Things to do in Brazil

Things to do in  Brazil

Welcome to Brazil

Wherever you are in Brazil, the infectious sound of samba drifts from bars; platters of perfectly roasted meats and obsidian-black beans line tables; and cheerful ois (hi, in Portuguese) erupt from the mouths of lively locals. In Rio de Janeiro, the legendary Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are set against the dramatic backdrop of Corcovado, Sugar Loaf Mountain, and the outstretched arms of Christ the Redeemer. Full-day sightseeing tours tick off all of the city's highlights, while the Selaron Steps, Rochina favela, and a samba show are typically form part of the itinerary, too. But Rio is just the beginning. The sprawling metropolis of São Paulo—Brazil's most-populous city—reveals its cultural heft on a panoramic tour, while nature buffs will be charmed by the Amazon rain forests of Manaus, home to numerous biodiverse species. In the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Iguassu National Park, the Iguazu Falls (Foz de Iguacu) create a thundering roar, and in Salvador, historic African influence dictates the vibrant energy of the city. Myriad private and group tours help visitors experience it all with skip-the-line entry to top sights, simple transportation options, and local perspectives. And Brazil borders almost every country in South America—only Chile and Ecuador are excluded—making it the ideal starting point for any South American trip. Begin with New Year's Eve or Carnaval, two of Rio's most spectacular celebrations, before journeying across the continent.

Top 15 attractions in Brazil

Christ the Redeemer Statue (Cristo Redentor)

Keeping a watchful eye over the people of Rio de Janeiro, the iconic Christ the Redeemer Statue (Cristo Redentor) sits atop Corcovado Mountain at 2,300 feet (700 meters) above the city. Unveiled in 1931 and voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, this impressive monument is often credited as the most iconic site in Brazil.More

Sugarloaf Mountain (Pao de Açúcar)

It’s easy to see why Rio de Janeiro was nicknamed the “Marvelous City” when you’re gazing down at it from the heights of Sugarloaf Mountain (Pao de Açúcar). From its soaring 1,300-foot (396-meter) summit, the city unfolds around you, with views of the iconic Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, the Tijuca Forest, and the Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) statue standing tall atop Corcovado Mountain to the west.More

Selarón Steps (Escadaria Selarón)

Decorated with more than 2,000 brightly colored tiles in the colors of the Brazilian flag, the Selarón Steps (Escadaria Selarón) is one of Rio de Janeiro's most vibrant and striking landmarks, marking the boundary between the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods.More

Iguaçu Falls (Cataratas do Iguaçu)

Iguaçu Falls (Cataratas do Iguaçu), the largest waterfalls system in the world, are truly awe-inspiring to behold. Though Argentina boasts better trails around the falls, Brazil is blessed with the best views of this natural marvel’s 275 separate cascades, which span the border between the two countries. Take in full-frontal views of Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo), San Martin Island, and more from the short-but-sweet catwalks that wind their way around the Brazilian side of Iguaçu Falls.More

Meeting of Waters (Encontro das Aguas)

The city of Manaus lies at the confluence of two great rivers, the Solimões and the Rio Negro. Due to the different colors of the two rivers, it's possible to see precisely where they meet, which is what makes the Meeting of Waters, or Encontro das Aguas, a checklist must-do for visitors to Manaus.More

Rio de Janeiro Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana de Sao Sebastiao)

Tall and cone-shaped, the modernist Rio de Janeiro Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana de Sao Sebastiao) doesn’t look like a typical church. The unusual design was constructed between 1964 and 1979 by architect Edgar Fonseca. One of Rio’s most important religious structures, it is dedicated to St. Sebastian, the city’s patron saint.More

Sao Conrado Beach (Praia de Sao Conrado)

Whether you’re looking for the surf, the golden sands or to soar in the skies above, visiting Sao Conrado Beach (Praia de São Conrado) is a highlight of Rio de Janeiro. Here in this affluent, oceanfront neighborhood that’s sometimes called Praia Pepino, visitors will find an eclectic combo of people, many of whom are surfers or paragliders. The juxtaposition of social classes is evident out on the streets—yet everyone seems to equally enjoy the combo of sunshine and surf.When strolling the sands of Sao Conrado, be sure to look up and scan the skies for hangliders circling above. The beach is a popular landing spot for groups of paragliders and hangliders, most of whom have launched from the slopes of neighboring Pedra Bonita. To get a birds-eye view for yourself—but keep your feet back on land—a strenuous trail climbs 2,500 feet up towering Pedra da Gávea. This stoic sentinel and oceanfront rock is a classic Rio landmark, though the round-trip climb can take a whole day—even for seasoned hikers.More

Copacabana Beach (Praia de Copacabana)

Rio de Janeiro’s legendary Copacabana Beach evokes images of white-sand shores, sun-kissed volleyball players, tourists sipping agua de coco out of bright green coconuts, and bikini-clad revelers partying long into the night. And for the most part, that’s pretty accurate. Add in a touch of local flavor and a splash of the obscure, and it becomes obvious why this is one of the world’s most famous beaches.More

