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15 Brazil Highlights – The BEST things to do in Brazil

15 Brazil Highlights – The BEST things to do in Brazil

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In this travel guide, we show you all of the best things to do in Brazil – what we call our Brazil highlights. It’s filled with the best attractions in Brazil, places to visit, and all the info you need to visit for yourself!

Traveling to Brazil was a dream come true. The sprawling beaches, beautiful weather, and Brazil’s party culture far exceeded my expectations! To be honest though, planning our trip was a little daunting.

Brazil is a huge country! In fact, it’s bigger than Australia (a fact I didn’t know until I arrived.) Traveling to a country of this size takes serious planning as there are literally hundreds of amazing things to do and places to visit in Brazil!

Luckily for us, we got to spend over two months traveling Brazil. That gave us time to explore, travel without a strict itinerary, and as such, find some amazing hidden gems.

Most visitors, possibly like yourself, won’t have two months. This means you’ll need to plan most of your trip before you arrive. To make that task a little easier, we want to share with you the best things we did in Brazil – so we’ve come up with our 15 Brazil highlights!

This list includes the best things to see and do in Brazil as well as the cities and towns you simply must visit on your trip!

1. Fall in love with Rio de Janeiro

The view of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from Sugar Loaf Mountain
The view of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from Sugarloaf Mountain

Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s most famous city and overall the highlight of my Brazil trip. This huge bustling city is filled with Brazil’s history, food, and top attractions. If you come to Rio de Janeiro it’s important you get out and enjoy the Brazilian culture.

I spent a total of three weeks in Rio and I visited the city on three separate occasions. I welcomed the New Year on Copacabana Beach, spent a week partying during Carnival, and enjoyed some time exploring on some of the best tours in Rio. I even got out of the hustle and bustle on day trips, too.

The gondola on Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janiero at sunset
Look at those views! Can you spot the Christ the Redeemer on the hill??

Of course, Carnival and New Year’s were amazing and I highly recommend them. However, exploring the city on any normal day is also a must. Some of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro include:

Head up Sugarloaf Mountain: Taking the cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain was my favorite activity we did in Rio de Janeiro. We headed up just before sunset to catch amazing views of the city and the surrounding mountains. Honestly, this is a must-do in Brazil! You can buy these fast pass tickets in advance which will give you priority access to both cable cars.

Visiting Christ the Redeemer: This is one of the most popular things to do in Brazil. Honestly to me, it wasn’t that amazing and a little bit of a tourist trap. However, it’s one of the 7 Wonders of the World so it’s worth a visit. We actually hiked up instead of taking a bus and really enjoyed the walk. We saw monkeys along the way and save ourselves some money too!

You can also join this highly-rated tour that combines a visit to Christ the Redeemer with Sugarloaf Mountain that includes all transportation and passes by other key landmarks including Palácio Guanabara and Largo do Boticário.

Explore Copacabana Beach: There isn’t a beach in the world with the atmosphere of Copacabana Beach. It really has to be seen to be believed! Be sure to give yourself an entire day here and head down for coconuts, cocktails, or beers on the beach. Of course, there are plenty of other amazing beaches in Rio de Janeiro to check out, so make sure you explore.

Without a doubt, Rio de Janeiro lives up to its reputation as one of the greatest cities in South America and a highlight of traveling in Brazil.

2. Visit the magnificant Iguazu Falls

A set of waterfalls that are part of the larger Iguazu Falls in Brazil
Just one tiny section of Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls is without a doubt the most amazing waterfall I have ever seen. This massive (and I mean massive!) waterfall is actually made up of 275 waterfalls that stretch over 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles). Those 275 waterfalls are then surrounded by a lush, green jungle.

The picture above and below are only fractions of what you’ll see at any given time!

Iguazu Falls is located in the very south of Brazil and sits on the border with Argentina. The falls stretch across both Brazil and Argentina and as such, you can explore Iguazu Falls from both countries.

