The south of Brazil shares a number of qualities with its Argentine and Uruguayan neighbors; expect to encounter gauchos, yerba mate and a fondness for asado. But it’s also defined by nature’s most important resource: water. Travelers here should make the most of its spectacular subtropical coastline and record-defying waterfalls.
This is our proposal for a 14 days holidays around Southern Brazil.
Days one and two: Río de Janeiro
Land in Rio de Janeiro International Airport to discover Brazil’s most vibrant city. Begin with a train journey up to the top of Corcovado Mountain where you’ll find the Art Deco statue of Christ the Redeemer and panoramic views of the “Cidade Maravilhosa” (Marvelous City) as Rio is famously known.
Spend a day cycling along the beaches or relaxing with a chilled caipirinha on the most famous sands of all, Copacabana Beach.
Days three to six: Ilha Grande
Take a short bus journey to Mangaratiba, from where ferries land you on tranquil Isla Grande – an island that feels a world away from the buzzing mania of Brazil’s huge capital.
Visit Lopes Mendes, Ilha Grande’s most stunning beach and stay in an oceanside pousada (guesthouse). Spend long, hot days relaxing on the island’s pristine white sands and swimming in the clearest waters imaginable.
About Ilha Grande
- As the country with the 16th longest coastline in the world, it’s no wonder that visitors to Brazil are spoiled by the country’s range of stunning, palm-laced islands. And those situated in the south, a short distance from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, certainly hold their own.
- One of the best, Ilhabela, or “Beautiful Island”, certainly lives up to its name. Christened to reflect its verdant stretches of UNESCO protected coastal rainforest, exotic flora and fauna, 400 crashing waterfalls and 22-miles (35km) of luxurious, sandy beaches, Ilhabela is the ideal destination for nature lovers and sun-seekers.
- Further south along the Brazilian coast, Ilha Grande is a pristine paradise of white, palm-lined sands and virgin, tropical rainforest that has been protected from human development thanks, in part, to its turbulent yet intriguing history. Once a pirate hideout, it has since been the location of a leper colony and a jail for Brazil’s political prisoners. But despite its rather dark heritage, these days Ilha Grande is an island gem that remains low on settlement but high on untouched, wildlife-filled jungle.
Days six to eight: Ilhabela
Return to Rio de Janeiro and fly to Sao Paulo, where a quick ferry from nearby Sao Sebastiao will bring you to paradise, or Ilhabela as it’s more commonly known. Soak up the Brazilian sunshine on one of the island’s stunning beaches or spot capuchin monkeys and toucans perched in the jungle canopy with a tour of the island’s protected tropical rainforest.
You’ll also have time to snorkel and scuba dive in the aquamarine waters of the Atlantic, where the island’s sordid past as a pirate hideout in the 16th– and 17th-centuries has left the sandy ocean floor riddled with shipwrecks.
Days nine to eleven: Iguazu Falls
Return to Sao Paulo and fly to Foz de Iguacu, where tours can be organized to visit both the Brazilian and Argentine sides of the mammoth Iguazu Falls waterfall system. Make a beeline for the most impressive, the Garganta del Diablo (the Devil’s Throat); this huge, three-sided waterfall is guaranteed to leave you reeling – and soaked.
About Iguanzu Falls
- Larger and more spectacular than their northern cousin Niagara, Iguazu Falls is a breath-taking group of 275 individual waterfalls crashing 260 ft. (80m) into a canyon below – and splashing everything in their path. One of the most unique sights in all of South America, it’s best to spend two days here to allow you to visit both sides of the border.
- On the Brazilian side, the falls dazzle thanks to walkways leading to picture-perfect panoramas of the whole area, while across the border, closer access to individual falls and boat trips allow a completely different perspective on this incredible landmark.
Days twelve to fourteen: Río de Janeiro
Fly directly back to Rio and spend your final two days absorbing the sights of Praca XV de Novembro, the city’s main plaza and visiting the National History Museum, which charts the country’s difficult past.