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1. The 15 Best Destinations to Visit in Brazil
Brazil boasts over 70 national parks and dozens of monuments, including one of the Seven Wonders of the New World—Christ the Redeemer, in Rio de Janeiro. Together, these attractions create one of the most appealing and exciting destinations in South America. People come from every corner of the world to find silver coasts, dazzling blue oceans, sprawling metropolises, and thick jungles that are home to monkeys, jaguars, and river dolphins. The vast Brazilian landscape holds many prized spots, yet these 15 places below are certainly among the best destinations in Brazil.
Rio de Janeiro
A city known for its stark contrasts, Rio de Janeiro perfectly blends golden shores, tremendous forests, and a bustling metropolis to create a home for its six million residents and an exotic holiday destination for its millions of annual tourists. Besides the obvious attractions such as Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf, and Copacabana, don’t miss the more off-the-beaten-track spots such as the unforgettable TransCarioca 180-kilometer hike, or the mesmerizing sunset at Arpoador. If you love music, then you don’t need to wait for Carnival for a samba hit; head to the samba schools for their all-year-round samba shows including live music and jaw-dropping dancers.
Belo Horizonte is known for its bar scene rather than thumping nightclubs that comprise dozens of bars packed together to create the ideal late-night drinking spot for socializing and winding down at the end of the week. For food, you’ve come to the right place as everything from mobile stalls to sophisticated restaurants serve up classic Minas Gerais cuisine molded around home comfort and slow-cooking. If art is more your thing, hire a car to Inhotim, a large interactive art gallery set within a botanical garden.
They don’t call São Paulo the ‘concrete jungle’ for nothing. The often misunderstood city is home to over 13 million people and is regarded as the business and financial capital of Brazil. Yet that sweeping definition overlooks the quirks and curiosities that make São Paulo the buzzing cosmopolitan city that it is. For culture, visit some of the country’s finest art galleries and museums before treating your palate at any of the international restaurants celebrated for their haute cuisine. For a change of pace, head to Praca Roosevelt for hipster bars and an alternative, liberal crowd. Pack your stamina for the nightlife that helped give São Paulo its reputation as a city that doesn’t sleep.
Originally founded in the early 16th century by the Portuguese settlers, Olinda is a small colonial town neighboring the much larger Recife. Its collection of baroque churches, 18th century convents, and vibrantly-colored houses cling to the hillside coupling exquisite architecture with sweeping ocean views. The local bohemian crowd have restored many of the buildings into artistic hubs, creating a center of art galleries, museums, and open studios. Go there in February to experience one of Brazil’s most traditional and lively carnivals.
Fernando de Noronha
Escape from it all on this picturesque and exclusive gem. Located 350 kilometers off the coast of Brazil, you have to take a flight from Recife to get to this volcanic archipelago. With jagged coastlines, unspoiled scenery, and shallow seas brimming with tropical fish, sharks, turtles, and dolphins, this protected area grants several opportunities for relaxation on golden beaches and getting close to wildlife. The ecological sanctuary limits the number of visitors per year, which is why it still boasts some of the most breathtaking natural landscapes in Brazil.
2. TOP 10 PLACES TO VISIT IN BRAZIL
The other day, thinking of destinations I’ve just been to and need to write about, I realised one thing: what about the place I come from? With all the hype about Brazil in these past few years, with the World Cup and Rio Olympics, I’ve been a bad, bad Brazilian boy (you won’t mind if I call myself that way, right?). So, to try to redeem myself, I’d like to show you the top 10 places to visit in Brazil. I do appreciate it’s a huge country – larger than continental USA, to be more specific. But even if you are on a long-term South American trip, I highly recommend you visit at least 3 or 4 of the places below, I’m sure you’ll have a great time. So let’s start!
