Family travel is always challenging, even if you’re a single parent traveling with kids. But Brazil is an exciting place to visit with your family, and many families find cheap last minute deals to get there on a small budget. After spending time on Ipanema Beach and playing beach volleyball, seeing the view from the mountains, and possibly experiencing the magnificence of Iguacu Falls in southern Brazil visitors like to explore the best family-friendly things to do in Brazil.
First of all, Brazil is a country of natural marvels, a paradise for nature lovers. It is impossible not to take a tour around the Amazon basin and surrounding rainforests usually called the “lungs of the Earth”. The abundance of flora might astonish both a common traveler and an experienced scientist. In addition, there are multiple tourist excursions, featuring piranha fishing, exploring a thicket of jungles inhabited by primate species, watching Amazon inflows, etc. The other natural attractions in Brazil are numerous waterfalls, both in the Amazon basin and Iguassu Falls. The last site is the biggest cascade waterfall in the world, consisting of 275 small falls. The view is inspiring and amazing!
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Best Family-Friendly Things to Do in Brazil
It is hard to imagine how many attractions and contrasts are gathered in one country! Brazil is an exact example of the brightest and the most incredible travel spot in Latin America, where golden beaches are perfectly combined with the green rainforests of Amazonia, the urban cities of Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro contrast with small rural villages, and carnivals and festivals take place all year round in different parts of the country. A visit to Brazil is likely to bring the best memories and impressions, considering the number of local allurements.
Visit the Beach
Get some beach time! More than 2 thousand beaches are at tourists’ disposal, starting from luxury Copacabana in Rio up to small island beaches. One of the most exquisite places in Fortaleza that is much adored by surfing and big wave fans. Peaceful and calm rest is guaranteed in Angra dos Reis, 150 km away from Rio. There one may find beautiful sand beaches with green shores surrounded by mountains. An impressive landscape is supplemented a lot by tropical vegetation.
Visit Brazilian Cities
Feel the superiority of Brazilian cities! Every big city in the country is full of travel attractions and must-see places. For instance, Cristo Redentor Statue in Rio pulls in millions of visitors, eager to see the architect’s marvel at more than 700 meters altitude. The other tremendous spot in Riois Maracanã, is the biggest football stadium on the world map. São Paulo is usually associated with the industry, as well as with numerous museums and Zoos. Tourists always visit Art Museum and MuseuPaulista, opened in 1895 to signify on Brazilian independence. Brasília, the current capital of Brazil, is an ideal metropolitan city, planned and built in an “aircraft” shape, where every part runs a specific area (administration, residence, shopping, etc.) Manaus, hidden in Amazon basin, is real preservation of colonial architecture and traditions.
There are many dance schools in Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo that offer their services in big cities, especially on the eve of Brazilian carnivals. The most popular one is the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, arranged before the Easter feast. It is a grand public holiday, full of dancing, bright costumes, fireworks, and loud music! This carnival is a real samba parade, accompanied by spectacular performances!
Taste Brazilian coffee
It is almost obligatory to taste this soft drink, while visiting Brazil – the world leader in coffee production. There are various kinds of coffee served in every café, bar or restaurant. In addition, one can take a trip to spacious coffee plantations, distributed mainly in such states as São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Paraná.
The Tijuca Forest
This rainforest is in Rio de Janeiro. It is the biggest urban forest in the world and has hundreds of plants and wildlife, some of which are endangered. The area was cleared to plant coffee, and the rainforest was replanted after 1850 to protect the water supply of Rio. Christ the Redeemer is on the top of Corcovado Mountain, but there are other attractions in the forest. The Mesa do Imperador which are gigantic picnic tables made from granite, Cascatinha Waterfall, and the gazebo that is shaped like a pagoda at Vista Chinesa outlook.
Photo by: Quiltsalad
The Parque Lage
The Parque Lage is at the foot of Corcovado Mountain. It contains the Italianate mansion of the industrialist Enrique Lage and his wife, the singer, Gabriela Bezanzoni. It has gorgeous walking trails through the subtropical forest, a visual arts school, and a café that is open to the public inside the mansion. The Escola de ArtesVisuais do Parque Lage is a place where multidisciplinary artists have met for over 30 years and new aesthetic conceptions are evolving.
Brasilia is the capital of Brazil and is the only city that was built in the 20th century to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A beautifully planned city, it was designed by Oscar Niemeyer. It has several architectural wonders to see including the JuscelionKubitschek Bridge, the National Congress of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Monumental Axis, the Cathedral of Brasilia, and the Palacio da Alvorada. Visitors enjoy windsurfing and wakeboarding on Paranoa Lake, a large artificial lake that was created to increase the water supply to the area.
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Olinda is on the Atlantic coast. An attractive colonial town with 16th and 17th-century buildings, it was once the center of the slave trade in Brazil. It is famous for its Carnival celebrations that take place in the city streets and has African overtones of music and dancing. Admission is free, and there are hundreds of musical groups, sometimes individuals that keep the entertainment going. There are many restaurants and bars with local live music as well as handicraft studios and other artists who create a charming and relaxing atmosphere in the old town.
