15 Best Places to Visit in Brazil

Are you thinking about going on vacation to Brazil? The largest rain forest on Earth. The longest beaches. The most famous statue. The wildest and best parties in the world. In Brazil, everything is larger than life.

Are you fed up of being stuck in a rut? Do you want a break from your monotonous life? You would like to plan a trip undoubtedly. Of course, you would not like to revisit the same place. Whether you are planning a romantic trip or a family trip, Brazil can be the best vacation spot. There are numerous places to visit in Brazil, from rain forests to magnificent beaches.

Brazil is eminent for national parks and Portuguese architecture, including the new Seven Wonders of the World – Christ the Redeemer. Brazil has several appealing tourist attractions that capture the imagination of people from all across the globe. It is generally famous for landscapes that can hold your breath.

Apart from monuments, landscapes, and beaches, Brazil is also renowned for its colonial towns. If you go there, you will feel like you have stepped back in time. Swim among vibrant fish and corals at various diving sites and treat your taste buds at a local Churrascaria with traditional Feijoada.

Brazil is very underrated when it comes to travel options out of the stereotypes carnival, Rio de Janeiro, beaches, and soccer. The country has options for all the tastes from canyons to winter resorts, as well as unique gastronomy and traditions such as rodeo and festa junina.

Each region of Brazil is highlighted by tourist attractions such as beaches, forests, jungles, rivers, waterfalls and also cities.

If you are going to Brazil the first time, you should consult a travel agent to get a line on famous places to visit. Here are the best places to visit in Brazil.

Best Places to Visit in Brazil Here's our supersized Brazilian bucketlist.

1. Parque Nacional dos Lençóis Maranhenses

Lençóis Maranhenses, is also nicknamed Brazil’s Sahara Desert. It is made of several sand dunes filled with natural pools. According to some, this is South America's most underrated tourist attraction. It is filled with many natural pools made of rainwater.

2. Foz do Iguacu

If you love nature, you should not miss seeing Iguazu falls. It is one of the most beautiful things to experience. Some consider it the beauty of Brazil. If you have not witnessed it, you have missed the most delicate part of Brazil. It is the largest waterfall in the world. The roaring sound of splashes will fill you with excitement. The total height of the fall is 82 metres, and the fall’s width is 2.7 kilometre.

If you visit Brazil, you must witness Iguazu falls. These waterfalls are part of the Iguazu River and are located in both Argentina and Brazil. Iguazu Falls are the largest waterfall system on Earth. The area around these gorgeous cascades was inhabited by Eldoradense hunter-gatherers about ten thousand years ago before the Guarani displaced them in 1000 CE. During the sixteenth century, Portuguese and Spanish conquistadors took over.

The falls are formed by three basalt layers that cause a staircase effect. Each step is between thirty-five and forty meters high - between one hundred fifteen and one hundred thirty feet. The average annual flow of Iguazu Falls is about sixty-one thousand six hundred cubic feet per second, but the highest recorded flow was one million six hundred fourteen thousand cubic feet per second.

These cascades aren’t just enormous and powerful though; they’re also absolutely stunning. The blue-green water against the greenery Argentina and Brazil have to offer provides a natural contrast that’s hard to come by.

3. Salvador

Salvador is situated in Bahia state. This place is famous for its colonial architecture. Though it is known as a new Portugal world, you can still trace to colonial architecture. You can find the traces of a historical town in Pelourinho. You will get to see multi-painted buildings in a traditional way, narrow alleys churches with wooden work.

You will feel as if you have stepped back into the colonial era when you walk into the state. It will give you a complete traditional look of the country. Besides, you can experience Portugal’s art. You will see drummers on the street who will play Olodum’s music. This ritual is performed during Salvador’s carnival.

This ritual symbolizes combating social discrimination, boosting self-esteem and pride. There are several other festivals you can witness when you visit the state of Bahia. The culture that people follow is Afro-Brazilian. You can also get a chance to attend religious ceremonies, rituals and enjoy the delicious traditional food of Brazil.

The mid-western culinary is one of the most diverse in Brazil. There are influences from European and African countries as well as India. Cuisine in this region also uses a lot of meat, since livestock is one of the most important economic activities around.

