When most people think of Brazil, they immediately think of Rio or Sao Paulo. There are many areas of Brazil that remain quite undiscovered by non-Brazilian tourists; consequently, there is not much tourist information in English on those places. Vitória is one of them. I recently met someone from Vitória, who told me that he has actually started a Wikitravel guide for his city in English, so that more people would learn about it. He has also given me an inside look into his hometown and its surroundings…
Vitória, just 257 miles north of Rio, smack on the coast of Brazil, is the capital city of the state of Espirito Santo. Look at the map below to get an idea of where it is located:
Vitória is only one of two capitals in Brazil that is an island. Next to Rio, it is the smallest state in the southeastern region of Brazil. There is so much to do and see in Vitória and throughout the entire state of Espirito Santo. But let’s start with the capital city itself…
From Reta de Penha (an avenue in the Vitória), you can see the Convento da Penha, which is one of the oldest sanctuaries in Brazil, founded in 1558 in the city of Vila Velha, just seven years after the city of Vitória was founded.
Let me just say that I love how each state of Brazil has a name for the people that live there. “Capixabas” are people from the state of Espirito Santo. One of the favorite pastimes of Capixabas is going to the beach; with an average summer temperature of 89 degrees Fahrenheit and an average winter temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the beach remains popular year-round. Praia de Camburi (Camburi beach) is one of the most famous beaches of the city.
Another favorite activity is hiking up the beautiful mountains that surround the city. Parque da Cebola (Onion Park on English) is a park on one of those mountains, that used to be a mangrove. It is famous for the rock (that resembles an onion) that sits high up on another large rock and looks like it is going to fall any second.
For the best view of the city, head to Terceira Ponte (Third Bridge). Two miles long and 230 feet high, this is the second highest bridge in Brazil. Unfortunately, you cannot stop to take pictures here, but it does offer a magnificent view.
There are many day-trips that you can take from the city of Vitoria, as well. Itaúnas is about 161 miles from Vitória and is famous for the forro music and dance. It is also known for its dunes; the old town was completely buried under dunes in the 1960s; now, the new town is found on the other side of the Itaúnas River. Pretty cool, huh? People used to sandboard on the dunes, but don’t bring your sandboard just yet – unfortunately, this is no longer allowed.
This city also is known for its state park. The Itaúnas State Park was created in the 1990s, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is comprised of a beach, river, swamp, mangroves, a sandbank and a forest. In this very humid region, you can also find a variety of endangered species, such as sloths, alligators, otters, parrots, parakeets and some other species of animal I have never even heard of, including capybaras, maritacas and jacupengas.
Another great day (or night) trip from Vitória, is the city called Domingos Martins. Because the city was colonized by Germans, it still retains a very German feel. From the German beer to the German food to the German architecture, Domingos Martins is almost authentically German. There is also the breathtaking Parque Estadual da Pedra Azul (Blue Stone State Park), which is apparently an absolute must-see.
Espirito Santo is one of the up-and-coming states of Brazil. Still not convinced? Check out this video to see how much it has already grown: