Top Places To Visit In Brazil

Planning a trip to Brazil? When you think of a trip Brazil your mind likely conjures up images of visiting wild jungles, pristine sandy beaches and a vibrant culture. We found all of that and more in our three months travelling throughout Brazil. There are so many fascinating places to visit but trying to decide which ones to see in this large country can either be a fun or frustrating part of your travel planning. Based on our experiences we have created our list of the top places to visit in Brazil.

Lençóis Maranhenses

The sand dunes of Lençóis Maranhenses are one Mother Nature’s best sculptures. In this land, soft curvy sand dunes extend into the horizon for as far as your eyes can see. Picture perfect lagoons fill in the space between each ridge. There are several different options to tour this national park and which ever you choose, you will be in awe of the dreamy landscapes of Lençóis Maranhenses. For more information read our post from Lençóis Maranhenses.

Iguaçu Falls

One of the most impressive waterfalls in the world, Iguaçu Falls is an unbelievable 2.7 km long. Each of its 275 individual falls has their own personality and are beautiful on their own, but together they form a spectacular display of nature. The falls are on the border between Brazil and Argentina and although most of it is on the Argentina side, the best views are from Brazil. Visiting Iguaçu Falls is the experience of a lifetime. For more information read our post from Iguaçu Falls.

Alter do Chão

Set in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, the idyllic river beach in Alter do Chão is very different from the rest of the Amazon. Praia da Ilha do Amor (Love Island Beach) is a ribbon of white sand that reaches out into the bend of a slow-moving river. A small jungle-covered hill rises above giving it a lush background. This is the perfect stop in your journey along the Amazon. For more information read our post from Alter do Chão.

Rio de Janeiro

The view from Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf) shows why Rio is considered one of the prettiest cities in the world. Long, white sandy beaches separate the azure-coloured ocean from the tall granite spires on its undulating coastline. The city’s buildings climb up and down the verdant hills giving the city a natural look. Not only is it beautiful, but it also has an extensive history that can be explored in the city’s downtown. For more information read our posts describing Rio’s Beautiful Coastline and its Historic Downtown.


What if we told you there is a place where you can choose between 23 idyllic beaches, each more beautiful than the last? This place is in Brazil and is called Armação dos Búzios, or more commonly, Búzios. Whether you want to spend your days lying on the beach, playing in the ocean or admiring the incredible coastal scenery as you walk between the coves, you will love the beautiful beaches of Búzios. For more information read our post from Búzios.


The historic port town of Paraty was abandoned and left empty and alone in the Atlantic Rainforest for many years. Today that abandonment means that many of the heritage buildings remained untouched and no modern city was built up around them. Every street in Old Town is decorated with well preserved one and two-story white-washed buildings attached to each other in rows. It is a great place to wonder along the cobblestone streets and immerse yourself in history. For more information read our post from Paraty.


The laidback, adorable town of Pipa sits on the edge of some of the most beautiful beaches in northern Brazil. With 5 perfect coves within walking distance of town, the toughest decision will be choosing which one to spend your day. Bordered by tall cliffs, the white sand beaches are not only beautiful, but much less busy than beaches in other parts of Brazil. For more information read our post from Pipa.

Ilha Grande

Set along Costa Verde, Ilha Grande is a gorgeous, mountainous island covered in the lush Atlantic Forest. The sparsely populated island is a great place to explore the remote beaches and hike through the jungle to the mountain tops.  For more information read our post from Ilha Grande.

Ouro Preto

Surrounded by green hills, Ouro Preto is the quintessential colonial town. Cobblestone streets climb up and down the hills and are adorned with one and two-story whitewashed homes. Colourful wooden doors and window frames add the finishing touches to this adorable town. For more information read our post Ouro Preto.


Colourfully painted heritage buildings surround cobblestone squares in the heart of Salvador’s historic centre.  Whether you love to feast your eyes on old architecture, people watch in a lively square or have lunch in an outdoor patio, you will find all of that and more in this lovely Old Town. For more information read our post from Salvador.

Travel Tips Brazil

SIM Card – It is very difficult for foreigners to get a SIM. Most companies require you to have a CPF number, similar to a Social Security Number in the US. Luckily we met an English speaking Brazilian who drove us to three different stores where he translated for us until we were finally able to get one. We ended up buying a Claro SIM card at a small kiosk in a shopping mall, then going to a Claro store to pre-pay for data. After our data ran out and we tried to buy more, we found out that the original store used someone else’s CPF. So as far as Claro knew Richard was Pedro. We heard that Vivo, the other major telecommunications company, is even more difficult.

ATM – We were only able to take money out of Bradesco ATMs. On a couple of occasions we couldn’t even take from it. VISA/MasterCard is widely accepted but smaller restaurants and stores charge a high fee to use them. Many people pay with an app, but you need to have a Brazilian bank account to use it.

Communication – Portuguese is the primary language in Brazil. There’s not much English or Spanish spoken other than in the largest tourist areas. If you are fluent in Spanish, it will be easier to understand Portuguese, but with a basic level of Spanish it was very difficult for us. Google Lens saved us many times, especially reading a menu or signs.

Weekends – If you’re travelling to beaches that are close to large cities, either avoid weekends, or book your accommodations early.

Safety – In some parts of Brazil there are safety concerns; usually there are in the downtown of major cities. When in those areas keep your valuables including phones out of sight in zipped pockets and stay aware of your surroundings. We didn’t have any problems, but we were careful.

Travel – Brazil is a very large country. In geographical size it falls between US and Australia. For shorter trips you will either need to choose a location, or plan to travel by plane or overnight buses.

Flights – We were not able to buy plane tickets through airline websites because they require a CPF number. We were able to use a CPF generator on-line for buses, but we were leery of using this for flights because the numbers may be attached to another person that would not match our identification. We could purchase flights through Expedia without one, but of course they add a surcharge.
Buses – Getting around by plane can be cost prohibitive if you are long-term travelling. Thankfully we found the highways to be excellent and buses in good condition with routes to most destinations. Buses are very efficient leaving on-time, even early if all passengers have arrived. Most timetables, prices and tickets are available on-line. Sometimes we found companies such as Bus Bud to be useful, at others we purchased directly from the bus companies’ websites. Sometime these required a CPF so we used and on-line CPF generator and didn’t have problems. On long distance buses there are usually two classes of seats. Leito/Cama seats recline to 160° and are quite wide, but more expensive. Semi-Leito/Semi-Cama recline up to 145 and seats are a little more narrow, but cheaper. On long distance trips, buses stop every 4 hours for bathroom and snack breaks and there are usually bathrooms on the bus. They also usually have the air-conditioning on high, so bring warm clothes including socks.

Food – We found restaurants to be very expensive, as they charge close to North American prices. Brazil is not a good country for vegetarians. Other than common tourist cities like Manaus, Rio and Foz do Iguaçu, Maggie found it very difficult to find vegetarian meals in most restaurants. We also found that they don’t use a lot of spices in their food, much of it was quite bland. Don’t forget to try our favourite breakfast food, though. If you do, be prepared to become addicted to pão de queijo (cheese bread).

People – Brazilians are some of the most welcoming and friendly people we’ve met in any country. An annoying habit many have though is to use the phone on speaker when making calls or listening to YouTube, movies, music videos on speakers. It’s very loud and annoying.

We hope you enjoy your next trip to Brazil.

Coming Next – The Historic City of Kraków

For pictures from other blogs go to Gallery at

To read about more of our adventures go to Destinations.

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