When we talk about Brazil, we need to have in mind that it is a huge country impossible to be labeled in just one way. The country has different influences, cultures, food, weather, vocabulary, slangs and idioms you name it. As a matter of fact, many people think that in Brazil the official language is Spanish because that’s the main language in South America, but actually the language in Brazil is Portuguese.
We already talked about the Northeast which is a very joyful and warm region that attracts thousands of tourists from all around the world. Now we are checking what South has to offer and you will know more than just Rio de Janeiro, soccer or samba. Ready?
So, the South region has three states: Paraná – Curitiba is the capital, Santa Catarina – the capital is the beautiful Florianopolis and Rio Grande do Sul – the capital is Porto Alegre.
The Southern region is known as the European Brazil, because of Germans, Italians and Ukrainians immigrants who came to Brazil by the end of 19th Century and first half of 20th Century, it’s possible to notice the accentuated European architecture, culture and cuisine. Here are the South highlights:
Paraná is the home of Iguaçu Falls, with hundreds of cascades straddling the border with Argentina. Surrounding the falls is Iguaçu National Park.
What to do?
- Sightseeing Tour of the Argentinian and Brazilian Sides of Iguassu
Make the most of your Iguassu Falls vacation and visit both the Argentinian and Brazilian side of the falls. Combine two sightseeing tours from Puerto Iguazu for a full day in both national parks – Iguaçu National Park and Iguazú National Park – where you’ll see incredible features like Devil’s Throat, the area’s largest waterfall.
- Explore the mountains
Stunning views are seen in an easy hiking to Morro do Gaviao in Ribeirao Claro, Parana. Also Parana Peak in Antonina has scenic views but the round-trip hiking may take around 12 hours, so you should be prepared for that!
- Get in touch with the fauna and flora
In forests like Bosque Joao Paulo II in Curitiba, Parque Recanto Saltinho in Tijucas do Sul and Guaraquecaba Environmental Protection Area in Guaraquecaba you’ll be even closer to tropical nature.
- Enjoy the top notch beaches
Ilha do Mel is located on the coast of the state of Paraná, 2.5 miles away from Pontal do Sul and 15 miles from the city of Paranaguá by boat. The island attracts tourists all year long: in Summer, mostly Brazilians come for quietness, warm temperatures and surf. The best beaches are: Farol Beach, For a das Encantadas Beach, Grande Beach, Fortaleza da Ilha do Mel.
- Jardim Botanico de Curitiba (Curitiba Botanical Garden)
This is Curitiba postal card and also known as the “Jardim Botânico Fanchette Rischbieter”, is a park located in the city of Curitiba. It was opened on October 5, 1991. It is a protected area, consisting of collections of living plants, scientifically recognized, organized and identified, for the purpose of study, research and documentation of the country’s floristic heritage, especially the Paranaense flora.
- Museu Oscar Niemeyer – MON
Also located in Curitiba, a must see tourist location is the Oscar Niemeyer Museum. Oscar Niemeyer was a Brazilian architect considered to be one of the key figures in the development of modern architecture, particularly noted for his work in Brasília, the new capital of Brazil since 1960.
The museum houses important references of national and international artistic production, with approximately 7,000 works in the areas of visual arts, architecture and design. It is considered the largest art museum in Latin America, with a space of about 35,000 square meters of built area and more than 17,000 square meters of exhibition area.
Opened on November 22, 2002, the museum has held during this period about 350 national, international and itinerant exhibitions. With a total of 12 exhibition halls, each year more than 20 exhibitions are held, which together receive an audience of over 360,000 visitors.
With a multidisciplinary team, which aims to bring and enhance visitors’ experience with the visual arts, MON has the Education, Cultural Planning, Collection and Conservation, Documentation and Reference, Museum Management, Communication, Design, Legal and Events sectors, as well as administrative area.
Here are other famous attractions in Paraná:
- Holocaust Museum, in Curitiba;
- Gracas Schoenstatt Sanctuary, in Londrina;
- Buraco do Padre Waterfall, in Ponta Grossa;
- Museu de Arte Indigena, in Curitiba;
- Parque Historico De Carambei, in Carambei;
- Parque das Aves, in Foz do Iguacu;
- Itaipu Dam, in Foz do Iguacu.
With a long Atlantic coastline and several islands, it’s known for its beaches and mountains. Florianópolis, the capital, has a traditional public market with bars, restaurants and food stalls, and a history museum set in a 19th-century colonial governor’s palace. Florianópolis lies mostly on Santa Catarina Island, which has beach resorts at its northern tip.
Here are some things you can’t miss in Santa Catarina:
The beaches in Santa Catarina are gems and cannot be missed. The most famous are Joaquina, Mole, Rosa, Campeche, Ingleses, Lagoinha do Leste and Guarda do Embau Beach. If you want to enjoy the natural pool, Barra da Lagoa is the right place for you, especially if you like surfing!
Also, thinking about beaches, if you go to Santa Catarina, you can’t miss Balneário Camboriú. It is a resort city known for its high-rise buildings and beaches like Praia Central. Bars, restaurants and shops line Avenida Atlântica, a busy boulevard next to the beach. Unipraias Park sits at the mouth of the Rio Camboriú, offering city views from zip lines and cable cars. The Cristo Luz Monument, a huge statue of Christ, overlooks the city.
