Brazilian Carnival – 5 Experiences beyond Rio’s “Sambódromo”

With most images of Brazil’s famous carnival celebrations being shot at Rio’s iconic “Sambodromo” parade, travellers often don’t realise that there is a whole world of other exciting cities on the map offering equally colourful and exciting spectacles in some of the less visited areas of Brazil.

Solo travellers, take a step beyond Rio and discover what else is on offer for Carnival. You will be just as satisfied and will find adventure, excitement and more in these cities.

Salvador, Bahia

People may have heard of Salvador for many reasons – whether it’s for its unique history being the founding and historic role as the colonial capital of Brazil, its Portuguese colonial architecture or its African influences reflected in every aspect of Salvador’s culture, there is so much to love about this city. What most people don’t know, however, is that Salvador Carnival is the biggest street party in the world – even bigger than Rio!
On Chimu’s 4-day Rhythms of Salvador, travellers are offered different perspectives of the sprawling city with highlights including a Lower City Tour that takes in the less visited surrounds of the Itapagipe Peninsula in the south of Salvador on top of the must-see sights in the centre.

Olinda, Pernambuco

For those who want to experience Brazilian Carnival in its ‘purest’ and most colourful version, Olinda is the place to go. Only few travellers will have heard of this picturesque colonial town on Brazil’s northeast coast. Founded in 1535 by the Portuguese, it is built on steep hillsides and is distinguished by its 18th-century architecture, baroque churches and brightly painted houses. On Chimu’s Brazil Beaches & Culture guests will wander through the historic streets of colourful houses and visit ancient churches and cathedrals in the historic city centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sao Paulo

Famed for its top quality samba schools, Sao Paulo offers one of the most exciting carnival celebrations in Brazil. Thousands of visitors flock to Sao Paulo each year to be part of this celebration that is not just a party but also an experience of true Afro-Brazilian culture. “Anhembi Sambadrome” is the name of the famous parade that is popular with visitors and locals alike. Often overshadowed by Rio and Salvador as a tourist destination, Sao Paulo nonetheless has a wealth of attractions for the visitor, from world-class museums to inviting parks and iconic modern architecture, with a fascinating ethnic mix and the best cultural life in the country. Discover this fascinating city and meet its friendly locals on Chimu’s 3-day Sao Paulo Spotlight.

Manaus, Amazonas

Perched in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, it might not be next door to the tourist hot spots but that doesn’t mean that Manaus is any less of a carnival highlight. Manaus hosts its own colourful parade and the town’s festival “Carnaboi” celebrates local tales told through music and flamboyant costumes. On top of the main show there are street parties in most parts of the town. You can combine your carnival celebrations with a jungle adventure on Chimu’s 4-day Manaus Jungle Adventure.

Lapa, Rio de Janeiro

Yes, it is Rio but not ‘that’ carnival! Lapa is a great option for those who don’t want to miss out on the famous Rio carnival but who want to avoid the price tag and the massive crowds that come with the iconic “Sambódromo” parade. Lapa, one of Rio’s southern neighbourhoods is a good option showcasing the more casual processions that are free to watch and give spectators a glimpse of the ‘real’ carnival. We recommend you a pay a visit to Lapa’s bohemian neighbourhood, its fantastic monuments, restaurants and nightlife on Chimu’s 10-day Highlights of Brazil.

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