Things to do in Brazil: Attractions and places to visit

Iguazú - Lado brasileño (Guerretto)  [flickr.com]  CC BY 
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With over 200 million inhabitants and an area that covers almost half of the entire continent, Brazil is not only the largest and most populous country in South America, but also the fifth largest country in the world. And accordingly it has a lot to offer, there are almost endless attractions and sights in Brazil to marvel at. The land of the Samba enchants holidaymakers with its incredible variety again and again.

Whether it’s the brilliant white beaches and impressive natural spectacles, picturesque mountain and jungle landscapes or the Brazilian culture and South American joie de vivre in the colourful cities: there is plenty to discover for nature lovers and romantics as well as for culture fans and adventurers. Brazil is of course also famous for its impressive carnival.

Below we present you the most exciting tours, the most beautiful attractions and the best sights in Brazil.

Rio de Janeiro Copabana (Daniel Ernst / stock.adobe.com)  lizenziertes Stockfoto 
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Cristo Redentor (Rio de Janeiro) (Alexander Mirschel)  Copyright 
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Iguaçu Falls (Arian Zwegers)  [flickr.com]  CC BY 
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1. Beach of Desires: The Copacabana

It’s actually quite simple: if you think of Brazil, you think of Rio de Janeiro. And if you think of Rio, the word “Copacabana” comes to mind almost automatically. Although some beaches like Ipanema spray more glamour and glamour on good days, this can of course not harm a real legend. The Copacabana is finally located in the middle of the city in the district of the same name directly at the Atlantic Ocean and has the shape of a crescent moon.

The beach has not only gained worldwide fame and was and is the formative element of many books, films and songs. The Copacabana has also remained the central point for the city’s tourism to this day and continues to enjoy great popularity among its inhabitants. Many of the best hotels, including the world-famous Copacabana Palace, have also settled along the promenade.

2. Archipelago from the picture book: Fernando de Noronha

Fernando de Noronha refers to a group of islands about 350 km east of the mainland that are of volcanic origin. It consists of 21 islands covering a comparatively small area of only 26 square kilometres. Of these, 17 km² alone belong to the main island, which is also the only inhabited part of the archipelago. It is characterized above all by its beautiful, paradisiacal beaches.

Again and again Fernando de Noronha appears in the rankings of the most beautiful beaches of the world. But even under water the archipelago captivates with its extraordinary beauty. More than 15 different coral species, countless dolphins and sea turtles as well as over 250 fish species make the area one of the best and most popular diving areas in South America. UNESCO included the dream islands in the World Heritage List.

3. Colonial charm: Time travel in Paraty

The small town Paraty with only about 40.000 inhabitants lies a little bit inconspicuous and off the beaten track between the two mega cities São Paulo and Rio de Janiero. As a special sight of Brazil, however, it trumps big: The historic old town from the 17th century is almost completely preserved in its architecture. The streets consist of rough cobblestones and all houses are white with colourful window and door frames.

The entire old town is a listed building and is also largely closed to traffic. Paraty is also home to Villa Boa Vista, the listed birthplace of Julia da Silva-Bruhns, the mother of the German writers Heinrich and Thomas Mann. Paraty is still a real insider tip and is regarded as an enclave by dropouts and (life) artists.

4. Breathtaking nature: Iguazu Waterfalls

Among the most important and impressive sights of Brazil are of course the famous Iguazú waterfalls on the border to Argentina. They consist of 20 large waterfalls and about 255 smaller ones, covering an area of more than 2.6 kilometres and falling down to 82 metres. Particularly impressive is the U-shaped devil’s throat (Garganta do Diabo) with its length of 700 metres and width of 150 metres.

At this point, visitors virtually reach the mighty heart of the Cataratas do Iguaçu, where water thunders down to 7000 km³ per second at its highest. The water has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986. The surrounding national park is home to coatis, monkeys, parrots and countless other animal species. Tourists usually visit the waterfalls from both sides, so be sure to plan a day trip to the Argentine side!

5. Postcard idyll: The Sugar Loaf of Rio

The 396 metre high granite rock owes its name both to its unique shape and to the name given to it by the indigenous people: Pan da suka – carrot. Together with the Cristo Redentor, the sugar loaf is the landmark of the city of Rio de Janeiro and one of the most popular sights in Brazil. The steep rock lies at the entrance of Guanabara Bay.

