In this post you’ll find a list of the best places to visit in Brazil, so you can plan the ultimate carioca holiday or book tickets to the most beautiful Brazilian beach to sunbathe. Check it out!
Brazil is one of the largest countries in the world. As such, it’s an epic ride of various experiences, sights, sounds, and flavors. Many of those who have traveled to Brazil describe it as one of the world’s most captivating places.
It has many colonial towns that seem to be frozen in time, all co-existing with bustling metropolises filled with vibrant nightlife, bars, and modern restaurants – and all of this should be on your Brazil itinerary!
But what is most prized about Brazil is its diverse ecosystem, which is legendary in scope. It has the richest collection of plant and animal species in the world – after all, it’s home to the Amazon. So if you go on a hike or explore the natural places in Brazil, you are likely to encounter one or two (or more) of these rare species.
Apart from this, Brazil is a country with an intoxicating mix of culture and flavors. From powdery white sand beaches to wild rainforests, and otherworldly landscapes, you are sure to find them in Brazil!
To experience the diversity and beauty of its culture, you should check out at least a few of the must-see attractions. Check out the recommendations I put together on what are the best places to visit in Brazil, plus what to see and do in this amazing country!
Rio de Janeiro
You can’t visit Brazil and not spend some time in Rio de Janeiro, especially if it’s your first time in the country. This is a vibrant city all year round with easy access to spectacular natural beauty, and one of the very best places to visit in Brazil. You can also venture into charming neighborhoods that will give you a glimpse into its history and cultural past.
Rio de Janeiro is also home to one of the most famous Brazil tourist attractions: the statue of Christ the Redeemer. This iconic landmark, which is also one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is undeniably a must-see when in Rio. It’s built overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro atop the 2,330-foot Corcovado Mountain.
➤ The Christ the Redeemer Official Ticket grants you access to the attraction, and includes the Cog train that will take you to the top of Corcovado Mountain, where you’ll not only visit the impressive statue but also enjoy the astounding views. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Another popular attraction in Rio De Janeiro is the Sugarloaf mountain, a 1300-feet (396-meter) peak which offers gorgeous views of Guanabara Bay. The mountain needs to be on your Rio de Janeiro itinerary, and can be accessed via a cable car, to admire one of the most beautiful views in all of Brazil.
➤ The Sugarloaf Cable Car Ticket allows you to go up the mountain, but also to access the displays about the history of the cable car and its creators, as well as temporary exhibits that change throughout the year. The ticket can be used within 4 days to enjoy the different parts of the tour. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
The Tijuca National Park is another must-see attraction in Rio for the outdoorsy types. This park protects an expansive green rainforest that spans 8,300 acres in land area. It’s the largest urban rainforest in the world and home to many of Brazil’s rare animal species.
Other recommended destinations in Rio are Prainha Beach, the neighborhood of Lapa, and Ipanema Beach.
➤ If you have little time in Rio, or feel overwhelmed by all there is to do, book the Full Day in Rio Tour to explore the city’s highlights and hidden gems with a local guide. You’ll go up to Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf, and visit both Maracana stadium and the Sambadrome after enjoying a buffet lunch. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Buzios is one of the most beautiful places in Brazil, and a popular destination among travelers. This well-known destination is part of Costa del Sol, a 190-mile stretch of beaches that is a favorite side trip from Rio, especially for those seeking a sunny escape during winter.
Buzios became famous when Brigitte Bardot visited it in the 1960s – there’s even a bronze statue of her in town! Since then, many fine restaurants, charming hotels, and trendy clubs have emerged in the area to cope with the increasing tourism.
There are two main destinations for those seeking the trendy beachfront lifestyle in Buzios: Orla Bardot and Rua das Pedras.
These gorgeous beaches boast a great number of watersports including diving, kite surfing, and windsurfing. The village atmosphere, friendly weather, and calm beaches combine to make it a destination ideal for families with children.
For the nature lover, Lençois Maranhenses is one of the best places in Brazil. This is a national park that boasts swept sand dunes with rainwater lakes that form at specific times of the year. The beautiful contrast of the brilliant white dunes to midnight blue lakes is a natural beauty to behold.
The name of this park literally translates to “bedsheets” in Portuguese. When you see the dunes, you won’t be surprised how they came up with the name as the spectacular landscape is so smooth and clear that it does look like a giant bedsheet. It’s not as visited as other natural, more famous places in Brazil, such as Iguacu Falls, but this national park is equally dramatic and awe-inspiring.
➤ The Lençois Maranhenses 3-Day Combo Package takes you on a multi-day adventure to the spectacular desert, where you’ll get to marvel at the sunset from the sand dunes, go on a speedboat tour, swim in the lagons, and visit Atins. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Manaus & the Amazon
When people think of Brazil, they immediately associate it with the Amazon jungle, one of the most spectacularly diverse rainforests in the world and one of the most sought after attractions in Brazil.
Manaus is the largest city in the state of Amazon in Brazil and serves as the gateway to your jungle adventures in Brazil. This urban metropolis is unique because it’s in the middle of a jungle. It’s also the site of the major port for the seafaring vessels in the region.
