Our top 25 UNESCO World Heritage sites
June 19, 2023
Brazil’s enormous territory is only outdone by the range of adventures it offers. From cruising the mighty Amazon or looking for jaguars in the Pantanal to basking on the beaches of Bahia or exploring ancient cobbled lanes, there’s a huge variety of attractions to pack into your Brazil trip. Head for the iconic city of Rio de Janeiro to live it up at the party to end all parties, gaze open mouthed at the spectacle of Iguaçu Falls, or delve into the historic heart of Salvador, where Afro-Brazilian culture thrives. With an unrivalled mix of natural and cultural highlights, Brazil can tick all your holiday boxes and then some.
The incredible panorama of Rio scattered between its dramatic peaks and glittering bays really gets the pulse racing. Get to know this incredible city and its irrepressible spirit as you experience Brazilian exuberance on the famous beaches – some lively and action packed, some more peaceful – and discover its iconic sights.
The first unmissable excursion is to ride the train to the Corcovado mountain to take in the city from the world famous Christ the Redeemer statue, but there are countless museums, markets, churches, parks and cafes to explore.
An unfathomably large region of wetlands and lagoons, the Pantanal covers a mind boggling 200,000 square kilometres – that’s around the size of England and Scotland combined.
It may not have the bigger number of species when compared with the Amazon rainforest, but wildlife viewing is much easier as the vegetation is less dense particularly during the dry season. Creatures to look out for include a dazzling variety of birds, capybara, caiman and the stealthy yet numerous jaguar. Visit in the dry season (June to October) for maximum accessibility and wildlife visibility.
One of the world’s most dramatic natural phenomena should need no introduction. The Iguaçu Falls is immense, with its 2,700 metre curtain of water thundering over an 80 metre drop, making it the second largest waterfall in the world by volume of water.
The Devil’s Throat is the biggest of around 300 separate waterfalls that make up Iguazu, and if you are in a courageous mood you can experience it up close from the dedicated viewing platforms. Surrounding the falls are swathes of rainforest which make a rewarding destination for a wildlife spotting excursion on foot.
The original Portuguese settlement of Salvador enjoys a great location above the water, with a characterful old town, Pelourinho, bringing some historic magic along its cobbled lanes and UNESCO listed colourful buildings.
There is a different church for every day of the year, some of which are sumptuously decorated inside and out, as well as a lively market down at the harbour level. As you saunter around Salvador you’ll enjoy the flamboyant street life, from troupes of capoeira dancers or drummers doing impromptu performances to locals sporting colourful local costumes, there’s always something to catch your eye. The beaches nearby are fabulous, too.
Undulating hills of green speckled with rustic whitewashed towns brings a real flavour of Europe to inland Brazil. These are the cidades históricas, old gold mining towns dripping in colonial splendour and rustic charm. The most picturesque, and therefore popular, of the historic towns in Minas Gerais state are probably Ouro Preto, Mariana, Tiradentes and Diamantina.
Wander the cobbled lanes and appreciate the ornate styling of the colonial stucco facades, or take some time to investigate the wonderful churches of the region, many of which appear simple on the outside but hide sumptuous interiors. This is also the best region to sample Brazil’s excellent coffee!
Just at the point where densely wooded mountains plunge into the sea creating a shoreline of coves and peninsulas, the Portuguese founded a port in 1660 to serve the gold mines inland.
Today the exquisite setting and charming architecture, not to mention the location within easy reach of both Rio and Saõ Paolo and the great beaches exert a considerable pull, and it’s generally considered to be one of the most delightful spots in Brazil. When you’ve finished strolling the lovely lanes and admiring the Portuguese colonial architecture, take a boat to one of the nearby islands where there are more stunning beaches and a relaxed island vibe.
Every year from May to September, the dazzling white sand dunes of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in the north of Brazil are transformed by rainfall into a landscape dotted with shimmering pools of blue.
The dunes sit over impermeable rock so the water doesn’t drain away, and a whole seasonal ecosystem bursts into life when the rain collects in the hollows. Fish that lie dormant during the dry season teem in the clear water, and as the pools fill and join up with waterways, other fish find their way here. It’s a unique habitat in a wild and beautiful landscape.
Known as ‘the lungs of the Earth,’ the Amazon basin is a truly gigantic area of tropical rainforest which produces 20% of the world’s oxygen. It spreads way beyond the borders of Brazil, but the majority of the forest is within Brazilian territory, the focus of which is the city of Manaus, gateway to the Amazon region.
Take your pick of exciting Amazon adventures, from cruising the river to camping in the rainforest, trekking, fishing for piranha or even kayaking. Large wildlife isn’t really the main attraction of the Amazon, and what there is can be difficult to spot. Instead, you will be overwhelmed by the insect, bird and plant biodiversity.
Make it happen
There’s a special energy in Brazil and it has to be seen to be believed. Want to feel that famous Brazilian vibe for yourself? Our specialist local experts will put all their on-the-ground knowledge to good use when they design your itinerary to fit your priorities. Get in touch with them directly to find out more, or to speak to someone in the TravelLocal office please call +44 (0)117 325 7898.
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