- Wild Nature
Santa Catarina is not only about beaches. There is much more to be seen. Visit the jaw-dropping sierra known as Serra do Rio do Rastro. Venture inland from the golden beaches of Florianopolis, to this rugged, mountainous terrain—high enough to receive dustings of snow. From there, it’s possible to go to National Park São Joaquim, where you can find the Church Hill (Morro da Igreja), a rock formation with a pierced stone (Pedra Furada) on a mountain in a vast valley, is located 30 km from the center of Urubici. The path with signposts goes through a rural area full of fog and Araucaria trees. At the top lies a stand of Cindacta project (Integrated Center for Air Defense and Traffic Control).
Another worthy ecological hiking is going to Morro do Macaco. You start the hiking from Canto Grande Beach, in Bombinhas, on the right side of the beach – as a reference there is a fishing storage across from the beginning of the trail. The hiking may take from 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your pace. Pay attention on the way, because there is a fork separating into two different ways. You should keep left to continue onto the Morro do Macaco. If you go right, it’s the way to Tainha Beach.
Driving south to the border of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, is the Malacara Canyon, which means Canyon Badface. The roundtrip trail takes around 3 hours with a medium level of difficulty. The goal is to get to the Malacara pool by walking along the riverbed on rocky pebble stones and watering the feet, enjoying the fauna (mainly birds like toucans, rooks and woodpeckers) and the lush Atlantic forest that covers the peraus. The Malacara’s psyche is more than 2 meters deep, crystal clear and inviting for a bath. From this point you can see right away the canyon walls.
If you want to have a German experience in Brazil, it’s totally possible once you go to Blumenau, and especially if you visit the city in October. The Bavarian long festival takes place in there for 17 days and it’s the largest beer festival outside Germany and the second on the planet. It takes place at Parque Vila Germânica (Germanic Village Park), located in the Bairro da Velha (District of the Old Woman).
Such as in Munich, Oktoberfest Blumenau celebrates their adopted German heritage with big parades, big food, and big shooting matches. You’ll find traditional German costumes and dancing, oompah music and German singing, and drinking beer as further as your body can handle. German food like pork ribs, sausages, veal, red cabbage, and sauerkraut is available as well as Brazilian beer like Brahma, Bierland, Eisenbahn, and something called, appropriately, Das Bier.
As Brazilians say “we improve traditions”, there is some new stuff about Brazilian Oktoberfest that make this party unique. You’ll meet Vovó e Vovô Chopão (Grandma and Grandpa Chopao), the festival’s official mascots, the Chope em Metro, the metre beer chugging contest, anyone over 18 years old can participate on this event, chugging a metre-long glass (600ml) in separate male and female competitions. Whoever can finish their metre the fastest – without spilling or taking his/her mouth off the glass – wins.
- Beto Carrero World
Santa Catarina is owns one of Brazil’s premier amusement parks. A huge tourist attraction since its opening in 1991, Beto Carrero World, named after its creator, is the largest amusement park in South America, and has recently partnered with DreamWorks Entertainment and Universal Studios, to take their rides, performances and even zoo, to the next level.
Rio Grande do Sul
Rio Grande do Sul is Brazil’s southernmost state, bordering Argentina and Uruguay. In its northeast, the mountainous Serra Gaucha is home to the Vale dos Vinhedos wine region and includes German-style resort towns like Gramado and Canela, known for picturesque natural settings. Porto Alegre, the capital, is a major port with classic structures like the Public Market and Metropolitan Cathedral in its historic center.
There are many things to do and places to visit in Rio Grande do Sul, like canyons, lakes and historical cities, but be ready to taste the best of food and wine. Here are some must go sites:
- Vale dos Vinhedos (Vinhedos Valley)
Visiting Vale dos Vinhedos you’ll be in touch with the best wineries and restaurants, amidst the gentle green landscape that really resembles the hills of Italy. On the way you will find several pasta dishes and producers of cheese and jams. What to bring: a cardigan and an empty stomach. What not to bring: your diet.
As a highlight, the Casa Valduga Winery has an all-you-can-eat pasta dishes with a homemade flavor. There are options for all tastes, from meat to many veggie dishes like pesto, fresh tomatoes and four-cheese. You can go to the wine store to taste the best wines and purchase some exclusive bottles.
- Cânion do Itaimbezinho (Itaimbezinho Canyon)
The Itaimbezinho is a green abyss canyon in Aparados Park in Serra de Cambará do Sul, 200 km from Porto Alegre. There are many trails to explore, but be aware that some of them must have a credentialed guide.
About wild nature, we can mention these famous places:
- Pedra do Segredo: this rock is famous for having a shape of two gorillas heads and it’s an interesting place for hiking and climbing. It’s a perfect place to greet the sunset. During the day, you can visit three caves on this region: Escuridão, Salão das Estalactites and Percival Antunes Caves (this last one owns the name of its discoverer).
