As I’m from Porto Alegre, going to Gramado and all of Serra Gaúcha (RS/Brazil) is something I’ve done countless times. As a child, I’ve been to Gramado with my family. As a teen, I’ve been to Gramado with my friends. And as an adult, I’ve mostly… neglected Gramado. The last time I went must’ve been around six years ago, although I do love it! So when Sofia told me she’d be coming to the south, I looked for a hostel and booked it for the weekend.
Gramado, here we go.
Experiencing Gramado as an adult was… different. And great. Just for starters, the road is way more sinuous and full of speed traps than I remembered. But most importantly? Actually getting to choose what we’d be doing was the best part.
After I picked her up at the airport, one of the first things we did once we were back in my place was attacking Google and trying to decide what we were going to do. Guys. There are… a lot of options. And we didn’t do half of the things we’d planned. Mostly because we found a lot of joy in things we hadn’t been expecting to love as much.
So this is it. My unofficial guide to Gramado/Serra, but my official list of reasons why you should absolutely go, regardless of which places specifically you decide to see.
5. Go for the million of random touristic spots
Like museums? No worries, we gotchu. We have a Fashion Museum, a Medieval Museum, and, inexplicably, a Beatles Museum. So many Santa Claus and Christmas-oriented places that will make your head ache. Below, a few pictures of one of my favorite very random places: Aldeia do Papai Noel.
One very random touristic spot I do want to go but haven’t been to yet is Snowland. It’s worth checking out the pictures. Mostly because… There’s no real snow in the city.
Another random place that I haven’t visited yet but want to recommend is EcoParque Sperry. A few friends have hiked there and absolutely loved it! Next time I go to Gramado I’m committing to go to both Snowland and EcoParque Sperry. And, you know… Item #3. But sshh, no spoilers!
(Don’t scroll down to find out what’s #3.)
(I kinda know you’ve done it already. Dammit, reader! I told you not to! Now the surprise’s ruined.)
4. Go for the parks
Gramado has some of the most beautiful parks. They’re simple, they’re full of artificial lakes, and they’re the best. Lago Negro is the most popular spot, but I’ve visited this time Joaquina Rita Bier, and I really enjoyed it. The thing with Lago Negro is that it tends to be very crowded, so the other parts get neglected. I recommend stopping by this one, especially if you have some chimarrão and bergamotas to eat by the sun!
3. Go for the creepy tourism
*awkward smile* Who doesn’t… love… creepy tourism? AM I RIGHT!!!
Technically, this is in Canela, not in Gramado, but it’s still within the region of Serra Gaúcha, so I’m keeping it on the list.
When I first read about this place, I felt cheated by all the years I’ve been to Serra and never once have I ever heard about Ruínas do Cassino. This wonderfully creepy masterpiece has been two hours away from home, and nobody told me! Clearly, more people ought to know about it.
Here’s the Cliffnotes version: investors decided Canela deserved a palace hotel with the ground floor dedicated to casinos. It was going to be the biggest in South America, and around 600 million (!!!!!) reals were invested in the construction. However, before the completion, the Brazilian government passed a law that prohibited games, and so they had to stop the constructions. And, you know, also go in serious debt to pay that money back to the government.
Other than an alleged foreigner who’s died on the place when trying to take pictures, another curious and very bizarre fact about the place is that there was something called a Suicide Room. That’s where people who were losing all their money were supposed to go and, um, comfortably kill themselves?
As the hotel was never finished, the room was only an idea, but it’s creepy enough that it attracts all sorts of people performing all sorts of rituals to the place. Also, wedding photoshoots. (Seriously, guys? Have we learned nothing from all the urban legends involving dead brides?)
We didn’t go because we were way too tired, but I can’t wait to go back so I can visit this bizarre place!
2. Go for the weather
The weather in Serra Gaúcha is colder than the capital by not many degrees, but it feels like a different country, and it especially felt that way this past weekend. Although we’d seen fog there before, the otherworldly low fog we caught was… intense. We really couldn’t see more than a few meters ahead.
Wait, did it seem like I was complaining? I was loving every minute of it! It felt like we’d entered an alternate reality, and the too-cute-for-words houses around the city made for a potentially eerier vibe.
It was absolutely glorious.
1. Go for the food
If none of the above reasons convinced you to give Gramado/Serra Gaúcha a chance, you should come back of the food. This is the #1 reason why every person alive should come!
Between café colonial and the very special fondue particular to the region, you’ll have good value for your money, and love every minute of it.
Café colonial is a special kind of beast. It’s usually had as brunch, but you eat everything from chicken hearts to cucas to strudels (there are vegetarian options! Sofia is vegetarian!).
I’d especially love to recommend the restaurant where we had café colonial, just by the entrance of Ivotí. We were so well-served, the food was phenomenal, and the staff was so incredible I low key wanted to ask them to come along with us.
Have I convinced you to go to Gramado/Serra Gaúcha? Have you been already? Let me know in the comment section!