Reasons You Should Visit Brazil That Have Nothing To Do With The Olympics

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As the 2016 Summer Olympic Games draw closer, world-wide attention is shifting to Brazil. From planning updates to controversies, the country is on the world stage and frequently in the news. [slideshow:74485]

The games, which are less than a year away, will surely draw in scores of tourists, but that's far from the only reason you should visit. In fact, if you're hoping to avoid the crowds and experience some of the other amazing parts of Brazil, there's plenty to see and do.

We turned to avid travelers and natives of Brazil to highlight some of their favorite things about the country. From specific cities like Florianopolis to more grand cultural customs and even specific adventures, these are the top reasons you should visit Brazil that have nothing to do with the Olympics.

Belo Horizonte

"Belo Horizonte (beautiful horizon) is a city that is surrounded by mountains and nature," said Ricardo Trigueiro, a Brazilian native, avid traveler and author. It's also one of the best spots in the country to enjoy a drink. Home to thousands of bars and traditional food and drink, Belo Horizonte is arguably the best place to enjoy Brazil's national cocktail, Caipirinha. "But for those that are adventurous, Belo Horizonte is located near a few great tourist destinations such as historical sites, waterfalls, preserved parks and caverns, which will truly make the visitor's eye shine."

The People

"I took my wife and two kids to the World Cup last year and while that may not be the best way to see Brazil (with 600,000 football fanatics?), we had two unique experiences that compel me to return, both involve the people," said avid traveler Louis Altman of GlobaFone. In one of those instances "I had a kidney stone attack and ended up in a clinic where they gave me an IV with opium in it (WOW). My wife Amy got to talking to a teenage girl who was also having a IV of something and her mom overheard me blathering incoherently about a pina colada with no rum. She owned a juice shop... [and] left her daughter in the clinic to go open her shop so that as we walked by to go to the pharmacia to get my prescription she handed us this magical concoction. And then didn't want to charge us for them!"

"I was struck by the level of hospitality of these experiences: people willing to interrupt their lives for complete strangers. It was a magical experience and they have prompted me to keep Brazil on my 'must go back' list."

9 Other Reasons You Should Visit Brazil

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