- Minas do Camaquã: in this site you can see the abandoned mines and the Lagoa Azul (Blue Lake) – because of the pH of the water, there are no bacterias in it and so it perfectly reflects the color of the sky.
- Estação Ecológica do Taim: this ecological oasis where 230 species of birds are preserved – Taim is their nursery – as well as capybaras, alligators and graxains, species of bush dogs typical of the region.
- Molhes da Barra de Rio Grande: in the port of Rio Grande, in the south of the state, there is a cart that crosses the rock arms near the pier, which enters the ocean. He walks on rails, pulled by a sail driven by the strong winds of the beach, and goes to the end of the Jetty’s rock tip, a good place to fish.
- São Lourenço do Sul: São Lourenço, the Pearl of the Patos Lake, is one of the attractions of the so-called Costa Doce. On its calm beaches you can practice water sports and go scuna Another attraction is the Pomeranian Way, a route to visit the immigrant colony from Pomerania (a region now extinct that was between Poland and Germany): it has visits to colonial houses and tasting typical dishes.
Travel through the Romantic Road
The collection of highways between Porto Alegre and the scenic towns of Gramado and Canela is called the Romantic Route because of the lush landscapes that unfurl along the way with blue hydrangea bushes on both sides of the way.
- Visit Gramado and Canela
Safe some more time to visit Gramado and Canela. There are plenty of things to do and attraction in these stunning European cities.
One of the best places to visit is Snowland – yes, you read it right! There is a glimpse of snow life in Brazil, indoor of course! In this indoor park you can go ice skating, ski and snowboard trails (training available!), tubing (you go down a snow trail on tubes), and a variety of restaurants.
If you are still on the mood of freezing – and boozing! – Icebar Boreal and other frozen bars are the right places for you! The indoor temperature is around minus 13ºC and all the furniture and glasses are made of ice.
Another must go tour is going into a train ride called Maria Fumaça. This tour takes you to beautiful and scenic stops like the famous Garibaldi station and Epopeia Italiana Park that shows the history of Italian immigration to Brazil including a wine tasting. This is a great opportunity to pass through the cities Bento Gonçalves, Carlos Barbosa and Caxias do Sul.
The Chocolate World Park will bring your Willy Wonka’s memories in a chocolate made sculptures of the most beautiful sightseeing places in the world. This attraction is close to the Ice Bar Boreal and you can make a tour combo for these two attractions!
The postal card of Canela is the Caracol Cascade in Caracol Park. This waterfall has 120 metres height and there are gazebos, barbeque grills, picnic tables, washrooms, handcraft stores and restaurants, so you can spend a whole day in there.
Opened in 2011, the Florybal Park, in Canela, has attractions which refers to the pre-historic era and it’s made for all ages. You’ll see sculptures of giant men and dinosaurs.
One of the first houses in Canela is in a great shape and its name is Castelinho do Caracol. It’s made of araucaria wood with plug and screw systems, without nails on it. This house is now a museum with all the furniture and utensils left by Franzen family and it will take you to a time travel to the colonial past.
We can also quote many other attractions such as:
- Mundo Gelado – it’s an icy theme park that simulates an ice cave with many ice sculptures like Christ – the Redeemer and Manny, the mammoth of Ice Age movie.
- Mundo a Vapor – theme park with miniatures os steam engines which work perfectly. This park is famous due the rebuilt of the big train accident of Paris in 1895, when a runaway locomotive crossed Montparnasse station in high speed.
- Catedral de Pedra de Canela – this cathedral is in the city centre and it’s made of basalt stone with 65 metres height and 12 bronze bells surrounded by a breathtaking garden.
- Sonho de Natal em Canela – or the Christmas Dream is a big event happening for over 30 years with many attractions and the main one is a light and firework show with the Santa Claus coming by the Stone Cathedral mentioned above.
What to do in Porto Alegre?
Porto Alegre is the capital of Rio Grande do Sul. The beautiful city offers breathtaking moments while walking through the Centro Histórico (Historic Centre), watching the sunset over Guaíba waterfront or spending some time at Redenção Park and then going to a traditional steak house and enjoy the best Brazilian barbeque ever!
Museums like Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana, cultural centre Usina do Gasômetro and Museu Iberê Camargo which reunites all Iberê Camargo’s paintings and some other fine arts expositions.
If you are a sports lover and want to get in touch with Brazilian soccer, you have to meet the Grêmio Arena (conveniently close to Porto Alegre airport), stadium hosted by Grêmio soccer club and Beira-Rio Stadium which belongs to Grêmio’s arch-enemy, Internacional soccer club. Yes, they are enemies and never mess with a Grêmio or Internacional fan!
For bohemian night lovers, there are awe-inspiring places like Cidade Baixa or Padre Chagas Street in Moinhos de Vento neighborhood. There you can have a pleasant time in samba botecos (bars), and pop-rock pubs. Padre Chagas is a good place for happy hours.
I hope you enjoyed the reading and the tips about the South of Brazil. As you can compare with the previous posts, there are many differences between the Northeast and the South of Brazil. Are you curious to know more about the North, the Southeast and the Central-West? Keep tuned for the upcoming weeks!