Over 8.5 million square kilometres, or almost half of the entire South American continent. And no, we are not deliriously churning out numbers, we are simply talking about Brazil. What can you see in such a large country? If even thinking about this makes your head spin, don’t worry. We will help you with our advice on what to do and visit in Brazil!
When to visit Brazil
Before we get started, have you considered when to visit Brazil? Let’s discover Brazil’s climate together. The country can be divided into three climate zones. With an equatorial climate in the north, that is hot and humid all year round with frequent rains, especially between December and May. On the other hand, in the central area where the climate is tropical and alternates between a dry season and a rainy one. In the extreme south, the climate is almost Mediterranean, therefore warm summers and mild winters. Generally speaking, there is a variety of times to travel to Brazil. However, if you want to visit the south do not attempt the period between June and August, it’s far cooler.
As you have seen, even if we are talking about a tropical country, its extension involves differences, which might force you to “even” pack a fleece or two in your suitcase!
Well, now that you know what to expect from the weather, let’s move on to places to visit in Brazil! The next scrolls will provide beautiful beaches, a fascinating history, adventure, nightlife and unspoiled nature. Here is our list of 13 places to visit in Brazil!
Rio de Janeiro
It is nicknamed the Cidade Maravilhosa, “wonderful city”, and how could we disagree? Rio de Janeiro is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Sprawling between mountains and sea, it perfectly represents the colourful Brazilian landscape.
Rio is the second largest city in the country (is anyone surprised?). It boasts worldwide fame for its hospitality and its Carnival, the most colourful and eccentric festival that exists. One of the most representative icons of the city is undoubtedly Christ the Redeemer, the 38-metre statue that dominates the mountain of Corcovado. A railway line connects the city to the mountain and from there three panoramic lifts and eight escalators lead to the statue. The other main attraction of Rio is the Sugar Loaf. Do not get too peckish. We are talking about a hill, indeed a monolith, which stands out for its resemblance to a traditional dessert among the many mounts in Rio. Take the cable car before sunset and enjoy the view and the spectacle of Rio’s lights.
If you are fond of taking photographs, you cannot miss the magnificent Selarón staircase. This is one of the most-loved subjects by photographers. The homonymous painter has transformed a simple staircase into an unprecedented artistic work, inserting coloured tiles, framed paintings and writings on all the steps. Lastly, you cannot say that you have been to Rio if you have not stretched out in the sun on the renowned stretch of beach in Copacabana: 6 kilometres of sand snuggled between the city and its mountains.
Our list of places to visit in Brazil continues, remaining in the State of Rio de Janeiro. After a ferry trip, you reach the Ilha Grande, the Big Island and a real unspoilt paradise.
If you love nature this place will provide unique landscapes within rainforests, wild beaches and the total absence of motor vehicles. Forget your internet connection and remember to bring suitable boots for long walks. The island is only accessible on foot, through numerous paths with unique vegetation and dream beaches. Another way to fully appreciate Ilha Grande is onboard a boat. Organised tours are abundant and after long hikes, a dip in the natural pools is definitely what you need. During the nineteenth century, the green island, as it is called by the locals, took leprosy patients and later gaolbirds and criminals as its only visitors! At that time, it was initially a small gaolhouse and then a prison that housed the most dangerous criminals in Brazil.
Fortunately, today it has returned to being a slice of paradise that can be enjoyed by everyone. Are you ready for take-off?
This Brazilian city owes its fortune to its port. This was where the Portuguese exported gold in colonial times. Paraty is the southernmost municipality in the state of Rio de Janeiro and one of the most characteristic towns in the country. A backdrop of green mountains and the crystal clear sea on the coast frames it. A trip to Paraty is a dive into colonial Brazil. Its downtown is a succession of vintage stately homes and historic buildings, which will take you back in time. Let yourself be drawn in by its cobblestone streets, numerous craft shops and art galleries. Like all cities in Brazil, Paraty also offers a nightlife characterised by live music, samba and meat specialities.
