The Top 17 Best Cities to Visit in Brazil


Must-Visit Destinations for Your Ultimate Brazil Vacation

Brazil is the largest country in South America and one of the most diverse places on earth. From the Amazon rainforest to iconic beaches to fascinating colonial towns, Brazil offers incredible destinations for travelers. Here are the 17 best cities to visit in Brazil for culture, beaches, nature and more.

1. Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is likely the first place you think of when imagining Brazil. Situated between the mountains and the sea, Rio is renowned for its stunning landscapes. The giant statue of Christ the Redeemer towers over the city, while beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema are perfect for sunbathing and people watching. Take the cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain for panoramic views or dance the night away at a samba club. Don’t miss a visit to the Maracanã Stadium or the Escadaria Selarón staircase, covered in colorful tiles. With its beautiful setting and fun-loving residents, Rio de Janeiro makes a fabulous vacation destination.

2. São Paulo

The largest city in Brazil at over 12 million people, São Paulo may not be as picturesque as Rio but it has an energy and cosmopolitan vibe all its own. This is the business and cultural capital, with first-rate art museums like the MASP and a dining scene boasting everything from molecular gastronomy to bustling pizza parlors. Shopaholics flock to Rua Oscar Freire, with its luxury boutiques, while the historic center features architectural gems dating back to the city’s coffee boom in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Don’t miss Brazilian favorites like feijoada (black bean stew) and caipirinhas (cocktails made from sugar cane liquor and lime). São Paulo dazzles with its diversity and dynamism.

3. Salvador

The capital of the state of Bahia, Salvador is considered the heart of Afro-Brazilian culture. The historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with cobblestone streets and brightly colored colonial buildings. Cap off a day of sightseeing with sunset views from the Elevador Lacerda, an antique elevator connecting the upper and lower towns. Salvador is also renowned for its African-influenced cuisine, music, and Carnaval celebrations. Visit the Mercado Modelo to shop for handcrafted goods and watch capoeira performers. With its lively festivals, sounds of drumbeats, and sacred Candomblé ceremonies, Salvador immerses you in Brazil’s African roots.

4. Belo Horizonte

The third largest city in Brazil, Belo Horizonte was designed at the turn of the 20th century to be the country’s planned capital. That honor went to Brasília instead, but Belo Horizonte still boasts a wealth of important architecture, museums, and green space. Stroll along the shaded sidewalks of the Pampulha Architectural Ensemble and take a boat ride on the artificial lake, surrounded by iconic Oscar Niemeyer buildings. The Museu de Artes e Ofícios showcases folk art and artisan crafts from across Brazil. The buzzing Savassi and Lourdes neighborhoods offer chic cafés, live music venues, and stylish shops. Belo Horizonte is a modern, progressive city with a relaxed charm.

5. Ouro Preto

Step back in time wandering the cobblestone streets of Ouro Preto, a beautifully preserved colonial mining town dating to the 17th century. One of Brazil’s best examples of Baroque architecture, Ouro Preto was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. Marvel at masterpieces like the Church of São Francisco de Assis, adorned with 4kg of gold, and stroll down Rua Direita with rows of two-story whitewashed homes and wrought iron balconies. Learn about the history of gold mining or browse handicrafts at the Museu da Inconfidência. Tour nearby Mina da Passagem mine or ride the funicular down to the valley below for gorgeous views. Ouro Preto transports visitors to the height of the gold rush.

6. Paraty

For a charming coastal getaway, head to Paraty, set amid jungled mountains jutting into the bay. recognizable by its picturesque historic center and cobblestone streets. Go for a boat tour around the islands in the bay or relax on neighboring beaches like Praia do Jabaquara or Praia do Sono. Sample delicious seafood, browse the handicrafts stalls, or try cachaça at one of Paraty’s many distilleries. Paraty comes alive for festivals like Carnaval and Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty, celebrating Brazilian and international literature. With its natural beauty, relaxed pace, and creative scene, Paraty is an alluring escape.

7. Olinda

Perched on a hillside overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the colorful colonial town of Olinda charms visitors with its mosaic-tiled churches, artist workshops, and lively festivals. Wander through the historic churches of Igreja São Roque, Igreja da Sé, and Igreja NS do Carmo, decorated with ornate wood carvings. For fantastic views, climb the church towers of Igreja NS do Monserrate or Convento de São Francisco. Browse works by local artists, then relax at an outdoor café. Don’t miss Oliveira’s exuberant street party during Carnaval or the Frevo dance festival. With the ocean breezes, tranquil plazas, and music floating through the streets, Olinda is an artful paradise.

