Home to flamboyant cities, such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, in addition to tropical islands and colonial towns, this is one of Brazil’s most loved regions.
Beaches, bustling metropolises, colonial settlements and extravagant carnival celebrations await in Brazil's Southeast Region. Discover a mountainous backdrop that slopes down to an idyllic coastline dotted with pristine islands. The Southeast Region has Brazil’s highest population density, where some 80 million people share the cities, towns and villages spread across its four states. It’s also the most diverse population, with residents hailing from African, Asian, European and Middle Eastern migrant families.
A great place to start your visit is Rio de Janeiro, the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City) and capital of its namesake state. Here you’ll find famous attractions such as Copacabana Beach, Ipanema Beach and Sugarloaf Mountain. Take daytrips to the lesser-visited beaches of Niterói and the traffic-free Ilha de Paquetá (Paquetá Island). Drive inland to the well-preserved Portuguese settlement of Petrópolis.
Head in either direction from Rio to reach postcard-perfect beaches. Travel east along the Costa do Sol to Cabo Frio and Búzios or west along the Costa Verde to the colonial port city of Paraty. Go snorkeling in crystal-clear water and hike through lush rainforest on Ilha Grande (Big Island).
São Paulo is the region’s southernmost area and home to Brazil’s biggest city, São Paulo. Its large Italian and Japanese communities have turned it into one of the world’s most sought-after gastronomy centers. Nearby Santos is the gateway to the state’s beaches; those at Ubatuba, Ilhabela and Guarujá are among the many worth visiting.
Be sure to travel over the Serra do Espinhaco mountains to the sprawling Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais state. It’s a jumping off point for trips to spa towns such as São Lourenco and Caxambu and the architecturally impressive Baroque city of Ouro Preto.
Beach lovers will enjoy hopping between the coastal resorts of Espírito Santo. Conceição da Barra, Guarapari and Vitória are some examples.
Reach the Southeast Region by flying to the international airports at Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo and then get around via intercity buses and organized tours. December through March is the region’s peak travel season, with February (or March) being the time of Brazil’s world-famous carnival.