Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo’s Top Experiences

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From colorful Carnival to iconic beaches to a thriving nightlife scene, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo offer terrific experiences that should be on every traveler’s list. Here are Fodor’s top picks for a memorable trip.

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Carnival in Rio

Brazilians can throw a party like no one else, and Rio’s Carnival is the biggest party of the year—a raucous bacchanal of music, drink, and flesh.

PLAN YOUR TRIPVisit Fodor's Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide

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Museu de Arte de São Paulo

In a city renowned for its thriving arts scene, the Museu de Arte holds São Paulo’s premier fine-arts collection.

PLAN YOUR TRIPVisit Fodor's São Paulo Travel Guide

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Brazilian Beats

Music is woven into the fabric of Brazilian life, and no trip here is complete without catching a live show, whether samba, bossa nova, axé, or forró.

PLAN YOUR TRIPVisit Fodor's Brazil Travel Guide

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Ilhabela

Residents and tourists alike flock to the “beautiful island” of Ilhabela, near São Paulo, for its postcard-perfect beaches and water sports.

PLAN YOUR TRIPVisit Fodor's Side Trips From São Paulo Travel Guide

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Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches

Slip into your beachwear for a day of sunbathing and people-watching on Copacabana and Ipanema, Brazil’s most iconic beaches.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide

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Food and Drink

From spit-roasted meats to black bean stews, the cuisines in Rio and São Paulo pair well with a caipirinha, the national cocktail.

PLAN YOUR TRIPVisit Fodor's Brazil Travel Guide

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São Paulo Nightlife

São Paulo’s nightlife options are seemingly endless and prove worthy venues for even the feistiest nighthawk.

PLAN YOUR TRIPVisit Fodor's São Paulo Travel Guide

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Sugar Loaf Mountain

Brave the dizzying cable car ride up to the peak of Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro. Try to make the ascent in the late afternoon to catch breathtaking sunset views.

PLAN YOUR TRIPVisit Fodor's Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide

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Búzios

Less than three hours from Rio, this former fishing village counts pristine beaches, calm waters, lively nightlife, and sophisticated shopping among its many charms.

PLAN YOUR TRIPVisit Fodor's Side Trips From Rio Travel Guide

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Soccer Matches

Soccer is a national passion and an art form in Brazil. It’s a blast to sit among thousands of cheering, chanting fans in one of the country’s iconic stadiums.

PLAN YOUR TRIPVisit Fodor's Brazil Travel Guide

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Christ the Redeemer Statue

Don’t leave Rio without making a trip to the statue of Christ the Redeemer, arms outstretched to embrace the city from its perch on Corcovado Mountain.

PLAN YOUR TRIPVisit Fodor's Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide

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Paraty

The coastal town of Paraty, southwest of Rio, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has one of the most perfectly preserved colonial Portuguese centers in Brazil.

PLAN YOUR TRIPVisit Fodor's Side Trips From Rio Travel Guide