Things to Do in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

See the countryside and sample gaucho culture with these must-do experiences in Rio Grand do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state.

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Monumento a Castelo Branco in Parque Moinhos de Vento
See a Neighborhood Monument

See a Neighborhood Monument

Monumento a Castelo Branco in Parque Moinhos de Vento juts out of its grassy surroundings, a hard and angular reminder of Brazil’s first military dictator, Castelo Branco. The monument’s artist presents his vision of 3 soldiers standing together, just a little off-balance. This controversial historical marker is offset by well-shaded park benches, often occupied by Porto Alegre’s beautiful people sipping their beloved chimarrão, a mate herb tea. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Go Where Windmills Stood

Go Where Windmills Stood

Moinhos de Vento means windmill in Portuguese, a nod to this neighborhood’s 19th- century wheat grinding past. Trendy boutiques, hotels and restaurants have since replaced its windmills. This replica of an Azorean windmill in Parque Moinhos de Vento doubles as a children’s library and a picturesque backdrop for lake turtles and ducks. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Step Inside a Local Landmark

Step Inside a Local Landmark

Usina do Gasômetro is an old coral-colored electrical power plant, even though its name suggests that it was an old gas plant. Its history is chronicled inside, which has also become an exhibition space for local artists and musicians. Venture to the fourth floor for some of the best views of Porto Alegre’s sunsets over Lake Guaíba. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Stroll Along Lake Guaíba

Stroll Along Lake Guaíba

Porto-Alegreses like to brag about the sunsets over Lake Guaíba. They are said to be especially spectacular in winter and few miss the show. Some tourists take it in by boat, while locals gather on a grassy expanse with churros, those sugary fried dough sticks, as a snack. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Taste a Traditional Portuguese Dish

Taste a Traditional Portuguese Dish

The Portuguese brought their taste for salted cod, known as bacalhau, with them to Brazil. You can sample some of the best in Porto Alegre at Gambrinus, a restaurant and pub dating back to 1889 inside the old Mercado Público Central. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Shop Local in the Public Market

Shop Local in the Public Market

Outside the pastel yellow walls of Mercado Público, local merchants hawk their handicrafts from jewelry to paintings, while inside is a vibrant visual feast of tropical fruits and fresh meats on display. Pick up some mate leaves to make your own chimarrao at home. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

See the City from Lake Guaíba

See the City from Lake Guaíba

From a cruise on Lake Guaíba, the Porto Alegre skyline shows off its present and past with its more modern facades protecting its older ornate ones in the city center, dating back to the 18th century. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Board the White Swan

Board the White Swan

Cisne Branco means white swan in Portuguese, and this small cruise ship glides along Rio Guaíba where it expands into a lake and intersects with Rio Jacquí, while playing the music of the city and broadcasting facts about Porto Alegre’s great past. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

See a Giant

See a Giant

If you are going to Porto Alegre for the 2014 World Cup, a visit to the “Giant of the Hills” is inevitable. Estadio Beria-Rio got its nickname from reverential Porto Alegre futbol fans for its perch on one of the city’s highest points and its legend will grow as host of epic matchups like Australia vs. The Netherlands and Nigeria vs. Argentina. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Get a Taste of Northern Brazil

Get a Taste of Northern Brazil

While Porto-Alegreses are proud of their churrascos, meat-heavy barbecues, they don’t mind a taste of northern cuisine on occasion. Iaiá Bistro serves acarajé, the fried shrimp and black-eyed pea nuggets you’d find in Salvador do Bahia. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Sleep in a Posh Boutique Hotel

Sleep in a Posh Boutique Hotel

Blocks away from the trendy shops and cafes of Rue Padre Chagas in Moinhos de Ventos, you can rest your head at Hotel Laghetto Viverone, a restored 19th- century home outfitted with a rooftop pool. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Go Into the Heart of the Old City

Go Into the Heart of the Old City

A monument to Rio Grande do Sul politics and a model politician Julio de Castilhos stands at the center of Praça da Matriz in the heart of Porto Alegre’s historic district. Bounded by state and city government buildings, it’s a reminder of gaucho – Brazilian cowboy – independence. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

People Watch in a Historic Square

People Watch in a Historic Square

Besides being at the center of politics and government in Porto Alegre, Praça da Matriz attracts locals of all types walking their dogs, reading the paper, even practicing scenes for a play at the nearby Theatro São Pedro. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

