Brazil… a travel guide
With the Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janiero soon coming to a close, we’re rounding up what there is to see in the capital as well as the rest of the country. From flamboyant Rio to the Amazonian city of Manaus, Cox & Kings’ Latin America expert Vessala Baleva has put together some hot tips on getting the most out of a trip to Brazil and its exciting cities.
Rio de Janeiro
Brazil’s most famous city is home to legendary beaches, tropical rainforest, the rhythms of samba, and a world-renowned carnival, not to mention the lively local cariocas (Rio’s residents). From the iconic Christ-the-Redeemer-topped Corcovado mountain and rounded Sugar Loaf peak, tourists can revel in panoramic views over the area’s stunning natural scenery of mountains, islands and bays, while in Rio’s historic centre, visitors can discover intriguing stories from the past. The city’s sweeping beaches of Ipanema, Leblon and Copacabana provide the perfect spot for relaxing and soaking in the local atmosphere.
Overwhelming in its sheer size, Sao Paulo is the world’s third biggest city and the largest in South America. But scratch the surface of this buzzing metropolis, and you can discover outstanding cuisine and explore some of the finest museums in Brazil. For years, the city’s entertainment and nightlife have attracted some of the best performers in the world.
The former Brazilian capital overlooks the beautiful All Saint’s Bay and is one of the country’s most atmospheric cities. The delightful historic district of Pelourinho features impressive baroque churches and colourful colonial architecture, while its cobblestone streets are filled with spicy aromas, graceful monuments and the rhythmic sound of beating drums.
Brazil’s main cultural and intellectual hub has three universities, a historical museum, numerous libraries, and sports stadiums. It is the capital of the state of Minas Gerais and the region’s historic gold mining towns offer some of Brazil’s finest colonial heritage. Ouro Preto, for instance, is home to elaborate baroque churches, while pretty Tiradentes is made up of cobbled streets and whitewashed houses. If you are visiting the region, the architectural masterpieces of Sao Joa del Rei, Congonhas and Mariana make them well worth a visit.
Situated in the heart of the country, Brazil’s official capital is a spectacular feat of urban and architectural design, built in just four years on uninhabited land. The city’s strikingly innovative style has won it Unesco world cultural heritage status. Brasilia is also an excellent stopover en route to the wildlife-rich Pantanal wetlands or the Amazon rainforest.
This tree-lined peaceful city is the major gateway to the northern Pantanal, Brazil’s premier wildlife destination. Cox & Kings recommends 3- or 4-night stays in the area’s comfortable lodges to spot capybaras, giant anteater, caimans, monkeys and a wealth of birds including colourful toucans and rare hyacinth macaws. Considered the geographic centre of South America, the flat-topped ridges, natural pools and waterfalls of Chapada dos Guimaraes are less than an hour’s drive out of the city.
Manaus is a gateway for forays into the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest, covering almost half of Brazil’s territory and home to a spectacular biodiversity of flora and fauna. Not far from town, the merging of the Negro and Solimoes rivers to form the Amazon river offer another fascinating natural spectacle known as ‘the meeting of the waters’. The city’s opulent opera house, Teatro Amazonas, has sumptuous interiors and an incredible dome covered with thousands of tiles painted in the colours of the Brazilian flag.
Fortaleza, Natal and Recife
Brazil’s vast northeast coast is fringed with thousands of stunning tropical beaches and islands. Powdery stretches of golden sand and warm ocean waters can be enjoyed in complete serenity or combined with fine dining, lively nightlife and a variety of excursions. The historic town of Olinda is only 6km outside of Recife and the natural pools of Porto de Galinhas provide a chance to swim with colourful fish. Natal is blessed with year-round sunshine and an abundance of sand dunes, while delightful fishing villages can be discovered to the north of Fortaleza.
Curitiba, in the state of Paraná, is a modern and prosperous city, well-known for its innovative and efficient public transport system. Stroll through the many parks and forests, explore the historic centre and visit the modernist steel and glass opera house. The Serra Verde train ride offers scenic vistas as it descends on a winding route through the verdant Atlantic rainforest to the coastal town of Morretes. It is also possible to combine Curitiba with a visit to Paraná’s most famous attraction: the spectacular Iguacu Falls, just a little over an hour away by direct flight.
The state of Rio Grande do Sul is renowned for its distinctive blend of German, Italian, Azorean and Spanish heritage and gaucho (cowboy) traditions. Its cosmopolitan capital, Porto Alegre – known locally as ‘Poá’ – lies beside a lake and has a variety of cultural centres, museums, galleries and traditional churrascaria steakhouses for visitors to enjoy. Further afield, it is possible to explore wine country, mountain pine forests and canyons, or visit Bavarian-style towns where artisan chocolate and fine crystal glassware are produced.
Please contact Cox & Kings on 020 7873 5000 to discuss your travel plans with one of our experts or visit the Brazil section of our website for more tailor-made ideas and information on escorted tours.