Brazil’s side of Iguazu Falls is best for great landscape views. However, from the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls, you can get closer to the falls and stare into what’s called the Devil’s Throat.

More of the waterfalls at Iguazu Falls, Brazil
A few more but not the complete falls!

I often get asked what side of Iguazu Falls is the best – Brazil or Argentina? To me, the Argentinian side is the best. The reason? Well, there are over 8 kilometers (5 miles) of hiking trails that visit many different waterfalls so you definitely get to see more. For that reason, if you only have time to visit one side of Iguazu Falls, head to Puerto Iguazu (the town on the Argentinian side) to explore.

However, there is this full-day tour from Brazil that combines a visit to both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides! It is a nice option if time is limited but you won’t be able to fully explore each side. If you don’t mind that it’s not extensive then it’s worth considering!

If you do have another day there is a 2-day version of that tour which visits each side for a full day. This is the option I would recommend most to not feel rushed!

From Brazil, the town you need to visit in order to see Iguazu falls is called Foz do Iguaçu. You can get flights here from Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo, or you can take a long overnight bus.

From Foz do Iguaçu, you can explore the falls yourself or join one of these organized tours.

One of the top-rated tours is this Iguazu Falls and Boat Ride Tour. The tour begins with a 3 km (1.9 mi) ride through the jungle and your guide will teach you about the native plant species and wildlife. Then you’ll walk or go by 4×4 (your choice) to take the cable car from the riverbanks to reach the boat dock. The boat goes right up to Iguazu Falls. You can choose the “wet tour” if you want to feel the spray from the falls. For $196 USD it’s of really good value!

To view the entirety of the falls, you’ll need to join a helicopter tour over Iguazu Falls. If we had the extra money at the time we most certainly would have done one (especially since they’re only $115 USD)! I’m sure the views would be a long-lasting memory.

Before visiting Iguazu Falls I had no idea just how beautiful and memorizing this place would be, and I was left speechless. Over two days we explored all of the viewpoints of the falls and got pretty wet while doing so! Iguazu falls is picture-perfect and backpacking the falls was without a doubt a highlight of my Brazil trip.  

Related Read: If you want to visit from Argentina, these are the best tours of Iguazu Falls from Buenos Aires!

3. Explore Chapada Diamantina National Park

Bailey sits on a viewpoint overlooking part of Chapada Diamantina National Park in Brazil
The Morro Do Pai Inacio Viewpoint overlooking part of Chapada Diamantina National Park

Chapada Diamantina National Park is a little-known national park six hours by bus east of the city of Salvador, Brazil. The park is filled with amazing places to visit including several caves (some with turquoise pools to swim in), breathtaking hikes, and lots of waterfalls.

On a visit to Chapada Diamantina National Park, there are several popular tours you can join. These include visits to Morro Do Pai Inacio, Pratinha, Gruta Lapa Doce, Poco Azul, and Cachoeira da Fumaca (a 360-meter/1,181 foot waterfall.)

The tour we booked visited all of these places over three separate day trips and cost us around $160 USD. My favorite place we visited was Morro do Pai Inacio as the views were so breathtaking!

Alternatively, this $69 USD Caves Full Day Tour is one of the most popular tour routes to go on and is less of a time commitment. It visits 6 different spots and one of them is Morro Do Pai Inacio!

Buracao Chapada Diamantina in Chapada Diamantina National Park
Buracao Chapada Diamantina in Chapada Diamantina National Park

These package deals can be altered to suit your specific taste. For instance, you can choose to visit Buracao Chapada Diamantina Waterfall (which we regretted not doing after our friends showed us the photo above!) This waterfall is a highlight of the park but it takes a long time to get to which meant lots of time driving. Buracao Chapada Diamantina Waterfall is best visited on a 2-day 1-night tour.

For many people, a trip to Brazil is centered around the coast. Don’t get me wrong the coastline is beautiful but seeing some of Brazil’s inland landscapes such as Chapada Diamantina National Park was really special and one of the best things to do in Brazil!

