• ~ mins read

Charming and exuberant, Brazil is a lively traveler’s dream. Soak in the remote vastness of the Amazon rainforest, revel in the carnivalesque energy of Rio de Janeiro, take a boat ride into Iguaçu’s thundering waterfalls, and relax on the beaches of Brazil’s endless coastline. This sprawling, continent-sized country is one of the world’s most exciting destinations, and deciding where to go and what to do can be a real challenge. This is your one-stop guide for the best things to do in Brazil. Read on to plan your trip to Brazil.

A Memorable Trip!
  • Jackie Quirk
5 - Excellent
“Nearly all of the guides were wonderful. I don’t remember the name of the guide who t...” Read More
View Incredible Tours in Brazil

1. Hike Corcovado Mountain

Aerial view of Corcovado Mountain during dusk in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Explore Rio's stunning vistas on a hike up Corcovado Mountain and take in the breathtaking beauty of the iconic city from above.

The iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer sits on top of Corcovado Mountain and overlooks the beaches and mountainous landscape of Rio de Janeiro. A trip to the peak is on most tourists’ bucket list of top things to do in Brazil. You can take a tram or bus to the statue, but hiking up to Christ the Redeemer is the most enjoyable way to reach the peak. The trek starts from Parque Lage at the foot of the mountain, and from there, follow the trail through Tijuca Forest National Park. You should reach the top of Corcovado comfortably in about 90 minutes.

Best time: Climbing Corcovado is good any time of the year, but the weather is at its most pleasant in September and October.

Alternative destinations:

  • Trilha do Boi: Parque Nacional de Aparados da Serra in southern Brazil is home to Itaimbezinho, the country’s largest canyon. Of the three official trails in the park, Trilha do Boi runs along the base of the canyon following the river. This is the most challenging trek and requires a local guide.
  • Valley of the Gods: This three-day trek through Three Peak State Park will take you through unique formations in the Valley of the Gods, such as Dragon’s Head Peak and Matchbox Peak. Part of the pleasure of this trek is camping under the open skies at night. 

2. Take a jungle tour in the Amazon Rainforest

Reflection of a sunset by a lagoon inside the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil.
Discover the magic of Amazonian sunsets and immerse yourself in the rich culture of local communities.

Spanning eight countries and covering an area twice the size of India, the Amazon is the world’s largest forest, and about 60% of the rainforest is in Brazil. The Amazon is also a massive river system. In Brazil, the most popular way to access the Amazon is by first flying to Manaus, the bustling capital of the sprawling Amazonas region. Stay at jungle lodges that are a 2-3 hour boat ride from Manaus, which offer short excursions, accompanied by local guides, to see fantastic wildlife and species like rabbit-sized frogs, black caiman, and 30-foot-long anacondas. You can also experience stunning Amazon sunsets and visit local communities.

Best time: July to December. The dry season (July to December) is the best time to visit the Amazon, as the trails are more accessible and the water levels are low.

Alternative routes:

  • Amazon Cruise: Instead of staying in a jungle lodge, you can take a cruise where you will stay on a riverboat and go on daily tours of the rainforest. Many Amazon cruises start from Manaus.
  • Belêm: Another way to access the Amazon is from Belêm in Pará State. You can opt for a river cruise or a boat tour through the channels of the Guamá River, and visit islands like Parrot Island. 

3. Marvel at the majestic Iguazú Falls

People enjoying boat rides, one of the things to do in Brazil in Iguazu Falls.
Take a boat ride and soak in the breathtaking beauty of Brazil's majestic Iguazu Falls.

Extending for three kilometers along the Brazil-Argentina border, Iguazú Falls is the world’s most extensive waterfall system that more than lives up to the hype. Although the majority of the falls are in Argentina, the Brazilian side offers the most spectacular views overall. Devil’s Throat is the most stunning cascade to watch for. One of the top things to do in Iguazu Falls is to embark on a boat ride for a closer encounter with the falls. Whether you reach the top for panoramic views or brave the bottom to feel the thunderous rush of water hitting the canyon, the experience promises unforgettable moments amidst nature’s grandeur.

