Brazil is one of the places on Earth you have to see at least once in your lifetime. It is a country filled with friendly people, amazing food, and surreal landscapes. It is a huge country, so it is definitely the sort of place you either visit for a long time or take multiple trips to. It’s impossible to do Brazil over a weekend. But no matter how much time you can go for, it’s worth it to use it to be in Brazil. Here are some things you can enjoy when you take off for Brazil:
The minute you land in Brazil, you will hear people excitedly speaking Portuguese. The cities in Brazil are a mix of influences, due to much of the Portuguese colonialism present in its history. This makes them much different than the rest of their Spanish-speaking neighbors and gives the culture a bit of a unique twist. Most people will speak English in touristy areas, but if you are planning to go to smaller areas, some knowledge of Portuguese will be useful.
However, the indigenous culture of those who lived there before Europeans began to colonize is also very important in Brazil’s historical heritage. Between this and increased immigration from other parts of the world (such as the Middle East and Africa) have shaped the diversity that defines Brazil today.
Exploring Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is where most people land, and it is one of the most alive cities on the planet. There are mountains in the background, cocooning the city between the lush greenery of the jungle and the sparkling blue of the sea. If you are looking for a beach city with a lot of great nightlife, Rio is perfect for you. Be sure to check out Lapa, that’s where many of the bars and clubs are.
When you are not playing volleyball on the sunny beaches or enjoying delicious food, take a trip to the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes or the MIAN (Museum of Naïve Art). The art scene in Rio is well acclaimed and worth it to explore.
The Iberapuera Park is a beautiful park filled with lush greenery, perfect for a long walk on a spring day. You can ride your bike and spend time outside or visit the planetarium. While you are in São Paulo, you have to see the São Paulo cathedral, a huge cathedral that was designed in the 20th century, mirroring many of the gothic and Renaissance influences that had been popular or resurging in Europe at the time.
If you are looking for fresh food and a genuine São Paulo experience, make sure to visit the Municipal Market, where you will find plenty of local produce and other delicacies. It’s the perfect place to stop for a snack or gift (keeping in mind what you can clear through customs on the way back of course!).
Travel Like a Local
Not many people think to go to other parts of Brazil, but there are plenty of beautiful cities outside of São Paolo and Rio de Janeiro. Two places that Brazilian tourists love to visit are São Luis and Fortaleza. São Luis is probably the most famous for the annual carnival it puts on, which is definitely worth it to check out if you are there in February.
It also has beautiful French inspired architecture and festivals throughout the year and lagoons that ride along the Atlantic ocean, creating beautiful small concaves. Fortaleza is a much bigger city with museums, parks, and interesting architecture embedded throughout.
Don’t spend all your time in cities. You have to visit the Amazon if you have made the trip all the way to Brazil. It covers the most square footage of any other tropical rainforest on the planet and is home to many different species of animals. The Rio Grande do Sul runs through the rainforest, a large but stunning sight.
There are plenty of tours that will take you through a part of the rainforest as well as some villages nearby so that you can get a sense of what it is like to live that close to nature. Day trips offer the people option to come back, but there are also late night canoe trips if you are feeling particularly adventurous.
While Brazil can be a beautiful place to visit, there are still problems the nation faces, including the dire poverty of large parts of its populations. It’s best to keep this in mind. When traveling outside of cities, make sure you are with a reputable company and practice common sense street smarts. If you are planning to travel through the country, get a Brazil Air Pass to save some money. You’ll have no problem getting around by just asking questions. If there is one thing that Brazilians are known for, it’s being extremely polite and warm-hearted. Just one other reason to book your ticket as soon as possible.