8 Amazing Places to Visit in Brazil
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8 Amazing Places to Visit in Brazil

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Aug 27, 2020

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By Thomas Manchester

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Last updated on October 16th, 2020 at 03:30 pm

Where to Go in Brazil in 2021

Updated: August 27, 2020

Brazil is an incredibly varied country with plenty of places to visit, including contrasting landscapes, sprawling metropolises, and some of the world’s best beaches. Whether visiting major cities, like Rio de Janeiro, famous for its beautiful setting, lined by beaches, or quaint, colonial villages rich with history, like Paraty and Tiradentes, you’re guaranteed an exciting journey.

Brazil is a vast country, and the weather varies considerably by region. As a general rule, September – November is the best time to visit Brazil, especially coastal cities like Rio de Janeiro. During this time, temperatures are not too high, and visitor numbers are lower than at peak times. Typically crowded attractions will have fewer people, and more available with accommodations can be expected. The best time to visit the Pantanal is from around April to October. The Amazon can be visited year-round, and the rainfall doesn’t vary much from one month to another – it is always hot and relatively wet.

There are so many great places to visit in Brazil that it can be a little overwhelming working out which ones to pick and avoid spending too much time flying around the country. Our Brazil tours give an idea of what is possible and can be customized to fit your interests and travel dates. The key to planning a trip to Brazil is not to try to see everything in one go – save something for next time – there will be a next time!

1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

ipanema beach rio during sunset

Why Visit Rio de Janeiro

On the top of our places to visit in Brazil list is Rio de Janeiro. There are so many things to do in Rio de Janeiro! Besides some of the world’s most beautiful and lively beaches, there are many attractions to keep visitors busy. Christ the Redeemer, one of the wonders of the world, is Rio’s top site. Located high above the city on Corcovado Mountain and surrounded by the Tijuca forest, visitors are guaranteed a unique experience. For an expansive view of the city and its diverse neighborhoods, Sugarloaf mountain is ideal. Enjoy the scenic cable car journey up and perhaps, with proper timing, one of Rio’s extraordinary sunsets.

But Rio de Janeiro is more than just views. For culture, music, art, and history, explore the diverse city center. There are fascinating food markets, exciting night-life, and unique street art, including Lapa’s historical arches and the Selarón steps of Santa Teresa. Or experience some of the city’s more unique architecture and styles at the Museum of Tomorrow and the Museum of Modern Art. The list of exciting possibilities could go on and on in Rio de Janeiro.

Best Time to Visit Rio de Janeiro

May – June, and October – November are fantastic times to visit Rio de Janeiro. The weather is not too hot, nor too cold, and rainfall is moderate. This is also an ideal time to avoid large crowds. However, you might be visiting Rio de Janeiro because you enjoy the lively gatherings and festivities, in which case, the New Year and Carnival are ideal times from January – March.

How to Get to Rio de Janeiro

There are plenty of direct flights to Rio de Janeiro from the USA, Canada, and Europe. With a layover in Sao Paulo, there are even more options. Rio de Janeiro is also well connected with other places in South America, making multi-country tours easy.

Recommended Rio de Janeiro Tours

Rio, Tropical Island & the Historical Port of Paraty
Tango, Samba & Waterfalls
Rio de Janeiro & the Route of Gold Tour

2. Amazon Rainforest, Brazil

amazon rainforest view of waterfall surrounded by jungle

Why Visit the Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon Rainforest is the world’s largest rainforest and is highly biodiverse. On an Amazon Rainforest tour, you can fish for piranha; learn about the rainforest’s rare flora and fauna; explore the dense brush on guided walks or boat trips; search for unique wildlife, including caiman, monkeys, birds, and much more. Additionally, the luxury and unique designs of the Amazon accommodations are just as much of an attraction. Enjoy eco-friendly Amazon lodges and stylish cruises. Both will give an excellent view of the jungle and include various activities to keep visitors busy and wondrous.

A note on visiting the Amazon – you will see wildlife, but this is not like a safari-style experience where large mammals are easily spotted – try the Pantanal if that is what you are looking for.

Best Time to Visit the Amazon Rainforest

The climate of the Amazon doesn’t vary a whole lot year-round. The river levels do differ significantly, though. Starting in July, river levels begin to drop, with December having the lowest levels in the year. For lodge stays, these months (July – December) are considered the best time to visit. More trails are accessible, allowing exploration of the forest on foot. However, if planning an Amazon River cruise, the best time to visit is typically from January – June, when the rivers are higher. Boats can further explore small tributaries and travel closer to the forest edges, allowing more tours and activities during your stay.

How to Get to the Amazon Rainforest

The main base for visiting the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil is the city of Manaus. Numerous flights connect Manaus with other Brazilian cities, and there are also direct flights between Manaus and Miami. Manaus is the starting point for cruises into the Amazon Rainforest, and there are several rainforest lodges in the area. Other bases for visiting the Amazon in Brazil include Alta Floresta, Tefe, Belem, and Santarem.

