“I am a Brazilian before I am an architect. I cannot separate the two.” - Oscar Niemeyer
Favelas, capoeira, the Amazon rainforest, etc. are all clichés from an immense country that’s home to plenty of different wonderful places blending nature, history, and modernity. The country is also far away for Europeans, who are in the minority when it comes to visitors to the country. In 2016, tourism peaked with 6.6 million visitors.
As the largest country in South America, the most populous, home to the Amazon basin, and a large coastline along the Atlantic ocean, there's plenty of reasons to go to Brazil.
So what can you do during your time in Brazil? Which monuments do you have to see?
In this article, we'll be looking at what you can do in the country's capital, Brasilia, the culture in Rio de Janeiro, the sights of Sao Paulo, and other places of note in Brazil.
Historic Escapades in Brasilia
The Brazilian capital city is home to 3 million people and should be one of the first places on your list if you want to go to Brazil. It’s a relatively recent capital city, founded in 1960 after several years of work by President Juscelino Kubitschek (1951-1961), who’d promised “50 years of progress in 5 years” to the Brazilians. Brasilia wanted to be the image of modernity.
Brasilia is located in the Federal District, one of Brazil’s administrative regions, and the modernity you find in this city is impressive, especially in term of its architecture. Art and history lovers can enjoy the city’s beautiful monuments, many of which are an immaculate white, giving Brasilia a postcard feel.
Some of the main monuments to see include:
- Santuario Don Bosco de Brasilia
- Brasilia Botanic Gardens
- Cathedral of Brasília
- Brasilia Digital TV Tower
- Temple of Good Will
- Planalto Palace
- Banco Central do Brasil Museum
Brasilia isn’t far from Paranoá Lake, an area popular with locals.
To discover Brazilian culture, and the history of the city, head along to the Cathedral of Brasília, the city’s most visited monument. This giant structure, with a capacity of 4,000 people, reaches 70 metres into the air. It’s a must-see sight in the capital city. You’ll feel connected to another world. The Santuario Don Bosco de Brasilia is also worth a visit and is dedicated to an Italian priest.
Did you know that the sanctuary has over 7,400 pieces of Murano glass from Italy?
It’s open every day from 7:00 until 20:00 and entry is free.
Anyone who loves colonial architecture will notice and enjoy this dynamic and uniform structure. It shouldn’t be confused with the Palácio da Alvorada, another public building, which was designed by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. It’s open to the public on Sundays between 9:30 and 14:00. Guided tours last 20 minutes.
Between culture, religion, and history, Brasilia has something for everyone.
Find out more about the best time to visit Brazil.
The Artistic and Cultural Monuments in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro, or “Rio” to its friends, is the beating heart of Brazil.
Have you already heard of its world-famous Carnaval?
Everything happens in Rio!
Did you know that Rio de Janeiro was the Brazilian capital city for nearly 200 years (1763-1960)?
Rio de Janeiro definitely needs to feature on most tourists’ lists as it has plenty to see and do. Most notably:
- Christ the Redeemer
- The Frédéric Chopin Statue
- Boulevard Olímpico
- Escadaria Selarón
- Sao Salvador Park
- Obelisco da Avenida Rio Branco
- Cais do Valongo
- Igreja Sao Jose
- Praça Quinze de Novembro
Statues are part of the city’s landscape and there are 26 of them for you to see. You probably won’t have time to see them all, but Christ the Redeemer is probably the most important one.
Christ the Redeemer has been part of the city’s landscape since 1973 and it’s famous for being a place where wishes come true. Perched on the Corcovado mountain, you can enjoy an incredible panoramic view of the city. The walk up is great for hikers but you can also pay to take the cable car up to the top.
Did you know that the statue was designed by French sculptor Paul Landowski?
Rio de Janeiro is a port city and you have to visit the Cais do Valongo if you find yourself there. It was built in 1811 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Make sure to include it in your itinerary.
Not far from Rio, there’s the Tijuca national park. It’s one of the region’s gem and sits between the sea and the land, mountains and waterfalls. Sporty types will find thousands of hectares at their disposal. An absolute joy!
As you’ll already know, there’s the Rio Carnival each year which is definitely worth a visit!
Make sure to budget for your trip to Brazil.
Unmissable Buildings in São Paulo
If you’re going to to go to Brazil, you should plan ahead, especially if you want to head off the beaten path or enjoy a cheap trip. You should stop off at São Paulo.
Founded in the 16th century, this city will surprise you with its history.
Did you know that the city is 760m above sea level on the Piratininga plateau? Perfect for a trek, isn’t it?
There are a few things you should visit during your stay:
- São Paulo Museum of Art
- São Paulo Cathedral
- Ibirapuera Park
- Parque Trianon
- Latin America Memorial
The Art Museum (or MASP) is a great place to visit with an impressive collection. There’s over 30,000m2 of art waiting for you.
Opening hours: 10:00-21:00 Mondays and Tuesdays, 10:00-18:00 the rest of the week. There are also 90-minute guided tours available.
To enjoy the local architectural heritage, head to the Latin America Memorial. This is where you can learn all about the city’s origins.
Would you like to guess which architect designed it?
Oscar Niemeyer, of course!
Opening hours: 9:00-18:00 every day.
There are plenty of things to do in this country!
Don't forget to book accommodation!
The Other Beautiful Places to See During Your Time in Brazil
Whether you’re planning on coming to Brazil to learn Portuguese or for tourism, Brazil is home to plenty of monuments, historical landmarks, and fine examples of the country’s culture.
Search for Portuguese lessons here.
To discover more of Brazil, there are fine sandy beaches, viewpoints (mirantes), national parks, etc. The contrast between Brazil’s natures and its cities is astounding, especially in:
- Mirante Do Arvrao viewpoint in Rio de Janeiro
- Mirante Do Caete, also in Rio
- The Amazon Rainforest
- Iguazu Falls
Why not travel to Brazil and go to several destinations?
Brazil is also a great country for surfers.
How could we do an article on Brazil and everything you have to visit without mentioning Copacabana?
With its beautiful beaches, it’s the ideal place for relaxing holidays with a caipirinha in hand.
For party animals, we recommend heading to the beach resorts like Belem, Ipanema, Guanabara, or Canoa Quebrada. There are no better places to party in Brazil.
Of course, there are other places to visit like Recife, Minas, Salvador de Bahia, Manaus, Ilha Grande, Noronha, or Olinda.
So which of these cities will you visit on your next trip? What will you be doing there? Would you like to learn some Portuguese before you go?
You can always get a bit of help from one of the many talented tutors on Superprof. There are three main types of tutorial available on the site: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials. There are pros and cons to each and the best one for you really depends on your situation.
Face-to-face tutorials are the most personal and have you and your tutor working together for the whole session. Of course, this bespoke service comes at a cost, making it the most costly type of tutorial available. If shyness has been getting in the way of your language learning, this is probably the best option. Additionally, the tutor can tailor each lesson to exactly what you need to learn or what you've been struggling with.
Online tutorials are similar to face-to-face tutorials with the main difference being that the tutor isn't physically in the room with you and you're more likely to find native Portuguese speakers as you can broaden your search to anywhere in the world!
Finally, there are group tutorials. In these types of tutorials, there are several students and just one tutor. With all the students sharing the cost of the tutor's time, these tutorials are usually the cheapest per person per hour but each student won't get the bespoke tutoring or one-on-one time that they would in the other types of tutorials. However, you will get plenty of opportunities to practise your language skills with the other students in the class.