Despite being a large city in the state of Paraná, Curitiba tends to escape the throes of Carnival that take over the other big metropolises. It is the ideal time to take a culture-themed trip as the museums, parks and squares are a lot less crowded, granting time to enjoy it all at a leisurely pace. Check out the Oscar Niemeyer museum to learn about this significant Brazilian architect, watch a ballet at the Teatro Guaira, or take a stroll around the stunning Bosque Alemão, a park built in honor of German immigration to the area.
Located on the banks of the Negro River, Manaus is the base point for trips into the Amazon rainforest. While parades do happen in Manaus, Carnival tends to be quieter in preparation for the state’s huge festival, Parintins, in June. Visit the Teatro Amazonas for a memorable performance followed by a low-key pizza dinner at the Casa do Pensador right opposite the theater. Book a three-day tour through the Amazon forest to see local tribes, outstanding wildlife and the meeting of the waters where two rivers meet to form one river split into two colors.
With crystal-clear waters, rich saltwater biodiversity and stunning tropical landscapes, Fernando de Noronha is a paradise just off the coast of Recife. The surrounding waters have the highest concentration of resident dolphins in the world, a credit to the extraordinary variety of marine life. While the visuals of the island are enough in themselves, there are plenty of activities to do there such as diving, surfing, snorkeling, hiking and touring. The conservation projects there mean it is highly regulated and expensive to visit, but for a slice of pure paradise, it is worth it.
The Jalapão landscapes are breathtaking; rocky formations and deep orange sand dunes with sprinklings of hardy vegetation complete the scenery. There are plenty of fun activities to do here for those looking for an eco-tourism adventure; go on a guided tour and hike some of the highest dunes in the area to observe the complex environment from up high, bathe near waterfalls and dive into the springs below, or go wildlife-spotting and try to see some of the world’s rarest animals, such as the maned wolf or the jaguar.
These two towns in the most southern state of Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul, offer a relief away from the sweltering heat in more northern states. They also offer a different slice of Brazilian culture that developed from past German immigration with their mountain resort feel and typical German architecture. Gramado offers plenty of activities with boat rentals in Lago Negro and forest walks and hikes in the Serra Gaucha mountains nearby. The town is also filled with chocolatiers and artisan shops. Just a couple of hours drive away is Bento Gonçalves, known as the wine capital of Brazil for its abundance of vineyards and wine production with tours of local wine-tasting.
Brumadinho is a small town in Minas Gerais. It has a few beautiful churches and nearby waterfalls that make great day excursions, yet the most popular attraction is nearby Inhotim, a large outdoor interactive art gallery filled with thought-provoking sculptures and gorgeous gardens. It remains open during the Carnival period and offers temporary exhibitions as well as the permanent monuments. Some of the most fascinating collections include the orchestra of sound speakers that you can walk along to experience a surreal sensation of being in the middle of a real-life orchestra.
Just off the coast of the extreme south of São Paulo is Ilha do Cardoso, a paradisiacal island characterized by white beaches, natural pools and waterfalls. There are plenty of daytime activities such as hiking and surfing, as well as the opportunity to take a break and rest on the deserted beaches. At night, bars and restaurants come to life offering live music of forró and plenty of fresh seafood that is budget-friendly and delicious.