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Many people in Brazil say Gramado doesn't look like Brazil. Why is that? Well, most of the tourists think of Brazil as a hot place, with sunny beaches and people dancing to the samba rythm along the streets all year round, isn't that so? Not exactly. As you could expect from a very large country, Brazil has a lot of places that are totally different from each other, of many of them doesn't match with the traditional idea of sand and beaches. Gramado is surely one of them. Located at the mountains of Rio Grande do Sul state, southern Brazil, the city of Gramado reminds maybe some hidden place in Europe, among tall pines, flowers, lakes, hot in the Summer but extremely cold during winter. Charming, cozy, lovely, picturesque, Gramado is the right place for those looking for something else then samba or beaches.

 

This is the welcome sign you will see when arriving in town. Gramado is located just two hours drive from Porto Alegre, the capital city from Rio Grande do Sul state. It is the most important host of the Gaucho mountains, and use to be the starting point for touristic tours at those mountains, which includes many cities not far from it, like Canela, Bento Gonçalves, Garibaldi, Nova Petropolis, Carlos Barbosa and Caxias do Sul. If you are planning a visit to the Gaucho Mountains, try to stay there for at least a week, to be able to get the most of your visit.


 


The best place in town for shopping is along Borges de Medeiros Ave, shown at left, where all the main shops and restaurants are located. Gramado is a small town, and you won't need a car to visit the most important attractions. Walking is the key, and, best of all, everything is at close reach of your own foot steps.

 

Start your Gramado tour visiting Caracol Park, just 10 miles from town (left photo). There you will find Veu de Noiva Waterfall, take a cable car to see it from above, or, for the daring ones, go down (and after that up again...) a giant stairway all the way to the base of the waterfall and refresh yourself at the lake. There is also an observation deck at the edge of the canyon, restaurant and a souvenir shop.

 

Gramado's chocolate is famous all over Brazil, and even exported to many other countries. There are more than twenty chocolate manufacturers here, and it's really hard to say which brand is best. It's up to you to decide... Almost everywhere downtown you will find stores like this, offering bars, candies, mugs, toys, and in many other chocolate forms.

Some of the most famous local chocolate makers are Lugano, Planalto, Do Parque, Prawer, Gramadense and Caracol.

Video: Gramado Chocolate store

 

 

Mini Mundo (small world), inspired in european parks, brings a replica of many international landmarks, from Europe to the Americas. Here you will be able to walk among the Vatican, London Tower, Eiffel Tower, Neuschwenstein Castle, and many other famous monuments. Located next to Gramado downtown. At right, a replica of famous german landmark Neuschwenstein Castle.

 

Yes, this looks like a real railway crash, but actually this is just for fun. Next to the entrance door of Museu do Vapor (Steam Museum) you will see this real locomotive, reminding a famous accident that happened in Paris, France, on the 19th century. Inside the museum you will have the chance to check for yourself the importance of steam on last century on everyday life. Factories, industries and much more, all in a tiny scale, but really working. This is a specially fun attraction if you are travelling with children. Inside the Steam Museum there is also a souvenirs store and a small restaurant.

 

Santa Klau Village, built inside Park Knorr, is another place to be visited. At right, a photo of Knor Mansion, first building constructed in this park, in 1940. Now it is home of Santa Klaus, during all year round! He use to be there, and loves talking to children. Also in Santa Klau Village there is a small toy museum, a train that takes visitors for a ride around the park, a monorail, animals, a wishing tree, and, most important, a very beautiful park. Locate over a hill next to downtown. Website: Aldeia do Papai Noel

 

Did you know that Rio Grande do Sul state is worldwide famous for its wines? The state is Brazil main wine producer, and no trip to the Gaucho mountains would be complete without a visit to one of the many vineyards in the area. The most important one is Vinicula Aurora, located at the city of Bento Gonçalves. Visitors start the free tour with a video explaining the basics of wine producing followed by a visit to oak barrels halls, steel tanks, wooden wine barrels, corridor of flags of every country which imports Aurora's wine, and famous Cave Di Bacco, the tasting room. Shown at left wine barrels from Jolimont

 

Do not miss Park Knorr and Dark Lake (first photo of this page), a beautiful location where you will be able to hike, bike or just take some time as you prefer.

 

Vale da Ferradura (horseshoe valley) is one of the most beatiful valleys in the area and offers many activities and trails for visitors. Located between Gramado and Canela. website: Vale da Ferradura

 

Known as Castelinho (small castle), this traditional Canela residence was built more then a hundred years ago by Pedro Franzen and his wife Luiza Sommer, without any nail or piece of iron. Everything was built like a giant tridimensional puzzle. Now this place is a museum, where visitors can experience how live was like in town a century ago. Castelinho has also a small restaurant where is not to be missed their unique and exclusive recipe for the family Franzen apfelstrudel (apple pie). Webiste: Castelinho.

 

Nossa Senhora de Lourdes Cathedral, known simply as Catedral de Pedra (stone cathedral), is Canela most important and only landmark. In this Gramado neighbor city, with narrow streets and cozy town, this church use to impress visitors, that do not expect to find anything like this here. It was built according to german architecture, has 65 meters high towers, and was, indeed built with rocks. Located at Canela central square, just five miles from Gramado. Website: Catedral de Pedra.  

