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4 incredible off-the-beaten-track destinations in Brazil

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Few places are so massively popular, yet strangely mysterious as Brazil. Rio may be a dream destination for millions of people, but few tourists dare to venture into the lesser-known parts of the country. Fortunately, we know how surprising it can be and have selected 4 incredible off-the-beaten-track destinations in Brazil which should definitely be on your to-do list:

Ouro Preto, a historic city straight out of a fairy tale

Panoramic view of the old colonial historic town of Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil

The land that comprises today’s Brazil was colonized by Portugal at the turn of the 16th century, and a large influx of European, African and Asian migrations soon followed. It is now an independent country, but remnants of the former United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves are still visible.

One of them is Ouro Preto, a Unesco World Heritage and arguably the main tourist destination in the inland state of Minas Gerais. A Baroque gem that wouldn’t be out of place in mainland Europe, it’s a maze of cobbled streets adorned with Portuguese-style houses, fountains and opulent 18th century churches.

Historic old town of Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Ouro Preto is not only the cultural center of Minas and one of Brazil’s oldest European settlements, it acts as the main gateway into the state’s wilderness, sitting on the slopes of the vast Espinhaco Mountain chain. It may not have a coast, but here you will find towering waterfalls and pristine lakesas well as thermal baths and countless hiking trails.

Must do in Ouro Preto

  • Explore Mina de Passagemone of the city’s many colonial-era mining sites, now a museum
  • Try traditional dishes pao de queijo to the Instagrammable Opera cafe
  • Take a tour of the picturesque old town
  • Hop on the 1h30 steam train between Ouro Preto and Mariana, a neighboring historic town
  • Swimming nearby Andorinhas Cascade

Blumenau, Brazil’s Little Germany

German style house in Blumenau City, State of Santa Catarina, Brazil, South America

Did you know that German is spoken by 2 to 3 million people in Brazil? The country has been settled by several ethnic groups over the centuries, and unless they are part of an indigenous minority, Brazilians are from Europe, Africa, Asia or have mixed origins, much like the Americans. In fact, German descendants are one of the biggest groups in the far south of the country.

Portuguese is of course the national language of Brazil, but you shouldn’t be surprised to hear a Hello in Blumenau, a town in Santa Catarina where majority of the population descended from German settlers. In fact, Blumenau is home to one of the biggest Oktoberfest in the world, a proud display of the city’s heritage.

German-Brazilians parading through the streets of Blumenau, Santa Catarina, southern Brazil, South America

On top of that, it’s renowned for its old town and myriad cultural attractions, including the Beer Museum, which chronicles a brewing history dating back to the 19th century. Strolling through the bustling streets of Blumenau, lined with classic half-timbered buildings, it’s not hard to see why it has earned the nickname “Little Germany”.

Things to do in Blumenau

  • To stroll Villa Germanicathe city most traditional German neighborhood
  • Shop at Rua VX de Novembro
  • Attend Oktoberfesttraditionally held in October
  • Take a day trip to Spitzkopf Ecological Park for a breathtaking view of the Spitzkopf valley
  • Learn about local history by visiting a cultural center, such as the Beer, Glaspark and Hering museums

Fernando de Noronha, Brazil’s super exclusive island paradise

Aerial view of Cacimba do Padre beach in Fernando de Noronha, island off the northeast coast of Brazil, South America

If there’s one thing Brazil is famous for, it’s its extensive coastline, with sandy beaches that enjoy a tropical climate all year round. However, a fact little known to tourists is that Brazil also has a collective of paradise islands that, for want of being extremely accessible, have not yet been tarnished by mass tourism like Rio or Santos.

One of these islands is the candle Ferdinand de Noronha, part of a volcanic archipelago 217 miles off the northeast coast of the country. Noronha is one of the most expensive and sought-after destinations in Brazil, but surprisingly, only the locals seem to have heard of itinternational arrivals representing only 0.5% of visitors in 2021.

Young man watching the Twin Brothers Rock Formation in Fernando de Noronha, Pernambuco, Brazil

As well as being popular for its crystal clear beaches and party scene, Noronha is a protected national marine park requiring reservations months in advance. Airfares and accommodation prices are generally among the highest in Brazil, with the cheapest hotels costing an average of $400 per night, making it a trendier and more exclusive destination for high-end travelers.

Things to do in Fernando de Noronha

  • Spend a full day sunbathing on the scenic Atalaia Beach
  • Secure a spot at a weekend boat party
  • Take a tour of Bahia dos PorcosPortuguese for Bay of the Porks, where the water is teal in the key
  • Dive around the wreck of the Eleni Stathatos, a Greek freighter that sank off the coast of Brazil in 1929

Salvador, the jewel in the crown of northeast Brazil

Colorful streets in the Pelourinho district, old historic center of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

While the south and southeast of Brazil have been heavily influenced by the European and Asian populations who call it home, which is reflected in both its cuisine and local customs, the contrasting northeast, and the State of Bahia in particular, is famous for its rich Afro-Brazilian identity. Its capital and largest city is the captivating salvador.

The first capital of Brazil, long before Brasilia took over, and one of the oldest cities in the Americas dating back to 1549, Salvador has a distinct architecture and cuisine that is an indelible mark of the Portuguese Empire, and the indigenous tribes and enslaved Africans on whose backs the nation was built – and who contributed enormously to culture.

Tourist Taking Selfie in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Salvador is perhaps the most colorful Brazilian state capital, housing the historic Pelourinho distinct, the Lacerda Panoramic lift overlooking the lower town and the emblematic church of Sao Francisco, known for its gilded woodwork. If these reasons are not enough to visit, the architecture of the city is so fascinating that it has been declared world heritage site by Unesco.

Things to do in Salvador

  • To eat acaraje as you watch commuters go about their business in the always busy Pelourinho distinct
  • Visit the Afro-Brazilian Cultural Museum
  • swim at Port of Barrathe city’s main public beach
  • Farol da Barraa historic lighthouse built in 1536
  • Go back in time by entering the ornament, Portuguese Cathedral of Salvadordating from the 1600s

Rio is awesome, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg

Tourist couple admiring the historic town of Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Brazil is not an obscure nation like the severely underrated Albania, but curiously, the vast majority of foreigners only head to one place – you can probably guess where – and if you’re looking to thwart overtourism, then Rio isn’t the place for you. Yes, its soaring buildings overlooking the Atlantic Forest make it a unique cityscape, and its beaches are world-class, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

As you can see, Brazil is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, and reducing it to overpriced Ipanema or the sprawling urban mess of Sao Paulo is a big mistake. Thankfully, it’s done away with testing for vaccinated Americans and entry is much simpler, so what better time to start exploring this continent-sized and culturally vast giant than now?

trust us, you will not be disappointed.

Read more:

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