See Porto Alegre’s Spiritual Center

See Porto Alegre’s Spiritual Center

The building of Catedral Metropolitana on Porto Alegre’s historic Praça da Matriz is inextricably linked to the city’s founding. The ornate Italian Renaissance columns and dome are reminders of the city’s Jesuit missionary beginnings. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Bollywood dancer, International Indian Film Academy
India: Bollywood

India: Bollywood

The final scene of the movie Slumdog Millionaire made this Indian dance style popular in the US. But it’s just a regular day in the life of Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit-Nene. She’s seen here performing at the International Indian Film Academy Awards. 960 1280

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images  

Brazil: Samba

Brazil: Samba

If you can’t move your hips, then you might want to watch and learn how to samba from the pros. Thousands of participants dance to the rhythm of Carnival beats during the Mangueira samba school’s colorful parade at the Sambodrome in Rio de Janeiro. 960 1280

PYMCA/Univeral Images Group/Getty Images  

China: Dragon Dance

China: Dragon Dance

Ring in the new year right — the Chinese way! In Beijing, Chinese artists perform a dragon dance at a local amusement park during celebrations for the Lunar New Year. 960 1280

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images  

Cuba: Salsa

Cuba: Salsa

It’s the perfect time to brush up on your salsa dancing now that Cuba is becoming a hot travel destination. 960 1280

Emily Riddell/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Russia: Ballet

Russia: Ballet

These Russian ballet dancers practice in a studio in St. Petersburg, Russia. Ballet developed as popular courtly entertainment during the Italian Renaissance and then as a world-renowned fine art in 20th-century Russia and America. 960 1280

Ken Scicluna/AWL Images/Getty Images  

Switzerland: Traditional Folk Dance

Switzerland: Traditional Folk Dance

Sometimes it’s OK to keep it traditional, as this couple does at the Ballenberg, an open-air museum in Brienz, Switzerland, that gives insight into the history of the country’s farming culture. 960 1280

Switzerland Tourism  

Argentina: Tango

Argentina: Tango

Tango is a sensual partner dance that originated in Argentina. It is now performed as part of ballroom dance competitions around the world, but this couple is keeping it local on a street in Buenos Aires’ La Boca neighborhood. 960 1280

Markus Matzel/Ullstein Bild/Getty Images  

Japanese: Kabuki

Japanese: Kabuki

Kabuki, a classical Japanese dance drama, originated in Kyoto more than 400 years ago. In this photo, villagers perform Kabuki for farmers in Hinoemata, Japan, where residents have been performing the art for 200 years. 960 1280

Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images  

Austria: Viennese Waltz

Austria: Viennese Waltz

The Viennese waltz was actually the first form of the waltz, a smooth ballroom and folk dance. It was originally the peasants’ dance but eventually gained acceptance in European high society. In this photo, young couples waltz at the traditional Opera Ball in Vienna. 960 1280

Dieter Nagl/AFP/Getty Images  

Paraguay: Traditional Dance

Paraguay: Traditional Dance

Dance is another way to explore and gain some insight into the indigenous customs and cultures of a destination. Here, Maka natives dance during festivities marking American Indigenous People Day in Mariano Roque Alonso, a city 12 miles north of Asuncion, Paraguay. 960 1280

Norberto Durate/AFP/Getty Images  

United States: Contemporary Dance

United States: Contemporary Dance

Contemporary dance is often thought to be related to ballet and other concert dance styles, but it actually borrows from classical, modern and jazz dance. This dance form is characterized by unpredictable changes in rhythm, speed and direction. 960 1280

Vasilina Popova/Stone/Getty Images  

Middle East: Belly Dance

Middle East: Belly Dance

The term “belly dance” comes from the French phrase dance du ventre, which translates as “dance of the stomach,” but the moves themselves arose from various dancing styles performed in the Middle East and North Africa. 960 1280

Karen Liagan/Moment/Getty Images  

New York City: Broadway

New York City: Broadway

It’s all about jazz hands in New York, where Broadway musicals require performers to learn various dance styles. And even the world-renowned Rockettes have to practice to make sure their precise choreography is executed correctly for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. 960 1280

Taylor Hill/Film Magic/Getty Images  

Amsterdam: Michael Jackson

Amsterdam: Michael Jackson

Today, many performers enjoy emulating their favorite music icons, such as Michael Jackson. This King of Pop impersonator dances to Thriller in Amsterdam’s Museumpark as part of a flash mob. 960 1280

