Things to do in Brazil
There are various things to do in Brazil regardless of the region or city you’re visiting. When touring Rio, travelers are excited about the white-sand beaches. In small colonial towns like Tiradentes, guests are interested in touring the Baroque cathedrals. In big cities like Belo Horizonte, the open-air art museum, Inhotim captivates travelers from around the world. Additionally, Brazil is famous for its exotic Tijuca-filled mountains, serene beaches, remarkable flora and fauna, and exuberant culture. Follow along as we explore the 11 incredible things to do in Brazil!
The Best Things to do in Brazil:
1. Escape to the Rainforest(s) – There’s Three!
First on our list of things to do in Brazil is escape to the rainforest! Approximately 60% of Brazil is forested with three rainforests, the Amazon, the Atlantic, and the Tijuca forest along the mountains of Rio de Janeiro. Travel through the Atlantic Rainforest via a vintage train high above the trees, enjoying endless views along your journey. The Tijuca rainforest covers the mountains surrounding Rio de Janeiro, making an easy stop for foreigners and locals alike to escape the city center. Nature fills up the country of Brazil, making escaping and exploring the natural world one of the best activities in Brazil for travelers.
2. Travel Back in Time in Ouro Preto & Minas Gerais
For history buffs, consider a tour through the significant gold mining towns of Minas Gerais like Ouro Preto and Tiradentes. Historically, these mining towns brought wealth to the Portuguese Empire and as a result, they are dotted with extravagantly built cathedrals and structures. Today the old imposing, baroque cathedrals and intimate squares dazzle those who visit. And of course, there is no shortage of gold, whether inlaid in the ceilings of cathedrals or administrative buildings.
3. Go City Sightseeing in Rio de Janeiro
With friendly locals and numerous festivals, like Carnival, fun is never too far away in cities like Rio de Janeiro. Spend your days understanding the carioca culture – locals of Rio de Janeiro – drinking fresh water from coconuts, visiting landmarks like Christ the Redeemer, and enjoying sunset views atop Sugarloaf Mountain. Include a visit to the Museum of Tomorrow – a very futuristic and unusual museum focussing on sustainability and ecology. Fans of street art should visit Lapa and Santa Teresa where some impressive graffiti can be found.
4. Work on Your Brazilian Tan or Sense of Adventure
Brazil’s coast offers some of the world’s most spectacular beach resorts and islands. A visit to beach destinations like Florianopolis and Ilha Grande is a must. Not only will visitors have plenty of opportunities to lounge back and relax in the tropical environment and warm waters, but there’s plenty of adventure to be had. In Florianopolis, some of the country’s top surfing can be found, while Isla Grande offers ample hiking and water activities, like kayaking and boat exploration tours.
5. Enjoy Traditional BBQ (asado)
You can’t go to Brazil without trying the delicious food and drink. In Brazil, it is very common to eat at a Brazilian steakhouse for dinner. Unique for their upscale, buffet-like environment, visitors can dine on fantastic steak, as well as other popular side dishes. As the process goes, diners are provided with a green and red-sided token. Throughout the dinner, servers come around offering different varieties of meat, slicing them at your table directly. To signal an end to your dinner, simply flip your token over to the red side.
6. Dance at Carnival Rio
If you’ve done any research into Rio de Janeiro, you would know that Rio Carnival is one of the largest parties in the world. Held every year before Lent, millions of people come to Rio de Janeiro for the colorful and lively spectacle that makes up Carnival. Watch the incredible Samba dancers at the Samba parade, listen to traditional music, and have fun in all of the festival’s glory!
7. Enjoy Beer at Oktoberfest
In addition to Carnival, another festival is popular in Brazil – Oktoberfest of Blumenau. This is a festival of German traditions held in mid-October in the city of Blumenau, Santa Catarina, Brazil. Enjoy beer, live music, and dancing at this annual event.
