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Expat Exchange - Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Brazil (Plus, Itineraries) 2024
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Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Brazil (Plus, Itineraries)

By Betsy Burlingame

Oliveira Lawyers
Oliveira Lawyers

Summary: If you're thinking about relocating to Brazil but haven't decided on a particular city or town yet, taking a discovery trip to explore several sought-after expat locales can offer valuable perspectives. Check out these recommended destinations for your exploratory journey in Brazil.

Moving to Brazil - Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Brazil (Plus, Itineraries)

Embarking on a Look-See trip to Brazil is an essential step for anyone considering a move to this vibrant country. Such a trip allows potential expats, retirees, and digital nomads to explore various cities and towns firsthand, assess the local lifestyle, amenities, and expatriate communities, and ultimately make an informed decision about where to settle. It's an opportunity to experience the culture, climate, and pace of life in different regions, ensuring that the final choice of a new home aligns with personal preferences and needs.

Recommended Itineraries

For a 10-day Look-See trip, focus on a specific region to get a deeper understanding of the area. Start in São Paulo, then head to the coastal city of Santos, and finish in the smaller, more laid-back city of Campinas. For a 20-day trip, you can explore more extensively. Begin in Rio de Janeiro, travel south to Florianópolis, then north to the historic city of Salvador in Bahia, and conclude in the culturally rich city of Recife. These itineraries offer a mix of urban and coastal living, cultural diversity, and a glimpse into both the bustling city life and the more relaxed pace of smaller towns.

São Paulo

São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, is a bustling metropolis known for its diverse population and economic opportunities. With a population of over 12 million, it offers a cosmopolitan lifestyle with a vast array of cultural activities, restaurants, and nightlife. Expats and digital nomads are drawn to its dynamic business environment, high-quality healthcare, and numerous international schools. The cost of living can be high, but the variety of neighborhoods allows for a range of budgets and preferences.

Travel Tip: While in São Paulo, visit the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP) on Avenida Paulista, a landmark for its impressive collection and striking modernist architecture.


Santos is a coastal city in São Paulo state known for its port, the largest in Latin America, and its beachfront garden, recorded as the longest in the world by the Guinness Book of Records. With a more relaxed vibe than São Paulo, it offers a pleasant climate, beach lifestyle, and lower cost of living, making it attractive for those seeking a slower pace without sacrificing urban conveniences. The city has a population of around 430,000 and provides easy access to São Paulo city for occasional urban excursions.

Travel Tip: Don't miss the chance to explore the Coffee Museum, where you can learn about Brazil's coffee history and enjoy a fresh brew in a historic setting.


Located in the interior of São Paulo state, Campinas is a smaller city with a population of about 1 million. It's known for its universities, research centers, and high-tech industries. The cost of living is more affordable compared to São Paulo, and it offers a good quality of life with plenty of green spaces and a range of cultural activities. It's a great option for those who prefer a suburban environment with the convenience of a nearby metropolis.

Travel Tip: Visit the Parque Portugal, a large urban park featuring the Lagoa do Taquaral, where you can enjoy outdoor activities and cultural events.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is a city that captivates with its stunning natural beauty, from the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue to the famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. With a population of over 6 million, it offers a vibrant cultural scene and a laid-back beach lifestyle that's appealing to many expats and digital nomads. The cost of living can vary greatly, but there are neighborhoods to suit a range of budgets. The city is also known for its outdoor activities and year-round warm weather.

Travel Tip: Take a cable car up to Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) for breathtaking views of the city and Guanabara Bay.


Florianópolis, the capital of Santa Catarina state, is a city spread across the mainland and a large island. It's renowned for its high quality of life, safety, and stunning beaches. The city has a population of around 500,000 and is popular with expats who enjoy outdoor activities and a more relaxed pace of life. The cost of living is reasonable, and the city has a growing tech scene, making it attractive for digital nomads.

Travel Tip: Visit the historic Mercado Público de Florianópolis to sample local food and shop for crafts.


Salvador, the capital of Bahia state, is a city steeped in history and Afro-Brazilian culture. It's known for its colonial architecture, vibrant music scene, and the annual Carnival celebration. With a population of about 2.9 million, Salvador offers a lower cost of living than some of the larger cities and has a strong sense of community. The city's coastal location provides beautiful beaches and a tropical climate.

Travel Tip: Explore the Pelourinho district, a UNESCO World Heritage site with colorful buildings and cobblestone streets.


Recife, the capital of Pernambuco state, is often called the "Venice of Brazil" due to its numerous waterways and bridges. With a population of around 1.6 million, it has a vibrant cultural scene, with a mix of historic and modern influences. The cost of living is moderate, and the city is known for its beautiful beaches, such as Boa Viagem. Recife is also a gateway to the stunning archipelago of Fernando de Noronha.

Travel Tip: Visit the Instituto Ricardo Brennand to see an impressive collection of art and armor in a castle-like setting.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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SJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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SJB GlobalSJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

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