7 Brazilian Cities to Visit: More than Rio & São Paulo

Ordem e Progresso

If you have seen any of my previous posts regarding language, you probably know one of the languages I’m studying is Portuguese. Specifically, Brazilian Portuguese. There are a plethora of reasons why I want to learn this fun language, but traveling throughout Brazil is one of them. Who knows? Maybe I’ll live there to work for a year one day. But I do know that I want to improve my language skills so when I go I can converse with Brazilians in their native language.

I use various resources to improve my Portuguese, including talking to Brazilians via apps/websites like HelloTalk, iTalki and Tandem. I’ve spoken with my Brazilian Uber driver once and he also gave me advice and tips about visiting Brazil. But what is a common theme people tell me is that there is more to Brazil than Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Yes, even Brazilians from those cities tell me so. While those cities are amazing and are definitely on my list of cities to see, keep reading to see what other cities in Brazil I can’t wait to experience.

For my English speakers out there, did you know Rio de Janeiro is actually pronounced Hee-oh Gee Jah-nay-roo?

Um: Curitiba

Botanical Garden in Curitiba, Brazil
The botanical garden in Curitiba

Although this city isn’t super popular among tourists, it has been one that I wanted to see for years. I can’t remember where I heard of it, but I remember liking how to say the name. This and a place called Ubatuba (Portuguese is so fun). Despite it not being well known to tourists it’s quite a big city. It’s the largest city and capital of the state of Paraná, located in the South of Brazil. It’s also the largest southern Brazilian city and part of the top 10 most populated city in all of Brazil.

Like many Southern Brazilian states there is a strong European influence. If you somewhat follow the fashion industry, you may know that male model Francisco Lachowski is from Curitiba. Besides from the Jardim Botânico there is more to see in this city. One thing that seems particularly interesting is the city’s public transport system. Before you roll your eyes at the thought of buses being exciting, the system used in Curitiba has been referred to as one of the most efficient in the world. You can read more about it here and here.

Dois: Salvador

Photo of a street within Salvador, the Pelourinho.
Salvador, Brazil via adventurous-travels.com. The “Pelourinho” neighborhood.

Salvador is the capital of Bahia, a state in the north east of Brazil. What I like about the cities I will include on this list is that there aren’t exactly popular tourist attractions, such as Christ the Reedemer in Rio. But what makes the cities I will mention worth visiting is the essence of the cities themselves. Here, as with the rest of Bahia, the African influence is strong and makes itself known through the people, capoeira performers in the streets, music and more. In fact, Salvador is reported to be the first place African slaves were taken to in the Americas.

The neighborhood called the Pelourinho is basically the center of the town. It has gone through major transformation over the year to turn it into the charming, lively, colorful cobbled-stone neighborhood that it is today. Salvador has nearly three million people and is the fourth largest Brazilian city. The colorful scenery, beautiful coastline, Afro-Brazilian culture, what more convincing do you need? Oh, and again for your potential fashion industry followers, supermodel Adriana Lima is from Salvador.

Três: Florianópolis

Joaquina Beach
A beach in Florianópolis via amenaviajes.com

Here’s another capital city for you, this time the capital of the southern state of Santa Catarina. Within the city are a bunch of islands, including Santa Catarina Island. Due to this, there is no shortage of beaches to lay on with your canga (no beach towels!) In fact, there are over 40 beaches! But don’t think that this is just a beach city, there is an inland/mainland where most of the over 450,000 populations lives.

As mentioned with Curitiba, the Southern region of Brazilian has a more European influence while the northern region has more African roots. Here, I’ve seen people compare the city of Florianópolis to Portugal, its previous colonizers. So once I’m done doing water sports like surfing and kayaking, I plan to head to inland to admire the architecture. Here are two of my favorite travel guides of this beautiful city that I’ve read: Audrey’s from ThatBackpacker; and Kiki’s from TheBlondeAbroad.

Quatro: Porto Alegre

A beautiful photo of Porto Alegre
Porto Alegre via stoneslife

Greenery galore with this city here. Porto Alegre is in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. And you guessed it, it’s the capital. This city sits in the south of Brazil and is the tenth most populous Brazilian city. There is a beautiful square you can sit and people watch, eat or do some shopping. Additionally, I would love to visit the botanical garden and Farroupilha Park. If you love flowers, greenery and nature I’m sure you’ll want to visit those sites as well.

Porto Alegre is a relatively short plane ride away to Buenos Aires. And like the Argentine city, the European influence is present here particularly Portuguese and Italian. This city doesn’t seem to be on the radar for most tourists, but I think it’s worth a visit. Do you?

Cinco: Ouro Preto

Beautiiful church in Ouro Preto
Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário in Ouro Preto via cronicasmacaenses

Finally a city on the list that isn’t the capital of the state it’s in. Ouro Preto (which means black gold in English) is part of the southeastern state of Minas Gerais. Logging in just over 70,000 residents during the last census, this is by far the least populous city on this list. But funnily enough, this city has more “tourist attractions” than many of the other cities. If beautiful churches are your thing, this may be a winner for you.

Besides churches you can also visit museums and uniquely to Ouro Preto, you can take tour of mines. Yup, underground gold mines. Ouro Preto was one of the cities part of the Brazilian Gold Rush and now tourists can take tours of the former gold mines. Sounds pretty awesome, right? I think so too, which is why this is a city I have to visit. Plus, I seem to have a thing for many southern cities.

Seis: Goiâna

Historical center of Fortaleza
Colorful buildings in Fortaleza via DigitalJournal

If beaches are more of your thing this is a place I’m sure you’d love. Of course so many places in Brazil have amazing beaches, but Fortaleza’s look incredible. Fortaleza is the capital (yup, sorry) of Ceará which is the northeast of Brazil. It’s not shy to tourists, one year it was the fourth most visited Brazilian city by tourists. And it’s not hard to see why. Besides the traditional beaches you can have fun at their water park, which happens to be the biggest in Latin America.

Despite having the water which I’m sure attracts families and it being a popular destination spot, I get such a calming vibe of Fortaleza. Perhaps it’s the palm trees that immediately trigger “vacation” and “relaxation” in my mind.

Sete: Brasilia

The Monumental Axis in Brasilia
The Monumental Axis via Monument Tracker

It took me until número sete to get to the capital of Brazil, Brasilia! Brasilia is part of the Federal District in the western-center (center western? westcertner… huh) region of Brazil. With it being the capital of such a large and populous country you can guarantee to find something to do. One of them that interests me is the National Cathedral. Seriously, check out photos of it, it looks stunning.

That’s All Folks!

What cities are on your list? What cities am I missing? Let me know. Also, if you have a blog, write it down in the comments. I’d love to read and support other bloggers. Thanks for reading.

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