Brazil holidays

Experience Brazil

Best Places to Visit

The capital of Brazil, Brasilia, is often overlooked by travellers but is certainly a gem worth exploring. An architectural masterpiece, Brasilia was primarily designed by renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer. Several buildings in the city are UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Brasilia basket-shaped cathedral and the city's national congress. Dom Bosco’s dream of a utopian and futurist city can certainly be seen in the unusual and endearing buildings that compliment Brasilia’s landscape.

Perhaps the country's most famous city, Rio de Janeiro is also one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in the country. Boasting gorgeous beaches, historical landmarks like Sugarloaf Mountain and a lively nightlife, this Brazilian city has lots of charm and should not be missed.

The most cosmopolitan of all Brazilian cities, Sao Paulo is home to a wide range of different cultures, nationalities and ethnicities. This city is also one of the richest – the spotless pavements and array of finely manicured hands are a tell-tale sign of the wealth here. That said, Sao Paulo is a fascinating place and the diversity of its residents offers visitors a host of exploration and adventure - don't be afraid to immerse yourself in the local lifestyle, as many residents will be happy to talk to you at length.

Situated right at the epicentre of the Amazon Rainforest, Manaus serves not only as the region's commercial hub but as one of the country's best cultural centres, making it an excellent place to take a trip for an authentic taste of Brazilian life. From stunning examples of 16th-century colonial architecture to one of the most famous opera houses in the country, Manaus is the place to go for those wanting to take in Brazil's history and art.

Florianopolis is a lesser known destination but is definitely worth a visit. This city is a delightful balance between modern metropolis and colonial settlement. Tourists can enjoy the perfect beaches and trendy cafés while admiring the colonial fortresses and quaint side street craft markets. Throughout the country, the towns and cities each have their own unique personality, but also provide plenty of ways to experience traditional Brazil as it is known on the world stage. Visit any of the main communities and you are assured of a memorable experience with plenty of cultural activities and photo opportunities.

Top Landmarks

One of the most famous landmarks in the country, Christ the Redeemer has become a national icon. The statue of Jesus Christ is located at the top of Corcovado Mountain and is not only a spectacular landmark but provides the best spot from which to take in a breath-taking view of Rio de Janeiro below. Standing at almost 40 metres high, this statue literally can't be missed.

The Teatro Amazonas is a well-known opera house in Manaus, a city located in the beautiful Amazon Rainforest. This amazing structure is something to behold, with the exterior covered in almost 40,000 ceramic tiles and the interior decorated with the finest Parisian furnishings. The opera house still produces live performances, which are a wonderful treat after taking in the extraordinary building's design.

Nestled in between Brazil and Argentina, Iguaçu Falls is a natural wonder. A large waterfall system consisting of almost 300 separate waterfalls, the Iguacu Falls is an impressive sight. One of the well-photographed falls is Devil's Throat, which is an 82-metre high, U-shaped spectacle. Tourists can reach the falls from Brazil, Argentina or Paraguay.

Sugarloaf Mountain is the perfect place from which to admire the beauty of the city of Rio de Janeiro. Located at the mouth of the Guanabara Bay, the mountain is named after its shape, which resembles a sugarloaf. A cable car can be taken to the top of the 390-metre granite landmark. The best time to ascend the mountain is at sunset when the city is at its best.

Entertainment

It is no secret that the best nightlife and entertainment can be found in the exciting city of Rio de Janeiro. In this city, the party doesn't end until the sun comes up. Rio is famous for its plethora of dance halls which play thumping tunes until the early hours. There are also many bars and pubs for those travellers who are simply looking to enjoy a few quiet drinks.

The highlight for many tourists to the region is the opportunity to dance along to traditional Brazilian rhythms. Whether it's a modern club where the local students come to shake things up, or a more formal establishment where the city's elderly residents show everyone how it's really done, there is something for every taste and dance ability.

One of the most entertaining events in all of the country is the world famous, annual carnival in Rio de Janeiro. While the carnival is celebrated countrywide, the parade and festivities in Rio are by far the best. From vibrant costumes and street fiestas to local food and musical extravaganzas, this event really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

There are also a few tamer activities which provide lots of entertainment nonetheless. Rio has a strong culture of drama and plays host to many high-end theatres. Showcasing everything from musicals and cabarets to Shakespearean ballads, there is bound to be something for everyone throughout the year.

Dining Out

Brazil's cuisine varies starkly from region to region and travellers will find the journey from city to city as tantalising for the taste buds as for the eyes. While there is a range of international options available for those who aren't feeling adventurous, there also are a few local dishes which should be tried. While most meals are reasonably priced, it is not unusual to find exorbitant prices for food at some of the country's many resorts.

The national dish, feijoada, can be found all over the country. Made from pork, black beans and dried beef, this hearty stew is usually served with rice and topped with sliced oranges. Tourists should be warned that this is quite a heavy dish and eating too much of it on the first go could lead to a sleepless night.

Brazil is also known for its excellent selection of seafood dishes, which can be found in any one of the country's north-eastern coastal towns. Moqueca (a seafood stew made with palm oil and coconut milk) and vatapá (paste made from shrimps, fish oil, manioc paste and coconut milk) are particularly delightful meals. There is a broad range of snack options which are perfect for a quick lunch.

Beach

Brazil has no shortage of beaches, all which would be a fine choice for any traveller looking for a bit of sun and sand. There are, however, a few locations that standout. The small island of Fernando de Noronha in the northeast of Brazil has some stellar options, including Praia do Sancho and Baía dos Porcos.

