Brazil is the fourth most visited country of the Americas, behind United States, Mexico and Canada. There are good reasons stopping world tourists of travelling Brazil: the long distance of flights (whether you go from Europe, North America or Asia) and the image of rampant violence and crime, typical of a Third World country, that you find across the internet and even traditional media. However, this is a misinterpretation of the tourist potential Brazil has to offer. This is a 200 million inhabitants country, large as a continent, and there is way much to see than Rio de Janeiro or the equatorial beaches of Nordeste.

In the south, there as a region, bigger then France, where you can have Brazilian-made wine, connect with living European cultures, and discover a new sort of Brazil.

Brasil do Sul

Southern Brazil is like a country inside the country. The region is composed by the states of Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, with about 30 million inhabitants. Geography and history shaped this region in a specific way. There was almost none slave immigration; instead, there was intense European settlement, after Brazilian independence, in the 19th century. Germans and Italians occupied large extensions of this region, with its temperate climate, closely ressembling European one; top-model Gisele Bündchen's surname indicates that she was born here.

During British winter, you can expect summer and hot temperatures in Southern Brazil. According to the Time and Date website, the city of Porto Alegre was feeling 33ºC the day this article was written.

What to visit in Southern Brazil

Porto Alegre

The capital of Rio Grande do Sul is much closer of Buenos Aires and Montevidéo than of S.

Paulo or Rio. You'll get surprised with the European, 19th-century style of the city's historical centre, laying graciously along the Guaíba River.

Vale dos Vinhedos

The italians brought here the wine-making arts, which flourished up to this day. The Vale dos Vinhedos (Vineyards Valley) is a real wine region, where enotourism is now rising, following the French and Italian examples.

The wine is such a tradition here that the city of Bento Gonçalves (one and half hour from Porto Alegre by car) has a church shaped as a traditional wine cask.

Santa Catarina

The state capital, Florianópolis, is a lovely and cosy beach-side city, located on an island, but owing nothing to modernity. Take to mainland and discover Blumenau, where the German culture is so strong that they organize, yearly, their own Oktoberfest.

Curitiba and the Iguaçú Falls

In Paraná, you can't avoid the startling capital city of Curitiba, which gathers the Oscar Niemeyer Museum, the Panoramic Tower, the astonishing Wire Operahouse and the lovely Botanical Garden. On Sundays, don't miss the Market, at Largo da Ordem, and search for local handcrafts or bonsai trees, while drinking cane juice to get cooler. Also, don't miss the chance to get to the Iguaçú Falls, the largest in the world. They're only less known that the Niagara ones because they are... farther away from North America.