Local fruits and vegetables are frequently used, like pequi. Some care needs to be taken when eating this fleshy fruit, since it has spines surrounding the pit, which can lodge in mouth causing considerable pain. Besides pequi, fish from the Pantanal ecosystem are also used in stews and roasts.

Pequi is a fruit and the most popular typical ingredient in Goiás. The most popular dish is Arroz com Pequi, or Rice with Pequi. Chicken, Guariroba palm hearts, olives and Minas cheese are also commonly used to make dishes like the local pie known as empadão goiano.

If you're going to try any dish from the Northeast, be prepared to taste different spices. Lots of spices. This region’s cuisine is marked by the wide influence from African culture, seen in the use of peppers, coriander (instead of parsley, as in the southern parts of the country) and two local ingredients: azeite de dendê, or palm oil, and manteiga de garrafa, or “butter-in-a-bottle”.

It is hard to divide the typical dishes per state in the Northeastern region since there are many similarities between them. The most relevant differences can be detected between cuisines from the Northeastern coast and from Sertão, the backwoods of the region. Also, Salvador/Bahia cuisine is very specific.

4. Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo is the largest and most beautiful city in Brazil. If you want to try Brazilian cuisines and experience Brazil's rich culture, you must visit this city. In addition to skyscrapers, loud nightlife, you will also experience art galleries, theatres, museums, and stupendous dining. The town also has upscale bars.

If you want to see a sophisticated Brazil, you should visit Sao Paulo city. It is a vast city and hence there is a lot of hustle and bustle, but you will not experience a headache to see the fast-moving life here. You will have a vibe like New York City. Paulista Museum, Altino Arantes, and many others, all of them become objects of the cultural heritage of the world and remain as emblematic monuments for Sao Paulo.

If you have enough time to take a trip out of São Paulo, it is worthwhile to rent a car and look for a lost village 160 kilometers from the city and 1,628 meters high in the Mantequeira mountain range.

The cuisine from the state of São Paulo is definitely the most diverse in Brazil, due to being the most cosmopolitan state of the country and receiving a lot of immigrants from elsewhere, so you will never have only one answer when asking someone what is the state’s typical dish. Some will say pizza and pasta, due to the huge Italian influence - Italian immigration in São Paulo was huge in the past.

Pizza in São Paulo is something of an experience, such as this typical Castelões pizza, with toppings of cheese and Linguiça calabresa, a type of brazilian sausage. Some others might even mention japanese food, due to the large amount of Japanese descendants. Brazil has the largest numbers of japanese descendants outside of Japan, most of them concentrated in the city of São Paulo.

Japanese dishes have been adapted to local tastes for over a century and are basically available everywhere around the country, but São Paulo is known as the Mecca for japanese-brazilian food. Maybe the most typical dish is a simple sandwich, the Bauru. Its traditional recipe calls for cheese (usually mozzarella) melted in a bain-marie, slices of roast beef, tomato and pickled cucumber in a French bun with the crumb (the soft inner part) removed.

The Lebanese influx also created a local lebanese-brazilian culinary tradition that already encompasses a full century. Kibe, the brazilian version of kibbeh, along with other lebanese-influenced foods, are basically found everywhere. In the hinterlands of São Paulo, one unusual dish is farofa de içá, which is, basically, flying ants bellies prepared over firewood, toasted with pork fat or fried with cassava flour.

Yes, brazilians also consume some insects! Off the coast of São Paulo, there is also Camarão na moranga (Shrimp stuffed pumpkin). It is a pumkin stuffed with shrimps and melted cheese, cooked in the oven.

5. Campos do Jordão

This is Campos do Jordão, the small Brazilian Switzerland that in the months of July and August - with its winter temperatures in this hemisphere - becomes a hive of skiers and tourists from the cold.

The structure and roofs of the houses as well as the brewery (which can be visited) recall the Central European towns, with the exception that it is less than two hours from São Paulo. Other essential plans of this region are the forests to lose yourself of walk, routes of senderismo and escalada, as well as rise in cable car to reach the top of the Morro Elefante.

Nothing like sitting outdoors to taste craft beers accompanied by typical German snacks. In addition, in Campos do Jordão is the Baden-Baden microbrewery.

