With gorgeous beaches and an amazing culture, it’s no wonder Brazil is a popular travel destination. Here are five Brazilian cities to visit on your trip.
If you think Brazil is all about Carnival, think again. Although it hosts some of the largest street parties in the world, Brazil also features sun-kissed sand, sparkling shorelines, and amazing culture. The fifth largest country in the world, it’s filled with over 1,500 beaches, intriguing people, lush rainforests, and an undeniable rhythm that makes it a destination like no other. These five Brazilian cities are known for serious sun and fun for all types of visitors.
Rio de Janeiro
From the moment you arrive in iconic Rio de Janeiro, you’ll find yourself swept up in the vibrant rhythm of the urban landscape, which contrasts dramatically with the spectacular beaches and lush jungles. Affectionately called Marvelous City by the locals, Rio is the site of the world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue as well as numerous other attractions, including:
- The Lapa Neighborhood: Samba at hotspots like Cafe Cultural Sacrilegio or Rio Scenarium after indulging in some of this trendy downtown hotspot’s restaurants or street food.
- Museums: Must-see spots include the Museum of Tomorrow, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Imperial Museum of Brazil, a palace turned museum that was named one of the 20 most beautiful places in Brazil by CNN.
- Beaches: Visit the beach that inspired the song “The Girl from Ipanema” or opt for the popular Copacabana Beach, located in the center of the Zona Sul neighborhood. If you’re looking for more privacy, then check out Prainha, otherwise known as “little beach.”
When you travel north of Rio to the state of Bahia, you’ll find what many consider to be the “soul of Brazil,” according to the Travel Channel. Bahia’s capital city, Salvador, is the birthplace of samba, the epicenter of the country’s Afro-Brazilian culture, and the sparkling jewel of the country’s sweeping arts movement. The city’s location on All Saints’ Bay makes it the ideal starting point for schooner trips to one of more than 50 small islands located nearby, including Itaparica and Frades, two of the most popular beach islands.
You can devote days just to exploring the historic center of the city, Pelourinho, which is home to numerous landmarks, such as the ornate São Francisco Church. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pelourinho is also one of the best spots in the city to experience the rhythmic beat of drummers, bands, and dancers during one of the city’s raucous festivals. Other top attractions include the National Museum of Afro-Brazilian Culture and Balé Folclorico da Bahia, a renowned dance company that performs traditional Bahian dances.
Ilha Grande is part of a cluster of islands off Rio’s coast in the State of Rio de Janeiro. Top attractions include Pico do Papagaio, which offers panoramic island views, and Castelhanos Lighthouse, one of the oldest lighthouses in the region. The island’s idyllic beaches and peaceful atmosphere contrast with its dark past as a pirate’s lair, leper colony, and prison for some of the country’s most violent criminals. If you enjoy hiking, explore some of the island’s history with a tour the ruins of Cândido Mendes as part of a long hike through the protected Atlantic Rainforest.
Not only is Fortaleza one of the largest cities in Brazil, but its sweeping urban beaches are so picturesque they made CNN’s list of the 20 most beautiful places in Brazil. Shop in open-air markets like the beachside Feirinha Beira Mar or Mercado Publico, or take a tour of Fortaleza Cathedral and learn more about the city’s rich history at Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora de Assunção (Fort of Our Lady of the Rising).
After working up an appetite, enjoy a taste of Northeastern Brazilian cuisine at one of the city’s restaurants, such as Coco Bambu, known for its ocean views and 16-page menu featuring everything from pizza to seafood specialties. When you want something sweet, head to 50 Sabores, a renowned ice cream shop that scoops up 150 different flavors, including one just for adults.
The capital city of Amazonas, Manaus is paradise for adventure seekers who enjoy embarking on guided jungle tours of the Amazon, taking side trips to the waterfalls located two hours away at Presidente Figueiredo, and sampling local cuisine from street markets serving up everything from coconut juice to barbecue.
If you want to hit the beach, then check out the artificial beach at Ponta Negra. Out of the water, explore top attractions like Amazonas Theatre, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful venues in the world, and Anavilhanas National Park, where you can dive with pink dolphins. You can even indulge in exotic boat rides to jungle hotels and other sites.
Brazil is overflowing with bright and colorful photo opportunities. After your trip, head over to Instagram to share your best pics of your favorite city or attraction.