Brazil is carnival. It is vast landscape. Exotic beaches. Amazonian. It’s economic disparity. Infamously violent. Sexually tolerant. Brazil is racially diverse. Rich cuisine. Beautifully colourful. A wild party. It is coffee, football, Samba. Brazil is cosmopolitan. Favelas. Muddy rivers. Glistening blue sea. Brazil is exhilarating, alive, and should be at the top of your destination list this year.
Following the Grand Prix being hosted in Sao Paulo this weekend, we thought we’d take a look at traveling Brazil, and the carnival atmosphere there that characterises the end of the racing season this year. To do Brazil justice in one blog is pretty difficult, as its diversity means every visitor holds a different part of the country close to their heart… but we’ll try our best.
One of the most notorious aspects of Brazil is its violence and corruption: in Rio de Janeiro alone there are 17 murders a day. Furthermore, despite the enormous expanse of the middle class and rise in living standards, the favelas (shantytowns) still haunt the cities and their skyscrapers. They symbolise the economic disparity that still defines the country and many visitors are deeply troubled by this part of Brazil.
However, the bad certainly doesn’t outweigh the good and your tourism boosts a major industry for Brazil. Often referred to as a continent rather than a country because of its vast size, there is endless things to explore. Let’s take a look at some of the best.
São Paulo and the Grand Prix 2016
São Paulo is unfailingly urban and bursting with culture, making it the perfect destination for those who love city life. Most of the richest people in Brazil live in this metropolis as it houses top-rate restaurants, glamorous nightlife, a profound culture and arts scene and luxury shopping. São Paulo is unable to compete with the rest of Brazil for beauty and landscape, but wandering through the high-rise buildings will give you plenty to explore.
It’s culturally diverse and home to: an Arab community, Germans, Chinese, Armenians, Lithuanians, Greek, Polish and the largest community of people of Japanese descent outside Japan, as well as the largest population of Italian descendants outside Italy. What’s more, São Paulo is extremely sexually liberal and has the largest openly gay community in Latin America.
Top sights include: Museu de Arte de São Paulo, housing an amazing collection of Western Art; Banespa, a 161m tall skyscraper allowing the best view of the city; Theatro Municipal; Mosteiro São Bento, a striking neo-gothic style church; and the Museu Afro-Brasil, recounting five centuries of African immigration.
The Grand Prix was held at the Interlagos track this year, an old-fashioned circuit providing a narrow and bumpier challenge for the drivers. Lewis Hamilton was victorious, beating his opponent Nico Rosberg under torrential conditions. During the race there were several high-speed accidents, two stoppages and five safety cars. Hamilton’s racing skills were superb and the 2016 Grand Prix is his 52nd win of his career- making him the most successful racer of all time.
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is the most visited city in South America and it’s not hard to see why. Dubbed Cidade Marvilhosa (Wonderful City) its wonderful style is unforgettable to visitors. Stunning, iconic attractions surround Rio and the colossal harbour it’s situated on.
The most famous landmark, featuring on post-cards everywhere, is the Christ the Redeemer statue that watches over the city from the Corcovado Mountain. It has been voted one of the new ‘seven wonders of the world’ and strongly symbolises Christianity. Millions of people flock to see its outstretched arms every year, which appear as though they’re hugging the city of Rio and its inhabitants.
Sugarloaf Mountain is another iconic attraction of Rio as it rises 396 meters high and offers a 360 view of the city from the mouth of Guanabara Bay. Head up the cable car and catch the breath-taking views of the surrounding beaches, mountains and forests. If you can, aim to get there for sunset and experience one of the most breath-taking sights our planet offers.
Partying. Many would argue Rio de Janeiro’s most famous for partying. The carnivals it hosts are explosive, frantic, and vibrant and arouse every single one of the senses. The exotic dancers, wild illuminating costumes, air-filling music and diversity of people parading around the streets creates an astonishing air of energy throughout the city.
Rio also has to offer some fabulous museums, restaurants, clubs, and of course beaches. The dramatic rocks partnered with long stretches of glistening white sand are part of the reason Rio de Janeiro is so loved and remembered for its beauty. The famously sexy Ipanema and Copacabana offer relaxing swims, dance parties, baking in the sun and endless people watching.
Rio’s spirit and endless attractions will leave you wishing you never had to leave.
Now for Brazil’s capital. Brasilia was built in the country’s centre in 1956, designed by urban planner Lucio Costa and architect Oscar Niemeyer. The city immediately became a symbol of urban planning as its plan resembles a bird in flight, or an aeroplane, with the residential and commercial neighbourhoods spread out across the wings. It was ensured that all the buildings and their symmetry should be in harmony with the cities design. Often argued to be a futuristic capital, it offers a lively city experience and is particularly perfect for those into design.
Salvador is the third largest in Brazil and offers a beautiful culture for visitors. It was founded in 1549 and served as the capital at the height of the slave trade, meaning today it has an extremely large black population. It’s exciting and famously friendly as well as being an interesting place to explore as some great names in music came from there (Dorival Caymmi and Gilberto Gil to name just two). It has a beautiful historic Old City and stunning beaches for swimming and surfing, as well as an exciting collection of museums, galleries, restaurants and bars.
According to the Guinness book of world records, Salvador’s carnival is the biggest in the world. It spans across a week and showcases amazing music, dancing, vendors and parades. To experience the carnival in 2017, head to Salvador for 23rd February and enjoy the biggest party ever!
Brazil has a vast Amazonian region and is always a popular choice for those heading to Brazil. The Amazon River is 4,400 miles long and runs into eight countries and its surrounding forest is the largest on the planet. The Amazon is greatly diverse and is home to more than 30,000 species of plant, 1,800 fish, 1,300 birds, 311 mammals and 165 amphibians. There are endless options for tours into the Amazon, with most visitors opting for a river cruise to explore their way around.
The Iguazu Falls are located on the border of Brazil and Argentina and can be reached through the Iguacu Nation Park in Brazil. Iguazu appears picture perfect, and is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world set in a sub-tropical forest. As they’re so visually stunning, they have featured as the backdrop for many films such as Miami Vice, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skill and Mr. Magoo.
With 4650 miles of striking coastline, there are endless opportunities to submerge yourself in the tropical underworld of the sea by scuba diving. Fernando de Noronha is argued the best diving site in Brazil, a group of islands on the northeast coast. It’s a protected area and doesn’t attract masses of tourists so, whilst expensive, is peaceful and perfect for diving. On offer are clear warm waters, tidal pools, shallow lagoons and fabulous dolphin populations. As well as the tropical sea life that will leave you in awe.
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Let us know which part of Brazil looks most thrilling to you in the comments below.