While not an architectural gem, Manaus makes up for it with a leafy zoo and thick rainforest. But don’t make Manaus the end destination of your Amazon adventure – most travelers use it as a starting point instead!
➤ Check out the Manaus Amazon Jungle Tour which can be customized to last 2, 3, or 4 days. You’ll get to explore the world’s largest tropical rainforest, fishing piranha, sailing along the river, spotting the alligators, and camping overnight in the jungle. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Salvador de Bahia
One of the best cities in Brazil is Salvador de Bahia. It’s the country’s oldest city, and the first capital of Brazil from the 16th to the 18th century. Witnessing the blend of Native American, African, en European cultures, it showcases a spectacular open-air museum, where you can see signs of its history in every building and street.
Salvador de Bahia was also one of America’s first and largest slave ports back in the day, Brazil being the largest producer of sugar, and it became a hub for Afro-Brazilian culture that remains to this day.
There’s actually a mysterious yet quirky sense to this colonial capital, and while many of the buildings are old and crumbling, most of those restored are the remnants of the town’s faded glory.
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its historic city offers an abundance of colorful costumes, African spices, and vibrant music in pretty much every corner.
➤ This Private City Tour in Salvador offers a very informative and interesting introduction to the city. You’ll follow your private guide around Salvador’s main highlights and locations, learning about its past and finding magnificent photo spots along the way. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
➤ For a more in-depth introduction to Salvador’s Afro history and culture, join the Private African Heritage City Tour. It includes a visit to the Afro Museum and the Society for Black Protection, as well as a walking tour around the historic center with a knowledgeable guide. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Foz do Iguaçu
Foz do Iguaçu is a gateway to Paraguay and Argentina and is best known as the home of the world-famous Iguaçu Falls. The city got its name because it’s at the mouth of the Iguaçu River.
Something worth noting is that even though the city is home to one of the most beautiful places in Brazil – and definitely among the most visited! – it doesn’t feel touristy at all. There’s a lack of major shopping streets and there aren’t a lot of hotels within the area.
While Foz do Iguaçu is a Brazilian city, the impressive falls are actually shared with Argentina, and they can be visited from both countries.
This city in Brazil has more places to visit besides the Iguaçu Falls, though. Parque des Aves features a massive collection of exotic birds, and the Three Borders Landmark is where Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil meet.
➤ The Iguaçu Falls & Macuco Safari Boat is a full-day tour from Foz de Iguaçu that takes you to one of the world’s natural wonders and includes a thrilling boat trip while you’re there! You’ll also enjoy a hike through the woods and witness the iconic Devil’s Throat. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
➤ For an unforgettable experience, check out the Panoramic Helicopter Flight over the Iguaçu Falls. You’ll enjoy unrivaled views and see both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides of the falls, as you fly above them on an exhilarating helicopter ride. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Sao Paulo is a city known for its energetic and vibrant atmosphere. It’s undeniably one of the best cities to visit in Brazil, and its popularity is proof of it.
However, don’t expect this massive city to be exclusively a concrete jungle: Sao Paulo is actually divided into the rolling countryside, coastlines, and jungle rainforest.
Sao Paulo is home to countless skyscrapers – like most cities – but none of them are as popular as Farol Santander, so make sure you don’t miss it! This is the best spot to go if you want to enjoy a head-spinning view of the city. The top-floor observation deck is open for tourists and is highly recommended if you want to get the best view of the city skyline.
➤ This Sao Paulo City Tour is perfect for first-time visitors, as it provides a great introduction to the city’s highlights, history, and culture. It includes stops at Paulista Avenue, a Football Stadium, and the Museum of Art among others, as well as a tour around the downtown. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Another must-see in Sao Paulo is the Ibirapuera Park, the most visited park in South America! It’s a perfect escape from the bustle of the city – even if its in the midst of it – and for families with children.
The MASP (Museum of Art of Sao Paulo) is one of the most popular attractions in the city, and soccer lovers can’t miss the Museo do Futebol, the perfect place to understand the importance of this sport in the lives of all Brazilians.
And finally, don’t miss out on a visit to Mercado Municipal when in São Paulo. This is the best spot to satisfy gastronomic cravings with tons of food stalls to choose from. It’s worth noting that it’s covered so you can even go if it rains!
Porto de Galinhas
As a major tourist destination in Brazil, no trip to the country would be complete without a visit to Porto de Galinhas. This beach is within the municipality of Ipojuca and it’s known for its bright-water beaches and natural pools.
Porto de Galinhas has been voted as the “Best Brazilian Beach” 8 consecutive times. This is saying a lot knowing that there are plenty of popular beaches in Brazil! The beauty of the natural pools, ecological trails, and hotel infrastructure combine to earning the said accolade.
Fernando do Noronha
Fernando do Noronha is in a class of its own when it comes to places to go in Brazil. It’s composed of 21 islands of which only one is inhabited. The other islands are home to a variety of species including reptiles, seabirds, and many endemic species.
