After coming from Uruguay I wanted to check out what Brasil has to offer in the south. But honestly for international tourists there was not that much to find online. So I decided to just go step by step and ask the locals in the city itself for advice. Afterwards I can tell you: I found a lot of amazing things to do!
Pelotas and Porto Alegre
As there was neither bus information online on how to go streight to Porto Alegre i decided to book a Hostel in Pelotas (in case there are no late buses to Porto Alegre). Turned out that was the perfect decision because from the border town Chuy are just 2 buses a day to Pelotas and nothing else useful. So arriving in Pelotas I slept there a night, asked what I could do and everyone told me I should just continue to Porto Alegre. Arriving there the next day it is definetly a bigger city to explore and Carneval was coming! In the city it is actually enough to stay for 1 or 2 nights as you can explore everything that is worth it in 1-2 days. Just walk around the city and parks. However I was lucky because Carneval started and I could party the whole second day! … Well, at least I thought it was Carneval, the next day I got told it was just “Precarneval” and I had to wait one more week for the real one!
Actually it was that crazy already that I was afraid of how the real one would be?! But it definetly was a fun and amazing big street party.
Gramado and Canela
These 2 small towns in the hills / mountains of Brasil are well known for locals as they appear as german/swiss/austrian villages.
For me, coming from Austria, I was still interested in how that would look like in Brasil… and it was worth it! Somehow funny to see a town like at home as tourist attraction in Brasil. In Gramado (a bit north of Porto Alegre) there are way too many attraction like Mini Mundus, Chocolate Museums, and tons of other similar things to do. However I prefered to walk around the city, check some points with an amazing view and my highlight: Walking around the small lake “Lago Negro”.
On my last of 3 days I decided to hike to Canela (there would also be a bus) to see whats there. I found a very amazing church
and the city is also charming but Gramado is way more impressive!
Cambaro do Sul
Cambara do Sul seems like a hidden treasure for me! I was the only international tourist, noone spoke english nor spanish neither were too many brasilian tourists in the village. The small town Cambara do Sul has not that much to offer but very close there are 2 really big Canyons with waterfalls! And definetly that was my highlight of Brasil.
First day I hiked to the Canyon Itaimbezinho – As I didn’t want to take a tour I hiked there by myself (18km) but it was really worth it! Arriving late I was pretty much the only person in the national park and could enjoy it by myself. After hiking another 8km in the park with the strong sun all day I was way to tired to hike back to the village. So I asked some people for a ride and the first family took me already with them all the way to the town. That was definetly my favourite day of Brasil!
The second day I decided to ask for a tour as the Canyon Fortaleza is even further away and I was still tired of the day before. After asking all travel agencies in town the last one offered me a private tour just for me for around 18€ . I accepted and got my private tourguide just speaking portugues! However we could commuincate a bit as spanish is very similar. And anyways I wanted to enjoy the view, the waterfalls and the hiking. So Cambara do Sul is definetly a secret destination and I can just recommend it!
After spending enough time more or less alone enjoying the nature it was nearly time for the real Carneval! So I decided to go to Florianopolis to party a little bit. The prices were actually expensive at the carneval time but however, this is one of the biggest open air street partys you will ever see! So to experience that once in your life it is worth every cent. Before going there I did a lot of research which hikes I should do and which beaches to visit (and I found a lot!)… but honestly during the Carneval time I was busy enough with that!
So sadly I didn’t see much there just 2 beaches at the north: Canasvieiras and Praia Brava – both really touristy towns. However Canasvieiras was the place to party and Praia Brava is the place to relax on the beach with a very beautiful sea.
So after these crazy days I thought it is better to go back to the nature.
Foz do Iguazu
Going directly from Florianopolis to Foz do Iguazu seemed like the best plan (even though it is a 15 hour bus ride). Being there I didn’t regret it. Found a nice Hostel with Hostel Poesia and directly when I arrived in the morning I went to the waterfalls of the Brasilian side. With perfect weather and some friends from Israel (which I met on the bus) we started to explore the national park. The view was way more stunning than I imagined as the waterfalls are way to big and there seem to be thousands of them! A picture can never tell how it really is to be there.
Still the path on the brasilian side is not too long so for the next day the plan was to visit the argentinian side too. So we did the next morning – taking a bus across the border was pretty easy. It was a bit more expensive than the day before, but for a reason! The argentinian side has way more ways to hike in their park and also many different perspectives on the sight. So whatever you do, dont miss the argentinian side of the waterfalls!
Still i recommend to visit both as it is a different point of view but if you don’t have enough time, just do the argentinian one as it has more to offer. My last day in Foz do Iguazu the weather got really bad so we went to the park “Parque das Aves” which is like a zoo for birds.
It is kept pretty natural and is already a small part of the national park so it was a pretty nice thing to do on a day off.
However all together I got the impression there are way more things in the south of brasil to do and to see than the internet suggests. Especially Cambara do Sul was incredible and I liked it as much as Foz do Iguazu with its famous waterfalls.