Brazil isn’t only known for its amazing soccer (or futbol) team.

This huge country is home to biodiverse rainforests, colorful festivals, over 2,000 pristine beaches, and an eclectic cultural history.  It’s been a country that has been at the top of my bucket list for as long as I can rememebr, and am actually trying to make it there for my birthday next year!!  

While narrowing the top things to do here is nearly impossible as visitors could easily spend months or years exploring this diverse area of South America, I’ve compiled this list to make your trip planning a little easier.  While the Brazil visa application online can seem pretty expensive at first, you won’t care that much when you’re sipping down Caipirinha’s in Rio de Janiero.     

1) Amazon Rainforest

CC Image courtesy of Jan Fidler on Flickr

The amazon rainforest is home to a host of unique birds, frogs, giant fish, dolphins and alligators. Book a rainforest wildlife tour starting in the city of Manaus. You could spend as little or as long on your expedition, with activities like trekking to waterfalls, kayaking, and even panoramic flights. More information can be found at tour operator sites such as More lavish budgeters may be interested in cruising through the jungle by boat. These tours access the rainforest from the amazon and negro rivers.

2) Rio de Janeiro

Old Rio is accessible by foot, featuring narrow streets with beautiful architecture and vibrant culture. While here, visit the famous Christ Redeemer statue on top of Corcovado Mountain, accessible by cog train. The clubber’s circuit is the place to be at night. Visitors can dance the night away with locals while learning dance formats like samba and bossa nova.

3) Carnival of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro

CC Image courtesy of Nate Clicks on Flickr

Join thousands of others who come to Rio to witness the samba parade and colorful nightlife at the Carnival of Brazil. This event is considered to be one of the biggest shows on earth. People donned in exotic costumes dance in the magnificent parade of floats and join locals dancing in massive street parties. Carnivals happen every year in major Brazilian cities in February, prior to the start of Catholic lent.

4) Salvador

Party year round in Brazil’s 3rd largest city, full of unique seaside villages. African and Portugese influence is highlighted here. One could spend weeks just exploring each stunning praia (beach), or enjoying the art and history museums. This is a playground for cultural history buffs. The local Bahian moqueca, fish stew with coconut, is a must try. Head an hour north to Praia do Forte to Brazil’s largest sea turtle conservation area.

5) Iguassu Falls

CC Image courtesy of Diego Torres Silvestre on Flickr

This photo speaks for itself. The impressive Iguassu Falls have 275 separate waterfalls, making this the largest system of waterfalls in the world. They are viewable from the borders of Brazil and Argentina, but most folks say the Brazilian side is the most stunning. No need for a tour guide if on a smaller budget- walking trails are easily navigated. Check out the bridge walk near Devils Throat.

6) Lagoa do Paraiso

As the name suggests, this is simply a beach in paradise. Located in Jericoacoara in Northeast Brazil, crystal clear waters and white sand are abundant. Lagoa do Paraiso attracts windsurfers come from around the globe The area around Jericoacoara is a National Park, so be sure not to miss out on hiking at the famous arched rock Fedra Furada. Between June 15th and July 30th each year, you can watch the sunset in the middle of the arches.

7) Pantanal Conservation Area

Check out the world’s largest tropical wetlands covering over 70,000 square miles. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site, featuring a diverse ecosystem with hundreds of bird, fish, mammalian, and reptile species. Watch out- you may also find jaguars and giant snakes like green anacondas.

8) Cervejaria Bohemia

Beer drinkers will want to take a tour of Brazil’s oldest brewery built in 1853. Featuring tours, brewpubs, restaurants, and events year round, one could easily spend the day here. Bohemia Brewery is located in the imperial city of Petropolis in the Southeast Region of Brazil.

9) Beto Carrero World

CC Image courtesy of Eduardo Fonseca on Flickr

If you’re looking for something to do in Southern Brazil, spend a day or two at a world-class entertainment park. This place is perfect for a family vacation as there are lots of attractions, shows and rides for children. Be aware that there may be large amounts of tourists in the high season.

10) Copacabana

Located in Rio, Copacabana features a world-renowned two-and-a-half-mile long beach. Play volleyball, drink coconut water, and enjoy the view of nearby Sugar Loa Mountain. Copacabana is a favorite for New Years celebrations, attracting about 2 million visitors for some of the best fireworks shows on earth.

Thanks so much for reading!

If you’re heading to South America anytime soon, make sure you check out World Nomads for travel insurance, and buy the Lonely Planet Guidebook to help you plan your trip!

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