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  • Photo: View of famous Farol da Barra (Barra Lighthouse) in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

    Bowled Over By Bahia

    We love the Brazilian State of Bahia While it may not be as well known as some of its southern counterparts, Bahia offers travelers an amazing variety of distinctly Brazilian experiences.

  • We Made the Dean’s List

    LATAM Airlines Group, comprised of LAN Airlines and TAM Airlines, was just named “The Best Airline for Students, Latin Market.” That’s according to StudentUniverse, the world’s leading travel booking site for students and youth.

  • Take A Bite Out of the Big Apple in Brazil

    São Paulo is often called the New York City of South America, so it makes sense that there seems to be a restaurant trend in the last few years of well-known New York City restaurants opening up in São Paulo, many of those being their first foray into the international market. And why not? Both cities are worldwide gastronomic hubs; they share an eat-or-be-eaten lifestyle; and both cities never close. They might as well have dinner together, too.

    Here is our three favorite spots to take a bite out of the Big Apple in Brazil:

  • Photo: Embratur

    Charming Cobblestones: Brazil’s Sleepiest Colonial Towns

    The Portuguese left an indelible mark on Brazil when they finally got out of town in 1822. There are number of charming colonial towns built by the Portuguese throughout the country. These sleepy towns and villages, flush with whitewashed architecture accented by a kaleidoscopic array of flash and color, are the perfect spots to kickback with nothing to do but wander the stuck-in-time cobblestoned streets. No photographic skills necessary, these gems do all the work for you, around each and every turn a new postcard Brazilian moment.

    If you visit any of these sleepy Kodak-moment towns, you can impress the locals with your knowledge of the local vernacular. The word for “cobblestones” is one of the most entertaining words in Portuguese: Paralelepípedos.

    Good luck with that!

  • Photo: SubAstor1

    Beyond the Caipirinha: Meet Brazil’s Other Best Cocktail

    No doubt due to an insufferable hangover, most folks already know that Brazil’s national cocktail is the caipirinha, made from the national spirit, cachaça, along with sugar and fresh limes, but what else is there to drink?

    When you are ready to shake things up a bit, branch out and ask the bartender for Brazil’s next best cocktail, the Caju Amigo (Cashew Fruit Friend) – every bit as Brazilian as the caipirinha but not nearly as famous.

  • Photo: Pudim de Leite

    Brazil’s Best Sweet Treats

    If you have a sweet tooth – you know who you are – than Brazil is going to knock you out. Some foreigners even complain that some of Brazil’s most beloved desserts are just too sweet but no self-respecting sugar addict would ever say such a blasphemous thing, now would they?

    Brazilian sweets come in all shapes and sizes and are available everywhere from the streets and beaches to padarias (bakeries) to dessert specialty cafes – you are never far from a sugar coma – and owe a debt to combined influences from Portugal (anything with eggs as the main ingredient!) to West Africa (certain pastries and the like).

    Here’s how to get your sugar high in Brazil!

  • Photo: Ben K

    5 Brazilian Beaches You Must Visit Before You Die

    Come to Brazil for a little fun in the sun? Well, you’re in luck. There’s 4654 miles of sun-toasted coastline for that. But therein lies the problem: How to choose? There are plenty of great beaches where tourists routinely go – Rio de Janeiro, Búzios, Salvador, Recife/Olinda, Fortaleza, etc – but these are urban destinations with urban beaches, so finding that postcard-perfect patch of paradise and having it all for you and yours just isn’t going to be in the cards.

    And while there probably aren’t too many places left at all in Brazil where you can have an entire beach to yourself (it’s not impossible mind you!), you can do a whole lot better than the crowded city beaches in Brazil’s most on-the-beaten-path destinations. Brazil’s best beaches are the ones that few people visit, either due to isolation or legislation.

    If you want to escape the crowds, the beach vendors, the wayward frescoballs and the surfers, keeping the sun and sand to pretty much yourself, look no further than these five, of all which you must see before you die (you and everybody else – just not at the same time!).

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Chegou in São Paulo: Now What?

    You’ve arrived in São Paulo and it doesn’t take long for you to realize that the options for getting yourself out of the airport are as dizzying and overwhelming as the city itself! But rest assured, that’s only because you probably aren’t familiar with GRU Airport and you probably don’t speak Portuguese. But calma, as Brazilians would say. We’re here for you.

    One notable pleasantry that differs significantly from the arrivals hall of other countries in South America is that in Brazil, you don’t have an army of unauthorized transport services screaming at you and tugging at your sleeves as you emerge from customs. You might have one or two folks ask you politely if you need a taxi, but it’s rare, less insistent and certainly less obnoxious than Spanish-speaking countries.

    Here are your options (from the costliest to the cheapest)!

  • Sunday Funday in Liberdade

    São Paulo’s Liberdade neighborhood is the epicenter of what is said to be the largest Japanese population outside Japan. Brazil is home to an estimated 1.5 million Japanese-Brazilians, many of them living right here in this bustling neighborhood 1km south of Centro, with a tad bit of Chinese and Korean sprinkled in for good measure (some of the city’s best Chinese restaurants are here and South Korea’s Melona honeydew melon-flavored popsicles are wildly popular in the streets as well).

  • Photo: Riotur

    Carnival is Coming! But What the Heck Is it?

    It’s that time of year again – the World’s Largest Catholic Party!

    The official Carnival dates for 2015 are February 13-17 and no South American nation does Carnival better than Brazil (no offense, Barranquilla!). Whether you are with the millions crowded into the beaches and blocos in Rio de Janeiro or celebrating small-time on island paradises like Fernando de Noronha, Brazil has a Carnival for you. And even in places that don’t care much for Carnival (German-settled Blumenau in Santa Cantarina, for example), you still get a multi-day holiday where nothing much else happens other than drinking. But for the uninitiated, what exactly is it?

  • Photo: Mocoto

    A Trip to Mocotó

    It came as no surprise to anyone that 34-year-old Rodrigo Oliveira from São Paulo’s Mocotó restaurant was named Chef of the Year in Veja‘s annual Comer & Beber issue for 2014-15, a bit of a gastronomic Bible for foodies in the city. The guy is humble, immediately likable, soft-spoken, good-looking, mild-mannered and knows his way around a kitchen. But what he has pulled off at Mocotó, and the more upscale Esquina Mocotó next door (which took home honors for Best Brazilian Restaurant, incidentally), is truly remarkable. 

