Brazil: São Paulo, Porto Feliz, & Rio de Janeiro

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A Six-Day Itinerary of the South American country.

Brazil is massive, making up roughly half of South America, and includes everything from exciting cities to gorgeous beaches and romantic countryside escapes. Planning an itinerary is an undertaking, but the country has something to offer for everyone, so you will probably come back time and again.

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Day 1-2: São Paulo

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Brazil’s largest city can be overwhelming, but navigate the urban sprawl with a purpose and you’ll be a paulistano in no time. Start a visit with a guided tour of the incredible street art galleries, including the most famous graffiti display at the Beco do Batman, which gives the metropolis a dose of color and culture. Break for lunch in a café or “boteco” in the bohemian neighborhood of Vila Madalena. For a fun activity, swing by The Coffee Lab for a caffeine hit and a lesson in in coffee brewing (the café is also a school).

In the afternoon, opt for either a traditional Brazilian cooking class or head to Parque Ibirapuera, the city’s largest park, and one of the only respites from the urban landscape. For dinner, try Brasil a Gosto for traditional Brazilian cuisine or D.O.M. for a big night out. To partake in Sao Paulo’s vibrant nightlife, head to Hot Hot after your meal, which hosts a roaring electronic music scene.

Start the next day at the Muesu de Arte de São Paulo, which is especially fun on Saturdays, when a street fair sets up camp outside. After visiting the museum, stroll through the markets for one-of-a-kind mementos and delicious street food. In the afternoon, explore Avenida Paulista, which was once the business-center of the city, but now boasts a beautiful mix of grand architecture and upscale homes. The nearby Jardins neighborhood is the place to go for luxury shopping. Before heading back to your hotel, visit Edifício Copan, the contemporary building designed by Oscar Niemeyer that is now an apartment complex. The nearby skyscraper Edifício Italia has an observation deck with sweeping sunset views of the city.

For dinner, splurge on a feast at French-Italian Kaá or at high-end sushi spot Kinoshita. For something more family-friendly and low key, try the city’s best pizza restaurant, Braz, or the charming Chou, located in the Pinheiros district that's known as São Paulo's "new downtown."

Day 3-4: Porto Feliz

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Between São Paolo and Rio de Janeiro, you might be craving a country escape, and the lush farmland some sixty miles outside the Brazilian capital is the perfect spot for relaxing.

Day 5-6: Rio de Janeiro

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Begin your day with an introduction to Rio by bicycle. You can start by riding around the Rodrigo Freitas Lagoon, the Botanical Gardens, which boasts 6,000 plant species, and the Lage Park, a lush subtropical forest that is native to the area. Stop for a coffee or light lunch in a local restaurant or sandwich bar (a preferred local spot is Astor, a retro-style brasserie). Continue riding along the coastline (Copacabana, Ipanema and Leme beaches) or leave your bikes and head to Sugarloaf Mountain, the tallest of the granite and quartz monoliths surrounding the city of Rio.

The easiest way to access Sugarloaf is by cable car, but the adventurous may choose to hike the Costão trail (two to three hours). The climb ranges from moderate to strenuous intensity and there is a small stretch where ropes are used to guarantee safety. Children must be above 14 years to hike the Costão trail. The Urca hill trail offers a less intense option for children and average hikers. At the top, pause to enjoy stunning vistas of Rio and the Guanabara Bay before returning to the bottom by cable car.

For dinner, a first-time must is visiting a churrascaria (vegetarians will not be happy here). Fogo de Chão, a top choice originally from São Paulo, is the place to try, though you will not be the only tourist there. For something more local, head to the trendy neighborhood of Leblon and dine at modern Japanese restaurant Sushi Leblon.

Next day, head up the Corcovado Mountain to the statue of Christ the Redeemer, the fifth largest statue in the world, and the symbol of Rio and Brazilian Christianity. You will then take a small electric train to the historic and bohemian Santa Teresa neighborhood, characterized by 19th-century Portuguese architecture and filled with quaint shops, restaurants and crafts stores. Stop for an al fresco lunch at Aprazivel and enjoy panoramic views of the city and Atlantic coast.

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