It’s famous for its samba music and sassy South American flavour the world over. What’s more, two of the world’s largest sporting events are coming to Brazil – the World Cup, which kicks off this month, and the Olympic Games in the summer of 2016.
As the biggest country in South America and the fifth largest in the world by both population and size, Brazil is home to around 201 million people and borders every nation on the continent, apart from Chile and Ecuador.
So it comes as no surprise that there’s a plethora of destinations for the discerning traveller to experience. From the bustling cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, to the Amazon rainforest and the pristine beaches, you can’t go wrong with a trip to this colourful country.
Here are several exciting reasons to visit Brazil
Rio de Janeiro
Sitting in what is arguably one of the most beautiful settings in the world, Rio is a stylish city that is all about the beaches – most notably Copacabana and Ipanema. As well as being awarded World Heritage status in 2012, you might want to be in town at the beginning of Lent for the four-day long Carnival, which attracts around two million revellers each day. A cable car trip to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain is also a must.
And no visit to Rio, or Brazil for that matter, is complete without seeing the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. Standing protectively over the city of Rio, the 635 tonne, 40 metre (131ft) high statue was named one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’ in 2007. Built between 1922 and 1931, it has since become an icon for both Rio de Janeiro and Brazil.
One of England’s World Cup venues this month, Sao Paulo is also the largest and richest city in Brazil, with a population of more than 20 million people. As the country’s cultural capital, it boasts a myriad of art galleries such as the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, which contains the largest collection of Western art in South America. Other highlights are the views of Sao Paulo from the tallest skyscraper in the city, Edificio Italia, and Avenida Paulista, the city’s grandest boulevard, which offers plenty of shopping, nightlife and museums.
Visit a Favela
Brazil’s colourful shanty towns (favelas) have become popular tourist attractions over the past few years. One of the most famous is Santa Marta in Rio de Janeiro, where scenes from Michael Jackson’s 1996 hit ‘They Don’t Care About Us’ were filmed. A bronze statue of the singer now stands proudly in a square on the edge of the favela. Although visiting them was not previously recommended, a government ‘pacification’ programme has now made many of them tourist friendly.
One of Brazil’s best-preserved colonial settlements is Ouro Preto. This university town is bursting with colonial architecture and historic buildings. During the mid-18th century it was the richest town in South America thanks to a gold and diamond boom. Its name translates as Black Gold and it now boasts UNESCO World Heritage Site status thanks to its Baroque architecture.
This bustling capital city was only inaugurated in 1960, having been created from scratch by the world renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer in just five years. Today Brasilia is ripe for exploring with incredible architecture, fine dining and plenty of parks. We recommend a visit to Niemeyer’s iconic Metropolitan Cathedral, reported to be one of the most spectacular sights in South America. He also designed the National Congress building, which like the cathedral, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. If you have time visit the TV Tower too, the fourth tallest building on the planet. At the top you’ll be rewarded with breath-taking views of the city. Last but not least, the National Park of Brasilia offers hiking trails* through thick forest and springs.
Explore the Amazon
Floating along the Amazon River to explore this fascinating forest is an unrivalled travel experience. This is the world’s largest rainforest and it contains a tenth of the planet’s known living species lives. Manaus, which is home to the outstanding Teatro Amazonas Opera House and is the Amazon’s largest city, is a good base for starting a river cruise.
- There are around 70 tribes in the Brazilian Amazon that have never met the outside world
- More than six million tourists visit Brazil every year, with half of them heading to Rio
- Brazil has more than four million plant and animal species, and more monkeys than any other country, making it one of the most bio diverse countries in the world
- England will play their first World Cup game in Manaus on June 14. The city is in the middle of the Amazon rainforest and is home to more than two million people
- Brazil is the world’s largest coffee exporter – an accolade it has held for over 150 years
- The country’s capital Brazilia took just 41 months to build between 1956 and 1960. Before then, Rio was the capital for 197 years
- The country’s motto is “Ordem e Progresso”, meaning “order and progress”
Looking for Travel Insurance?
The single most important factor when travelling abroad is to buy an insurance policy suited to the country you’re visiting. Talk to our travel insurance experts on 0800 033 4902 or visit us online for a quote.