Beaches

Brazil has some of the finest beaches on earth: you'll find idyllic island getaways, vibrant big-city beaches and rainforest-backed sands all along the coastline.

Baía do Sancho On Fernando de Noronha, this is easily one of Brazil's most gorgeous beaches.

Ilha Grande Enchanting island with gorgeous beaches, a welcome lack of cars and a laid-back island vibe.

Trancoso Cliff-backed beaches are a short stroll from this pretty Bahian village.

Jericoacoara Hip international beach scene with good activities, pousadas, restaurants and nightlife.

Ilhabela Dense jungle, waterfalls and picturesque beaches a few hours from São Paulo.

Florianópolis & Ilha de Santa Catarina Protected dunes and cliff- and forest-lined beaches, plus stunning lagoons in the interior.

Wildlife

Brazil is home to a staggering array of plant and animal species, with memorable wildlife watching in the rainforests, wetlands and along the coast.

Mamirauá Reserve One of the best places in the Amazon to see wildlife and experience the wonders of the mother of all rainforests.

The Pantanal You're likely to see a great many animal species in these wildlife-rich wetlands.

Fernando de Noronha World-class diving and snorkeling amid abundant marine life.

Praia do Rosa Watch southern right whales off the coast between June and October.

Parque Nacional de Monte Pascoal Part of the bio-rich Atlantic rainforest, this park lies just south of Salvador.

Estação Biológica de Caratinga Head to this remote reserve in Minas Gerais to see some of the largest primates in the Americas.

Scenery

Blessed with verdant rainforests, thundering waterfalls, craggy mountains and tropical islands, it's easy to see why Brazilians say 'Deus e Brasileiro' (God is Brazilian).

Rio de Janeiro The Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City) lives up to its name with forested mountains and lovely beaches.

Fernando de Noronha Cliffs, rock pinnacles, beautiful bays and beaches all packed into one 10km-long island.

Iguaçu Falls Spread between Argentina and Brazil, these are some of the most spectacular waterfalls on earth.

Parque Nacional da Chapada Diamantina In the Bahian interior, you can hike across dramatic plateaus and swim in refreshing waterfalls.

Parque Nacional dos Lençóis Maranhenses An otherworldly landscape of windswept dunes and sparkling blue lagoons.

Alter do Chão Startling white-sand beaches surrounded by jungle deep in the Amazon.

Parque Nacional Serra dos Órgãos Great hiking amid dramatic mountain scenery just two hours' north of Rio.

Food & Drink

Specialties in Brazil range from African-influenced stews to delectable Amazonian fish. Grilled meats, tropical fruits and abundant international influences are all part of Brazilian gastronomy.

Ipanema & Leblon These twin beachfront neighborhoods have some of the best restaurants in Rio.

São Paulo With great pizzerias, sushi bars and restaurants serving first-rate Brazilian and international fare, you won't go hungry in Sampa.

Vale dos Vinhedos This scenic valley in the south is the heart of Brazil's wine-growing region, and has top restaurants as well.

SENAC Take a cooking class or simply come for the buffet, which spreads all the great Bahian dishes.

Belém Sample lip-numbing tacacá (a soup) and many delicious Amazonian fish such as the prized tucanaré (peacock bass).

Tiradentes Great place to feast on mineira cooking, particularly during its 10-day gastronomic festival.

Fazenda Babilônia A culinary gem in Pirenópolis where you can sample traditional Goiás cooking.

Getting off the Beaten Path

Pre-Colombian rock art, deserted beaches, end-of-the-earth fishing villages: these are just a few of the sights you can see by heading off the tourist path.

Parque Nacional da Serra da Capivara This dramatic rocky landscape contains thousands of prehistoric rock paintings.

Peninsula de Maraú Peaceful and remote, the Bahian peninsula's quiet beaches feel far removed from the tourist crowds.

Itaúnas Charming beach town in the little-visited state of Espírito Santo, with a wildlife-filled state park nearby.

