The World Cup Is Over, but Brazil Is Still a Top Travel Choice

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As World Cup fever fades, Brazilians look forward to hosting the 2016 Olympics, the first time a South American country has done so. Even if you’re not a sports fan, however, there is much to draw visitors to this vibrant country. Long recognized as a backpacker getaway, travel experts note that Brazil is on the verge of a tourist boom, making this the perfect time to plan a trip to this exciting destination.

When to Visit

Because of its location in the Southern Hemisphere, Brazil’s seasons are opposite of its northern neighbors. December to March is considered summer and high season, drawing both foreign tourists and Brazilian families on vacation. Consider visiting from April to November, which bring temperate weather and fewer crowds. If you’ve got your heart set on attending Carnaval, which occurs during February or March, plan for major crowds.

Where to Go?

Rio de Janeiro

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Set between mountains and the glittering Guanabara Bay, Rio is the gem of Brazil. Head to the world class beaches, including Copacabana or Ipanema, to soak up some sun. Later, wander the winding historic streets of the city center, particularly Rua do Riachuelo and Castelo, to enjoy cathedrals, museums and historic municipal buildings. Rio truly comes alive at night, when dance halls and bars fill with residents enjoying the good life.

Make sure to create time in your schedule to ascend Corcovado Mountain, the hill atop which the famous Christ the Redeemer statue stands. In addition to getting up close and personal with the statue, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the city.

The Pantanal

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As the largest tropical wetlands in the world, the Pantanal spans over 75,000 square miles (larger than all of France). It’s a must-see location for wildlife lovers, with many travel experts dubbing it the premiere wildlife destination in the Americas. With 124 mammalian species, more than 175 known species of reptiles, and over 400 types of birds, you’re sure to come away with a newfound respect for the world’s biodiversity. Many travelers choose to enter the Pantanal through the city of Corumba, which features a number of tour operators and guides.

The Amazon

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The lure of the Amazon has drawn explorers for centuries, while modern day tourists marvel at its incredible landscapes and diversity. Home to pink dolphins, unique species of monkeys, and enormous fish, a trip to the Amazon is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The city of Manaus provides the easiest access to Amazonian river cruises and jungle lodges.

Iguazu Falls

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Legend has it that after seeing the magnificent Iguazu Falls, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt exclaimed, “Poor Niagara!” One of the widest waterfalls in the world, Iguazu Falls is accessible from the Brazilian city of Foz do Iguacu. A brief, 12-mile taxi or bus ride brings you to Iguazu National Park, from which you can view the falls. In addition to traversing a walkway along the canyon, consider booking a helicopter ride to get the best view of the falls from above.