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21 Things to Put on your Brazilian Bucket List

Rio de Janeiro is well known as one of the most colorful and eclectic global cities in the world, and you could spend a whole lifetime there without taking in everything the city has to offer. But give yourself the chance to venture outside of Rio, and you will find that the whole nation of Brazil has amazing things to see, do, and experience that you won’t find in any other country on the planet. From urban charms, to exciting history, to natural wonders, Brazil has it all. Here’s our ultimate list of the 21 things to do on your Brazilian bucket list, including attraction in Rio and far beyond.

1. Bird Watching in the Pantanal Wetlands

It’s well known that the world’s largest rainforest is mostly located in Brazil thanks to the Amazon, but did you know that Brazil also has the world’s largest wetland habitat? The Pantanal floodplain in Southeastern Brazil is home to a hugely diverse population of wildlife, and is considered one of the best places in the world to go bird watching. Just make sure to go with a guide, as the ecosystem is very fragile.



2. Tour a Favela in Rio de Janeiro

Rio’s Favelas are located around the outskirts of the city, and contain some of the most vibrant and authentic local culture that you will find anywhere in the world. From good food to great music, Rio’s Favelas have it all. However, Rio’s Favelas also have high crime rates and can be dangerous if you don’t know them well, so you should only go with an adventure touring group and never on your own.



3.Take in the Beauty of Iguazu Falls

This waterfall range, on the very southern tip of Brazil, is one of the widest and most powerful in the world, and certainly provides some of the easiest viewing for a natural wonder of its size. The falls are bordered by the city of Foz do Iguaçu, in the state of Paraná, and catching a tour from the city is an easy way to experience the falls’ majesty.





4. Experience the Wonder of “Christ the Redeemer”

A perennial favorite on “7 Wonders of the World” lists, Christ the Redeemer is one of the biggest cultural icons in Rio, and a must see attraction if you travel there. The statue is located on the top of Corcovado, and can be viewed from anywhere in the city. But to get the best view, you can take a train right to the statue’s base and gaze up.


Image by Kirilos


5. Count Fish at the Porto de Galinhas

While Rio usually gets all the credit for beautiful Brazilian beaches, Porto de Galinhas in in the municipality of Ipojuca, Pernambuco, Brazil has some very unique charms. The natural pools on the edge of the beach are bustling with beautiful fish you can count from the shore.


Image by Leonardo Shinagawa


6. Scale Corcovado

While the world famous white Christ statue that sits atop this mountain gives it its notoriety, Corcovado itself is an attraction worth experiencing. You can take a rail trolley to the top for magnificent views, or try hiking up the steep peak on foot along one of its trails. Just be aware that all sides of Corcovado are exposed, and the sun can be brutal.


Image by Edgar Jiménez


7. Step Back in Time at the São Miguel das Missões Mission

São Miguel das Missões is a town in the Southern Brazil state of Rio Grande do Sul, and is home to one of the most magnificent and well preserved missions from the early colonial period in Brazil. Stepping foot here is like walking through the 17th century, an experience that you will never forget.


Image by Kátia Goretti Dias Vazzoller


8. Strut Down Ipanema beach in Rio

In a city known for beaches, Ipanema stands out as one of the crown jewels of Rio. The beach is surrounded by developments, but has been tastefully preserved and provides access to clear water and magnificent sun.



9. Dive the Clear Waters of Bonito

The town of Bonito, in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, seems like a quiet destination at first, but provides one of the best places for snorkeling and diving for wildlife enthusiasts in the globe. The rivers surrounding Bonito are crystal clear and teeming with unique fish.


Image By Sidney Michaluate


10. Celebrate the New Year at Copacabana beach

Copacabana beach is the second famous stretch of Rio coastline on this list, and just as deserving of a visit as Ipanema. Copacabana beach is especially splendid on New Year’s Eve, as it plays host to Rio’s massive fireworks display over its pristine sands.


Image by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo


11. Walk Through History in Ouro Preto

The town of Ouro Preto, in the state of Minas Gerais, is an incredibly well preserved mining town from Brazil’s mid colonial period, and is steeped in rich history and architecture that makes it a destination worth visiting. UNESCO sure seems to think so, as they have designated the town a “world heritage site.”


Image by Glauco Umbelino


12. Explore Nature Without Leaving Rio in Tijuca National Park

The Tijuca rainforest is located entirely within the borders of Rio, and is the largest urban forest in the world. But just because it’s within Rio’s borders doesn’t mean that it isn’t overrunning with natural beauty, and a day trip through Tijuca will definitely lead to some unique wildlife sightings.


 Image by Halleypo


13. See The Best Planned City in the World, Brasila

The capital city of Brazil, Brasila, was only built in the 20th century, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t bustling with history: in fact, it’s the only city built in the 1900s that is recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site. The whole city is beautifully planned and built, and walking down its streets can feel like you are in a park.


Image by Portal da Copa


14. Experience the Good Life at Parque Lage

Located at the foot of Corcovado, this public park is dominated by the massive historic mansion of former industrialist Enrique Lage. The mansion was remodeled in the Italian style in the early 1920’s, and was donated to the city and made into a public park in the 1960’s. Today, you can walk through the halls of one of the most exquisite mansions in the world, for free!

Image by  Ana Carina Lauriano 


15. Learn of Atrocities at Olinda

Part of learning about history is learning about the sad things that shouldn’t be forgotten, and a visit to Olinda in the state of Pernambuco meets that criteria. The city has a ton of beautiful architecture, but is historically most important as the former center of Brazil’s slave trade.


Image by Prefeitura de Olinda


16. Take In a Show At The Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro

This theater, located in Rio, is a great place to take in a local play and get steeped in the theatrical culture of Brazil. Even if you don’t speak Portuguese seeing a play here for the architecture alone is worth the ticket price.


Image by  Amanderson2


17. Relax in Jijoca de Jericoacoara

Jijoca de Jericoacoara, located in the state of Ceará, is home to some of the most relaxing beaches you could ever dream of, with crystal clear waters and white sand. And as a bonus, locals leave hammocks strung up for anyone to kick up their feet.



18. Get Blown Away by Gold at Sao Francisco da Penitencia Church

This church, located in Rio, looks like it was dipped in gold paint, and is absolutely radiant in its bright gilded colors. Near downtown and recently restored, you can visit this church for a tour or service and take in the over the top golden decorations for some very unique sightseeing.


Image by Enrique López-Tamayo B


19. Walk on the Amazon River in the Parque Nacional de Anavilhanas

Anavilhanas National Park, in the state of Amazonas, includes more than 400 islands that dot the Amazon river and give visitors a chance to connect with nature in a unique way. Visiting this river archipelago will let you take in the beauty and power of the Amazon river from the safety of dry land, while the river’s roaring waters surround you on all side.


Image by  Silvia Prevideli


20. Stretch Your Legs in Morro de São Paulo

This island located in the state of Bahia has some of amazing and secluded pristine beaches, but you will have to be comfortable getting a bit active to visit them: the island doesn’t allow any cars, and all visitors must explore by foot or bicycle. Luckily, the island isn’t too large, and you can take in all of the natural beauty in a nice afternoon of walking through the sand.


Image by André Urel


21. Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

The tradition of Carnival has become so synonymous with Brazil and Rio in particular, that no bucket list of things to do in Brazil would be complete without it. There are many cities around the country and around the globe with beautiful Carnival celebrations, but NOBODY does it as big and glamorous as Rio. For a taste of the music and culture of Brazil that rivals some of the best festivals in the world, Carnival in Rio is a must.


Image by Alan Betensley


This year only, Rio will be hosting the 2016 Summer Games. Truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for residents and visitors of Brazil. Want to hear about the best way to plan? See our guide below!

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