Algodoal Isolated little village on the edge of wild beaches near the mouth of the Amazon.

Reserva Extrativista Baixo Rio Branco-Jauperi Magnificent rainforest reserve 500km north of Manaus.

São Miguel das Missões Gateway to the mystical 17th-century ruins left behind by Jesuit missionaries.

Adventure

Brazil offers some memorable ways to experience its stunningly diverse landscapes, from multiday treks across dunes to snorkeling in crystal clear rivers.

Trekking Take the three- to four-day journey across the spectacular Lençóis Maranhenses and see the dunes by moonlight.

Hang Gliding Soar over Rio's stunning tropical landscape on a tandem glide off a mountain.

Ecotourism Bonito is a great spot for adventure, with river snorkeling, cave crawls, hiking and rappelling (abseiling).

Climbing The scenic high-country Parque Nacional do Itatiaia is a must for hikers and rock-climbers.

Tree Climbing Get an intimate view of the rainforest canopy on an ascent inside the Amazon.

Slow-Boating String up your hammock and travel the old-school way on a riverboat trip between towns in the Amazon.

Kitesurfari Go on a long-distance kitesurfing adventure in Rio Grande do Norte, complete with vehicle support.

History

You can delve into the past on a stroll through Brazil's magnificent colonial centers, some of which are Unesco World Heritage sites.

Salvador Bahia's star attraction is packed with historic churches and Afro-Brazilian culture.

Manaus Learn about indigenous culture and history at this city in the heart of the Amazon.

Ouro Preto One of Brazil's most alluring towns, hilly Ouro Preto is packed with 18th-century architectural treasures.

Olinda Remnants of lovely architecture left by the Portuguese as well as the Dutch.

Alcântara Fascinating town in Maranhão full of restored and abandoned mansions and churches.

Paraty Picturesque cobblestone village with beautifully preserved 18th-century buildings.

Museu Histórico Nacional One of the best places to learn about the presence of the Portuguese royals in Rio.

Cidade de Goiás A Unesco World Heritage site that's packed with architectural treasures from centuries past.

Festivals

Whether you prefer the colorful pageantry of Semana Santa (Holy Week) or the unbridled revelry of Carnaval, Brazil has you covered. Here are a few events worth planning a trip around.

Carnaval Many cities throw a wild pre-Lenten bash, but Rio, Salvador, Olinda and Corumbá are among the most festive.

São Paulo Gay Pride Parade The world's biggest gay pride parade, with an estimate three to four million in attendance.

Oktoberfest Experience Brazil's European roots at this beer- and bratwurst-loving bash in Blumenau.

Bumba Meu Boi São Luís erupts with color, music and dance in this fascinating June festival.

Semana Santa Colorful designs carpet the streets of Ouro Preto during this elaborate four-day fest.

Festas Juninas Huge celebrations in Salvador and elsewhere in Bahia.

Nightlife

Nightlife here is electric, fueled by the nation's incredible music scene. Samba, Afro-Brazilian drumming, rock and hip-hop are all essential parts of the Brazilian soundtrack.

Lapa The epicenter of Rio's nightlife is packed with bars and samba clubs, and transforms into a street party on weekends.

São Paulo There's always something afoot inside this nightlife-loving metropolis.

Pelourinho Salvador's historic center is the place to hear drum corps like Olodum laying down the heavy rhythms.

Lagoa da Conceição Live music, lake views and top-notch DJs are the big draw of this town on Ilha de Santa Catarina.

Belo Horizonte Take in the lively arts scene and buzzing nightlife of the Minas Gerais capital.

Búzios Bask on the beach by day and hit the clubs by night at this stylish resort town.

Train Rides

Hop aboard the Serra Verde Express for stunning views of mountain canyons and tropical lowlands en route between Curitiba and Morretes.

Charming Mountain Towns

Head south to Gramado, where you'll find old-world restaurants, chalet guesthouses and pretty scenery.