There’s a famous saying that good things come in sets of three and, it just so happens, the three most famous Brazilian icons start with C. Famous around the world for Carnival, Copacabana Beach and Christ the Redeemer, it’s easy to overlook the raft of amazing Brazil landmarks that should be on your bucket list.
Landmarks in Brazil range from nature’s wonders, like the stunning Iguacu Falls, which is possibly the most beautiful waterfall in the world, to futuristic architectural designs like the edgy architectural Niteroi Museum.
Here are the most amazing Brazil landmarks to put on your to-see list and 15 incredible things to do in Brazil too.
According to a travel quote by Francisco Costa: “Brazil is not what you see but what you feel. Once you spend time here – a week, two weeks – you get in the vibe. It’s really intoxicating.”
Once you’ve spent time in Brazil, you’ll understand why it’s one of the best countries to visit in South America.
- 20 Incredible Brazil Landmarks
- Brazil Landmarks- Rio De Janeiro
- Brazil Landmarks – Sao Paolo
- Natural Brazil Landmarks
- Brazil Landmarks – Brasilia
20 Incredible Brazil Landmarks
Brazil Landmarks- Rio De Janeiro
1- Christ The Redeemer
The instantly recognisable Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro is one of the world’s most famous icons and a Brazil landmark that is world-famous.
The soaring statue of Jesus Christ looks down on the city from a 700 m vantage point atop Mount Corcovado.
Located in Tijuca Forest National Park, the foundation stone of Christ the Redeemer was laid on 4 April 1922, to commemorate the centennial of Brazil’s independence from Portugal.
The statue was built in pieces in France by French sculptor Paul Landowski and shipped to Brazil, where the parts were reconstructed with reinforced concrete by the engineers.
It took nine years to complete what would eventually become one of Brazil’s most famous landmarks, finished in 193.
Although the colossal statue of Jesus Christ was built as an icon of Christianity, with a chapel underneath the statue, it’s as much a landmark of Brazil and South America.
The trip to access Christ the Redeemer on the Corcovado Train to the peak offers fantastic views and, if you’re super fit, you might want to try hiking to the top.
How to visit Chris the Redeemer?
Take the train from Cosme Velho Station (departs every half hour). The round-trip train ride is 20 minutes and costs R$56,00 (low season) R$68,00 (high season), including entry to the chapel.
Christ the Redeemer at Parque Nacional da Tijuca – Alto da Boa Vista, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, Brazil.
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2- Sugarloaf Mountain
Sugar Loaf Mountain or Pão de Açúcar rises 396m above Guanabara Bay and can be seen from many places in Rio de Janeiro.
While visiting Rio, make sure to photograph Sugarloaf Mountain from various corners of the city.
Along with Christ The Redeemer, the two famous landmarks in Brazil are icons of Rio de Janeiro.
Sugar Loaf Mountain is popular with rock climbers and has 270 climbing routes to explore.
As you climb, the views of Rio de Janeiro and the Atlantic Ocean sprawl beneath.
How to get to Sugarloaf Mountain?
Two glass-panelled cable cars ascend to the top and offer breathtaking views along the way.
Take a cable car from the ground station at Urca in Praia Vermelha (Red Beach) residential area between 8 am and 9 pm (every 20 minutes).
Another option is an easy 30-minute hike up to Morro da Urca, where you can board the cable car. The hike through the tropical forest is a fantastic experience.
The last cable car leaves the top of the mountain at 7.50pm.
The ground station for the Sugarloaf Mountain cable car is at Avenida Pasteur 520, Urca, RJ, Brazil
3- Escadaria Selaron
A colourful and quirky set of steps is a fun place to tick off Brazil landmarks list.
Connecting Joaquim Silva Street and Pinto Martins in Lapus and Saint Teresa, Escadaria Selarón has become an icon of Rio de Janeiro.
Who would have thought that covering an old set of steps with fun and interesting tiles would one day attract hundreds of thousands of tourists?
A local man Jorge Selarón did this in 1990, to beautify the steps next to his house as a tribute to Brazilians.
You’re likely to have seen these steps in movies and films.
Escadaria Selaron is at R. Joaquim Silva, S/N – Centro, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 20241-110, Brazil.
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4- Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum
Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer designed a landmark in Brazil symbolising the rise of futuristic architecture, the Niteroi Art Museum building.
This futuristic design looks like a flying saucer landed on the side of a cliff.
The Niteroi Art Museum is in a scenic spot across the bay from downtown Rio de Janeiro, with fabulous views of the city.
Although it was completed in 1996, it looks more like a structure you’d see in a science fiction movie, with a 2.7m diameter cylinder anchored in a pool.
The museum has three floors and a hexagonal main hall for exhibits.
Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum is at Mirante da Boa Viagem, s/nº – Boa Viagem, Niterói – RJ, 24210-390, Brazil.
5- Museum of Tomorrow
The Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow) sounds like it might focus on technology, but it’s devoted to sustainability.
Costing 230 million reais (£40m/$59m) to build, the museum advocates the need for change if the earth is to avoid a catastrophic climate disaster.
