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What are the best places to visit in Brazil? Discover them all

by Catherine Carey | February 7, 2024
Rio de Janeiro one of the best places to visit in Brazil

Step into the vibrant rhythm and diverse allure of Brazil as we unveil the best places to visit in Brazil. In this article, we'll be your guide through the enchanting landscapes, iconic cities, and hidden gems that make Brazil a traveler's paradise. Whether you're drawn to the lively beats of Rio or the serene beauty of the Amazon rainforest, get ready to explore the best places of this South American paradise.

To travel to Brazil, you must fulfill Brazil visa requirements and obtain a suitable visa before your trip. With Visagov, you can obtain this travel permit entirely online and access various guides to prepare for the best trip to Brazil.

Best places to visit in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, located in southeastern Brazil, is one of the best places to visit in Brazil and probably the most iconic part of the country. It is one of the most visited cities of South America and it is known for the Christ the Redeemer statue (one of the New 7 Wonders of the World), Copacabana Beach and its Carnival parades in February. In fact, one of the best time to visit Brazil is during Carnival celebrations. 

The city is a must for all travelers since you can go to enjoy the wonderful beaches in Brazil (and practice surf), get to meet local people and kids of the favelas and enjoy playing some football with them, enjoy multiple samba clubs and nightclubs and see the Sugarloaf and Corcovado mountains and Tijuca National Park, one of the world’s largest urban forests.

Other best places to visit in Brazil are colonial fortresses, former presidential palaces, top-quality museums such as the Museum of Modern Art and Oscar Niemeyer’s Museum of Contemporary Art and Maracanã Stadium (one of the world’s largest football stadiums)

Copacabana Beach and panema beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Amazon

If there is something that Brazil is famous for, apart from the Carnival parades, it is the Amazon. Brazil is home to 60% of the Amazon so to see the Amazon rainforest in Brazil is the experience of a lifetime. 

In the Amazon, you will be able to see the most diverse region of the world in terms of plants and animals like birds, anacondas, jaguars, sloths, caimans, and capybaras.

The best way to explore the Amazon forest is by leaving from Manaus, and seeing the “encontro das águas”, where rivers Solimões and Negro meet, but their waters don’t mix. 

No trip to Brazil is complete without seeing the “lungs of the world” as the Amazon is known to be because it’s the largest forest on the planet. It is said that the best time to visit the Amazon is during the rainy season, from December to May, as you will be able to see more wildlife than during any period of the year. Plan ahead and discover the Amazon!

best places to visit in Brazil is the Amazon forest

Iguazu Falls

One of the best places to visit in Brazil is Iguazu Falls. Iguazu Falls is the largest waterfall system in the world since it is made up of 275 individual waterfalls. These waterfalls stretch over 1.7 miles or 2.7 km. Out of all of them, you should definitely see the Devil's Throat since it is the largest of them all.

Iguazo is located in the state of Parana and borders Argentina and Paraguay. This natural wonder can be explored from Argentina or Brazil, although 80% of the waterfalls are on the Argentinian side. Brazil offers you the best landscape views

In Brazil, the town you must visit to see the Falls is Foz do Iguaçu. From this city, you can explore Iguazu Falls on your own or through a multitude of tours. From Foz do Iguaçu, you can explore the falls yourself or join one of these organized tours. If you want to see all the waterfalls, we recommend taking a helicopter tour over the falls

Iguazu Falls

São Paulo

If you're seeking vibrant nightlife, rich cultural attractions, diverse ethnic influences, and exquisite cuisine in Brazil, consider visiting São Paulo or Sampa. This is Brazil's largest city and the biggest city in the Southern Hemisphere and has an excellent gastronomy, art, and business scene. There you should definitely see Paulista Avenue which is where to find shopping malls, art galleries, theaters and restaurants. Head over to Mirante Sesc and see Sao Paulo from a privileged viewpoint. 

Art is very important for the city, which is reflected in street graffiti. If you are into this kind of art, you should see Vila Madalena which features dozens of works by street artists. You can see these pieces for free. You can also explore the city's history and art in the Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM) and the Afro-American Museum. Another place you must see in São Paulo is the Sé Cathedral in the square of the same name, Sé Square.

Lastly, you can also surround yourself with nature and escape the city by visiting the Ibirapuera Park, which is the biggest park in the city.

Estaiada Bridge São Paulo Brazil

Paraty or Parati

This is a city quite different from the previous one as it is more relaxed. The city is located along Brazil’s Green Coast in the Rio de Janeiro state and it has a colonial cobbled charm unmatched with other parts of Brazil. The city has a heavy Portuguese influence and a heavy reminiscence of its past as a major exporter of gold in the 1600s. 

You must explore its historic center with cobbled streets and multicolored colonial houses (some of these are pousadas because they offer accommodations), the colonial defense forts with original walls and cannons, beautiful parks and nature preserves and indigenous villages. Capela de Santa Rita, a Church from 1722, is another sight to see in Parati and Matriz Square is one of the places to go to enjoy good restaurants, cafes and bars.

In this city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can enjoy pristine beaches, lush rainforest, tropical forests, waterfalls and coastal mountains. If you want to enjoy white-sand beaches, snorkel or see dolphins it is very recommended to join a boat tour to the Saco de Mamangua, a tropical fjord that’s 4.3 miles (7 km) long. 

