14 Things to do in Brazil │Touring Highlights

14 Things to do in Brazil

As the largest country in the Americas, you might need a hand getting the most out of Brazil. Fortunately, we have done the legwork for you, so all you need to do is enjoy the party!

Bursting with colour in every way, the Brazilians sure know how to live life to the fullest. Huge sizzling beaches, tropical islands, the majority of the Amazon Rainforest plus one of the Wonders of the World; we can only hope you are ready for this what’s in store.

And don’t miss the celebrated street art and infamous carnival happening all over!

These are the 15 best things to do in Brazil:

Rio de Janeiro

Salvador Brazil

Be sure to allow enough time to see all of the best that Rio de Janeiro has on offer! 

From one of the most famous beaches in the world to the world’s best party and even one of the 7 Wonders, there is a lot ahead of you on your trip to this infamous city. 

To visit the “true” Rio and escape the tourists, you must visit where many of the locals live. The favelas have a love/hate relationship with the world. If you look closely you can see the beauty in the community and vibrance in these unique flat-roofed homes. 

Near the coast, you can think about the future at the inspiring Museum of Tomorrow and take what you’ve learned to one of the most famous beaches in the world. And don’t forget to look out for any events happening in party-central. 

The vibrance of Rio lives on in its food, music and expansive past. Everything about this city is colourful. Be sure to take advantage of this important section of Brazil’s culture while you have the chance. 

Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer Brazil
Editorial Credit: lurii Dzivinskyi / Shutterstock.com

One of the best things to do in Brazil, that cannot go amiss, is to visit one of the magnificent 7 Wonders of the World. Located in Rio, hop on a train to reach the enormous art deco Christ the Redeemer. 

From the great height of 709 metres (2326 feet), see the city and the bay of Corcovado. If you come on the right day, you might be in for a chance to see a religious wedding taking place in the chapel underneath the statue. 

The icon of Brazil, an immense statue of the son of God, is enough to fill your head with questions of faith and a possible sense of protection. 

The largest art deco statue in the world is visible from anywhere in Rio de Janeiro, so even if you don’t make the journey (which would be a shame) you can still see it from wherever you stand. 

On your way to the top of Corcovado, consider hiking the rest of the way through Tijuca National Park. Here you can appreciate the tropical surroundings and its wildlife, including high-spirited monkeys! 

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain Brazil

Another recognisable landmark of Rio, Sugarloaf Mountain towers 394 metres (1292 feet) above the city. Famous for its cable cars built in 1912, you can reach a part of Brazil that is inaccessible any other way.

The cart to Praia Vermelha (Red Mountain) was the third of its kind to be built in the world and was a major tourist attraction throughout the 20th century. You can still head to or from here between Sugarloaf, its neighbour, Morro da Urca and Vermelha. 

Passing through in the cable car, you can see where the first habitants of the city used to live, surrounding the mountains as well as São João, a fortress from the same period. 

With safety equipment, even inexperienced climbers can face the steep scrambles of Sugarloaf Mountain, with breaks along the way to glimpse at the phenomenal beach views. And of course, a cable car down is always an option when you reach the top!

Amazon Rainforest

Amazon Rainforest Brazil

We all know the Amazon is a blessing to visit. As the most ecologically diverse area on the planet, home to more than 3 million species, you are in for a tropical surprise. Species are still being discovered today, so be sure to keep an eye out for all things weird and wonderful. 

See sloths, monkeys, birds of every hue, turtles, toucans – just about anything should be expected! While here, keep your eyes open for natives’ settlements, as well as huge Victoria Amazonia lily pads which can hold a grown man’s weight! 

You would have a job seeing most of the Amazon Rainforest whilst in Brazil. With more than 1.5 million square metres to explore, that is more than half of the jungle on your doorstep! The best suggestion would be to enter through the capital of the rainforest, which happens to be in northwest Brazil. 

You can catch a boat from Manaus to the Encontro das Aguas, where the Rio Negro meets the Amazon River. Or, if you prefer, venture further into the forest by boat – and hopefully spot some angelic pink dolphins on your path!

Just remember to explore in an ethical way. 

Carnival 

Carnival Brazil

Who doesn’t know about the infamous carnival of Brazil? The King of all parties, if you love music, dancing, food and parades – this is the place for you! 

Get your costume on and track down the festival of the day. Starting in the evening, this is an event not to be missed. Follow the marching band and samba dance parades through the city streets to the end point where you’ll find an even bigger party!

There is a Sambadrome dance that you can book tickets to see, where some of the most exciting costumes are. 

It is free to experience the Carnival and it happens every February or March. There are pre-parties to attend if you don’t make it in time for the big event; if you are hoping to see the action, be sure to book as soon as possible. 

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls Brazil

Up in the north, you can find one of the most breathtaking natural spectacles in the world. 

Foz do Iguaçu (Iguazu Falls) is the unmistakable semi-circle of waterfalls soaring at 1.7 miles (2.7km) high.  See the great mists of plummeting torrents falling at a great force. Surrounded by the jungle of a UNESCO National Park, this is a place to remember the sheer power of nature. 

Use the tower and walkway to get a phenomenal view of the blasting sound of crashing water. Though the waterfalls land on either side of the border between Brazil and Argentina, this is where you can see the mighty Devil’s Throat where the waterfalls come together. 

Keep your eyes open for the vast amount of nature surrounding the attraction, including adorable coatis. 

Brasília

Brasília Brazil
Editorial Credit: Angela_Macario / Shutterstock.com

On your list of must-visits, it is imperative you feature the UNESCO capital city. The city, known for its modern-experimentalist architecture, replaced Rio de Janeiro as the capital. If that doesn’t say enough about it, we don’t know what will! 