Romance

Rio de Janeiro is not only one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but one of the most romantic. From the breathtaking views of the city from Sugarloaf Mountain and drinks at the famous Copacabana Beach to a romantic day on the secluded beach of Recreio, there is no end to the romantic activities Rio has to offer.

Family

A vacation to Brazil can be just as exciting for children as it is for adults. There are many cities which are family friendly including Fortaleza, which is home to the Fortaleza beach park, a great water park on the country's northeastern coast. While many activities in Rio de Janeiro are not child friendly, the Rio Zoo is not one of them. Home to many different animals, the zoo offers a fun and informative visit.

Adventure

Brazil's abundance of naturally beautiful sites is not only great for aesthetic reasons but for adventure activities as well. Travellers looking for adrenaline pumping excursions should look into scuba diving in Arraial do Cabo, hiking in Tijuca National Park or river rafting along the Paraibuna River.

Our best deals in Brazil

Need to know

Language

The official language of Brazil is Portuguese, which is spoken all over the country. English is not prolifically spoken, even in the tourism and business industries, with many taxi drivers struggling to understand English-speaking foreigners. Spanish-speaking tourists should fare well as the language is close enough to Portuguese for Brazilian locals to understand. This is the only location in South America where Portuguese is dominant - throughout the rest of the continent, Spanish is more likely to be heard.

Currency

Brazil's official currency is the Brazilian real, which is divided into 100 centavos. Most credit cards are accepted by hotels, restaurants and stores, with Visa being the most popular. ATMs are widely available throughout all regions of the country. Currency can be made exchanged at all banks, travel agents, hotels and cambios (exchange offices). Travel currency cards are a good option for security, convenience and economy too, as they can often be used without incurring the kind of foreign exchange fees that you would pay on your debit or credit card.

Visas

Visas are required by nationals of all countries except nationals of those countries which have been granted an exemption, including citizens of the United Kingdom. United Kingdom nationals are permitted to enter the country without a visa for a period not exceeding 90 days. All travellers to the country need to be in possession of a passport which is valid for at least six months after leaving the country. Leave a few days, or maybe up to a week before your documents' expiration dates to allow for the risk of delays to your departure when returning to the UK.

Climate

Brazil's climate is temperate year-round. The country doesn't experience extreme temperatures, with both summer and winter remaining relatively mild. Summer spans December through to February and coincides with Brazilian school holidays and the Carnaval. During this period, temperatures rise to highs of 30°C in the north and up to 35°C in the south. Winter is at its peak in June and August, but the mercury tends not to drop lower than 15°C.

Main Airports

The largest international airport in the country is São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport. This airport receives traffic from all over the world, including from North America, Europe and the Emirates. From here, connections can be made to other airports in the country, including Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport and Brasilia International Airport.

Flight Options

The national airlines and main carriers in the country are TAM Airlines and GOL Airlines. British Airways and TAM Airlines fly into São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport and Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport from London-Heathrow. The average time of a direct flight between London and Sao Paulo is about 12 hours.

Travel Advice

There aren't many low-budget airlines which make the trip from London, but tourists can look out for seasonal deals. High season runs from December through to March, with prices escalating especially during February when the annual Carnaval takes place. This is also when the crowds are at their peak. The best time to go is after Carnaval or during the winter period between August and November. Book well in advance for the best fares, or at the last minute for bargain deals.

Other Transport Options

It is possible to take a bus into the country from one of its neighbours, which is ideal if you are travelling around South America. The main routes are from the capitals of Buenos Aires, Asunción, Montevideo, Santiago de Chile to Brazil's busiest city, Sao Paulo. Such journeys can take up to a few days.

Getting Around

There are several domestic airports which make internal air travel a convenient option. Both the inner and inter-city bus networks are extensive, but the train lines are generally only used for scenic journeys through the Brazilian countryside. Hiring a car is relatively simple and while the roads in the large city centres are well-maintained, the same cannot be said about roads on the outskirts.

Bus

The network of buses in the country is extensive and the buses are of high quality – boasting full air conditioning throughout. Both inter and inner-city bus services are available. Long distance buses, especially premium services, provide the most comfortable rides.

Car

France has a very well-developed system of highways, most of which are toll roads. Roads are well signposted, but cities can be confusing to navigate. Renting a car is simple and many companies allow visitors to book before arrival.

Train

The rail network in Brazil is not nearly as extensive as the bus network, but there are a few lines which may be of use to tourists. While the rail network cannot be relied upon for navigating within or between cities, there are a few scenic routes.

MAP

BRAZIL`S WEATHER TODAY

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AVERAGE RAINFALL (mm)

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FACTS

  1. Brazil is the fifth-largest country in the world, and is the largest in South America and Latin America. It is also the only Portuguese-speaking country in the Americas, and the largest in the world to use the language.
  2. Its land area is equal to nearly half of the entire South American continent (47.3%), and it has borders with every other country on the continent except for Chile and Ecuador. Its national animal is the macaw parrot.
  3. Along with all of its other 'world's largest' accolades, Brazil also has the highest Roman Catholic population found anywhere in the world.

FACTS

  1. Brazil is the fifth-largest country in the world, and is the largest in South America and Latin America. It is also the only Portuguese-speaking country in the Americas, and the largest in the world to use the language.
  2. Its land area is equal to nearly half of the entire South American continent (47.3%), and it has borders with every other country on the continent except for Chile and Ecuador. Its national animal is the macaw parrot.
  3. Along with all of its other 'world's largest' accolades, Brazil also has the highest Roman Catholic population found anywhere in the world.

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