For more info, we have an awesome guide to Chapada Diamantina National Park to help visitors plan their trip. Be sure to check it out if you plan on visiting.

4. Experience Carnival in Brazil

Daniel, Bailey and a fried of theres take a selfie in the middle of a bloco party during Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
At one of the best blocos in Santa Teresa!

Brazil is home to the largest party in the world… Carnival! Held every year towards the end of February, Carnival in Brazil is the craziest party you can imagine x10. You can celebrate Carnival all over Brazil and over the 6 days the entire country and thousands of tourists celebrate.

I personally spent Pre-Carnival (yes, Carnival is celebrated many weekends before the actual Carnival starts) in Salvador. Then I headed to Rio de Janeiro for the actual week of Carnival craziness. It’s hard to say which I preferred as each place was unique in its own way, but overall you can’t beat Rio!

For those who don’t know, Carnival is celebrated with what Brazilians call “bloco” parties and parades. These are completely free and located on the streets of the cities. In Rio for example, there can be 30 bloco parties all over the city in one day, with some starting as early as 7 am.

Bloco parties usually involve a marching band and the party moves throughout the streets like a parade as everyone follows. There will be a start and an endpoint, and at that endpoint, there will be another big party. After that, well, it’s time to find another bloco party that’s likely around the corner!

The Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Sambadrome, however, is where the professional samba dances perform with all the colorful costumes. These dancers do not parade through the streets and this competition is taken very seriously by the professional samba schools that compete.

The Sambadrome isn’t free and you would want to purchase your tickets in advance to ensure they don’t sell out. Basic grandstand seats start at $30 USD but you can also upgrade to front box tickets for a better view. There is also a package that includes round-trip transportation that begins at $90 USD.

If you do want to celebrate Carnival in Brazil then you’ll need to plan ahead. The celebration sees thousands of Brazilians flood the cities and accommodations almost entirely book up. Although a little crazy to plan, Carnival is not only a highlight but arguably the best thing I did in Brazil!

Hot Tip: You need to book accommodation for Carnival as soon as possible. The best places to stay book up first so be sure to plan accordingly. Booking.com is a great place to book as they often have great free cancelation policies.

If you miss being in Brazil for the actual celebration then this option below is your next best option!

The Carnival Backstage Tour is the most popular tour that can be done at any time of the year. It will really give you a feel for what this carnival is all about! You will learn how the floats and dramatic costumes are made, and you can even try some of the costumes on and take photos if you want!

You are sure to be informed on some of the cultural histories of this event before being made cocktails and heading to a samba dance class.

5. Beach hopping on Ilha Grande

Lopes Mendes Beach on Ilha Grande, Brazil
Lopes Mendes Beach on Ilha Grande, Brazil

After partying a little too hard in Rio we were in need of some rest and relaxation. So we did what many Brazilians do and headed to the island of Ilha Grande near Rio de Janeiro.

Ilha Grande is truly an island paradise surrounded by pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters. From Rio, it takes around 3 hours to reach the island first via bus and then ferry. Once on the Island you can join lots of different tours, enjoy short or long hikes, and also party if you’re up for it.

We stayed six nights on Ilha Grande and loved it! The best tour we did was this boat tour that departs from Angra dos Reis and explores the north side of the Ilha Grande. On the tour, we visited so many stunning beaches and enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant. The tour was just what we needed.

Snorkeling on Ilha Grande, Brazil
Snorkeling on Ilha Grande, Brazil

Ilha Grande is the most famous island near Rio. The pristine beaches and fun atmosphere make it one of the best places to visit in Brazil!

There’s lots to know about visiting Ilha Grande. For that reason, we wrote this huge guide to Ilha Grande, Brazil. It includes the best things to do, getting there, and more!

