When it comes to cheap holidays, South America is a great choice. Most often, getting there will eat into the majority of your budget. As the largest country in South America, Brazil has plenty to offer foreign tourists. Unfortunately in some circles it has a reputation for being unsafe, but I wouldn’t say it is any less safe than its neighbours. English can be somewhat limited, particularly in rural areas, so a Portuguese phrasebook is a must. But where to go? Here are ten fantastic suggestions to get you started.
Sao Paulo is the largest city in Brazil and the place I think of when I think of “cosmopolitan.” It has swanky hotels, incredible bars, and some of the most amazing restaurants I’ve ever been to. And despite being a huge city, it is remarkably inexpensive.
Rio is famous for many reasons; there’s the carnival, a long party, but also the famous beaches and iconic hotels are also memorable. The Christ the Redeemer statue is also here. Sadly, much of Brazil’s unsafe reputation is from the crime and drug violence that happens here.
They say that Buzios is where the Brazilians go when they want a beach holiday. Buzios is a small peninsula with over 20 different little beach areas, each a bit different than the next. A huge strip of restaurants and several boat and diving tours tops off the list. You could come here and never want to leave.
This city is the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls, the absolutely enormous set of waterfalls that lines a huge canyon on the Argentinian/Brazilian border. The falls are incredibly wide, and fall over an array of rocks, complete with rainbows. It’s a bit out of the way but well worth it.
Brasilia is a purpose-built capital and like many capitals that exist purely for governmental purposes, Brasilia has a reputation of being boring. Sadly, those that think so miss the city’s main highlight: fantastic architecture.
Famous for its music, Fortaleza has some of the best city beaches in Brazil. You may also want to check out the street market, another city icon.
Interestingly, Salvador was the original capital of Brazil, and you can see that today with the city’s varying African and European influences. Many say Salvador is the prettiest city in Brazil, because of the colourful buildings and cobblestone streets in the old city centre.
The city of Manaus is known as the gateway to the Amazon, and several companies run their jungle trips from here. Despite being close, trips into the true Amazon are still a long drive, and many operators who claim to be reputable are not, so be careful and choosy.
Another beach hot spot, Florianopolis is a unique city – unique in that part of the city is on the mainland of Brazil, but the rest is across a challen on Santa Catarina Island. Needless to say, the Atlantic ocean isn’t far away from any point in the city.
Recife is called the Brazilian Venice because of the many waterways that run through the city. Zona Sul is the “tourist” part of town but be sure to do some wandering, as scenic squares can be found in various parts of town.
Have you been to Brazil? What are your favourite spots?
Posted : Thursday, April 14th, 2011 at 11:00
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.