If you go in search of the soul of Brazil, beware: you could well leave a bit of your own. This is a huge and friendly land, both mysterious and welcoming; mysterious in the unexplored thickness of the Amazon jungle to the west; welcoming in the lively cities and beaches on its tropical coast. Modern explorers, hear out! There are areas of Brazil where humanity has never set foot. So for this itinerary of 2 or 3 weeks in Brazil, let’s stick to one part, shall we?

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2 week list & map  |  2 week detailed itinerary
3 week list & map  |  3 week detailed itinerary 
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2 weeks in Brazil without taking the plane

You’ve got a few weeks holiday and have decided to spend them in Brazil – great decision! We promise you won’t regret your choice.

Now, we all want to see all of the beauties of a country when we’re lucky enough to visit it. But let’s be honest, for most countries, that’s just impossible to do in only 2 or 3 weeks. So imagine how it is for Brazil, the largest country in South America, almost as big as the whole of Europe!

Rushing left and right with planes wouldn’t be bad only for the environment; your body would probably suffer from it too. It’s not what you want. You don’t come on a Brazil trip to stress yourself out at airports. Consider also that plane tickets can cost 3 times as much as bus seats. We hope we’ve convinced you now.

View from the top of Pão de Açúcar with cable car Rio de Janeiro Brazil
One of Brazil’s most famous views, just as an appetiser

We’ve got better for you. We’ve got these 2 overland itineraries that rely only on bus transportation. They’re packed with places and attractions, and that can be somewhat intense. Feel free to skip a destination and relax more time in another. Otherwise, we promise that the route is perfectly doable as it is.

We put much work and hard love in preparing the best Brazil itinerary for 2 and for 3 weeks. We really hope you’ll enjoy it.

For more practical travel tips, read our backpacking Brazil guide

Brazil itinerary 2 weeks

Our proposed itinerary for two weeks in Brazil leaves Rio de Janeiro along the Southeastern coast. With an incursion to the Iguaçu Falls, it mixes lively city vibes, tropical forest, water activities, beach time and culture.

Days 1-4Rio de Janeiro:
  • Sugar loaf (Pão de Açúcar)
  • Various districts
  • Beaches
Days 5-6Costa Verde:
  • Atlantic forest
  • islands
  • underwater activities
Days 7-8São Paulo:
  • Architecture
  • Museums
Days 9-10Curitiba:
  • Parks & Botanical gardens
  • Museums & architecture
Days 11-12Iguaçu Falls:
  • THE falls
Days 13-14Florianópolis:
  • Santa Catarina beaches
  • outdoor activities
Route map for 2 weeks in Brazil
2 weeks in Brazil itinerary map

2 weeks in Brazil itinerary

Despite the distances in this immense country, we managed to build a perfect itinerary that’s not too hard on the sitting muscles. Most connections can be made with a comfortable night bus (buses are comfy in Brazil). 

  • 4 days in Rio de Janeiro

There are so many things to do in Rio, and for all kinds of interests, really. We haven’t met any traveller backpacking in Brazil who didn’t intend to visit the city; or who had already and didn’t love it, from Copacabana beach to the Corcovado.

As for us, we spent 1 week in Rio de Janeiro and could have easily stayed longer. We remember having a drink in a juice bar in Santa Teresa and Anna started looking at the ads about rooms to rent. Daydreaming is not a crime…

The various districts offer very different vibes. There’s a lot of museums, art galleries and cultural activities. There are beaches of course, and sun all year round; and the view from the Pão de Açúcar (the Sugar Loaf mountain) on one of the world’s most beautiful bays. There are hipster cafes and tons of street art and forró nights and the waterfalls of the Tijuca national park.

The coolest hotels in Rio de Janeiro are in the districts of Botafogo, Catete, Santa Teresa and Ipanema. When choosing your Rio hotel, remember that this is not a safe city – risks of muggings exist. Ask at your accommodation right when you arrive which areas are not safe to roam. Don’t wander off to empty parts of town, keep an eye on your belongings also on the beach, and always take a taxi after dark.

Start dreaming: Our favourite things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Beach view of Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Unknown “Praia Vermelha”, the Red Beach, Rio de Janeiro
  • 2 days on the Green Coast: Paraty & Ilha Grande

Between Rio and São Paulo stretches a fragment of natural paradise. Coastal mountains covered in tropical forest slope down to the bay of Angras dos Reis, which houses 365 islands. The most famous of them is Ilha Grande, the Big Isle. It’s a place for snorkeling and scuba diving through colourful fish, coral reef and mysterious shipwrecks.

