The Best of Brazil, Brazil’s Top 25 Attractions
Brazil’s Best Beaches & Boardwalks
Copacabana Boardwalk in Rio de Janeiro: This four-kilometer stretch of beach is one of the most densely populated areas in the world and is famous for its beautiful women in provocative bikinis, professional athletes playing volleyball in the sand, and celebrities walking or jogging up and down the boardwalk. The activity never stops at Copacabana.
Tartaruga Beach in Buzios, Sao Paulo: Whether you arrive by boat or via the long road that leads from town, your arrival at Tartaruga Beach will be filled with blue water, white sand and excellent beach bars to serve you. Just offshore are some underwater reefs where you can practice the snorkeling arts or just go swimming with the fish. Tomorrow, you can try Ferradura or Joao Fernandes beach for another day in the sun.
Praia Mole in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina: You won’t find a more beautiful crowd of people than at Praia Mole. They’ll be surfing, getting some sun, and modeling their latest swimwear for the onlookers. Just a short hike to the north and over the hill and you’ll come to the nude beach of Galheta great place to relax and get some sun with just a few other naked people.
Brazil’s Best Beach Villages
The Village of Pipa, Rio Grande do Norte: Charming during the day, the village of Pipa takes on a most special atmosphere at night. Lights glow from the restaurants and shops and people stroll along the main road without a care in the world.
Porto de Galinhas Village near Recife, Pernambuco:After a long day swimming and snorkeling in the reefs offshore, there’s nothing better than to choose your favorite perch, order your favorite beverage, and watch the village light up for the evening. Almost everything stays open late, so you can stroll around after dinner and check out all the chickens in town (galinhas is Portuguese for chickens).
Itacare near Salvador, Bahia Positioned between Salvador and Southern Bahia, Itacaré offers a variety of surfing, lounging, swimming and sunbathing activities–not to mention eating and drinking in the shade of a beach kiosk. Besides performances of Capoeira and Maculelé knife dancing, you’ll find yoga classes, massage therapists and nature excursions in the tropical surroundings.
Arraial d’Ajuda This beach village has a kind of rustic charm that saduces just about everyone who comes here. The old part of the village is among the oldest villages in the country…and it’s in pristine condition. The new part of the village has some of the most quaint and cozy restaurants and hotels in Bahia. Nights are magical here.
Brazil’s Best Party Places
From Avenida Beira Mar to Iracema in Fortaleza, Ceara The New York Times called it one of the most intense night spots in the world. That’s just the west end at Iracema. Farther east the boardwalk a just a tad calmer with arts & crafts fairs, restaurants and lots of people jogging and sitting at the beach bars.
A Night on the Passarela de Alcool in Porto Seguro, Southern Bahia: Every night just after sundown, the Alcohol Pass lines up with stands on one side and the permanent shops on the other. Besides incredible local arts and crafts, you can try a seafood Moqueca and a Capeta cocktail.
Arcos da Lapa at Night in Rio de Janeiro: There is something for everybody in Rio’s hottest and most diverse night scene. Listen to Brazilian Roots music, dance the Samba or just watch the spectacle from a sidewalk café.
Ponta Negra in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte During the day it’s a beautiful urban beach with plenty of shady kiosks and warm water for swimming. At night, it’s the city’s most active party center, crawling with international and Brazilian visitors.
Brazil’s Best Shopping
Feira de Arte e Artesanato in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais: On Sunday mornings, a huge section of the city’s main boulevard becomes one of the largest outdoor flea markets in Latin America. As its name suggests, most items are hand-made by local artisans, but you’ll also find great deals on clothes, shoes and accessories.
Mercado Municipal in Sao Paulo: One of the gastronomical centers of the city, the Mercado has over 200 stands that sell all types of meats, cheeses, olives, nuts, wines, and, of course, coffee. Lots of coffee. The crowd is intense moving up and down the isles, but you can escape them up on the mezzanine where you get a bird’s eye view of the Mercado and its neo-gothic architecture.
Bras in Sao Paulo Just one stop east of the Centro on the Sao Paulo metro, Bras is a major garment district with some of the best shopping in the city..and in Brazil. You have to walk around and look for the good shops.