  • Photo: By Carla Peirano, in Magazine Photos by: Stefan Schmeling Young, sophisticated and laid-back. That’s Vila Madalena, São Paulo’s hippest neighborhood, a vibrant place where fashion, art and design co-exist with graffiti and a stylish crowd. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon in winter here in São Paulo, Brazil. I can observe everything and everyone from the strategically located Amüse Food Store, on the corner of Girassol and Aspicuelta. While I wait for my iced tea, I observe the passers-by, most of them women united by their fashion sense and their desire to shop. You sense a certain self-satisfaction in the way they walk. Unlike other São Paulo neighborhoods, this neighborhood in the western part of the city is fashionably chic, but in an unpretentious way. Folks around here obviously pay attention to their look, but there’s a personal stamp in the way they dress. It’s quite different from what you see on Rua Oscar Freire, for instance, where the fashion parade is legendary and most pedestrians look like they stepped straight out of a fashion magazine and into this endless metropolis. It’s no accident that style lovers flock to the winding streets of Vila Madalena. This bohemian neighborhood began its transformation in the 1970s, when young students of art and fashion began to rent and share large houses. Over time, these homes were converted into art galleries, studios and casual restaurants, a chaotic and spontaneous process that nurtured the spirit so evident in the neighborhood today: bohemian, vibrant and full of color. Welcome to Vila Madalena A style all its own. That’s what you’ll find on the streets of Vila Madalena. It’s the perfect place for folks who want to be seen as well as those who would rather people watch, taking in trends, styles and bold statements in clothing and colors. When I stroll the streets here, I am constantly looking around, admiring these well-turned-out fashionistas. I’m struck by the way they’ve managed to achieve such a casually sophisticated look. It seems spontaneous, unplanned and, as result, totally authentic. As I sip on my iced tea, I talk with some girls who are next to me. They tell me they’ve come on a shopping tour of the local stores. They share some addresses and recommendations that I try to memorize as though they were secret formulas. They tell me that my best bet is to start my tour on the nearby street of Girassol. They leave with complicit smiles, as though they’ve helped out someone in dire need. I’ve finished my tea, so there’s nothing left for me to do but immerse myself in Vila Madalena. I walk down Girassol, and before long, I come across Uma, a surprisingly sophisticated store, with a collection dominated by clear and simple lines. Suddenly, I feel like I’m shopping in Tokyo, not São Paulo. I keep walking until I reach the store of Juliana Bicudo, a local shoemaker who designs handmade footwear. Her eponymous shop is both elegant and colorful, and the collection is divine. I adore these shoes because they can be worn to formal and informal events alike, depending on the rest of your outfit. She even has a wedding line with custom designs to accommodate the style of each bride. Crossing the street, I encounter the metallic blue suede and classic lines offered by Luiza Perea, another gifted shoe designer. This shop looks more like a living room. It’s a real delight. I’m barely through the door before they invite me to sit down and have something to drink. The designs are terrific. You can really see the dedication and care in the creations. The two women who make the shoes are usually in the store, so any questions you have can be answered by the shoemakers themselves.   Unlike other São Paulo neighborhoods, Vila Madalena is all about fashion but in an unpretentious way. Peixaria, a stylish but authentic restaurant, offers a taste of the beach in the middle 
of the city. Style on the Sand My tour continues. I soon come to La Cervecería, where the fun atmosphere, conversation and clinking of beer mugs is impossible to resist. When I’ve finished my chope (draft beer), I leave on the heels of two attractive women. They tell their friend who’s parking her car that they’ll meet her at Mocambo. I wonder what kind of clothing they sell there. As my imagination is busy at work, I arrive at a tiny space dedicated to… tattoos? I’m a little disconcerted. All of a sudden, I’m surrounded by rough-looking types straight out of a motorcycle magazine. The owners tell me they only do custom tattoos, one-of-a-kind designs for each client. Maybe that’s why the cool girls who led me here are so excited about a place that seems tailor-made for tough guys. In the small, dark space, they give me some more tips to continue my tour. One of their more interesting suggestions is Chapéu, a heavenly bathing-suit shop. I’m told it’s one of the most popular stores of its kind in São Paulo. And in a country where beach life is an institution, that really says something. The collection of bathing suits is varied and elegant. The designs and styles seem intended for a social event rather than the beach. I envy the women who can pull them off, but I’m afraid that on other Latin American beaches, they’d be more cause for gawking than admiration. I’m fairly certain that you have to be Brazilian – and be in Brazil – to wear them. I leave Chapéu and head down Rua Mourato Coelho. I spot the window of the shop Tonus, and I’m transfixed. I decide to go in. The clerks explain the ideas behind the designs. The back part of the shop features the workshop where designer Sergio Tonus comes up with his creations. Tonus himself explains the production process to me. His designs from the shop’s nine years of existence are carefully displayed on hangers.   The many worlds of Vila Madalena: 
tattoos at Mocambo and rockabilly style 
at Barberia 9 de Julho. With no set destination, I wander through Vila Madalena. Eventually, I come to Barberia 9 de Julho, a barbershop with the air of a rockabilly club. The parking spaces outside are taken up entirely by motorcycles. There’s also a dog sporting a bandana, patiently waiting for his owner. I continue along with no end in mind, accompanied by the impressive graffiti that adorns the walls, shops selling Japanese products, ceramics studios, art galleries and a few eateries. I’m hungry, but all the clothing and design stores keep distracting me. One highlight is the shop owned by Fernanda Yamamoto, who specializes in creations made with patterned fabrics. Best of all, there’s an outlet section with clothing from past seasons at reasonable prices. Another great place is Trash Chic, a mix between a fashion museum and a Buddhist temple. They even have a small altar in honor of Coco Chanel. The collection includes pieces by Valentino, Nina Ricci, Prada and Chanel. It’s the finest vintage store I’ve seen in my life. Finally, I end up at Peixaria. This beach-inspired restaurant is full of grilled seafood, endless caipirinhas and infectiously cheerful people. It turns out to be an excellent choice and a great way to end my adventures in Vila Madalena. in    

