The Sun Coast
En route to the gorgeous beaches and scorched mountains of the Costa do Sol is the small city of Niterói, whose ancient forts stand in stark contrast to its contemporary Museu de Arte Contemporânea. Farther east is the coastal town of Cabo Frio, one of the country's oldest settlements, and the small village of Arraial do Cabo, whose clear turquoise waters make it one of Brazil's top spots for diving. Nearby Búzios, with its many beaches, year-round sunshine, and vibrant nightlife, is a popular weekend holiday destination for wealthy cariocas as well as foreign visitors to Rio.
North of Rio de Janeiro
Northeast of Rio de Janeiro lies Petrópolis, whose opulent imperial palace was once the emperor's summer home. A twisting road through majestic mountains takes you to Teresópolis, named for Empress Teresa Christina. Nestled between these two towns is Parque Nacional da Serra dos Órgãos, famous for its curious rock formations and spectacular views.
The Green Coast
West of Rio de Janeiro, the Costa Verde sees wild jungle tumbling down rocky mountains to a seemingly endless string of beaches. Angra dos Reis is the jumping-off point for 365, mostly uninhabited islands that pepper an extensive emerald bay. The largest, Ilha Grande, is a short boat ride from Angra dos Reis or nearby Conceição de Jacareí. Paraty, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a perfectly preserved colonial town farther down the coast whose proximity to secluded beaches makes it one of the region's highlights.