Rio de Janeiro is cool, but Brazil is a vast country with a bunch of other amazing cities worth visiting.
We’re not going to the Olympics this year but a lot of people are and will get to see Rio for the first time. Which is great. However, if you’re visiting Brazil anyway — either for the Olympics or just for fun — I highly recommend adding the following cities to your itinerary. Though they are spread out all over, there are usually affordable flights between them. And they’re so drenched in history, culture, and natural beauty, that they’d be a shame to miss.
Salvador, which dates back to the mid 1500s, has a complicated and sad history; the Pelourinho neighborhood — the historic core — is named for a post where slaves were whipped. Still, it’s a history worth trying to understand. And Salvador is also a beautiful city with good food, incredible architecture, and friendly people. I particularly enjoyed ducking into jaw dropping Baroque churches and exploring the market in the lower city, or Cidade Baixa.
Manaus is the gateway to the Amazon, and so it lands on many travelers’ itineraries as a convenient place to stop and take on supplies. What many people do not realize, however, is that Manaus is actually a great city in its own right. During my visit, I ate delicious street food, saw an orchestral performance in a grand concert hall, and hung out with locals in a park. It was great.
Curitiba is one of Brazil’s most overlooked cities, which is a shame because it’s really quite pleasant. In fact, if I were choosing a Brazilian city to live in, it’d probably be Curitiba; the city has some of the most advanced infrastructure in the country, boasts a pleasant and cooler climate, and has high-quality-but-low-key attractions. I particularly enjoyed the Oscar Niemeyer Museum, which highlights the work of one of modernisms most important architects.
— Jim Dalrymple II