Travel Consultant, Tom Maker, recently spent a month living in Rio de Janeiro and some of his favorite weekend getaways were to Paraty, Ilha Grande & Buzios. In part 1 of this 4 part blog series, Tom takes us to Paraty, a charming town backed by mountains on Brazil’s Costa Verde.
CEO and co-founder Juergen Keller is famous at SouthAmerica.travel for saying, “Everyone should visit Brazil!” His love and enthusiasm for Brazil is infectious, so naturally, when I was planning my trip to Brazil, I asked him where he thought I should go. Juergen told me about all the beautiful destinations, from the tropical beaches of the northeast, to the Amazon, to Brazil’s southern coast, to the city of Rio de Janeiro and more. Of course, this made me excited – with so much to experience in just one country, I couldn’t wait to get there! But I was also completely overwhelmed. The country is so massive that deciding which destination to visit can become a bit overwhelming, especially when restricted by time. One could spend several months traveling the country. However I, like most of our clients, didn’t have this kind of time!
I decided to start with the essential Brazil destination – Rio de Janeiro, the ‘marvelous city’ as this was the obvious choice for my first trip. However, while in Rio, I went on numerous short trips to coastal destinations and Paraty was by far one of my favorite places.
Paraty Tours – Colonial Masterpiece
Paraty is a small charming Portuguese colonial town that sits alongside a beautiful bay amongst the ‘Costa Verde’ between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Characterized by cobblestone streets lined with white colonial buildings and churches, all with a stunning lush backdrop of green valleys and bath-temperature warm green waters. Paraty is the perfect destination to spend a couple of days relaxing, and a great complement to the energy of Rio de Janeiro.
Paraty is 4-hours south of Rio de Janeiro. Roads quickly connect these destinations, the majority of which run beside picturesque bays, deep green valleys, and small Brazilian townships – many of which are reminiscent of tiny beach towns in Central America. The drive passes the Bay of Angra dos Reis, where boats to Ilha Grande depart. While the 4-hour trip may sound long, it is easily broken up by a stop for a traditional ‘Salgado’ – a savory Brazilian pastry filled with anything you can imagine!
Paraty was settled in 1667 as a gold port by the Portuguese, and until the late 1800’s, it was a stopover point for people traveling between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The historical center of Paraty is well preserved for tourists – seemingly stuck in a time warp of Portuguese colonial architecture, and cobblestone streets lined with small stores and restaurants selling delicious foods and souvenirs. You will quickly be drawn in by the charm and beauty of the town’s whitewashed walls and crystal green waters, sure to leave you wanting to explore every inch of Paraty!
How to get there – Paraty Tours
Bus: Paraty is about 160 miles south of Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, and easily accessible by road. The bus departs from Rodoviaria Novo Rio, Rio’s central bus station and takes around 4.5-hours with only one stop. Look for the Costa Verde bus company; these are modern and comfortable buses that depart every hour. Many buses even offer wifi! The terminal in Paraty is just a short 5-minute walk from the city.
Private Transfer: We can organize private transfers with an English speaking guide from Rio de Janeiro to Paraty. This is about a 4-hour private transfer, including one stop. It is by far the quickest and most comfortable way to get to Paraty!
Shared Transfer: A number of companies offer shared transfers from your hotel in Rio de Janeiro to your hotel in Paraty for a reasonable price. Companies such as Paraty Tours or Easy Transfer run departures that leave in the morning and take around the same amount of time as the bus. If you don’t want to be bothered with arranging your tours, we can customize your own transfer and arrange it for you.
Recommended Paraty Tours
Schooner Boat Tour: Take a half day cruise through the bay leaving from Paraty to visit some of the 65 islands nearby. The waters are emerald green, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. The islands are stunningly beautiful with rich, green tropical vegetation and soft sandy beaches. Enjoy the picturesque view of Paraty aboard the Schooner boat, with the iconic main cathedral standing to the backdrop of rolling green hills. The only complaint some people may have is that the water is too warm.
Jeep Tour: Take this half-day tour through the forest to see and swim in tropical waterfalls and visit a traditional rum distillery! The waterfalls are epic, yet relaxing and enchanting. Overall, this is just a beautiful outdoor tour!
Explore the Town by Foot: The best thing to do in Paraty is stroll around the town by foot and explore the picturesque streets and locally owned shops. You can walk through the entire town easily in half a day, but every time you return, you are sure to see something new! It’s surprising how easy it is to get lost amongst the streets (the good type of lost!) while browsing or café hopping. This makes for a fantastic afternoon to complement a morning tour or half day at the beach!
The Beach: While Paraty is not a beach destination, the beaches nearby are still beautiful and make for a relaxing swim or siesta. Praia do Pontal is the beach closest to town. The beach is lined with little restaurants and outdoor tables serving seafood, fresh juices, and ice-cold beers. There are many other beaches within walking distance of the town, which are slightly more secluded and quiet – Praia do Jabaquara was my favorite in the area! Ask your guide or your hotel receptionist what beach they recommend!
Where to Stay – Paraty Tours
Posada do Sandi is located in the historic district of Paraty. It combines modern design and comfortable amenities with cultural and historical surroundings. As one of the few Posadas located in the historic district, Posada do Sandi will allow you to immerse yourself in the culture and offers an authentic feel with everything at your doorstep. Be sure to request a room with a balcony overlooking the street, where you can relax and open the tall doors and let the sunlight and fresh sea air fill the room.
Best Time to Visit Paraty
Like Rio de Janeiro, there is no bad time to visit Paraty. Year round, you can expect beautiful blue skies and warm weather, often with a gentle breeze. In the summer, the days are longer and temperatures can reach up to 35 °C (95 °F) whereas, during the winter, temperatures do not drop lower than 15 °C (60 °F).