6. Bonito

Choose the expansive Pantanal for your instagram worthy backdrop. Try and learn a few samba moves from the locals. Book tickets for The Sambadrome, and watch Samba performances that will leave you spellbound. Here you can experience magical moments in a perfect combination of sun, beaches and excellent weather.

The aromas of the Atlantic forest, warm waters and the white sand beaches of Brazil are flavored with the joy and hospitality of the Brazilian people. The Pantanal is the largest marshland in the world with more than 180,000 square meters distributed by the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraguay and Bolivia.

Pantanal can be accessed, mainly, from two towns of Corumbá to the north and Campo Grande to the south. Crossing all its extension there is only one road, the Transpantaneira, which in the rainy season can even get to be flooded by the waters.

Avoid visiting northern Pantanal during the rainy season from December to March as the presence of mosquitoes is so intense that the trip can become bitter. The wildlife lovers could make a competition between Amazon and Pantanal. Simply evoking the Amazon has the ability to awaken our adventurous instinct, in search of unprecedented discoveries.

But the Pantanal, besides being the most beautiful animal reserve in Brazil (incredible, but true), is also a little known place and, therefore, the antithesis of the places where the concepts of ecotourism and the multitude go hand in hand. Brazil’s enormous wetland offers some of the finest wildlife watching in South America – and the onset of the dry season allows for better sightings of capybara, caiman, storks, ibis and majestic jaguar.

7. Curitiba

Curitiba is the most sustainable green city of Brazil, another European looking city in Latin America after Buenos Aires.

A popular snack during the winter in the entire South is roasted or boiled pinhão, the seeds of the Araucaria tree (Brazilian pine), which are similar to large pine nuts.

8. Vale do Javari

In the Western Brazilian Amazon, lies Vale do Javari, (translated as the Valley of Javari), one of the few places on earth where no outsider has never set foot in. It’s home to up to 3,000 indigenous peoples, making it the largest concentration of isolated groups in the Amazon and the world.

These uncontacted peoples live in tribes made of hunters-gatherers, and have never seen a sophisticated car, nor have they known the wheel! Yes, even in our current 21st century, they still live in the same way as hunters-gatherers in prehistoric times.

Despite its vulnerability to deforestation and climate change, the Amazon rainforest remains as large and uncharted as it were before. So it’s a land of mysteries waiting to be discovered, including signs of ancient civilizations that have yet to be fully investigated, as well as numerous undiscovered species of plants and animals.

Sure enough, up to 381 new species are discovered every year in the region, and the number just keeps on growing as time goes by. So, who knows for sure what new discovery lies out there in this dense, untouched jungle?

9. Porto Alegre

Xis, a local reimagining of the American hamburger, is probably the most recent addition to the list of traditional dishes in the state. It is basically a huge sandwich, about 16 cm in diameter (almost the size of a plate), filled with beef, chicken, sausage or any other meat, with mayonnaise, corn, peas, lettuce, tomatoes, fried egg and mozzarella cheese and then pressed.

The Xis Coração variation, filled with chicken hearts, is a local favourite. In the southern coast of the state and in the region of Lake Guaíba and its islands, there is a popular dish known as Tainha na taquara. The dish consists of a mullet roasted over red-hot firewood attached to a skewer made of taquara, one of the numerous brazilian bamboo tree varieties.

A common drink in the state is chimarrão, prepared by steeping dried crushed leaves of yerba mate (known in Portuguese as erva-mate) in hot water and sipped from a metal straw in a shared hollow calabash gourd. The heavy German and Italian immigration also lead to a local cuisine heavily influenced by these countries. Sausages, dairy products, a wide variety of breads, cakes, cheeses, pork, grapes, local wine and beer are widespread.

The Italians immigrants also brought some of their tradition along in a very traditional dish from the mountainous region of the Serra Gaúcha. Galeto al primo canto - or spring chicken - comes served with either spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce, or with olive oil and garlic sauce or with butter sauce, along with other side dishes such as fried polenta, cappelletti in brodo or raddicchio.

Sweets in Brazil are usually very sweet - a delight for anyone with a sweet tooth - but in the south, especially in the areas with heavy German influence, sweets tend to be more mild on sugar levels, roughly on par with northern european tastes. Cakes, puddings and milk-based sweets are a local tradition.

