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In Pictures: 15 Brazilian cities that have to be seen

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With Olympic fever in full swing in Brazil, Adelto looks at the country’s 15 most amazing cities – that will take your breath away.

Brazil is a sight to behold. Here are 15 awesome cities in Brazil you won’t want to miss on your travels, says Assif Majid.

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Rio de Janeiro – The natural beauty of the ‘The Marvellous City’, with approximately 6.4 million inhabitants, is breath-taking for first time visitors to Rio de Janeiro. The landscape of Rio has become part of the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to its exceptional urban features which include Sugarloaf Mountain, the beaches and mountains of the Parque Nacional de Tijuca (Tijuca National Park) and the Christ the Redeemer Statue. Visitors to the city can enjoy a trip to the historical buildings and museums of downtown Rio, the district of Santa Teresa or can, of course, take in the famous Ipanema, Copacabana and Aproador beaches.

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Belo Horizonte – Also known as the Garden City, Belo Horizonte is currently the sixth largest state capital of Brazil, with 2.37 million inhabitants and is renowned for the beauty of its architectural heritage, its rich gastronomy and artistic and cultural production. Belo Horizonte is known as the food and drink capital of Brazil, with around 12,000 bars in the city, more per capita than anywhere else in the country. It was in Belo Horizonte that the famous annual contest to choose the best pub appetisers started and today ‘Comida de Buteco’ is held in 15 cities across the entire country.

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Sao Paulo – Sao Paulo, the richest city in Latin America and the financial centre in Brazil with 11.3 million inhabitants is known as the capital that never stops. Thousands of skyscrapers and a fleet of five million cars make up the landscape of the city which is among the world’s main destinations for international events. The city is considered to be the gastronomic capital of Brazil, with 52 types of cuisine distributed over around 12,500 restaurants and visitor attractions. Vila Madalena, one of the most bohemian districts is known for its wide variety of night entertainment, while Jardins is the centre of sophistication and the region of Augusta is a must-visit area for those preferring an underground spirit.

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Fortaleza – This city is situated on the northeast coast of Brazil with long stretches of sandy beaches and crystal clear water. Also famous for its night-life the sound of forro (local Brazilian music) can be heard spilling out of local bars. Among the tourist and cultural attractions is the Central Market, the José de Alencar Theatre, the Museum of Modern Art and the Beach Park Water Park. Due to the strong winds, the coast of Fortaleza is an ideal place for practising water sports, while local gastronomy, as in other cities of the North-Eastern region of Brazil, includes everything from seafood to carne-de-sol; meat (usually beef) lightly salted and sundried.

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Manaus – Situated in the heart of Brazilian Amazonia, Manaus is considered to be the gateway to Brazilian Amazonia, where visitors can enjoy the stunning Teatro Amazonas (Opera House), take a trip to see the natural wonder ‘the meeting of the rivers’, or experience the beauty of the Amazon by staying in a ‘jungle hotel’. While Manaus’ most appealing attributes centre around its plentiful outdoor attractions, the city itself is home to a number of museums. The most popular of these are the Museu do Indio (Indian Museum), and The Museu de Ciencias Naturais da Amazonia (Amazonian Natural Science Museum) which is situated within an area known for its concentration of Brazilian-Japanese communities.

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Porto Alegre – With a population of 1.4 million inhabitants, Porto Alegre is located in the far south of Brazil at the confluence of five rivers and is surrounded by rolling countryside and an array of green areas, such as Redenção Park and Parcão. Among the main tourist attractions are the historic buildings in the city centre, the Moinhos de Vento, Cidade Baixa, the Iberê Camargo Museum, Paço dos Açorianos (Porto Alegre City Hall) and the Botanical Gardens.

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Salvador – Salvador is the capital of African Brazil and this resonates through every aspect of this city from architecture and music to gastronomy and dance. Spend a night in the colonial heart of the city, Pelourinho, and the rhythm of the drums will start to become part of your subconscious as the many drumming schools practice late into the night and early in the morning. Salvador is home to famous beaches, such as Itapuã, Artistas and Porto da Barra and also has one of the largest street carnivals in the country, with its famous trios-elétricos (floats which serve as a stage for performances of axé bands, the local traditional music). The city is known for its mixture of races, religions and flavours, with indigenous, Portuguese and African influences.