Back on the mainland, the colonial jewel of Paraty welcomes visitors with its old streets and fortifications. It’s a touristy place for sure –which means plenty of accommodation to choose from– which serves as a pretty base to explore on day trips the natural surroundings made of forests and waterfalls. And a very pretty base indeed!

The Costa Verde is probably the best part of Brazil to find relaxing beaches with a feel of the topics.

  • 2 days in São Paulo

We’ll tell you straight away: we did not go to São Paulo. Its description as one of the world’s most populous concrete jungles didn’t attract us. Since then, we’ve heard and read more things about Brazil’s largest city; if that didn’t make us regret our choice, it certainly inspired us to give it a go next time.

What attracts us the most to São Paulo is the mix of architectures, modern and colonial, that adorns the city. The Martinelli building –Brazil’s 1st skyscraper–, the Edifício Copan and art-deco Altino Arantes building team up for the new. The cathedral, the Pátio do Colégio church, the market-hall and the Pinacoteca seem to be great examples of the old. We would certainly love to walk around and admire all those buildings!

We’s also spend time in the city’s museums, like the Museum of Modern Art and the one of Fine Arts. The art galleries in Ibirapuera Park seem also mightily interesting.

Bird's eye view of Sao Paulo by night
Sao Paulo by night (photo: henriquea2011 – Pixabay)

We cannot say much more about São Paulo. If you’ve been, tell us what it was like in the comments – the good and the bad of the city.

  • 2 days in Curitiba

A night bus away, Curitiba is not a usual tourist destination when backpacking through Brazil; and that’s exactly the reason why you should go. We promise that in-between São Paulo’s crowds and the mass tourism at Iguaçu, it will be a pleasant pit stop.

Don’t get us wrong though: Curitiba is definitely not worthless of your time. It’s officially Brazil’s Model City in sustainability – perhaps even more than Brasília, which was completely built up in the 60’s. A safe city with lots of parks, interesting architecture and a population of diverse European origins. It’s probably the only town in South America that gathers an Italian district, German surnames and a traditional Ukrainian church.

Besides the many parks, our favourite feature in Curitiba is the Eye. You read it right. It’s the Contemporary Art museum, built in the shape of an eye by crazy visionary architect Oscar Niemeyer. The whole district that surrounds it (Centro Cívico) is like an open-air museum of modern architecture.

Read more: What to see in and close to Curitiba

Outdoor fresco on a building, with palm trees in front
Bad weather but cool architecture in Curitiba, dubbed the “Green City”
  • 2 days at the Iguaçu Falls

Considering how distant they are from everything else, it was hard to include the Falls in this Brazil 2-week route. But they’re just too majestic a sight, we couldn’t do without. Fortunately, from Curitiba, it’s only the matter of 1 night on a bus.

Do we have to introduce Iguaçu again? Among the widest waterfalls on the planet, they’re one of the new 7 wonders of Nature.

The Brazilian side offers jaw-dropping views from a high-standing lookout and helicopter flights. On the Argentinian side –where they’re called Iguazú– the park is bigger and proposes several trails to admire the beauty from as many angles. A guided tour is not necessary, but we highly recommend to visit it from both sides if you can.

There’s plenty of accommodation and going-out options in the 2 nearby towns; Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil and Puerto Iguazú in Argentina.

Start dreaming: Here are a few amazing photos of the Iguazu Falls

  • 2 days in Florianópolis

The bus back to the coast is long: count with about 15 hours. That’s the price to pay to see the wonderful cataracts, without damaging the planet.

Florianópolis –or ‘Floripa’, as Brazilians call it– is a small-ish town with little excitement besides a few colonial palaces and one of the oldest fig trees. The view from the Morro da Cruz of the sun setting on the entire city is quite magnificent. There’s a large public market that provides in quality what it lacks in authenticity.

But the reason to visit Floripa lies on the Santa Catarina Island that is part of its boundaries. It’s a natural area of quiet fishermen villages and outdoor activities.

Closeup of a boat on the beach in Florianopolis Brazil
Many fishing villages on Ilha de Santa Catarina

People come here from far away to surf, windsurf, and also sand surf on the dunes of Joaquina. There are also snorkeling and scuba diving options, and pretty hikes to secluded beaches. In general, the southern part of Santa Catarina is less built out and attracts less people; therefore it’s probably the most charming. 

Read more: Santa Catarina & our hike to the prettiest beach

If you’re looking for a day trip, the village of Blumenau has surprising German architecture, and hosts an annual Oktoberfest. But the time has come already to make your way back to the airport…

Brazil itinerary 3 weeks

We’re building this overland itinerary of three weeks in Brazil as a loop from Rio de Janeiro and back. It stretches to the South and to the Iguaçu Falls, an unmissable landmark. It mixes urban hypes, colonial treasures, tropical forest, beach time, water activities and culture.

