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Brazil Highlights: Our Top 15

brazil highlights

After backpacking in Brazil for two months we had tons of amazing experiences! We have managed to narrow them down to our top 15 Brazil highlights including useful info to help you plan your own trip!

Brazil Highlights: Our Top 15

Brazil is a huge country! There is so much to see and do that it can be overwhelming! While we didn’t even get close to seeing everything, we did accomplish a lot more than most travellers, thus making it hard to choose our favourite highlights. But nonetheless, we have managed to do so, and here they are, in no particular order.

1. New Years Eve celebration on Copacabana Beach

nye was one of our Brazil HighlightsWe were lucky enough to be in Rio de Janeiro for New Year’s Eve. More than 2 million people. locals and tourists, gather on Copacabana beach to watch an incredible firework display. It is the world’s largest NYE party, it is safe to say we had a fantastic time!

2. Chilling on Ilha Grande

ilha grande was one of our brazil highlightsIlha Grande literally means “big island” and that’s exactly what it was! The entire island was stunning and offered lots of different activities. While we were there we went hiking, surfing, snorkeling, and explored some turquoise bays on a speedboat,

Ilha Grande also quite easy to access from Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo and is a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle. Just be sure to book your accommodation in advance if you are going during the busy season!

3. Dune Buggy Tour in Natal

buggy san dunes in natalGoing on a dune buggy tour from the town of Natal is a full day activity. In a tiny buggy you speed over massive roller coaster-type sand dunes! It made for a day full of adrenaline and beautiful scenery.

4. Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

carnival in rioNobody parties like the Brazilians! Rio hosts 2 million tourists on the streets each day! All of the locals join in on both street parties and the Sambadrome (both experiences were top-notch!)

Blocos are street parties (like in the photo above.) Everyone drinks, sings, and dances along the streets while following one or multiple bands.

The Sambadrome is a ticketed event which showcases the best Samba Schools in the country. Hundreds of dancers all dance in sync in the most extravagant costumes you could ever imagine.

Experiencing Carnival in Rio was something I will never forget and one of the best experiences I have ever had – easily one of my Brazil highlights!

Related Read:   Backpacker Budget Tips for Carnival in Rio

5. Swimming in crystal clear water in the Chapada Diamantina National Park

The Blue Lagoon is a cave full of the bluest and the clearest water you will ever see. You can see the bottom of the cave 50m deep! And yes, we did get to swim in it! We were offered a mask and snorkel when we went swimming, but we didn’t need it as you could see directly into the water anyways!

Chapada Diamantina National Park is located inland of Salvador about 5 hours by car, It is well worth the effort to visit and there are several other attractions such as hiking, waterfalls, and wildlife.

6. Visiting Iguacu Falls

iguazu falls from brazil sideIt is one of the seven natural wonders of the world for a reason! Visiting Iguacu Falls was the first thing we did when we got to Brazil and remained to be one of our Brazil highlights.

Iguacu Falls are located on the border of Brazil and Argentina and therefore can be visited from either country. We recommend going to both sides as it is a completely different experience. Brazil definitely offers the best panoramic views!

7. Street parties in São Paulo and Curitiba

curitiba and sao pauloBring your own booze or buy it cheap from the bars and stand in the middle of the street partying with the locals. Yes, you read that right, stand in the middle of the street drinking. I don’t know why street parties are so much more fun than the typical bar scene, but they just are!

There are certain streets both in Sao Paulo and Curitiba that locals know not to drive on during dark as it will be impossible to drive past the many people drinking in the streets!

8. Two Brothers Sunrise hike in Rio

two brothers hike in rioThe Two Brothers Hike at sunrise is just spectacular! First of all, because of the view of the sunrise over the amazing city of Rio. We didn’t even get the best sunrise and it was still amazing.

Second, the Two Brothers Hike starts/ends in a favela. A favela is like a slum in Brazil. We went on an organized tour which turned into a mini-favela tour after the hike was over. We got to explore the streets of the favela safely with our tour guide.

9. Chilling in the town of Pipa for a couple days

pipa was one of our brazil highlightsPipa is a small, chilled out town great for relaxing. The beaches are beautiful and if you are lucky you will even see wild dolphins. Arguably some of the best beaches in Brazil are near or in Pipa.

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10. 600ml $2 beers on the beach in Fortaleza

beer and shrimp in fortaleza
The Northeast of Brazil is very culturally different than the South, and we loved it! While Fortaleza as a city itself felt somewhat unsafe, along the boardwalk was an area for tourists but surprisingly didn’t have tourist prices. We paid next to nothing for ice cold beers and prawns at a beachside restaurant.

While this sounds like one of our sillier Brazil highlights, sometimes it is the little things that are the most fun!

11. Pre-Carnival Bloco in Salvador

pre carnival celebrations in salvador brazilSalvador is beautiful and colourful. The pre-carnival block party we attended was a party of a lifetime!

What made the pre-carnival special was that it featured all of the best bands from Carnival al in one place. It was more like a parade than a block party like they had in Rio. There were so many people and the energy was electric!

12. Surfing in Florianopolis

surfing was one of our brazil highlightsThe southern area of Florianopolis offers some great beaches for surfing. It is easy to rent surfboards as well as take lessons here.

We stayed at a chilled our hostel only a couple minutes from the beach. Here, we were able to go to the beach specifically when the tide was the best for surfing.

13. Feeding monkeys

feeding monkeys in brazilThese cuties are everywhere and always keen for a banana! These monkeys are called Marmosets, and while they are an introduced species in Brazil and some locals find them to be pests, we think they are absolutely adorable!

14. Exploring the historical town of Paraty

paraty is a beautiful townParaty a very unique town full of history and conveniently also on the beach. It is located just south of Rio and is a common place for tourists to explore. Go for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage or just walk the streets, either way, you’ll be amazed by the beautiful cobble-stone streets and colourful buildings.

15. Watching the dancers in Olinda

Dancers in OlindaThe type of dance they do in Recife and Olinda is unique to everywhere else in Brazil. Street performances are common but we were lucky to catch one especially for the upcoming Carnival that was even televised. These dancers sure knew how to put on a show and their enthusiasm was contagious.

Related Read:   Backpacking in Brazil - Know Before You Go

And there you have it, our top 15 Brazil highlights. Brazil was such an incredible country that we are already planning on returning next year. If you are contemplating a trip to Brazil, stop thinking and just go – you won’t regret it!

For all of our blog posts about Brazil click here!


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