Side Trips from Rio

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Side Trips from Rio - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Angra Top

    This reliable outfit sails its schooners, catamarans, and other boats on day trips to the islands around Angra dos Reis with stops for swimming, snorkeling,...

    This reliable outfit sails its schooners, catamarans, and other boats on day trips to the islands around Angra dos Reis with stops for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. Fresh fruit and soft drinks are provided onboard. The boats are also available for private group hire, with skipper.

    Angra dos Reis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    24-99953--9150

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From R$50
  • 2. Fazenda Bananal

    Drive 15 minutes inland from Paraty to this immaculately restored colonial fazenda (farm), where you can feast on delicious farm-to-table food in the light-filled restaurant...

    Drive 15 minutes inland from Paraty to this immaculately restored colonial fazenda (farm), where you can feast on delicious farm-to-table food in the light-filled restaurant before exploring the museum, tropical gardens, and working farm. Simple yet evocative, it gives a striking insight into the area's history and future potential. The farm welcomes thousands of local children every year to learn about sustainability and agricultural conservation, and any surplus organic food produced on-site is given to employees, the church, and the elderly in the region.

    Estrada Pedra Branca s/n, Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, 23970-000, Brazil
    24-3371--1153

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: R$20
  • 3. Lopes Mendes

    Lopez Mendes

    Locals and visitors alike regard Lopes Mendes, a 3-km (2-mile) stretch of dazzling-white sand lapped by emerald waters, as the most beautiful beach on Ilha...

    Locals and visitors alike regard Lopes Mendes, a 3-km (2-mile) stretch of dazzling-white sand lapped by emerald waters, as the most beautiful beach on Ilha Grande. It's often cited as one of the most beautiful in all Brazil. Strict environmental protection orders have kept the jungle-fringed beach from being spoiled by development: expect makeshift beach kiosks, not upscale bars. Take a taxi boat from Vila do Abraão (R$15) if you don't feel up to the two-hour hike through the forest, or hike here and take the boat back—the rough jungle trail and sticky heat can tax even the most hearty of ramblers. While here, use plenty of sunblock, as the rays rebounding off the white sand are particularly strong. If you want to avoid the boat-loads of day-trippers, go early.Amenities: food and drink. Best for: swimming; walking.

    Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro, 23900–000, Brazil
  • 4. Museu de Arte Contemporânea

    Designed by the late, great modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer, the cliff-top Museum of Contemporary Art looks like a spaceship that has touched down to admire...

    Designed by the late, great modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer, the cliff-top Museum of Contemporary Art looks like a spaceship that has touched down to admire the views. The museum's visiting art exhibits tend to be underwhelming, but it's worth a trip here just to see the building. The museum is a five-minute cab ride from Praça Araribóia, by the ferry terminal in downtown Niterói, or take the 47B bus. The on-site bistro is a good spot for lunch.

    Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, 24210–390, Brazil
    21-2620--2481

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: R$10, free Wed., Closed Mon.
  • 5. Museu Imperial

    The magnificent 44-room palace that was the summer home of Dom Pedro II, emperor of Brazil, and his family in the 19th century is now...

    The magnificent 44-room palace that was the summer home of Dom Pedro II, emperor of Brazil, and his family in the 19th century is now the Imperial Museum. The colossal structure is filled with polished wooden floors, artworks, and grand chandeliers. You can also see the diamond-encrusted gold crown and scepter of Brazil's last emperor, as well as other royal jewels. Visitors are handed soft slippers on arrival and asked to slip them over their own shoes to avoid damaging the antique floors. (Children will love sliding around on the polished floors in their slippered feet.)

    Rua da Imperatriz 220, Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, 25610–320, Brazil
    24-2233--0300

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: R$8, Closed Mon.
  • 6. Palácio de Cristal

    The Crystal Palace, a stained-glass and iron building made in France and assembled in Brazil, is rather less grand than its name suggests, resembling a...

    The Crystal Palace, a stained-glass and iron building made in France and assembled in Brazil, is rather less grand than its name suggests, resembling a large and very ornate greenhouse, but is worth a visit nonetheless. The palace was a wedding present to Princesa Isabel from her consort, the French Count d'Eu. Their marriage was arranged by their parents—Isabel, then 18, learned of Dom Pedro II's choice only a few weeks before her wedding. The count wrote to his sister that his bride-to-be was "ugly," but after a few weeks of marriage decided he rather liked her. During the imperial years the palace was used as a ballroom: the princess held a celebration dance here after she abolished slavery in Brazil in 1888. Surrounded by pleasant gardens, the Crystal Palace is now open to the public and often hosts live classical music performances.

    Rua Alfredo Pachá s/n, Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, 25685–210, Brazil
    24-2247–3721

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.
  • 7. Praia da Ferradura

    Ferradura

    On a cove that protects it from the winds that often blow elsewhere on the peninsula, Praia da Ferradura has calm waters that make it...

