12 places to see in Brazil: from Rio to the Amazon forest

September 19, 2019

A single trip is not enough to explore all the gems of this immense country: here are the attractions of every area in Brazil, to make your trip organization easier.

Rio de Janeiro, Botofago Bay, Brazil

Brazil is a huge country in Latin America: thinking of exploring it all in one trip is practically impossible! It is true that once you visit it, you want to return immediately once you're home.

The confederate state extends from the Amazon basin to the north to the Iguassu Falls to the south. Brazil is a country with a lively culture and rich artistic and cultural traditions (just think of samba and bossanova) as a result of a mix of populations of European, indigenous and African descent.

Its cities are eclectic and colorful, among all Rio de Janeiro, home to the most famous carnival in the world. However, Brazil also boasts natural parks, beaches, archipelagos and beautiful and unspoiled forests, including the Amazon rainforest crossed by the Amazon River, where you can find contact with the wildest nature.

Are you ready to leave with us? Brazil is suitable for every kind of holiday and all tastes: here is what to see.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is probably the most famous city in Brazil: its fame is due to the Carnival, the World Cup that took place at the Maracana Stadium in 2014 and the 2016 Olympics. But Rio is also a city with a rich cultural life, with museums and gardens, with luxury hotels and crowded beaches, such as Copacabana and Ipanema.

The metropolis is dominated by the statue of Christ the Redeemer, a liberty statue on the top of Mount Corcovado. The city also houses the largest urban forest in the world, the Tijuca forest. The museums help to deepen the history of this multi-ethnic city, including the National Museum of Brazil, the National Historical Museum of Brazil and the Museum of the Indigenous. The Municipal Theater, the National Museum of Fine Arts and the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro are also worth a visit.

Historically, the city is divided into four macro areas: a residential area to the north, the North Zone, the tourist and chic area to the south, the South Zone, then the West Zone and the Center. The Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro developed around the city. Of course, not all that glitters is gold: Rio de Janeiro is a colorful, rich and developed city, but a percentage of the population lives in the shanty towns commonly known as favelas, on the hillsides. In the favelas, crime and the fight between gangs are very widespread, so we recommend, during a stay in Rio, not to venture into these places, especially unaccompanied.

View of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Panorama of Rio de Janeiro


Pantanal is the largest wetland and marshland in the world. This vast floodplain lies largely in Brazil, in the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. Its name derives from the Portuguese and means "swamp" or "swamp". It covers an area of ​​about 150 thousand square kilometers, submerged by rainwater for 80% for nine months a year. However, it is much appreciated for safaris and nature excursions with expert guides, as it boasts the largest number of species of flora and fauna existing in the same ecosystem in the world.

The area near Porto Jofre is renowned for the sighting of the jaguar, but you can also see caimans, capybaras, anteaters, anacondas and red piranhas. There are only four roads to cross the Pantanal (Transpantaneira / Pocone-Porto Jofre, Transpantaneira / Piquiri River, Pantaneira Road and Transpantaneira Road). For the rest, you move by boat between the marshes.

Caymans in the Brazilian Pantanal
Caymans in Pantanal.

Iguassu Falls

Iguassu Falls, generated by the Iguazu River, lie on the border with Argentina in southern Brazil. This complex of waterfalls belongs only for 20% to Brazil, the remaining 80% is on the Argentine territory. It is one of the main attractions of the country, much visited especially during combined trips between Brazil and Argentina.

The starting point to visit the Brazilian side is the town of Foz do Iguaçu, from which buses leave to get to the waterfalls. The Brazilian side is visited in about half a day and you can also reach the Argentine side by bus and private tours.

Iguassu Falls, Brazil
Iguassu Falls are a must-see landmark during a tour of Brazil.

Chapada dos Veadeiros

The Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park is a national park in Brazil in the State of Goiás, about 250 kilometers from Brasilia. This park was founded in 1961 and since 2001 is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

It has a typically tropical climate with average temperatures of 25 degrees. The main river that runs through it is the Rio Preto, which generates several waterfalls, including the homonymous Waterfalls of the Rio Preto, and fascinating canyons. Chapada dos Veadeiros is a destination for tourists interested in nature and trekking: its lush forests are rich in orchids and are still habitats of endangered species, including the deer of the Pampas and the Pantanal. Jaguars , a common resident species, are also among the most elusive creatures in the world. You can also see capybaras, giant armadillos, anteaters, toucans and vultures.

River in Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park in Brazil
Chapada dos Veadeiros.

Serra de Capivara

The Serra da Capivara National Park is a national park in the northeast of Brazil, in the State of Piauí. It was established to protect important findings of prehistoric origin. Its landscape, characterized by semi-arid climate, consists of valleys, plateaus and hills. In it there are the so-called "caatingas", or "white forests", made up of plants that lose their leaves in the dry season.

Given the climate, the vegetation of this park is mainly in the form of thin shrubs. In addition to the trekking routes and the jaguar sightings, the Serra de Capivara National Park is visited to see its prehistoric sites that have led UNESCO to include it among the World Heritage Sites since 1991. These archaeological sites present many presitorial graffiti and rock carvings, or remains of villages and funerary sites with human and animal finds.

Serra de Capivara National Park in Brazil
A landscape in Serra de Capivara National Park

Manaus and Amazon forest

The Amazon forest remains a great mystery, because most of it has never been mapped. To visit it, the two most common starting points are the cities of Belém or Manaus. To explore the Amazon rainforest you need to leave between May and June, because for the rest of the year the rains or the heat are unbearable. The Amazon, which covers over 7 million km², is not only found in Brazil (65%), but extends to Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. The biodiversity of the Amazon forest is very rich.

