Brazil boasts a rich cultural history, not least because of the various global influences that have shaped its colourful personality for centuries, including those from Europe, the Middle East, Japan and Africa. Energetic and joyful, this is exemplified by the country’s best-known exports, such as its exuberant carnivals and upbeat musical styles (Bossa Nova and Samba were both born in Brazil), along with a fabulous mix of architectural styles, great food, a thriving arts scene and a deep-rooted passion for football, which the Brazilians excel at!
The coastal city, Rio de Janeiro, is a must-visit on any trip to Brazil and offers glamour, Copacabana and Ipanema beaches and world-famous landmarks, such as the iconic thirty-eight-metre-high statue of Christ The Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain, as well as Sugarloaf Mountain, which can be reached by cable-car. The city’s colourful favelas offer some of the best views of the city from their mountainside locales; take a guided tour for a fascinating insight into another side of Brazilian life. Sao Paulo is another cultural melting pot and, with a population of twenty million, is the third largest metropolis on the planet. However, with this come the trappings of modern cosmopolitan life; excellent gourmet restaurants, first-rate museums and galleries and art house cinemas that sit happily amongst eclectic architecture that lurches from colonial Portugese and Baroque, to Art Nouveau and modernist, plus a series of monuments and landmarks that pay homage to the development of the city, which was founded in 1554. Salvador is another great Brazilian city to explore, completely contrasting with Rio and Sao Paulo, which stays true to its Afro-Brazilian roots and its candy-coloured Baroque architecture, lining quaint cobbled streets and squares, is simply wonderful in the city’s cultural heart, Pelourinho, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.