Brazil, like South America as a whole, hosts many amazing destinations if you have the time to see them all. We didn’t but were still able to have some great experiences during our time here.
Unlike the majority of South America, Brazilians speak Portuguese, not Spanish. Knowing a few key phrases will help as sometimes not even a little Spanish will do any good.
Having a phrasebook or Google translate will help, but it’s not too difficult to pick up a few key phrases.
Our ‘first words’ were bon dia (good day / hello), obrigado (thank you, obrigado if you are female), and frango (chicken!). A lot to the street food we had involved frango!
Places we visited
Rio de Janeiro
Our journey started in Rio, a city that seems to have emerged from a jungle. Huge chunks of land still dense with forest. Home to a number of natural and man-made wonders, it’s not a city that should be missed if visiting Brazil. See our full Rio post here.
A few hours drive (plus an hour ferry ride) lies Ilha Grande. With jungle walking routes and many beach options, this is an ideal location for some rest and recuperation.
Lopes Mendez is the best of the beach options. It offers a long, undeveloped beach with clean sand and waves big enough to surf or bodyboard.
From the town, there’s a nearby peak offering early morning guided walks to see the sunrise from the top.
Transfers can be arranged manually, but services are available to and from both Rio de Janeiro and Paraty for around the same cost. Both of these are popular and geographically convenient stops before and after this jungle island break.
Paraty is a very pretty colonial town on the east coast of Brazil. It’s a few hours bus ride from either Rio de Janeiro, Ihla Grande, or Sao Paulo.
The old town is pretty much run for tourists, with plenty of places to eat, drink, and shop for souvenirs along the pretty cobbled streets.
From the docks and beaches, you can find activities including boat trips, sea kayaking, and bodyboarding. Not the best place for ‘beach days’ (definitely do a boat trip for this!) but definitely a very nice place for a change of pace. Slowing down here is very easy to do!
A very busy, bustling city, with some interesting history and stories. A wide variety of walking tours will allow you to experience different aspects of the city.
TOP TIP! Beware of your belongings!
We were warned by a taxi driver and a passer-by that the area, and the city, are dangerous. This was confirmed by a brazen snatch and dash attempt on one of our phones outside a cafe. We’re sure there are positives to be had here but it was one of our least favourite places to be. And, sadly one of the worst travel experiences we have had.
Located at the border with Paraguay and Argentina, Foz do Iguaçu is home to the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls. The falls are recognised as a natural wonder of the world. While perhaps not as powerful as the more well known Niagara Falls but the scale of Iguazu Falls is epic.
Iguazu Falls appear to stretch for miles, with hundreds of individual cascades of water, each providing a new landscape to marvel at. The Brazilian side of the falls allows for greater panoramic views and can be experienced in half a day. Buses are available from the city centre directly to and from the entrance.
Though not as epic as the Argentinian falls experience, this is definitely not to be missed.