Amazon River

The Amazon River is a river that crosses Peru, Colombia and Brazil, flowing into the Atlantic Ocean after crossing the Amazon rainforest. It comes from Mount Nevado Mismi in Peru. The course of the Amazon River is the longest in the world with its 6 992 kilometers in length. Furthermore, it is also the river with the largest number of tributaries in the world. The origin of its name is debated: according to the most accredited versions, the Spanish settlers saw indigenous warrior women near the river and therefore decided to give it this name.


To visit the Amazon forest accompanied by expert guides you can start from Manaus, a city located in the Manaus macroregion, on the banks of the Rio Negro near its confluence with the Amazon River. Since the routes to visit the rainforest leave from here, Manaus is a popular destination for ecological tourism. Among its places of interest are the beach of Ponta Negra, generated by the river about 13 km from the city, and its numerous buildings in European style that have earned it the nickname of "Paris of the Tropics".

Teatro de Amazonas in Manaus, Brazil
Teatro de Amazonas in Manaus: the city is known to be the gateway to the Amazon rainforest.

Salvador de Bahia and Chapada Diamantina

Salvador is the capital city of the State of Bahia, and is also called by its inhabitants simply Bahia. It is the third most populous city in Brazil, after São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. It overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, with both sandy and rocky coasts. The state of Bahia is crossed by the sertão, the Brazilian desert, interrupted only by the Parque Nacional da Chapada Diamantina, characterized by woods and waterfalls. The capital city of the state of Bahia is famous for being the center that has welcomed the largest number of African slaves.

Here are the descendants of the members of the quilombos, communities of slaves escaped from the plantations that took refuge in the forests during colonialism. These communities were later incorporated by the city of Salvador de Bahia: among these, Calavar and Liberdade. Salvador de Bahia has therefore a very colorful and folkloristic culture, the result of indigenous and African influences. The Salvador de Bahia Carnival, slightly different from that of Rio, is one of the most picturesque and lively in Brazil. The attractions to see in Salvador include the Elevador Lacerda, a lift built on the port between 1869 and 1873, the Pelourinho, the historic center of the World Heritage, the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Lord, the Church and convent of San Francesco , Palácio Rio Branco, Praça da Sé and Forte de Santo Antônio.

Salvador de Bahia is also a good starting point to explore the Chapada Diamantina National Park, which with its incredible rock formations is one of the most interesting attractions in Brazil. Its territory consists of a plateau with mountains, rivers, caves and waterfalls: ideal for lovers of adventure travel. Interesting is also a visit to the historic city of Lençóis, at the beginning of the park, which is also well stocked with hotels and restaurants.

View of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil
Salvador de Bahia.

São Paulo

São Paulo is the capital of the homonymous state of São Paulo in Brazil and is the most populous city in Brazil and one of the most populous in the world. It is located on a plateau of the Serra do Mar chain, on the Tropic of Capricorn. The city, known to locals as "Sampa", is famous for its theaters and venues for shows, art galleries and exceptional museums. Important universities are also located in the city. Among the places not to be missed is the "Teatro Municipal de São Paulo", the opera house.

So we understand why it is considered the cultural center of the country: its traditions are influenced by the mixture of cultures brought by immigrants, especially Italians. The most vivid cultural center is the so-called "Centro expandido". Among the museums not to be missed to deepen the history of Brazil and the city are the Museum of Art of São Paulo (MASP), Museu Brasileiro de Escultura and the Museu da Língua Portuguesa.

Skyline of São Paulo in Brazil.

Ouro Preto

Ouro Preto is a small city in the State of Minas Gerais in Brazil. Many visitors include it on their itinerary to discover Brazil because of its rich historical heritage and because of its suggestive appearance. It was once a mining town along the Royal Gold Route: today, its churches and its architecture reminders of that era have made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It stands in the mountains of the Serra do Espinhaço, and its name literally means "black gold", because of the color of the gold stones that were mined in the area. The visit of Ouro Preto is made interesting by its perfectly preserved Baroque architectures, the churches with their precious golden decorations and the works of the sculptures and architect Aleijadinho. It was also the site of the first riots for independence from Portugal: memories and testimonies of the rebellion movements of 1700 are kept in the civic museum.

Church in Ouro Preto, city of Brazil
Church in Ouro Preto.

Florianopolis and Santa Catarina

Florianópolis is the beautiful and modern capital of the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, renowned for its fabulous beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. It owes its name to Floriano Peixoto, head of the government that ended the federalist revolution. Nicknamed "Floripa" by locals, it has been recognized as the Brazilian capital with the best quality of life: will it be because of its one hundred enchanting beaches?

Life in Florianopolis is essentially based on seaside tourism, being located on an island, very famous among surfers. Its warmest month is December, with temperatures up to 25 degrees, the coldest is August, with highs around 16. The rains are quite frequent all year round.

The state of Santa Catarina, of which Florianopolis is the capital, is located in the south of Brazil and suffered much immigration and European colonization, not only by Portuguese from the Azores, but also by Germans, particularly in Vale do Itajì, where even today German culture and Germanic traditions are still well rooted. The west of the state underwent the colonization of Argentine gauchos of Italian and German origin. Its climate is subtropical and is among the states of Brazil where the quality of life is better. Tourists appreciate the state of Santa Catarina due to its many beaches and islands on the coast, while the interior is full of forests and prairies. The interior is cold because of the reliefs, making it the coldest state in Brazil.

View of Florianopolis in Brazil
Florianopolis in Brazil.

Suddenly feeling like leaving for Brazil now, don't you?

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