8. Sunbathe on Copacabana & Ipanema Beaches
Feeling brave? Sport your skimpiest swimwear and join the mix of locals and tourists on Rio’s two most famous beaches for a little sunbathing! Relax with a caipirinha and take in the beautiful setting. The beaches in Rio are full of activity including football, volleyball, and surfing. Stay to see the sunset over Ipanema beach and join in the applause as it drops behind the twin peaks of Dois Irmãos.
9. Snorkel with Colorful Fish in Fernando de Noronha
A remote island off the north-east coast of Brazil, Fernando de Noronha is high on many keen diving and snorkeling enthusiasts’ list of places to go. Swim amongst a myriad of tropical fish and spot turtles, stingrays, and maybe sharks! The island is relatively undeveloped and highly protected – you won’t find crowds here. There are no large hotels here, accommodation is mostly in pousadas – guesthouses varying from simple and functional to very stylish.
10. Surf the Sand Dunes at Lençóis Maranhenses National Park
One of Brazil’s lesser-known attractions, Lençóis Maranhenses really is the highlight of the trip for travelers who include it in their Brazil tour. On a rugged part of the coast in northern Brazil, undulating sand dunes stretch out to form an otherworldly scene. Get the timing right (best from June to September) and there will be crystal clear freshwater lagoons amidst the dunes. The best way to visit is on a 4×4 tour. The sea here is great for surfing too.
11. Spot Wildlife at the Pantanal Wetlands
Last on our list of things to do in Brazil is wildlife spotting in the Pantanal. The Pantanal is undoubtedly the best destination for seeing wildlife in Brazil. Stay in a comfortable lodge and take excursions in search of capybara, macaws, anteaters, tapirs, and a lot more! With luck, you may even see jaguars and other wild cats. 4×4 tours walks, horse-riding, and canoeing are the main types of activity. We recommend a stay of three or four nights in the Pantanal to get a good taste of the region and its rich animal life. The Pantanal is a huge wetland area and contrasts with the Amazon in that there are very few trees making wildlife much more visible.
Things to See in Brazil
There are plenty of must-see attractions in Brazil. The obvious ones are Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, and Copacabana Beach. However, there are plenty of other things to see in Brazil that you may not have added to your bucket list, but need to now!
1. Corcovado Mountain & Christ the Redeemer
Standing high above central Rio de Janeiro and hosting one of the world’s most incredible statues, Christ the Redeemer, is Corcovado Mountain. As one of the nation’s symbols, a visit or even a glimpse at Corcovado Mountain and the Christ Redeemer is a staple to Rio and Brazil as a whole. Located within the city limits of Rio de Janeiro, visitors can ride the historic train up the mountain peak, or hike the various winding trails of the lush national park.
2. Sugarloaf Mountain
Sugarloaf Mountain towers over the Guanabara Bay of Rio de Janeiro. Named for its similar appearance to a literal loaf of sugar, the peak grew to recognition as a key site in Rio de Janeiro. Today, Sugarloaf provides visitors with one of the most stunning views over Rio and its dramatic coastline. There are also a couple of restaurants on the mountain perfect for grabbing a snack or drink while enjoying uninterrupted views over the city’s various neighborhoods, Christ the Redeemer and beyond.
3. A Panoramic View of Iguazu Falls – the Brazilian Side, of Course
Iguazu National Park is the home of the world’s largest and most impressive waterfall system, Iguazu Falls. Once an important religious site for the ancient Guarani Indians, today the dramatic falls serve as a significant landmark and border point between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. From the Brazilian side of the falls, visitors can see a panoramic view of the falls from above. The roaring falls in combination with the surrounding exotic flora and fauna make this national park a must-see when traveling to Brazil.