Reuters  

Photos

See a Neighborhood Monument

See a Neighborhood Monument

Monumento a Castelo Branco in Parque Moinhos de Vento juts out of its grassy surroundings, a hard and angular reminder of Brazil’s first military dictator, Castelo Branco. The monument’s artist presents his vision of 3 soldiers standing together, just a little off-balance. This controversial historical marker is offset by well-shaded park benches, often occupied by Porto Alegre’s beautiful people sipping their beloved chimarrão, a mate herb tea. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Go Where Windmills Stood

Go Where Windmills Stood

Moinhos de Vento means windmill in Portuguese, a nod to this neighborhood’s 19th- century wheat grinding past. Trendy boutiques, hotels and restaurants have since replaced its windmills. This replica of an Azorean windmill in Parque Moinhos de Vento doubles as a children’s library and a picturesque backdrop for lake turtles and ducks. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Step Inside a Local Landmark

Step Inside a Local Landmark

Usina do Gasômetro is an old coral-colored electrical power plant, even though its name suggests that it was an old gas plant. Its history is chronicled inside, which has also become an exhibition space for local artists and musicians. Venture to the fourth floor for some of the best views of Porto Alegre’s sunsets over Lake Guaíba. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Stroll Along Lake Guaíba

Stroll Along Lake Guaíba

Porto-Alegreses like to brag about the sunsets over Lake Guaíba. They are said to be especially spectacular in winter and few miss the show. Some tourists take it in by boat, while locals gather on a grassy expanse with churros, those sugary fried dough sticks, as a snack. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Taste a Traditional Portuguese Dish

Taste a Traditional Portuguese Dish

The Portuguese brought their taste for salted cod, known as bacalhau, with them to Brazil. You can sample some of the best in Porto Alegre at Gambrinus, a restaurant and pub dating back to 1889 inside the old Mercado Público Central. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Shop Local in the Public Market

Shop Local in the Public Market

Outside the pastel yellow walls of Mercado Público, local merchants hawk their handicrafts from jewelry to paintings, while inside is a vibrant visual feast of tropical fruits and fresh meats on display. Pick up some mate leaves to make your own chimarrao at home. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

See the City from Lake Guaíba

See the City from Lake Guaíba

From a cruise on Lake Guaíba, the Porto Alegre skyline shows off its present and past with its more modern facades protecting its older ornate ones in the city center, dating back to the 18th century. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Board the White Swan

Board the White Swan

Cisne Branco means white swan in Portuguese, and this small cruise ship glides along Rio Guaíba where it expands into a lake and intersects with Rio Jacquí, while playing the music of the city and broadcasting facts about Porto Alegre’s great past. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

See a Giant

See a Giant

If you are going to Porto Alegre for the 2014 World Cup, a visit to the “Giant of the Hills” is inevitable. Estadio Beria-Rio got its nickname from reverential Porto Alegre futbol fans for its perch on one of the city’s highest points and its legend will grow as host of epic matchups like Australia vs. The Netherlands and Nigeria vs. Argentina. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Get a Taste of Northern Brazil

Get a Taste of Northern Brazil

While Porto-Alegreses are proud of their churrascos, meat-heavy barbecues, they don’t mind a taste of northern cuisine on occasion. Iaiá Bistro serves acarajé, the fried shrimp and black-eyed pea nuggets you’d find in Salvador do Bahia. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Sleep in a Posh Boutique Hotel

Sleep in a Posh Boutique Hotel

Blocks away from the trendy shops and cafes of Rue Padre Chagas in Moinhos de Ventos, you can rest your head at Hotel Laghetto Viverone, a restored 19th- century home outfitted with a rooftop pool. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

Go Into the Heart of the Old City

Go Into the Heart of the Old City

A monument to Rio Grande do Sul politics and a model politician Julio de Castilhos stands at the center of Praça da Matriz in the heart of Porto Alegre’s historic district. Bounded by state and city government buildings, it’s a reminder of gaucho – Brazilian cowboy – independence. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

People Watch in a Historic Square

People Watch in a Historic Square

Besides being at the center of politics and government in Porto Alegre, Praça da Matriz attracts locals of all types walking their dogs, reading the paper, even practicing scenes for a play at the nearby Theatro São Pedro. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

See Porto Alegre’s Spiritual Center

See Porto Alegre’s Spiritual Center

The building of Catedral Metropolitana on Porto Alegre’s historic Praça da Matriz is inextricably linked to the city’s founding. The ornate Italian Renaissance columns and dome are reminders of the city’s Jesuit missionary beginnings. 960 1280

Andre Maceira - Photo Courtesy of Embratur  

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