6. Two Brothers Hike in Rio

Daniel sits at the top of the Two Brother hike aka Morro Dois Irmãos overlooking Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Two Brother hike (aka Morro Dois Irmãos) overlooking Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil isn’t well-known for hikes and to be honest, I didn’t do many while I was there. However, there was one hike I did that became a highlight of my trip and that’s the Two Brothers Hike in Rio de Janeiro.

The Two Brothers Hike (also known as Morro Dois Irmãos) is a short hike that leads to a stunning viewpoint overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro and more specifically, Copacabana Beach. From here you can see so much of the city and the views are a must-see in Rio!

From the start of the trail, it takes around 40 minutes to reach the Two Brothers Viewpoint. Along the way, you’ll be able to enjoy other views such as the view of Rocinha Favela – the second-largest favela in the world.

The Two Brothers Hike isn’t your typical hiking trail though. The hike starts at the top of the Vidigal favela. Despite being in a favela, Vidigal is a rather safe neighborhood, and hiking the trail is a very popular thing to do in Rio de Janeiro.

Looking down Vidigal favela after our tour on the Two Brothers Hike
Looking down Vidigal favela after our tour on the Two Brothers Hike

I personally hiked the Two Brothers trail on this guided tour. The tour included transport up through Vidigal before we began the hike. Afterward, we toured through the favela and learned lots about its history.

I highly recommend doing the Two Brothers Hike at sunrise but only on a tour. After dark, it’s best to not wander around Vidigal. This option departs a 3 am for sunrise but does not include transportation.

So, to get to the start of the trail get a cab to the Vidigal favela and tell the cab driver you are doing the Morro Dois Irmãos hike. The cab will drop you at the entrance to the favela near the Sheraton hotel. From here, walk into the entrance of the favela and to the moto-taxi stand. Here a moto-taxi can take you up the favela to the start of the trail.

If you don’t want to go at sunrise but still want to do a tour then this guided tour is the best option!

7. Race around the sand dunes in Natal

Bailey and I on our sand dunes tour in Natal, Brazil
Bailey and I on our sand dunes tour in Natal, Brazil

Northeastern Brazil is well off the beaten path for most visitors. But for those who do venture this far, you’ll be able to enjoy a very unique a beautiful culture (and also much cheaper prices)! This is because Brazil’s northeast is a much poorer region in comparison to the south but the culture, good vibes, and fun are very much alive.

One of the best tours we did in northeast Brazil was in Natal. Natal is a small city with a huge area of sand dunes nearby that are a large playground for dune buggies.

On the dune buggy tour, we raced through the sand dunes to explore the area. The tour was so much fun and along the way, we sipped coconuts and enjoyed lunch at a hidden oasis!

If you head north I highly recommend joining a dune buggy tour in Natal. These tours are one of the best adventure activities in Brazil. We were able to book our 7-hour tour for just $43 USD.

For more information about Natal and the dune buggies check out our things to do in Natal, Brazil blog.

Related Read: If you’re interested in extending your trip read about our experince with crossing the border from Brazil to Boliva by land.

8. Wander the vibrant streets of Salvador

A vibrant street in Salvador, Brazil
A vibrant street in Salvador, Brazil

Salvador was my second favorite city in Brazil. But why? Well, I simply loved the culture here. The African influence in Brazil is really easy to see in Salvador. From the art, dance, and music, Salvador is easily the most culturally rich city that I visited in Brazil, and I loved it!

We enjoyed pre-carnival celebrations in Salvador, but even without that, there were tons of awesome things to do. Pelourinho is the old part of the city and the area we suggest staying in. Here you can wander stunning colonial streets, enjoy lots of live performances, visit museums, and enjoy dinner and drinks out.

A fantastic way to combine many of the sights in one trip is on a city tour like this one! It visits the Bahia Lighthouse and Fortress, Jesuit Basilica Cathedral, Pelourinho, and more! Plus, you’ll also learn the history behind each place from your guide!

Of course, it is a coastal city so you can also take a day trip to nearby Salvador beaches such as Arembepe Beach. This small beach is located 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Salvador and is home to a small hippy village.

