What to see
Vibrant and glamorous Rio de Janeiro offers a wealth of attractions. Take in the city's stunning natural setting from the Sugar Loaf mountain and the Corcovado statue of Christ, with magical views of the ocean, bays, mountains, jungle and beaches. Explore the largest urban rainforest by jeep or discover the old historic centre or the hillside district of Santa Teresa. A walk along the promenade of Copacabana or Ipanema highlights how important the beach is to the people of Rio as the city's great leveller, with people from all backgrounds playing football, volleyball and enjoying beach parties.
The Iguaçu Falls are one of the natural wonders of the world, the sheer volume of water and spectacular jungle setting making them a superb year-round sight.
The Pantanal is the best place to see wildlife in Brazil, due to the lack of dense vegetation. These vast and stunning wetlands are a birder's paradise, with hundreds of species including hyacinth macaws and toucans. Mammals to spot include capybaras, anacondas, a variety of monkeys and, for the very fortunate, jaguars.
Manaus is the gateway to Brazil's Amazonian rainforest, the most diverse eco-system on the planet. Stay in an eco-lodge or explore the waterways on board a small river cruiser. For a more in-depth Amazonian nature experience visit the Cristalino private reserve in the southern Amazon.
Brazil’s vast coastline of more than 9,000km is fringed with thousands of stunning beaches and islands. These range from the endless tropical stretches of the north, where the ocean is always warm, to the golden sands in the south, pounded by strong surf and frequented by southern right whales in the cooler months. Accommodation ranges from exclusive hideaway retreats and characterful little pousadas in former fishing villages, to stylish or rustic eco-chic boutique properties. The pristine archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, off the Pernambuco coast, is an ecological sanctuary with idyllic beaches and abundant marine life.
The gold and riches of Brazil have left some amazing colonial towns, many of which are now Unesco world heritage sites and feature cobbled streets, beautiful colonial churches and colourful houses. Particularly recommended are Paraty to the south of Rio, Ouro Preto and Tiradentes in Minas Gerais, or Salvador, Olinda and São Luís in the north-east. Salvador, the capital of Bahia, is also one of the country's most vibrant cities due to its strong African influences and has a carnival to rival that of Rio.
Further off the beaten track, a bounty of experiences can be found. Brazil’s chapades are scenic high plateaux that combine canyons, rivers, waterfalls, flat-top ridges and refreshing natural pools. These national parks host a variety of endemic flora and fauna and offer countless walking possibilities. Meanwhile, the far north-east of the country offers prehistoric rock paintings in the dry bushlands, deserts dunes with turquoise lakes and lush tropical deltas.