Brazil’s booming southern states – Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul – are often strangely absent on tourist itineraries of the country. The cities of Curitiba and Porto Alegre will host 2014 FIFA World Cup matches, and the region is already a huge draw for Brazilian, Argentine and Uruguayan tourists. Yet it can be a hard sell for European and North American travellers – it lacks the glamour of Rio but often sports the same prices thanks to the booming economy. After an obligatory pilgrimage to the mighty Iguazu Falls most Western travellers simply move on. So what makes those sudamericanos stick around? Here’s ten reasons I can think of immediately…
German beer - Brazilian style: The Blumenau Beer Fest
Travelling all the way to Brazil to visit a German beer festival might seem strange, but this is Deutschland done with Brazilian flair. Blumenau’s annual Oktoberfest is the biggest German festival in South America, attracting over 500,000 revellers to its vast beer tents, folk dancing, shooting matches and German singing contests. With treats like cuca de banana (Brazilian banana cake) to mop up the suds and the white-sand beaches of Floripa and Balneário Camboriú a short ride away, it’s unmissable.
Sensational beaches: Praia Mole, Florianópolis
Praia Mole is one of the most gorgeous beaches in Brazil, a strip of pristine sand beneath low-lying cliffs and dunes. It gets busy in summer, but despite its popularity commercial activity has remained blissfully low-key. The next beach south is the equally enticing Praia da Joaquina, equally popular with surfers and sun-seekers alike. Both beaches are a short drive away from the fashionable bars and restaurants of Florianópolis.