Cassava, or manioc, the native Amazonian root originally cultivated by the indigenous people of Brazil, now serves as one of the backbones of Brazilian cuisine. Cassava is heavily featured in the country’s cuisine in many different forms, usually as a side dish.

Cassava is most of the time consumed as a seasoned powdery side dish known as Farofa, that looks like sand, but tastes like heaven. There are a thousand types of farofa, but the basic preparation involves toasted manioc flour. Beans, yellow rice, some salad, a piece of steak sprinkled with some farofa will surely make your day. Most Brazilians prefer this plate over something fancy.

The Northeastern backwoods, or Sertão, is one of the poorest regions in Brazil. This affected the local cuisine historically as people adapted themselves to use the ingredients available when cooking, resulting in dishes with jerked beef and “less noble” parts of the cow or animal like guts and other organs. Also, the plates are most reminiscent of the indigenous cuisine, with many vegetables being cultivated in the area since before the arrival of the Portuguese.

Fried manioc is also a typical dish, and cassava tastes its best in this recipe: delicate but tasty, crispy on the outside and creamy inside.

Some of the most exotic, typical dishes are sarapatel, made from pigs’ or goats’ viscera and other organs, cooked with various spices and the animal’s blood. And buchada de bode, made from goats’ kidneys, viscera and livers cooked in the goat’s stomach.

The most exotic region in Brazil also has an exotic cuisine, heavily influenced by indigenous cuisine. The Northern culinary makes an intense use of local ingredients: fish and fruits found in the Amazon forest and its rivers. The Indian influence is also very present with the use of native ingredients that are not even known by some in other parts of the country.

10. Florianópolis

Of all the states in the South, Santa Catarina is the one where seafood is consumed the most. Oysters from the city of Florianópolis are known throughout the country, but shrimps, shellfish and various fish are part of the regional coastal cuisine as well. This state is also strongly influenced by German gastronomy, because of the immigration in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Some of the results of this influence are german pastries like Apfelstrudels and traditional dishes such as Eisbein with potato salad and sauerkraut. And lots of beer, of course! Italian cuisine also left its dent. Polenta com carne is a local dish.

11. Belo Horizonte

Food from the Southeast is influenced by every other region in Brazil and also from other countries, since many people from Europe and Africa settled there. The only possible exception is the state of Minas Gerais, which has one of the most characteristic cuisines in the country. A large part of Minas Gerais is sustained by agribusiness, so the state became known as a countryside area, or caipira, in Portuguese.

Cuisine there follows several traditions, even in the way food is prepared, as some farms and houses still use wood burning stoves and iron cookware to prepare the meals. Besides rice and beans, chicken and pork are widely consumed, along with vegetables like couve, which is a type of cabbage, okra and abóbora d’água, which is similar to winter melon.

Another highlight of caipira cuisine are the desserts. Minas is particularly famous for its simple cakes made out of corn or corn meal and compotes made of fig, cider, orange or pumpkin. A famous dessert from Minas Gerais is Romeu e Julieta. Like the star-crossed lovers, the flavor combination in this Brazilian Romeo and Juliet recipe is a perfect pairing.

Salty, soft Minas cheese and sweet, goiabada (guava marmalade) combine in this unique and simple dish, which can be served as an dessert or appetizer.

12. Arraial do Cabo

Cabo Frio in Brazil is worth a few minutes of thought for surfing and for beaches. A great thing about Brazil is that every city in the country has Rodízio de Pizza, for a fixed price (excluding the beverages), it is an all you can eat pizza fest. Every waiter has a Pizza flavour and they go table to table to serve people slices (it is the same system that Fogo de Chão uses). Usually, Brazilian pizzas do not have a lot of tomato sauce and also Olives seems to be mandatory.

13. Belém

Some of the most popular ingredients used in the state of Pará - which boasts the most remarkable cuisine of the North - and in the Northern cuisine are açaí berry, fruits like cupuaçu and bacuri and castanha-do-pará, or Brazil nut, amongst an infinity of other local products. Manioc, Tucupi, a yellow sauce extracted from wild manioc root, as well as local herb jambu (a native variety of paracress) are widely used in local preparations.

Açaí, in particular, is a staple food for the people of Pará, has been freshly consumed as a dietary staple in the region around the Amazon river delta for centuries. It is a small, round, black-purple berry about 25 mm (1 in) in circumference, similar in appearance to a grape, but smaller and with less pulp. The fruit is processed into a creamy pulp and eaten in a bowl.

