The Wanderlust guide to the best of Brazil

Steaming jungle, beautiful beaches, the wet wonderland of the Pantanal and booty-shaking beats of Carnaval. Here’s your guide to Brazil's big, bold blend of attractions

5 mins

Brazil seems to have its own rhythm – and that rhythm is samba. Music and dancing are important parts of the Brazilian lifestyle, and even form the basis of the capoeira martial arts routines. Pulsating cities, epitomised by Rio de Janeiro, love their sea and sunshine, but you should also head towards the jungle to get a feel of the real Brazil.

The Amazon region is still best explored by boat – spot caiman, jaguars and anacondas, among countless other species.

Carnaval is big in Brazil, especially in Salvador, São Paulo, Recife and Rio, but to get away from the crowds to more personal celebrations, opt to join the fun in Olinda with its eleven days of spontaneous parties all over the historic town.

Many national parks, like Chapada dos Veadeiros with its cave systems and waterfalls, offer hiking trails and activities galore.

Brazilian beach (Shutterstock) 

Beach Aventueiro. Photo from Shutterstock.

Looking for inspiration?

You can’t get more inspirational than Bruce Parry and Michael Palin. Two of the world’s greatest travellers, they spoke to Lyn Hughes about their love for Brazil and the places there that every traveller should visit.

Bruce Parry, as you can imagine, focuses on the mighty Amazon – both its staggering natural beauty and amazingly resilient people.

Michael Palin, on the other hand, reveals a more amiable side to the country, and reveals some of its quirkier corners.

If it’s more specific advice you’re after, Lyn Hughes recommends Chapada Diamantina National Park , a true hidden gem, tucked away in Bahia state – and home of one of the best day walks in the world.

If beaches are more your thing, Alex Robinson suggests Brazil’s dune coast. Extending between the southern Amazon and the skyscraper city of Fortaleza, it’s one of the world’s strangest and most strikingly beautiful stretches of coastline.

For those looking for a memorable wildlife encounter, Mark Unwin reckons you can’t beat the Pantanal. He says it’s Jaguar Central.

More information

A conversation with Bruce Parry – Lyn Hughes

Michael Palin: My big Brazilian adventure – Lyn Hughes

Discover Bahai, Brazil – Lyn Hughes

Discover Brazil’s dune coast – Alex Robinson

Brazil’s Pantanal: Jaguar Central – Mark Unwin

 Brazilian colonial street (Shutterstock)

Paraty colonial streetscape. Photo from Shutterstock.

Brazil’s secrets revealed

It’s the biggest party on earth and is on every travellers’ wish list. It’s Carnaval. And Alex Robinson has the all the information you need to plan your trip and stay safe, as well as the inside scoop on some of the smaller, lesser known events.

Liz Edwards got under the skin of Brazil’s ‘Black Rome’, Salvador, with a bit of help from the Sisterhood of the Good Death. Meanwhile, Jonathan Oliver checked out the best places to visit for those interested in honing their Capoeira skills, Brazil’s world famous and very particular form of martial arts.

Finally, the Wanderlust Team has put together a handy guide on surviving your first day in Rio. It can be a trifle overwhelming, but we’ll help you through it.

More information

Travel Icon: Carnival, Brazil – Alex Robinson

Discover the real Brazil in Salvador – Liz Edwards

Capoeira and Candomble in Salvador, Brazil – Jonathan Oliver

First 24 Hours in Rio De Janeiro – Wanderlust team

 Bar Food Olympics (Hardeep Singh Kholi)

Tantalize your tastebuds

With it’s tasty mix of cultures, Brazil is a foodie paradise, offering a feast of fusion delights, and a home to some of the best chefs in the world.

One of those chefs is Guilherme Melo, who runs the highly regarded Hermengada in Bela Horizonte, and he kindly shares his recipe for a delicious Brazilian Bean Risotto.

Brazil also leads the world in bar food, with chefs battling out the World Cup of Bar Food, Comida Di Buteco, each year in Bela Horizonte. Hardeep Singh Kohli, reports from the front.

More information

The secret to a delicious Brazilian Bean Risotto – Guilherme Melo

The World Cup of Brazilian Bar Food – Hardeep Singh Kholi

 Capybaras (Shutterstock)

Capybaras. Photo from Shutterstock.

Capturing it all on film

The Amazon is a tough place to take photos. Moisture and humidity will play havoc with your equipment. And the low, varying light levels challenge even the most technically adept shooter. Thankfully, our resident photographic guru, Steve Davey is on hand to tell you all the tricks of the trade for taking amazing Amazon photos. And protecting your precious gear at the same time.

If it’s inspiration you’re after, look no further than the amazing photos taken by our readers.

More information

Shooting photographs in the jungle – Steve Davey

Readers' Photos

Amazonian Tribe (Shutterstock)

Everything you need to know

Ready to start planning your trip? Our Brazil Travel Guide is the perfect place to start. Make sure you drop by our Brazil Essential Info page too, for more everyday (but equally vital) information.

If you have a particular question about Brazil, pop over to the myWanderlust Forum, where our knowledgeable community are ready to spring into action and share all that they know. Or check out the questions people have already asked about Brazil. The answer to yours might already be there.

More information

Brazil Travel Guide – Wanderlust Team

Brazil Essential Info – Wanderlust Team

MyWanderlust Forum

Brazil Q&A

 Beach football (Shutterstock)

Beach football, Rio. Photo from Shutterstock.

Ready to go?

Here’s a selection of fantastic tours offered by our partners. From cruises to the heart of the Amazon and intense wildlife encounters to colorful, vibrant tours of Brazil’s cities and beaches, there’s something to suit every taste and budget.

More information

Our Trip Finder can help you find adventures in Brazil

Related Articles