When planning a family vacation Brazil might not be at the top of your list of options. Between lively scantily clad bathing suit beaches and the issue of safety; this country is often overlooked when traveling with kids. In all actuality, Brazil is a perfect place to take the kids on vacation. Besides the fact that the Brazilians love children, there are plenty of kid friendly activities to do and the major tourist attractions tend to be very kid friendly. Restaurants with attached playgrounds are normal in this country and don’t be alarmed when the waiter comes by and grabs your fussy baby and calms them down. From waterfalls to kid-friendly beaches to short little treks and train rides; your trip of a lifetime to Brazil can finally include the wee ones in your family.
1. Go to the Beach
Brazil has no shortage of beautiful white sand beaches with crashing surf, lively visitors and plenty of all night long entertainment. But if you are travelling with kids; a radio pumping and beach full of party goers is not what you are looking for. Beaches are the perfect place to unwind and let the kids run free through the warm silky sand and play in the surf. Leblon Beach is the best beach to visit with kids as it hosts a Baixo Baby area that is exclusive for kids.
Organized activities and sports all day long will keep the wee ones occupied while you soak up the glorious sun and enjoy the warm waters. We recommend visiting on the weekdays before dark to enjoy the beach before the natives come to party. Make sure to bring along your camera to capture some epic shots of the huge granite rock formation called Seventh Heaven. The kiosks along the beach offer beverages and food around the clock so no need to pack lunch for the kiddos. Leblon Beach is the perfect getaway for families while visiting Brazil.
2. Morra Da Urca
Hiking with kids can often be frustrating and tiring for their little legs but Brazil offers many mountains that are begging to be explored. A nice starter hill with panoramic views; Morra Da Urca is the perfect way to get those little legs moving without the frustrations of a bigger hill. Only a short thirty minute hike to the top provides views of the city and incredible photo opportunities. The kids will be amazed at how far they can see out.
There are plenty of vendors selling fresh fruit juices, souvenirs and other tasty treats at the top of the hill that will delight the little ones and keep them occupied. Once you have reached the top you need to find a way down and with kids we suggest taking the cable car. Be aware that the cable car does get quite crowded as it’s the same one that takes visitors to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain. Load up the kids and let it whisk you down the hill in a relaxing and scenic ride. Hiking isn’t just for adults as you’ll find out when you take the whole family to Morra Da Urca.
3. Christ the Redeemer
No trip to Brazil would be complete without a trip to see the iconic statue Christ the Redeemer and the city offers many ways to make this trip a little more exciting for the wee ones. One of the seven modern wonders of the world, “The Big Guy” sits atop Corvacado Mountain which is the highest peak in the city sitting amongst rugged mountaintops. Minibus tours run up to the statue daily but we have an even better option for the family:
Choose to ride the train along the steep rail that takes you through the heart of the Atlantic Rain Forest of Tijuca to the statue. Chug along in the little red train that will delight the kids and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. As an added bonus, local Samba bands often come on board to entertain passengers. There are plenty of tour operators that will provide round trip hotel transportation and will guide you through the amazing sites of the city you will view from the top. Whether you choose a tour or ride the train yourself; this extra special touch will make the kid’s visit to Christ the Redeemer that much more interesting.
4. Visit the Sea Turtles
Most kids love animals, especially getting up close and personal with them like these giant green sea turtles that they can come face to face with. Take a trip to Ubatuba, Brazil and explore not only the beautiful calm beaches perfect for the whole family but also come to see the amazing sea turtles. Projeto Tamar is a Brazilian organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of sea turtles. Brazil is home to five out of the seven species of sea turtles; all of which are endangered species.
Ubatuba Projecto Tamar has a visitor’s center and rehabilitation center perfect for taking the kids too. Not only will they have the chance to learn about why it is so important to help protect these turtles, but they will have the opportunity to interact with them. Parents and kids will appreciate the efforts that go into protecting these turtles. After a few hours of fun-filled education, make sure to visit one of the beaches and try your hand at snorkeling; perhaps you will even see one of these majestic sea creatures in the wild.
5. Attend a Football Game
It wouldn’t be a complete trip to the beautiful country of Brazil without experiencing a live football game. The newly renovated Maracana Stadium was home to the 2014 World Cup and is arguably the most famous soccer stadium in the world. Towering mountains set the backdrop for this incredible stadium. Although fireworks are no longer part of the experience expect plenty of drumming, chanting and a very lively atmosphere.