The structure itself makes it a manmade Brazilian landmark worth seeing, with a fan-like skylight and solar spines, the aim of the architectural was to allow the building to adapt to fluctuating environmental conditions.
Designed by Catalan architect Santiago Calatrava, the building was inspired by bromeliads in the Botanical Gardens.
The internal design of the museum, with its whitewashed curves, is a nod to the 1960s.
Museum of Tomorrow is at Praça Mauá, 1 – Centro, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 20081-240, Brazil.
6- Metropolitan Cathedral
Although construction of the cathedral began in the late 1960s and continued into the 1970s, Rio’s Metropolitan Cathedral is an angular pyramid that looks like it is out of the future.
It’s a modern place of worship that architect Edgar Fonseca designed with echoes of the pyramids built by the Mayans.
The space-age design has tilting walls, a basement museum and ornate doors fashioned out of bronze plaques.
Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro is at Av. Chile, 245 – Centro, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 20031-170, Brazil.
7- Fiscal Island
Built in 1889, when Dom Pedro II was the Emperor of Brazil when a parliament governed the country, Fiscal Island was a government building for the port authority.
The loud colours and neo-gothic palace design located on the shores of Guanabara Bay makes it an eye-catching landmark to see when visiting Brazil.
This Brazil landmark is a reminder that the country was once a monarchy. Between 1645 and 1815, Brazil was a Portuguese colony and the heir to the crown of Portugal was the Prince of Brazil.
After independence, Brazil had two monarchs (Pedro I and II), but the monarchy was overthrown by a military coup d’état, which resulted in Brazil becoming a republic.
The building was where the last Imperial Ball was held (November 9, 1889).
Fiscal Island is at Avenida Alfredo Agache, s/n Centro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Brazil Landmarks – Sao Paolo
8- Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge
Octavio Frias de Oliveira bridge or Ponte Estaiada is a cable-stayed bridge in São Paulo and a Brazil landmark that stretches over the Pinheiros River.
Built in 2008, this bridge connects Marginal Pinheiros to Jornalista Roberto Marinho Avenue, the bridge was considered an architectural failure but it did provide Sao Paolo with an instantly recognisable landmark recognised around Brazil.
Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge, Av. Jornalista Roberto Marinho, 6807 – Jardim Panorama, São Paulo – SP, 04567-003, Brazil.
9- The Bandeiras Monument
If you ‘re looking down from space, the whole of Ibirapuera Park could be considered a Brazilian landmark in itself, as the monuments and museums in the park are impressive.
There’s also the futuristic Ibirapuera Auditorium, with its flaming red marquee that sticks out at the entrance and was designed by Oscar Niemeyer and used for concerts.
The Monument to the Bandeiras is a massive granite sculpture by Victor Brecheret that greets visitors at the entrance of Ibirapuera Park.
It’s one of several sculptures within this São Paulo public park and was completed in 1954.
Ibirapuera Park is a green oasis in the city with several museums worth visiting, including the Oca do Ibirapuera, which has excellent dinosaur exhibits, Museum of Modern Art and Museum of Contemporary Art.
Over 10 million visitors come to the park each year.
Ibirapuera Park is open from Monday to Friday (5 am to midnight), Saturday and Sunday (4 hours a day.)
10- Altino Arantes Building
Sao Paulo’s copy of the Empire State Building (yes, it looks like the one in New York!) is a 36-story skyscraper that was built in 1937.
Also known as the BANESPA Building, it has an observation deck on the 34th floor, where there’s a view of other Sao Paolo landmarks such as the Municipal Market, Edificio Martinelli, Edificio Italia, Se Cathedral and other places.
Entrance to the observation deck in the 10th tallest building in Brazil is free for visitors, but you’ll need to show your passport.
The building houses has an art gallery with a programme of exhibits and Oscar Niemeyer-designed geometric pavilions called Fundacao Memorial.
The art gallery hosts exhibitions and the Simon Bolivar Auditorium is a popular place for Brazilian artists to perform.
The Altino Arantes Building is at Rua João Brícola, 24 – Centro, São Paulo – SP, 01014-900, Brazil.
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Natural Brazil Landmarks
11- Iguacu Falls
Iguaçu Falls is a series of stunning waterfalls on the Iguazu River, stretching across Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.
If there’s one Brazil landmark everyone should have on their bucket list, Iguacu Falls is it.
One of the reasons this Brazilian landmark is iconic is Iguacu Falls consists of 275 waterfalls spread across 2.7km.
Iguacu Falls is an enormous waterfall system, the world’s largest, and it has the longest drop (82m).
You can admire the waterfalls from lots of different angles, including walking along timber boardwalks and bridges, as well as going on a jet boat ride beneath the waterfalls.
The Brazilian side has the best panoramas of the falls.
Iguacu Falls is in Parque National du Iguaçu, Brazil.
12- Mount Roraima
Mount Roraima (2810m) is a mountain that is at the border of Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil.
This Brazilian landmark is in remote northern Brazil and is hard to get to but those who make the effort to go there are be rewarded by stunning rocky landscapes and a view of all three countries.
