On the banks of the huge freshwater Lagoa dos Patos, Porto Alegre is southern Brazil’s most important port city and a key player in Mercosul (the South American free-trade agreement). The downtown area has benefited from a thoughtful approach to development, including the creation of transportation hubs and the preservation of much of its grand, neoclassical architecture.
Historically, Porto Seguro is significant: it's the point where Portuguese sailors first landed in the land now known as Brazil. But apart from its small historic center and colorful colonial houses, the city is rougher than many others in Bahia – not that the hordes of Brazilian and Argentinian package tourists, here for beach action and nightlife, really care.
Jericoacoara, known to its many friends simply as ‘Jeri,’ magnetizes travelers with its perfect combination of hard-to-reach location (access is only by unpaved tracks through the dunes), stunning coastal scenery, exciting activities, good-value pousadas and restaurants, and fun nightlife.
Morro de São Paulo
As postcard-pretty as any Mediterranean island village, Morro de São Paulo has long been a favorite weekend getaway for travelers and Salvador locals alike. Though Morro is overtly touristy, many visitors don’t care, since it’s also a fabulous tropical paradise with sandy lanes, calm waters and a candlelit nightlife scene.
Ilha Grande & Vila do Abraão
The fabulous island retreat of Ilha Grande owes its pristine condition to its unusual history. First it was a pirates’ lair, then a leper colony and, finally, a penitentiary where political prisoners were held alongside some of Brazil’s most violent criminals.
The coastal city of João Pessoa is the capital of Paraíba and the third-oldest city in Brazil. It claims to have more trees than any other capital city, including an Atlantic rainforest preserve, and has a reputation for being friendly and safe. It's an increasingly popular holiday destination for Brazilian families.
Atop a bluff overlooking an enchanting stretch of coastline, Arraial d’Ajuda is a peaceful tourist village with indisputable appeal. Its narrow paved roads and dusty lanes wind beneath large, shady trees, with lovely pousadas and open-air restaurants hidden among the greenery.
North of Florianópolis
Varied and inviting, the beaches along the coast north of Florianópolis are both its blessing and its curse. The blessing is the crystalline waters and fine sand, not to mention the endless days of sun. The curse is the high-rise hotels and condominiums that are more prominent than the forested hillsides and rocky outposts.
North Of Salvador
Bahia’s northern coast is not as startling as its southern, but the beaches here are still lovely, boasting tall bluffs with rustling palms and white sands (that grow finer the further north you go), which front a mix of calm inlets and wild surfable breaks. Keep in mind that when salvadorenhos want a day at the beach, they naturally head for Bahia’s northern coast.