8. Brasília

Built from scratch in just 41 months in the 1950s as the new capital, Brasília is a city shaped by some of the top modernist architects in Brazil. The airplane-shaped design was revolutionary for its time. Visit the National Congress Building, which looks like a futuristic saucer landing in the middle of a reflective pool. The ** Metropolitan Cathedral** has stained glass windows in an angular crown shape, while the Three Powers Plaza epitomizes the modernist vision. While some may find Brasília’s endless concrete andaxial layout too repetitive, this intriguing planned city offers a look into Brazil’s future-focused optimism of the mid 20th century.

9. Florianópolis

Nicknamed Floripa, the resort island of Florianópolis is beloved for its idyllic beaches, surfing, and laidback lifestyle. Praia Mole, backed by soaring dunes, and Praia do Rosa, flanked by cliffs, are two prime spots for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports. Pedal along the beachfront bike path or stroll through Lagoa da Conceição‘s lively district. The summer crowds mean buzzing nightlife and lots of live music. Inland, explore Balneário Camboriú’s Cable Car, Cristo Luz, one of the world’s largest statues, or the UNESCO biosphere reserve of Serra do Tabuleiro. Floripa offers the best of the coast and countryside.

10. Bonito

Nature lovers flock to the small town of Bonito for its otherworldly landscapes and eco-activities. Home to some of Brazil’s clearest rivers and most photogenic waterfalls, Bonito allows visitors to swim, raft, snorkel and dive in pristine waters teeming with fish. Don’t miss a dip in Balneário Municipal, Abismo Anhumas, or Aquário Natural. The must-do adventure here is floating down the lazy Rio da Prata and watching the jungle glide by. At night, go on a guided tour of Gruta da Lago Azul cave to see the stalactites and bioluminescent lake. Bonito shows an untouched side of Brazil that is breathtaking to experience.

11. Jericoacoara

Looking like a tropical paradise out of a magazine, Jericoacoara (known as Jeri) features white sand dunes and turquoise waters reminiscent of the Caribbean. Take a dune buggy into the Parque Nacional dos Lençóis Maranhenses to admire the windswept landscape and lagoons. Rappel down rock faces or surf the powerful breaks off Praia do Futuro. At sunset, hike up Pedra Furada, Tatajuba or another sandstone peak to watch the sky light up over the dunes. The chilled out beach town has an alternative bohemian vibe, with music and bonfires on the beach at night. For a rustic, relaxing retreat, head to this northwest Brazilian gem.

12. Foz do Iguaçu

Situated on the edge of Brazil’s border with Argentina and Paraguay, Foz do Iguaçu is home to the astonishing Iguazu Falls, listed as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The massive cascades, with 275 individual drops up to 80 meters high, are an awe-inspiring display of nature’s wonder. Walkways let you get up close to smaller falls like Salto Floriano and Devil’s Throat. Enjoy panoramic views from helicopters or speedboats, then get soaked on a boat ride directly into the falls! In the evening, visit Itaipu Dam, the world’s second largest hydroelectric producer with a laser light show at night. The power and majesty of Iguazu Falls make Foz do Iguaçu an unforgettable destination.

13. Tiradentes

One of Brazil’s best-preserved historic towns from the colonial period, Tiradentes transports you back to the 18th century. The picturesque narrow streets are lined with charming buildings, churches, museums, galleries, and charming inns. Climb the hillside Santuario de Senhor dos Passos church for scenic views over the red-tiled rooftops. Attend Festa de São João in June, when the town honors their patron saint with processions, folk dancing, Mass, and traditional foods like rice, beans, and roasted chicken. Visit Casa dos Contos to learn about the historic gold mines. With its winding alleys, baroque churches, and quaint cafés, Tiradentes is the perfect country retreat.

14. Porto Seguro

The landing spot of Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral in 1500, Porto Seguro is packed with history and natural beauty. Join a 4×4 expedition to the Parque Nacional Monte Pascoal rainforest, home to endangered species like the puma and the red-browed amazon parrot. Take an organized day trip to the sunkissed Praia do Espelho or tranquil Praia do Apaga Fogo. In the historic center, visit the colorful colonial buildings along Rua Direita, as well as Igreja NS da Pena church and Museu de Porto Seguro. Stop at Praia de Taperapuã to see the handprints and signatures left by travelers like Pedro Cabral. With ancient ruins, pretty beaches, and lush jungles, Porto Seguro provides discovery beyond the sun and sand.