You can also take advantage of this beach tour that drives past many different beaches but primarily spends most of the time hanging out at Praia do Forte and Guarajuba (beaches) to enjoy the warm and clear waters and indulge in some local cuisine.

Salvador is a Brazil highlight simply for its history and culture, and when you visit for yourself, you’ll see exactly what I mean!

9. Beaches, Beaches, and more Beaches in Florianopolis

The views of Lagoinha do Leste from the beaches viewpoint hike in Florianopolis, Brazil
The views of Lagoinha do Leste from the beaches viewpoint hike in Florianopolis, Brazil

The city of Florianopolis is like nothing else in Brazil. The majority of the bustling coastal city is located on Santa Catarina Island, so it’s surrounded on all sides with a pristine coastline. No matter where you go in the city, you’re never far from the beach!

The beaches here are some of the best in Brazil and with over 40 of them around, you can find some as vibrant or as secluded as you want.

Lagoa da Conceição is the most popular area to stay and although it is a short bus ride from the beach, it’s a small town with everything you need for a great holiday. Alternatively, in Florianopolis is Barra de Lagoa (where I wish I had stayed). This is one of the best beaches around the city and it’s also within walking distance to other great, more secluded beaches.

Be sure to visit Lagoinha do Leste too which is considered one of Brazil’s most un-spoilt beaches. To reach the beach you’ll need your hiking shoes and a good few hours, but that’s part of the fun that keeps others away! You can do the hike yourself or take this tour from Lagoa da Conceição for only $36 USD. The guide who runs this particular tour has done so for 20 years so they have a wealth of knowledge to share including meditation and ChiKung practices. Seriously, this is one of the best things to do in Brazil!

For surfers, you’ll want to stay close to Praia do Santinho and Campeche Beach. These are some of the best surf spots on the island and are home to large beach breaks.

Regardless of where you stay though, you can get around the island by public bus or taxi. So if your ideal holiday involves sipping cocktails or coconuts on beautiful beaches, then Florianopolis will be one of your Brazil highlights as it was mine!

10. Experience Churrascaria (Brazilian BBQ)

Daniel cooks a Churrascaria in Brazil
We got to cook our own at our hostel!

Churrascaria is a traditional Brazilian BBQ and while in Brazil you simply must try it! I myself was lucky enough to enjoy Churrascaria many times at hostels with other Brazilian guests, and even at a Brazilian family’s house (that was nice enough to invite us!)

A few things you’ll notice between a typical western BBQ and a Churrascaria is that they love to use coals instead of a flame, and they cook the meat over the entire day. That’s right, instead of feasting at one time, Brazilians love to cook small amounts of food over the entire day and drink beer or Cachaça while they’re at it.

In all honesty, I love the way they do it because you skip that tired feeling after eating a big meal and just snack the entire day on delicious Brazilian meats!

For those traveling for a short time, you can enjoy Churrascaria on the streets or in restaurants. Although you won’t get the exact same experience, you’ll be able to sample lots of Brazilian favorites!

11. Enjoy the rich culture in Olinda

A view of the old city of Olinda with the new city of Recife in the background
A view of the old city of Olinda with the new city of Recife in the background

Olinda is another city in northeast Brazil. The old town of Olinda is well known as one of the cutest colonial regions in Latin America. Well-preserved colonial architecture lines the cobblestone streets and small cafes, ice cream shops, and viewpoints of the ocean giving visitors plenty to do.

On my visit, we did the Olinda free walking tour and learned all about the city. We visited some very interesting markets, watched live performers, and even enjoyed an ice cream with the best view in the city.

Olinda neighbors the larger city of Recife. Although I enjoyed Recife (that’s where our hotel was) we spent most of our time in Olinda. If I had my time again, I would have stayed in Olinda as the area is just that beautiful!

This city tour actually visits both Recife and Olinda on a 7-hour excursion. So even if you decide not to stay very long in either city you’ll be able to see most of the highlights and learn about the rich Portuguese-Brazilian, African, Jewish and Dutch influences that are part of their history. The best part is that it only costs $16 USD!