    On a cove that protects it from the winds that often blow elsewhere on the peninsula, Praia da Ferradura has calm waters that make it a perfect choice for families with children. The beach adjoins one of Búzios' most exclusive areas—some mansions back right onto it—but maintains a relaxed ambience. Sun loungers and umbrellas are provided as a courtesy for clients of the many beach barracas (simple makeshift kiosks selling food and drink). Arrive early for a good spot on summer weekends. Amenities: food and drink; toilets; water sports. Best for: swimming; running; walking.

    Búzios, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • 8. Praia de Geribá

    Geribá

    This long half-moon of white sand is fashionable with a young crowd, and its breaks and swells make it popular with surfers and windsurfers. The...

    This long half-moon of white sand is fashionable with a young crowd, and its breaks and swells make it popular with surfers and windsurfers. The walk from one end to the other takes 30 minutes, so there's plenty of elbow room here even in high season. The relaxed bars and beach kiosks make it easy to while away whole days here. The surrounding Geribá neighborhood makes a great base for beach lovers, with plenty of good pousadas near the sands. Amenities: food and drink; water sports. Best for: walking; surfing.

    Búzios, Rio de Janeiro, 28950–000, Brazil
  • 9. Praia do Foguete

    This beach is famous for its almost transparent soft white sand and the equally clear waters that shelter sea creatures such as turtles, dolphins, and...

    This beach is famous for its almost transparent soft white sand and the equally clear waters that shelter sea creatures such as turtles, dolphins, and even penguins. The 6-km (4-mile) strand is almost deserted in low season, and while even in summer the water is chilly, the constant strong breeze here creates waves that are perfect for surfing and bodyboarding. During summer, a few vendors operate kiosks with food and drink, but if you visit between March and November you should bring your own refreshments. Amenities: food and drink (in summer). Best for: solitude; surfing.

    Rio de Janeiro, 28922–155, Brazil
  • 10. Praia do Pontal da Atalaia

    Across the bay from the idyllic Ilha do Farol (Lighthouse Island), the waters on the peninsula are equally as spectacular, but easier to access than...

    Across the bay from the idyllic Ilha do Farol (Lighthouse Island), the waters on the peninsula are equally as spectacular, but easier to access than the island's beaches. Two beaches straddle the point of this peninsula, and when the tide is low, the white sands join to become one. Surprisingly, these beaches are often emptier than those closer to town, but that's probably because of access—you have to drive or take a taxi to the residential condominium Pontal do Atalaia and follow the dirt track until you reach the stairs down to the beach. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: solitude; snorkeling; swimming.

    Rio de Janeiro, 28930-000, Brazil
  • 11. Praia do Sono

    Trindade

    Secluded Sono Beach is one of the Paraty area's most beautiful strands, with thick jungle framing the crescent of light, soft sand bordering crystal clear...

    Secluded Sono Beach is one of the Paraty area's most beautiful strands, with thick jungle framing the crescent of light, soft sand bordering crystal clear waters teeming with colorful fish. Campers base themselves here during the summer, when there's a relaxed, bohemian air. In the off-season, the beach is virtually deserted—sunbathers bask in what feels like a private tropical paradise. Although Sono is a bit off the beaten track, the gorgeous setting makes it worth the effort to reach it. The best way to access the beach is by boat from Paraty (about R$35); otherwise you must take a one-hour bus ride and then hike for about 40 minutes. Amenities: food and drink (in high season). Best for: solitude; swimming; walking.

    Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, 23970–000, Brazil
  • 12. Angra dos Reis Turismo

    Centro

    This group runs boat tours to the islands around Angra dos Reis, transfers from Angra to Ilha Grande and rents out boats, plus skipper, for...

    This group runs boat tours to the islands around Angra dos Reis, transfers from Angra to Ilha Grande and rents out boats, plus skipper, for up to 18 people. One great tour is to Lopes Mendes, the paradisiacal beach on Ilha Grande. Some boats, in particular the larger schooners, have a reputation for playing loud music. Check before you book if you prefer a tranquil environment. The company also offers two secure parking locations should you be traveling by car and wish to park it before heading out to the islands.

    Angra dos Reis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    24-3365--4180

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From R$50
  • 13. Blue Lagoon

    Lagoa Azul

    This natural pool forms at low tide and is home to thousands of brightly colored fish that will literally eat out of your hands. Many...

    This natural pool forms at low tide and is home to thousands of brightly colored fish that will literally eat out of your hands. Many tour operators include a stop here as part of their boat trips around the island, and most provide floats for children. Be sure to bring a mask and snorkel.

    Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro, 23900–000, Brazil
  • 14. Casa da Cultura

    Centro Histórico

    The largest cultural center in Paraty, Casa da Cultura is dedicated to telling the story of the city and its people. Permanent and visiting exhibitions...

