Top 3 cities to spend carnival in Brazil

What’s the best place to spend Carnival in Brazil? That’s the question that pops up in people’s minds when they consider visiting the country during its most famous holiday.

And although Carnival has been canceled or postponed in many states in 2021, you surely can start planning for 2022, right?

However, there seem to be so many options out there that choosing one is a challenge. That’s why in today’s post, we’re going to help you decide between the top 3 cities to visit during Carnival.

Reading this article will help you not only to choose the best place, but it will also ensure you enjoy your well-deserved vacation without any of the worries you could face.

That’s why, apart from the description of each celebration, you are going to find here other info that will help you have a good time:

● Where to stay?
● Where to eat?
● Where to go?

Also, since Rio de Janeiro’s, São Paulo’s and Salvador’s Carnivals are already globally known, you won’t find them in this list.

The intention here is to present you to other, and maybe even less known parties, but where you will indeed have a good time while diving deep into the Brazilian culture.

So let’s see exactly what we are going to cover today:

1. Tradition in Olinda (PE)
2. Folklore in Manaus (AM)
3. History in Diamantina (MG)

Zorhan Mokoele | TDO local expert from South Africa


By Amanda Estevez

Apart from being a travel and culture enthusiast, Amanda is the Co-founder, Manager and Copywriter of Athene’s Bookshelf Agency and has been actively creating content on the internet. In 2018, she accomplished two of the main goals in her life: visit Greece and work on a cruise (all at once)! There, she met and married a Cuban guy who has brought his culture into her life.

a Sao Paulo based traveler

Undoubtedly, this is one of the most famous Carnival celebrations in Brazil.
If you are a tradition-lover and want to see Brazilian Carnival in its true shape, going to any other city would be a mistake.

What is Carnival in Olinda like?
Since 1932, the “Midnight Man Block” (Bloco Carnavalesco O Homem da Meia-Noite in Portuguese) opens the party exactly at Midnight of what they call “Zé Pereira’s Night” (Noite de Zé Pereira), the first Carnival night.
Unlike Rio’s or São Paulo’s Carnival, where you can listen to Axé, Pagode, and even Funk, in Olinda, you are going to find a different, yet contagious rhythm: the Frevo.
Frevo is a Pernambucan rhythm and was considered Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2012. You can read more about it at Intangible Cultural Heritage’s website.

Where to stay in Olinda?
According to TripAdvisor, Olinda's most requested Hotel is “Hotel Costeiro”.
No wonder, since it’s only 15 minutes away from the Historic Downtown, where the Carnival magic happens. Reservation prices start at R$186, which is about $34USD.
Breakfast is included, but you need to have your other meals elsewhere, which leads us to…

Where to eat in Olinda?
If you want to taste great traditional food, you should go to Oficina do Sabor.
This is one of Olinda’s most famous restaurants, and they offer a variety of Pernambuco’s beloved dishes, such as the Cartola, a dessert made with Fried Banana and butter.

Where to go in Olinda?
Yes, you are going there to celebrate Carnival. But why not take a step further and get to visit some nice tourist spots when you are not partying?
A great place to visit if you enjoy beautiful views is the Alto da Sé.
According to Wikipedia: “The Alto da Sé Astronomical Observatory is an observatory located in the city of Olinda, Pernambuco, Brazil.
It was built close to the place where, on February 26, 1860, the French astronomer Emmanuel Liais observed and described comet Olinda (C / 1860 D1), the first commentary being discovered in South America and in Brazilian territory.”
I mean… Incredible!

But don’t pack your bags yet! We still have four other Carnivals to talk about.
So shall we go to number two?

Unfortunately, Manaus has been suffering a lot due to COVID. But in normal conditions, you would never want to miss an opportunity to visit this city.
It's the capital of the state of Amazonas and the main financial, corporate, and commercial center of Brazil's Northern Region. It is located in the center of the largest rainforest in the world, the Amazonian Rainforest.
These facts alone make Manaus a great tourist destination, right?
But they also hold one of the most beautiful Carnivals in Brazil, mixing the party spirit with Brazilian Folklore to create a unique celebration.