When you think of Brazil, do you imagine yourself in the sun on a wonderful beach? Great, then we recommend you try Búzios. This beautiful holiday destination in southeast Brazil has to be on our list of places to see in Brazil. Originally it was a fishing village and then became a paradise for surfers. In the 1960s, it gained worldwide fame after actress Brigitte Bardot’s vacation. How could we disagree? This city is the dream of vacationers from all over the world, thanks to its warm and sunny climate all year round and its wonderful beaches such as Ferradurinha and Tortoise. Did you bring sunscreen?
“Peter’s city” is a municipality in the state of Rio de Janeiro and owes its name to Emperor Peter II of Brazil. Petrópolis is one of the most popular destinations for international tourism. It is known throughout the world for the magnificent summer residence of the emperor, who while travelling through this region in 1830, was captivated by its particularly pleasant climate. Could we exclude the emperor’s favourite location from our list of places to see in Brazil? The city is highly varied from an architectural point of view. In addition to the summer residence and the Imperial Museum of Brazil, there is also the Gothic cathedral of São Pedro de Alcântara, the burial place of the emperor, and the Quitandinha Palace, a historic luxury hotel designed by an Italian architect: Luigi Fossatti (Italians do it better, perhaps there should be a t-shirt for that!).
This is the first Brazilian city included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Ouro Petro initially was a mining town and stands along what was once the Royal Gold Road, as well as the junction of colonial trades in precious stones, gold and slaves. What you can appreciate about Ouro Petro today is its well-preserved colonial architecture and baroque churches. A peculiarity of this city is that it is inhabited by over 15 thousand students, who attend the University of Ouro Petro. They live in the so-called “republics”, self-managed houses, each with its own set of traditions and rules. The freshmen are subjected to practical jokes and before being admitted to the republic, they must pass tests and carry out all kinds of tasks.
Also on the coast overlooking the Ocean, stands the city of Recife in the state of Pernambuco, which is called the Venice of Brazil, as it is built on canals crossed by numerous bridges. Recife is characterised by architectural contrasts: the various colonial passages have left monuments, buildings and fortresses of every style.
The mild climate and warm sea make this city a paradise for divers, who dive in search of more than a hundred underwater wrecks. If you seek the typical Brazilian nightlife, we recommend the district of Recife Antico. Here, historic buildings have become bars and restaurants and you can sample typical seafood dishes, such as crab and lobster omelette or Souza Leao cake. In the evening, the Boa Viagem district is also populated by nightlife thanks to the many discos where samba rules the dancefloors. After a night of dancing, relax by the sea on the eponymous beach, surrounded by coconut palms and crystal clear water.
In short, Recife is a lively and hospitable city, perfect for a holiday with friends, with all sorts of possibilities for fun. There is also another splendid destination of world tourism nearby, namely the city of Olinda, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Pantanal Swamp
Among the numerous records that Brazil boasts, one of the most spectacular is undoubtedly the largest swamp in the world, as well as the wettest. A wet spot might seem unattractive, but we assure you it’s nothing like Shrek’s Swamp. After all, we have included it among the places to visit in Brazil, right?
The immense Pantanal alluvial plain is one of the richest ecosystems in the world, although it is barely explored and represents a fantastic alternative to the days by the sea, typical of a tourist who travels to Brazil. You can do excursions on foot or by boat and guided tours to learn about this immense area’s flora and fauna, about 150 thousand square kilometres, which is located for the most part in Brazil, in the State of Mato Grosso, but also develops in Bolivia and Paraguay.
For nine months of the year, the Pantanal swamp is 80% submerged by water. This creates an ecosystem where close encounters with animals are the order of the day, and you don’t even need to be too lucky. This area is home to more than 500 species of birds and on every corner, you can spot some creatures. Whether it’s the caimans relaxing in the sun, the giant otters playing in the water or even the jaguars, real stars of the Pantanal, the guides will let you discover the fauna of one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. Activate your senses and enjoy an unforgettable experience, to say the least.