Paraty or parati

Recife

Recife is a city in Brazil composed of several small islands connected by over 50 bridges, known as the Brazilian Venice. It is the capital of the Pernambuco state and one of the largest cities on the northeastern coast. It has a big cultural scene, wonderful beaches and is really close to the amazing historical center of Olinda (it dates back to the 16th century).

During the 17th century, Recife was a Dutch colony, which is visible in the colonial buildings that still stand to this day. You should see Peter Square, the oldest synagogue in the Americas and the baroque church of the Franciscan Convent of Saint Anthony. 

For those who want to try traditional Brazilian food, the city’s main market, the Sao José Market, is your place. There you will also be able to find traditional handicrafts. You can also find souvenirs in the Centro de Artesanato de Pernambuco Unidade Recife.

If you want to swim or sunbathe, you will be delighted with Porto de Galinhas, the repeatedly awarded beach with the title of best beach in Brazil. Additionally, there is Boa Viagem, one of the most popular beaches because of its pristine white sands, clear water and coral reef.

Historical Square in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

More best places to visit in Brazil

Salvador

Salvador is another city to visit in Brazil. It is the capital of Bahia and it has one of the oldest colonial cities. It was one of the major hubs of sugar and slave trade and this history is till traced in Pelourinho or Old City, which has colonial architecture and churches. You should know that Pelourinho is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is where there are pastel-painted buildings and locals performing capoeira.

Salvador’s New City is quite different of the older quarter of the city and it is the place to see modern inventions such as shopping megaplexes, entertainment venues, golf courses and more.

Salvador’s gastronomic scene also offers you the opportunity to taste some of the best food in the country, which is heavily influenced by Africa and the Caribbean. There is a huge influence of African-Brazilian culture throughout the city. The Afro-Brazilian Museum is one of the best places to learn about this culture. In fact, the traditional capoeira is an afro-brazilian martial art born in Salvador.

Additionally, Salvador is the city where the largest carnival party on the planet takes place. The Casa do Carnaval da Bahia, is a place where all Carnival related things are stored and available for the public to see. 

Since it is situated on the coast of the Bay of All Saints, Salvador has fantastic beaches like Porto de Barra, Flamengo and Stella Maris. There you will be able to surf, sunbathe and swim.

best places to visit in Brazil Salvador Brazil

Ouro Preto

Ouro Preto was the former capital of Minas Gerais state until the early 19th century and it is now one of best-preserved colonial cities in Brazil. 

As one former gold mining town and one of the main centers of the Brazilian Gold Rush, wealth poured into the streets of Ouro Preto. This can still be seen through the streets of Ouro Preto. Its historic center features steep cobbled streets winding past beautiful old buildings, baroque architecture, and 18th-century churches. 

This small city, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, also offers several interesting museums where visitors can learn about Ouro Preto’s mining history and other topics. You can also visit some mines via guided tours. 

Be prepared to discover this city, which is best explored on foot, but be aware that there are many steep hills. In Ouro Preto, discover:

  • The Central Tiradentes Square, the town’s heart and home to a statue of the Brazilian Revolution Leader, Tiradentes
  • The Museu da Inconfidencia dedicated to those who died in a failed rebellion movement for Brazilian independence from Portugal
  • The Mina du Veloso focuses on the daily life of the enslaved African workers
  • The Church of St. Francis of Assisi, one of the prettiest churches in Brazil designed by architect Aleijadinho.

Ouro Preto in Brazil

Fernando de Noronha

Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago paradise known for its abundant marine life, making it one of Brazil's top destinations. Ideal for diving enthusiasts, it offers pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and opportunities to spot dolphins. Additionally, the island is a preferred nesting ground for turtles.

Some of the best places to enjoy in Fernando de Noronha are the Baía do Sancho, which is one of the world's most beautiful beaches with crystal-clear waters; the Praia do Leão which is a stunning beach known for its white sand and being a nesting site for sea turtles; the Mirante dos Golfinhos (Dolphin's Lookout) to see dolphins and Morro do Pico, which is the highest point on the island and offers panoramic views of the archipelago.

Fernando de Noronha Brazil

Pantanal

Pantanal is the largest and most diverse tropical wetland in the world and one of the best places for wildlife spotting. It borders Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia 

Pantanal is split in the north and south. In the south, you need to go to Campo Grande, and in the north, you need to go to Cuiabá. From both towns, you can join different tours to the Pantanal. It is a bit more difficult to access the south since it is more of a flood plain and  many lodges use planes to get guests out to the hotels.

If you are an animal lover, you will be delighted to discover the Brazilian fauna that lives there like leopards, caimans, capybaras, jaguars and birds, including the world’s biggest parrot, the hyacinth macaw. It has the largest concentration of crocodiles in the world since there are around 10 million caimans!

You will also enjoy spectacular views of scenic landscapes ranging from swamps and savanna to lakes, forests, and wetlands. Other activities you will enjoy are being a rancher for a day and swimming with piranhas.

Pantanal photographed in Corumbá, Mato Grosso do Sul. Pantanal Biome, Brazil