Famed for its food, art deco architecture and bohemian vibe, Brazil has a sexy and invigorating charm like no other. The largest country in South America, its population hovers at around 211 million, making it the sixth most densely populated country in the world. With almost 7,500km of coastline, this Portuguese-speaking paradise is known for its sultry shores. But where to start?
We're bookmarking the beach town of Paraty as the ultimate destination. Slotted between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the place has long-served as a road-trip pit stop. But, having undergone something of a renaissance, its palm-fringed streets now offer a bevy of glitzy hotels and glamorous restaurants. After unpacking and refuelling, we recommend exploring Paraty's eclectic ceramic stores and independent art studios - CANOA and Studio Bananal are our favourites. Fill your days with strolls around the colourful town, snacking on local truffles, and dipping in and out of sunny, rock-hewn coves.
Set aside a day to explore four of Paraty's most dramatic waterfalls: Tarzan, Tobogã, Poços do Penha and Poço das Andorinhas. There are some spectacular hiking and mountain-biking trails to the falls that will appeal to adventure-seekers: just be sure to pack a swimsuit for a well-deserved cooling dip when you reach them.
Where to stay?
Bed down at Casa Turquesa. The 18th-century townhouse-turned-hotel offers nine vibrant suites, each individually designed with a specific colour palette - think marigold yellow and fuschia pink. For abstract paintings by French artist Jacques Rey and pool views, rest your head in the Turquoise suite. Fancy something a little more minimalistic? Check out nearby boutique hotel Casa Mar Paraty, where earth-tone materials and wooden furnishings make for a rustic affair.
Where to go for dinner?
For a true taste of Brazil try Banana da Terra Paraty. Drawing crowds for its traditional-meets-contemporary menu, the restaurant is the best spot in town for a succulent serving of feijoada - black beans with pork or beef. Interiors are made cosy by stone pillars draped in warm pendant lights, while the outdoor courtyard is dotted with colourful bunting and candlelit tables.
And for a drink…
Cachaça Maria Izabel - one of the best places in the world to try Brazil's natural spirit, cachaça - or, if you prefer a laid-back beachside set-up, BalacoBacco Beach Bar. Expect breathtaking views, azure-blue hammocks and experimental cocktails, plus a wonderful seafood menu.
Who to take with you
Take that friend who's always the last person to leave the party. They'll appreciate Paraty's free-spirited personality, and will likely never shut up about attending Carnival - don't say we didn't warn you.
When to go
Brazil dazzles at any time of the year, but there's an extra-special energy to be found across the country during the last 10 days of April, when the legendary Rio de Janeiro Carnival takes place.
Essentials to pack
This Missoni striped hair wrap is perfect for taming your mane, with its adjustable cuff guaranteeing a personalised fit.
How to get there
Take a direct flight from London Heathrow to Brazil's Sāo Paulo's Guarulhos International Airport, from where it's a three-hour drive to Paraty.