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Bahia – Located in the eastern part of the country, Bahia is the fourth most populous Brazilian state and the fifth-largest in size. One of the most popular places for foreign visitors, Bahia’s Chapada Diamantina Mountains and lakes offer a wide range of opportunities for outdoor adventure, including trekking, climbing and water sports. For those looking for a more relaxing visit, the 1000km long coastline offers stunning tranquil beaches, with a sunny climate and a host of exotic wildlife.

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Brasilia – Brasilia is the modern day capital of Brazil and was planned and built by world famous architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1956 in order to move the capital from Rio de Janeiro to a more central position. Brasília has a unique layout in the shape of an aeroplane, designed by the town planner Lúcio Costa (1902-1998) and was the first city built in the 20th century to be considered a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site. Built on the central plateau, the country is famous for the beauty of its sky, while visitor attractions include the Alvorada Palace, the National Theatre, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasília and the National Museum and one of the greatest ecological attractions; the Sarah Kubitschek Park.

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Curitiba – Known worldwide for its town planning, Curitiba is considered to be exemplary in the areas of transport, tourism, ecology and one of the best destinations for investment in Latin America. The current population is 1.74 million, making it the eighth largest capital in Brazil in population terms. Its main tourist attractions include the Arame Opera Theatre, the Guaíra Theatre, the Railway Museum, the Oscar Niemeyer Museum and the Historical Centre. The city has over 30 parks and forests with comprehensive leisure and sports infrastructure, while a diverse range of gastronomy is provided by over 5,000 restaurants.

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Recife –With a panorama of bridges and rivers, Recife is one of the largest metropolitan regions in the North eastern region of and is also known as the ‘Venice of Brazil’. Home to 1.53 million, the state capital of Pernambuco is fringed with urban beaches and has many fine colonial buildings making it a very picturesque city. Intersected by rivers, canals and dozens of bridges connecting its districts, Recife presents various tourist attractions. A boat excursion along the Capibaribe river offers a view of Portuguese architecture while there is also an array of beaches, the best known of these being Boa Viagem.

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Natal – Natal is located in the northeast of Brazil and is known as the ‘City of Sun’.  Some of the most beautiful beaches are located close to Natal and are famous for their light coloured sand dunes which can be explored by foot or buggy if feeling adventurous. Morro do Careca- a dune 120 metres high, is one of the most picturesque in Natal and is located on Ponta Negra Beach, also home to lively nightlife with various bars and night clubs for all rhythms and tastes.

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Cuiaba – Cuiabá is considered to be the gateway to the Mato Grosso Pantanal, the largest flooded area in the world and a gigantic natural zoo. The city is intersected by the Cuiabá river, one of the main tributaries of the Paraguai, a river which bathes four countries (Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina). Among its main attractions is the geographical location, combining the three most important and characteristic ecosystems of Brazil: Amazonia, Pantanal and Cerrado.  Another attraction comes in the form of its historic buildings, such as the Church of the Rosary and St Benedict, the Rondon Museum of the Indian, and the Cathedral Square.

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Belém – Belém is the capital and largest city of state of Pará in the north of Brazil and is known as the metropolis of the Amazon region. It offers an entrance gate to the River Amazon and while it’s not as well-known as Manaus, it is a truly old city, filled with rich history, culture and architecture. The city offers an unspoilt colonial centre full or charm and one of Brazil’s most distinctive cuisines alongside modern skyscrapers, tree-lined streets and a bustling riverfront, making this a key tourist destination in the Brazilian Amazon.

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Florianpolis Florianopolis, or “Floripa” to locals, is the second largest city in the Santa Catarina state, occupying part of the mainland, one main island – Ilha de Santa Catarina – and surrounding small islands. Sparkling lagoons and 42 beautiful beaches make it one of Brazil’s top holiday destinations with an incredible nightlife scene to match. Attracting Brazilians and international tourists alike, Florianopolis also has great outdoor activities on offer such as hiking, boat trips, surf schools and diving.

About

Assif is a luxury travel and design aficionado currently working as a BBC content producer. He holds an MA in journalism from the University of Leeds. He is partial to tea and cake - Yorkshire Tea Gold Blend please. His favourite trips include island hopping in the Seychelles, a mountain escape in Kashmir and getting lost in Hong Kong.

Assif is the current editor of Adelto Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @journolista.

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November 3, 2014 | Brazil South America Travel US | View comments

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