Olinda isn’t the most popular place to visit in Brazil but it’s that off-the-beaten-path experience that makes visiting this hidden gem so worth it – and a highlight of Brazil!

You can read our complete blog about all of the great things to do and see in both Olinda and Recife to help plan your trip!

12. Visit Manaus in the Amazon Jungle

A jaguar sits on the bank of the river in Manaus in the Amazon Jungle
A jaguar sits on the bank of the river in Manaus in the Amazon Jungle

You can’t come to Brazil without visiting the Amazon jungle, and the best place to do that is in Manaus. This small city is the capital of the state of Amazonas and it’s the perfect base to explore the jungle.

The town sits on the Rio Negro River, which connects with the Amazon River only 10 minutes downstream. For the location’s sake, Manaus is perfect!

From Manaus, you can join a huge range of tours that will take you down the Rio Negro and Amazon River like this 8-hour Amazon Jungle Trek Tour.

It spends 3 hours exploring the complexities of the Amazon Jungle and visits the freshwater Anavilhanas National Park on the Rio Negro. Transportation and a traditional Brazilian lunch are included. It is very highly rated and costs $150 USD.

You can also join a guided walking tour, a Pink Dolphin boat tour, a cave and waterfall tour, an Indian village tour, and more.

The Amazon Rainforest is the most diverse region in the world and I have been lucky enough to visit it a few times. The place is wild and sometimes scary, but one thing is for sure, you need to visit if you want to experience some of the best things to do in Brazil!

13. Relax in Pipa

One of the deserted beaches in Pipa
One of the deserted beaches in Pipa!

For those wanting to escape the cities or busy tourist towns, Pipa is a perfect choice. This tiny hippy town is home to only a few bumpy streets and is only a stone’s throw away from the beach.

The beaches here are mostly uncrowded and for those who surf the nearby surf beach has plenty of good waves.

There isn’t much to do in Pipa but that’s kind of the point. With little major attractions except for relaxation, biking, yoga, surfing, and regular visits by dolphins to the bay, it keeps most tourists away.

I will say the most adventurous thing we did here was a dune buggying tour. It’s a super thrilling way to go sightseeing around the region – these things can fly across the sand! On our tour we were also able to explore and swim at some natural pools, go for hike in the forest, and sandboard.

I personally loved Pipa and would recommend it to hippy type or the backpacker going through Brazil. I guess it’s no fancy holiday destination, but to me, it was a highlight of my Brazil trip!

If you want more info on Pipa then check our complete guide to Pipa. It has all the info you need to visit this small but beautiful town.

14. Get wild in the Pantanal

Sunset on the Pantanel in Brazil
Sunset on the Pantanal in Brazil

The Pantanal in Brazil is the world’s largest wetlands. This very unique place to visit is often overshadowed by the Amazon, but make no mistake, it is a highlight in Brazil!

The Pantanal is split into two sections, the north and south. In the south, the town you need to head to is called Campo Grande, and in the north, it’s Cuiabá. From both towns, you can join lots of different tours to the Pantanal.

The south Pantanal is more of a flood plain and getting around here is a little more difficult. In fact, many lodges use planes to get guests out to the hotels. For this reason though, I chose to visit the north Pantanal.

In the north Pantanal region, it’s a little easier to explore with one main “highway” called the Transpantaneira Highway. This gives you access to lots of accommodation and tours for much cheaper. Most overnight tours will camp on the water and run daily tours from there. The northern area of the Pantanal is also the place to spot jaguars!

Within the Pantanel, you can spot a huge range of wildlife and stay in hotels completely surrounded by water. There are also lots of different tours including game fishing, bird watching, and jaguar spotting.

This particular 3-day wildlife tour is will very knowledgable guides who have experience around jaguars, ocelot, giant river otters, giant anteaters, and southern southern tamandua. They also have a keen eye for birding too! It includes all transport and your accommodations, so all you have to do is show up!

