This blog post was updated on July 30, 2021.
When it comes to travel, Brazil makes it onto many top travel-destination-lists…and trust us when we say, there’s a good reason (well, more like dozens) why. In fact, Brazil is regarded so highly for its beauty and liveliness that locals themselves describe their homeland as lindo maravilhoso — a Brazilian saying that literally translates to “beautiful, marvelous”. But if you’re planning a trip to breathtaking Brazil, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. After all, as the largest country in South America (making up almost half the entire continent), the vast stretches of natural splendor are seemingly endless here, and the country’s rich, multi-ethnic history makes for an explosion of culture, cuisine an architecture in every minute of your visit.
So, where to start? How about right here! From the Amazon rainforest to cuisine as diverse as its history, kick-start your Brazil travel itinerary and check out our top picks for the must-see attractions in Brazil!
Sight-See in Sensational São Paulo
Atop the Piratininga plateau and surrounded by rivers, lies São Paulo–the largest city in the largest continent in South America (dare you to say that three times as fast). What started out as a home base for explorers and immigrants in search of gold grew into Brazil’s financial center and a bustling metropolis, brimming with art and culture. From its diverse, ethnic population and history to its innumerable architectural landmarks and famous museums that hold some of the best collections of fine arts in Latin America, a visit to São Paulo is a must! Check out the São Paulo Museum of Art where you’ll find works by Van Gogh, Matisse, and Picasso along with over seventy bronze sculpture by Degas alone. Or, head to São Paulo’s Ipiranga district to take a stroll through Independence Park and Museu Paulista to marvel at the Versailles-inspired rose gardens and fountains alongside the Neoclassic architecture of the palace itself, reminiscent of many Renaissance palaces of Italy.
Bask in the Fernando de Noronha Sunshine
For our beach bums and aqua-files out there, this volcanic archipelago about 350 kilometers off Brazil’s northeast coast is one you definitely don’t want to miss out on. Fernando de Noronha and its twenty-one islands are nothing short of paradise within Brazil. Whether you’re looking for a casual sun-soaked day in a picturesque oasis, or an underwater adventure from scuba diving and snorkeling, as a protected national marine park, you’re sure to get a solid dose of water-wanderlust along the untouched beaches and rugged, green coastline. Oh! And did we mention that the area is home to a diverse ecosystem that includes dolphins, reef sharks, tropical fish, and stingrays?
Head up to Heights, Hills, and Mountains…Oh, My!
Ready to shake out those legs and kick up the cardio after those long international flights? Well, whether you’re the outdoorsy or not, the scenery alone will be worth the trek! Head to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain in a cable car where you can spot stunning views of the city of Rio de Janeiro. Hike to the world’s largest art deco sculpture, Christ the Redeemer, at the top of Mount Corcovado. Whether you’re at the top of a mountain or at the ground level soaking in the sunshine or taking a dip in the river, all the sights and sounds you’ll encounter will be extraordinary!
Dance the Day Away at Captivating Carnaval
Yep, here’s looking at you party-goer. Few experiences match the notorious Rio de Janeiro Carnaval. Color, sound, and action–if you have the opportunity to grab some international flights to Brazil during this festival, don’t think twice! Carnaval is as enchanting as it is rowdy of an extravaganza, with parades of competing samba dancers and musicians strutting down the street in elaborate costumes while crowds of partiers by the thousands from across the globe pour into the streets of Rio to join in on the fun. It’s truly a must-see, one-of-a-kind event that is well worth adding to your bucket list.
Watch Someone Score a G-O-O-O-A-L!
If you’re a soccer fanatic, then we have one question for you: why haven’t you booked your international flights yet? Brazil had a long history and deep-rooted love affair with soccer (or football as they call it there). Home to over 29,000 soccer clubs, Brazil has a soccer stadium in every single one of its cities and during big games, stores close up shop, people take off from or leave work early, and hundreds of fans storm the stadiums and local bars to cheer and chant for their favorite leagues! It’s safe to say that soccer isn’t just a past-time in Brazil, it’s a national passion and ingrained in the lifestyle. On your visit, don’t miss a chance at catching a game or two… or five.
Take a Dip in the Incredible Iguaçu Falls
If you’re a believer in the saying “don’t go chasing waterfalls”, we think there is a place in Brazil that would definitely make you change your mind. The Iguaçu Falls, a UNESCO world heritage site, boasts about 275 waterfalls and meets at the borders of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina meet here–talk about an international adventure! Of course, it’s not hard to argue that some of the best views are from the Brazil side of the mesmerizing falls (lucky you, Brazil traveler!), but, if you’re looking for the most spectacular view of them all, make your way to Devil’s Throat — a point visitors can walk to across the bridge. While you’re here, keep your ears and eyes peeled. The surrounding rainforest hosts over 500 species of birds and eighty different mammals so you may hear the melodies of tropical birds or the banter of some rare monkeys!
Have any must-sees in Brazil of your own? Post them in the comments below and let us know!