Cidade Maravilhosa, the marvellous city, is how Rio de Janeiro is known locally. It’s easy to see why. Rio de Janeiro in our mind is the most beautiful city in the world and an essential part of any Brazil holiday. Standing on top of the city’s two iconic attractions, Corcovado and Sugar Loaf mountain, you will be sure to agree with us as the views on a clear day are nothing but spectacular.
The beautiful city of Salvador da Bahia is fabulous. A mix of colonial charm, history, great beaches, cobbled streets and a lively music scene make Salvador the most interesting city in Brazil and without doubt our favourite. The city is the former capital of Brazil’s slave trade with huge African immigration from Portuguese colonies such as Angola and the city retains the largest black community in Brazil.
Despite some occasional bad press and some frequently awful traffic Sao Paulo is without doubt the cultural and economic heartbeat of Brazil. There is little in terms of traditional sights in comparison to Rio de Janiero but Sao Paulo more than makes up for this in culture, the arts, nightlife, entertainment and shopping. The excellent and efficient metro system makes it easy to get around the city and those who stay a bit longer than a night will realise that it is a friendly and cosmopolitan city and often end up preferring it to Rio.
Brazil’s futuristic capital of Brasilia was only created in the mid 1950’s and prior to that time the city was nothing more than a desert wasteland. The combined forces of President Juscelino Kubitschek, Brazil’s most famous architect Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa, a renowned Brazilian urbanist, came together to create a functional capital far removed from the urban sprawl which characterises some of Brazil’s other cities and espousing the motto on the Brazilian flag, Order and Progress.
Set in the state of Pernambuco in the north east of Brazil and only 5 miles away from Recife airport, the town of Olinda is an UNESCO world heritage site and rightly so. Located by the sea, with a lovely historical centre, a fabulous climate and one of the best carnivals in Brazil, what is there not to like about Olinda?!
Situated in the north east corner of Brazil, Natal is geographically just as close to Africa as it is Sao Paulo. Deriving its name from the Portuguese for Christmas, the city was founded on 25th December 1599 as a small fishing village. The festive theme is maintained all year round with a large ever present Christmas tree welcoming visitors as they arrive in the city, but it is the beaches that are the main attraction, particularly the southern beaches of Ponta Negra.
Situated in the heart of the state of Minas Gerais, the town of Ouro Preto is one of Brazil’s historical gems. The town, which literally translates to Black Gold, was at the heart of the gold rush in Brazil and in the mid eighteenth century was one of the largest and most important towns in the Americas.
The wonderful coastal city of Recife is often referred to as the Venice of Brazil and has been attracting tourists for many years with an enticing mix of historic architecture, wonderful beaches and perhaps the best music scene in Brazil. The city is made up of many canals, rivers and bridges which link the three main sections of the city of Recife Antigo, Santo Antonio and Sao Jose.
Fortaleza is the primary gateway from Europe to Brazil’s north coast and is known for its beaches and vibrant nightlife, whilst offering easy access to some amazing nearby beach destinations. The city has an iconic skyline where tall hotels line the city’s lengthy beach front. The water is warm all year round and even off Iracema beach, in the heart of the city, is perfectly clean for swimming.
The fabulous city of Florianopolis is regarded as the best place to live in Brazil and it’s easy to see why. Situated mainly on an island in the southern state of Santa Catarina, linked to the mainland by three bridges, Florianopolis is one of the most dynamic cities in the world whilst also being one of the the party centres of Brazil. Locally known as Floripa the island city is home to 42 beaches and is the best place for surfing in Brazil with consistently good waves.
The historic centre of Sao Luis is one of the finest in Brazil and an outstanding example of the Portuguese colonial past so it is no surprise that it has been declared as an UNESCO World Heritage site. Originally founded by the French in the early 17th century and under Dutch occupation for a short time, Sao Luis is perhaps the most Portuguese of all the cities in Brazil.
Curitiba is the state capital of Parana and is one of the most liveable cities in Brazil. Curitiba has an abundance of parks, fountains, museums and other municipal buildings whilst the 300 year old Cidade Velha (the old city) is very well preserved. The city is also well known for its arts scene whilst having an excellent nightlife.
The lovely city of Belem is a vast sea port and the gateway to the Amazon which underwent a staggering revamp at the start of the 21st century and now offers much more to the visitor than just being a start or finish point on the route to Manaus.
Belo Horizonte is the state capital and the largest city in Minas Gerais. It is also the third largest city in Brazil. Not traditionally on the tourist trail on a Brazil holiday, it is more frequently used as a transfer hub for the colonial towns of Ouro Preto, Tiradentes or Mariana.
Manaus is the largest city in the Amazon and the gateway to the river and the jungle. Lying on the banks of the famous river near the confluence of the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimoes, Manaus is the primary destination for those wishing to experience the sights and sounds of the Amazon. From Manaus a number of Amazon river cruises begin and it is from here you can head to a variety of different jungle lodges.