Famous for being home to one of the world’s top football teams, the Rio de Janeiro Carnival and the remarkable Iguazu Falls, Brazil is an exciting world travel destination. As South America’s largest country, Brazil covers a majority of the continent’s northeastern region and borders all of its countries except for Chile and Ecuador.
From the Amazon rainforest in the North to the tropical beaches along the Atlantic, to the Pantanal wetlands and the vibrant metropolises of the Southeast there are plenty of interesting places to visit in Brazil.
Map of Brazil
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10. Sao Paulo Where to Stay
Not only is Sao Paulo the largest city in Brazil, but it is also one of the largest in the world according to population. Located in southeastern Brazil, Sao Paulo is known for its skyscrapers, gastronomy and robust culture scene. It is home to many ethnic groups from all over the globe including the largest Japanese community outside of Japan. Although Sao Paulo is known for its concrete jungle, it is also contains a large number of public parks and even portions of the Atlantic rainforest.
⇒ related: Top Sao Paulo Attractions
9. Brasilia Where to Stay
Located in the Brazilian Highlands, Brasilia was installed in 1960 as Brazil’s capital. Brazil’s former President Juscelino Kubitschek ordered the city to be planned and developed into what some refer to as a utopia. Brasilia’s modern day infrastructure is designed in the shape of an airplane in which each of its sections serve as different districts such as government, commercial, residential and cultural. The city’s new and creative designed buildings attracts many architecture aficionados. Most significant is the Three Powers Square, which houses the Presidential Palace, the Congress and the Supreme Court. Other important buildings include the Brasilia Cathedral with its glass roof that resembles hands reaching up to heaven.
8. Fortaleza Where to Stay
Nice beaches, dynamic shopping and lively culture all make Fortaleza one of Brazil’s popular places to visit. The capital of the Ceará state on the country’s northeastern coast, Fortaleza is Brazil’s fifth largest city. The most popular beach is Praia do Futuro, but other favorites are Iracema, Mucuripe and Meireles. Not only are the beaches great for swimming, sunbathing and surfing, but they also offer hotels and restaurants. Fortaleza also serves as the jumping-off point for many visitors to truly spectacular beaches, rolling dunes and idyllic fishing villages up and down the Ceará coast.
7. Parati Where to Stay
A paradise of tropical forests, waterfalls, emerald sea and coastal mountains, Parati is a popular tourist attraction located along Brazil’s Green Coast in the Rio de Janeiro state. Also spelled Paraty, this beautiful city is a former Portuguese colony established on the shores of the Bay of Ilha Grande. The heart of Parati is its historic center with cobbled streets and multicolored colonial houses, many of which now serve as bed-and-breakfast accommodations called pousadas. One of the most popular attractions are the colonial defense forts that still boast original walls and cannons.
6. Recife Where to Stay
Nicknamed the “Venice of Brazil” because of its numerous waterways and bridges, Recife is the capital of the Pernambuco state and one of the largest and most important cities on Brazil’s northeastern coast. Situated amid tropical forests with many islands and rivers, Recife is a popular tourist destination because of its historic old town, beaches and vibrant culture. Recife was a Dutch colony during the 17th century, and nowhere is this more evident than the historic district where many colonial buildings still remain. The beaches here are considered some of the best in Brazil. Lined with hotels, restaurants and bars, Boa Viagem is the most popular beach with its pristine white sands, clear water and coral reef.
5. Olinda Where to Stay
One of Brazil’s best-preserved colonial cities, Olinda is located on Atlantic Coast in the northeastern state of Pernambuco. Perched on a picturesque hilltop surrounded by trees, Olinda’s historic downtown is a treasure trove of colonial churches, colorful old houses, restaurants, museums and numerous artisan studios. Every year, Olinda hosts its lively Carnival celebration that differs somewhat from those of Rio de Janeiro and Salvador in that Olinda’s festival is best attended at daytime and features the music, dances and traditions of African culture.
4. Manaus Where to Stay
The capital of the Amazonas state in northwestern Brazil, Manaus is an important tourist destination because it serves as a gateway to the Amazon rainforest. As a result of the region’s flourishing rubber industry during the early 20th century, Manaus today is one of Brazil’s largest cities, featuring distinguished landmarks like the Amazonas Opera House, and the Rio Negro Palace. Another significant sight is the Meeting of the Waters, which is a natural phenomenon where the two rivers of Negro and Solimões run side by side for more than three miles without fully mixing.
⇒ related: Top Manaus Attractions
3. Salvador Where to Stay
A historic Old City, beautiful beaches, lively culture and one of the world’s biggest Carnival celebrations all fashion Salvador into one of the best places to visit in Brazil. One of the oldest cities in the Americas, Salvador is Brazil’s third largest city and the capital of the Bahia state. Situated on the coast of the Bay of All Saints, Salvador offers fantastic beaches that are ideal for sunbathing, swimming and surfing. Some of the most popular include Porto de Barra, Flamengo and Stella Maris.
2. Foz do Iguacu Where to Stay
One of the world’s most stunning natural wonders, Iguazu Falls is a series of magnificent waterfalls located on the Iguazu River, straddling the border between Brazil and Argentina. The falls in and of themselves are a breathtaking spectacle, but their beauty is all the more enhanced by the surrounding lush forest teeming in exotic wildlife. The gateway to the falls on the Brazilian side is Foz do Iguaçu, a big and reasonably safe city by Brazilian standards.
1. Rio de Janeiro Where to Stay
There is no destination on earth more animated and exciting than Rio de Janeiro. Located in southeastern Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is the most visited city of South America due to its famous mountains, landmarks, beaches and Carnival festival. Rio de Janeiro is situated on one of the world’s largest harbors surrounded by natural attractions that include the Sugarloaf and Corcovado mountains and famous beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema. The city’s iconic landmark is the enormous Christ the Redeemer statue sitting atop Corcovado mountain. Carnival celebrations here are among the largest in the world, with vibrant parades, costumes, dancing, music, fireworks and street parties.
⇒ related: Top Rio Attractions