    A Fashionista in São Paulo

    By Carla Peirano, in Magazine
    Photos by: Stefan Schmeling

    Young, sophisticated and laid-back. That’s Vila Madalena, São Paulo’s hippest neighborhood, a vibrant place where fashion, art and design co-exist with graffiti and a stylish crowd.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Weekend Getaway: Fortaleza

    The Northeastern Brazilian state of Ceará, like Bahia to the southeast, is one of the country’s dreamy states: Endless summers, endless beaches, bottomless cocktails and bottomless sunsets, all nicely packaged by a laid-back population that subscribes 24/7 to the tropical lifestyle. The capital, Fortaleza, is jumping off point for some of Brazil’s most cinematic beach destinations – Jericoacoara, Canoa Quebrada – but it’s no flyby travel hub. Fortaleza offers plenty of worthwhile recreational distractions with the added bonus of big city infrastructure (population: 3.6 million) – and a beautiful bronzed population at that!

  • Photo: Ulrich Peters

    Brazil’s Top 5 Urban Markets

    From the bustling souks of Morocco to the sophisticated Ferry Building in San Francisco, urban markets are always a requisite stop on the tourist trail. There’s something so overwhelming about all the sights, sounds and smells of a foreign land’s shopping and Brazil is no exception. Some of South America’s biggest and best markets are here, ready to assault your senses with a kaleidoscopic cornucopia of everything from exotic tropical fruits to regional handicrafts. Here are my five favorite!

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Pop-Up Pizza in Rio de Janeiro

    São Paulo has always been Brazil’s pizza city; in fact, it ranks right up there with New York, New Haven, Naples or any other of the world’s best places for a little dough, tomato sauce and cheese. Rio de Janeiro, on the other hand, is not a pizza city. Not at all. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have great pizza.

  • Photo: Embratur

    Weekend Getaway: Recife

    Most tourists to the Northeast capital of Recife – outside of its spectacular Carnaval, anyway – see little more than what flies by their taxi windows on the way to the city’s far more picturesque and tranquil colonial neighbor of Olinda – located six miles north – Recife itself is not without its charms. While Brazil’s sixth biggest city (population: 3.7 million) can be a gritty and grimy mess, its culture, historic areas, restaurants and urban beaches are worth a day or two of your time. For those interested in visiting a living, breathing Brazilian city going about its business, an idea that provided the focal point of Kleber Mendonça Filho’s 2012 haunting indie hit Neighboring Sounds, Recife deserves a chance. 

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    A Stroll Down Rua Oscar Freire

    Although it’s not a household name like some of the famous streets in the world – Rodeo Drive, the Champs-Élysées, Lombard Street, 5th Avenue – São Paulo’s Rua Oscar Freire certainly holds its own against the big boys, clocking in at the 8th most luxurious street in the world and hands-down the most coveted real estate for luxury in Brazil.

  • Photo: Embratur

    Weekend Getaway: Salvador

    Easily Brazil’s richest capital for history and culture, Salvador is the big and bountiful jewel of Bahia, arguably Brazil’s most vivid and beautiful state. The city’s history, steeped heavily in Afro-Brazilian culture, manifests itself in many ways, namely in the colorful colonial center of Pelourinho and, most importantly (in my humble opinion, anyway!), the food, but also in the religion (Candomblé is strongest here), the sport (this capoeira central) and the deeply African-influenced habits, customs and appearances of the population. A weekend in Salvador is a journey through all that makes up the diverse recipe called Brazil in one immensely cinematic city. And just to spice things up a bit, everything here is hot – the people, the weather and the food.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Saude! Brazil’s Boteco Culture

    Believe it or not, the first time you land in Brazil, it can be kind of hard to find a bar; at least, what most of us from North America and Europe think of as a bar. It is not, however, particularly difficult to find a place where people are drinking! That’s because most Brazilians, especially outside major metropolitan areas, drink at a Brazilian institution known as a boteco (aka buteco or botequim), which comes from the Portuguese word “botica and the Spanish word “bodega,” originally meaning a grocery store to buy goods. According to Wikipedia, “In Brazil, the boteco (buteco), or botequim, was traditionally known as a place where alcoholic beverages were sold, serving as a meeting place for ‘bohemians,’ who looked for a good drink, cheap snacks and a chat without obligation.”

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Going Insano at Beach Park

    I didn’t quite realize just how weird it was to be at a water park in the dead of winter without a wife and kids in tow until I got to dinner on my first night: I was alone in my solitude at the buffet at Beach Park Acqua Resort. But then the friendly waiter flipped-out on me, saying I reminded him of Coldplay singer Chris Martin (I usually get David Duchovny, so this was odd but nice; what’s not to like about Coldplay?); and then I stepped up to the buffet to find tacos and carnitas Michoacán – both rarer than a Coldplay spotting in Brazil! – and I decided I didn’t care.

    I got my ego pumped and my Mexican fix and tomorrow I shall take on Insano, which once held the Guinness Book of World Records record for the “World’s Tallest Water Slide” at 135-feet tall, today just a terrifying wet freefall that dominates the skyline near the suburban Fortaleza beach of Porto das Dunas 10 miles east of the city (the tallest in the world is now Kilimanjaro at Aldeia das Águas Park Resort in Barra do Piraí, Rio de Janeiro, in case you were wondering). What’s with Brazilians and these cloud-kissing waterslides? I head to Beach Park to find out.

  • Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous at Ponta Dos Ganchos

    Let me preface this blog post by saying I have stayed in a lot of insane hotel rooms around the world. A lot. There was the absolutely ridiculous bungalow at the Six Senses Yao Noi, overlooking Phang Nga Bay in Ko Yao Noi, Thailand; there were the postcard-perfect vineyard views from the Poetry Inn in Sonoma, California; there was the memorable granite bathtub suite at Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa; there was the insanely perfect Andes views from Cavas Wine Lodge in Mendoza, Argentina. The list goes on and on, nearly 80 countries deep at this point (don’t hate the player, hate the game).

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    The View from Rio De Janeiro: Previewing the World’s Biggest Football Tournament Finale

    It seems like only yesterday that Brazil defeated Croatia to kick off the world’s biggest football tournament and greatest month of nationalistic sport way back on June 12. Where did the time go? Brazil has proved itself a worthy host over the course of the last four weeks, putting to bed all of the pre-tournament panic that dominated news headlines for the two years leading up to this moment: The stadiums were gorgeous, the travel infrastructure didn’t collapse (in fact, it was efficiently glorious!) and the protests drifted off with a whimper after the tournament’s first week.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Weekend Getaway: Búzios

    French bombshell Brigitte Bardot didn’t discover Armação dos Búzios (Búzios for short) but when she decided in 1964, at the top of her fame, to hide away in this small, unknown fishing village north of Rio de Janeiro for three months, she helped the world discover Búzios. The timeline of this gorgeous Brazilian beach resort, home to 23 some-odd beaches, each more perfect than the next, can be divided in two parts: B.B (Before Bardot) and A.B (After Bardot).

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    The Buffalo Brigade: A Visit to Ilha do Marajó

    When the first thing I saw upon arrival was a young girl bathing her dog in the river, I knew things were different on Ilha do Marajó, a river island nearly the size of Switzerland at the mouth of the Amazonas, Tocantins and Xingú rivers on the northern tip of Pará state. Outside of urban areas, most Brazilians wouldn’t think twice about a dirty dog, but the Marajoara do things their own way. So much so that ironically enough, dogs aren’t even the usual pet of choice.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Cachaça for the Uninitiated

    If you’ve come to Brazil to take part in the national revelry of one of the world’s greatest sporting events, you no doubt weren’t in country all of an hour before a caipirinha ended up in your hands. Brazil is nearly as proud of its ubiquitous national cocktail as it is its national football team. Caipirinhas are so popular – and so good – that you now find them on bar menus the world over, the latest Latin cocktail, like the daiquiri, mojito and the pisco sour, to become the flavor of the month outside its borders. The ingredients of the classic caipirinha are simple: limes, sugar and cachaça, Brazil’s national spirit.

    Ca-what? Cuh-sha-shuh.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Inside a Match at the World’s Biggest Football Tournament

    We’re nearly a week into the world’s biggest football tournament. There have been some questionable refereeing, a few scattered protests and a complete bludgeoning of teams from the Iberian Peninsula but all in all I think most folks would agree that Brazil has been a blast so far. Most surprising? The airports have been purely pleasant and without any of the predicted craziness and chaos, at least on the five flights via six airports your Brazil Insider has thus far been. 

  • Where to Eat in Brazil? A Map of the Best Restaurants

    With the soccer event of the year nearly here, Brazil is the destination of choice for many travelers. If you’re jetting off to one of the host cities, make sure to check out its bustling culinary scene. But where to find the best food? Our friend and food blogger Gaby Dalkin from What’s Gaby Cooking rounded up her favorite places in a fun map on where to eat in Brazil. From the best caipirinhas in Fortaleza to the traditional Brazilian seafood stew moqueca in Salvador, each host city offers an unforgettable gastronomical adventure. Read the full story here.

  • Photo: GRU

    Brazil’s First World-Class Airport Terminal Opens in São Paulo

    Brazil hasn’t traditionally made it very difficult to give travelers a reason to complain about its airports: Most of them are outdated relics from the ’50s and ’60s and the ones that aren’t, such as Recife in the Northeast, come off at best as missed opportunities. Shopping? Not really. Good restaurants? Not really. Comfortable spaces to kill a few hours between flights, perhaps at a spa, in a sleeping pod or in a very nice cocktail bar? Not really.

    That all changes with this month’s opening of Terminal 3 at GRU Airport – Aeroporto Internacional de São Paulo’s in Guarulhos, Brazil’s first world-class international airport terminal; a modern, 192,000-sq-m space designed to move 12 million international passengers per year.

  • Photo: Embratur

    D.I.Y. Iguaçu Falls

    There’s little doubt that the thundering roar of 275 waterfalls saddling two countries is one of South America’s most thrilling and eye-popping attractions. Iguaçu Falls, Brazil’s second-most visited attraction behind Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue, stands wider than Victoria Falls and taller than Niagara Falls and more jaw-dropping than both. It’s a must-see for everyone, including those who think they’ve already seen one too many waterfalls. Trust me, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Jungle Love: 48-Hour Foodie Binge in Belém

    When Brazilians talk food, they’ll usually tell you the gauchos in the South are the best at beef, Paulistanos are the best at pizza and everything gourmet and the Mineiros are the best at pretty much everything they pour their hearts into. Well, way up in the middle of the Amazon jungle is Belém, the second biggest city in the Amazon after Manaus, and people say folks from there and throughout the state of Pará, the Paraenses, are the Mineiros of the North. That is to say, they take their food muito sério!

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    São Paulo Street Food Starts Its Engines!

    It’s Good Friday in São Paulo and the sun is shining. Revelers abound in the bohemian neighborhood of Vila Madalena outside A Queijaria, one of two actual artisan cheese shops in town. Today, the shop has taken their wares to the streets, along with some ice-cold craft brews, and made an event out of it. Parked alongside, crowds are swarming the Buzina Food Truck, where a culinary couple armed with an impressive resume under their aprons are dishing up organic chicken curries, pulled pork sandwiches, gourmet burgers and hand-cut, never-frozen French fries. A curious Brazilian woman walks up to me inquisitively: “What are these guys selling in this truck?” she asks, a little confused.

  • Photo: Embratur

    Business Break: What to Do with a Free Afternoon in São Paulo

    Despite the fact that São Paulo is the Latin American capital of culture and gastronomy, there’s no denying tourism is not its bread and butter. This is a big, brash, business city, and the economic cradle of Brazil, South America and Mercosur, with an annual GDP of R$450 billion. If Sampa were a country, it would rank the 33rd richest country in the world based on nominal GDP, ahead of both the UAE and Hong Kong. Long story short, you’re probably coming here for a business meeting, not a beach vacation (the nearest beach is nearly 50 miles away, anyway!). So what to do if the meeting lets out early?

    Three great options that are surely not to far from the boardroom:  

  • Photo: Beach Park

    Top 5 Attractions for Kids

    Bringing your kids to Brazil? No problem! Generally speaking, Brazil is a very kid-friendly country and the entire culture revolves around the idea of family time.

    Let’s talk logistics: The airfare for children under the age of two usually runs 10% of the full-fare, rising to 50% until the age of 12. On long-distance buses, your lap is free, a seat is full-fare. Many hotels allow kids under five to stay free, but cots, cribs and other baby-oriented items may be more rare – plan ahead. Baby food and diapers are easy to find, but some of your favorite medicines may not be (best to bring those along). Overall, bring what you can’t live without, buy or borrow most of the standard necessities.

    And if your kids can’t live without peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, it’s best to bring your own PB! It’s rare outside of Rio, São Paulo and Brasília and expensive no matter where you are. Paying $18 for a jar of Peter Pan can ruin a vacation!

    Here are Brazil’s top five destinations and attractions for kids:

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    VIPpalooza Brazil: Observations From Inside Lollapalooza’s Lolla Lounge

    If you’ve ever attended a concert or been a fan of music, there’s little doubt you have wondered what goes on backstage. You’ve probably even tried to sneak back there! Although there’s much more to this privileged world than you might think (and we know what you might think), if you were the third installment of Lollapalooza Brazil, which parked itself at Brazil’s Formula One Grand Prix racetrack, Autódromo José Carlos Pace (commonly referred to as Interlagos) in São Paulo last weekend, the answer would be: Not a whole helluva lot.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Beyond Brahma: Brazil’s 10 Best Craft Beers

    As recently as just three years ago, you’d have been hard-pressed to find a beer in Brazil that wasn’t watered-down lager serving a single purpose: Beat the tropical heat with a buzz. Brazil’s most common beers (Brahma, Skol, Antarctica, Nova Shin) are all about as interesting as television static, despite being drunk in copious amounts by millions of Brazilians on a daily basis; in bars, at the beach, at barbeques – wherever you are in Brazil – you’ll find the majority of Brazilians quite happily content with more or less tasteless lagers, served on draft in small cups at least half full or more of foam (the entire country has been duped into believing a massive head keeps the beer cold longer –  it doesn’t; it’s a lie perpetuated by Brazil’s biggest breweries and immortalized by bars the country over so they may serve the population half a beer for the price of a whole one!). For a beer country, it was all so distinctly average.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Brazil’s 5 Best National Parks

    Whatever toots your horn: Hiking, biking, diving, mountains, canyons, flora, fauna, dunes, rivers, oceans, caves or prehistoric rock paintings – the list is exhausting, actually! – Brazil has got a reason for you to ditch the Havaianas and get out and about with some sort of nature that doesn’t involve caipirinhas on the beach and sand in your sunga (that’s Portuguese for those Speedo-type bathing suits!).

    Over 15% of Brazil is under environmental protection, clocking in at 1.3 million sq km to be exact. Between Atlantic rainforest, tropical rainforest protected wetlands and the most amphibian, bird, mammal, reptile, and vascular plant species on Earth (according to Mongo Bay, one of the world’s most respected environmental science and conservation news sites), Brazil is the world’s most biodiverse country, which leaves a wealth of national parks to explore beyond Ipanema and Copacabana – nearly 70 in total. Here are our five favorites:

  • Photo: Kinoshita

    Sushi in São Paulo: The Top Four (It’s Too Expensive to Eat at More than Four!)

    Sushi is everywhere in Brazil’s biggest city. As I’m sure you’ve no doubt read, São Paulo is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, centered in and around the fascinating neighborhood of Liberdade (we’re not even sure if that fact has ever been substantiated but there you go). The problem is, the majority of it is unimpressive, sold as all-you-can-eat extravaganzas from bad buffet restaurants whose fish selection rarely extends beyond imported farmed salmon six different ways. Não, obrigado.

    Why subject yourself to a bad Brazilian experience when you can have an authentic Japanese one in Brazil? There are some serious, serious sushi joints in São Paulo. If you know the right places to go, you’ll do a double-take and check your passport as you enter.


  • Photo: EMBRATUR

    Navigating Brasília: How to Tackle Brazil’s Befuddling Capital

    Architects notwithstanding, Brazilians don’t tend to be too impressed with their space-age capital, carved out of nowhere in the 1950s by then-President Jucelino Kubitschek, architect Oscar Niemeyer, urban planner Lucio Costa and landscape architect Burle Marx.

    Most think it’s boring (it’s not), too hot (that’s true), too confusing (only at first), tourist-unfriendly (it doesn’t have to be) and an urban symbol of the country’s ills – corruption and bureaucracy, for example – and not the futuristic capital of the country of the future it was built to symbolize (well …). Most tourists (who aren’t architects or budding architects) dismiss it as skippable (it’s hard to tear yourself away from those beaches, after all) and that’s a shame. For as confusing and polarizing as Brasília is, it’s nothing if not fascinating.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Ruínas Americanas: The Jungle Pleasantvilles of Fordlândia & Belterra

    It’s not often we speak of American ruins – after all, the country isn’t old enough to have had anything crumble under the weight of history. You might think, anyway. But deep in the Amazon rainforest, Henry Ford and his Ford Motor Company, on the front end of the 20th Century, took a wildly ambitious yet woefully overreaching idea to task: Build a perfect prefabricated American industrial town – complete with fire hydrants, golf courses, front porches, water towers and sassafras tea – in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, where everyone could ride a carrot-dangled wave of rubber riches to the promised land. 

  • Photo: Foto by Rudy Huhold, courtesy of EMBRATUR

    Começa a Folia! It’s Carnaval Time in Brazil!

    The annual rivalry between the football teams from the universities of Georgia and Florida may bill itself as the World’s Largest Cocktail Party, but anyone who knows anything about Carnival in Brazil would only laugh at such sentiments. There is no party on Earth that rivals Carnival in Brazil, especially in Rio de Janeiro, where millions of revelers fill the streets for days on end. Exultant mayhem is the only way to describe it – and it must be experienced to be believed.

  • Into the Belly of the Beast: Navigating São Paulo

    The Southern Hemisphere’s largest city is about as intimidating as cities come: A mindblowingly immense concrete jungle of cloud-kissing skyscrapers, intertwining streets and avenues sprouting in all directions with no rhyme or reason, 21 million people going about their hard working, hard playing lives, eating at 12,500 restaurants, drinking 15,000 bars and going home to their houses, condos and high-rise apartments in 96 different neighborhoods, most of which are home to more people than entire cities elsewhere.

    It’s a beast.

    If you show up in São Paulo without a local to lean on, you’re likely to be overcome with a sensation of “I’m Not a Celebrity but Get Me Outta Here!” very quickly. It’s a city that chews you up and spits you out like no other I have ever visited. But now that I live here, I navigate the streets like I own the place. You can too!

    Here’s how:

  • How to Manhandle a Brazilian Churrascaria

    Almost every carnivore who visits Brazil finds themselves – probably on the first day or two – in a showdown with a Brazilian churrascaria. These all-you-can-eat meat restaurants, where waiters dance around the room carrying long spits of fresh-off-the-rotisserie meats of dozens of varieties which are carved onto your plate until you cry, “Uncle!,” is one of the most typical experiences you can have in the country. If you’re a novice, though, this whole beef bonanza can be more overwhelming than a ménage à dix!

  • Beyond Christo and Copacabana: Rio de Janeiro Off the Beaten Path

    It’s no short order to escape the tourists in Rio de Janeiro. The city easily finds itself near the top of almost everyone’s to-visit list. And as one of the most beautiful and exotic urban landscapes on the planet, rightfully so. According to figures from Brazil’s Ministry of Tourism, over 9.2 million tourists disembarked in Brazil in 2012 – and almost every single one planted their toes into Rio’s remarkable city sands.

    The allure of the Cidade Maravilhosa is, in fact, too powerful to ignore for some, who find themselves back on their favorite air travel search site a few months down the line, frantically playing with dates and routes to find the most economic way in which they can return to lap up even more sun, sand and samba. Those folks have already visited Rio’s 5-star attractions – Christ the Redeemer, Pão de Açúcar, Copacobana, Ipanema, Santa Teresa etc. – and are looking to escape fellow nomads and go a little more local. The good news is it’s not an impossible wish, but you’ll need to be committed to the effort. Here are a few places in Brazil’s most visited city where you can (maybe!) escape most fellow foreigners …

  • Weekend Getaway: Unique Garden

    If there ever was a city from which one might to need to occasionally flee to the countryside, it’s São Paulo, Brazil’s concrete jungle, home to nearly 21 million people and traffic jams the length of marathons. The numbers alone will stop you in your tracks (12,500 restaurants, 420 cinemas and theaters, 15,000 bars and so on), while the skyscrapers – endless in all directions and beyond – make Manhattan look like a paltry suburb. Now, let’s not get it twisted, as far as urban playgrounds go, you’ll nearly want for nothing here (maybe reasonable prices!), but anyone living and working here will surely agree: Sometimes a little Zen is in order. That’s where Unique Garden Spa & Resort comes in.

  • Photo: Riotur

    Ring in the New Year with Two Million of Your Closest Friends

    Rio de Janeiro needs no excuse to throw a party. In fact, the word for “party,” (festa) might just be one of the first words in Portuguese you master on a visit to the most beautiful city in the Southern Hemisphere, right after caipirinhacerveja (beer) and ressaca (hangover)!

    Seriously, though, New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro – known as Reveillon – is second only to Carnival in all stops being thrown out by the cariocas, as residents of Rio are known. Here’s what to expect:

  • Photo: Senderos

    Weekend Getaway: Reserva do Ibitipoca

    Most folks think of Brazil as a beach destination. Rightfully so, there’s no denying Brazil was sun-kissed by God almighty himself when perfect sands were being dished out to Earth. But Brazil is also home to a massive interior of pastoral hills flush with hidden waterfalls, deep canyons, rolling coffee plantations and dramatic rocky landscapes which come along with a culture entirely different from that of the beach – no bikini necessary.

    One of Brazil’s most beautiful countryside destinations is the state of Minas Gerais, which is famous for colonial towns, hearty cuisine and cachaça, Brazil’s local firewater; but is perhaps best known for the friendliness of its people. I have a little joke in Brazil: Whenever I meet a Brazilian that I immediately love to death, they are almost always a Mineiro. To that end, Mineiros are especially good at hospitality. If you are visiting Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s third biggest city, on business or pleasure, consider hanging around a bit and making the 195-mile trek south to Reserva do Ibitipoca; better yet, if you’re in Rio de Janeiro (for pleasure – what else?), it’s even an even closer journey: 157 miles. But regardless of where you come from, this luxury plantation is a world away.

  • Brazil: A Birder’s Paradise

    Birding may not be on the mainstream travelers to-do list, but it’s serious business nonetheless, and Brazil is a bombshell for birdwatching. South America has the largest number of bird species of any continent and Brazil is among the top three countries in the world with over 1832 cataloged species and soaring higher.  And while Hollywood might have poked fun at the birdwatching lifestyle in Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin’s The Big Year (2011), there are a lot of people who get very excited about our fine-feathered friends.

  • 5 Blowout Brazilian Beach Houses

    Anyone who has visited Brazil since the strengthening of the Brazilian Real a few years ago, and certainly anyone who has looked into hotel accommodations for upcoming mega world events like the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, are surely intimately familiar with the Portuguese term, “Custo Brasil,” or “Brazilian Cost,” a phrase used to (explain? justify?) the rising costs of doing business in this South American giant and, as a result, prices that leave visitors often sticker shell-shocked. There’s no sugarcoating it: Brazil is an expensive country to visit.

    But there are ways to cut costs. One excellent idea is to steer away your dream of sleeps on the sands from often high-priced hotels and pousadas to pooling your money, resources and groups of friends into renting an entire piece of paradise all for yourselves. That’s where the Brazilian Beach House Company comes in. Started by English expat Steven Chew in 2005, the company specializes in finding fully-staffed beach homes for all budgets on the most pristine patches of sand the country has to offer. Often times, if a group of friends or couples split costs, you can rest your weary heads in paradise for a fraction of the cost of an overpriced pousada – and turn an entire luxury home into your own private Eden (with a private chef to boot).

    We asked Steven to highlight a few of his favorite homes in Brazil, from Bahia to Rio de Janeiro (*and we threw in our personal favorite in as well). It’s a tall order as luxury beach homes are something Brazil does very well indeed.  “Here are my list of five favorites,” he says. “Or at least some of the them as the list could have run and run …”

    Without further adieu …

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Dining Out in Tiny Tiradentes

    It’s certainly no news flash that Brazil is a wonderful place to eat (check out our breakdown of Brazil’s finest dish), and the country’s biggest city, São Paulo, is certainly home to the biggest concentration of culinary wonders in South America, but Brazil’s holds a culinary secret deep in its interior that folks might not consider when planning their gastronomic itineraries. World: Meet Tiradentes.

  • Photo: Andre Maceira

    5 Things to do Around Parque Nacional dos Lençóis Maranhenses

    That’s no mirage. The towering dunes of Brazil’s Lençóis Maranhenses national park is one of the world’s most dramatic landscapes – 1500 sq km of otherworldly sandscapes, only broken up by inviting cerulean lagoons that pepper the sandy hills between March and September. From the air, the landscape gives the appearance of rolling bed sheets (lençóis in Portuguese), pitching across the world’s most picturesque bed. A visit here is guaranteed to leave your jaw on the deep sandy floor and your camera trigger-finger sore from overuse. But the park itself, located about 200 miles east of São Luis near the cutesy town of Barreirinhas, is far from the only cinematic destination in this part of Northern Brazil. Don’t miss a trip to this region; and don’t miss taking in the following while you’re there.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Favelado for the Weekend

    Anyone who has been to Rio de Janeiro has seen the colorful brick-and-mortar mazes precariously climbing up the lush mountains in all directions from most vantage points of note in Zona Sul: The favelas. Or shantytowns. Or slums. Or whatever the slur of choice is for a lot of underprivileged people stuffing themselves into illegal housing stacked on top of each other because the socioeconomic realities deem it so. They have traditionally been associated with violent wars between the police and drug lords, the latter of whom traditionally controlled them. Wandering into them if you were Brazilian was a scary no-no and an enlightening if not controversial good time for foreigners, who have taken the Jeep and van tours that have been operating since the ’90s.

  • Photo: Eraldo Schneider

    Brews, Blumenau and Brazil: It’s Oktoberfest!

    Brazil is a beer country, there’s no doubt about that. In this tropical heat and on these sandy shores, nothing quite goes down like a cold one. But until very recently, beer selection in Brazil left much to be desired. Unlike Brazil’s neighbors in Argentina and Chile, Brazil’s brew culture was mostly limited to a few bland brands of pale lager and ubiquitous chope – ice cold Brazilian draft beer that, while tasty, often infuriates foreigners due to the longheld but misguided Brazilian belief that the bigger the head, the fresher the beer.

    What you end up with is half a beer – nobody wants to toast to that!

  • Photo: daxfdr

    72 Hours in São Paulo

    There are no two bones about it: São Paulo, Brazil’s financial heart and the Latin American capital of everything from food to fashion, is an unforgiving concrete monster that will totally overwhelm you. You’ll need to be willing to get your hands dirty if you want to conquer Brazil’s most modern megalopolis. Historically, the city was most visited by business travelers the world over, anxious to share air (and broker deals) with many of the continent’s most successful movers and shakers. These days, that hasn’t changed one bit, but tourists are starting to discover Sampa – so goes it affectionate nickname among locals – and are hitting the ground running, anxious to take in the city’s endless excursions: Gastronomy, museums, nightlife, shopping. You won’t want for anything here.

  • Street Food Fun in Brazil

    While Brazilian street food certainly doesn’t reach the same levels of intrigue as that of India, or gourmet levels of America’s food truck movement, it still manages to grip your taste buds in cross-cultural delight. Like Brazilian food in general, the country’s tropical roadside kibbles are as diverse as its population, with influences from Africa to Japan spilling into Brazil’s samba-fueled streets and, more often than not, sun-kissed beaches.

    There is a good deal more from where the following street treats came from (ranging from simpler things like grilled corn on the cob and fresh-fried potato chips to more elaborate choices like beach-grilled shrimp and sweet, tamale-like dumplings known as pamonha), but these are five of our favorites.

    And don’t worry about getting sick–Brazilians have high standards of hygiene, so you’d need to be very unlucky to get sick from any of the following (it’s never happened to us).

  • Photo: D.O.M.

    Dining at D.O.M.: South America’s Top Restaurant

    For folks that pay close attention to such things (and many, many people swear by such things), the coveted World’s 50Best Restaurants list, brought to gastrophiles the world over annually by S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, is the end-all, be-all of destination dining. It is where foodie fervor reaches fever pitches; a one-stop ticket to foodgasm; the Bible of culinary creationism. For the 2013 edition, La Cellar de Can Roca, in Girona, Spain, dethroned Copenhagen’s Noma, to take over No. 1 restaurant in the world accolades, but we’re not here to talk Spain and Denmark.

    We’re here to talk Brazil, which means we’re here to talk about São Paulo’s D.O.M., the 6th best restaurant in the world according to the 2013 list, and the most highly-ranked spot to grab a bite to eat in all of South America (and No. 2 in all of the Americas period, second only to Eleven Madison Park in New York).

    Are you hungry yet?

  • Weekend Getaway: Gramado

    Though little known outside of Brazil, the small but adorable Swiss-inspired mountain village of Gramado, 124 miles northeast of Porto Alegre in the deep Brazilian south, is a little island of giddy European charm surrounded by an ocean of Tropicália. During winter break, Brazilians flock here, all too happy to don hats, gloves and galoshes while they pretend that cold is kitsch between bites of fondue in fireplace-toasted restaurants. Sounds like hell frozen over? Not so fast.

