Welcome to Brazil
Wherever you are in Brazil, the infectious sound of samba drifts from bars; platters of perfectly roasted meats and obsidian-black beans line tables; and cheerful ois (hi, in Portuguese) erupt from the mouths of lively locals. In Rio de Janeiro, the legendary Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are set against the dramatic backdrop of Corcovado, Sugar Loaf Mountain, and the outstretched arms of Christ the Redeemer. Full-day sightseeing tours tick off all of the city's highlights, while the Selaron Steps, Rochina favela, and a samba show are typically form part of the itinerary, too. But Rio is just the beginning. The sprawling metropolis of São Paulo—Brazil's most-populous city—reveals its cultural heft on a panoramic tour, while nature buffs will be charmed by the Amazon rain forests of Manaus, home to numerous biodiverse species. In the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Iguassu National Park, the Iguazu Falls (Foz de Iguacu) create a thundering roar, and in Salvador, historic African influence dictates the vibrant energy of the city. Myriad private and group tours help visitors experience it all with skip-the-line entry to top sights, simple transportation options, and local perspectives. And Brazil borders almost every country in South America—only Chile and Ecuador are excluded—making it the ideal starting point for any South American trip. Begin with New Year's Eve or Carnaval, two of Rio's most spectacular celebrations, before journeying across the continent.