Brazil, the land of soccer, samba, and carnival, is the largest country in South America. With great size comes great diversity. The mix of cultural influences helped to create a country of contrasts and fascinating curiosities.
The Portuguese discovered, Italians and Japanese settled, and various middle eastern, African, and indigenous peoples helped to shape the Brazil identity.
Whether you want to visit pulsating metropolises, seek out natural experiences or plain want to visit some of the best beaches, Brazil has it all. A large country, you will want to visit it multiple times to realize the range of experiences. Although a challenging country to visit, still in its development phase, amenities are plentiful and modern, and transportation is extensive yet still developing
What to See and Do in Brazil
Sao Paulo, the largest city in South America is an energetic metropolis. As a foreigner, you will probably only pass through, but one should pause and take in the beauty of the busy worker bees creating and defining the future of Brazil. One must see Avenida Paulista a mix of business, architecture and culture, historic center, Parque do Ibirapuera and Vila Madalena
Rio de Janeiro is cidade maravilhosa! A picture postcard setting awaits you. Fantastic viewpoints can be had from Corcovado, Sugar Loaf (Pao de Acucar) and several hiking trails. Stroll the streets of famed Leblon neighborhood, exercise around Lagoa, relax on many of the city beaches or enjoy the evening in bohemian Lapa. Cariocas know how to enjoy life.
Carnaval, one of Brazil’s greatest tourists draw, unofficially is a month-long celebration starting on the weekends that lead to the holiday itself. Blocos celebrate with music and dancing in various cities with the ultimate competition between the escolas de samba parading at the Sambadromos in Rio and Sao Paulo, stadiums specially built for the event. Note Bahia, Recife, Minas and the Amazon have their own versions of Carnaval.
Rock in Rio, one of the largest music festivals in the world first held in 1985, now held at the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca, having moved from City of Rock and Maracana, the famed soccer stadium. The festival has headlined artists such as Queen, AC/DC, Metallica, Guns n’ Roses, Iron Maiden, Beyonce etc. Yes, it’s not just rock n roll. The show has been exported to Europe and Las Vegas. There are no exact dates confirmed, but since 2011 it’s been happening every other year.
Amazon, more than half of the world’s largest rainforest is located over this large expanse. Parts are protected, much is remote, large parts remain unspoiled by man. The basis of which is the largest river in the world flowing all the way from the South American Andes of Peru. But be careful, don’t get bit by mosquito, piranha or an alligator. The Amazon can be reached via Manaus, the gateway city.
Iguazu Falls located in the middle of Iguazu National Park where tons of water flow over the cliffs in spectacular fashion drenching the onlookers with mist. Straddling the border between Brazil and Argentina, these are the biggest falls in the world. Walk the various trails, see the natural animal inhabitants, or take a boat tour and creep up to the edge of falling water.
Brasilia the capital of Brazil, is a major city with interesting Brazilian modernist architecture. The city is designed in the shape of a bird or airplane. Some of the places to visit include Three Powers Square, the television tower and Juscelino Kubitschek Memorial, the man who envisioned Brasilia.
Ouro Preto, a town in the interior of the state of Miner Gerais is a former gold mining town. The surrounding area is full of picturesque towns with cobblestone streets, churches and museums. Time has stood still here.
Salvador in Bahia is a city mix of old and new worlds. A center of the slave trade, today its the center of afro-centric culture especially music. Here you can see Pelourinho and Terreiro de Jesus in Cidade Alta, experience Carnaval far different than Rio’s and access some of the best beaches of Brazil.
Pantanal straddling the western border with Bolivia and Paraguay is a tropical wetland full of wildlife in their natural habitat. Depending on the season you may see jaguars, caiman, otters, piranha and many birds.
Jericoacoara is a small fishing village on the northern coast of Ceara. Quite remote, sands dunes make up the topography landing to the seas with the warmest of waters. Jeri rightfully claims as one of the best windsurfing spots in the world.
Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago off the northeast coast of Brazil consisting of 21 islands of which are in a protected National Maritime Park. Visitation is regulated to maintain the natural habitat. Here you have beaches, snorkeling, diving, and hiking.
General travel advice for Brazil
- Do you need a visa? If you’re traveling for tourism, these are the nationalities that do not require a visa. You cannot obtain a visa when you arrive in the country, you must request it in advance, otherwise, you will be denied entry.
- Upon arrival, you will be given a form at the customs. You must retain it and return it upon departure.
- Language spoken: Portuguese in the entire country – not Spanish
- Currency: Real (one real, two reais). Calculate the exchange here
- Electricity: 110 or 220 Volts. 110 V is the standard, but several hotels use 220 V. Normally when it’s 220 V it is indicated
- Standard electrical frequency: 60 Hz
- International calling code: +55
- Making domestic calls:
- Calls in the same city: Just dial the 8 (landline) or 9 (mobile) digit number directly
- Interstate or calls to different area codes: Add 0 – XX (operator code) in front of the number
- Drives on the: Right
- Sim Cards: Vivo, Claro, Oi, and Tim are the main providers. However, service quality varies greatly throughout the country, and each region has stronger carriers (meaning, no carrier is superior in all cities)
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