Ibirapuera Park

Designed by landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, Ibirapuera Park is Sao Paulo’s answer to New York’s Central Park. As the largest park in the city center, Ibirapuera encompasses 13 playing courts, jogging and cycle paths, a lake, several modernist buildings, and two of Sao Paulo’s most significant art galleries.More

Tijuca National Park (Parque Nacional da Tijuca)

Prior to the 19th century, Rio de Janeiro was surrounded by Atlantic rain forest. Today, all that remains is the 13-square-mile (33-square-kilometer) jungle known as Tijuca National Park (Parque Nacional da Tijuca). Studded with tropical trees knotted together by jungle vines, the world’s largest urban forest is home to ocelots, howler monkeys, more than 300 bird species, waterfalls, and one of Rio’s iconic landmarks, the Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) statue standing atop Corcovado Mountain.More

Amazon River

The mighty Amazon River and its enormous, thickly forested basin are the heart of South America and the guardian of 20 percent of the Earth’s fresh water. Visitors from around the globe come to Iquitos to cruise the river’s storied waters and catch a glimpse of diverse fauna both above and below the surface.More

Maracana Stadium (Estádio do Maracana)

The gigantic Maracanã Stadium (Estádio do Maracanã) is one of the most iconic soccer temples in South America, built to open the 1950 World Cup. The site holds the record for the largest attendance at a World Cup Final thanks to the 199,854 paying spectators who crammed into the stadium in 1950 and also hosted the FIFA World Cup Final again in 2014 and the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. Officially known as MárioFilho Stadium but called Maracanãafter the small river that runs alongside it, the arena is now a historical site dedicated to its former use as a world-class arena and event venue.More

Ipanema Beach (Praia de Ipanema)

Although less famous than its neighbor Copacabana Beach, Ipanema holds its own with quiet charm and considerably cleaner surroundings—and it does so without skimping on any of the white sands, blue waters, or local character that give Rio de Janeiro’s beaches their claim to fame.More

Sambadrome (Sambadrome Marques de Sapucaí)

Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome (Sambadrome Marques de Sapucaí)—also known as Sambodromo or Passarela do Samba Darcy Ribeiro—was designed and built by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1984. Established to host the city’s enormous Carnival celebration every year, the stadium features a 2,300-foot (700-meter) runway and seats 90,000 spectators.More

Monastery of Sao Bento (Mosteiro de Sao Bento)

One of São Paulo’s most important religious buildings, the Monastery of São Bento (Mosteiro de São Bento) was established in 1598. Currently housed in a dramatic Gothic-style building that was consecrated in 1922, the working monastery has nearly 50 resident monks, and hosts regular masses and other public events—and even a popular bakery.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Brazil

A day in Rio - Full City Tour

A day in Rio - Full City Tour

Full Day Iguassu Falls Both Sides - Brazil and Argentina
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Guided Jeep adventure through Tijuca Rain Forest
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Top Destinations

Top Destinations

All about Brazil

Local Currency
Brazilian Real (R$)
Time Zone
BRT (UTC -3)
Country Code

People Also Ask

What is Brazil famous for?

Brazil is well-known for its annual Carnival extravaganza, and as the birthplace of the legendary soccer player, Pelé. Brazilians are passionate about soccer (futebol in Portuguese), samba, and a local distillate called cachaça. Brazil is home to the largest tract of Amazon rain forest and other wild areas, as well as world-famous beaches and bustling cities like Rio de Janeiro.

Where should I go on my first trip to Brazil?

First-time visitors to Brazil are often lured by superstar attractions such as Rio de Janeiro, the Amazon, and Iguazu Falls. But the largest country in Latin America has much more—including the wildlife-rich Pantanal region, beaches galore, varied parks and reserves, and the cosmopolitan cuisine and culture of Sao Paulo.

What types of activities are popular in Brazil?

Many travelers dream of attending Carnival in Rio or seeing the power of Iguazu Falls. Others are drawn to the largest tract of Amazon rain forest, the chance to see jaguars (and other species) in the Pantanal, scuba diving, snorkeling, visiting beaches, and appreciating the country’s architecture, culture, and cuisine.

What are the most popular attractions in Brazil?

With its famous beaches, party scene, annual Carnival celebration, and Christ the Redeemer statue, Rio de Janeiro is the number one most visited destination in Brazil. Florianopolis, Iguazu Falls, Sao Paulo, and Buzios are the next most visited.

What is the most beautiful part of Brazil?

Some of Brazil’s most beautiful natural wonders include the lush Amazon, otherworldy dunes of Lencois National Park, and beautiful beaches like Porto de Galinhas. There’s a lot of beauty in its cities and towns as well, from Rio de Janeiro’s colorful nightlife to the futurist architecture in Brasilia.

Is Brazil safe for tourists?

Yes. Robbery and violent crime are problems in parts of Brazil, particularly in areas of Rio de Janeiro, but tourists are not necessarily targeted. Smart travelers use common sense, are aware of their surroundings, avoid known problem areas, and remain alert to pickpockets. Do not leave belongings unattended and do not wear flashy jewelry.

Frequently Asked Questions