Brazil is the largest country in South America. Its rainforests and beaches span nearly half of the entire continent. One of the best ways to fully immerse yourself in Brazil and experience its natural beauty is by car. Driving through the vast stretches of Brazil’s gorgeous beaches, rainforests, and architecture is an unforgettable experience. For those who are considering taking a road trip across Brazil, here are five amazing routes to consider.
1.- The Estrada Real
This is one of the most popular road trip routes across Brazil for a reason. Its name is derived from the Estrada Real, a series of roads that were built by the Portuguese during their colonization of Brazil. As a result, their influence is highly visible in the architecture you will encounter on this road trip.
“Portuguese influence is evident all across Brazil,” according to Chris Metcalf, a journalist at Britstudent and Write My X. “However, it is remarkably visible in the Baroque architecture of colonial towns along the Royal Road or Estrada Real.”
To start, adventurers can land in Rio de Janeiro and make their way over to the city of Diamantina, a UNESCO World Heritage center. You can explore the Baroque architecture and the ways in which the Portuguese attempted to enforce geometry and its European models to the natural environment of Brazil.
Consider a stop at Ouro Preto, a colonial town and another UNESCO World Heritage site. This town is known for its Baroque architecture, magnificent gold-decorated churches, and the Tiradentes Square. Its name literally translates into black gold due to its central role in the gold rush that ushered in Brazil’s golden age.
Another great stop is Congonhas, another historic Brazilian city famous for the Santuário do Bom Jesus de Matosinho. This basilica is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Travelers should then drive to Tiradentes, a town named in honor of the national hero. It is recognized as a great example of Portuguese colonial architecture. There are also plenty of art galleries and restaurants for tourists to enjoy.
From there, head over to Petrópolis, also known as The Imperial City. Take a tour of the Imperial Museum, which used to be a summer palace, or the Cervejaria Bohemia, a famous brewery.
This road trip then concludes either at Paraty or Rio de Janeiro, depending on the traveler’s preferences.
2.- The Pantanal
While the Estrada Real explores historic towns, the Pantanal route uncovers Brazil’s wildlife. The Pantanal is the largest wetland in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are hundreds of species of fish, mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles in the Pantanal according to the World Wildlife Fund.
This is the perfect road trip for fans of wildlife and those who want to explore Brazil’s wetlands.
Travelers can begin at Bonito, a Brazilian town known for its ecotourism. You can take in the clear water of the Rio da Prata, the beautiful waterfalls, or go on a snorkeling tour with fish. Adventurers should also consider exploring the entrancing and mysterious Abismo Anhumas cavern.
Next, road trippers can drive along the Southern Pantanal. Make sure to watch for any signs of wildlife. For the best experience, travelers should plan in the late summer and early fall when animals are more likely to come out.
Although this road trip route is wilder than the others, there are plenty of pousadas and fazedas to comfortably stay at along the way. These accommodations usually offer activities such as piranha fishing or jaguar safaris.
3.- City Road Trip
For urbanites who would have no interest in piranha fishing or jaguar watching, consider a city road trip as an excellent alternative to the Pantanal road trip.
To start, travelers can land in São Paulo. The city offers a plethora of avant-garde cinemas and theaters. “There are plenty of gourmet restaurants in São Paulo so foodies will have a great time in this city,” advises Annie Trujillo, a marketing writer at Originwritings and 1day2write. “After enjoying a delicious meal, you can hit up a bar or check out the club scene if you don’t feel like sleeping quite yet.”
From there, you can make your way to the city of Curitiba. There, you can marvel at the colorful buildings and the impressive street art. For those who want to hit the tourist spots while they’re here, visit the Jardim Botânico or the Museu Oscar Niemeyer for a relaxing afternoon. In the evening, watch the city come to life with its vibrant nightlife.
