Whether on the coast or inland, Brazil, over the course of its history has developed an important material, cultural and artistic heritage.
With this selection of different themed trips , based around the culture and history of Brazil, you will be able to uncover this fascinating treasure.
On a cultural vacation in Brazil, we invite you to discover charming old colonial cities, in the historic centers of Salvador de Bahia and Olinda. Visit the baroque buildings teeming with history, along the “estrada do Ouro” with a stay on the roads of Minas Gerais. Extend your stay with a few days in the region of Costa Verde. There you will discover the secret port of Paraty from where the Mineiro gold left for Portugal.
With this selection, discover packages with a strong cultural dimension that offer a superb stroll between art and history throughout the country.
Today the artistic and historical heritage of Brazil is well developed and each of the big cities offer several interesting sites.
The most emblematic cultural and historic destinations in Brazil
Cultural vacations in Brazil to admire the monuments of the colonial era
Occupied at the beginning of the 16th century by the Portuguese, the French and the Dutch, Brazil has preserved many testimonies to this colonial period.
The oldest, and best preserved cities are found mainly in Minais Gerais and Nordeste. Indeed, very early in the history of the Portuguese occupation, Minas Gerais with its gold reserves, benefited from a massive influx of capital. This allowed the construction of entire towns, full of mansions and churches finely decorated and maintained until today.
As for the Nordeste, it is there that colonization began, given its geographical location closer to Europe. Therefore, here you will find the oldest buildings in the country.
In Minas Gerais you can explore Ouro Preto, Congonhas, Marianna and Tiradentes . Each of these cities is a true gem of Baroque art, flamboyant with their cobbled streets, lined with old houses and churches. Their sober whitewashed facades contain impressive bas-reliefs, paintings, stained glass and other sculptures, which often come alive after entering the building.
In Salvador de Bahia , the first capital of Brazil, you will go back even further in time. While visiting the historic Pelourinho district, you will discover the history of the slave trade at the very beginning of Brazilian colonization. For a cultural vacation in Brazil, Salvador is a must – see.
In Olinda , the paved and sloping streets of the “city of seven hills” will take you into a maze overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The first prosperous city of the colony, it has preserved spectacular architectural curiosities such as the Alto da Sé cathedral, with its colourful decoration, typical of the region.
Finally, a few hours from Rio de Janeiro, discover Paraty, nestled on the Costa Verde, in a spectacular tropical setting. Formerly a secret port from which the galleons laden with gold left for Portugal, the city is built at the bottom of a bay surrounded by jungle-covered mountains and dotted with deserted islands.
Long abandoned, it has reached us almost intact. A true historical gem, it has a colonial style so pure that filmmakers from around the world have shot many movies there!
Explore the extremely diverse culture of Brazil
Renowned worldwide for its dances and traditional music, Brazil has an artistic heritage proportionate to its vastness and its cultural diversity.
This exceptional culture is the result of a process of permanent exchange and interbreeding between the many groups of migrants from all over the world. Nevertheless, some cities, which are the main cultural melting pots of the country, have had a greater impact than others on this process and Rio de Janeiro is undoubtedly one of them.
Rio de Janeiro, the capital of the country until the construction of Brasilia, is home to many monuments that you must see on a cultural vacation in Brazil. The city features ancient and modern constructs, such as the famous Christ the Redeemer, the Municipal Theater and the Cathedral of San Sebastián. Not to mention many museums, all prominent in their fields, such as the National Museum of Brazil or the ” Museu do Índio ” which houses the world’s largest collection of indigenous artifacts from South America. On the other side of the bay you can admire the abstract collections of MAC Niteroi.
Finally, if you choose to visit Minas Gerais and you are also a lover of Contemporary Art, take a break near Belo Horizonte and have a walk through the INHOTIM Institute . This unique place is the largest open-air museum in Latin America. Located in the heart of a vast landscaped park, it presents a beautiful collection of the greatest artists in the world.
Salvador de Bahia, historical capital of Brazil and cradle of Afro-Brazilian culture
Salvador de Bahia has a unique and impressive architectural heritage, even in Brazil. From the Renaissance to the 20th century, it is mainly present in its historic center, Pelourinho (Pillory).
Pelourinho owes its name to the stone pillory installed in its center where the slaves were chained, accused of misbehaving by their masters.
Indeed, Salvador was the main gateway for slaves entering Brazil. The history of this city is inseparable from the forced presence of millions of Africans captured by the Portuguese. Nowadays, Salvador is the most African city of the Americas.
Thanks to the presence of Africa in Salvador, we now have Afro-Brazilian culture. You will discover its joyful and colorful marks on every corner of the city. Whether it’s the practice of Capoeira, halfway between dance and martial arts, or acarajé salesmen in traditional costumes, a whole other world is present in Salvador. Also, there are hundreds of Terrero de Candomblé, the churches of the Afro-Brazilian religion, Candomblé. African heritage is everywhere. On a cultural vacation in Brazil, Afro – Brazilian culture is one of the main highlights.
With this Salvador de Bahia package, you will discover all the cultural and architectural specificities that make this city a place apart in Brazil.
If you like ancient architecture, do not miss the optional visit to the beautiful little local town of Cachoiera, a true colonial postcard. An opportunity not to be missed to learn more about the traditions and history of local culture. Finally, if you want to learn more about Afro-Brazilian culture, ask us for the special Afro culture tour in addition to the Pelourinho tour!
Minas Gerais, Brazil’s open air baroque museum!
