It has no beach, in fact, it’s nowhere near the coast. It doesn’t feel Latin, and to most outsiders, it might not even seem like Brazil at all. So why is Gramado, in the hills of Rio Grande do Sul, possibly the country’s most beautiful town? Read on to find out why and perhaps you’ll be tempted to visit.
Especially around Christmas and Easter, Gramado feels like you are living in a nursery rhyme, as the city goes to extreme lengths to decorate for the holidays. They even line the principal roundabouts in the town with Christmas trees, or Easter eggs.
Being in the south of Brazil, the heat does not have such an effect on the plantlife thus the state of Santa Catarina, and Gramado up in the hills, is graced with rolling hills, and burrowing valleys all ensconced in a gown of gorgeous green vegetation.
Nothing seems out of place in Gramado, as the pavement looks as if it is still hot from being laid down the day prior; bike lanes are crisply painted off to the side of the avenues to promote using your legs instead of fossil fuels; garbage cans hug the lamp poles to keep any rubbish off the streets; and manicured gardens line anywhere there is open space.
Unlike other parts of Brazil where the buildings are half constructed, run down, or built simply to keep out the rain and battle the heat, here, they are constructed in order to provide shelter, but in a way that is a treat for the eyes. This part of Brazil has a strong German influence, which is visible in the blond-haired blue-eyed people, and also the gorgeous Bavarian architecture.
If you have a sweet tooth, then you will probably need a dentist appointment scheduled upon your return. This area of Brazil, similar to that of Switzerland and Germany, is known for its chocolate production. Here, every second store seems to be a chocolatier lined with golden trim and towers of liquid chocolate falling from a fountain.
Not everything that makes Gramado so beautiful is located directly within the city, as one of the most incredible natural sights in Santa Catarina is just a few minutes away. From the sister town of Canela, you can do a tour into the hills to the Caracol Park and see the Cascatas, or waterfalls that weave through the forest and plummet off the edge in a beautiful spectacle.
Keep your head up as you walk through Gramado as Brazilians love to take selfies, and with this incredible backdrop, you will be weaving between people taking photos, but can you blame them? From the central cathedral, to the gorgeous gardens, and scenic restaurant patios, around every corner seems to be something that’s designed to have its picture taken, with or without you in the photo.
The main avenue through Gramado is not long, but that should not stop you from wandering around the residential areas as you will pass some gorgeous parks and green spaces – the city has done a great job keeping it as natural as possible. Just off the main streets is the gardens and fountain of Lago Joaquina Quinta Bier and up in the hills is Lago Negro, which you can walk around, relax on the grass, or rent a pedal pirate ship to command the open water.
The other shops you will find besides the chocolate shops make for great shopping. High-end shoe stores and fashion boutiques plus casual sports gear, accompany the little souvenir shops, lining the already gorgeous main avenues, making them that little bit more picturesque. As expected with the German influence, you will find great beers or schops, from local breweries which will keep beer fans happy on a shopping trip.
From little cafes and bistros, to traditional Brazilian steakhouses and buffets, there is definitely no shortage of restaurants in Gramado, and in a busy market, each one does their best to stand out. Some are rustic log cabin style buildings with wooden patios, some are chic modern restaurants and some are traditional style buildings, adding a sprinkle of diversity and colour to Gramado.
One thing about Gramado that makes it so beautiful, is something you can’t even see, but you can feel. Being a touristy place that many people from the neighbouring cities come to visit as a getaway, you will find a lot of families spending time together, coming for a short holiday, or to spend the festive season in town. The smiling faces and the atmosphere that comes with it, adds to the beauty of Gramado.