Rio de Janeiro #1 destination in Brazil-TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Award (2012)
Top 10 Destinations in Brazil
Rio has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world—and some of the skimpiest bikinis. That’s the norm here, so you’d better not stare. But you’ll also want to explore the city itself, which has beautiful architecture. The cable car ride to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pao de Acucar) offers beautiful views of the city. Ride it at sunset if you can!
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Florianopolis was dubbed by Brazilian weekly Veja as “the best place to live in Brazil”, so it’s only natural that tourists would want to check it out, too. And do they ever. Florianopolis is a thriving destination for its perfect beaches, excellent surfing, amazing seafood, and juxtaposition of a modern megacity with 16th-century colonial fortresses and relaxed markets and parks.
The largest city in South America, Sao Paulo’s cuisine and art is as multinational as its diverse population of 10 million. With the restaurants of the Jardins district serving every food imaginable to diners from around the world, you wouldn’t be out of place going to Sao Paulo just for the dining. But you’d be missing out on world-class museums, diverse and vibrant neighborhood tours, and crazy-good shopping.
If there’s a “beach economy,” Buzios is its Wall Street. Its more than 20 beaches, world-class galleries, clubs and boutiques draw an elite set of travelers. Surfers love Geriba Beach, snorkelers enjoy Ferruda, hip Ossos Beach offers upscale beachside cafes and laid-back Ilhabela Beach offers a more down-to-earth Buzios experience.
Brazil’s former capital is renowned for its African-influenced cuisine, music and architecture. Known as “the Capital of Joy,” because of its exuberant week-long Carnaval celebrations, Salvador brims with contemporary music and art amid architecture that has gone untouched since the 17th century.
Giant anteaters, howler monkeys, ocelots, endangered jaguars and clouds of butterflies are among the attractions at this World Heritage-designated park that marks the border between Brazil and Argentina. By foot or by raft, explorers can view one of the world’s most stunning waterfalls, Iguazu Falls. Among the park’s 270 waterfalls, spectacular Devil’s Throat combines 14 falls and generates a “perpetual rainbow” in good weather.
Named for a local swamp fish, Paraty sits on Brazil’s southeastern coast, 125 miles south of Rio, with the Bocaino Mountains at its back. The small colonial town’s center is a national historic monument with well-preserved buildings on its pedestrian-only streets. Take a boat trip out into the bay to the flotillas of islands and coves nearby. Explore sugarcane plantations and hike or take a train through Atlantica Forest. Keep an eye out for the monkeys that roam the cobblestone streets.
When you can trek through the rainforests in the morning and take in a tear-jerking opera at night, you know you’re in a special place. Manaus offers a rich variety of nature, culture, art and dining. Explore the lush vegetation of Amazonian jungle on a guided backpacking or river tour, or sample the colorful bounty of the Mercado Adolpho Lisboa. The stately Amazonas Opera House was built with the finest materials, and inside you’ll be blown away by powerful performances.
The crystalline waters of Bonito are some of the purest in the world, thanks to natural deposits of limestone that act as an organic filter. Unsurprisingly, the snorkeling here is unparalleled, like swimming through liquid glass. High above sea level, you can brave the Circuito Arvorismo, a labyrinth of walkways that let you navigate the treetops with the ease of a mischievous monkey. A tour of the Blue Lake Cave is simply stunning—inside, a sapphire pool is framed by intricate rock formations that look like abstract art.
Silky beaches, coconut palms, and designer boutique hotels are mainstays of Trancoso’s casual/chic vibe. Candy-colored clay houses line the streets and squares, lending a bohemian vibe to this otherwise rustic destination. The world-famous beaches boast velvety white sands and natural pools created by coral reefs.