Family Vacations to Brazil

Arrow Discover more

Brazil – Family Vacation Guide

The world’s fifth largest country could fit India into its top pocket and still leave space for another few nations to slip in comfortably. Your family will have the best time exploring on a massive outdoor adventure. It’s not the destination for a casual, see-what-happens family holiday, but it is one of earth’s greatest adventures, keeps several of the planet’s most spectacular landscapes within its boundaries and will never fail to amaze and stun on a minute-by-minute basis.

Why Go

  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites

    Brazil has 20 UNESCO World Heritage sites including the Central Amazon and the Iguaçu National Park.

  • Beaches

    Brazil has over 5,000 miles of coastline and some of the world’s most iconic beaches, from Ipanema and Copacabana in Rio to lesser known legends, like Lopes Mendes on Ilha Grande and Santa Catarina’s Lagoinha do Leste.

  • Nature and Biodiversity

    Brazil is the world’s most bio-diverse country with more than 50,000 plant species and more known species of mammals and fish. As the only country with both the Equator and Tropic of Capricorn running through it, Brazil has eight different climate zones and several micro-climates.

  • Amazon Rainforest

    The Central Amazon Rainforest in Brazil (Amazonas) is one of the world’s top five eco-tourism destinations. The Pantanal is Earth’s largest area of tropical wetland, covering almost 120,000 square miles and most of it lies in central Brazil’s Mato Grosso do Sul region, now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

  • Celebrations

    There is always something going on in Brazil. From Rio Carnival to Bumba-Meu-Boi, there are so many reasons to visit this country.

Where to Go

Rio de Janeiro

Rio might not be the capital of Brazil any more, but it’s the country’s most visited city and one of the most icon-packed in the Southern Hemisphere with Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado, Sugar Loaf Mountain, Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, and the annual Mardi Gras Carnival, unrivalled still for scale, glamour, beads and bikinis.

  • Visit between May and August for temperatures between 70˚F and 85˚F and cooling breezes to temper the city’s notoriously high humidity. December to March is the humid rainy season with temperatures up to 105˚F.
  • The area around legendary Copacabana and Leme beaches is best for family-friendly three- and four-star family hotels with views of the ocean and Sugar Loaf Mountain.
  • Take the 20-minute train journey to the foot of Christ the Redeemer. The 125-foot high Art Deco statue and view of Guanabara Bay make an awe-inspiring duo.
  • Arraial do Cabo is two hours east of Rio for white sand beaches, fewer crowds and world-class diving.
  • Don’t miss: the cable car up Sugar Loaf Mountain, Mureta da Urca district for sunsets over Guanabara Bay, art galleries and museums in the restored Docklands’ quarter, Aqua Rio for the largest aquarium in South America, Marapendi Lagoon cruises and Rio4fun city tours.

Bahia Region

The northeast region of Brazil has the country’s most temperate climate and thousands of miles of tropical beaches.

  • Visit the regional capital of Salvador for: a Mardi Gras Carnival second only to Rio’s, beaches around Todos os Santos Bay, tropical island hopping, Capoeira fight-dancing performance, traditional Afro-Brazilian culture.
  • Porto Seguro, south of Salvador, is best for beaches, colonial history and also a gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage site Costa do Descobrimento.
  • Chapada Diamantina National Park in the heart of Bahia is one of Brazil’s leading walking and hiking destinations.

Amazonas Region

Amazonas in the far northwest of Brazil is the country’s largest state and has South America’s biggest portion of Amazon Rainforest. It’s a major eco-tourism destination and almost all activities are centered around historic Manaus.

  • Manaus, sometimes known as “Paris of the Tropics,” is the capital of Amazonas and the largest city in the region. It was founded in 1499, but most of the extravagantly grand architecture only dates back to the late 19th century’s rubber boom; the outrageously opulent Amazonas Theatre is a great example.
  • The easiest base for exploring the rainforest and river with kids, Manaus has excellent hotels and resorts, a wide range of cruise companies and guided tours.
  • Don’t miss: Moon Beach on the banks of the Rio Negro, Lake Janauari Ecological Park, 19th century Manaus Port, Ponta Negra Beach and Anavilhanas National Park.

The Pantanal, Mato Grosso do Sul Region

The Pantanal is one of the world’s great wilderness landscapes, the largest wetlands on earth and it’s almost all in the south west of Brazil, right on the Paraguayan border. The area’s second only to Amazonas as an eco-destination and the best way to adventure here as a family is on an eco-cruise or as guests of an eco-resort specialising in local area tours and experiences.

