Brazil, a vast South American country, stretches from the Amazon Basin in the north to vineyards and massive Iguaçu Falls in the south. Rio de Janeiro, symbolized by its 38m Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado, is famed for its busy Copacabana and Ipanema beaches as well as its enormous, raucous Carnaval festival, featuring parade floats, flamboyant costumes, and samba music and dance.
Rio de Janeiro
Sun, surf, and samba!
Ravishing Rio is a trip for all five senses. Surfers and sunbathers fuel up on acai bowls before hitting the famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, while kids of the favelas toss around a soccer ball (Brazilians are passionate about their football). Dance the night away at one of the city’s many samba clubs, and if you want to see the city come alive, go during Carnival in February.
Parrots, piranhas, and poison dart frogs.
The Amazon brings to mind a colorful array of birds, deadly predators (hello, anaconda), a tangled expanse of emerald trees and one big river. Brazil is home to 60% of the Amazon, so if you’re searching for Amazonian adventure ideas, this is the place to do it. Just don’t forget the insect repellent!
The world’s most stunning waterfalls.
Niagara Falls doesn’t stand a chance against Iguazu Falls, which holds the title as the most extensive waterfall system in the world. Straddling the borders of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, Iguazu Falls is made up of 275 individual waterfalls, with the Devil’s Throat being the largest of them all. Come for the awe-inspiring gushing water and stay for the incredible flora and fauna surrounding the falls.
A non-stop party in Brazil’s largest city.
Your brain might tell you to skip smoggy, overcrowded Sao Paulo, but you’d be missing out on some of Brazil’s best nightlife, cultural offerings, and Brazilian foodie pleasures. Like New York City or Tokyo, São Paulo (or Sampa as its called) is a city that never sleeps. It’s big and noisy, but for city people, there’s no other place quite like multicultural, riveting São Paulo.
Colonial charm without the cars!
Paraty (or Parati) might be Brazil’s prettiest city. Awash in cobbled colonial charm, the city has a heavy Portuguese influence and was a major exporter of gold during the 1600s. Stroll the streets of the pedestrian-friendly historical center (blissfully car-free) and take day trips to pristine beaches and lush rainforest just outside the city.
The Venice of Brazil.
With its many rivers, small islands and over 50 bridges, Recife is often called the Brazilian Venice. It’s a buzzing, gritty city like Rio with a vibrant cultural scene and entertaining historical center. Outside Recife, the beach of Porto de Galinhas has been repeatedly awarded the title of the best beach in Brazil while the historic center of Olinda charms all who visit.
Horseback riding in Brazil’s heartland.
The state of Minas Gerais is a fertile land of rivers, mountains, and valleys. As the leading producer of coffee and milk in Brazil, its claim to fame is the famous Brazilian snack of Pao de queijo made with Minas cheese. This region has emerged as a popular eco-destination for its scene-stealing national parks and natural springs.
South America’s largest country is teeming with stunning natural wonders, vibrant cities, and everything in between. That also means planning a trip to Brazil can be a little daunting, so we’re here to help with ideas.
We’ve picked 10 essential Brazilian dishes to try on your visit:
1. Barbecued meat
5. Pão de queijo
10. Fried bar snacks