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Side Trips from Rio Travel Guide

  • Photo: ostill /

Plan Your Side Trips from Rio Vacation

While there's no shortage of things to do in Rio de Janeiro itself, visitors should make time to experience the many attractions in the surrounding area. The state of Rio de Janeiro is relatively small, but offers a broad range of distinctly Brazilian attractions. There are no better places to unwind after the frenetic pace of Rio than Búzios or Paraty. And nature lovers will greatly enjoy

the idyllic Ilha Grande.

The verdant Costa Verde (Green Coast) south of the city provides virtually unlimited opportunities for beach hopping, hiking on nature trails, and just resting and relaxing. The vast nature-reserve island of Ilha Grande and the perfectly preserved colonial town of Paraty are just two of the gems to be found along this scenic stretch of coastline. Heading north of the city along the Blue Coast, meanwhile, will lead you to the hip resort town of Búzios, famed for its sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and lively drinking and dining scene. On a peninsula that enjoys more sunny days than anywhere else in Rio de Janeiro State, Búzios is very much a playground for Rio de Janeiro's gente bonita (beautiful people), who come here to relax on the 23 beaches by day and socialize in the buzzing bars and clubs by night.

En route to Búzios are the quieter beach resorts of Cabo Frio and Arraial do Cabo. These unpretentious fishing towns are top spots for surfing and diving in the crystal clear waters. Heading inland from Rio, the stifling temperatures drop a little as steep mountain roads deliver you to the Imperial City of Petrópolis. It is important to check weather forecasts before traveling into the mountains, as recent years have seen heavy rainfall cause major landslides in the mountainous regions. Petrópolis merits an overnight stay but can also be enjoyed as a day trip, and there are numerous adventure sports companies operating walking, climbing, and camping trips in the mountains.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Glamorous Búzios Hang out with the young and beautiful on the beach at Búzios in the morning, then enjoy the sunset on Orla Bardot.
  2. Water Sports Sail a schooner to a deserted island for some scuba diving, then watch the dolphins play in your wake on the way home.
  3. Mountain Excursions Get lost in time at the Imperial Museum in mountainous Petrópolis.
  4. Glorious Ilha Grande Take an early-morning hike through the Atlantic rain forests of Ilha Grande.
  5. Fresh Beach Food Wash down some fresh shrimp with caipirinhas at the kiosks on the beach in Cabo Frio.

When To Go

When to Go

The towns along the Blue and Green coasts are packed solid between Christmas and Carnival, so reservations should be made well in advance. The...

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