1) Iguazu Falls
It is said that Eleanor Roosevelt exclaimed “poor Niagara Falls”, in sheer awe, as she enjoyed the views over Iguazu Falls. And surely, she had more reasons than one to say so: Iguazu Falls are taller and wider than Niagara. Comparisons apart, Iguazu is located in the state of Parana and borders Argentina and Paraguay. With no doubt one of the most incredible natural attractions in South America. (Picture: CC by 2.0 – SF Brit
The capital of Bahia state is also the capital of African-Brazilian culture. That’s reflected in many traditions, the food and the music. Yes, the music, for Bahia is the homeland of many of Brazil’s musical elite (think Caetano Veloso, Carlinhos Brown, Gilberto Gil, Maria Bethania, just to name a few). Salvador is also famous for its many beaches and a walk around the colonial quarter of Pelourinho is a real must. Oh, did I say it’s also “capital” of capoeira? (Picture: CC by-NC-SA 2.0 – Turismo Bahia)
3) Ouro Preto
The former capital of Minas Gerais state is the country’s best preserved colonial city. It was also the first place in Brazil to be declared a UNESCO world heritage site. This university town attracts mostly local tourists and its sleepy feel gives way to one of the country’s most hedonistic Carnival celebrations. Nearby town of Mariana, also of colonial heritage, makes for a nice afternoon tour. (Picture: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 – whltravel)
4) Lençóis Maranhenses
Did you know Brazil has a desert, with sand dunes and all? This little secret is yet to more widely known internationally. But Brazilian tourists come here to enjoy the fresh water lakes created by rainfall. Its relative isolation, in the state of Maranhão, makes it the ideal place for some indulge in some me time in your (nearly) private desert lake. (Picture: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 – Reinhart Gruhn)
3. 10 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU TRAVEL TO BRAZIL
Brazil is one of those land masses that is way too big to try and describe in a single sentence. However, regardless of the area of the country you decide to visit, here are a few tips that cover important basics that will probably be beneficial to you at any stage of the trip.
Rio de Janeiro Is Not The Capital City
It was once the capital city until the year 1960. After that the capital was moved to Brasília in the middle of this country where the current government is based. Rio de Janeiro city is now known as a capital to the state of Rio de Janeiro, but no longer the entire country.
Spanish Is Not The Widely Spoken Second Language Or Native Language
Many tourists that arrive in Brazil are under the false impression that if they know a bit of Spanish they will be fine, yet Portuguese is actually the language that is official in this country and most of its residents learn Spanish and English due to the requirements of the business industries. While Portuguese and Spanish may be fairly similar, learners usually notice an easier way to learn the other after mastering one, it still does not mean that speaking Spanish will automatically make traveling around Brazil easier.
In addition, the English language is not spoken commonly. Yet São Paulo along with a few of the more popular tourist’s destinations in Rio de Janeiro have a few people that have a bit of knowledge of English. If you want to impress a few of the locals, learn a few of the Portuguese expressions, they will usually appreciate this more.
Beer Is Always Served In Small Glasses
All over Brazil, most of the places that serve beer will do so in smaller glasses, that are usually smaller than the ½ pint glasses. The idea behind this makes sense as most areas in Brazil experience heat that is extreme, and the larger glasses warm up faster, which means your beer would become warm. In the bars, the beer is typically served in the 600ml large bottles served with a smaller glass that you can drink from, or in a chopp which is draft beer served in small glasses. The exception to the small glasses can be found in the south parts of this country, where the German-influenced towns will in some areas serve the large sized beers.
A Green Man At A Crossing Does Not Always Mean That It Is Safe To Cross
When in Brazil always wait for every car to stop completely before you decide to cross a road, regardless of whether there is a green man that tells you are allowed to cross. It is common for cars to start speeding up from far away when the light has turned orange and then skip through these lights once they have turned red, which really annoys the drivers from the other junctions. This may be classified as a general safety rule, but skipping red lights is so common in Brazil that it is something you need to be aware of.
Brazil Makes Really Good Wine
The wines from France, South Africa and France might not need to be too concerned about any new competition anytime soon, but the Brazilian wines, particularly the sparking varieties like the Brut Champenoise which comes from the south of this country is exceptionally good. They also have a few outstanding reds and wonderful rosés, which originate from local wineries based in Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro. You should definitely pay a visit to the WineHouse and Canastra in Rio de Janeiro so that you can sample the best of the best Brazilian wines. Canastra which is French-owned only sells Brazilian wines, while WineHouse sells both Brazilian and national wines.