15. Búzios

A charming resort town just a few hours from Rio, Búzios attracts celebrities and high society crowds with its stylish atmosphere and beautiful beaches. Stretching along a peninsula, the coast alternates between lagoons perfect for water sports and scenic beaches lined with rustic fishing boats. Praia da Ferradura and Praia da Armação are two most popular spots. Visit the trendy shops and restaurants along Rua das Pedras or enjoy waterfront dining overlooking the boats on Praia dos Ossos. Take a sunset cruise, try your luck at deep sea fishing, or opt for a relaxing couple’s massage. With glamorous energy and iconic views, Búzios is an ideal weekend getaway or extended vacation.

16. Ilha Grande

Although just a short ferry from Rio de Janeiro, Ilha Grande feels like you’ve landed on a remote tropical island with its unspoiled beaches and lush mountainous terrain. Activities include excellent hiking trails to waterfalls and through the Atlantic Forest, as well as snorkeling, surfing, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding. Relax on secluded palm-lined beaches like Praia Lopes Mendes or Praia do Abrãao. Explore the remains of an abandoned prison or check out the island’s historic plantation houses in Abraão. With more than 100 pristine beaches and no cars allowed, Ilha Grande is an unspoiled natural escape from Brazil’s big cities.

17. Armação dos Búzios

Known as just Búzios, this chic beach town offers high-end dining, shopping and nightlife, as well as gorgeous coastline with 23 beaches. Walk along lively Rua das Pedras, browse local fashions, or enjoy waterfront dining and people watching. Some of Búzios’ most scenic beaches include Praia da Ferradura, shaped like a horseshoe and great for snorkeling. Praia dos Ossos is a tranquil spot for watching the boats and fishing fleet. Try your luck at deep sea fishing, take a sunset cruise, or opt for a relaxing couple’s massage at one of the town’s spas. With its beautiful setting and upscale amenities, Búzios attracts visitors looking to indulge in a vacation paradise.


Brazil is a vast country filled with vibrant culture, stunning scenery, and lively cities just waiting to be explored. From the Amazon River to thundering Iguazu Falls, Brazil’s natural wonders will take your breath away. In cities like Rio de Janeiro you’ll find beautiful beaches, outdoor cafes, and world-famous landmarks like Christ the Redeemer watching over the city. The rhythms of samba and bossa nova music set the lively mood across Brazil’s urban nightlife.

Beyond nature and city life, Brazil offers unique glimpses into history. Wandering colonial streets in Ouro Preto transports you back to the 17th century gold rush, while Salvador’s Afro-Brazilian roots shine through in its food, music and sacred candomblé ceremonies. From modern metropolises like São Paulo to charming resort towns like Paraty and Búzios, each Brazilian destination has its own allure.

Brazil’s diversity extends across its regions and landscapes. The Amazon rainforest in the north teems with exotic plants and wildlife. The Pantanal wetlands provide one of the best places on Earth to spot capybaras, caiman, macaws and even jaguars. Iguazu Falls on the border with Argentina showcase nature’s power and beauty on a grand scale. The coastal cities boast iconic beaches and scenic views high above the ocean below.

No matter which destinations call to you, Brazil offers experiences, sights and adventures to suit every interest. Revel in Rio’s fun-loving spirit. Marvel at Brasilia’s futuristic architecture. Wander charming cobblestone streets in colonial towns. Dance to the rhythm of samba and bossa nova. Lounge on white sand beaches surrounded by towering cliffs. Hike through jungles and waterfalls. Brazil’s diversity is its greatest appeal.

While Portuguese is the official language, you’ll find English spoken in major tourist areas. Brazilians are welcoming people eager to share the magic of their country with visitors. Safety precautions are advised but Brazil is an enchanting destination.

From nature to beaches, from cities to remote ecotourism, Brazil shines with its uniqueness. The iconic Christ the Redeemer, with arms spread wide, symbolizes Brazil’s spirit of embracing travelers to its shores. Let yourself be immersed in Brazil’s music, culture, landscapes and joie de vivre. With endless beauty across its cities and regions, Brazil offers an escape like no other, full of moments you’ll treasure forever. Allow yourself to be swept away on the adventure of a lifetime exploring Brazil’s best destinations.

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