Brazil is a great country with a very special culture, traditions, delicious food, beautiful people and extraordinary places. I love the place very much and have been here not just as a tourist, but as a local. I want to tell you what, in my opinion, everyone should see when they come to Brazil. I base this on my personal experience and the stories of my Brazilian friends. Here everyone can find something to their liking. Let's begin!
One of my favourite cities. The capital of the state of Minas Gerais. The city is also called the bar capital, with an insane amount of bars. The most delicious Brazilian food, in my opinion, is right here! For example, the best and biggest cheese buns pão de queijo, cheese, very sweet coffee and many different corn dishes. It was also where I had the best and tastiest traditional Brazilian dish, feijoada, made from beans, meat products and farofa.
Belo Horizonte has quite a few places to take a walk during the day or have a beer and dance at night. Rent a bike and head to Lake Pampulha in the area of the same name. In addition to the beautiful nature, check out the Estádio Mineirão (Mineirão Stadium) and the local zoo. You can try your luck and find an amazing animal called a capybara near the lake. It looks like a big fat rat. Capybaras usually lie quietly near water, but I have not been able to find them there. I saw them already in a completely different state and city. Pampulha often hosts Brazilian dance parties where you can learn to dance the Forró.
During the day I suggest a walk to one of the main tourist attractions in the city, Praça da Liberdade, and a browse through the Mercado Central for some goodies.
I recommend the sunset at the stunning Parque das Mangabeiras. It will take a long time to travel by public transport. Order a taxi, see the park itself, the animals, take lots of beautiful photos, visit Praça do Papa square, and then climb up to the plaza where everyone is admiring the view and clapping as the sun goes down.
If you like bars, nightclubs and dancing, head to the Sapucaí area in the evening. This is the city centre, so you have to be extremely careful, especially at night. Don't take a lot of money, dress casually. Here you can visit several places in one night, meet lots of people (Brazilians and foreigners) and admire
Town of Ouro Preto is a must-visit. It is about 2 hours by car from Belo Horizonte. The city is rich in history, museums, beautiful nature and nightlife. A whole article wouldn't be enough to describe how cool it is. Just go and see for yourself!
Waterfall Country Capitólio
Belo Horizonte is famous for its mountains and waterfalls, because there is no sea there. However, the largest cluster is in Capitólio. Be sure to take a car and stay there for a couple of days to catch a swim in each waterfall!
Rio de Janeiro
Going to Brazil without going there is like going to Russia without going to Moscow. You can probably find many articles about the top tourist spots in this city, but I'll list the ones that stick out in my mind.
Take a day or two to climb local mountains like Pedra Bonita, Pedra da Gavea and take the funicular up Mount Urca and the famous Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcar). Climb Mount Corcovado to see the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer and the whole of Rio in the palm of your hand.
I recommend going for a walk through the parks, such as Parque Lage, Parque Nacional da Tijuca and then relaxing at the beaches of Leblon, Ipanema or Copacabana. Be aware that it is almost always crowded, so don't leave things unattended.
For a night out adventure, head to the Lapa area. Music, dancing, drinking, good food and making new friends are guaranteed. It is also home to the famous Selarón staircase (Escadaria Selarón). Let me tell you straight away that the area is NOT safe even during the day, so all the responsibility lies with you.
If you've walked the length and breadth of Rio, there are other Rio towns to visit, such as Niterói, the resort of Búzios, Cabo Frio and Arraial do Cabo.
The city of São Paulo
Second most mentioned city after Rio de Janeiro. If you have a few days, I recommend visiting the largest park in South America, Parque Ibirapuera, Avenida Paulista, the place with the most graffiti, Beco do Batman Alley, the Liberdade neighbourhood, for a brief trip to Little Japan, and the historic city centre. The last place is a must to go in a group or with someone, preferably a Brazilian.
Iguazú Falls (Cataratas del Iguazú)
This is an incredibly beautiful natural site located in the south of the country. Located on the border between Brazil (state of Paraná) and Argentina. Be sure to bring raincoats with you, because the water flow and the wind do their job. Personally, I never managed to get there, I only heard rave reviews from friends and acquaintances. But I'm not sad, because there's always an excuse to go to the south of Brazil again!
Polina Rakitskaya, travel blogger and teacher of English and Portuguese