Brazil Is Not Always Hot, In Some Areas It Even Snows
You heard right, Brazil is a country that also gets snow. In the southern tip of this country, the temperatures plummet below freezing during the months of winter with occasional snow. The snow is usually very light, but definitely, enough to dash your hopes of tropical, warm days. In the north part of Brazil, the climate is tropical throughout the year, but if you are visiting the south it is very cold in winter and could come as an unpleasant surprise for travelers who only packed flip-flops, t-shirts and shorts.
4. 9 things you must do in Brazil
1. Spot wildlife along the Amazon
You don’t need to venture deep into the untouched rainforest to see wildlife in Brazil. Indeed, some of the country’s most iconic creatures are found in and close to easy-to-access sections of the mighty Amazon river.The pink river dolphin is widespread across the Amazon and its tributaries, preferring river mouth areas, where fish are plentiful. According to local legend, these friendly, sociable creatures can emerge from the water, turn into men, seduce young ladies and then return to the river; they’ve sometimes been (probably incorrectly) blamed for unwanted pregnancies.
The notorious piranhas are pretty easy to find too. They like white water rivers and streams — there’s no shortage of local outfits offering a chance to try piranha fishing. Locals submerge bait to attract a feeding frenzy, so keep your hands within your boat.
Also, head to oxbow lakes and swamps to spot a hoatzin – a pheasant-sized, slightly prehistoric, blue-set stary eyes and a messy Mohican. Also known as a stinkbird, chances are you’ll smell it before you see it.
2. Discover Brazil’s dune coast
Starting just south of the mouth of the Amazon and stretching all the way to Fortaleza, you’ll find one of the strangest and most strikingly beautiful stretches of coastline in the world. Blown inland by powerful trade winds, the sandy South American seas have sculpted the coast into dune deserts, of which the Lençóis (meaning ‘bed sheets’) are the biggest. They’re part of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park and the real surprise is that such an extraordinary place is still quite firmly off the international tourist map.
These deserts are broken by huge river deltas filled with forest-covered islands, fringed with long, broad and empty white sand beaches and dotted with tiny villages. Some of these have become small resorts, while others remain almost unchanged since Portuguese times, peopled by fishermen who sail saveiros, which are wooden boats still built to the same design as the Moorish dhows that plied the Algarve’s bays when caliphs ruled Iberia.
3. Learn a martial art in paradise
Here’s a great idea: find a sleepy island off the coast of Brazil, hire the services of a local martial arts master and get fit in a tropical Eden. The Eden is Bahia, a province on the northeast point of Brazil, poking out into the Atlantic, and boasting some of the country’s best music, food and colonial architecture. The martial art is capoeira, a unique art form that, some say, is a New World slant on traditional Angolan tribal dances.
Capoeira has developed into a popular non-contact martial art and learning its techniques is the most hands-on way to experience one of South America’s richest cultures. Salvador is its spiritual home, with many recommending courses at the School of Mestre Bimba, founder of modern capoeira. But for something different head to Boipeba, a tiny island of mangrove swamp and sandy beaches, and seek out Mestre Guilherme, the local capoeira teacher. (When he’s not teaching, he’s on the beach strumming his berimbau (single-string musical instrument). The beach is also his classroom — when you’re not working up a sweat, it’s the perfect place to sample unspoilt rural Bahian life.
4. Attend Brazil’s Bar Food Olympics
As any foodie worth their salt will tell you, if you want a real taste of Brazil, head to the bars. Even the most rough and ready establishments offer bite-sized snacks that will delight the palate and encourage more drinking. The snacks are such an important part of Brazilian cuisine that they have their very own ‘Olympics, the Comida Di Buteco, held every year in Belo Horizonte and across the country.
Each participating bar offers a single dish in competition. The staples are pork, chicken, rice, beans and kale. There is also beef, cheese and the delicious cassava, a fibrous root vegetable from Africa. Most dishes have a rustic simplicity but big flavours.