What is Carnival in Manaus like?
Well, Manaus has many parties, but the one that you should definitely check is Carnaboi.
Carnaboi itself is a relatively young party. It started in 2000, and it’s considered a symbol of cultural identity at the Manaus Carnival.
Its name is a jam between the word "Carnival" and "Boi-bumbá", a legend about an ox's death and resurrection.
Here, you will not only celebrate our world-wide famous holiday but also get to know a little more about Brazil’s history and culture. Are you excited to go to Manaus? So here’s where you can stay!

Where to stay in Manaus?
TripAdvisor shows that Intercity Manaus Hotel is the tourists’ favorite place to stay when they adventure in this lovely city.
Since it’s less than 2 km away from Downtown, you can walk to the most important places in the city from there.
Reservation prices start at R$255, which is about $48USD.
Just like the majority of hotels here, they only offer breakfast. So let’s go to…

Where to eat in Manaus?
If you ask people in Manaus what’s their best restaurant, 95% of them will say one name: Banzeiro.
And if you look at their Instagram pictures, you will find out why.
This is your go-to restaurant if you love tasty food, especially fish.
Now let’s see what else you can do to enjoy your trip to Manaus!

Where to go in Manaus?
Who doesn’t love Historical buildings?
Amazonas Theater, located in Largo de São Sebastião, takes everyone's breath away. Built in renaissance style, it's considered one of The Seven Wonders of Brazil. The House also has a museum where you can find items used either in presentations that happened there or by great artists such as Baryshnikov's dancing shoes.
As you can see, it's a fantastic place to visit even if you decide to spend your Carnival in another city, just because of its beauty and importance.
Now let’s move on to the next Carnival you are going to love!

If you like to celebrate 24h a day, then Diamantina is for you.
This is truly a place for you to forget about the rest of the world and go deep into the party mood.

What is Carnival in Diamantina like?
Diamantina's celebration is known as "the biggest Countryside Carnival", with five days of celebration and 24 hours a day of festivity in the city's narrow streets.
You can enjoy the typical street Carnival, the famous "batucadas" and the cartoon blocks that tell a little about the history of Carnival.
Do you think you can handle that? If so, here’s where you can recharge your battery.

Where to stay in Diamantina?
Diamantina is a historic city. Therefore, nothing better than to stay at a historic building, right?
That’s what goes through people’s minds when they choose Pouso da Chica as their resting place.
This charming Inn is perfect for you to come with your family, even if it’s not in Carnival.
TripAdvisor says: “Close to some of Diamantina's most popular landmarks, such as Casa do Forro Pintado (Museu de Arte Sacra) (0.2 mi) and Our Lady of Carmo church (0.3 mi), Pousada Pouso da Chica is a great destination for tourists.”
And it definitely is!
The Inn's architecture resembles the Colonial era because the Portuguese Crown dominated the city for almost one hundred years after they found Diamond mines there. Hence, the name “Diamantina”, coming from the word “Diamond”.
But you also have to eat, right? The Inn offers free breakfast, but you can have your other meals at…

Where to eat in Diamantina?
Minas Gerais is nationally admired for its great cuisine, which consists mainly of meat, especially Pork.
It’s also famous for its milk products, such as cheese and “Pão de queijo” (our national treasure, really).
So if you don’t want to leave without tasting Minas’ amazing flavours, you should save your table at “Apocalipse Restaurant”.
There you will find the traditional, beautiful, and tasty dishes that will totally keep you full for the day.
If you decide to take a walk around the city after having lunch, you can visit…

Where to go in Diamantina?
The city itself is a tourist attraction. The streets will make you feel like you have traveled back in time, but if you have just one place to go, take some time to visit Juscelino Kubitschek’s museum.
Juscelino Kubitschek was Brazil’s 21st president, and he lived in Diamantina for the biggest part of his life.
The house tells the President’s story and important facts of Brazil’s history.

So now you are free to decide where you would like to spend your Carnival in 2022!
But don’t forget that, wherever you want to go, we can always get you there, so get in touch with us.