Planning Your Time
The South is hardly overflowing with historic and architectural treasures. And you won’t encounter much of the African or Indian-influenced cultural heritage that is so strong in other parts of the country. However, if you love nature, outdoor sports and activities, and are curious to see how northern European settlers have adapted to life in the subtropics, it is worth exploring this compact trio of states.
The tourist infrastructure is among Brazil’s best, and poverty and crime are much less of a problem than in other parts of the country. Moreover, exploring the region’s attractions can easily be added on to a trip to neighboring Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Indeed, many tourists head directly from Rio or Sampa to spend a day or two in the area’s biggest draw: Iguaçu Falls. However, an interesting and easy excursion would be 4–5 days spent in either Curitiba, including side trips to Paranaguá Bay and Ilha do Mel, or in Florianópolis, with its surrounding region beach resorts.
If you have a week or 10 days at your disposal, drive or take a bus down the coast from Curitiba to Porto Alegre, exploring cities and beaches along the way and making side trips into the interior. In the South, the roads are excellent and distances between attractions are relatively small (for Brazil). From Curitiba, you can fit in a side trip—via bus or plane—to Iguaçu Falls.
Note that while summers can be hot, winters are quite chilly, with temperatures plunging to 5–10°C (40–50°F) in coastal regions and to the freezing point in the interior. Autumn (March–May) is quite a nice time in terms of weather.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition