Brazil: Travel/Tourist Information Guide
Brazil is famous for beaches and the Amazon. It is probably the most expensive country for tourism in South America. Crime rates are high and information on travel safety should be researched before visiting. Brazil is the largest country in South America and the fifth largest in the world. The dominant language is Portuguese with German as the second most spoken language. English is not commonly spoken except in areas frequented by tourists. The country's currency is the real (R$). It has a large tourism industry and has waived tourist visa requirements for many nations. The country has a tropical climate with temperate regions in the south. Its system of rivers, vast rainforests, and indigenous wildlife make the country one of the most biodiverse in the world.
The country is a former Portuguese colony, so it has a good mix of ethnic and colonial heritage. Its art, music, dance and other traditions were influenced by Western European, Amerindian and African culture. Many music genres originated from Brazil like samba, bossa nova, and maracas. Dance is also an important part of the country's culture. These traditions come together at festivals that attract tourists every year. Festivities last for almost a week and includes day-to-night street parades, parties, and other carnival activities.The most popular is the Carnival of Brazil that every region participates in some way.
Regions of Brazil
The federal capital of Brazil is the city of Brasília. It is located in the Brazilian highlands of Central West Brazil. Being landlocked in the middle of the country, it has no beaches, but there are other eco-tourism activities for tourists. It is also a popular venue for major concerts and film festivals. Four airports operate here with international and domestic flights: Brasília International Airport, Campo Grande International Airport, Marechel Rondon International Airport and Santa Genoveva Airport. Pantanal is the largest and most diverse wetland in the world. It is comprised of 12 municipalities with a variety of ecosystems including forests, savannahs, sand banks and open pastures. Bonito, in the mountain of Bodoquena located in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, has beautiful crystal waters and prehistoric caves. There are many available tours that can be booked through tourist agencies. There are also many national parks like Chapada dos Guimarães, the National Park of Emas, and the National Park of Brasília. The city has a rich cultural history that can be seen in its colonial cities like Cidade de Goiás and Pirenópolis. The former is a UNESCO World Heritage site while the latter is home to the 22-meter high Abade Waterfall.
This is the largest region in Brazil comprising almost half of the territory. However, it is also the most unexplored and least populous region in Brazil. The region is served by the Belém International Airport and Manaus International Airport, which both have domestic and international flights. Its main feature is the Amazon with 60% of its total area found here. The jungle is within the state of Amazonas that borders Colombia, Venezuela and Peru. Its largest and capital city is Manaus, which is located within the rainforest at the converging point of the Solimões and Negro rivers. Aside from the Amazon jungle, tourists also visit its parks including Ponta Negra Cultural, Sport and Leisure Park, Municipal Park of Mindú, and Adolpho Ducke Botanical Garden. Near the mouth of the Amazon River is Belém, the largest and capital city of the state of Pará. Because of its strategic location, it has one of the country's busiest ports along with its airport and a bus station. It is a modern city in the middle of the Amazon with many other ecotourism sites like the Rodrigues Alves Wood Botanical Garden and the Amazon Biopark Zoo. Nearby is Ilha do Marajó that is known for its pororoca phenomenon, a tidal bore formed by the surrounding rivers. Also close is Ilha do Mosqueiro, which has 18 freshwater beaches that are popular with tourists during the dry season. Alter do Chão just off the coast of Santarém has been dubbed as the "Brazilian Caribbean" and is similarly popular for its river beaches.
Salvador is one of the first colonial cities in the Americas and is the capital of the state of Bahia. It has been dubbed as "Brazil's capital of happiness" because of its endless parties and festivals. It is also well-known for its colonial architecture, especially in the old city center of Pelourinho. Recife is the largest and the capital city of the state of Pernambuco. Many visitors come to the city to explore the city's many historical churches like the Convento Franciscano de Santo Antônio and the São Pedro dos Clérigos. It is also the birthplace of many popular music styles including frevo and Mangue Beat. The coast of Natal is lined with the many beaches of Northeast Brasil such as Parrachos de Maracajaú, Genipabu, and Ponta Negra. It is the capital of Rio Grande do Norte and is considered one of the calmer cities in the country, yet still quite popular among tourists. Fortaleza is the capital of the state of Ceará. Visitors can visit Museu de Arte e Cultura Popular, Praça do Ferreira, and Praça José de Alencar. Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago in Brazil that is a protected wildlife sanctuary. Visitors can watch dolphins, sea turtles and other marine animals in their natural habitats. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with many nice beaches including the popular Praia do Leão and Baía do Sancho.
Porto Alegre translates to "Joyful Habor." The city is located on the eastern bank of Guiaba Lake at the spot where five different rivers form the large lagoon called Lagoa dos Patos. Attractions to see here are the Piratini Palace, Porto Alegre Botanical Garden, and Farroupilha Park. The city of Blumenau is in the Itajaí Valley. It is home to a very large population of German immigrants. As such, Oktoberfest every year attracts millions of visitors throughout the month of October. The capital state of Paraná is Curitiba, and is a very large and prosperous city in the south. It has a good public transportation system that tourists can take advantage of when visiting its multicultural attractions like the Jerusalem Fountain, Arab Memorial, and Japan Square. Florianópolis is divided between mainland Brazil and Santa Catarina island. As a coastal and island city, its has a total of 42 beaches with the most popular ones being Ponta das Canas, Campeche, and the nudist beach Galheta. Tourists can choose from a variety of activities like paragliding, scuba diving, and surfing. Pelotas in Rio Grande do Sul is nicknamed "city of sweets" because of its signature bakery sweets. It has several art galleries namely the Museu de Arte Leopoldo Gotuzzo (MALG), Casa Paraleia, and Espaço de Arte Ágape.
Rio de Janeiro is the home of Brazil's icon, the large Christ the Redeemer Statue on Corcovado mountain. Part of the city has been named as a World Heritage Site and its harbor is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Its beaches are world-famous including Copacabana and Ipanema. São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil. Unlike Rio, which targets recreational tourists, Sampa is better known as a business tourism city perfect for business travelers. Also, part of the Atlantic rain forest is within the borders of the city and features several parks like Parque do Ibirapuera, Parque Estadual da Cantareira, and Parque do Carmo. The capital of the state of Minais Gerais is Belo Horizonte, which means "Beautiful Horizon." Its name is derived from its location on a plateau surrounded by the Curral del Rey mountain range. The Pampulha area has many famous architectural icons and the Palácio das Artes complex has theaters, galleries, and shops. Ouro Preto in Minais Gerais is an old colonial town with baroque architecture. Points of interest include Teatro Municipal, Casa dos Contos, and Capela do Padre Faria. Vitória is the small capital of Espírito Santo. It is known for Convento da Penha, a 16th century Franciscan convent atop a hill. There are several beaches to visit like Praia da Costa, Coqueiral de Itaparica, and Itapuã.
There are large distances between major cities and attractions. The most common and cheapest way to travel is by over-night bus. Buses can be expensive compared to other South American countries at around $100 for an over-night bus. Visitors with fixed schedules should book months in advance. Flight tickets at low cost airlines could cost just as much as the fare for last minute buses.