Brazil is the world’s fifth-largest country by population and geographical area. If you exclude Alaska, the landmass is bigger than the United States. Its citizens often say that they live in a continent, and considering its size, it’s an excusable exaggeration. Despite the large territory, two-thirds of the population lives near or on the coast and more than half live in cities. Finding the best places to visit can be a time-consuming task, considering its size. If you go unprepared, you might miss some important sites.
The best approach is to decide what type of holiday you want, nature, beach, history or city – and make a plan. Even if Brazil’s biggest attraction is its wilderness, you can also immerse yourself in its unique culture and history. South Americans consider Brazilians a different race, mainly because of the language. While Brazilians understand Spanish, Spanish-speakers don’t understand Portuguese. Moreover, they also look different because of the south German and eastern European immigration marks.
You already know this place: Rio de Janeiro is a must-see! There is no other destination on the globe more exciting than this wonderful city located in southeastern Brazil. Rio de Janeiro sits on one of the world’s largest harbours and is surrounded by the Corcovado Mountains, the Sugarloaf Mountain and famous beaches like Ipanema and Copacabana. However, the city’s iconic landmark is the famous statue of Jesus Christ named Christ the Redeemer. Located on Corcovado Mountain, the site of the statues provides a sweeping panorama of the area. The Imperial Palace in Rio de Janeiro is one of the best places to visit. This architectural jewel features a theatre, a bookstore, a cinema, temporary exhibits, the Atrium restaurant and a café.
Sao Paulo is known for its robust culture scene, skyscrapers, landmarks and gastronomy. Sao Paulo is also home to many parks and even to portions of the Rainforest. Another incredible place you must see is Ouro Preto, meaning black gold, One of Brazil’s best-preserved colonial towns founded at the end of the 17th century. This epicentre of a gold rush contains well preserved Portuguese colonial architecture. There you admire 18th- and 19th-century churches adorned with gold and the sculptured works of Aleijadinho.
Olinda is another well preserved colonial city. Located on the northeastern coast, the city has a historic downtown area, craftspeople studios, churches, restaurants, bars and the famous Carnival of Olinda. Recife, also known as the Venice of Brazil, is another important city on the northeastern coast. It has numerous waterways and bridges, a historic old town, scenery and vibrant culture among the most incredible places to visit in Salvador, one of the oldest cities in the Americas. As Brazil’s former Capital of Joy, Salvador is known for its exuberant week-long Carnival celebrations, historic Old City, art, architecture and African-influenced cuisine.
Teatro Amazonas opera house, located in Manaus, in the heart of the Rainforest, is one of the most exciting places to visit in Brazil. The opera was build using steel from England, furniture from Paris and marble from Italy. The exterior is covered in 36,000 decorated ceramic tiles. For 90 years, the Teatro Amazonas closed its doors, until 2001 when spectators revived it again. Another cultural haven is the Afro-Brazil Museum located in Sao Paulo. The museum houses more than 3,000 pieces that highlight the heritage, national culture and identity of the slave community in Brazil history. In addition, you should visit the Slave Ship Room, which honours the memory of Africans brought to Brazil.
Among the cultural places to visit is the Imperial Museum located in the historic centre of Petrópolis. The museum used to be Emperor Pedro II’s favourite residence. That is why it contains many art objects and furniture that belonged to the emperor’s family, including 250,000 original documents and the Imperial Crown and jewels. Another institution of international significance is the Oscar Niemeyer Museum, located in Curitiba in Parana. Inaugurated in 2002, the museum focuses on design, arts and architecture. Finally, Cachaça Museum in Salinas is one of the newest and most significant additions to the growing tourism in Brazil. The museum aims at preserving the handcrafted cachaça production in the context of Northern Minas Gerais life and culture.
Outdoor fun and nature
Foz do Iguacu is a World Heritage-designated park that houses endangered jaguars, howler monkeys, Giant anteaters and clouds of butterflies. In addition, tourists can explore by raft or foot the most beautiful waterfalls globally, Iguazu Falls. This series of majestic waterfalls are set in a background of lush forest teeming and exotic wildlife. A helicopter tour is one of the best ways to view this natural wonder and the verdant jungle surrounding it. Located at the border between Brazil and Argentina, the falls can be reached from Puerto Iguazu in Argentina, and Foz do Iguacu in Brazil.
Another great place to visit is Fernando de Noronha makes it to the top 3. Even if this beautiful archipelago with pristine beaches was discovered by Amerigo Vespucci in 1503, only one of the 21 islands is inhabited. The islands are the Mecca of snorkelers, surfers and divers with excellent visibility even at 50 meters. On land, you can hike, tour and ride horses. Its abundant marine life, warm water and tropical landscapes will leave a deep mark on your soul.
The Pantanal is another natural wonder located in Western Brazil and in Paraguay and Bolivia as well. Famous for its rich wildlife, Pantanal is one of the best places to see in Brazil and the world’s largest wetland. There you are guaranteed to see jaguars, capybara and the Yacare Caiman.
Brazil is also famous for its exceptional beaches. Salvador is an attractive colonial town with many beaches and a vibrant musical scene. Salvador beaches range from open sea inlets with strong waves perfect for surfing to calm bays ideal for diving, sailing and swimming. Some of them are surrounded by reefs that form natural pools of stone your kids will just love. Copacabana beach is another great place to visit in Brazil. Located in Rio de Janeiro’s most vibrant and eclectic district, the beach is perfect for relaxing, sunning and swimming. Thousands are drawn each year to Copacabana’s famous beach lined with bars, restaurants, hotels and bars.
Entertainment and Children’s Activities
Although you will find a carnival celebration in every corner of Brazil, the best ones in Recife, Olinda and Salvador. The Bahia Carnival in Salvador takes place between the 23rd and the 28th of February. It is the second largest of Brazil’s festivals located in the African centre of South America. You will probably hear the best Afro-Brazilian music in the country and see every traditional dance ever created. But the biggest and most famous carnival is the Rio Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. The event attracts two million people per day on the streets and more than half a million tourists. The manifestations take place in the streets, bars, squares, clubs and all over the place.
Brazil is also famous because of its passion for football and many football stadiums, which can be found even in the smallest towns. Although motor racing is also a popular sport, nothing compares to the first love of all natives, football.