Last updated on April 16th, 2018 at 11:21 am
Whether you are a train aficionado and specifically want to ride the rails in Brazil, or if you are just passing through southern Brazil on your way to the Iguassu Falls, a must-do activity is to ride the 3-hour Serra Verde Express Train Ride Curitiba to Morretes, nestled in the Atlantic Rainforest. This fun railway journey aboard the Serra Verde Express Train Ride is an eye-popping ride – you’ll spend most of the time looking out the open windows at the beautiful rolling hills, deep valleys, and verdant rainforest vegetation everywhere!
We at SouthAmerica.travel recommend beginning the trip with a group transfer in a van from Curitiba to Morretes, stopping along the Serra da Graciosa mountain road to see the Graciosa Gate. We recommend doing it this way because we want to save the best for last! The scenic train ride is absolutely breathtaking, so we want you to enjoy the full-day tour with the train ride at the end.
A Little History about the Serra Verde Express Train
The Serra Verde Express was an impressive engineering feat for its time. It was built in the 1880s and was completed within 5 years. It conjoined cities on the coast with that inland, traversing the hilly Atlantic Rainforest of the Serra do Mar mountain range. The train connects the cities of Curitiba and Paranagua, spanning 610 kilometers (380 miles). The train passes through 14 tunnels and goes over 30 bridges. At one point in the route, it goes from sea level to 3/4 of a mile high. The Ponte Sao Joao bridge is the highest bridge, at 55 meters.
The Atlantic Rainforest Biosphere Reserve
The landscapes the train passes through is part of the Atlantic Rainforest Biosphere Reserve. En route, you’ll see lush vegetation including blue hydrangeas, bamboos, strap lilies and bromeliads in the trees. The Atlantic Rainforest is endangered – even more so than the Amazon Rainforest – and the United Nations, as well as several other organizations, have sought to preserve this precious type of rainforest. Over the past several hundred years, almost all of this type of rainforest has disappeared and now is limited to the deep southern regions of Brazil.
We highly recommend booking a window seat on the train, in the slower train, where you can open the windows and let the fresh air of the rainforest in. It’s part of the wonder and allure of the train ride! If you want to take the air-conditioned train, that’s fine, but you’ll miss a lot!
Here is a live webcam that has captured over 49 species of birds in the Atlantic Rainforest on film.
Stop for Lunch in Morretes & See Antonina
Besides the station in Curitiba, there are three train stations en route: the Marumbi State Park, the town of Morretes, and Paranagua on the coast. The full length of the route takes about 3 hours, and you can stop in Morretes for a delicious “barreado” (tender beef stew with rice and served with fruit) lunch at a sunny riverside patio table. Built in the 18th century, Morretes is located next to the River Nhundiaquara and is ringed by lush mountains.
Next, see the colonial Port of Antonina, 15 km from Morretes, by taking a short bus ride or private transfer. You can walk along the promenade, check out the Matriz Church, and stroll along the colorful historical plaza with centuries-old buildings and cobblestone streets.
Then return to Curitiba by train, the most exciting part! The total tour takes about 8 hours and includes all transfers, train tickets, guides, entrance fees, and lunch.
Opt to Spend More Time in Morretes
If you want to spend more time in the area, we recommend a leisurely bicycle tour in Morretes, and a night spent at a pousada (bed and breakfast) in town. You can also take a half day or full day boat trip to Ilha do Mel (Honey Island), which includes a boat ride to the island, and a walking tour to the lighthouse. There is also the Encantadas Cave and beaches to explore. There are some guesthouses here if you want to spend the night as well.
Check out this great video about the train ride: