It was love on the first sight: Me and Brazil. Even before coming to Brazil for the first time, I knew I would like it. But all of my wildest dreams were surpassed by the reality. None of the countries I visited has fascinated me as much. Brazil has it all: Cultural richness, an astonishing natural beauty, crawling mega cities and quiet places where you can restore mind and body. This is a comprehensive guide why you should include Brazil in your top travel list.
11. Brazilian food culture
Let’s start with the most obvious reason: The pleasure of eating. Brazilian cuisine is exactly what you expect from a tropical country. Local dishes are rich in flavors and always accompanied by sweet and healthy fruits. On top, almost every dish comes with a crunchy pint of farofa. Fusing food culture from Africa, ancestral communities, and Europe, you can expect character food shaking up your taste buds when trying Brazilian dishes.
The best about Brazilian food is its strong regional diversity: Every time you visit a different place you will discover an entirely new local interpretation of delicacies. My absolute favorite dish is Moqueca, a traditional fish stew that comes in endless varieties (also vegetarian). This fruity dish for example is most commonly found on the Southern and Central Coast. Despite having divine cuisine, Brazil is all about the juice. You can find Guarana, Caju, and Açaí juice in every restaurant, and have you ever heard of Buriti, Jenipapo, or Pitanga? Then it is time to visit Brazil and try them all!
10. Brazilian Portuguese
Brazilian Portuguese is spoken poesía. I remember the first time I listened to Portuguese music, I was blown away by the beauty of its melody and harmony. Words such as Beija-flor for hummingbirds or saudades (an expression for missing someone from the bottom of the heart) are uniquely beautiful and perform magic to your ears.
What fascinated me, even more, is the way Brazilians talk. Brazilians know how to use rhetorical speech and love to use funny gestures. Moreover, being generally friendly, they always come up with a compliment, positive expressions, and a lot of gratefulness and warmth. Not convinced yet? Follow Greengodictionary and get your own idea about Brazilian expressions!
9. The pure beauty of Brazil’s nature
Being the fifth largest country in the world and being stretched over several climate zones, Brazil can offer anything: Mountainous areas, the Amazon rainforest, wild beaches, tropical rainforests, the wetlands of Pantanal, deserts, and thousands of waterfalls. Visiting Brazil, you will discover natural wonders, beautiful pristine beaches, wild oceans perfect for surfing, and shallow waters made for snorkeling and relaxing. Brazil is also home to over 55.000 kinds of plants and numerous unique animals you can only find visiting it.
During my trip, I went to the Amazon rainforest, the most powerful ecosystem in this world. Visiting this place, literally the birth of mother nature, makes you feel immensely connected to nature and life. Simultaneously, you realize just how small you are compared to this colossal living space thriving far off from human civilization. You see, it is a unique experience traveling around the natural wonders of Brazil. After all, I cannot recommend you enough to take the time and explore what Brazil has to offer.
8. Complex ´history and politics
While every country in this world has a unique and rich history to tell, Brazilian history is far from easy to grasp. Therefore, it’s the perfect place to actually study history. Brazil offers plenty of opportunities to learn about South American and regional history. Every large city hosts numerous museums with anthropological, natural, and biological collections. The galleries are also filled with art and artifacts from past times.
The political situation of Brazil at the moment can be described as difficult because the country is divided into several political and identity groups and the society is deeply polarized. This is a good reason to study the country’s history, politics, and economics. Become more knowledgeable on the consequences of colonialism, the influence of international relations, and the challenge of economic development in South America on your trip.
7. Brazilians know how to dance
Whether you enjoy dancing as much as me, or you are new to the cult of dancing, Brazil will make you move your hips. There is no escape. The Brazilian culture is basically all about dancing and at every event you will end up doing a full-body workout just by moving with the crowd. Brazilian dance styles are diverse: Start with traditional dances such as Forró or Samba or Capoeira, a fighting dance from Salvador in Bahia. Traditional is not your thing? Go and learn modern contemporary dance or just twerk to Baile Funk.
While most Brazilian enjoy dancing their choreographies, you can as well just dance with the flow, and let your body experience the music as it comes. I have to say, I have never been to so many dance events and parties within such a short time as in Brazil. Altogether, it was one of the best times of my whole trip.
6. The unique Carnival or ‘Carnaval’
Everybody knows the Brazilian Carnival, and particularly the Samba Schools in Rio de Janeiro enjoy decent worldwide popularity. However, Carnival is much more than the Samba Schools and the spectacle in the city of Rio.
Carnival already starts months before the actual event, and I have to say that the pre-Carnival time was even better for me than Carnival itself. This festive time of the year means going to a bloco or bloquinho daily, where you listen to the bands and watch the artists practicing for the Carnival event ahead. Those events are authentic, less crowded, and not touristic at all. Thus they bring you into the perfect mood for a week of dancing, singing, drinking, and going truly wild during the main Carnival event.
What makes Carnival so special? It is hard to define, I believe you have to experience Carnival to fully understand it. For me, it is the mix of dressing up with creative and unique costumes and dancing to traditional Brazilian music. It is about connecting with the community, accepting everyone as they are, and funnily, kissing way too many people. Carnival creates a feeling of positive energy and a common bond between its participants, despite the fact that the country itself is so socially divided.