Few cities have a running architectural theme, which is why it is important to have a look around at famous monuments such as those in the government district, as well as the cathedral with its illuminating glass ceiling. 

São Paulo

São Paulo Brazil

Bordering Rio de Janeiro is the concrete jungle of São Paulo. Between fast-paced roads that overlap, there is a brighter side to be discovered. Keep a beady eye open for the delights of this southern city.  

With graffiti being legalised in Brazil, São Paulo is the best urban city to see the walls come to life. As you dip in and out of the trendy neighbourhood bars of Vila Madalena, keep your eyes peeled for the murals decorating the aged grey walls. 

Take a walk along Minhoção bridge, which is pedestrian-only over the night and at weekends. Batman Alley is an important visit, as one of the first places in the city to receive a facelift. 

When you catch the underground to your next stop, don’t overlook the first Urban Art Gallery in the country. 

It is also in this city that you will find the most popular park ever in South America!

Salvador

Salvador Brazil

Known as the cultural melting pot of Brazil, make the most of Salvador’s Afro-Brazilian and Portuguese culture. 

The former capital has a lot to share in the way of history, art and heritage, which is why it is a must-visit for your trip to Brazil. Head to the historic heart of Pelourinho to explore the colonial streets, Baroque churches and colourful Portuguese tiled buildings. 

There are a number of exotic beaches here worth visiting where you can also taste the traditional spicy (and often beany) Afro-Brazilian cuisine. 

And since the 17th and 18th-century heritage is carried through from a rich period, it is worth taking note of the colonial Renaissance architecture in this UNESCO city. In particular, Sao Francisco Church built by African slaves meets the eye. 

While in the area, it is worth taking a trip to one of the oldest palaces in Brazil, the Rio Branco. Enter for free and use its balcony for views of the port. 

Fast forward to the 20th century pivotal red blocks of Casa do Comércio Theatre, which is as spectacular from the outside as its performances. 

Parque Ibirapuera

Parque Ibirapuera Brazil

Down in São Paulo is the immensely popular Ibirapuera Park, recognised for its modern architecture. Designed by the man who introduced modern landscaping to Brazil, this green area was a turning point for the country. 

See its curiously shaped rivers and arching fountains which look idyllic with the cityscape in the background. This is a spectacular place to watch the elegant black swans swimming. 

Here you can attend some of the finest museums and concert halls in the city. 

Learn about Brazil’s society through the years at the Museu da Aeronáutica e do Folclore. And a look inside the stunning Auditório Ibirapuera and its rock pool that almost whisks you off to a serene Japanese garden. 

Pantanal

Pantanal Brazil

Visit the largest wetlands in the world where you can partake in a scope of activities. Far in the west of Brazil, you can find a collection of plains and rivers known as Pantanal, home to an extremely diverse amount of nature. 

The best area to explore by boat is Cuiabá, in the north, where you can opt to stay overnight on the water or inside the security of a hotel. Doing this will allow you to experience the wetlands during their nocturnal hours. 

There are close to a thousand species of bird, so bring some binoculars as bird watching is always an option! Look out for mighty caimans, jaguars and the close to extinct, giant armadillo. 

Horse riding and lake fishing are both phenomenal ways to investigate nature. Equipment and advice can be offered from hotels. 

Beaches

Brasília Brazil

The long coastal stretch of Brazil is idolised for its astounding beaches of glistening sand. Taking up 50% of South America, it isn’t difficult to find a great beach in Brazil. But there are a number you must see: 

Voted time and time again as the best beach in the world, Rio’s Ipanema has been a favourite of Carnival-goers, locals and tourists for centuries. And the 1960s hit song ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ certainly helped its popularity. Soak up its white sands and enjoy the surrounding cinemas and galleries; just be conscious of the choppy water. 

Round the corner is another must-see spot, lined with coconut trees and a palace hotel for the rich and famous. Copacabana is the place to go for wave-riding and cocktails. 

Offshore is where you can find the 42 sprawling beaches of Florianopolis, sheltered by lush crags. Each stretch is unique and it is worth checking out as many as you can. The area, in particular Joaquina, is prime for surfers. 

Jardim Botânico de Curitiba

Jardim Botânico de Curitiba Brazil
Editorial Credit: Vitor Lando / Shutterstock.com

The 1991 garden of Jardim Botânico de Curitiba is a wonderful place to slow down and appreciate the exotic beauty of Brazil. 

For anyone who loves symmetry and flowers, the botanical garden features topiaries, tropical flowers and waterfalls, organised in a geometric design inspired by the city flag. 

You can find a number of native species in the area and a beautiful glass greenhouse with a paradise of plants and trees. 

Guests are encouraged to wander through the inclusive Garden of Senses blindfolded. Using only their other senses, explore the tunnel constructed around aroma. 

Tropical Islands

Tropical Islands Brazil

For more of the exotic, head offshore by boat or plane to the tropical islands that surround Brazil. This clever move can take out the difficulty of travelling to find the best beaches and instead have them door to door. 

There is even an island in the Amazon Rainforest. Majaró is known as Buffalo Island for its wild buffalos and ranches that offer cheese, meat and rides. The largest river island in the world, it is covered in wetlands and river beaches. Practically on top of the equator, it is humid and hot year round. 

Ilha Grande is where you want to go for beach hopping and snorkelling. Their jungles also make interesting hiking spots and its abandoned jailhouse tells the tale of its prison history. 

For the whitest sand and an archaeological wonder, you must visit Campeche off Florianopolis. And Ilha do Mel works magic for those looking for a stay with privacy. With only a few hotels to choose from, a single lighthouse and a fortress, Mel make an idyllic getaway. 

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