If you want to visit Europe without leaving Brazil, then a tour through Gramado and Canela, cities in Serra Gaúcha, is what you're looking for. There, you will find mountainous landscapes, regional wines, homemade chocolate, low temperatures (depending on the time of the year) and even a snow park, which works even in summer!
The two municipalities, as well as many others of Serra Gaúcha, began to be sought after by German and Italian immigrants in the early 20th century. There, they found a climate more similar to their countries of origin: hot in summer and cold in winter.
They left their mark on the architecture of the cities, which are similar to Bavarian German villages, and on the habits of the population, mainly in gastronomy. However, the traditions and the culture from Rio Grande so Sul are also present at the location, reminding visitors that we are in Brazil, this incredibly rich and diverse country!
The streets of Gramado smell like chocolate and fondue. And tasting these two local specialties is, of course, part of every trip to the region. And, best of all, you can do that on the very first day, while taking a walk on the Borges de Medeiros Avenue, at the charming center of the city. On this avenue you will find a variety of cafes, restaurants and shops, as well as the São Bento Mother Church.
Tired of walking? Stop by the Joaquina Rita Bier Lake, which is artificial and has a small island on the middle. Surrounded by beautiful houses, that frame the landscape, it is a great place to rest and regain your strength for the last destination of the day.
Igreja do Relógio is nearby. Situated on top of a small hill, it provides visitors with a panoramic view of the city. If you go there between December and March, you will be able to see a beautiful carpet of hydrangeas, which bloom during this period.
The children love touring around Serra Gaúcha. And no wonder, since there are attractions designed especially for kids. One of them is Aldeia do Papai Noel (Santa Claus Village), a Santa-inspired theme park, which stays open all year.
Another one that draws the attention of the little ones is Mini Mundo (Mini World), a miniature replica of a real city, through which one can walk. Then, be sure to visit Lago Negro, a lake where you can ride a paddle boat, an activity that always pleases the whole family.
Canela is located 7 km from Gramado. The main local attraction is Caracol State Park, where there is a cascade that is 131 m high, and that may be seen from the road or from the cable car which leads to a viewing spot that faces the waterfall and the beautiful valley where it is located. Those who enjoy practicing sports may try their hands at trekking, mountain biking or at the zip-line.
Parque da Ferradura is also worth a visit. It is perfect for getting in touch with nature. Its trails and viewing spots allow you to come close to the local flora and fauna and watch animals such as the coati, the agouti, the opossum, the capuchin monkey and others.
Be sure to visit the Stone Cathedral, a church in Gothic style, and stroll around the pleasant streets of the city.
Gramado is also known for its Film Festival, one of the most important in the Country. Annual, it always occurs in the month of August, when temperatures are lower. If you're lucky enough to be visiting the city during this period, don't forget to visit Palácio dos Festivais (Palace of the Festivals) and support the competing films.
Winter is also the ideal time for visiting Snowland, the snow-themed park, as the whole city will be taken by the cold climate. However, if it's hot, don't worry! The park is indoors and opens all year round, which enables skiing down cold mountains even at the height of summer.
To end the trip, a visit to the Chocolate Museum is in order. The place tells the story of the arrival of the delicacy in the region. At the end of the tour, you can buy a few bars of the treat.