Days 1-4Rio de Janeiro:
  • Sugarloaf mountain
  • Various districts
  • Beaches
Days 5-6Ouro Preto:
  • Colonial churches
  • Mines
Day 7Belo Horizonte:
  • Night life
  • Street art
Days 8-9São Paulo:
  • Architecture
  • Museums
Days 10-11Curitiba:
  • Parks
  • Museums (o Olho)
Day 12-13Iguaçu Falls:
  • well, the falls
Days 14-15Porto Alegre:
  • historic centre
  • riverfront
Days 16-17Florianópolis:
  • Santa Catarina island
  • outdoor fun
Days 18-20Costa Verde:
  • Atlantic forest
  • islands
  • underwater activities
Route map for 3 weeks in Brazil
3 week itinerary in Brazil map

3 weeks in Brazil itinerary

Three weeks in such a large country is both a long and a short time, especially with such long-distance journeys. But we promise that you actually waste less time travelling a whole night by bus than taking a shorter flight during the day. Anyway, as we said, buses are pretty comfortable and shall not ruin your Brazil vacation.

  • 4 days in Rio de Janeiro

See the description in our 2 week Brazil itinerary above.

  • 2 days in Ouro Preto

A night bus away from Rio lies Ouro Preto, the jewel of the Portuguese colonies. This small town built atop several hills has remained much like how it was back then; minus the horror of the slavery and the deaths in the mines. There are still a couple of mines nowadays, here only to enlighten visitors about the harsh living conditions back then.

The main attraction of Ouro Preto could be the slow pace of its cobblestone square and its several viewpoints. But it’s also definitely the plethora of heavily-adorned churches sprouting at every street corner. A real church-hoppers paradise, and a treat to anyone who’s interested in that kind of architecture.

Start dreaming: Our favourite sites in Ouro Preto

Church interior of Nossa Senhora do Pilar in Ouro Preto Brazil
There’s still crazy amount of gold decoration in the churches of Ouro Preto

If you feel like renting a car, the journey from Rio to Belo Horizonte serves as a pretty road trip. It’s a winding hilly road with occasional forest and a few waterfalls near Lavras Novas. On the way, stop at São João del Rei and Tiradentes, two additional treasure-troves of colonial architecture.

  • 1 day in Belo Horizonte

After spending a few days in Rio de Janeiro, you might not find much appeal in Belo Horizonte. Yet the capital of the Minas Gerais state boasts one of the best nightlife scenes in the country. Some streets are a streak of bars, clubs and restaurants.

It’s therefore your safest bet if you want to try a delish’ Brazilian caipirinha. Made with cachaça liquor, it’s one of our many favourite ways to start off a night out! In bars in Brazil, bartenders ask you how much sugar you want, which is pretty neat. Look on Esquire how to make a caipirinha yourself without taking the plane.

Belo Horizonte is a university town with a lot of interesting street art and modern architecture; our friend Oscar Niemeyer left his touch in the curvy shape of the St. Francis of Assisi church. There are museums, parks, and a beautiful panorama from the Mangabeiras Park. There’s even the city lake Pampulha which includes an ecological park. What else do you need for a one day pit stop?

  • 2 days in São Paulo

See the description in our 2 week Brazil itinerary above.

  • 2 days in Curitiba

See the description in our 2 week Brazil itinerary above.

Iguazu waterfall: distant view from the Argentine side
One of the many different views on the majestic Iguaçu falls
  • 2 days at the Iguazu Falls

See the description in our 2 week Brazil itinerary above.

  • 2 days in Porto Alegre

Another off-the-beaten path destination in Brazil, we fell in love with the surprising city of Porto Alegre. We enjoyed the mild and safe climate, the pretty riverfront promenade, the stunning neoclassical facades. We loved the cute Praça de Alfândega with its museums, the free Mario Quintana cultural centre, the vegetarian restaurants, the night out on General Lima e Silva street…

You might not have enough time to make it out of the city in 2 days. But the surroundings of Porto Alegre are also mightily interesting. In Rio Grande do Sul, there’s a strong tradition of the Gauchos, the South American cowboys. There’s also a large amount of European immigration, mainly German, from the XIXth century; that can be seen (and heard!) in place names like Novo Hamburgo, Teutônia, Westfália, etc.

Read more: Why Anna loved Porto Alegre so much

Tall buildings in Porto Alegre downtown, Brazil
Beautiful buildings in Porto Alegre – the middle one is a bank
  • 2 days on the Santa Catarina island

See the description in our 2 week Brazil itinerary above.

