Rio Grande, Brazil
One of the busiest ports in the Southern Hemisphere, this international trade center sees limited passenger cruise traffic. The town itself is small, with limited historical/cultural attractions, but that's not the draw of docking here. Rio Grande is the gateway to Brazil’s southernmost state, the hub of Brazilian cowboy culture and agriculture. It has a fascinating European immigrant heritage, well-established viticulture, and marvelous breweries.
What We Love
Gaucho Culture: Did you know that many of the top bull riders in the Professional Bull Riders association are Brazilian? This state is the gaucho capital of Brazil — that means bronco riders, vast ranches, and superb beef.
Famous Face: International supermodels Gisele Bündchen and Alessandra Ambrosio are both from the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
Best Known For
Praia do Cassino: This 160-mile-long beach is billed as the longest in the world. It offers endless waves, sunbathing, and futbol. Plus, it holds our unofficial record for the highest number of model look-alikes per capita.
Wine Country: Italian-style vineyards flourish outside the city, with hills covered in pin-straight lines of vines. Gramado is the town most compared to Napa, but Rio Grande gets all the best vintages for retail and restaurant purchase.
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Who It's Best For
Hedonists: Prime beef and wine, ad infinitum. Local inn and pousada owners serve amazing cuisine accompanied by Brazil's best vintages.
Cowboy Junkies: This is where to go to experience gaucho culture in Brazil's backcountry, from the enormous fazendas (ranches) to gaucho music festivals.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
This Is Mainly a Maritime Import/Export Hub: Rio Grande is not a touristy port and shore excursions are limited.
It's More Continental: If you want that vibrant Afro-Brazilian ambience, you won't find it here. The European influence is strong in both city and countryside.
Lena Katz is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Brides.