7 Days of Luxury, Food and Nature in Brazil
Rio de Janeiro
Arts & Culture
Food & Wine
Brazil travel is like a unique blend of Latin America and Europe. It has a slow pace of life while also being chic and sophisticated. Rio de Janeiro often gets all the attention, and while it is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in the world, there is still so much more natural beauty in this huge country. The people are warm and friendly, the beaches are beautiful and the food is incredible. Brazilians love their country and I understand why.
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Where to stay
Hotel das Cataratas, A Belmond Hotel, Iguassu Falls
Surrounded by lush rainforest and besides Iguassu Falls, this hideaway property offers luxury solitude amongst the magical jungles of Brazil.
$90 food / beverage credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro
Designed by French Industrial architect Phillipe Starck, this hotel reflects his modern and eclectic style with an infinity pool on the beachfront of Ipanema.
Complimentary 50-minute massage for two per room.
Upgrade & extended check-In/out whenever possible.
Palácio Tangará brings refined European hospitality combined with Brazilian art de vivre in its contemporary-designed spaces and Jean-Georges restaurant.
$100 food / beverage credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
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Day 1: Arrive in Rio de Janeiro
Fly into Rio de Janeiro’s International Airport. One of the great things about flights to Brazil is although they are long, they are overnight so you leave the US around 9pm and arrive in Rio around 9am. So, if you can sleep on planes or fly business class (definitely what I would recommend), it’s a really easy trip without much jet lag or time change.
After dropping my bags at the hotel I’d then wander around Ipanema. The beach is pretty, and there are a lot of great shops and places for lunch. Beware that in Brazil, they are not in a rush, so don’t expect fast service at restaurants. Oftentimes they won’t even bring you a menu until you ask for one. They aren’t being rude or providing bad service, it’s just more traditional to sit down, order a drink or two while talking for a while and then order some food when you’re ready to eat. If you want to speed it up, I’d ask for a menu as soon as you sit down.
After lunch, I’d take the tram up to Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) for panoramic views of the city and the entire coastline. It’s truly incredible. If you like to hike, it’s a short but steep hike through neighboring Morro da Urca. Walking through the Brazilian jungle is something else.
That evening I’d head back towards the hotel and Arpoador — it's a beautiful place for pictures and watching the sunset.
Day 2: Exploring Rio
If you like to start the day with exercise, walking or running on the famous tiled sidewalk that runs along the beach is such a Carioca (the name for people from Rio) thing to do.
Christ the Redeemer is a must see, of course. I’d recommend going in the morning when it’s cooler. Especially if you are traveling during the summer months (Dec – March).
For lunch, I would visit the Copacabana Palace and eat by the pool. If you want a mid-day drink, order a caipirinha — the most traditional drink of Brazil.
That afternoon I'd visit the historic district of Rio de Janeiro to see:
The Portuguese Library, commonly listed as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.
Old Catholic cathedrals that dot downtown.
The old Portuguese Imperial Palace.
Maracana Soccer Stadium.
Day 3: Botanical gardens and the beach
Visiting Jardim Botânico (the botanical gardens) is a must and then walk over to Parque Lage to wander the grounds and famous mansion. The mansion has a café which is also an iconic spot for photos.
No trip to Rio is complete without a little beach time. You'll find a lot of people exercising on the beach whether they are running, playing volleyball or kicking around a soccer ball. Brazil is a very active country and people are friendly so just ask if you can join their volleyball game.
Day 4: Foz de Iguaçu
Fly to Foz de Iguaçu in the morning. After checking into the beautiful hotel, go visit the Brazilian side of the falls.
Lots of options for exploring the falls. Walking around on the platforms and getting views from different angles or even doing a boat tour where you get down close to the falls.
Day 5: Devil’s Throat in Argentina
Cross the border into Argentina for a different view of the falls. Some people say this side is even more beautiful but don’t ask a Brazilian that because there is a sort of battle between Argentina and Brazil. In Argentina, you can follow the catwalks over to Devil’s Throat. If you’re looking for even more adventure there are always activities like zip lining through the jungle.
When you don’t feel like exploring the falls, the Belmond Hotel there in the national park is a destination of its own. You can visit the spa, play tennis, sit by the pool and explore the grounds of this classic and elegant hotel in the middle of the jungle.
Day 6: São Paulo
In the morning catch a flight to São Paulo, the biggest city in South America. Like New York, London or Paris, São Paulo is full of incredible shopping and food. Honestly, I stop in São Paulo every time I’m in Brazil for no other reason than to eat! Brazil and especially São Paulo is such a mix of cultures so you get so much variety. Most people don’t know that Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan so you can find sushi on every corner. They even have rodizio style sushi restaurants that are like the Brazilian barbecue restaurants where it’s all you can eat and they walk around with different selections of sushi to try. I’ve had some of the best Italian food (dare I say even better than what I’ve had in Italy) or Portuguese seafood dishes, Brazilian barbecue (of course) and even Arabic food. Oh, and I forgot about the French restaurants and the pastries.
In the moments that you aren’t eating, I love to enjoy "living" in the city. São Paulo is a city with amazing weather so I love to be outside. Visiting Ibirapuera Park is a must-do. It is a giant park much like Central Park in NYC. You can run, walk or even rent bicycles.
Day 7: Relaxing and heading home
On my last day in Brazil I’d have another leisurely day exploring São Paulo. If you are staying at the beautiful Palacio Tangara, I’d start my day by walking around the adjacent Parque Burle Marx. Then doing some shopping at one of the many shopping malls. You can choose from Oscar Ferreira (the Rodeo Drive of SP), Cidade Jardim (a beautiful, multi-level and open-air mall) or a more traditional mall like Shopping Iguatemi. These shopping areas have your European luxury brands but also some Brazilian fashion brands. While less known, Brazil has some beautiful fashion, especially if you like the more loose, relaxed yet very chic look. Much like the Mediterranean style.
That evening, catch a flight out of São Paulo International Airport.
A note from Patricia
There is so much to see or do in Brazil. You could easily add a day or two in each of these places and spend more time doing the things you love whether it is the beach, hiking, biking, art galleries or museums. Even these hotels are places to enjoy on their own.
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