When I decided to go to the Olympics I knew I wouldn’t be going just for Rio. I really wanted to explore more and to get to know this country better than a simple visit to Corcovado. But Brazil is a very big and diverse country and has so many things to offer that one can easily get lost in endless options. I would divide the attractions into 2 categories: nature and cities. And though many people on the internet were saying that true Brazil was not about cities but about stunning landscapes and amazing wildlife, my trip was mostly concentrated on the urban beauties. The reason was very simple: I didn’t have enough time to fully immerse myself into the wonders of nature, which require quite a lot of time to reach them and to explore them with guided tours. Visiting cities, however, was much easier in terms of logistics and the span of 2-3 days was also enough to enjoy the main attractions. So here is a list of places that we have chosen and a small description of why you should go there:
The first capital of Brazil and the city of stunning colonial architecture. If you like colorful Renaissance building, bright dresses of local people, great sea food and the ocean – then it is a place to go! It was the first slave market in the New World and now it is a center of Afro-Brazilian culture. It is unfortunately a dangerous city as well, but with common sense applied it is absolutely fine.
Normally the capital of the country is a must visit city. It is the place to find rich cultural heritage and to discover history of the nation. Not in Brasilia. It was built in 1960 only and it doesn’t represent the history but the vision of the future. Its modernist architecture and unique design make it a very special capital. It was built with the idea that in the future there would only be cars as a mean of transportation, so it is very pedestrian unfriendly, but still manageable especially with taxis (Uber).
Translated from the local Guarani language as “Big water” it is absolutely mind blowing! These are my first waterfalls and they have absolutely taken my breath away. Wonder of nature. I would even go as far as to say that if you only have one thing to visit in Brazil, go to Iguazu. They are located on the border between Argentina and Brazil and you would need 2 days to visit both sides and decide which one is the most beautiful for you.
If you have seen those crazy landscapes on the photos and videos (and I am sure you have), then you don’t really need to be explained why you should go there. But still. Apart from beautiful panoramic hills it has famous long sandy beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, crazy and dynamic nightlife in city center Lapa, cozy neighborhood Santa Teresa and just so much vibe! I have to admit there was still a lot to see when I left Rio and I feel sad that I couldn’t do more, but on the other hand I know I will come back and that fills me with joy.
In our plan we had as well the biggest city of Brazil and Latin America Sao Paulo, but me personally I didn’t like it that much, that’s why it’s not on the recommended list. We have spent there 3 days, which felt like too much (at least the 3rd day!). But it’s just personal opinion, nothing more =)
As it became very clear to me, that Brazil needs much more than 2 weeks, I have preselected things to see during my next trip (and I am sure I will go one day again). The next time will be mostly about nature and here are the places I would love to discover:
Pantanal and Bonito
Northeast of Brazil: Fortaleza, Natal, Recife, Fernando de Noronha – to choose from
Paraty and Ilha Grande
If you’ve been there or planning to go, let me know of your selected destinations, maybe I’ll add them to my list too 😉