Brazil is famed for its thundering Iguaçu Falls in the south, the crescent-shaped Copacabana neighborhood with its dazzling white sand beach in Rio de Janeiro and the towering Cristo Redentor — Christ the Redeemer — whose outstretched arms embrace that seaside city.
But there is so much more to this colossal South American country, which is nearly the size of the United States and the world’s fifth largest country by area.
Brazil has six major continental biomes, from the Amazon to the Atlantic Forest.
Combine that with Brazil’s diverse society — a large Indigenous population plus people with roots in Europe and Africa — for a country that’s a fusion of culture, customs and breathtakingly beautiful landscapes.
CNN Travel has rounded up five of Brazil’s less-traveled paths so you can explore more of the jewels this spectacular nation has to offer.
Founded in 1549 on a small peninsula that separates Todos os Santos Bay from the Atlantic Ocean, this humble colonial town became Portuguese America’s first capital. The historic city is located in eastern Brazil’s Bahia state.
The buildings — pastel colored with facades adorned with intricately carved stucco and windows flanked by shutters — have been exquisitely and painstakingly preserved. They date to the moment in time where European, African and Indigenous cultures of the 16th century converged.
There is a large Afro-Brazilian community, and colorful, flamboyant festivals are a frequent sight, the pulsating rhythms of drums echoing through the winding cobbled streets.
Travelers will find a good selection of accommodations here, with Fera Palace Hotel catering to high-end visitors and the century-old Casa Versace offering a boutique experience with self-catering apartments.
Salvador has a dark past, though. It was the first slave market in the New World. Visitors can learn about this important history through the many museums, such as the Afro Brasileiro Museum.
Baia dos Porcos, Fernando de Noronha
Baia dos Porcos, or “Pig’s Bay,” is perhaps one of the most beautiful beaches in the world — but with barely any sand.
It is one of the smallest beaches in the state of Pernambuco’s spectacular Fernando de Noronha archipelago, located about 225 miles (360 kilometers) off Brazil’s northeast coast in the Atlantic Ocean.
The cove is characterized by its striking rock formations, including the Dois Irmaos (“Two Brothers”). It’s a pair of formations that loom out of the brilliantly blue, crystal-clear water.
The beach can only be reached at low tide and must be either hiked to through dense jungle or approached by boat. The beach has numerous natural pools that teem with exotic fish, reef sharks, turtles and more, making it a snorkeler’s paradise.
It is best to go with a guide because of the difficulties of reaching the beach. Local companies such as Noronha Bookers offer bespoke tours.