Our detailed 3 week Brazil itinerary explores the beauty of Rio de Janeiro, hikes stunning chapadas, tracks the Brazilian big 5 and chases epic waterfalls. Perfect for a first trip to Brazil!
Brazil is an abundant holiday destination. It has beaches to the east, spectacular waterfalls to the south, the Amazon rainforest to the west and colorful villages to the north. The country is the 5th largest country in the world and also the largest country in South America. Needless to say, putting together a Brazil itinerary can be quite a challenge - you'll have some choices to make.
So what can you see when you have three weeks in Brazil? Our perfect three-week itinerary includes the renowned Iguaçu Falls, the tropical island Ilha Grande and must-visit places such as Rio de Janeiro and Salvador de Bahia. This Brazil itinerary will also take you off the beaten track to the Chapada Diamantina and northern Pantanal, Brazil's answer to Kruger National Park, complete with it's own Brazilian Big 5.
The best 3 week Brazil itinerary for first timers!
3-WEEK BRAZIL ITINERARY OVERVIEW
4 DAYS |Exploring Rio de Janeiro
6 DAYS | Exploring Salvador de Bahia and hiking the Chapada Diamantina
5 DAYS | Hiking the Chapada Guimarães and wildlife watching in the Northern Pantanal
3 DAYS | Gawking at Iguaçu Falls
3 DAYS | Hiking and beach bumming at Ilha Grande
Why go to Brazil?
Exploring one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world
Hiking beautiful table mountains
Relaxing on the world most famous beach
Day 1 - 4 | Rio de Janeiro
Our trip begins in Rio De Janeiro, la ciudad maravillosa, which simply cannot be missing on any Brazil itinerary. No matter what your Brazil trip looks like, Rio is the crown jewel and should get a prominent place in it.
The possibilities in Rio are endless from sipping coconuts on Copacobana beach and exploring favela's to hiking in Trujila National Park. All under the protective eye of Christ Redeemer.
With four full days in Rio, we were able to visit highlights such as Sugarloaf Mountain, the Selaron Staircase, Christ Redeemer, visit a favela, hike to Dos Irmaos and of course relax on its famous beaches.
We have listed our favourite activities in our Rio De Janeiro Guide.
Day 4 - 10 | Salvador de Bahia and Chapada Diamantina
Ah Salvador… we adored the pebble stone streets with pastel coloured facades of the historic centre from the first moment we set eyes on the Pelourinho. The sultry evenings are swelled with the rhythm of the drums and lures capoeira dancers and locals to the cosy squares. Grab a caipirinha, order a portion of Acaraje from one of the many Baiana ladies, the women who make them, and dance the night away!
We only spend 2 nights in Salvador but if your Brazil itinerary allows it, the many tropical beaches at Morro do Sao Paulo and art galleries well deserve your precious time!
We stayed at the amazing Hotel Villa Bahia in Santo Antonio, Salvador's historic district. The hotel retained its colonial feeling with its large open windows, dark hardwood floors and romantic canopy beds. Oh… and the breakfast is to die for!
Day 10 - 15 | Chapada dos Guimarães and the Northern Pantanal
Day 15 - 18 | Iguaçu Falls
One of the most memorable stops on our Brazil itinerary. The Iguacu Falls are right on the border between Argentina and Brazil which means you can see them from the two countries. We had two complete days to check out both sides; count on a half day for the Brazil side and a full day for the Argentinian side. No need for a guide, you can do the entire excursion yourself if you’re keen on taking public transport or book a taxi to take you across the border.
Most of Brazil is located in the tropics, which means especially the northern part of the country doesn’t really experience much climate variation: it’s hot all year around. The more you travel south though, the more temperatures will vary, resembling more a European summer. If you’re planning on exploring southern Brazil, try to avoid the rainy season from December-February and instead schedule your trip during the dry season in March-November.
Day 18 - 21 | Ilha Grande
Tips for creating your perfect Brazil itinerary
Getting around in Brazil
Once in Brazil, you can travel to most destination by bus. Distances in Brazil are far so certainly count on some travel hours or even an overnight bus. A more expensive but more comfortable and faster alternative is to move around via internal flights. The problem with the internal flights in Brazil is that you often have to travel through the capital Brasilia and that is in many cases a detour, but still faster than the route by bus. We took internal flights to save time
How safe is Brazil for travel?
While preparing our travels we’ve been confronted with many horror stories about crime in Brazil, from pickpockets and street thefts to armed robberies. Unfortunately many people get discouraged to visit this beautiful country due these stories.
How many times have we been confronted with crime in Brazil? ZERO!
Complete safety is an illusion for any country that you are visiting. Maybe we were just lucky or maybe the safety aspect of Brazil is blown up in the media, we will probably never know. What we can do however, is share some golden rules that might have contributed to our flawless Brazilian experience:
- Leave your bling at home and try to blend in. Your chances of becoming a gang’s target will skyrocket if you’re brazenly sporting your diamonds or luxury brands. A healthy dose of common sense goes a long way…
- Don’t parade with your phone or expensive cameras all the time. Instead, carry them in your backpack and only take them out when you need them but never walk around with your camera hanging around your neck.
- Always keep a small amount of cash with you (in your purse or pockets), keep the rest of your money at the hotel or concealed in a money belt under your clothes and minimize the bank cards you carry. If you get robbed, you’ll have a small amount of cash to give them and they might just be happy enough with their earnings and leave you be without having been bankrupted or forced to withdraw cash at an ATM.
- Research which neighbourhoods to look out for, stay close to heavily populated areas as much as possible and never take a street that isn’t well illuminated.
That being said, we had no trouble exploring Brazil on foot or by using public transport, not even in the big cities. We never felt the need to use a taxi or the services of an organized tour, even when venturing out in the evenings.
Best travel period Brazil?
Well, we have good news for you: you can visit Brazil all year around and you’ll never have to leave your swimwear at home!