The gorgeous 340km sweep of beaches, dunes, forests and lagoons stretching northeast from Montevideo to the Brazilian border is one of Uruguay’s national treasures. Still largely unknown except to Uruguayans and their immediate neighbors, this region lies nearly dormant for 10 months of each year, then explodes with summer activity from Christmas to Carnaval.
Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi
One of Argentina’s most-visited national parks, Nahuel Huapi occupies 7500 sq km in the mountainous southwestern Neuquén and western Río Negro provinces. The park’s centerpiece is Lago Nahuel Huapi, a glacial remnant over 100km long that covers more than 500 sq km.
Sergipe & Alagoas
Overshadowed by big Bahia to the south, the tiny states of Sergipe and Alagoas have long been overlooked by travelers. But it's a tendency that's changing – in the past few years, the thoroughly likable coastal city of Maceió has emerged as a buzzing vacation destination for Brazilian tourists.
Rio Grande do Norte
Pure air, sun, fine beaches and sand dunes symbolize this small state in Brazil's northeast corner. Rio Grande do Norte has one of the country's most spectacular coastlines, some 500km of beautiful beach after beautiful beach, many of them fronted by reefs with natural pools and backed by tall dunes or cliffs.
The Central Sierras
Nowhere near as visually spectacular as the nearby Andes, the Central Sierras more than make up for it by being way more hospitable. The area is dotted with little towns that are worth a quick visit or a longer stay, and is connected by an excellent road network with frequent bus services.
San Andrés & Providencia
The archipelago of San Andrés and Providencia is geographically located near to Nicaragua, historically tied to England and politically part of Colombia. Here you'll find isolated beaches, unspoiled coral reefs and an alluring island flavor, and with just a little digging the 300-year-old English-Creole-speaking Raizal culture.
Ilha de Santa Catarina
Ilha de Santa Catarina has a vibrant and varied coastline, from the calm, crowded bays of the north, to the wild, cliff-hugging beaches of the south. But it’s not just the beaches that make this island so enchanting. A forest of protected pines shelters the east coast, while the dunes near Praia da Joaquina create a lunar landscape.
Goiás is a vast and wild state of green hills and deep valleys, dominated by the picturesque cerrado so typical of central Brazil. Agriculture is big business here, with soya, biodiesel and ethanol industries making this one of the wealthiest states in the country, albeit at the expense of the landscape.
Rio Grande do Norte's capital is a clean, bright and rather bland city that has swelled as a hub for coastal package tourism, much of it catering to Brazilian families. Its main attractions are touristic beaches, buggy rides and other organized excursions, restaurants and nightlife – it won't appeal too much if you seek museums, theater or wild empty strands.
Beautiful Búzios sits on a jutting peninsula scalloped by 17 beaches. A simple fishing village until the early ’60s, when it was ‘discovered’ by Brigitte Bardot and her Brazilian boyfriend, it’s now one of Brazil’s most upscale and animated seaside resorts, littered with boutiques, fine restaurants, villas, bars and posh pousadas.