As you can imagine, these islands are very picturesque – pristine white sand beaches, dramatic rock cliff backdrops, and turquoise waters. It’s a paradisiacal retreat that has easily become a favorite for those who’ve come to witness its beauty.
If you plan to visit and stay for a few days in Fernando do Noronha, expect that it’s a little bit more pricey than the cities in Brazil – including Rio and Sao Paulo. There are plenty of activities to enjoy here such as diving, boat trips, and snorkeling.
Praia do Leão is one of the most beautiful beaches here but check the closing times as this beach is a turtle nesting haven. So, during the turtle nesting season, access to the beach is closed or heavily restricted.
To add to its sense of exclusivity, only a limited number of people are allowed access to the island per day (around 500 people). So it’s key to plan your trip in advance!
If you would like to see more of Brazil’s natural beauty, head to Chapada Diamantina, one of the best places to visit in Brazil for nature lovers. This national park offers limitless options for hiking and trekking enthusiasts as well as varying landscape formations like mountain plateaus, caves, and valleys.
There are plenty of trails to explore in Chapada Diamantina and most of them are surrounded by lush vegetation.
While its trails are astoundingly beautiful, there are hundreds of them and most of them are unmarked, so it’s advisable to hire a guide to venture into them, especially for overnight hikes!
Besides hiking amidst nature, places that should be on your list when visiting Chapada Diamantina include Gruta Azul, a cave with gorgeous blue waters, the waterfall Cachoeira da Privamera, and Poço Azul, where you can enjoy a splash in the water.
Olinda is a picturesque town with an artsy and colonial appeal set in a tree-covered hill almost 4 miles (6 km) north of Recife. This town attracts artists and creators, and it features many art galleries, museums, artisan workshops, and craft shops.
If you walk the streets of Olinda, you’ll also stumble upon colorful old houses, lovely churches, towers, red-tile roofs, and musicians on the streets.
If you are seeking the best preserved and prettiest colonial town in Brazil, it’s definitely Olinda. In fact, the historic center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982.
If you are wondering where to go in Brazil for a unique cultural experience, Jericoacoara is the place. This tiny fishing village in Ceara is affectionately referred to as Jeri and it’s an ideal place for those who want to escape the modern world of traffic jams, bustling metropolises, and floods of tourists.
Jericoacoara was declared National Park in 2002 and is known as an Environmental Protection Area. As such, there are many building restrictions and tourism controls in the village.
Jericoacoara Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil. While in Jeri, don’t miss the chance to see the famed Pedra Furada, which is an arched rock formation that has become the symbol of this village.
Another famous colonial town in Brazil is Ouro Preto, established in 1968 in the state of Minas Gerais. The name Ouro Preto literally translates to “black gold” and it comes from its past as the center of gold trade in the region.
When Brazil became independent in 1822, the city of Ouro Preto was known as “Imperial City” because of the huge role it played in the gold history of the country.
Today it’s recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a city rich in cultural and colonial heritage that’s worth checking out. You’ll find many museums and churches to visit in town if you want to see a picture of its storied past.
There are also numerous festivals held in Ouro Preto throughout the year, but the Carnaval is probably the most popular.
Known as Brazil’s best-kept secret, Pantanal is the most biodiverse region in South America (especially in terms of wildlife).
This national park is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also the largest tropical wetland in the world, spanning a total land area of 70,000 square miles. While some parts of it extend to Bolivia and Paraguay, most of it belongs to Brazil.
While this natural gem is overshadowed by the Amazon rainforest, it has the highest concentration of wildlife in South America.
During the rainy season, the downpour fills the giant basin to create a flooded landscape, and as soon as the water drains into the Paraguay River, it brings a variety of birdlife into the region such as storks, spoonbills, and egrets. The area’s wildlife also includes green anacondas, piranha, jaguars, capuchin monkeys, wild pigs, and howlers.
Florianopolis is a port city in the state of Santa Catarina, in the southern region of Brazil, and it’s famous for its beaches and resort areas. This well-known Brazilian beach town features a strong influence from Portuguese and Azorean colonizers which you can see in its architecture, religion, culture, and cuisine.
The city of Florianopolis is a highly touristic place, and one of its main economic activities is, in fact, tourism. As such, it’s home to many attractions and it’s well prepared to serve the needs of its visitors, both in entertainment and services.
Praia dos Ingleses, at the northern tip of the island, is one of its highlights, along with Lagoa da Conceição, a saltwater lagoon. This area is popular among boating and windsurfing enthusiasts.
It’s also a famous surfing spot, which is why national and international surfing competitions are held here all year round.
Paraty is both a town loved for its historical and cultural heritage, and for the spectacular natural beauty. This town is set against steep, jungled mountains and an island-studded bay. Whether you want to enjoy the mountain or the island, both are within easy access from Paraty!
Paraty also features a beautifully preserved historic center, which was recognized as a National Historic Site in 1966. The historic center is a pedestrian area filled with elegant white buildings with latticed windows and cobblestone streets.
And that’s it! As you can see, there is a lot to do, eat and see in this wonderful country. I hope this post was useful to get to know the best places to visit in Brazil. If you can’t do it all at once, you’ll just have to come back time and time again 😉
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