What to do Rio de Janeiro - Trips further afield
Sunset at Saquarema Beach near Rio de Janeiro
|The coastal strip between Niterói and Búzios is known as the
Costa do Sol('Sunny Coast').
If Petrópolis is Rio de Janeiro’s favourite mountain destination on weekends, then the Costa do Sol is its favourite beach getaway.
The Costa do Sol is well-known for its
beautiful beaches, windy coast (offering waves beloved by surfers) and lush backdrop.
Plenty of accommodation is available in tranquil fishing villages or busy beach resorts.
Some landmarks along the Costa do Sol:
- Maricá: a quiet resort town overlooking a pretty lagoon. Maricá has access to Praia de Itaipuaçu, one of the most beautiful beaches of the Costa do Sol.
- Saquarema: a surfers delight with access to the rough waves of Praia Itaúna.
- Lagoa de Araruama: one of the largest lagoons in Brasil. There are several settlements and many white beaches around the lagoon.
- Arraial do Cabo: access to lovely beaches and the best area for scuba diving in Souht-East Brazil.
- Cabo Frio: this is the most busy beach town of Rio de Janeiro's east coast, especially in the weekends. Cabo Frio has access to several beaches.
All destinations of the Costa do Sol are in reach of Rio de Janeiro in one day, but we recommend to take your time and spend at least one night on the Sunny Coast.
The peninsula of
Búzios, at the eastern end of the Costa do Sol, is the St Tropez of Rio de Janeiro state, not least because it became famous after the visit of iconic French actress/ model Brigitte Bardot in 1964.
From then on, the sleepy fishing village developed into a stylish resort town.
Elegant pousadas, trendy bars and designer boutiques line the few cobblestone streets and the many white beaches. Beach buggies are the best way of transport in Búzios.
'BB' forever overlooking the Búzios boulevard...
Although there is accommodation galore along the Costa do Sol, Búzios is the terminus of the coastal journey for many.
Overnighting in Búzios (in high season and weekends: make reservations!):
- High end:
• Costa do Sol Boutique Hotel - Rua 16 Quadra L lotes 13 e 14 ** Best Hotel in Brazil 2013 **
• Casas Brancas Boutique Hotel & Spa – Morro do Humaitá 10 ** Top Hotel 2013 **
• Serena Buzios Resort - Rua Campo de Pouso 1630 ** Top Hotel 2013 **
Pousada Amendoeira – Rua João Fernandes 60
- Budget/ Backpackers:
Phoenix Hostel – Rua Engenheiro Hugo de Matos 8
Discover beautiful Ilha Grande by boat...
|Going west of Rio de Janeiro in the direction of Sao Paulo (by the ‘slow road’ BR-101 that is), the lush mountains are getting higher rapidly, as high as almost 2,800 m / 9,186 ft.
In front of this mountain range the coast is dotted with large beaches, picturesque little bays and gorgeous green islands.
This area, known as the Costa Verde (‘Green Coast’) is interesting to the nature lover, the beach bum and the history buff...
If you travel along the coast to Sao Paulo, the Costa Verde connects perfectly to the Litoral Norte.
Some landmarks along the Costa Verde:
Ilha Grande: One of the few unspoiled, forested coastal islands of South-East Brasil, Ilha Grande (‘Big Island’) is a miniature eco tourism destination. The central village is called Vila do Abraão.
From Vila do Abraão there are several boat tours around the island, organized by tour agencies and the local hotels. There are also snorkelling and hiking options: beautiful ocean views guaranteed!
You get to Ilha Grande by ferry from Angra dos Reis (about 1.5 hour boat trip), a fairly interesting town itself (but by far no Paraty). There are also other islands in reach from Angra dos Reis.
- National Park Itatiaia (Parque Nacional do Itatiaia): Off the coast, high up in the mountains, this is the oldest designated national park in Brazil. National Park Itatiaia is covered in so called Atlantic rainforest (Mata Atlântica) which used to cover the entire east coast of Brazil.
Today only 5% of Atlantic rainforest is left and creates a habitat for many birds and rare mammals, like primates, sloths and ocelots. There are plenty of hiking trails in the forest, leading you along waterfalls, natural pools, rock formations, orchids and perhaps some wildlife.
There is information and accommodation available in the park.
At the far western side of the Costa Verde you will find
This lovely World Heritage Area town so close to Rio de Janeiro as well as Sao Paulo, is one of the best examples of Brazilian colonial heritage.
In the 18th century, Paraty used to be the most important port in Brazil for shipping goods (like minerals, silk and spices) from Minas Gerais to Portugal. Paraty today is like an open air museum in a beautiful setting.
Picturesque Paraty, close to Rio and Sao Paulo
Apart from its own attractions, like colonial churches and a laidback vibe (only on weekdays!), Paraty makes a perfect ‘base camp’ for exploring the coast of this part of Brasil, due to a good tourist infrastructure. There are plenty of gorgeous, secluded beaches in reach of Paraty by boat and/ or road.
Overnighting in Paraty:
- High end:
Hotel Coxixo – Rua do Comércio 362
Arte Colonial – Rua da Matriz 292
- Budget/ Backpackers:
Backpackers House Paraty – Rua Aldemar Duarte Coelho 20