Brazil’s Best Islands
Morro de Sao Paulo near Salvador, Bahia: Sunset from the ruins of the old fort is only one of the many highlights on the island. The waterways of the Archipelago turn red and gold and then disappear for the night. That’s when the village lights up with food and dance. During the day, you can walk the beaches or take a speedboat around the island. In the afternoon, you may see dolphins heading out for the night while flocks of Snowy Egrets come in.
Ilha Grande, Rio State Ilha Grande is like an oasis in the busy ocean between Rio and São Paulo. It marks the northern end of the Paraty Bay, one of the most beautiful places in the country. And it has remained relatively untouched by modernization, aside from a few minor conveniences, like air conditioning, Internet and credit card swipers.
Fernando de Noronha, Northeast Most visitors who come to the island for the first time are left truly speechless by the incredible beauty of this place. Fernando de Noronha is one of those special places in the world where the magic of nature is so close and so brilliant that it feels unreal.
Brazil’s Best Urban Views
Banespa Building in Sao Paulo: The magnitude of this vast megalopolis comes into view as you stand atop the Banespa building and look out on the 11 million inhabitants making their way up and down the city streets. Even on a smoggy day, it’s an impressive site. On a clear day, you might actually find this a beautiful place.
View from Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro: Rio’s other must-see panoramic viewpoint is at the feet of the Cristo Redentor, Brazil’s most famous monument. Standing on Corcovado Mountain, the Cristo looks down on Copacabana and the Beautiful Rio coastline to either side.
Gondola to Pao de Acucar in Rio de Janeiro: The best views of Rio de Janeiro and the entire coastline around it, are from the two view platforms of Urca and Pao de Acucar–both part of the famous gondola ride. It’s worth going up once during the day and again after dark to see both aspects of the city.
Best of Historic Brazil
Paraty Centro Histórico, Rio State: In the 1700s, Paraty was the most important port in the southern hemisphere. Loads of slaves and supplies from Europe came in, while tons of gold and precious stones went out. Today, the town is an open-air museum of colonial architecture. Inside these old buildings are wonderful restaurants and shops.
The Hills and Churches of Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais: The hills of Ouro Preto are a museum in themselves and no better seen than from the grounds of the Igreja Sao Francisco de Paula in the afternoon sun. From this perch, you have more than a 180-degree view of the city.
The Streets of Old Olinda near Recife, Pernambuco:If you throw a coconut into the air in Olinda, there’s a 90% chance that it will land on an artist…after bouncing off a baroque church. In the 17th century, Olinda was the center of the sugar trade with Europe. Today, it’s is a sort of living museum and art gallery with more artists per square meter than anywhere in the Americas.
The Streets of Pelourinho: When people think of Bahia, Brazil, the images that come to mind are probably from the streets of Pelourinho, the Centro Historico of Salvador. From this small, historical town spreads a wave of art, music and culture that touches the entire world. At night, Pelourinho is also a contender for the “Best Party Places” category.
Brazil’s Best Safaris & Natural Wonders
Amazon Night Safari near Manaus, Amazonas: The eyes of the great Caiman crocodile stare back, bright red and glowing, as you shine a light on them from your small canoe. They sit motionless in the still waters along the margins of the rivers, waiting for their prey to come within proximity.
Foz de Iguacu, Parana: When you contemplate how much water is cascading off these cliffs every second, it seems almost unreal. Although not the tallest falls in the world, Iguacu is by far the most expansive, with dozens of roaring cascades crashing down from Brazil’s wetlands into Argentina. People visiting for the first time either stand in silent awe of its magnitude, or they push their smiling faces as close to the falls as possible to catch plenty of its magic.
World’s Best Bird Watching in the Pantanal, Rio Grande do Sul: When it comes to bird watching, there’s no place on Earth like the Pantanal. Even the Amazon jungle cannot match the quantity and variety of birds that flock to the Pantanal to feed and make their nests. Among the many species are the rare Blue Macaw, the Giant Stork, Flamingos, Snowy Egrets, hawks, Toucans, and a variety of smaller species. Don’t forget your binoculars.