If you are thinking about going to Brazil, I think you are a very smart person. Brazil is an exciting country with plenty to see and do and a very warm people who love to receive and share with whomever is receptive enough to make friends with them.
I would start by Rio of course. Rio is a very big city and just like any other city around the world, you have to be careful. Rio has many wonderful places that are sure to take the breath away. Corcovado, Sugar Loaf, The Vista Chinesa, Tijuca Forest and so on and so forth. The beaches in Rio are an experience for the newcomer. In Ipanema beach, every day when the sun goes down, everyone watches in silence and finally clap in awe of the beauty of the scenery. The best place to go to the beach in Rio depends on what kind of person you are.
If you are young and want to mingle and see interesting brazilian youth exuding their charm and unbelievably beautiful bodies, go to Posto 9 in Ipanema, where they play footvolley all day, the boys and girls are golden and there's everything you could possibly want on a beach day for you to enjoy. Vendors walking by selling everything from popsicles to hammocks and sun glasses to shrimp cabobs. The service is nice. Now, if you are a family and you are looking to really just enjoy the sun and beach on a weekday (weekdays are much better at the beach in Rio), then I suggest you try the Barra da Tijuca beach. It is so vast it never really seems to be that full (except on Sundays when the so called 'suburbanos' are there). But even then it's nice.
Personally, I like the Botanical Gardens on Sundays. It's quiet and nice and you can see a lot of very cool things, feed the fish and pelicans on the pond and rest under a Pau Brasil tree. The beach is way too full to be nice on the weekends. Or to take a nice hike up the many hidden waterfalls that make you forget entirely that you are right in one of the biggest cities in the world. It feels more like a tropical jungle.
If you have plenty of time to really get to know Brazil, like 3 or 4 weeks, I suggest getting a Brazil pass, it's a ticket that costs around $500 US and that it allows you to travel by air to 5 major
brazilian cities. My suggestion goes as follows: Start with Rio because it's the major hub but don't spend too much time there. Just enjoy the beauty of it for a few days, take a few of the escorted jeep tours around the forests of Rio, visit Corcovado and Sugar Loaf, go to the beach and then move on. Next stop, Salvador. This is one of the coolest places you are going to be at in the world. It's a mixture of New Orleans, Kenya, Jamaica and Paradise beaches, all with the Brazilian "tempero" a seasoning that only in Brazil you will find.
In Salvador, you will see Capoeira rodas, music in the streets and art and life everwhere. It's a must. Since you are already in Bahia, o Morro de Sao Paulo is not too far and neither is Trancoso, these are classical beaches where you need not worry about shoes. It's all sandy and it doesn't cost much to stay there either. You will experience a level of warmth and service that might make you want to forget the States and move there. Visit both and then move on.
So, with 4 more air tickets to spend, I'd do the following: Go to the Amazon and take a jungle tour in Manaus. There is no reason not to see the most beautiful rainforest in Brazil and the world and it will enrich your life just to have been there and be able to tell the stories.
Next, a stop in Minas to visit the old town of Ouro Preto which seems like the entire town was sculpted by an artist and it's fun and sweet. Not very dangerous either. Relax here and take the time to enjoy the best brazilian cuisine you will find in the entire country of Brazil.
After this, on your way back to Rio, go visit Buzios and make sure you get souvenirs there and go walk on rua das Pedras. It's classy and supposedly Brigitte Bardot (the French actress) used to walk around topless there.
That's it for today. Please be sure to visit Brasil101.com for more Brazilian Travel, Tourism in Brazil, Brazilian Business and of Course, Brazilian Soccer info.
About the Author
Marcio has been taking groups and tours to Brazil since 1997. He knows Brazil and can help you make the most of Your Brazil Vacation Packages