Best time: April and May. Iguazú Falls are impressive throughout the year. However, April and May fall in the sweet spot of fewer crowds, moderate temperatures, and less rain.

Alternative destinations:

  • Cachoeira das Almas Waterfall: Located deep in the Tijuca Forest but with easy access and 2 entrances Cachoeira das Almas (Waterfall of Souls) is a much smaller affair than Iguazú and surrounded by natural beauty. Besides seeing the falls, you can try rock climbing, swimming, and cave exploring..
  • Tabuleiro waterfall: You may need a guide to reach these breathtaking falls in the state of Minas Gerais along the Espinhaço Mountains. The water comes crashing down some 700 feet before spraying down to the pool below. 

4. Surf in Florianopolis

A man surfing in Florianopolis which is one of the best things to do in Bra
Catch epic waves and ride the surf in Florianopolis for an unforgettable experience.

With more than 40 beaches and consistent waves, the beautiful subtropical island of Florianopolis in the southern Santa Catarina region is one of Brazil’s most popular surfing destinations. The waves are frequent and the spots numerous, so you’ll find a spot to surf regardless of your ability. Top spots include Praia Mole, Praia da Galheta and Joaquina. Besides its surf-friendly waves and laidback white sand beaches, Florianopolis is known for its lush hills, lakes, treks and late-night parties.

Best time: April to October. The island has great waves throughout the year, but the surf season is from April to October when the swells are the largest.

Alternate destinations:

  • Barra da Tijuca : South of the main Rio de Janeiro city, Barra da Tijuca has a long stretch of beach with a good range of waves including curling barrels. 
  • Fernando de Noronha: Tourism is regulated in the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, some 340 km off the mainland. But if you manage to get in, you’ll experience some of the best waves in Brazil.  

5. Spot exotic wildlife in Pantanal Wetlands

Close up of young Jaguar standing in shallow water in Panatal Wetlands.
Experience the thrill of spotting elusive Jaguars amidst the stunning landscapes of the Pantanal Wetlands.

Sprawling across 42 million acres in three South American countries, the Pantanal is one of the world’s largest tropical wetlands. In Brazil, the wetland is broadly divided into the Northern and Southern Pantanal. The Northern Pantanal in the state of Mato Grosso can be accessed from Cuiabá. From there, you can drive on the Transpantaneira Highway to one of the lodges. Entry to the Southern Pantanal (or Mato Grosso do Sul), a vast area comprising grasslands, rice fields, and fazendas (cowboy ranches), is through the city of Campo Grande. A series of dirt roads will take you inside Southern Pantanal, and accommodation is often in a fazenda. You also have the costlier option of taking a private plane from Campo Grande directly to your fazenda or a boat from Corumbá to the lodges. Mato Grosso offers a better chance to see the jaguar, marsh deer, and the chestnut-bellied guan. In Mato Grosso do Sul, expect to spot the maned wolf, pampas deer, and giant anteater. Most pousadas (family-run inns) and fazendas offer kayaking, horse riding, piranha fishing, and night safaris.

Best time: July to September: The water recedes in the dry winter season (July-September), and is the best time to see the animals that come to the waterholes.

Alternative destinations:

  • Emas National Park: Emas National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to diverse wildlife, such as giant anteaters, armadillos, maned wolves, greater rheas, pumas, ocelots, and black howler monkeys.
  • Turtles in Praia do Forte: You can watch turtle hatchings at Praia do Forte’s Tamar turtle project between February and April. Cheer these tiny babies on as they head to the ocean for their life’s first swim. 

6. Relax on Copacabana Beach

Palms on Copacabana Beach on a clear day in Brazil.
Unwind with golden sands, azure waters, and vibrant energy on the shores of Copacabana Beach.

