Brazil has always been a top travel destination for gappers. Capturing the exotic culture of South America, this enormous country is the perfect starting point to discover the rest of the continent, both financially and geographically.
With beaches, mountains, monuments, incredible waterfalls and a unique culture, it’s a very cool country.
It’s a huge one, too, with a population of over 200 million spread over 3.2 million square miles. So where to start?
1. Rio de Janeiro
We’ve all seen pictures of the Carnival parades and marvelled at Rio’s zest for life so it’s only right to pay Brazil’s most famous city a visit. Rio is a vibrant metropolis flanked by stunning beaches and rolling hills which mark it as the perfect place to begin your adventure.
Although bordering on the OTT touristy side, the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema are a must, along with a snap atop Corcovado with Christ the Redeemer.
Top attractions aside, the city’s many bustling streets, especially in the Lapa area, are alive until dawn with the sounds of samba and there’s no shortage of restaurants where you can try churrascarias – traditional grilled meats.
Taking a cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain offers a glimpse of the city’s stunning views while the nearby neighbourhoods of Santa Teresa and Urca are also worthy of a wander.
A beautiful city with a beautiful name, Florianópolis is located on the island of Santa Catarina on Brazil’s south east coast. It is easily accessed by public transport.
With over 42 idyllic beaches and many 18th century fortresses, Florianópolis combines natural beauty with historical charm, and makes for the perfect place to set down the backpacks for a few days.
There’s also no shortage of adventure to be had. From windsurfing to sail boating, parachuting and sandboarding, visitors can explore the landscape by day and roam the city’s exuberant nightlife come dusk.
Bahia is a north-eastern state encapsulating the laid-back Brazilian lifestyle. It’s all about reggae, seafood and taking it easy – something we all need, right? You’ll also see a whole lot of capoeira, the martial arts dance that originates from Bahia, and be invited to give it a go. Just try it!
x is the state’s capital and is a unique city to visit thanks to its strong Afro-Brazilian culture (influenced by the times of the slave trade). The multi-coloured houses, towering churches and underground tunnels make it a great place to explore at any time. There are however several festivals throughout the year that really transform the place into the ultimate fiesta, so keep one eye on the calendar when you’re planning your visit and see if you can coincide.
Not too far from Salvador lies the National Park of Chapada Diamantia, which is famous for its cascading falls and azure waters, while across the rest of the state the sweeping shoreline provides many a surf hub and quaint fishing village to check out.
4. Fernando de Noronha
Volcanic islands? Check. White sands and dazzling waters? Check. Not another soul? Well, almost.
Fernando de Noronha sits off the country’s north-eastern coast and is an archipelago of volcanic islands.
Its UNESCO World Heritage status makes it clear that this remote location is one of utter divinity. The beaches remain unspoilt and only 420 people are allowed to explore the area at one time, meaning it’s clean, quiet and truly a magical location.
Adding to its allure are the sea turtles, dolphins and sharks you can often spot and the opportunities to surf, hike and buggy on the dunes.
This is the place to get the cameras out and eyes of awe at the ready. As the world’s largest tropical wetland, it’s here, among the marshlands, that you’ll spot everything from caimans and capybaras, to monkeys and blue macaws.
The best way to explore the area is to take a two-day tour from Cuiaba. With very few settlements or people around, the area is extremely remote and only with a local guide will you be able to navigate your way through this world wonder.
It would be impossible to head to Brazil without venturing into the heart of a rainforest, more specifically that of the Amazon.
Manuas is the Amazon’s biggest city and marks the jungle entrance. From here you can begin a tour that will allow you to sample just a slice of the epic 1.7 billion acres of rainforest. Home to unique species and human tribes, a few nights in an eco lodge can make the experience all the more authentic, while a tour along the river allows another insight into this vast expanse of natural beauty.
Paratay is a small town on the Costa Verde nestled between the bustling cities of Rio and Sao Paulo. This quaint location gives backpackers an insight into traditional Brazilian life while also providing a spot of serenity among the mountains and amidst the colonial backdrop.
All cobbled stones and horse-drawn carriages, the town seems otherworldly and maintains a whimsical charm that transports visitors back in time. Nearby you’ll also find distilleries creating the famous Brazilian cachaça liquor and plenty of places offering visitors a try while listening to local forro music.