Minas Gerais, is perfect for a cultural vacation in Brazil, its rugged landscape covered with dense forests, was practically deserted until the late seventeenth century. The Bandeirantes (explorers) from the region of São Paulo then discovered the first gold reserves.
The Brazilian gold rush began and after a few decades, sumptuous cities sprang out of the ground thanks to the riches brought by the precious metal.
Ouro Preto, Mariana, Sao João Del Rei and Tiradentes are testimonies of this time when the region was swarmed with the greatest artists, attracted by the wealthy patrons of the region. Today, the perfectly restored streets of these cities offer you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Brazilian past.
With our Minas Gerais package , we offer a private trip with car and driver from the capital Belo Horizonte. You will reach these cities following the route taken by the gold carriages in the past.
Ouro Preto is a city classified as World Heritage by UNESCO. If you decide to come here on your cultural vacation in Brazil, you will fall under the charm of its narrow cobbled streets, winding on the hillsides that you climb to discover beautiful churches. These include the churches of St. Francis of Assisi, Our Lady Do Carmo, Our Lady of the Rosary and Matriz do Pilar among others.
Be sure to visit the Museum of Mineralogy, and definitely try the delicious local cuisine, a true part of the local culture and regional identity. It is also possible to take a ride on the Maria Smokey, a restored antique steam train, ensuring the connection between São João Del Rei and Tiradentes.
We advise you to extend this journey through the interior of the country, and visit Petrópolis. The picturesque imperial city was built in the nineteenth century, in an Alpine style, fashionable at the time. The architecture there is grand. From here you can choose to go directly to Rio de Janeiro to top off your cultural vacation in Brazil or continue on the Golden Route, in the direction of Paraty , the secret port where the Portuguese crown sent the land’s riches to Europe.
Rio de Janeiro, a festival of culture in a dream tropical setting!
Rio de Janeiro, the ancient capital of Brazil, is a city with a rich history and one of the incontestable epicentres of Brazilian culture. The “carioca” capital also has some of the most beautiful architectural heritage in the country.
Rio de Janeiro has been around for nearly 400 years and is nestled in a unique and unforgettable landscape. It is one of the most popular tourist cities, not only for cultural vacations in Brazil but for any tourist visit to the country.
From this perspective, a stay in Rio de Janeiro is particularly appealing. In addition to the most famous sites, such as Sugar Loaf and Corcovado, the city is home to many museums and cultural centers. From the traditional Brazilian Museum, to the futuristic Museu do Amanhã and the legendary Maracanã stadium, you will experience a plethora of historical sites.
It is also a very dynamic city from an artistic point of view, especially in the bohemian district of Santa Teresa. This is a wonderful architectural testimony with its beautiful homes of another era that sit in the middle of lush gardens. It is the ideal district for a walk mixing exploration and romanticism. To finish take the famous staircase of Selarón to reach the bottom of the hill. From here you can continue exploring the city center with the neighborhoods of Lapa, Botafogo, Urca, Gloria and Flamengo, each of which have many old and remarkable buildings. Their streets tell the story of the “Marvellous City”.
Finally, do not forget to cross the bay by boat to the nearby town of Niteroi, where you will find the famous Museum of Contemporary Art that looks like a flying saucer, built by the most famous Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer.
If you want to take the time to visit everything, plan a good week for your cultural visit to Rio de Janeiro. To concentrate on the essentials, a stop of 2 or 3 days is enough.
Paraty, the colonial pearl of southern Brazil
The story of Paraty is incredible. At the bottom of one of the dozens of bays of the glorious Costa Verde, sheltered from view, it was long surrounded by an aura of mystery.
Practically abandoned with the development of Rio de Janeiro , this city was rediscovered in the sixties by a former member of the royal family. It has passed through the centuries practically intact, cut off from the world, occupied only by a few fishing families.
This was a discreet and prosperous little port when it served as the point of arrival of slaves and departure point of gold from Minas Gerais. In the streets as much as in the buildings, the colonial atmosphere is mesmerizing. Special attention has been paid to preserve the buildings as much as possible.
Definitely a unique setting in Brazil and in the world, you can enjoy the benefits of the ocean by frequenting the beautiful beaches or nearby islands such as Trinidade. Add some relaxation to your cultural vacation in Brazil with a stay in Paraty!
For lovers of literature, the International Festa Literária de Paraty (FLIP), the largest literary festival in the country is celebrated with authors from all walks of life. A great opportunity to discover new authors in a particularly pleasant setting. Be careful, however, because the month of July is the local winter and temperatures can be lower than during the rest of the year.
Olinda, one of the first Portuguese colonies and cultural treasure of Nordeste.
Founded less than 40 years after the official discovery of Brazil by Pedro Alvares Cabral, Olinda was one of the first cities built by the Portuguese. A prosperous city, it would for a long time be the capital of the entire Nordeste region.
Today it remains a perfect architectural example of the European colonization of the Americas. For this reason, it was listed as World Heritage by UNESCO in 1982.
Some even consider Olinda a symbolic capital of Brazil as it occupied a strategic position for the future development of the country. With its famous carnival and its many traditional and contemporary cultural events, it is now considered as the most important cultural center of Nordeste. Olinda received the prize of the first Brazilian Capital of Culture in 2006.
With our Olinda package , we invite you to discover the “city of seven hills” with a private guided tour. Your English speaking guide will tell you all the mysteries of the city. You will take a trip back to the time of the first settlers, walking through the maze of picturesque and colorful streets overlooking beautiful old houses, churches and lush gardens.
It will also be an opportunity to discover Recife, another great stop for a cultural vacation in Brazil.