Stretching for over 5 kilometers, Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s most iconic beach and a magnet for locals and international tourists. There are plenty of ways to enjoy your time at Copacabana, but relaxing on the sands tops our list. Catch the sun and watch the swimmers, surfers, walkers, and vendors do their thing, with Sugarloaf Mountain and Morro do Leme Hill forming the picture-perfect background on your Rio de Janeiro tour.

Best time: December to March. This is the peak season for enjoying days at the beach in Brazil, but even in winter, between June and September, the sands and waves are inviting. If you happen to be in Rio on New Year, the biggest party is at Copacabana Beach.

Alternative destinations:

  • Trancoso, Porto Seguro: Once a haven for hippies, Trancoso is still an unspoiled and laidback beach on the Bahian coast, with accommodations ranging from cheap shacks to sophisticated boutique hotels. 
  • Jericoacoara, Ceará: If you’re looking for gorgeous sunsets, fishing village vibes, and a relaxed getaway, this lovely beach ticks all the boxes. Jericoacoara is also a windsurfing hotspot.
  • Lopes Mendes, Ilha Grande: Lopes Mendes is a spot of paradise on Ilha Grande island, with its clear waters full of corals and marine life, ringed by green cover.

7. Explore the landmarks in Brasília

The Palace of Buriti seat of the government of Districto Federal in Brazil
Step into the heart of Brasilia's governance at the symbolic square, where the Planalto Palace, National Congress, and Supreme Federal Court stand as architectural wonders, defining the capital's unique charm.

Built in the 1960s as Brazil’s new capital, Brasília is known for its avant-garde architecture, with clearly demarcated commercial, residential, and governmental zones. Exploring the memorable landmarks in the governmental center is among the coolest things to do in Brasília. Check out the Praça dos Três Poderes, housing the three branches of government; the Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida, with its curved concrete columns and glass roof; and the Palácio dos Arcos, which has a striking line of symmetrical arches above a reflecting pool.

Best time: May and June. The dry season that begins in May is marked by pleasant temperatures in Brasília. The weather continues to be moderate in June.

Alternative destinations:

  • Sights in São Paulo: São Paulo is the most populous city in South America and one of the world’s largest cities. The iconic dome-shaped São Paulo Cathedral, the Independence Park in Ipiranga (the site of Brazil’s Declaration of Independence), and the modernist building that is home to the São Paulo Museum of Art are some of the city’s most famous landmarks.

8. Cruise around Angra dos Reis

A yatch at Angra dos Reis on a clear day.
Sail away on a captivating cruise through the enchanting waters of Angra dos Reis.

The Brazilian port town of Angra dos Reis in southwest Rio de Janeiro state is a gateway to more than 350 islands and some 2000 beaches — and a haven for sailing enthusiasts. Besides the lovely white sand beaches, these islands have plenty of diving spots and waterfalls. You can visit the islands by ship or yacht. Many boat trips start in Angra or Mangaratiba. You can also sail to the popular Ilha Grande island, known for its trails, waterfalls and history, or the historic coastal town of Paraty, which has many cultural delights like museums, art galleries and old churches.

Best time: September to November. Though the high season, December to February, is the most popular time to visit Angra dos Reis, try going before the crowds swell. Best time: September to November. Though the high season, December to February, is the most popular time to visit Angra dos Reis, try going before the crowds swell.

Alternative destinations:

  • Sunset cruise in Rio de Janeiro: Take a three-hour sunset cruise along Guanabara Bay to get a unique view of Rio landmarks like the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sugarloaf Mountain, and the Rio–Niterói Bridge. Many companies run these cruises, which are an excellent opportunity to take pictures of the grand city at sunset. 

8. Discover historic Salvador

Pelourinho, Historic Center of the city of Salvador Bahia Brazil
The ornated structures of Pelourinho enhance the beauty of this historic center of Salvador Bahia.

Once the historic capital of Portuguese Brazil, Salvador is the hub of Afro-Brazilian music, dance, culture, and cuisine. The city has had an outsized influence on Brazil in everything from samba music to the Carnival. Even today, Brazil’s African heritage is celebrated during boisterous festivals to the beat of bongo drums. You can history everywhere on your Salvador trip. You can find it in the European architecture and beautifully painted ceilings of the São Francisco Church and Convent of Salvador, in the grand interiors of the Cathedral Basilica of Salvador, and in the Solar do Unhão, an 18th-century building that now hosts the Museum of Modern Art.

