Looking to explore Rio De Janeiro state outside of the city? Consider a short drive to the colonial beachside town of Paraty! I will admit that at first I was hesitant about visiting Paraty due to the apparent lack of "hype" around it. I learned from spending a couple days there that the town is a gem that fewer non-Brazilian tourists know of--and it's well worth the visit! Read on to discover a the perfect 3-day itinerary for families, couples, and friends in Paraty!
Day 0: The Drive to Paraty
We picked up a rental car from Rio (GIG) Airport from Localiza (a sister company to Hertz) and headed off to Paraty. You can expect around 4-6 hours of driving to get there, all dependent on traffic and weather. The road can be windy, but you'll find the drive to be scenic and worthwhile the closer you get to Paraty. Pro-Tip: When in Brazil, do as the locals do, and for this matter, due to security concerns on state highways, it's highly recommended to avoid driving at night. For this reason, we left GIG right around midday, and after a ride replete with a couple of pitstops and sightseeing, arrived in Paraty just as it was getting dark, in time for dinner.
The other option is to take a bus from the the main bus terminal in Rio city, Novo Rio, to Paraty. Quero Passagem is a great local site to use to square away bus fares in advance. This is a great option if you want to save some bucks, as we didn't end up using our rental car at all while we were in Paraty itself--the town and especially the historic center are totally walkable.
This is a gorgeous private lodge located in the colonial center of Paraty. The rooms are comfortable, the staff is friendly and happy to help you schedule any tour. Our stay included a complete Brazilian breakfast, served till late morning.
When you check in, make sure to square away your reservations for the rest of the week (boat tour, 4x4/cachaça distillery tour, and puppet show are all among the highlights)
We found this restaurant to be vibrating with energy for a Monday night. Cute place with fantastic Brazilian food. + Make sure to order the crab dish, moqueca (red palm oil and coriander-based seafood stew, with fish), and a passionfruit caipirinha with little sugar ("pouco açucar, por favor!" if you want to avoid the pitfalls--and hangover excesses--of the typical Brazilian craze for sugar). We managed to get seated easily without a reservation.
Address: R. Dr. Samuel Costa, 198 - Centro Histórico, Paraty - RJ, 23970-000, Brazil
Day 1 - Explore Paraty and Boat Tour
After grabbing a quick breakfast at the Pousada, we hit the colorful streets of Paraty to explore. We happened to be in Paraty during Carnaval, which added an extra charm and energy to the air. Spend the morning walking around this scenic colonial town and taking in the cobblestones and colorful Portuguese architecture.
We grabbed a quick lunch to go at a random in-town restaurant for the boat tour! If you have time one of the days, I recommend checking out a Free Walking Tour of Paraty.
1:00pm - 5:00pm: Boat Tour
We skirted around to 3 different islands about a 40-minute boat ride from Paraty. This was a great way to spend the day in the sun and water. Each stop was unique: we experienced a secluded black sand beach, rock formations fit for climbing, and a floating dock where several party boats had anchored to enjoy drinks. Having had the boat to ourselves, I recommend bringing your own drinks and a speaker if you get the chance: the Brazilian spirit is super receptive to music pumping through the airwaves at all times! The total cost per person for the boat tour came out to ~$40 USD each. You can make your reservation for the tour at Pousada do Ouro (hotel).
Right next to Banana da Terra (our dinner spot from the night before), we found both the ambiance and food lovely.
Address: R. Dr. Samuel Costa, 196 - Centro Histórico, Paraty - RJ, 23970-000, Brazil
Day 2 - Jeep Life
Don't miss the chance to take this Jeep Cachaça distillery tour! You'll spend the day chasing waterfalls and then enjoying some of the local artisanal Brazilian rum! Assuming the exchange rate stays the same over the next months, the tour only costs $25 per person + lunch
This puppet show came recommended by the locals. We ended up just missing this one as our dinner took too long.
Note that the show is in Portuguese only, and you will want to purchase your tickets beforehand when possible. You can do so at the Pousada do Ouro.
Pro Tip: After dinner/the show, do yourselves a favor and try a brigadeiro from one of the many street carts! A brigadeiro is a chocolate treat made with condensed milk and cocoa. I was hooked after trying these little chocolate balls and found them to be the best I had in Brazil!
Day 3 - Trindade Beach, then Rio City
We kicked off the morning with a ~45 minute drive southward to Trindade to check out one of the area's renowned beaches before we skirted off to Rio City. Grab an açaí bowl and a fresh fish lunch, and relax on the beach before heading back to Rio city.