Bustling metropolises, old-world colonial towns, verdant rainforests known for their abundant and diverse flora and fauna, a 4,600-mile coastline along the Atlantic with some of the world’s most pristine sandy beaches, together with its rich cultural heritage and fun-loving people make Brazil an amazing tourist destination.
Many wildlife species found in the Brazilian jungles are endemic to the country, including the giant anteater, scarlet macaw, toucan, howling monkey, marsh deer, giant river otter, different sloth species and, of course, the feared and revered anaconda, to name but a few.
When it comes to activities and adventures, Brazil has something for all budgets, including kayaking the crisscrossing waterways of the Amazon rainforest; wildlife watching in the Pantanal – a vast tropical wetlands, home to jaguars, capybaras, caimans, and countless bird species and snorkelling and surfing off the palm-lined beaches, or simply soaking up the abundant sunshine watching the surfers ride the breakers.
Visit the country in February next year (Feb. 9 to Feb.14) to experience the world’s largest annual carnival (Carnaval) in Rio de Janeiro – also celebrated with great fervor in Salvador, Recife, Olinda and Porto Seguro.
Join the colorful parades with people from all walks of the Brazilan life as well as hundreds of thousands of foreigners, singing and dancing to the samba, frevo, and maracatu beats, and be part of the no-holds-barred all night partying and merry-making.
Even if you miss the Carnaval season, Brazilians are known for their love for music and dancing and their partying ways, with Festas (festivals) happening all through the year. Any occasion is reason enough for revelry and samba parties.
Here are some of the highly-rated tourist attractions in Brazil that, once experienced, will keep beckoning you again and again.
Carnaval, Rio de Janeiro
As already discussed above, few celebrations in the world come close to Rio’s Carnaval in terms of organized parades, crowd participation, flamboyant costumes, and overall revelry.
This pre-Lent extravaganza of music, dance, color, and merry-making starts on the Friday preceding Ash Wednesday ending on Ash Wednesday at noon.
The 700-meter parade route is lined on both sides with custom-built, tiered grandstand boxes called Sambódromo, affording spectators excellent views of dancers and musicians from different Samba schools, passing below them in a stunning explosion of colorful costumes.
Situated in the state of Paraná in Brazil, bordering Argentina and Paraguay, the Iguaçu Falls originate from the Iguaçu River dividing it into its upper and lower portions.
The river drops in a stunningly picturesque semicircle of 275 cascades into the gorge below, in a continuous thundering roar.
Some of the falls are as high as 100 meters and are so wide that seeing them all at once is a difficult proposition.
However, the best views of the falls are from the Brazilian side. You can walk across the catwalks to the Argentinean side, as well, getting different perspectives of the falls along the way.
One particular bridge spans out all the way to Garganta do Diabo, or the Devil’s Throat – one of the largest Iguaçu falls.
The Iguaçu Falls are part of the UNESCO-recognized Iguaçu National Park in Brazil and the Iguazú National Park in Argentina, both home to numerous bird species and mammals, including the ocelot (wildcat), deer, otter, and capybara – the largest extant rodent in the world.
Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
This is downtown Rio’s most upscale neighborhood, home to some of the finest restaurants and cafés in the city, high-end shops, and some architectural beauties, including the famed Belmond Copacabana Palace – one of the finest luxury hotels in Rio.
The amazing crescent-shaped, white-sand Copacabana Beach, all along the four-kilometer Avenida Nossa Senhora de Copacabana, is separated from the buildings and the adjacent dual-carriageway avenue by a broad promenade of black and white mosaic.
Weather-permitting, you will find this well-maintained beach filled with swimmers, sunbathers, lovers, playful children, and strollers, all making the most of this wonderful escape within the city limits.
Amazon Rain Forest
Far away from the hustle and bustle of Rio, is the city of Manaus – the capital of the state of Amazonas in the northern part of Brazil. Located some 20 kilometers southeast of here, is the confluence of the Negro and Solimões rivers known as the Encontro das Aguas, or meeting of the waters.
There are boat trips operating out of Manaus that not only bring you up to Encontro das Aguas but take you deep into the Amazon rainforest navigating the network of rivers, channels and lakes caused by the meeting rivers.
The Anavilhanas archipelago in the Rio Negro, with streams, lakes and flooded forests, is home to a range of animal and bird species such as monkeys, sloths, turtles, caimans, parrots, and toucans, among many others.
Not far from Manaus, is the sprawling Janauari Ecological Park with its intricate waterways and varied ecosystems and its giant water-lilies native to the region.
Manaus is not only the launching pad into the surrounding jungles of the Amazon with its wonders of nature but also a place of cultural importance in the region. Some of the must-see attractions in the city include:
The Teatro Amazonas: Popular 19th-century Renaissance opera house
The Palácio Rio Negro: Restored 19th-century rubber baron’s estate featuring period decor, history exhibits & gardens
The Museu Amazônico: UFAM: Free museum exhibiting a small collection of artifacts from the Amazon region in a colonial house.
Parish San Sebastian, martyr and St. Francisco de Assis: 19th-century neoclassical church featuring a domed, Italian-style interior & a single bell tower
Manaus Brazil Temple: Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Manaus
Sumaúma State Park: A small park within the city limits of Manaus
Palacete Provincial: 19th-century former police headquarters housing museums of art, numismatics, archaeology & more
Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro
Situated on a peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic, the 1300-foot-high Sugarloaf Mountain looms large above the harbor – an excellent vantage point offering some of the best views of the city.
The cable car ride from the lower Morro da Urca peak to the Sugarloaf is an experience in itself. Not only are the views breathtaking, riding suspended inside a cable car, hundreds of feet above the harbor, is a different kind of rush altogether – certainly not for the acrophobic.
Located in the Tijuca National Park in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, the Corcovado, “hunchback” in Portuguese, is a 710-meter-high granite peak, known the world over for the 38-meter-tall statue of Jesus Christ – the “Cristo Redentor” or “Christ the Redeemer.” The outstretched arms of the statue measure 28 meters, fingertip to fingertip.
Built with reinforced concrete and soapstone, the statue is the work of Polish-French sculptor Paul Landowski and Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa. The base of the statue is a chapel.
It can be reached by rack railway, which takes around 20 minutes to cover the 3.5 km journey to the top, or you can take the 3.8-kilometre narrow road. A walking trail starting from Parque Lage on the south side of the mountain is another option if you don’t mind the exercise.