  • 3 days on the Costa Verde: Paraty & Ilha Grande

It’s a long ride from Florianópolis to Paraty, and you will need to change somewhere, probably in São Paulo. But you should have enough time left to spend three days relaxing in the turquoise waters of the green coast.

Besides what we said in our 2 week itinerary above, you can also visit the Atlantic forest in the Serra da Bocaina National Park. For an off-the-beaten path experience, explore the rugged coast of Cairuçu Protected Area.

Explore more natural wonders in our selection of National Parks in Brazil.

More best places to visit in Brazil

With these overland itineraries, we’re still missing out on large chunks of the country. Of course, the plane would get us there, but there’s a whole world we don’t want to miss in-between airports.

So yeah, there are still many attractions that didn’t fit in this Brazil travel itinerary. Here’s a list of more places you should consider, depending on where you land or where you’re coming from. Let’s add more destinations to your Brazil bucket list!

  • Salvador de Bahia
  • Morro de São Paulo beach
  • Chapada Diamantina National Park
  • Pantanal: Bonito & Campo Grande
  • Manaus & the Amazon River
  • Pico da Neblina National Park
  • Mount Roraima
  • Lençóis Maranhenses National Park
  • Jericoacoara
  • Fortaleza
  • Natal
  • Fernando de Noronha archipelago
  • Recife & Olinda
  • Porto Seguro beaches
Beautiful Cachoeira do Sossego in Chapada Diamantina National Park, Brazil
Waterfall in Chapada Diamantina National Park

2 or 3 weeks in Brazil budget

As we said somewhere else, the major cost of travel in Brazil comes from the transportation. Apart from that, accommodation is inexpensive and food is downright cheap; if you get your veggies from market places and cook often, you can save up much (like pretty anywhere, really).

To check departures times and prices for all bus journeys, we find BuscaÔnibus.com.br to be pretty handy.

Therefore, the cost for 2 weeks of travel in Brazil, including cheap accommodation (hostels, hotels or camping), bus transportation between destinations, the sugarloaf cable car (“bondinho“) ticket, the boat to Ilha Grande, a couple of museums in São Paulo and Curitiba, and the ticket to see the falls from the Brazilian side, is around:

1,745 Brazilian Reais ($ 375 USD / 335 €)

For our 3 weeks in Brazil itinerary including all of the above, accommodation and bus transportation, plus a visit to a mine in Ouro Preto, count with an estimated budget per person of:

2,425 Brazilian Reais ($ 520 USD / 465 €)

These amounts don’t include food, drinks, city transportation or any souvenir that could find its way to your luggage.

Facade of the Igreja de São Francisco de Assis Ouro Preto Brazil
Just one of the gazillion of baroque churches in Brazil

What to pack for 2 or 3 weeks in Brazil

What to wear in Brazil depends on which region you visit and whether that’s during the wet or dry season. If you follow our itineraries, you will remain in an area that’s temperate, occasionally rainy and not particularly hot. You will therefore wear short sleeves during the day, but will need a jumper in the evening. A rain jacket is a must-have at any season, just in case.

Other things not to forget:

  • your usual responsible traveller’s kit: foldaway bag, reuse cup, water filter, lunch box, cutlery
  • a water bottle for your nature hikes and city visits
  • a camera, how could you forget it?!
  • useful phrases and words in Portuguese
  • entertainment for long bus travel: book or podcast
  • sleeping bag – if only for Couchsurfing
  • travel insurance

Back to the friendly commotion of Praça Floriano in Rio de Janeiro, there’s a whirlwind around and inside of you. Tourists are taking photos of the Escadaria Selarón and the Lapa arches, like you did 2 or 3 weeks ago. You’ve been there and done that. And you wouldn’t say that it feels like home, but there’s something captivating about Brazil that strangely hooks you. You were in search of the soul of the country and you left a bit of your own. That’s how the story goes…

Are you planning a trip to Brazil? Are you looking for other types of destinations?
Contact us for a personalised Brazil itinerary!

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Who am I?

Anthony fell in love with the world, and more particularly with South America. He wants to offer inspirational guides to the curious backpacker, travel stories to the online generation, and incentives for a more responsible and greener way-of-travel for everyone.

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  1. São Paulo was my last trip and I stayed there for a short time without being able to visit. So I dream of Brazil. On the other hand, São Paulo is not the city where I would return. It’s an urban jungle with a lot of misery. Rio looks more attractive, although the situation must be similar. I’d be more tempted by Porto Alegre, Iguaçu Falls and the natural parks in the country. Your itinerary looks perfect.

    1. Thanks a lot, Frédérique for your comment. We thought the same about São Paulo and didn’t visit it during our trip. But Rio was fantastic, so many different neighborhoods and so much culture to immerse into, I definitely recommend it to you for next time.

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