4. Basílica do Senhor do Bonfim
The Basilica do Senhor do Bonfim is one of Salvador’s most treasured landmarks. Dating back to the 18th century, the basilica stands much as it did during its unveiling. Featuring a simple exterior, the basilica is less renowned for its image than it is for its associated history and traditions. In January, the Lavagem de Bonfim takes place. A parade of Bahian women and worshippers dressed in their traditional garb visit the basilica to wash the steps, just as the local slaves had done hundreds of years earlier.
5. Chapada Diamantina National Park
This national park in Brazil, located inland, remains one of Brazil’s lesser-known gems. While most visitors flock to the coast, those who choose to visit Chapada Diamantina National Park will see exotic mountains, giant caves, deserts, and crystal blue lagoons. The park is an oasis of natural wonders and a must for anyone looking to set sight on some of Brazil’s top landscapes.
There are many reasons why you must visit Inhotim. For those interested in seeing some art in Brazil, look no further than Inhotim. Inhotim is a massive open-air modern art museum near Belo Horizonte. Walk or tour the grounds by golf cart and see a myriad of works of art and sculptures on full display.
7. Selaron Steps
Visiting the Selaron Steps is a must-see on any Rio de Janeiro tour. Escadaria Selaron, also known as the Selaron Steps, is a set of world-famous, vibrantly painted steps in Rio de Janeiro. The steps were painted by Chilean-born artist Jorge Selaron. People from all over the world come to see the beautiful colors that have transformed this area of Rio into an artistic masterpiece.
8. Cathedral of Brasilia
Visit the cathedral of Brasilia – a striking modernist building designed by renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer. The giant concrete frame has a glass roof to give a view to the heavens. Most of the cathedral is below the ground. The cathedral is visited both by worshippers and those interested in the modern architecture of Brasilia.
9. Botanical Garden in Curitiba
Brazil’s southern city of Curitiba is home to a beautiful botanical garden which opened in 1991. A massive art nouveau style greenhouse modeled on London’s Crystal Palace contains an array of tropical plants. The gardens themselves cover are based on a French style with fountains, lakes, and waterfalls. There is also a Botanical museum and area of native forest.
10. Central Market in Belo Horizonte
Belo Horizonte is the capital of Minas Gerais state and the central market is a fantastic place to sample typical foods from the region such as cheeses and bean dishes. This indoor market is home to several bars and restaurants and has other sections including handicrafts. It is a traditional market and one of the best in Brazil.
Festivals & Events
Carnival: Rio Carnival is a huge celebration held every year before Lent. There are Carnival events in other countries in South America, but the festival in Rio de Janeiro always proves to be the largest. Watch as two million people fill the streets with Samba, colorful costumes, and lively music.
Oktoberfest: In the city of Blumenau, you will feel as if you’re in a city in Germany. Blumenau is where many Brazilians come together to replicate the enormous Oktoberfest beer festival. The festival attracts people from all over the world.
Food & Drink in Brazil
Brazilian food and drink have been influenced by African, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, and Iberian cuisine. There are traditional restaurants and street markets scattered around the country offering people plenty of varieties of food. Traditional dishes in Brazil vary depending on the region – in the south find plenty of Brazilian barbecues, in the center fish is widely consumed, and in the north, one can find some of the best seafood in the world.
Is Brazil Safe?
Yes, Brazil is safe for visiting travelers. In fact, hundreds of visitors visit Brazil each year and have an excellent time. While it is safe, we always encourage travelers to use the same precaution as they would in any other foreign country or city. Storing valuables at home, staying in touristy areas, and not wearing flashy items are always good things to keep in mind while traveling to Brazil, or anywhere else in the world for that matter.
Best Time to Visit Brazil
The best time to visit Brazil is from September to November when the temperatures have lowered and humidity is not as intense. This kind of weather makes it more enjoyable to explore the various cities, natural landscapes, and other popular areas of the country.
What is Brazil Known for?
Brazil is a massive country – meaning it’s known for plenty of things, such as futbol (soccer), its iconic sites (Sugarloaf Mountain and Corcovado Mountain), Brazilian steakhouses, Carnival, and more.
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