Castanhas do Pará (Brazil nut) are indigenous to the Amazon rainforest and produce large nuts that are a staple of the local cuisine of Pará.

Tucunaré (peacock bass) are very widely consumed. Its flesh is white and sweet when cooked, and has very little oil, making it similar in taste to snapper or groupe.

The most basic and common salad is a combination of lettuce, arugula or watercress with sliced tomatoes and onions, seasoned with vinegar, salt and olive oil. But some other variations are also common, such as this one with palmito (palm hearts). In the south, potato salads are very common.

Fruit juices are everywhere in Brazil. Basically, in any big city, anywhere, you can get freshly made juices from local fruits. In Rio in particular, there is a Juice Bar in almost every corner. These are the local fast food, only what they serve is actually not bad for your health. In some places, you can get a menu with over 70 different options of fruits for a fresh juice order. And, boy, do they come in all colours and sizes!

But wait: if you decide to go to the beach in Rio, don’t forget to taste some amazing ice cold mate (made from the same yerba mate as chimarrão, only toasted). Or maybe some Guaraná, native to the Amazon basin and especially common all over the country as a carbonated or uncarbonated soft drink. Or maybe Jabuticaba wine, perhaps?

The mutant mayhem displayed by the local plants only gets more and more apparent. The Brazilian grape tree, also known as jabuticaba, has purplish-black, white pulped fruits that grow directly on the trunk – an unusual feature among trees and can be eaten raw or used to make jam and juice (oh, and it tastes like grape, hence the name).

Jabuticaba, are purplish-black, white-pulped fruits which grow directly on the trunk of its parent tree. They can be eaten raw or be used to make jellies, jams, juice or wine. It tastes similar to blueberries.

Maracujá, known in english as passion fruit, are round or oval fruits and can be of yellow, red, purple or green colours. The yellow variety is most commonly found in the country and used for a number of preparations, including jams, yoghurts, cakes, ice cream, chocolate truffles, mousse, juices etc. The fruit itself has a crunchy and somewhat sour taste with a very distictly pleasant flavour.

Goiaba (Guava) are widely consumed as well. The pulp of this fruit may be sweet or sour and off-white to deep pink. It is usually consumed raw, in candies, jams or juices, as well as goiabada, a type of marmalade. Red guavas can also be used as the base of salted products such as sauces, substituting for tomatoes, especially to minimize acidity.

Cupuaçu is a relative of the Cacao tree that is native to northern Brazil. The white pulp of the cupuaçu has an odour described as a mix of chocolate and pineapple and is frequently used in desserts, juices and sweets. In a similar fashion to Cacao, it is also prepared into a butter and a chocolate-like preparation known as cupulate.

Pitanga (Suriname or Brazilian cherry), a personal favourite, is a plant native to the entire eastern coast of Brazil, which produces a small green, red or black cherry that tastes sweet to sour, depending on the cultivar and level of ripeness (the darker red to black range is quite sweet, while the green to orange range is strikingly tart). Its predominant food use is as a flavoring and base for jams and jellies, but it is also commonly used for juices or eaten raw.

As a dietary supplement, guarana seed is an effective stimulant: it contains about twice the concentration of caffeine found in coffee seeds (about 2–4.5% caffeine in guarana seeds, compared to 1–2% for coffee seeds) and it is widely used in soft drinks and as a supplement in energy drinks.

Fruta do Conde or ata (Sugar-apple) has a fragrant and sweet pulp, with a creamy white through light yellow colour, and resembles and tastes like custard. Its origin is probably from the Caribbean, but has been introduced in the country since early colonial times.

Caju (Cashew), known worldwide for its nuts, is a native plant from Northeastern Brazil and also produces an apple that is commonsly used for juices or eaten raw. Its taste is sweet and aromatic. Abacaxi (Pineapple) are native to South America, around the Paraguay-Brazil border. Pineapples have infinite culinary uses, but are most often eaten fresh or as juice.

Siriguela are very common in the North and Northeast of the country. This yellowish fruit tastes and looks like a miniature mango and is very juicy. Brazilians like to enjoy siriguela on its own as a snack and some use it in juices or to flavor ice creams. Cagaita, native of the Cerrado, the central savannah region of Brazil, is a yellow-orange small berry with a sweet-sour and slightly astringent pulp, usually eaten raw or used for sweets, jams, beverages, and sherbets.