Best time: December to March. If attending music festivals is on your list of things to do in Salvador, Brazil, these are the best months to make the trip, not to mentioned there is little rain and the humidity is moderate.

Alternative destinations:

  • Olinda: A well-preserved colonial city in north Brazil, Olinda is teeming with European architecture and art galleries. Its city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Mariana: Mariana, the capital of Minas Gerais state, was the site of the great Brazilian Gold Rush. Its largest gold mine is open to the public. You can also wander the city’s cobbled streets and admire the colonial houses and baroque churches.

9. Dive in Fernando de Noronha

A man snorkeling with fishes in Fernando de Noronha.
Immerse yourself in the underwater paradise of Fernando de Noronha, where vibrant coral reefs and captivating marine life await your discovery

The mountainous archipelago of Fernando de Noronha comprising over 20 islands and islets on the Atlantic coast offers some of the best best diving opportunities in Brazil. The waters are warm, and you’ll find plenty of caves, tunnels and rock formations around the islands. Marine life in Fernando de Noronha includes hammerhead sharks, hawksbill turtles, billfish and dolphins.

Best time: September-October: Though you can dive in Fernando de Noronha all year, visibility is best during September and October.

Alternative destinations:

  • São Pedro and São Paulo: São Pedro and São Paulo (not to be confused with the city of São Paulo) are part of an archipelago surrounded by clear blue waters. These islands are excellent diving sites to spot sharks, including whale sharks.
  • Laje De Santos: Laje De Santos is a popular marine park and diving zone near the coast of São Paulo, known for its manta rays and turtles. It is also the site of a ship that was intentionally sunk to attract marine life. 

10. Sail in the Pantanal Wetlands

Aerial view of tourist boat above Piquiri river in the wild Panatal.
Set sail on an unforgettable journey through the lush wonders of the Pantanal Wetlands, where every bend of the river reveals breathtaking wildlife and natural beauty.

Discover the majesty of the Pantanal on a boat, sailing silently along the Cuiabá River and on the various waterways inside the wetlands. During this multiday adventure, spot jaguars, howler monkeys, giant otters, caimans, hyacinth macaws (the world’s largest parrot), hawks and herons. Admire a stunning sunset from the comfort of your boat or yacht in this biodiverse wonderworld, and enjoy lunch near the spot where two rivers meet.

Best time: July to September. The dry season (July to September) is safest for a boat ride in the wetlands. The chances of spotting animals in the Pantanal are also the highest in this period.

Alternative destinations:

  • Cruise around Angra dos Reis: The Brazilian port city of Angra dos Reis in southwest Rio de Janeiro state is a gateway to more than 350 islands and a haven for sailing enthusiasts. Besides the lovely white sand beaches, there are plenty of diving spots and waterfalls to explore.

From exploring wildlife in remote rainforests and marine life around splendid islands to discovering colonial-era architecture and pristine beaches, there are many fun things to do in Brazil and places to visit in Brazil all year round. Our travel experts will help you customize a trip to Brazil according to your preferences and interests. For a seasonal overview of cool things to do in Brazil, check out our guide on the best time to visit Brazil.

Published by Astha Joshi, updated on March 28, 2024
Plan a trip to BrazilWe offer different tour types. You can also chat with a local travel specialist if you want a customized tour to Brazil.
  • Rodrigo Fernandez
    Rodrigo FernandezTravel Expert in Brazil
  • Felipe Rodrigues
    Felipe RodriguesTravel Expert in Brazil
  • Ryan Buckley
    Ryan BuckleyTravel Expert in Brazil
Our travel experts are recommended by:
  • BBC
  • Independent
  • Lonely Planet
0 COMMENTSWe welcome your questions or comments to this article. Our travel experts will respond within 48 hours.