Why you should visit Southern Brazil

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Sensational beaches: Praia Mole, Florianópolis

Praia Mole is one of the most gorgeous beaches in Brazil, a strip of pristine sand beneath low-lying cliffs and dunes. It gets busy in summer, but despite its popularity commercial activity has remained blissfully low-key. The next beach south is the equally enticing Praia da Joaquina, equally popular with surfers and sun-seekers alike. Both beaches are a short drive away from the fashionable bars and restaurants of Florianópolis.

Apple strudel and ‘café colonial’: Gramado and Caleta

Seriously. The German connection once again provides the allure at the small Alpine-like resort towns of Gramado (famous for its Natal Luz Christmas lights festival) and Canela. ‘Café colonial’ down here means a vast buffet of cakes, pastries and cold cuts, usually served as a sort of afternoon tea. Try it at Bela Vista Café Colonial in Gramado or sample the schnitzel, wurst and apple strudel at Strudelhaus in Canela.

Cool Brazilian modernism: Museu Oscar Niemeyer

There’s a long list of art galleries and museums worth seeing in the south but this place, 3km to the north of Curitiba’s old town, probably tops them all. Designed by the Brazilian architect after whom it was named and resembling a giant, silver eye, the galleries themselves are as much the attraction as the Modernist art on display.

Great train journeys: The Serra Verde Express

Everyone loves a scenic train ride, and this is one of most enchanting on the continent, winding around mountainsides, slipping through tunnels and traversing one of the largest Atlantic Forest reserves in the country between Curitiba and the coast at Paranaguá.

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