Jenipapo can be eaten raw, but have a strong taste are most often eaten in preserves or made into drinks, jelly, ice cream or liqueurs. Bacuri is native to the Amazonian rainforest and present in the North and parts of the Northeast. It is one of the tastiest fruits of the Amazon and is usually made into various condiments and beverages. The fruit's sticky white pulp is strongly aromatic and tastes both sweet and sour.

Buriti, typical of the Amazon, is a fruit from the buritizeiro palm tree that can be eaten raw or made into juices, jams, ice creams, wines, desserts and snacks. It also yields a precious beauty oil that has been used by the indigenous people of the Amazon basin for centuries.

Acerola tree produces bright red drupes that are juicy and very high in vitamin C as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, and B3, as well as carotenoids and bioflavonoids, which provide important nutritive value and have antioxidant uses. They are used for a number of products, such as flavourings, jams, juices etc. and can also be eaten raw, with a very characteristic sour taste.

Graviola (Soursop) is described with an aroma similar to pineapple. Its flavor is a combination of strawberries and apple with sour citrus flavor notes, contrasting with an underlying thick creamy texture reminiscent of banana.

Mamão (papaya) are also native from Northern South American. The ripe fruit of the papaya is usually eaten raw (usually as breakfast), without skin or seeds, or used for preserves or sweets. It tastes mildly sweet and has a soft texture, with a slight muskiness which adds to the distinct papaya flavor. Also, the white flesh of the coconut is very often eaten after drinking its water.

Do you want more bizarre features from the Amazon? This one is straight out of a science-fiction horror movie: a special type of fungus is responsible for what is called zombie ants. Many species of ants encounter the fungus on the jungle floor or become coated with its spores as they float through the air, making their way inside the ant’s body and mind, and manipulating them.

In the process, just like a zombie, the ant accomplishes unconscious actions, reaches the highest leaves in the canopy (an normally uncommon behavior among ants), and permanently locks its mandibles around one of these leaves. After some time, it dies, allowing the fungus to reproduce and grow into a bulbous capsule full of spores, straight from the poor insect’s head. Pretty scary, huh?

14. Fernando de Noronha

This incredibly stunning archipelago is made up of twenty-one islets and islands within the Atlantic Ocean about two hundred twenty miles off the coast of Brazil. The main island is almost seven square miles and makes up ninety-one percent of the entire area. There are about fifteen endemic species of plants that grow here, including flowers, cacti, and gourds.

Fernando de Noronha is also home to two exclusive bird species, the Noronha vireo, and Noronha Elaenia. There’s also a species of an eared dove that resides here. The islands also house two types of endemic reptiles, including the Noronha skink and Noronha worm lizard. But, in addition to the creatures living on the islands, there are plenty of animals that roam the waters surrounding them.

Sea turtles, spinner dolphins, and whales attract divers from all over the world. Plus, this tropical climate offers a relaxing vacation spot.

It is the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Every year thousands of tourists visit this island, and you can experience here the marine life. One of the most popular beaches in Fernando de Noronha is Praia do Sancho. It is the most picturesque beach in Brazil because rocky cliffs and lush vegetation add to its grandiosity. Walking down on the coast and sunbathing will be a pleasant experience for you. Make sure that you visit there if you go to Brazil.

The state of Pernambuco, while sharing many similarities with the rest of the Northeast and Bahia, also boasts some culinary gems. Arrumadinho is a complex Brazilian dish that is usually served as an appetizer. The dish is a combination of four elements that are neatly organized and served together as a complete meal.

The essential parts are sliced, sun-dried beef, diced and mixed vegetable vinaigrette, beans, typically black eyed peas, and farofa. All of the ingredients are seasoned with clarified butter, neatly arranged and served on a plate.

One of the iconic traditional dishes of Brazil's Northeast is a seafood soup or stew called caldo de sururu. The sururu is a bivalve mollusk like clams, oysters and mussels that is cooked in coconut milk, dendê oil, coriander and spices to make a rich broth.

Brazil is one of the most beautiful places to spend your holidays.
Kalyan Panja