The 2014 World Cup is giving the world an extra dose of exposure to Brazil. As the event unfolds, most travelers sharing their experiences seem to agree that the reasons to visit - and love - the country outweigh the difficulties found along the journey.
Here are 10 of the best reasons to visit:
1. Brazil Beaches
More than 2,000 beaches stretch along Brazil's shoreline and more than 1,000 islands dot the Atlantic Ocean within the country's limits. While many of them are densely populated, many are preserved ecological sanctuaries.
2. Amazing Landscapes & Ecosystems
The Amazon River and Rainforest and Iguaçu Falls are the most famous natural attractions in a country that has 62 National Parks and hundreds of conservation units. Brazil holds several records for its wildlife numbers and diversity. As one of the responses to the urgent need to preserve seriously endangered natural treasures, ecotourism and responsible travel initiatives are on the rise, making it possible for more travelers to enjoy Brazil in a sustainable way and opening up perspectives for local communities.
Photo: Itaimbezinho Canyon, in Aparados da Serra National Park.
3. Cities and Towns
Despite all the questionable aspects of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil at the heart of the wave of protests in the country's streets, the tournament has been a catalyst for several changes for the better in the host cities and beyond; many of the newly launched cultural attractions, such as the ones in Belo Horizonte, have depended greatly on the support of private institutions,
4. Brazilian People and Culture
For hundreds of years, Brazilian culture has been in the making by people with a very diverse ethnic and cultural heritage. A glorious mix of contributions is imprinted in the culture that generated easily recognizable expressions such as bossa nova, capoeira, and the yellow soccer jersey. Strong cultural resilience sustains, for example, the efforts of indigenous peoples and African-Brazilians as they reaffirm their sense of identity through strife. And it's safe to say that the people who have created Brazil are, as a rule, friendly to foreign tourists.
5. Celebrations & Events
Yes, we have Carnival. And because it's a countrywide celebration, up-and-coming cities are gradually drawing more attention as options to leaders Rio, Salvador, Recife and Olinda.
However, there's much more to the Brazilian calendar. For example, many international travelers have discovered that Reveillon, the Brazilian New Year, is as much fun as Carnival. Here's a sample of the diversity of Brazil's festivals and events:
6. Brazilian Cuisine
From open fire pits tended in the open fields of Rio Grande do Sul by gaúchos, the South American cowboys, to upscale restaurants abroad, barbecue is one of the trends that have brought international attention to Brazilian food.
Great chefs, inspired by the country's diversity of native ingredients and regional traditions, are writing a whole new chapter in Brazil food. One of the best ways to get in touch with this diversity is through one of Brazil's many food festivals.
7. Travel-Friendly Weather
8. Brazil Hotels and Pousadas
Places to stay that could be destinations in themselves, such as rainforest lodges; better hotels, increasingly demanded by a growing business travel industry, and charming pousadas in the most attractive destinations are some of the trends in accommodations in Brazil.