    The largest cultural center in Paraty, Casa da Cultura is dedicated to telling the story of the city and its people. Permanent and visiting exhibitions illustrate the area's rich history and its abundant native flora and fauna. There's a pleasant coffee shop and patio, and the gift shop downstairs, one of the best in town, sells crafts made by local artisans.

    Rua Dona Geralda 177, Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, 23970–000, Brazil
    24-3371–2325

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: R$8, Wed.–Mon. 10–6:30
  • 15. Casa de Santos Dumont

    Known as "Encantado" or "enchanted," this diminutive cottage wouldn't look out of place in a fairy-tale wood. Santos Dumont, one of the world's first aviators,...

    Known as "Encantado" or "enchanted," this diminutive cottage wouldn't look out of place in a fairy-tale wood. Santos Dumont, one of the world's first aviators, built the house in 1918 to a scale in keeping with his own tiny size. The eccentric genius's inventions fill the house, including a heated shower he developed before most homes even had running water. The home doesn't have a kitchen because Dumont ordered his food from a nearby hotel—the first documented restaurant delivery service in Brazil.

    Rua do Encantado 22, Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, 25685–081, Brazil
    24-2247–3158

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: R$5, Closed Mon.
  • 16. Catedral São Pedro de Alcântara

    The imposing Cathedral of Saint Peter of Alcantara, a fine example of Gothic architecture and the city's most recognizable landmark, sits at the base of...

    The imposing Cathedral of Saint Peter of Alcantara, a fine example of Gothic architecture and the city's most recognizable landmark, sits at the base of a jungle-clad hill. Inside the building, whose construction began in 1884, lie the tombs of Dom Pedro II, his wife, Dona Teresa Cristina, and their daughter, Princesa Isabel. Elegant sculptures and ornate stained-glass windows add to the interior's visual appeal. Drift further back in time by arriving via a horse-drawn carriage, easily hailed in the historic center of town.

    Rua São Pedro de Alcântara 60, Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, 25685–300, Brazil
    24-2242--4300
  • 17. Dois Rios

    Dois Rios

    With its pristine white sands and turquoise waters, this beautiful, unspoiled beach sits in stark contrast to the dark prison ruins behind it. Visitors have...

    With its pristine white sands and turquoise waters, this beautiful, unspoiled beach sits in stark contrast to the dark prison ruins behind it. Visitors have the place practically to themselves, as few people make the arduous 5-km (3-mile) trek through hot jungle to get here. Those who do are rewarded with one of the island's most gorgeous beaches, and the sense of achievement that comes with really getting off the beaten track. The prison ruins are worth exploring, but be sure to head back several hours before sundown. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude.

    Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro, 23900–000, Brazil
  • 18. Fortaleza de Santa Cruz

    Jurujuba

    Built in 1555, the impressive Fortaleza de Santa Cruz was the first fort on Guanabara Bay. The cannons are distributed over two levels, but more...

    Built in 1555, the impressive Fortaleza de Santa Cruz was the first fort on Guanabara Bay. The cannons are distributed over two levels, but more impressive are the 17th-century sun clock and Santa Barbara Chapel. The views over Rio de Janeiro span out in all directions, so keep your camera on hand. It takes 15 minutes by taxi to reach the fort from downtown Niterói, and costs about R$35. The on-site restaurant serves good coffee and light meals.

    Estrada General Eurico Gaspar Dutra, Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, 24370–375, Brazil
    21-2710–2354

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: R$6, Closed Mon.
  • 19. Forte Defensor Perpétuo

    Paraty's only fort was built in the early 1700s, and rebuilt in 1822, as a defense against pirates. It's a pleasant short climb through jungle...

    Paraty's only fort was built in the early 1700s, and rebuilt in 1822, as a defense against pirates. It's a pleasant short climb through jungle to get here and the views from the fort itself are terrific. Visitors can also see heavy British-made cannons, still in their original positions.

    Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, 23970–000, Brazil
    24-3371–2289

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: R$2, Closed Mon
  • 20. Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios

    Centro Histórico

    Also known as Igreja Matriz, the neoclassical Church of Our Lady of Remedies was built in 1787 and is one of Paraty's most iconic buildings,...

    Also known as Igreja Matriz, the neoclassical Church of Our Lady of Remedies was built in 1787 and is one of Paraty's most iconic buildings, with its gray-and-white facade shaded by a towering imperial palm tree. The small art gallery within, Pinacoteca Antônio Marino Gouveia, has paintings by modern artists such as Djanira, Di Cavalcanti, and Anita Malfatti.

    Praça Monsenhor Hélio Píres 18, Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, 23970–000, Brazil
    24-3371–1467

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: R$3, Closed Sun.

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