Brazil is the largest country in South America, bordering every other country in S.A. except Ecuador and Chile. It ranks 5th in population and size in the world. Alone, the landmass is covers several climatic zones: equatorial, tropical, semiarid, highland tropical, temperate, and subtropical. These varying regions in Brazil bring a full range of biodiversity to explore for any traveler- all within one country. Everything from rainforest, to deserts in the northeast, and coniferous forest in the south. Most of Brazil’s population follows the coastline, living in major metropolitan centres such as Rio de Janeiro, San Paulo, Recife, and Manaus. San Paulo is the largest city in Brazil and the world!
One common perception is that Brazil is a third world country, but in terms of economics Brazil ranks high on the global scale- 7th largest purchasing power parity. There are three main sectors that bring in most of Brazils wealth: Agriculture and food production (cattle, soya beans, sugar, and timber cellulose) , the Industrial sector (steel and petroleum products), and Renewable Energies (hydroelectric dams). Brazil is one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Top Attractions in Brazil
- Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro
- Iguacu Falls
- Amazon River
- Soccer games in Rio and Sao Paulo
- Jericoacoara (sitting in hammocks in fresh water lagoons)
- Pantanal – amazing wildlife
- Boat trip in Paraty
- Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro
- San Paolo Market
- Learning how to SAMBA! Brazilians dance everywhere!
Top Adventure sports in Brazil
- Paragliding in Rio
- Hangliding in Rio
- Favela tours
- Corcovado Hiking
- Ilha Grande Hiking
- Tijuca forest and canopy walking
- Rafting in Rio
- Scubadiving in Recife
- Ziplining in Tijuca Forest
- See Sea Turtles in Salvador
Brazil’s history of colonizers from Portugal and France, along with different immigration waves of Italians, Germans, Japanese, and Arabs, it’s no wonder how the country developed such a diverse cooking heritage. Europeans introduced items like wine and dairy, whereas local ingredients included items of root vegetables, such as cassava, and fruits, like acai, mango, and papaya. Here are few items to put on cuisine hit list while traveling around Brazil:
Chrrascarias (barbecue steakhouses). The meat is packed onto a large skewer and cooked over an open flame. These steakhouse are widely popular and offer a fun presentation. The waiters come serve the meat by slicing it onto your plate at your table!
Moqueca. A seafood stew of saltwater fish simmered in coconut milk, cilantro, onions, tomatoes, and garlic. Typically served in a clay pot with rice. This dish can vary between regions, for example it can be served with Bahian hot sauce or Pirao a fish mash.
Feijoada. Brazil’s national dish, traditionally eaten on Saturdays. Stewed beans with pork or beef served over rice. In Bahia they add vegetables like kale, potatoes, okra, and orange slices.
Acaraje. A street food must. It is a deep fried patty of black-eyed peas, onions, and palm oil (more of a bread than anything) that is stuffed with dried shrimp and Vatapa (a puree of prawns, bread, cashew nuts and spices), and then deep fried again in olive oil and served incredibly hot. It’s usually accompanied with some chili sauce too.
Best time of year to visit Brazil
If you’re looking for a party then best time to visit Brazil is during High Season. It starts just before Christmas and extends to just after the Carnival festival- either late February or early March. Of course this is the most expensive time of year to go, but the festivities amazing! Book ahead of time to ensure you get a flight and accommodations.
Did you know…?
That around 60% of the Amazon’s rainforest is in Brazil.
Did you ALSO know…?
Bahian cooking stems from African slavery roots, where the masters would allow the women to fish and cook shrimps to supplement their nutrition.
There are a couple of things to consider when determining your travel plans: 1) time of year you wish to travel in, and 2) Brazil is big country and the weather in the north can be quite different than the weather in south, – so plan accordingly. Brazil is in the Southern Hemisphere, which means the seasons are exactly the opposite of the Northern Hemisphere. Summer in Brazil runs from December to March, and winter runs from June to September. The shoulder seasons are April, May, October, and November.
Temperatures in the summer are HOT with high humidity. You can expect to see highs of 43°C in most parts. The Northeast has warm temperatures all year round but the range is typically between 20-30°C. Winters are usually when the rains start to roll in, but they don’t last long. In the Amazon you can expect hot humid days all year round, averaging around 30-38°C. The dry season is typically during the summer months, but in the Amazon region there are some places that don’t experience a true dry season. In Belem it rains everyday! This is why planning out an itinerary can be so important if you’re the type of traveller who wants the best weather possible.
Tips on Getting Around in Brazil
This is big subject in such a big country, so we are offering you a couple of good tips.
1. Think Planes! Brazil is a big country and the best way to get around is to fly between areas, especially if your time is limited. One of Brazil’s gems is the TAM pass. This pass allows up to 4 flights within the country for one lowered price of ~$560US. The pass is valid only for 21 days, and offered to foreigners only. This is truly the best way to get around since the distance between locations can be upwards of 1500km. From Salvador to Manaus is over 4800km!
Tip: Try your best to fly between cities without transferring in São Paulo. This is the main airport and it can busy with delays and long lineups. And give all your connections a lot of time in between flights, just in case you get held up with delays. Travelling in the morning is always quicker too.
2. Buses. Within the cities, the buses are fairly easy to use and cheap, but you’ll want to plan your route ahead of time. Buses between cities take a long time to get anywhere. Benefits of taking them are; they’re cheaper, relatively comfortable, non smoking, and the deluxe coaches are air-conditioned. But the distances are FAR!
3. Renting a car. This is an option for some, but be advised that driving in Brazil is aggressive and confusing. The prices range from $70US to $200US a day, depending on the type of car you chose. And once again, the distances between cities are long. Once you’re in the city it can be difficult to find parking in safer areas as well. Renting a car can be a great way to do a couple of day trips, but if you don’t want the hassle of driving yourself but want the freedom of getting around, hire a tour guide for the day. You can customize your trip and get some good pointers along the way.
Brazil’s Street Art
One thing you’ll see a lot of in Brazil is street art. Their creative outlet for graffiti is everywhere and there are some areas that you don’t want to miss out on. In 2009, in Rio, street art was legalized as long as the artists had consent from the building owner, and now the city streets are bright and colourful, not mention they attract thousands of tourists every year.
The best and the most amazing aspect in the world of graffiti is its impermanence. What you see today could be gone by tomorrow, depending on the local artists. So if you see something you like, get a photo because it might not be there long. Also, the art isn’t just representing local talent. It often has political and social messages embedded within it. Pay attention to what you are looking at and see if you can find the meaning.
- Batman’s Alley, located in Vila Madalena, São Paulo
- Santa Marta Favelas, in Rio de Janeiro (go with a tour guide though)
- The Selaron Staircase, in Rio de Janeiro
Ready to plan your visit to Brazil? Check out these popular guides and trips.