You will find delightful regional differences in culture, from the Amazon in the north to the famous southern cities of Rio and Sao Paulo. North-East Brazil is well worth a visit too.
Where you go really comes down to what your interests are, how much time you have and also funds.
If you would like to travel to Brazil for the first time check out our top recommendations for places to add to your itinerary.
1. Rio de Janeiro
The most famous spot in Brazil – Rio de Janeiro.
Not many cities in the world hold an allure quite like Rio. There are bountiful things to see in this city of rich beauty; delicious Brazilian fruits and acai berry stands, sunny beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, exciting football matches, lively nightlife, tourism landmarks of Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain, and even its own Atlantic rainforest park.
The beaches in Rio can get crazily crowded on hot summer weekends and the average temperature is higher than 30°C. Taking part in Rio Carnival, going to a ‘sambódromo’ (sort of a parade stadium) or simply partying on the street carnival is a great cultural experience. The atmosphere and the energy are thrilling.
2. Manaus & Amazon
Fly to North Brazil, visit Manaus and go further from there to venture in the Amazon Rainforest. Manaus is the port of eco-tourism to the impressive Amazon Rainforest and cruises. It’s the largest city in Brazil that is in the middle of the jungle and be prepared for the heat.
The average temperature there is 40 °C in the summer. However, in North and North East Brazil you can count with a summery climate. Don’t miss the ‘Meet of the Waters’ and a visit the impressive Amazon Theatre built in 1896.
We couldn’t imagine going to Brazil without stopping in the Amazon. This brilliant biome is home to some of the most diverse range of species on earth. Having learnt about it since elementary school it invokes a true sense of enthrallment, and a much needed refresher to realize to us humans how many spectacular other creatures we really do share this world with.
You fly into the city of Manaus, a hub to many jungle companies. Make sure you check up on them before to ensure reliability, experience, and satisfaction. There are lots of day experiences, involving piranha fishing, jungle nature walks, and also overnight stays in the jungle.
3. Foz do Iguacu Falls
One of the New 7 Wonders of the World, Iguazu (Iguacu) Falls lives up to its reputation. With over 275 individual falls it is wider than Niagara and set in the middle of a sub-tropical rainforest.
Salvador is where the first Portuguese ship dropped anchor many years ago.
Salvador is a coastal city in the Bahia state on the east coast. By far the culture hub of Brazil, if you stay/visit the historic Pelourinho it will allow you to experience traditional musical performances and celebrations which seem to lighten up this square night after night.
It is now a historical city to visit and sun kissed beaches to relax, let alone the buzz and great atmosphere at Carnival. Salvador not only celebrates Carnival with the rest of the country but they have a pre and pos Carnival. It’s also not as expensive to get around and go out in Salvador as it would be in Rio.
If you would like to study Portuguese in Brazil there are lots of cheap courses in Salvador.
5. Sao Paulo
The most cosmopolitan and biggest city not only in Brazil, but in South America.
There are so many things to do in São Paulo, this city boasts a wide range of pubs, restaurants, museums, street markets and the night life is effervescent.
Although it’s virtually impossible to escape from the packed public transport and the daily headache of traffic jams in rush hours, you can easily get to the beautiful beaches of Sao Paulo.
The coast is only 1 hour by car or bus from Sao Paulo city centre, go spend a few days relaxing on the beaches of Santos - you won't regret it.
Guaruja is one of the hidden gems on Brazil, and although very popular with Brazilians for beach breaks, you'll not run into many if any international tourists here.
Popular with residents of Sao Paulo seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, Guaruja has spectacular beaches.
Popular places to stay or beaches to check out include Enseada Beach, Tombo Beach, Asturias, and Pitangueiras - all popular neighbourhoods.
Getting to Guaruja from Sao Paulo is very easy via car or bus, it is only two hours away from Sao Paulo city centre depending on traffic.
From Guaruja you could also travel up or down the coast to see more amazing beaches, especially around Literal Norte which are highly recommended.
The Pantanal is one of the most stunning locations in terms of nature and wildlife in the world.
There are lots of excursions available here, you will get to travel by land and boat seeing nature, learning more about the area and also seek out exotic wildlife.
If you would like to join a volunteer program in Brazil there are lots of amazing conservation projects here.
Do you love beaches? You will love Jericoacoara.
Jericoacoara is located in Ceará, around 300 km west of Fortaleza might and it might look far from almost everywhere, but the trip here is worth it.
Jericoacoara was once a small fishing village, but is no one of the most popular tourism destinations for relaxation and adventure sports including sand dune buddy riding, windsurfing and kitesurfing.
Jericoacoara is a very photogenic location and you'll want to stay forever. You could do a road trip along the coast taking in scenic locations like Boa Vista, Fortaleza, Natal and Porto de Galinhas.
A small town in South West Mato Grosso do Sul. ‘Bonito’ in Portuguese means ‘beautiful’ and the places lives up to its name.
It’s heaven for those who love adventure and ecotourism. Hiking and biking in forest trails, explore caverns (dry and flooded), see marvellous waterfalls, go swimming and snorkelling are a couple of things in can do in Bonito.
The temperature is always pleasant around 27 °C in summer. Be sure to learn some Portuguese phrases before arriving to impress the locals.
Paraty is a small town located on the coast of Brazil inbetween Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Expect beautiful architecture, old cobbled streets, beaches and lots of things to do.
Paraty is one of the safest places to visit in Brazil and there are large numbers of local and internationals tourists visiting every month There are also lots of day trips and excursions available where you can see stunning waterfalls.
If you plan on travelling between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, its the perfect stop off for a few days.
11. Ouro Preto
Ouro Preto is an old colonial city and the previous capital of the state of Minas Gerais.
This is one of the lesser-known and off the beaten track destinations on our list but visit and you will discover the beautiful countryside of Brazil.
Ouro Preto is home to stunning old buildings - this area is a UNESCO world heritage site.
There are lots of sightseeing activities available where you can also visit the pretty nearby town of Mariana.
12. Fernando do Noronha
Located in the beautiful North East of Brazil, Fernando do Noronha is simply spectacular. With stunning beaches, scenic coasts and lots of eco resorts this places will blow you away.
This is one of the most exclusive destinations in Brazi, and not the cheapest, but it really is one of the most beautiful islands in South America and the world.
If you have the money, go stay here. Also this island is perfect if you would like to go scuba diving in Brazil, this is also one of the best places in terms of marine life.
Plan a Dream Trip to Brazil
Brazil really is a massive country and you could spend months exploring and stil not see all the attractions. 2 weeks in Brazil is a great amount of time for a first time trip, although if you have longer you'll be able to see so much more.
Where you go really comes down to perference, but whether you like cities, beaches, nature, or wildlife, you'll find your perfect destinations in Brazil.
Getting around is easy via plane, bus or organised tour. If you plan on going backpacking or are keen on a gap year in Brazil, know this country is one of the most expensive in South America but there are still ways to keep costs down and discover the highlights.