The tropeiros always do well. Named after the travelling businessmen who linked up coastal Brazil with the hinterland, they’re a delicious combination of pork belly, rice, beans and kale, combined with cassava flour and a fried egg, topped with a splash of chilli sauce. Bar de Lora goes down a treat too with a dish of beef braised in black beer.
5. Spot a jaguar in the Pantanal
Sleek and graceful, the jaguar is South America’s largest predator. It is also its most elusive, with sightings far too rare to trouble (or excite) most tourists. Unless, of course, you head to the Cuiaba River in the heart of Brazil’s Pantanal. No single location in the Pantanal’s entire 150,000-plus sq km notches up more sightings, with the cats often commuting along the highway or lazing by the river in broad daylight.
While you wait for the elusive cats to appear, the Pantanal’s other residents are sure to put on a show. Every flash of water is littered with birds: egrets and storks probing the shallows; snail kites and kingfishers poised on fence posts. Each bridge offers a bird’s eye view of the caiman that cruise the shallows, while capybaras – big and cute rodents – break off their browsing to fix you with inscrutable stares.
5. 25 Best Things to Do in Brazil
Brazil offers much more than the 2,000 beaches on its shorelines, which have everything from private, secluded areas to parties that last all night long. The natural wonders of the country such as the Amazon Rainforest and River alone are enough reason to visit. Brazil is also renowned for Carnival, which is celebrated countrywide by hundreds of thousands of people. Attractions that shouldn’t be missed include the Christ the Redeemer statue, Copacabana, and the Rio de Janeiro botanical garden
1. Ariau Towers
Ariau Towers is one of the largest and oldest boutique hotels in the Amazon. The magnificent hotel is situated on the shores of the Amazon River deep within the rainforest. Consisting of six towers with 288 rooms, the hotel has become known for its luxury amenities and celebrity guests. Visitors get to the hotel via a riverboat across the Amazon. Once there, there are numerous activities for hotel guests to take part in such as rainforest tours, canoe and jungle walks, observing the jungle’s nightlife, going piranha fishing, and even visiting natives’ houses to meet them and see how they live.
2. Cathedral of Brasília
The Cathedral of Brasilia, also called the Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady of Aparecida, was designed by Oscar Niemeyer and dedicated in 1970. The Roman Catholic cathedral serves as the seat of the Archdiocese of Brasilia. The modernist architecture of the church attracts visitors from all over. Aspects that shouldn’t be missed include the tall bronze sculptures that represent the four Evangelists, a 20-meter tall bell tower, and a pillar at the entrance of the cathedral with passages from the life of Mary. There are many works of art that visitors can appreciate, including painted ceramic tiles by Athos and stained glass by Marianne Peretti.
3.Christ the Redeemer
One of the most recognized landmarks in the world, Christ the Redeemer is an art deco statue of Jesus Christ that stands over 100 feet tall. The statue’s arms stretch over 92 feet wide, and altogether weights over 635 metric tons. The statue is a recognized symbol of Christianity all over the world and is a cultural icon in Brazil. Visitors who head to Brazil on vacation shouldn’t leave without a stop at the magnificent site. There are many tour companies that will take you to the site and provide background information on the art and the statue’s history, though many visitors prefer to explore the site themselves.
Home to the world-renowned beach, the Bairro of Copacabana can be found in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Over two million visitors come to the venue annually just for the extensive New Year’s celebration; the fireworks display alone is one of the largest in the world and is nearly 20 minutes long. The 2½-mile beach has been the official venue to the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup as well as the beach volleyball portion of the Olympic Games. Visitors are invited to come explore one of the most beautiful beaches and the city and towering mountains that surround it. Many watersports and beach activities such as volleyball and jet skiing can be played throughout the day.
Corcovado is the stunning 2,329-foot mountain that the famed Christ the Redeemer statue can be found atop of. The name, which translates to “hunchback” in Portuguese, is a fitting one for the mountain, as it looks like a hunch from afar. Corcovado lies within the national park Tijuca Forest, and it is visible from great distances on a clear day. Visitors can access the peak and statue by a walking trail or by the Corcovado Rack Railway, which takes approximately 20 minutes. There is an observation deck at the foot of the statue that offers visitors breathtaking sites of the city below and the rest of the surroundings.