Photo by: Prefeitura de Olinda
Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland. It is in south-eastern Brazil and has a floodplain ecosystem that shifts between periods of standing water and dry soil. When the water rises it reaches from two to five meters and nourishes the plain just as the Nile River nourishes Egypt. The Pantanal Conservation Area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors watch the wildlife in the area which includes caiman, jaguars, giant river otters, toucans, the South American tapir, the maned wolf, the hyacinth macaw, the giant anteater, and much more. It is considered one of the best places in the world for bird watching. These animals, many other birds, and other aquatic life need the Pantanal region for survival. Visits need to be carefully planned, so as not to disturb the natural environment.
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro, “a cidade Maravilhosa” as locals know it, is traditionally the most popular tourist destination in Brazil, Rio received more than 2.65 million visitors in 2018. Certainly one of the most aesthetically pleasing cities in the world, there is no doubt that tourism in Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beneficial inputs to the local as well the national economy. It is served by Galeão International Airport and Santos Dumont Domestic Airport. “Galeão” is the biggest airport in Rio and is most likely where international visitors are going to land. It is about 12 miles from the city centre, easily within reach by shuttle, bus, metro, or taxi. “Santos Dumont” is the other airport in Rio. It used to be Rio´s only airport but now serves mostly domestic flights with airlines such as GOL, Azul, Avianca and LATAM.
When in Rio, most tourists stay in the beach front hotels. Popular choices exist on Copacabana and Ipanema beaches such as Olinda Rio and Mirimar hotels. If you want to go for real luxury, choose Copacabana Palace, go to destination for celebrities and stars from all over the world. If you want something further back from the beach and more immersed in the bohemian cultural life of Rio de Janeiro, find yourself a nice pousada in the “Santa Teresa” district. Up on the top of the hills, it makes for a more romantic and relaxing getaway.
The top tourist attraction in Rio is the famous “Cristo Redentor” (Christ the Redeemer) statue. Perched on top of Corcovado, it keeps a watchful eye on the bay at all times. Most of the trip to the top can be made by train, then you can take either the steps or the escalators to the top. A piece of advice is to time your trip here to arrive just before sunset, although it might be busy, its is one of the most beautiful sunsets you can see on the planet! Other must see attractions in Rio include: Corcovado, Escadaria Selaron, Copacabana, Ipanema, Lapa and Tijuca national park. An incredible mix of world famous beaches, unique cultural attractions and impressive nature, Rio de Janeiro always leaves you wanting more.
Recommended Stay: 1 Week +
Foz do Iguaçu is in the Brazilian state of Paraná. This is your base for visiting Iguaçu falls, the incredible UNESCO site where hundreds of waterfalls straddle the border between Brazil and Argentina. It is said that Eleanor Roosevelt (at the time First Lady of the United States of America) exclaimed “My poor Niagara” at the sight of the thunderous cascades.
You don´t need too much time in Iguaçu to appreciate one of the new seven wonders of nature, a few days here will suffice. Usually, a visit would consist of a day at the Brazilian side of the falls. Here you can appreciate the view of the gigantic falls on the Argentinian side, which include the biggest cascades. The next day you can hop over to the Argentinian side with a guide and look back on the Brazilian side. The advantage of this is that on the Argentinian side, the footpaths and bridges are slightly better, allowing you improved up-close access to the waterfalls. A bonus visit is the Iguaçu Bird park, consisting of massive aviaries with an array of tropical bird species, visitors can get closer than normal to a range of colorful local birds. There is also a reptile cage for those who wish for more thrills. Look out for the giant Anaconda!
The best accommodation in Iguaçu is certainly Belmond das Cataratas. A stately building designed in a colonial style, which is now a 5-star hotel that overlooks the waterfalls. It does come with a price tag but the bonus of staying here, (apart from first-class services) is that it has access to the waterfalls outside the opening hours of the national park. A once-in-a-lifetime experience is to see the sun setting over the Iguaçu Falls.
Recommended Stay: 2-5 days
“São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos” known simply as Salvador was the first capital of Brazil and capital of the Northeastern state of Bahia. Home of Afro-Brazilian culture, a visit here is sure to guarantee that you live the famous “Alégria” of the Bahian people. Alégria is a mixture of happiness and joy of living in the present moment and the people of Salvador seemed to have mastered its expression. Salvador is one of the oldest cities founded by Europeans in the Americas and has a colonial past with some dark patches in its history – being one of the main slave-trading cities in Brazil.
Wandering the center of Pelourinho, the historic center of the city is almost like a step back in time. The cobbled streets wind through pastel-coloured houses with gorgeous windows and balconies. Many of the colonial houses have been transformed into cafés, restaurants, small museums and cultural centers. Here, you can take a walking tour with a local tour guide who will show you all the attractions in the historic center. Ask around for “Capoeira,” a traditional Brazilian form of fighting disguised as a dance. This is a real must-see cultural experience when you visit Salvador.
A great idea when you are in Salvador is to take a 1-hour flight to the small town of Lençóis. (Beware flights between Salvador and Lençóis are only on Thursdays and Sundays.) From Lençóis, you can visit one of the most beautiful national parks in Brazil – Chapada Diamantina. You can trek through picturesque nature where you will come across extraordinary waterfalls, and caves that your guide will take you down to explore. A highlight is heading to one of the top of the Chapadas (flat topped mountains that characterize the geography of the area) to see the sunset at the end of the day. A bonus is that if this is the last leg of your trip, all you have to do is catch a short flight back to the airport in Salvador and from there you can take an international flight.