SmartFlyer agent (and resident foodie), Suzy Xiu, shares the top ten reasons you need to go Brazil…right this minute.
You may know Brazil from its famous Carnival festival, or perhaps you’ve coveted a trip to the Amazon, lush with greenery and filled with dozens of exotic species. But did you know that the country is also home to some of the freshest vegetables and juiciest meats in the world? And beyond the cuisine, the diversity of this destination allows travelers the ability to shop, golf or even just sleep until your heart’s content.
01. Exotic Flora + Fauna
As one of the greenest countries in the world, Brazil offers some of the world’s most beautiful flora and fauna. My trip was filled with nature, which was a real treat coming from the concrete jungle of Manhattan. I saw animals like turtles, capybaras, and thousands of butterflies at Iguazu Falls.
Plus, most people don’t realize that the country’s northern coast has incredible deserts, and the Amazon River has secluded beaches with high PH sections (which mean zero mosquitos!). There’s also an archipelago off the coast of Recife called Fernando de Noronha which could almost be considered a mini Galapagos, filled with beautiful marine and animal life. This all offers travelers so much diversity, all without having to leave Brazil.
02. Brazilian Coffee
All the locals were telling me that the best coffee gets exported, but from what I could tell, what stays is still excellent. I’m not a big coffee drinker normally, but I drank coffee every chance I got while there because it was so smooth and gave me none of the edginess I would have with coffee normally. Granted, this could be also partly due to the relaxing pace of life in Brazil…(sigh).
03. Rainbows Galore
Another thing about Iguazu Falls that I didn’t expect…rainbows! There was at least one rainbow at every section of the falls I visited. I saw more double rainbows than I even thought existed, with colors so vivid they were the closest thing I had ever seen to a cartoon rainbow. If that is not a reason to go, I don’t know what is! Check out my Brazil highlights on Instagram (@soozyzoo) for proof.
04. You’ll learn to LOVE vegetables (I swear)
Sure, you may like fruit, but very few people can say that vegetables are their guilty pleasure. Yet everything in Brazil is so fresh and delicious that you may just change your mind! The Brazilians did the locally sourced/farm-to-table concept long before it was a trend, and as a result they have some really incredible produce.
I will never forget the first time I tasted a heart of palm at the beautiful Ponta Dos Ganchos resort. Unlike the canned varieties I had tasted before, the real thing is succulent and tender with an amazing flavor that I could eat for the rest of my life. Fun fact? Due to its popularity, the “palmito” is now protected and it’s largely illegal to harvest the wild plants (which take 15 years to fully mature and then die off once the leaves are extracted). But don’t worry, the farm-grown varieties are just as tasty.
05. Savory Snacks (Salgados) for Days
Veggies still not your thing? For the carb lover in all of us, there’s Brazil’s famous Pão de Queijo, which literally translates to cheesy bread! Pão de Queijo is an extremely popular snack throughout the country, and you can find it everywhere, from airports to local cafés. Loaded with gooey cheese, this popular breakfast food also happens to be gluten-free because it’s made with tapioca flour! This is just one of many awesome Brazilian snacks (or “salgados”). Others include coxinhas (shredded chicken coated in dough and fried), bacalhau (salted cod fritters) and more. Be sure to try them all!
06. All the Shopping
Brazil has high-quality shoe shops that you won’t find anywhere else. So if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind souvenir, be on the look out for handmade leather pieces. I was able to bring home a pair of cool leather flats from a store tucked away a block north of the main shopping street, Oscar Freire.
The Brazilian hospitality is very much a part of the shopping experience and at each and every store I went to, I was greeted personally. The shopkeepers remember your name and attentively help you throughout your time perusing. Regardless of the cost of the piece, I felt like I had a personal shopper who would carefully consider my style and recommend additional pieces they thought I would like. Dangerous for the wallet, but good for the soul.
Yep, sushi! Believe it or not, São Paolo has a neighborhood called Liberdade (also known as Little Tokyo), which actually has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. This means excellent Japanese food including sushi. Be sure not to miss the “Dessert Sushi”, it’s a big deal there!
08. Golfer’s Paradise
For those who are so inclined, Brazil offers world class golf. Little known to most because it is a fairly recent development fueled by the Olympics, the top course in the country is Tom Fazio’s Santapzienza. This course took major advantage of the country’s natural gifts and created something spectacular; a must-visit for those who like hitting the links.
09. The Steak (Obvi)
Have you heard of the Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão? Imagine going to the OG version in Brazil, where many other churrascarias also exist. NB Steak is one that was opened by the same founder as Fogo de Chão, and with locations exclusively in Brazil, so you know it is the real deal.
10. The Best Sleep of Your Life
Every single bed I slept in was so comfortable, whether it be a luxury resort or a more corporate hotel. I almost want to plan another trip with no daily schedule to solely have time to luxuriate in those beds!