  • The tiny town of Miranda is the centre for Pantanal tourism. This is where to fine eco-lodges, camps and guided eco-tours. Miranda Pantanal Escapes
  • The best time to visit is from mid-June to mid-September. October to March is the rainy season.

São Paulo

The largest city in the Southern Hemisphere, São Paulo’s the creative and cultured heart of Brazil with over 100 museums and galleries, almost 200 theaters and dozens of parks, gardens and exhibition spaces. Sampa, as it’s known locally, is as hectic and crowded as Rio, but it’s a lot less touristy and the atmosphere’s more business-like than hedonistic.

  • Good for museums and a few of days exploring
  • In the city, don’t miss: Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), Pinacoteca, Palacio Boa Vista, Amantakir and the Municipal Market.
  • Near São Paulo, don’t miss: more than 100 beaches on Anchieta Island, water sports on Cabras Island and the São Sebastião coastal region.

What to Do

  • Aqua Rio, Rio de Janeiro
    South America’s largest aquarium is in Rio’s Porto Maravilha (Wonder Port) and contains over 3,000 marine creatures in 28 tanks, holding a total of 1.2 million gallons of water.
  • Chapada Diamantina National Park, Bahia
    Chapada Diamantina is one of South America’s leading parks for hiking trails, rock climbing and guided treks.
  • Amazonas River Cruises, Manaus
    One of the safest and most rewarding ways to explore the Amazon is on a two- to four-day river cruise on traditional boats with experienced local guides.
  • Anavilhanas National Park, Amazonas
    This river archipelago of 400 islands is the world’s largest and home to the Amazonian Pink River Dolphin.
  • Caiman Ecological Refuge, Miranda, Mato Grosso do Sul
    A massive working ranch in the heart of the Pantanal, specializing in guided activities and tours of this unique and fragile landscape.
  • Pico da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro
    Another of Rio’s famous hills, this one’s a fairly demanding climb and takes about two hours, but the path’s well marked and there’s a good staircase to the summit. The views from 300 feet above sea level are spectacular.
  • Iguaçu National Park, Paraná
    Brazil shares the Iguaçu Falls with Argentina and the Iguaçu National Park has several cruises in and around the falls on the Brazilian side.
  • Museu de Arte de São Paulo
    South America’s largest collection of European art including works by Renoir, Picasso, Chagall, Dali and Van Gogh. The Lina Bo Bardi building is one of the city’s great landmarks and admission is free.
  • Serra da Bocaina Park, Rio de Janeiro
    Accessible from Rio de Janeiro of São Paulo, Serra da Bocaina is the largest Atlantic forest reserve in Brazil and its boundaries contain everything from pristine beaches and swathes of woodland to mountains, waterfalls, rivers and rugged coastline.

Educational Value for Kids

  • Join marine biologists on an educational cruise round Rio de Janeiro’s Marapendi Lagoon.
  • Take a Rio4fun tour of Rio de Janeiro with a local guide; it’s recommended by Visit Rio and is multi-lingual and family-friendly.
  • Whale watching tours from Salvador between June and November almost guarantee sightings of migrating Humpbacks off Brazil’s east coast.
  • São Paulo’s Ibirapuera is one of the world’s top 10 urban parks and where to find the city’s Contemporary Art Museum, Modern Art Museum and Afro-Brazilian Museum.
  • Visit the Port Zone in Rio de Janeiro to see the record breaking collection of graffiti and urban art. Look out for works created to celebrate highlights of the 2016 Summer Olympics, like the world’s first Refugee Olympic Team.
  • Take a cruise from Manaus to see the phenomenon known as “meeting of the waters,” caused by the natural confluence of the Rivers Negro and Solimões.
  • Spend a few hours at Modelo Market in Salvador. Built in 1912, it’s now a National Heritage monument and one of the best places to shop for Brazilian craftwork and eat legendary Bahian street food.

Getting Around

It’s no surprise that a country the size of Brazil has dozens of spectacular road trips. But, unless you’re planning to be here for months, driving is the most inconvenient and time-consuming way to travel.

Direct flights from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo connect to main airports in every region and, in some cases, to smaller provincial airports. Another inter-region option is the country’s network of luxury buses called leitos. These normally operate overnight services, have fully reclining seats and cost less than flights.

Don’t drive in cities. Public transport is generally reliable and runs all hours. Taxis are easy to find, just make sure they’re official city taxis and agree on fares in advance.

Get travel news sent to your inbox