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Home to verdant rainforests, white-sand beaches and the most decorated national soccer team in the world, Brazil is a captivating South America destination. Sunseekers can soak up the lively ambiance at Ipanema Beach in Rio, attend a world-renown Carnival festival, explore the Amazon rainforest and marvel at spectacular waterfalls. To see some of the world’s most scenic landscapes, visit one of these top places to visit in Brazil.
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Rio de Janeiro
The beating heart of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is a city like no other, where you’ll find lush mountains, brilliant beaches and a lively nightlife scene. See some of the city’s most iconic attractions such as Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain and Copacabana beach, then visit less touristy places such as the hikes found along the TransCarioca 111-mile trail and Arpoador for its sunset views. Time your visit to see one of the biggest Carnival celebrations in the world that includes colorful costumes, parades, dancing and street parties.
Foz do Iguaçu
You visit Foz do Iguaçu for one reason, and that is to see the country’s most stunning natural wonders, Iguazu Falls. It is one of the world’s largest waterfalls and will lure you in with a chance to marvel at the sheer power of the series of waterfalls that plunge into the Iguazu River. It straddles the border between Brazil and Argentina and features hundreds of cascades, but make sure to see the 262-foot Devil’s Throat. Hop on one of the rubber boats to see the spectacle up close.
Nicknamed the “concrete jungle”, Sao Paulo is not only the largest city in Brazil but it is one of the biggest cities in the world. Located in southeastern Brazil, it is known for its towering skyscrapers, delectable cuisine and vibrant cultural scene. Get a dose of culture by exploring its collection of art galleries, museums and international restaurants, then connect with nature in one of the public parks or a portion of the Atlantic rainforest. You’ll find plenty of places to drop until you shop, while Praca Roosevelt is where to find trendy bars and nightlife.
If you’re interested in history, Salvador will lure you in with its beautiful historic center dotted with pastel-hued buildings, churches, museums and shops. Situated on the coast of the Bay of All Saints, Salvador also offers access to picturesque beaches, such as Porto de Barra, Flamengo and Stella Maris, where you can go swimming and surfing. Head to Pelourinho for food and entertainment, or simply sit back and photograph its colorful colonial buildings, small cobblestone alleys and churches with gilt woodwork and Baroque features.
Recife is called the “Venice of Brazil”, known for its variety of waterways and bridges. Nestled amongst tropical forests, rivers and peninsulas, it captivates travelers with its historic old town, beautiful beaches and vibrant cultural attractions. Meander through the town center to discover buildings dating back to the 16th century, visit glitzy designer stores, see Brazilian and European artwork at Instituto Ricardo Brennand, then soak up the sunshine at Boa Viagem Beach that is sheltered by reefs.
Considered one of Brazil’s best-preserved colonial cities, the UNESCO-listed Olinda was founded in the early 16th century by Portuguese settlers. The small colonial town is located on the Atlantic Coast, perched on a hilltop surrounded by lush foliage and the historic downtown area that is dotted with colorful houses that cling to the hillside in addition to Baroque churches, museums and restaurants. It is now considered an art hub, where creative types can explore a variety of art galleries, artisan studios and workshops.
A charming small town in the southern tip of the Rio de Janeiro state, Paraty is known for its Portuguese colonial architecture and variety of natural wonders. An idyllic destination with access to tropical forests, waterfall and coastal mountains, Paraty is also home to a beautiful historic center with cobbled streets and multi-colored buildings. Explore the defense forts that boast original walls, hang out at the beach in Barra do Corumbê and take a scenic boat trip to Praia da Lula, Praia Vermelha and Praia de Santa Rita for snorkeling adventures.
Popular for its buzzing cultural attractions, picturesque beaches and shopping opportunities, Fortaleza is Brazil’s fifth largest city. Beach lovers should check out Meireles, Mucuripe, Iracema and the local favorite Praia do Futuro and explore Centro, the historic part of the city, then visit Praia de Iracema to join in on the lively nightlife scene. Pick up souvenirs at Mercado Central de Fortaleza, visit the Mausoleum of General Castelo Branco, and take a day trip to see the beaches, rolling dunes and quaint fishing villages up and down the Ceará coast.
The perfect day trip from Rio de Janeiro, Buzios is just two hours north of the Brazil’s most popular city. Considered a sun seeker’s paradise, it boasts more than 20 beaches where you can enjoy the outdoors. Sunbathe along the coast, or kick your vacation up a notch with a day of surfing, scuba diving and touring the area by boat. Comprised of three communities, you can explore Ossos, Manguinhos and Armacao to get a taste of each of their different personalities, offering you a chance to experience some of Brazil’s most spectacular landscapes.
Built in the 1960’s, Brazil’s capital is a thoroughly planned city that is laid out in the form of an airplane. Each section of the plane design is a different district, from residential and government to culture and commerce. Admire unique architecture throughout the city, including the Brasilia Cathedral that boasts a glass roof with hands reaching up to heaven, then check out Three Powers Square to see the Supreme Court, Congress and Presidential Palace. After sightseeing, unwind in Parque Municipal do Itiquira to admire the 551-foot Itiquira waterfall.
Serving as the gateway to the Amazon rainforest, Manaus sits in northwestern Brazil on the banks of the Negro River. Get a dose of culture at the Amazonas Opera House and Rio Negro Palace then marvel at the nearby natural phenomena known as the “Meeting of the Waters” where the two rivers, Negro River and Solimões River, run side by side without fully mixing. See colorful displays of local fruits, vegetables and herbs at Mercado Municipal Adolpho Lisboa, admire French architecture at Teatro Amazonas and learn about the Amazon jungle at Museu da Amazonia.