Not sure where to go? Try one of these common itineraries to take on your own, or mix and match destinations to plan your own independent trip.
1. Brazil Highlights Itinerary
Approximate Time: 2 Weeks
Manaus - Salvador - Rio de Janeiro - Foz do Iguacu
Because Brazil is such a large country, if you're limited on time and want to see highlights throughout the country, it is recommended that you take domestic flights. This can get expensive, but for those with only a couple of weeks to travel, it is essential. This itinerary begins in Manaus. You can make your way there from whatever city you originally arrive in. Manaus is the gateway to the Amazon. Give yourself several days here to tour the town as well as the Anavilhanas Archilpelago. The wildlife and bird watching is wonderful here and you can see the lush, Amazon Rainforest. The town of Manaus was built during the rubber boom of the 1900s.
From there, fly to Salvador. Give yourself plenty of time to explore the colonial old town area which has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Salvador is very rich in culture and it is fun to explore the fish market and the colorful Sao Joaquim market. Dine at some excellent restaurants and soak up the sites of the city.
From Salvador fly to Rio de Janeiro. Visit some of the city's popular beaches, explore the diverse and eclectic neighborhoods, and take in the active nightlife. Rio offers very dramatic landscapes, mellow and relaxed beach culture, and cosmopolitan restaurants and bars. Whatever your style and preference, you're sure to find it in Rio.
From Rio de Janeiro, catch a flight to Iguazu Falls and check out the Falls from both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides. This is a top destination in Brazil and should not be missed. It truly is a breathtaking sight. After you've seen all that the Falls has to offer, catch a flight back to your departure city and continue home.
2. Southern Brazil Itinerary
Approximate Time: 3 or 4 Weeks
Rio de Janeiro - Paraty - Curitiba - Florianopolis - Foz do Iguacu - Campo Grande - Sao Paulo - Rio de Janeiro
Brazil is a large country, and traveling overland can take a long time. If you're not flying, be prepared to invest in some long bus trips and allow yourself plenty of time to explore your destinations between travel days. This itinerary takes you through some of the southern highlights of the country. It begins and ends in Rio de Janeiro, so it's a good itinerary for those who are flying in and out of the country, as opposed to those traveling overland from neighboring countries.
Begin your trip with several days in the festive city of Rio de Janeiro. Some popular sites in or near the city include Corcovado Mountain and Parque Enrique Lage in the Jardim Botnica neighborhood. Another fun activity is to take the cable car to the top of Sugar Loaf and take in some of the spectacular views.
From Rio, take a bus to Paraty. This historic coastal town is a great place to spend a couple of days. It has many old churches and cobblestone streets that are fun to explore. You can also visit the many nearby forests, waterfalls, islands, and beaches during your time here.
From Paraty, take a night bus to Curitiba. Curitiba is one of the largest city in the southern part of Brazil. It is worth a day to explore. It's old town is a good place to visit, although it is slightly run down and heavy in graffiti. From Curitiba, take a bus to Florianopolis. Florianopolis has become one of the more popular destinations in Brazil, particularly with those travelers looking for good beaches and interesting culture. It is the capital of the state of Santa Catarina. Half of the city is located on the mainland while the other half is on the Santa Catarina Island.
From Florianopolis, take the night bus to Iguazu Falls. Iguazu Falls is one of the natural wonders of the world. It sits on the border between Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina and is a not to be missed site in southern Brazil. It is recommended that you spend a day at the Brazilian side and then do a day trip to the Argentina side.
After soaking in the Falls, continue on to Campo Grande. Campo Grande is a good place to base yourself for a variety of day trips. You can do a Pantanal Wildlife tour or visit the small town of Bonito.
From Campo Grande, take a bus to Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo is the largest city in Brazil. It's worth spending a few days here soaking up both the culture and the nightlife. There are many neighborhoods to explore and excellent restaurants worth trying, so arm yourself with a map and start wandering.
From Sao Paulo you can catch a night bus to Rio to conclude your trip before heading back home.
3. Northeast Brazil Itinerary
Approximate Time: 2 Weeks
Recife - Maragogi - Penedo - Praia do Forte - Salvador
This itinerary lets you explore the northeastern part of Brazil and all that it has to offer. It takes you through some lively and colorful towns, picturesque settings, and culturally rich attractions. Begin your trip in Recife. Recife is the captial of Pernambuco and also the largest city along the northeastern coast of Brazil. It's a cultural city with a nice old town. It also has some pleasant beaches worth visiting. You can also make a trip to nearby Olinda. Olinda has a wonderful art scene and is a beautiful place to explore. Continue down the coast and stop near Maragogi to go snorkeling in the coastal pools. Your next stop is Penedo, which is a lovely colonial town. There are many nearby sites including the close Itatiaia National Park. From Penedo go on to Praia do Forte. Although this is a very touristy destination, it does have some of the area's most beautiful spots. It can be overpriced, so if you are low on cash, limit your time here. Finally, continue on to Salvador. Salvador offers a lot of culture, a vibrant atmosphere, and is a great place to end your tour of northeastern Brazil.