5. Brazil has a rich cultural diversity
Brazil is by far one of the most culturally rich countries in this world. The nation has an immense influence by African and indigenous culture, but as well by Japanese, other South American cultures, and European nations such as the Spanish, Italians, and Germans.
Despite the big influence of the Evangelic and Catholic church, you can also find unique religions such as Candomblé and Ubanda. Those cultural influences have all together made Brazil into a thriving, colorful, and distinctive place. The differences between its several regions can be huge and the traditional dances, the local food, people’s language, and the music they listen to differ from city to city.
For me, the culture is best described by giving a strong role to music and dancing. Furthermore, I see a very strong connection of social circles and family. The Brazilian society is, in comparison with the rather individualistic Northern European countries, collectively oriented and sociable. Brazilians are always in groups, they move in groups, they take care of the group, I believe they even think in groups.
As a European, I was surprised by the openness and welcoming gestures of the Brazilian people. Brazilian friends include you in their inner circles and quickly treat you as a family member.
4. Find progressive art and eye-catching fashion
The strong influence of its diversity leaves its footprints on Brazilian art and fashion. Brazilian art is progressive (such as this 33 meter vagina dialogues art piece), colorful, and forms a very important part of daily life. You can find dances, modern art, photography, video art, traditional and contemporary art. All art is always influenced by the various realities of Brazil.
No wonder that many music video and movie producers let their concept and clothes be designed by Brazilian artists. The clothes and costumes Brazilians are wearing are modern, colorful, provocative, and become absolute eye-catchers. What I love the most is the hype about the costumes for Carnival. It is so much fun making your own costume or buying it from a local creative designer. This way no costume looks exactly like the other.
Generally, wearing costumes to events is very normal in Brazil and makes every party a great experience. It is true what they say: After Carnival is before Carnival because you already start planning your outfit for the upcoming year shortly after coming home from the last party.
3. (Have) sex and celebrate the LGBTQ communities
Brazil is known for its people’s sensuality, open sexuality, and fun-loving spirit. This image fits the rhythmic dances and romantic music very well. Visiting the country you will soon experience the closeness of people and the importance of sensual body language and sexual attractiveness. It is no coincidence that foreign people make new records in kissing during Carnival.
Another positive aspect of Brazil is its open beauty standards: It feels like there are not really any strict standards at all. Beauty is loosely defined, which makes beauty itself an open, progressive, and fascinating experience. I often found myself just observing the people’s outfits, hairstyles and physique, mostly fascinated by the immense diversity.
But there is more to the Brazilian sex culture: Despite the very polarized view on homosexuality and transgender (mostly because of the Catholic influence in Brazilian culture) I have experienced the majority of young people being very open. If you are traveling in the bigger cities such as Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, São Paulo, and along the Southern Coast, you will find a diverse and gay-friendly crowd. There are endless safe nightlife opportunities for everyone and everyone’s interests. In fact, Rio de Janeiro was ranked the best LGBTQ+ destination in the world in 2009 and the sexist city in the world for LGBTQ+ people in 2010 and it’s a pristine queer holiday destination.
Want to know how to safely date in Brazil?
2. Brazil’s people, people, people
Brazilian people are just perfect (Você é Perfeita!), as they like to say. It is nothing but true, Brazilian people are friendly, open-minded, and help you out in any situation. If you become friends you become part of their family within no time. Brazilians are very sociable and like to go out in big groups. They definitely know how to make every get-together into a real event, and fun is predestined to happen. All you need to bring is spontaneity and I promise you, you cannot be disappointed.
Further, a majority of young Brazilians are progressive and politically active. They are knowledgeable on their country’s history and politics, ambitious and collectively they are standing up for their rights. The majority understands the realities of life in Brazil and fights for improved education, social development, and the rights of marginalized groups.
1. Brazilian traditional and modern music
Music is definitely my number one of all the things Brazil has to offer. Brazilian music is as diverse, lively, and colorful as the whole nation. Brazilian music lives from its historic influences: Particularly contemporary music mixes up up traditional beats and ancestral music instruments with modern lyrics.
Whether you enjoy the traditional Samba songs, the biggest musicians of Bossa Nova of the 70s and 90s, or the modern music of nowadays: There is plenty to discover. Describing Brazilian music is like a Sysiphos work, the only way to understand the music is by experiencing it yourself.
To make it even easier for you, I have made a Carnaval playlist. Click through its songs and discover traditional music and contemporary songs from Cartola, Jorge Ben, Os Tincãos, Francisco el Hombre, BaianaSystem, and much more.
Extra: The best bar culture: Sitting in plastic chairs in front of a bar and drinking liters of affordable beer. It’s not about going to the hippest bar or drinking the most expensive cocktails. It is about the simplicity that makes it such a good experience.
It might take some weeks to get used to the Brazilian way of life because Brazil is first of all overwhelming. But if you give yourself some time and visit different places, I promise you, your heart will get stolen as well.