15. Wander Vila Madalena in Sao Paulo

A colorful street in Vila Madalena in Sao Paulo
Graffiti alley!

Last but certainly not least is to visit and stay in Vila Madalena in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This bustling neighborhood in Brazil’s largest city is filled with trendy bars, nightclubs, cafes, restaurants, and an array of street art.

I spent a few days in the area and enjoyed lots of awesome cafes and simply explored. To be honest, I was a little nervous about visiting Sao Paulo just because of its huge size. But after staying in Vila Madalena I fell in love with the city.

My number one recommendation is to take a walk and check out all the street art. Batman Alley is a really cool place to check out and it’s filled with street art. Batman Alley is located in Vila Madalena and is also one of the best things to do in Sao Paulo! For a free self-guided tour check out this GPS My City tour. These tours just give you a route to follow that takes you to popular attractions.

If you aren’t so good with directions or would prefer to have a guide navigate you around then look into this private street art tour instead!

Vila Madalena is the perfect place to stay to get to know the city of Sao Paulo, which at times can be very daunting!

Tips for Visiting Brazil

Before you start throwing things into your bags you will need to take into account what type of activities you will be doing in Brazil, which areas of the country you will spend the most time in, and what time of year is your trip scheduled for.

Packing essentials

Below are my top recommended packing essentials not to forget along with some things that you might not think about when visiting Brazil.

  • Sunscreen
  • Hiking shoes – If you are planning on doing any day trips or hikes in a type of rough terrain these are essential!
  • Swimwear – Of course! This one goes without saying.
  • Bug spray – Brazil sadly has hoards of mosquitoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Lightweight rain jacket or windproof umbrella
  • Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot – the wifi in Brazil is pretty slow so if you work remotely or need a reliable connection this is a must!
  • Solar-powered power bank – can be a lifesaver for charging your phone if you are in the jungle or out at the beach for hours.
  • Travel adapter with converter – The voltage in your hotel rooms may not be known so it’s best to bring an adapter that can also convert the voltage so you can protect against ruining expensive devices. This is especially important with single-voltage devices like hairdryers which can’t convert a higher voltage amount.

Weather in Brazil

Because of the sheer size of Brazil, there are different climates across the different regions so you would need to do further research for detailed information so you know what exactly to pack.

In general, I will say that Brazil is a popular year-round destination for a reason, 60% of the country has a tropical climate. I can say that in those areas the weather tends to be more warm/hot than it will be cold.

During the summer (December to March) expect temperatures can be extreme reaching the high 30s/low 40s Celcius (100s Fahrenheit) with humidity – the worst being the Amazon. Outside of the mountains and Southern Brazil the temperatures rarely drop below 20 degrees Celcius (68 degrees Fahrenheit), even in winter months.

If you are visiting along the coast you will get a nice sea breeze which helps it not to feel unbearably hot.

Winter only lasts for 3 months from June to August. The rainy season is from December to March which sees an average amount of rainfall in short bursts everywhere outside of the Amazon Rainforest.

Safety Advice

In general, a lot of the advice I give below is also valid safety tips for all across South America. A lot of them are common sense but here are some of my main tips!

Don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself – try and wear what the locals are wearing and leave the flashy jewelry, watches, and purses back home. Otherwise, you are making yourself a target for thieves. While you can’t leave everything at your hotel it is good practice to keep important documents, an extra credit card, and some cash there in case something does happen. At least you will have a backup.

Don’t be too adventurous too soon- If you aren’t familiar with the area you are in it’s smart to take extra precautions. Sometimes it can be tempting to try and figure things out by yourself or make the assumption that a backstreet “seems” safe enough when that may not be the case. Try not to walk alone, especially at night. Ask a local or your hotel’s staff about the safety of your surrounding area.

Be confident – Act like you are supposed to be wherever it is that you are. Showing signs of nerves is going to draw more eyes. In general, Brazil is relatively safe for tourists nowadays, just do what you can to prevent an unsafe situation.

