Gramado, yet another little piece of Europe stashed away in South America. This time I found a little piece of Germany up in the mountains of Brazil. Cosy wooden buildings, artisan chocolate shops, fairy lights and you’re almost in Bavaria. Definitely a Christmas in July type place and had it been a little further into winter with a bit more snow and the ice sculptures it would have been even more magical.
Getting in and around
I took a really comfortable night bus from Punta del Este with a Uruguayan company called EGA to Porto Alegre. They were the only service running in low season (there is another high season service with TTL), but they still charged a reasonable UYU2363 pesos with the best semi-cama service I’ve had in South America.
Gramado is easily done as a day trip from Porto Alegre. I missed the 9am bus and so taking the 10am bus meant I didn’t get there until 12.15pm and I still had time to see what I wanted and go to Canela. The bus was R36.65 each way on a comfortable Citral coach with Wifi.
If you want to stay longer you can of course which will enable you to see the National Parks around the area, but you will likely need a car to explore.
Lawn and Cinnamon
Gramado actually means lawn in Portuguese and Canela means cinnamon. Don’t ask me why, but they just do!
It’s just a short walk from the bus station up Av. Borges de Medeiros to the main strip. The Tourist Information Office is directly opposite Igreja São Pedro and here you can get a free map.
Whilst some of the buildings are recently built to fit the old German style it’s all done quite tastefully and it’s a really pleasant town to walk around.
In case you missed the first two shops there were three Lugano chocolate shops and dozens of other brands. Lugano provides us with the World of Chocolate (Mundo de Chocolate) in a very European style – complete with a chocolate fountain.
There’s also a nice cafe inside where you can enjoy your purchases on the spot, with a spot of tea or coffee.
Just past the church you can’t miss the Palácio los Festivais where you can catch shows and you can find plenty of other cosy cafes and restaurants too with warm furs on the chairs. Your butt never has to freeze on cold metal again.
It was a brilliant sunny day, T-shirt weather even, despite being Brazilian winter (perhaps that’s why it was T-shirt weather!) and I really enjoyed walking around and using my terrible Portuguese to chat with people. There were plenty of interesting little details around the town too.
Speaking of little details, there’s a miniture Bavarian settlement at Mini Mundo. It’s probably more of a family and kids place, but who cares when you can get some trippy macro perspective shots and fool your friends at home about what you saw. To be honest when I was researching Gramado I initially thought this is what the town actually looked like.
It’s a fair walk from everywhere else, but you can wander the streets in the direction of Lago Negro. I think there are better things to spend your time on, but if you’re up for some gelato and a paddleboat around the lake then go crazy!
Instead though I’d recommend grabbing a public bus bound for Canela and get off in the middle at the wax museum Dreamworld Museu de Cena. If you aren’t chocolate-d out yet there’s plenty more here too. It’s just R3 per ride on the public buses here and they seem to run a few times an hour so hop on and hop off as you please.
I might have missed the memo, but there wasn’t a great deal around Canela besides the Cathedral de Pedra.
If you are staying a few days though and have a car too there is Parque Estadual do Caracol and Parque da Ferradura north of Gramado with walks and waterfalls.