On its summit there are viewing platforms that allow a wide and imposing view of the huge city. There is also a small bamboo forest with walking paths and a souvenir shop. With the cable car O Bondinho the summit can be reached comfortably. Since their sides are fully glazed, there is already an interesting view of the city here.

6. Giant of water: The Amazon Basin

The most water-rich river in the world with a length of 6,400 kilometres rises from the Andes and flows into the Pacific Ocean. It is surrounded by different rain forests with numerous animal and plant species. In Brazil, the gigantic river is usually several kilometres wide and in flood phases it can flood the forested hinterland for up to 60 kilometres.

The Brazilian island of Marajó lies in the mouth of the Amazon and is as large as Switzerland. This huge island in the middle of a river has about 250,000 inhabitants and also offers tourists the opportunity to discover the river in a special way.

For

nature lovers we recommend one of the Jungle Lodges directly in the Amazon basin, from where you can discover the flora and fauna by boat and on guided hikes

.

7. Pure desert: Lençois Maranhenses National Park

One of Brazil’s most impressive nature events is the Lençóis Maranhenses dune area – also known as a desert full of water. It is indeed a desert area with large, solid shifting dunes. Due to high rainfall it is full of lagoons, lakes and oases, which are characterized by greenish water and a very curvy shape, with which they meander through the sand.

The wind and the blatantly higher rainfall during the rainy season ensure that the landscape is constantly changing. Dunes wander, lagoons and lakes disappear and reappear – a unique and beautiful natural phenomenon. This dynamic makes the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park one of the most beautiful sights in Brazil for us.

8. Wonder of the modern world: Cristo Redentor

The statue of Christ standing on a mountain in Rio de Janiero is one of the most famous landmarks of the city and also one of the most frequent associations with Brazil. The 30 meter high statue stands on an eight meter high pedestal with a chapel and weighs 1145 tons. The imposing monument was erected to celebrate the centenary of Brazil’s independence.

In 2006 it was declared a place of pilgrimage and in 2007 even one of the seven wonders of the modern world. The statue of Jesus in Rio de Janeiro became the model for numerous other statues of Christ around the globe. On its pedestal in Rio de Janeiro, it also looks out over another landmark and important sight of the city: the sugar loaf. We therefore recommend combining both highlights as part of a day tour.

9. Tierparadies im Schwemmland: The Pantanal

The Pantanal is often attributed to the Amazon region by ignorant holidaymakers, but this assumption is fundamentally wrong. The gigantic flood area in the centre of the country has an area the size of the Federal Republic of Germany and is home to more than 100 mammals and over 650 bird species. Special animal sightings are even more likely here than in the world-famous Amazon region!

The ideal starting point for a trip to the Pantanal is usually Cuiabá, from here it often continues by rental car. Of course we also offer guided tours, we sleep mainly in traditional fazendas. The 150 km long Transpantaneira or the 120 km long Estrada Parque Pantanal are particularly impressive and eventful, each of them crossing countless wooden bridges through the Pantanal.

10. On Brigitte Bardots tracks: Armação dos Búzios

Buzios was actually just a small sleepy fishing village until Brigitte Bardot placed the peninsula northwest of Rio on the map of the international jet set. The swarm of men from France actually only fled from the annoying journalists and photographers in Rio to spend a few relaxing days with their boyfriend. It was the birth of Buzios as a luxury destination!

Today, discerning travellers will find a sophisticated town centre with pretty boutiques, cafés and restaurants of the highest quality. Thanks to sensitive building regulations, however, the charm has been largely preserved; instead of large hotel bunkers, there are mainly small sweet pousadas with a few guest rooms on a hillside. Highlights are the more than 20 beaches and bays of Armação dos Búzios – some of them are deserted and beautiful!

More things to do and activities for your Brazil holiday

Best time to visit Brazil

We recommend the following months as best time to travel for exploring the attractions and acivities of Brazil:

August, September, October, and November

You can find more information about the weather, including all climate data, on our climate page for Brazil.

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