  • Perfection in a Dish: The Brazilian Moqueca

    You would be excused if the first thing that comes to mind when asked about Brazilian cuisine is ubiquitous rice and beans – it is, after all, the Latin/Hispanic go-to base for pretty much every dish that exits a kitchen from the top of Mexico to the bottom of Argentina. And Brazil is as guilty as any in that regard. But while Brazilian cuisine may lack the kind of marketing machine behind it that Peruvian ceviche or Argentine beef is afforded, it is home to some of the most diverse and dynamic recipes on the continent.

  • Photo: Embratur

    Friendly Floripa

    It came as a surprise to many – including your Brazil expert – when Florianópolis was recently chosen by readers of Condé Nast Traveler as the Friendliest City in the World, beating out the likes of Hobart, Australia; Thimpu, Bhutan; Queenstown, New Zealand and Charleston, South Carolina on its way to its poll-topping performance.

    I have never been to Hobart, Thimpu or Charleston (though I did jump out of a plane in Queenstown once), but I have been to Florianópolis, the jewel of the Brazilian South, on more than a few occasions.

  • Perfect Weekend Escape: Ilhabela

    When it comes to Brazil, São Paulo normally hogs the superlatives, but one thing this monster of a city cannot lay claim to is, “The Best Beach.” In fact, São Paulo city has no beach at all. Paulistanos, as residents of the city are known, must brave a solid two hours of bumper-to-bumper gridlock (on a good day!) to reach any of São Paulo state’s beaches worth sitting in traffic for two hours to reach. But if there’s one escape that is worth the wait, though, it’s the idyllic island of Ilhabela (“Beautiful Island), a Paulistano playground for the rich and famous and bold and beautiful some 200km northeast of the city. Dig in for a weekend. Here’s how.

  • Photo: Embratur

    A Pantanal Primer

    Visitors to Brazil often underestimate the size of the country (it’s the 5th largest country in the world, bigger than the continental United States) so as a result, end up facing some tough decisions about where to spend their time after Rio de Janeiro and Iguazú Falls. One of the most common dilemmas travelers face is choosing between the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest; and the Pantanal, one of the world’s largest freshwater wetlands. Of course, the honest answer is, “Why choose? Go to both!”

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Confederations Cup

    It’s been a well-documented rocky road leading up to the biggest soccer event in Brazil, culminating with a wave of high-profile protests over the last few weeks. I have had my own reservations along the way as well (which I document regularly on my Twitter feed, @RaubOnTheRoad, if you’re interested), but let’s not get things twisted: Soccer is the end-all, be-all in Brazil.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Top 8 Experiences: Fernando de Noronha

    For those who have never heard of it, the small island of Fernando de Noronha, 200 miles off the coast of Recife in Northeastern Brazil, may not roll off the tongue easily, but it sure is easy on the eyes. In a country that boasts over 4500 miles of coastline – darn near all of it the prettiest you ever did see – Noronha stands out as a paradise in paradise.  Brazilians equate it with Heaven itself.

  • Photo: La Mar

    São Paulo Falls Under the Peruvian Spell

    As far as South American cuisine goes, there is none more famous, tasty or more cunningly marketed than Peruvian, where mountain-high piles of citrus-doused raw fish have made ceviche a household name the world over. There is, of course, much more to Peruvian cuisine than raw fish: Lomo Saltado (stir-friend sirloin with spices, tomatoes, onion and French fries), Ají de Gallina (cheesy, chili pepper chicken) and Causa (mashed potato dumplings) are tasty favorites, but are merely ubiquitous introductory dishes to this complex cuisine full of regional variation and locally-sourced ingredients from the sea (black shells, green seaweed) to the Andes (quinoa, Andean legumes).

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Lapinha: Brazil’s Go-To Destination Spa

    Brazil has historically been a few steps behind the modern spa movement – it wasn’t until very recently that you could even get a rubdown in many of the country’s upscale tropical resorts (and if you could, it was usually outsourced) – which makes it all the more impressive that Lapinha Spa located about 55 miles southwest of Curitiba, originally opened its doors in 1972. It wasn’t called a “spa” then but it was way ahead of the wellness/medical spa game. Today, it has won numerous destination spa awards – Best Spa in the Americas, etc. – and has become the go-to spa to light a fire under your pants, shake those bad eating habits and turn you into a whole new you. So what’s it like? Here’s my 10 cents.

  • Photo: Rosino

    Brazil’s Boa Morte Festival

    Though Brazil is the largest Catholic country in the world, within its borders is a far more diverse religious melting pot often stirred by the country’s rich African roots, which are most evident in the northeastern state of Bahia. Here, Brazil’s most well-known Afro-Brazilian religion, Candomblé, maintains a powerful following.

  • Photo: Feirinha Gastronômica

    São Paulo’s Gourmet Foodie Fair

    If there ever was a city ripe for the gourmet food truck pickens’, it would be São Paulo, one of the best foodie cities in the entirety of the Southern Hemisphere. The obvious combination of a captive audience of 21 million hungry mouths coupled with a city that works hard, eats even harder, means this culinary hotspot should be one giant traffic-snarled gastro rush hour. Except it’s not.

    Sampa has no gourmet food trucks. “Currently, there is no law that allows food trucks in São Paulo,” explains local foodie and event coordinator Mauricio Schuartz. “We see it happening in the near future but no one knows exactly how.”

  • A Perfect Weekend in Vale dos Vinhedos

    Brazil doesn’t actually roll off the tongue of discerning oenophiles three-glasses deep into conversations about the next great terroir – it is, after all, a country fueled by caipirinhas and chope (draft beer), two beat the-heat-treats that would almost always be the go-to tipple of choice in the tropical heat. But that is changing. Brazil’s Vale dos Vinhedos, located 120km north of the country’s southernmost capital, Porto Alegre, is finally producing wines that have the Chileans and Argentines starting to glance over their shoulders.

  • Let’s Meet This Summer

    Coming soon to this exact spot, wearing nothing but words (and the occasional photo) and dedicated to bringing you all the ins and outs, tips and tidbits, hots and nots of South America… it’s our new blog! Now you’ll be able to stay in-the-know about sights to see, events to attend, food to eat, music to hear, ideas to share, and much more. Only the most blog-worthy info. Only in South America.

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