 

Do you still remember those days? Well, why not take a tour onboard those lovely iron horses along the Gaucho Mountains and see it from a different perspective? The touristic railroad trip Retorno ao Passado (Returning to the Past) runs twice a week, linking the cities of Bento Gonçalves and Carlos Barbosa. Two hours of fun, wonderful views of the mountains and valleys, while on board you will enjoy traditional songs and dance, including free wine and cheese samples. Contact your hotel concierge for booking.

 

Visiting one more chocolate factory, located along Gramado - Canela Road.

 

Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse in Gramado?  Only at Museu de Cera (Wax Museum). Not only both divas are here, but also Shrek, President Obama, Marylin Monroe, Professor Raimundo, Harry Potter, Airton Sena, Jack Sparrow and many others more. Located at Gramado - Canela Road, this is a surely a funny place to visit and take photos with the characters. Website: Museu de Cera.

 

Take some time to visit one of the best classic cars museum in Brazil, Gramado's Hollywood Dream Cars. Its collection includes models from the 30's to the 80's, all in perfect conditions. Website: Hollywood Dream Cars

 

Itaimbezinho Canyon is one of the largest in Brazil. Located at Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina state border, is really worth a visit. The best option to get there is taking one of the many one day tours that are available in Gramado.

 

Back to Gramado let's do some shopping. Gramado downtown has a good variety of shops, and among the best items are shoes, china, leather, wool. Gramado's main avenue is Borges de Medeiros, something like one kilometer long from start to end. At each side of it are São Pedro and Garibaldi streets, that also deserve to be explored. At left, some stores located at Borges de Medeiros Avenue

 

At right, Sao Pedro Church, Gramado's main religious temple, located next to Palacio dos Festivais Theater. Always beautiful, but specially during Christmas time, when it is gets all covered with lights.  

 

Are you hungry? So the right place to go is a Cafe Colonial style restaurant. Show at left is a table fom Cale Colonial Bela Vista, the most traditional one. The Cafe Colonial tradition started with the first european settlers, decades ago. They woke up very early to work and had just one meal for that day, so it should keep them full all day long. Cakes, eggs, cheese, ham, jams, juices, chocolate, pizzas, pies, juices, wine.... Well, those days are gone, but the Cafe Colonial tradition ramained, and got even better. Today this fixed rate all you can eat system offers more than 90 different dishes served at you table. Website: Cafe Belavista

Still hungry? We doubt it... Anyway, on the following day, there is more to try. Gramado is also famous for its many Italian and German cuisine restaurants, and below are just some of them:

Galeto Italia and Galeto Mamma Mia: Italian Cuisine.Try the traditional Galeto (Fried Chicken). At a fixed rate you will eat as much as you like, and that includes not only the Galeto but also capeletti soup, polenta frita, costelinha de porco, saladas de maionese, radiche com bacon, and many pastas, like fetutine bolognesa, lasagna, tortei, nhoque, red, white wines, etc. 707 Hortecias Ave (Galeto Italia) and 3500 Hortencias Ave (Galeto Mamma Mia).

Swiss Cottage and La Famille Gazon: Delicious swiss style racletttes ande fundues, served a la carte. The right option for a romantic night. 1008 Hortencias Ave (La Famille Gazon).

 


Nova Petropolis green maze. This city, known as Gaucha Mountain Gardens, is one of the best attractins in the area, located just half an hour drive from Gramado

 

 

Gramado had many Italian and German settlers. Do not miss Aldeia dos Imigrantes (settlers village), where the first german imigrants settled down. Now a park and touristic attraction, at this tiny town where time has stopped you will find the church, stables, children school, the original ball room, a restaurant and much more. Aldeia dos Imigrantes Park is located at the city of Nova Petrópolis, just 20 miles west from Gramado. At left, a photo of a reconstructed Aldeia dos Imigrantes chuch, similar to the one built by the first german settlers more then a hundred years ago.

 

Downtown Gramado, seating next to Eleazar de Carvalho statue. The famos maestro was one of the criators of Natal Luz (Enlighted Christmas), that every year brings thousand of visitors to the city

 

Walking along a Parque Knor trail, in Gramado.

 


Khadro Ling Budist Temple, located in Tres Coroas town, not far from Gramado.

Website: Templo Budista Khadro Ling

Video: Templo Budista Khadro Ling

 


Gramado is a lovely place to visit all year round, but there are two ocasions when every one seems like dying to go there: Winter vacations (July and August) and Christmas time, so, if this is your case please remember to book in advance to avoid any frustration.  If you visit Gramado on christmas time you will be able to witness the beautiful Natal Luz (Enlighted Christmas Celebration), when all city turns itself on a living air Nativity Scene, including Christmas parades and carols contests at the main street.

Website: Natal Luz

 

Those visiting Gramado on July and August may find out that Brazil is not just hot beaches everywhere. If you enjoy a cozy place by the fireplace, a good wine or a delicious fondue you couldn't choose a better place to spend some days. No wonder that Gramado is the number one choice for hundreds of just married couples in Brazil. A small and nice place, with a lot of lovely things to do, Gramado and the Gaucho Mountains are a sure bet in Brazil for those looking for something else than just beaches.

 

 

 

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