6 per unit). It also offers sfihas (R$ 10 for 5 units and a soft drink) and an Arab lunch buffet on Saturdays.
- 5 Soba House, Rua Tietê, 84, ☎ . Besides Soba, also serves piranha soup and other local dishes such as fried pacu (a freshwater fish) and dobradinha (dish made from a cow's flat white stomach lining).
- 6 Sésamo Gelato, Av. Bom Pastor, 316. The first Italian gelatto shop of the region. With a few units in town, this one is located on the so-called gastronomic street. R$ 9-16 (1-3 flavors)
- 7 Cantina Romana, R. da Paz, 237. The best regarded Italian restaurant in town. Come if you crave some comfort food.
- 8 Viva a Vida, Rua Barão de Melgaço 380, ☎ . An all-you-can-eat restaurant (R$ 34 per person) with vegetarian options. The daily menu is available on their website (Portuguese only).
- 9 Rei do Dog, R. Prof. Xandinho, 979. This simple stall in a back street is a locals' favorite place for hot dogs. Evenings only.
- 10 Thomaz Lanches, R. Sete de Setembro, 744. Another locals' favorite, it serves Brazilian versions of sfihas and Middle-Eastern sweets. This place is famous for operating in a honor system in which everything is at arm's reach, and you just declare to the cashier what you ate. R$ 2,50 per unit.
Local drink is tereré, a cold infusion made of erva-mate (mate leaves). Compared to chimarrão, the leaves are ground more coarsely, and might have all sorts of added flavors. Mercadão Municipal is a good place to shop for them.
- 1 Recanto da Moagem, Rua Bahia, 575. Offers a variety of beers ranging from classic recipes to those brewed with local ingredients (such as mate, guavira, etc). It operates on a self-service mode, in which you top-up a card with credits and them gets beer in one of the 10 available taps. Minimum consumption is 100 mL, making it easy to taste all flavors available.
- 2 Rota Acústica, Av. Des. Leão Neto do Carmo, 2121. Sunday 8pm. Rock band Mochileiros, which blends classic rock tunes with South American influence (such as charango guitar and Bolivian flute), is a local institution. Free admission.
- 3 Cardápio Seresteiro ('Seresta' menu), Praça dos Imigrantes. Tuesday from 6pm. On a public square, a singer offers a list of seresta and other Brazilian songs for the audience to choose - think of a regional music jukebox played live. There are food stalls and the square has public toilets.
- 4 Aguena Bar. A popular boteco (dive bar), famous for its cheese-filled kibeh. Ask the owner about the time she was an extra at a Brazilian movie and delight yourself with the story.
- 5 SESC Morada dos Baís, Av. Noroeste, 5140. Tuesday to Saturday. Constructed in 1918 and renovated in 1993, the building is now home to one of the SESC Cultural Centers. It has live music on Friday and Saturday evenings.
- 1 Hostel Orla Morena, Rua Ana América, 513, ☎ . A popular hostel, it has swimming pool, barbecue area, well-equipped kitchen, free wifi and good breakfast included in the price. R$ 30 for a bed in dorm.
- 2 Rodrigo Hostel, Rua Vítor Meireles, 125, ☎ . Around the block from the bus station, this hostel has spacious rooms, good breakfast included in the price, hammocks and a swimming pool. Free parking for guests. R$ 30 for a bed in dorm, R$ 110 for double room.
- 3 Presidente Palace Hotel, Rua Dom Aquino, 839 Centro, ☎ . Simple hotel, a bit worn-out, thin mattresses. Stay here for the price, not for comfort. Modest breakfast included in the price. R$ 45 for a single room, R$ 100 for double (both with shared bathroom).
- 4 Hotel Nacional, Rua Dom Aquino, 610, ☎ . Hotel with cheap basic private rooms located underground with shared bath (R$ 35-45), or nicer rooms upstairs with private bath and better standards (R$ 70+). Breakfast buffet (fresh fruits, cheeses, meats, cakes and bread) included in the price. Some Spanish spoken/understood.
- 5 Pousada Mato Grosso, Av. Mato Grosso 1.451, ☎ . This 2-storey, family-run inn has bright rooms, a nice terrace and parking space in front of the building. Breakfast included in the price. R$ 165 for a double with a/c.
- 6 Aeroporto Plaza Hotel, Rua Ceasa 2.280, ☎ . In front of the airport, this hotel looks better on its inside than on the outside - however, rooms have no windows so it is better suited for short stays. Breakfast included in the price. R$ 160 for a double with a/c.
- 7 Bahamas Suite Hotel, Rua Jose Antonio, 1117. Duplex rooms: kitchen and living room on the bottom floor, bathroom, king size bed and tv on top floor. All rooms have balcony, and top floors have great views of the city. There's a swimming pool, but it's on the ground floor among tall buildings, so it's often in shadow. Mattresses more on the hard side. R$ 220 for duplex rooms.
- 8 Deville Prime, Av. Mato Grosso 4.250, ☎ . 4-star hotel of international standard, with amazing breakfast. Located a few blocks away from the Parque das Nações Indígenas, in an upscale neighborhood. R$ 270 for double room with a/c.
The tourist office bus or City Tour Tour Bus on the corner of Av. Alfonso Pena and Av. Noroeste can be very helpful and the staff speaks English.
During the dry season (May to September), humidity levels in Campo Grande can easily drop below 30%. Such low levels can cause headache and irritation of eyes, throat, skin and nose (including nosebleeding), and it increases the risk of dehydration and respiration problems.
- below 30%: attention - hydrate more often than usual
- below 20%: alert - avoid physical activity under the sun, especially between 10am and 4pm.
- below 12%: emergency - avoid all physical activity
To mitigate the effects of low humidity, drink lots of fluids, eat fruits, use skin moisturizer, wash face often, keep nostrils wet or use a protective vaseline-based cream such as Homeoplasmine, and sleep with a damp towel on the bed headboard. Dehydration at initial stages can be treated with homemade oral rehydration solution: 20g of sugar + 3,5g of table salt to 1ℓ of water.
The local government issues daily weather reports.
- Maracaju - 3h away, this town is home to a regionally celebrated sausage, and holds a festival in its honor every April.
- Asunción - direct service everyday at 4pm with company Cometa del Amambay. Document (id or passport) and proof of vaccination against yellow fever are required to buy ticket. 13.5h, R$ 118 (May 2018)