As the largest country in South America (and the only one that speaks Portuguese), Brazil is a true force to be reckoned with. Everything here is big – big cities, big waterfalls, one very big rainforest, and of course BIG personalities. Ironically, the only thing that is very small in Brazil is swimwear – the smaller the better in fact.
Whether you’re here for the beaches, the culture, the food or the festivities, with Trafalgar we’ll ensure you get to enjoy some of the best things to do in Brazil. Here’s just a taste of what you can expect…
1. Learn about the tradition of Carnival at a local samba school
Colourful, extravagant, rhythmical and utterly iconic, Carnival is the world’s biggest and best-known festival. Known for its flamboyant (and barely there) costumes, fantastical floats and week-long street parties, Carnival brings the entire country together and pulls in hundreds of thousands of tourists every single year. At the heart of the celebrations – samba, a genre that was formerly considered the music of slaves and poor folk. However, in the early 1920s the first samba schools were formed, and today it is these schools who dance so magnificently on floats across the city, each contending to be crowned the winner of Carnival.
When you travel to Brazil with Trafalgar, we’ll dive into this very special culture with a visit to one of Rio’s top samba schools. Here, you’ll learn how the school prepares for the pomp and ceremony of Carnival, discover the colourful costumes and even learn a few samba moves for yourself.
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2. Witness a true force of nature at Iguassu Falls
Spanning an area of 2.7 kilometres wide and comprising a system of 275 waterfalls, the sight (and sound) of Iguassu Falls is something that can only be truly appreciated in real life. A sheer force of nature and a vision that takes your breath away, it was the late US first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who captured the magnificence of Iguassu most eloquently when she exclaimed ‘poor Niagara’ upon seeing the falls. In fact, Iguassu is nearly three times as wide as Niagara and significantly more impressive. The falls also create a border between Brazil and Argentina, meaning you can enjoy views from both countries.
And with Trafalgar, you’ll do just that. On the Argentinian side (the side that allows you to get up close and personal with the falls), you’ll visit the UNESCO listed Iguassu National park and take a ride on the open-air ecological train to the main attraction – the Devil’s Throat. On the Brazilian side (the side that is best for incredible views of the falls), you can enjoy Iguassu from a different angle, or opt to take a boat ride to the base of the falls for a wet and wild experience. On either side of the falls, you’ll also have the chance to spot wildlife aplenty.
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3. Sample all of the Brazilian flavours
From cheesy rolls to pastel de nata, succulent Brazilian BBQ to the classic variations on rice and beans, Brazil packs a serious flavour punch. Taste your way around the country devouring cheesy Pão de Queijo, flavourful Moqueca de Peixe (seafood stew), coconutty Bobó de Camarão (shrimp) and decadent brigadeiros (fudgy chocolate balls), and of course always washed down with a potent caipirinha, Brazil’s national drink. We’ll teach you how to mix the perfect caipirinha while dining at a local churrascaria, so you can continue to enjoy this tropical cocktail once you return home.
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4. Stand in the shadow of Christ the Redeemer
Standing at 98 feet (30 metres) tall atop Mount Corcovado, his arms outstretched as he overlooks the city below, Christ the Redeemer has become an iconic symbol for both the city of Rio de Janeiro, and the nation of Brazil. Completed in 1931, Christ the Redeemer is the largest Art Deco style sculpture in the world and fourth largest statue of Jesus Christ anywhere on earth. Annually, around 2 million people make the pilgrimage up the mountain to visit this true icon, making this one of the best things to do in Brazil.
So of course, we couldn’t miss a visit on our Trafalgar Latin America tours. In between sunning yourself on Copacabana Beach and rising the cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain, we’ll ride the tram up Mount Corcovado to visit Christo himself. Standing in the shadow of his outstretched arms as you survey the city from on high, this is a truly unmissable pinch me moment you won’t want to miss.
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What things to do in Brazil are at the top of your wish list? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to check out Trafalgar’s range of tours to Brazil.