With sheer drops and a peak that juts out almost touching the clouds, Mount Roraima is an impressive natural landmark of Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana that few have visited.
Adventure travellers should put this on the bucket list as this was the first tabletop mountain of significance to be climbed (Everard Thum climbed it in 1884).
Mount Roraima is near Boa Vista in the state of Roraima, Brazil.
13- The Amazon River
The Amazon River is a freshwater system that flows from the Andes Mountains to Brazil’s Atlantic coast.
The second-longest river in the world flows for 4,000 miles and covers about 35.5 per cent of the South American continent, passing through eight countries.
This enormous river is not only a Brazil landmark but a landmark of South America that shapes the lives of millions of people in Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.
The Amazon rainforest is an ecosystem with hundreds of species of flora and fauna that co-exist in a unique relationship.
14- Lagoa Dos Patos
Brazil’s largest lake, Lagoa Dos Patos, is the second largest lake in South America.
Named after the tribe that inhabited the region around the lake, the lake is 40 miles (64 km) wide in places and 180 miles (290 km) long, making it an impressive natural landmark in Brazil.
From the sky, it’s undoubtedly an impressive body of water.
Shaped by centuries of wind and current, the lake is a coastal lake with sandy beaches and the water level of the lake is affected by the tides.
Lagoa Dos Patos is in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil.
15- Dedo de Deus (God’s Finger) peak
A challenge for hikers, Dedo de Deus, is a Brazil landmark of nature and a magnet for those who love nature.
Hiking to Dedo de Deus is not easy, as the trails are often wet and slippery, but the summit can be scaled in a day.
A team of Brazilian mountain climbers scaled this mountain in 1912.
Dedo de Deus (God’s Finger) peak is in Serra dos Órgãos National Park, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil.
16- Teatro Amazonas
An opera house in a city in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, Teatro Amazonas (the Amazon Theatre) is a historic landmark in Brazil located in the rubber town of Manaus.
When the building was constructed in 1897, it was an opulent Renaissance Theatre that took almost 20 years to build.
Rubber industry barons funded the project and top European architects designed this project, where materials were imported from Europe.
The theatre’s opening night, in 1896, was a landmark performance by opera singer Enrico Caruso but about 12 years on the theatre closed and remained shut for 70 years.
These days, it’s the home of the Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra and the venue for an annual festival.
Teatro Amazonas is at Avenida Eduardo Ribeiro, Centro, Manaus – AM, 69025-140, Brazil.
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Brazil Landmarks – Brasilia
17- Itamaraty Palace
Another Oscar Niemeyer creation, Itamaraty Palace is the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a landmark in Brazil that welcomes foreign dignitaries.
Constructed using materials sourced only from Brazil, the building is a work of art by Brazilian artists and craftspeople.
You can tour the palace on an organised tour for free (advanced bookings are required) every day at 9 am, 10 am, 4 pm and 5 pm.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has an impressive art collection housed within the palace.
Itamaraty Palace is at Zona Cívico-Administrativa BL H – Brasília, DF, 70170-900, Brazil
18- Metropolitan Cathedral
Brasilia’s strikingly futuristic Cathedral is yet another Oscar Niemeyer creation gracing the capital of Brazil.
The Metropolitan Cathedral was constructed in 1970 and has 16 concrete columns topped with a glass roof.
The design is appropriately symbolic of hands stretching to reach up towards heaven.
Not only is it a famous Brazilian landmark, but it’s also one of the most visited as around 1 million visitors pass through the doors of the Cathedral each year.
The Cathedral’s location in the heart of a city that is in the centre of Brazil is the seat of the Archdiocese of Brasília and a holy place for Roman Catholics to worship.
Metropolitan Cathedral is at Esplanada dos Ministérios lote 12 – Brasília, DF, 70050-000, Brazil.
19- Brazilian Congress building
Brazil’s capital is a showcase of edgy architecture, so it’s not surprising that the National Congress of Brazil is nothing short of spectacular.
The impressive Oscar Niemeyer-designed building was constructed in 1964 and is an artistic representation of a set of scales.
Two towers, which house parliamentary offices, are flanked by two domes, where representatives of Brazil’s 26 states meet.
The downward-turned dome sits on the building that houses the Senate while the inverted dome sites over the Chamber of Deputies.
There’s a free tour of this Brazilian landmark, which will teach you about history and how the Brazilian government works.
The Brazilian Congress building is at Palácio do Congresso Nacional – Praça dos 3 Poderes, Brasília – DF, 70160-900, Brazil.
20- Lacerda Elevator
A most unusual landmark in Brazil, the Lacerda Elevator is a public urban elevator in Salvador.
The 72m elevator connects two parts of Salvador, the lower city to the upper city, the old town and the business centre.
The elevator, which started operating in 1873, is part of Salvador’s public transport system and was originally hydraulic.
It was electrified in 1906 and is recognised as a historic landmark in Brazil.
Lacerda Elevator is at Praça Tomé de Souza, S/N – Centro, Salvador – BA, 40020-000, Brazil.
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