Recommended Amazon Rainforest Tours

The Remote Amazon Tour
Rio de Janeiro & the Amazon Rainforest Tour
Brazil Amazon & Salvador Bahia Tour

3. The Pantanal, Brazil

group of caiman in panatanl

Why Visit the Pantanal

The Pantanal is the best destination for seeing wildlife in Brazil and, arguably, South America. In contrast to the Amazon, the region is not dense with forests and trees. The landscape is mostly open grassland, making it much easier to spot wildlife. Animals you may see include anteaters, capybara, tapir, caiman, and jaguars or other felines. For nature, this is the destination in South America.

Best Time to Visit the Pantanal

The best time to visit the Pantanal is from April – October, as this is the driest time of year. During the rainier months, the Pantanal floods, making access more difficult and increasing insect populations like mosquitoes. The latter months of the dry season are considered the very best time to go, as water is in shorter supply. During this time, animals must congregate over what bodies of water remain, making it even easier to spot them and know their whereabouts.

How to Get to the Pantanal

The two main gateways to the Pantanal are Cuiaba (in the north Pantanal) and Campo Grande (in the south Pantanal). A road journey of about two to four hours takes you to several excellent lodges from either of these cities. Stay at least three nights in a lodge, taking guided tours into the Pantanal in search of wildlife each day. There are no international flights to Cuiaba or Campo Grande, but both cities are well connected to Brazil.

Recommended Pantanal Tours

Pantanal Wetlands & Rio de Janeiro Tour
Amazon, Pantanal & Iguazu Falls Tour

4. Costa Verde: Ilha Grande and Paraty, Brazil

street view of paraty

Why Visit Costa Verde

Paraty is a beautiful colonial town surrounded by mountains and forests and set overlooking a quaint bay. Explore the cobblestone streets on foot, windowshopping past boutique local artwork and designs. With no cars in the historical center, it’ll be easy to lounge out and lazily stroll these picturesque streets. Take boat trips to nearby beaches and islands or visit a waterfall and lagoon. The cozy town had a significant past in colonial times. Sittin at the end of the Gold Trail, Paraty rose to fame as a central port for exporting gold to Europe and the rest of South America. Paraty gives an excellent combination of beautiful architecture, history, beaches, and outdoor activities. Combine a tour of Paraty with Ilha Grande, a laid-back tropical island for the ideal vacation. You can relax in the waterfront village of Abraão, walk along rainforest trails to secluded beaches or take boat trips.

Best Time to Visit Costa Verde

The Best time to visit the Costa Verde in Brazil is May to August when rainfall is quite low (though there is a reason this area is called the Green Coast!) and temperatures not too high. However, this is a year-round destination. The hottest time of the year is December to February.

How to Get to Costa Verde

Both Paraty and Ilha Grande are on Brazil’s Costa Verde and are easily accessible from Rio de Janeiro. Ilha Grande is reached by traveling by road from Rio to Angra dos Reis or Mangaratiba and then taking a ferry to Abraão. Once on Ilha Grande, you’ll find there are no cars. Most guesthouses are a short walk from the ship or a boat ride away. Paraty is a little further along the coast from Angra dos Reis by road. Paraty and Ilha Grande are easily combined in a four to seven day trip from Rio de Janeiro.

Recommended Costa Verde Tours

Rio de Janeiro & the Route of Gold Tour
Rio, Tropical Island & the Historical Port of Paraty
Colonial Gems & Historical Cities in Brazil Tour

5. Lençois Maranhenses, Brazil

Lencois' unique sand dune pools in desert

Why Visit Lençois Maranhenses

Visit Lençois Maranhenses for a landscape of seemingly endless dunes stretching as far as the eye can see. This is a remote and wild stretch of coastline and perfect for anyone seeking open spaces and dramatic scenery. The best way to visit Lençois Maranhenses is on a 4×4 tour – either shared with a small group or a private tour. You’ll visit the dunes which are formed by the wind and rainwater lagoons. This is an otherworldly place and should be top of your list of places to visit in Brazil!

Best Time to Visit Lençois Maranhenses

The best time to visit Lençois Maranhenses is when the lagoons are full of water – this is usually from June to September. Visits are possible at other times of the year, but most people will want to see the beautiful lagoons, so this is the time we recommend.

How to Get to Lençois Maranhenses

Sao Luiz is the closest city to Lençois Maranhenses, and there are reasonably good flight connections from elsewhere in Brazil. From Sao Luiz, it is possible to travel along the coast through Lençois Maranhenses and Jericoacoara’s beach town, a great multi-day trip.