We suggest if you are a first time visitor that you go with a tour group; especially for the comfort and safety of the little ones in your life. There are plenty of options to choose from regarding which tour operator but they generally all offer safe transport to and from the game. To really immerse yourself in the experience; head to a shop and buy the whole family home team jerseys. Watch as the local fans cheer and high five you as you cheer on their team. If there is one thing your kids will be bragging about to their friends; it will be attending a football game at Maracana Stadium.
6. Head to Sao Paulo
There is no shortage of activities for kids in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Between theme parks, zoos, aquariums and science museums the kids will be begging to stay here. For the little animal lovers, the Sao Paulo Zoo offers over 3,000 animals including many local species such as the Brazilian howler monkey and red-breasted toucan. If underwater marine life is more of an interest the Sao Paulo Aquarium is one of the largest in South America and offers over 300 species of marine life.
Dining out is always an experience with kids but the perfect place to try in Sao Paulo is Restaurant Choperia Cachaçaria Pompéia; a restaurant in the middle of the city set in a ranch like setting. With its extensive greenery and mini zoo full of domestic animals; this restaurant feels more like a kids play area with the added bonus of incredible food and drink. If you happen to visit on the weekends there are organized games and rides in horse drawn carts and buggies. Sao Paulo offers the perfect combination of outdoor space, entertainment and fun for both kids and adults. Don’t miss out on this town while in Brazil.
7. The Amazon Rainforest
Visions of snakes, piranhas and spiders can make the Amazon Rainforest a pretty scary place for the little ones in your family but in reality it is a must when the family goes on vacation to Brazil. More and more family-friendly jungle lodges are popping up and whether you are looking to relax and unwind with the kids or take them on an adrenaline filled tour; the choice is yours.
Not only will the kids love the fascinating range of wildlife the Amazon offers but they will forget all about the fact they are learning as well. Educational opportunities are plentiful if you choose a tour that teaches them about the different species of plants, flora and animals. Or choose a survival tour that will teach the whole family about how to survive in the jungle. Choose from lodges that offer modern day conveniences that make it easier with kids or go for the full experience and rough it in the jungle. The possibilities are endless and you cannot visit Brazil with the kids without a trip to the Amazon.
8. The Lagoa: Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon
This beautiful lake is the picture perfect setting to escape from the hustle and bustle of the big cities of Brazil and spend a relaxing day with the family. Often called a “nature wonderland”, the lake and the surrounding area is perfect to explore for any ages. A paved pathway around the lake offers a great opportunity to rent a bike and pedal around it; marveling at the different views.
Pedal boats are available to rent in the lake and are easy enough to use that the kids can enjoy pedaling around with the grownups while keeping their eyes peeled for the numerous species of birds and fish that live here. Vendors and restaurants can be found throughout the area offering everything from ice cream to sit down restaurants. Perhaps the most favorite place for the kids is where they can watch the helicopters take off and land. Small playgrounds keep the little ones entertained while parents can spread out a blanket and enjoy a drink under the sun. With perfect weather, the picturesque setting and enough outdoor activities to burn plenty of energy; The Lagoa is the perfect place to spend the day.
9. Iguaçu Falls
One of the great natural wonders of the world, Iguaçu Falls will delight both young and old with its incredible display of thundering waterfalls. Over 275 individual drops makes this waterfall one of the largest in South America. The park is home to hundreds of bird species, colorful parrots and toucans and many endangered species of flora and fauna you can’t see anywhere else.
There are many walking paths throughout the national park and Brazil is thought to have the best panoramic views of the falls. Take the kids to Devil’s Throat Overlook for an incredible view of the 82-metre high long chasm in the shape of a U. Arrive at the park before 9am to avoid the crowds of tourists. If the little ones get tired just hop aboard the train; Tren de la Selva that takes you throughout the park. Visitors come from all over the world to see these falls and the kids will watch in awe and amazement as the water crashes down around them.
10. Parque das Aves
After taking in the amazing Iguaçu Falls, head right over to Parque das Aves which is located just 300m from the entrance to the national park. This 5-hectare park that is privately owned is home to over 800 species of birds. Paths are woven through the forest and take you by aviaries that are strategically set among jungle trees and plants.
Most of the species of birds are from South America and there is a large emphasis on rescuing birds from traffickers and owners that cannot care for them. Among the 800 species are flamingos, macaws, toucans and the bare-throated bellbird. Open air aviaries allow some of the birds to come in close contact and the kids will delight at the toucan that just insists on checking out their backpack. Along with birds the Parque das Aves has butterflies, snakes and other reptiles. Make sure to bring some cash as that is the only form of payment they accept and be prepared; the birds are noisy! Kids, adults, kids at heart; everyone will enjoy this beautiful sanctuary that’s dedicated to the protection of South American wildlife.