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By Leo Byrne, Contributing Reporter

CURITIBA, BRAZIL – The state of Paraná is located in the south of Brazil and borders both Argentina and Paraguay. By no means one of the larger states in Brazil, it still has an area greater than that of the entire country of England. Within its borders lie beaches, national parks, mountains and waterfalls.

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Curitiba’s Japanese Park shows the mix of architectural styles evident throughout the city, photo by Leo Byrne.

Its capital is Curitiba, which enjoys international recognition for being a model of sustainable development and its impressive infrastructure. Having been settled by immigrants from numerous European countries, the Cidade Sorriso (Smiling City) is an interesting blend of customs and architectural styles.

In Curitiba “the architecture, vocabulary, food, clothing and cultural traditions are preserved by the descendants of Italian immigrants, Arab, Jewish, Japanese, Chinese, Germans, French, Poles and many others.” Front running mayoral candidate Carlos Alberto Massa Junior explained to the Rio Times.

Although seven days is too short a time to take in everything in Paraná, there are a several attractions that should not be missed.

Day one: Take the ‘linha turismo’ green bus for a whistle stop tour of many of Curitiba’s most interesting architectural highlights and parks. As night falls, take in an opera, play, or visit one of the city’s jazz bars.

Day two: Some of Brazil’s only railways are in Paraná state. From Curitiba it’s possible to take the Serra Verde Express to the sleepy port town of Paranaguá. The trip across the Serra do Mar Mountains is one of the most exciting and scenic train journeys in the world.

Day three: From Paranaguá, tourists can take a boat to the Ilha do Mel or ‘Honey Island.’ The picturesque island is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve. It has no roads, cars or electricity from the mainland (although all the hotels and bars have their own generators). Visitors to the island can choose from about thirty beaches on which to relax. For those looking for more of a party atmosphere, it’s best to save this part of the trip until the weekend.

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The Iguaçu Falls, photo by Mark Goble/Flickr Creative Commons License.

Day four: Those wishing for an even more remote experience can take a trip to the more northerly island of Superagüi. Considered part of the Superagüi national park, the island is home to numerous endangered and rare animals.

Day five: On the train back from Curitiba it’s possible to stop in Morrentes, where the more adventurous traveler can test their nerve white water rafting.

Day six: Back in Curitiba, tourists can take a bus or plane down to the city of Foz do Iguaçu on the Argentinean border. Near the city are the Iguaçu Falls, which number among the largest and most spectacular waterfalls in the world.

Day seven: The falls are one of Brazil’s leading tourist attractions. Subsequently there are a number of activities to take part in there. In addition to boat and helicopter rides, tourists can also visit the Iguaçu National Park, and numerous wildlife sanctuaries.

Even though it may not be in the forefront of the tourist’s mind when they come to Brazil, most visitors are sure to find something that will pique their interest in Paraná. The easiest way to get there is a short flight from Rio de Janeiro to Curitiba.

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