The next stop is Foz do Iguaçu, a city known for being one of the world’s largest waterfalls. Travelers can try canoeing or taking a tour of the city’s waterfalls. There are several tours to choose from such as a hike, boat ride, or bike experience. The Iguaçu Falls, which is shared by Brazil and Argentina, is definitely worth a visit for any traveler stopping by Foz do Iguaçu.
Next, travelers should stop by the beach city of Paraty. This town is a National Historic Site due to its well-preserved colonial city center. It offers travelers many amazing outdoor activities. You can explore its gorgeous beaches, sign up for an island kayak tour, or go horseback riding. There are also plenty of hikes and expedition tours of the Serra da Bocaina National Park and the Paraty mountains.
This road trip concludes at none other than Rio de Janeiro. Travelers can explore the city’s famous beaches and delicious restaurants. Consider taking a guided tour of the city so you don’t miss any of the popular tourist spots, such as Christ the Redeemer or the Sao Sebastian Metropolitan Cathedral. For those in search of scenic views, hop on a cable car to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain for a captivating view of the entire city.
4.- Beaches Road Trip
Travelers who are in awe of Brazil’s beautiful beaches should consider taking a coastal road trip. This is an amazing way to discover the beaches of Brazil like a local.
To start, adventurers can travel to the city of São Luis in Maranhão. Frequently referred to as Brazilian Jamaica, the city offers travelers the chance to unwind to reggae music while enjoying fresh seafood. Travelers can explore the historic city center, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But ultimately, you should prioritize seeing the sand dunes of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park.
Consider stopping by the village of Jericoacoara next and watching the sunset. Jericoacoara beach is regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Its blue lagoons and captivating sunsets make this village a tourist hotspot.
Other stops to make during this road trip include Pipa, one of the most adorable towns in all of Brazil. This is a great place for travelers to avoid the large crowds at other Brazilian beaches. The atmosphere in Pipa is quieter than most Brazilian beach towns so travelers who prefer quieter scenes will love this town. Moreover, its beaches are great for surfing so sign up for a surf lesson while you’re here. If surfing isn’t your thing, you can also go dolphin-watching at Baía dos Golfinhos. Travelers can rent a kayak or take a boat tour for a closer look at the dolphins.
Finally, this road trip ends in the vibrant city of Recife. Known as the ‘Venice of Brazil’, this charming Brazilian city loves to party. If timed accordingly, travelers can end their epic beach road trip with the Galo da Madrugada, a carnival parade that happens every Saturday.
Amazon Road Trip
Before getting too excited about this road trip, make sure to check on the state of the Amazon rainforest before booking your flight. If the rainforest isn’t on fire, this is an unforgettable road trip to discover the Amazon Rainforest.
To start, travelers should arrive in Rio. There, they can explore the city’s famous tourist spots such as Christ the Redeemer or the beautiful beaches.
Afterward, drive to the city of Manaus. Manaus is the largest city near the Amazon. While there, travelers can explore its beaches, nature reserves, parks, and museums. There are also day tours of the Amazon waterfalls offered in Manaus. Similarly, you can take a cruise from Manaus to the Amazon River.
Next, travelers should make their way to their Amazon lodge. There, you can take a canoe trip through the Igapós where you can watch for monkeys or alligators. Plenty of Amazon lodges offer a tour of Rio Negro, where you can spot birds and other animals. While at the lodge, make sure to sign up to swim with the pink dolphins before you leave.
Brazil has no shortage of tourist attractions, but discovering the country by car is an entirely different experience. The largest country on the continent seems to magically expand as you drive through its historic roads, stunning beaches, and lush rainforests. Bold travelers considering any of these five ultimate road trip routes will find an authentic and memorable adventure awaiting them. You can continue reading our article about the best car rental companies in Brazil.
About the Author
George J. Newton is a business development manager and content writer for Coursework writing services and PhD Kingdom. He has a very patient wife of over ten years, who is his biggest supporter. He also contributes his work to websites such as Next Coursework.