Approximately 12 million people make São Paulo the most populous metropolis in Brazil. You read that right, even more than Rio. This city is characterised by the influence of several foreign cultures, especially Italian. Almost a third of the population seems to come directly from Italy. The local presence is so deep-rooted that it has influenced the local dialect, which includes some words from Italian dialects. It is definitely worth spending a few days in this metropolis and visiting its many museums, such as that of Contemporary Art, which houses work of the calibre of Picasso and Modigliani or the Museum of Art of São Paulo, where you can see the paintings of Cezanne, Manet, Van Gogh, Mantegna and countless others.
But it’s not just about culture. Go shopping on Avenida Paulista, or take a stroll to the wonderful Ibirapuera Park. There are obviously beautiful beaches and uninterrupted nightlife. Among the crowded places, you can have fun sipping caipirinha and dancing the samba. Coming to Brazil and not seeing Sao Paulo is a heresy that we do not suggest 😉
Certain landscapes are difficult to put into words. And what better example than the spectacular Iguazú Falls? One of the most incredible natural wonders to see in Brazil. A system of 275 waterfalls that extend for 2.7 kilometres and with a flow of almost 2 million litres of water per second, on the border between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.
This spectacle of nature, generated by the homonymous river, will amaze you at every step. On each side, there are wonderful routes to discover and excursions that will allow you to enjoy unique scenery, unforgettable views and green forests. For an upside-down and undoubtedly extraordinary perspective, you can experience the thrill of seeing the waterfalls directly aboard a dinghy. Just a swimsuit and lifeguard will suffice! How about a trip to Devil’s Throat? A train passes through the jungle to take you to the point where the ocean seems like it disappears into the abyss. Are you curious? This is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places to visit in Brazil.
The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park
Can you imagine a rainy desert? One of the most incredible places to visit in Brazil is this protected natural area, which represents a truly unique place. The strong winds of northeastern Brazil push the coastal sand up to about 50 km inland and thus create white sand dunes that reach 40 metres in height.
The landscape is therefore desert but the rainfall is frequent and this allows the water to fill these sandy basins, giving tourists an indescribable spectacle made of rain pools that even reach 3 metres in depth. Precisely for this reason, the park is populated by numerous animals such as even quite rare birds and reptiles. Motor vehicles are rightly forbidden within the park. However, you can still get there through numerous guided tours and take a dip in these wonderful lagoons.
In the north of Brazil, there is the capital of the State of Maranhão, a city island. As it stands, it should already be among the places to visit in Brazil, but let’s find out more.
São Luís is stretched along a lagoon subject to very high tides and is separated from the mainland by a thin stretch of sea. It is a colonial UNESCO heritage city, famous worldwide for its pastel houses, decorated with numerous colourful tiles, and for the thousands of historic buildings that perfectly represent the splendours of the colonial past. São Luís is the ideal destination to take a walk through history and enjoy the evening lights that illuminate the lagoon in a particularly suggestive way.
The Amazon Forest is an immense geographical area. It constitutes almost 50% of Brazil and covers an area of 6 million kilometres, spread over nine countries in South America, earning the nickname of the earth’s “green lung”. It is a huge rainforest rich in biodiversity and of inestimable biological value, so much so that hundreds of new species of animals are discovered every year. Organised excursions will allow you to navigate the various tributaries of the Amazon River with canoes or motor boats, go hiking in the forest and sleep under the stars. Abandon digital comforts and immerse yourself in the boundless greenery of Brazil.
As you may have realised by now, Brazil is a continuous discovery. It offers various landscapes and experiences, although the lush nature, the sun and the sea – hot all year round – will accompany you wherever you go. This climate is also reflected in its people, and nothing can stop the Brazilians’ welcome from remaining etched in your heart.
Now that you know which are the best places to visit in Brazil, come and discover them with our unforgettable tour.
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