Recommended Lençois Maranhenses Tours

Lencois Maranhenses Luxury Adventure Tour

6. São Paulo, Brazil

Sao Paulo city center and bridge

Why Visit Sao Paulo

Founded in 1554 by European Jesuit missionaries, Sao Paulo has continuously grown and prospered through the centuries, hosting an array of monuments, prominent historical events, and grand buildings. With upwards of 20 million residents today, Sao Paulo is Brazil’s largest city and perhaps most diverse. Attracting visitors and migrants from all over the world, Sao Paulo is bursting with Japanese, Italian, and Arab cultures. Enjoy exceptional cuisine in this endless metropolis, trying your hand at quaint, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, or elegant rooftop establishments like the Skye Lounge. Sightseeing opportunities are endless in Sao Paulo: the gothic São Paulo Cathedral; the uniquely designed, freestanding museum of art; or the beautiful and sprawling Ibirapuera Park are just a few sites worth seeing.

When to Visit Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo is always a lively city, no matter what time of the year. If you are looking for festive events and cultural festivities, like Carnival, traveling in the Summer is recommended from January – March. For more comfortable temperatures and weather, the shoulder seasons are ideal. These seasons are from March-May (Fall) and October – November (Spring). During these months, there are also fewer tourists and more availability with accommodation.

How to Get to Sao Paulo

As Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo is well connected to South America, and even farther abroad. There are three leading airports, with GRU as the primary airport serving the city and Brazil.

Recommended Sao Paulo Tours

The Ultimate Brazilian Food & Wine Tour
South America Deluxe Tour

7. Ouro Preto, Brazil

Ouro Preto buildings and distant church

Why Visit Ouro Preto

Sprawling over the steep, verdant slopes of Villa Rica is grand Ouro Preto. Once regarded as the “richest city in the world,” Ouro Preto is a town dotted with impressive monuments, old palaces, ornate bridges and inviting fountains. Ouro Preto – literally translated as Black Gold – was at the center of Brazil’s gold trade route. Its active mines brought great riches to the city and Brazil, funding the construction of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. Today, though no longer alive with gold, visitors can explore the nearby mines once worked by slaves and colonists. Ouro Preto is also an excellent destination to brush up on the history of Minas Gerais and its essential position in elevating Brazil as a leading nation.

When to Visit Ouro Preto

For the most comfortable weather conditions, we recommend visiting any time from March – October. The Summer (January – March) remains an excellent time to visit, however, temperatures and humidity are incredibly high at this time, which can be uncomfortable.

How to Get to Ouro Preto

Ouro Preto is most easily accessible by road. We recommend either a private transfer or taking a shuttle bus from either Rio (7 hr.), São Paulo (11 hr.), or Belo Horizonte (2 hr.). Our Travel Consultants can work in a visit to Ouro Preto that best fits with your tour.

Recommended Ouro Preto Tours

Colonial Gems & Historic Cities in Brazil Tour
Rio de Janeiro & the Route of Gold Tour

8. Tiradentes, Brazil

Tiradentes distant shot of town on hill

Why Visit Tiradentes

Surrounded by rolling hills and lush mountainscapes, Tiradentes’ striking beauty and quintessential colonial architecture will draw in any visitor. Though small and not as grand as nearby Ouro Preto, Tiradentes is undoubtedly the most charming town in the state of Minas Gerais. A must-see for history lovers, Tiradentes dates back to the 1700s, where it once was a booming mining town. Rich in gold, the city quickly rose, creating masterpieces like the ornate gold Church of San Antonio and the São José fountain. Explore its quaint streets, boutique shops, and lively central square, while taking in the rich history.

When to Visit Tiradentes

Tiradentes is most active during the Summer, from January – March. During this time, shops, restaurants, and tourist sites will be in full steam. However, the weekends are quite a busy time to visit, with flocks of tourists coming in for weekend trips from nearby cities. We recommend planning a visit during the week or booking a trip for either shoulder seasons (March-May OR October – November).

How to Get to Tiradentes

São João and Belo Horizonte are the nearest significant towns near Tiradentes. Visitors can fly into São João and take a connecting bus to nearby Tiradentes. There are regular buses from Belo Horizonte or plan for a private transfer for the 3-hour drive.

Recommended Tiradentes Tours

Colonial Gems & Historic Cities in Brazil Tour
Rio de Janeiro & the Route of Gold Tour

More Places to Visit in Brazil in 2021

The above are just a few ideas of where to go in Brazil. There are many others. Of course, a trip to the Iguazu Falls on the border with Argentina is high on many people’s lists and fits easily into any itinerary. City lovers could include a visit to Sao Paulo or Curitiba, or for an insight into Brazil’s African heritage, Salvador de Bahia is a top destination. For beaches, the remote island of Fernando de Noronha is hard to beat, while Buzios is a beach resort near Rio de Janeiro, made famous by Brigitte Bardot. Ouro Preto and Olinda are contrasting colonial towns – the former sits in the cold mountains of Minas Gerais state, inland from Rio de Janeiro. The latter is on the tropical north-east coast. Whatever your travel interests, Brazil has something to offer.

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Last updated on October 16th, 2020 at 03:30 pm

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