Brazil – A Beautiful Country To Visit

I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time in this beautiful country, and want to share some it’s most wonderful sights with you here. Consider this my very own ode to the beautiful country that I’m proud to call home.

Brazil is the largest country in South America, and home to an astonishing number of plant and animal species – more, in fact, than anywhere else in the world. Making it a haven for nature-loving travellers.

Taking your time and spending more than a week here, so that you get the chance to see as much of this awe-inspiring country as possible, would absolutely be my best advice! With so much to see, it’s hard for the first-time visitor to decide where to focus their attention, I think. 

So I also thought that I would use my knowledge of the best areas to stay, visit, and spend time to pull together a mini-travel guide for you.

My personal ‘Top 12 things to do and see while you’re in Brazil’.

1. Attend a football match in Rio

Football is nothing short of a religion here, and the chaos and excitement during a match are contagious! Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro is one of the largest stadiums in the world, and it seats 100,000 supporters. The best games are the local teams (Flamengo, Vasco, Botafogo, and Fluminese) because you’re guaranteed a game full of singing, cheering, and insult-slinging. You can buy tickets through the teams’ websites or the FutebolCard site. 

2. Visit Brasilia

Brasilia is the often-overlooked capital of Brazil. This futuristic city was established in 1960 and is a hub for modernist architecture, including the National Congress, with its odd bowl-shaped structures, and Santuário Dom Bosco church which boasts long, narrow windows made of blue-colored Murano glass that represents a starry sky. Visit the 60,000-acre Parque Nacional de Brasilia and walk the trails between tall Cerrado trees while looking for wildlife like anteaters and pampas deer. It’s an all too often overlooked destination by travelers.

3. Explore the Pantanal

Located in Western Brazil, the Pantanal is the largest wetland in the world, stretching into parts of Bolivia and Paraguay. Over 11,000 species of animal live here, including the rare marsh deer, the giant anteater, and the hyacinth macaw. The two main access points are Cuiabá and Campo Grande. I recommend the latter as it tends to offer more affordable accommodations and tour options.

4. Relax in Recife

Located on the eastern tip of the country, Recife is the place to be if you want to relax and enjoy some of Brazil’s scenic beaches. Boa Viagem, the 7-kilometer stretch of sand between Pina to Piedade, is very developed with cabanas and sun chairs for rent. Piedade is equally as beautiful but less touristy, lined with restaurants and bars where the locals hang out. For an even more low-key beach area, head south to Porto de Galinhas, where the beach is virtually empty.

5. Visit Salvador

Salvador is Brazil’s culture capital thanks to its vibrant Afro-Brazilian community. Located down the coast from Recife, Nosso Senhor do Bonfim is a perfect example of this community’s unique spirit: it’s a church that peacefully combines Catholicism and Candomblé (a religion originating from West Africa). Furthermore, the pastel-painted colonial buildings and cobblestone scenes of the Pelourinho neighborhood are extremely photogenic, and if you stay in this area, you’ll have easy access to shopping, restaurants, bars, and live music.

6. See São Paulo

São Paulo, the third-largest city in the world and the largest in South America, is home to over 20 million people. This sprawling metropolis is for anyone who loves wild nightlife, live music, and fine dining. Every area is like its own micro-city and it’s a completely different vibe than Rio. São Paulo has a flourishing art community, which you can discover through its many experimental theaters and art-house cinemas (including CineSala, an independent street theater founded in 1959).

7. Try Capoeira

Capoeira is a combination of dance, music, and martial arts created nearly 500 years ago by enslaved West Africans to disguise their combat training. It kind of looks like breakdancing, emphasizing flow over specific stances. In Brazil’s larger cities you can sign up for intro classes, including in Rio de Janeiro, where classes are easily found by tourists.

8. Unplug in Ilha Grande

You’d never know from the look of it that the tropical island paradise of Ilha Grande was once a pirate’s hideout, a leper colony, and a high-security prison. Nowadays people (especially locals from nearby Rio) come here on the weekends to hang out on the pristine beaches, like Aventura Beach and Palmas Cove. There are a handful of hostels and accommodations here, but mostly the island is made up of undeveloped jungles and beaches. Come here to lounge, disconnect, and chill out.

9. Visit Ouro Preto

Ouro Preto, a 17th-century colonial town, is one of Brazil’s most picturesque towns for its brightly painted houses, Baroque churches, and large leafy plazas. Located around 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of Rio, Ouro Preto sits in a valley at the foot of the Serra do Espinhaco, and up in the hills surrounding the town are 23 churches you can hike to visit.

10. Learn The Samba

Samba is a musical genre and dance born in Rio de Janeiro’s Afro-Brazilian communities in the early 20th century. Today, it’s an important Brazilian cultural symbol, but Rio remains one of the best places in Brazil to learn how to dance. Rio Samba Dancer is is a popular one for tourists to flock to.

11. Admire Ribeirão da Ilha

Ribeirão da Ilha is an Azorean fishing village on Santa Catarina near Florianópolis with delectable oyster dishes, secluded beaches, cobbled streets, and jellybean-colored houses. Wander the colonial streets, visit the Acoriano Casario Church, and stop in at the museum Ecomuseu do Ribeirão da Ilha for more on the natural and Azorean cultural history of the area. 

12. Hike in Tijuca National Park

Tijuca National Park is the largest urban rainforest in the world, stretching across 8,300 acres. The area is home to over 350 different species of mammals, birds, and reptiles, including howler monkeys, which only came back to the park recently after a 100-year hiatus. The Corcovado (Christo) hike through Parque Lage to the top of Corcovado is a steep climb, but it’s shaded and only takes about three hours. Another scenic hike is to Tijuca Peak, starting in Rio’s North Zone and going past waterfalls and through dense rainforest. This hike only takes about two hours, and you’ll be rewarded with views over Niteroi and Guanabara Bay. 

I genuinely hope you enjoy the country as much as I do – if you can visit even 2 or 3 of the list above during your stay, you’re bound to have an absolutely amazing time!

Written by Bernard de Laguiche