Listen to your gut – While this doesn’t seem like a concrete safety tip I do believe that the instinctive senses that go off are happening for a reason. I just think it’s best to listen to those warnings so I calmly leave the place or situation I’m in if something seems off. It’s just not worth the risk.

Booking tips

When planning a trip I like to book all of my stays and popular tours and activities at least 2-3 months in advance and even longer like 6 months to a year out if I am going during, peak tourists times or during a holiday or event like when I went to Carnival in Rio.

For hotels and hostels, I like to use Booking.com. They have really affordable rates and such a great cancellation policy – often times many of the places let you cancel the week of or even the day before your planned stay for a full refund!

This has saved me so many times throughout my years of travel and it also allows me to keep shopping around for the best price and location leading up to my trip. Not to mention they offer lots of discounts to their members who are part of their rewards program.

For all of the tours and activities, Viator is my go-to site! They are trustworthy and have lots of highly rated tours with reviews to read through so it’s easy to compare and contrast in order to come to a conclusion on which tours are the best! Their booking system is a very straightforward process and it’s easy to choose tour times and add-ons straight from the activity you want to book.

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and Daniel sit on the back of a Dune buggy in Brazil
Thanks for reading!

Brazil really is one of the best countries to visit in the world! If this list of the best things to do in Brazil hasn’t got you excited, then I don’t know what will.

Thanks so much for reading, I hope this Brazil highlights travel guide has helped plan and inspire your upcoming trip to Brazil. If you have any questions about our time in Brazil or anything else, leave a comment below and we will get back to you.

Also, if you found this guide helpful you can view all our Brazil blogs here or check out these related articles below!

How to Spend THREE DAYS in Rio de Janeiro: An Ideal 3-Day Itinerary

Robbed at gunpoint in Brazil

How to survive traveling as a couple

How to take better travel photos

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Vasilis

Saturday 13th of January 2024

Lovely list, thank you so much for the information. Do you have any idea about August? Is it a good time to visit the country?

Destinationless Travel

Sunday 14th of January 2024

Hey Vasilis,

August is the dry season so a great time to visit!

Thanks Daniel

Brian Ross

Monday 25th of September 2023

Hi

We are going to Brazil Jan/Feb 24 for 22 days. For the Rio Carnavil SambaDome. Any suggestions which zone is good to get tickets.

Is travelling around Rio during carnival week easy 😀

Thxs Brian

destinationlesstravel

Tuesday 26th of September 2023

Hey Brian,

Honestly, any zone is amazing. If you don't mind spending money get the lower/ center zones as they are considered the best.

it can be tricky but is possible with public transport.

Thanks

Danny Rodts

Friday 7th of July 2023

Looking to either go to Chile or Brazil this January or February for 10-12 days. Would like to be on the beach, warm weather, hike, surf, snorkel, and maybe bike(both road or mountain). What places in these countries provide that? Would prefer to stay in one location even though both countries have so much to explore. So far I thought possibly Florianopolis or the Lake District in Chile. Would love some thoughts and options.

I see you mention pipa and Iha grande as options in this blog

Géraldine

Tuesday 31st of January 2023

Hello, Thanks a lot for this detailed guide. It's really helpful. was wondering what is the best choice between Florianopolis and Ilha GRande. Due to the lack of time i will have to pick one of them but i have the feeling both places are amazing. Any suggestion?

Thank you in advance :-)

destinationlesstravel

Thursday 2nd of February 2023

Hey Géraldine,

I am glad you like the blog!

Ah, this is a hard one. I would personally choose Ilha Grande. It just can't be missed!

I hope this helps Bailey

Yesenia

Monday 8th of August 2022

How many days are enough for Salvador? Thank you!

destinationlesstravel

Wednesday 10th of August 2022

Hey Yesenia,

This all depends on you, but I would say 4 days is a great amount of time.

Thanks Daniel