Everything about Paraty!
Paraty is an unforgettable place. We have several tour options: for those who love nature, adventure, history and to go to the beach. In this post, we take the doubts for those who want to visit this little corner of Rio de Janeiro that it impresses and captivates tourists from all over the world!
How to get there?
Paraty is located in the State of Rio de Janeiro, almost on the border with the north of São Paulo. We explain it how to get there in two different posts.
Whether by bus or car, the access to Paraty – especially from Rio de Janeiro is easy! BR-101 is a highway that goes across the east coast of Brazil, from the state of Rio Grande do Sul to Rio Grande do Norte.
Within BR-101, we have the division of other sections that became famous for inspiring lyrics, such as Rio-Santos. This part of the BR-101 was finished in the 1980s, and since then, the access to Paraty has become easier.
It’s no wonder that this decade it also represents the tourist boom in the Costa Verde area (we’ll talk more about that at the end of this post!).
Where should I stay?
After deciding which place to go on vacation, looking for accommodation is the next step. We made a neighborhood guide in our post “Where to stay in Paraty?”.
There are some types of accommodation in the city: camping, hostels, airbnbs and, the most searched, bed & breakfast.
We have B&B of all styles, some look like five-star hotel! We have also made a guide here on the B&B of Paraty, to learn more read our post.
For those that are traveling by public transport, I always recommend looking for accommodations close to Rodoviária de Paraty (bus station). We have buses all the places in the city of Paraty and the historical center is very close from the bus station – around five minutes.
At Rodoviária de Paraty, we have a schedule of all buses and their itineraries. It’s worth taking a picture so you can plan your trip better.
From there, buses leave to Trindade, Praia do Sono, Praia de São Gonçalo, Paraty-Mirim and Waterfalls.
What to drink and eat?
In Paraty, we have two things that we must try: fish in the “caiçara style” and Jorge Amado drink. All the restaurants basically offer this dish. Seafood is a specialty in the regions, mainly due to artisanal fishing and the tradition of the caiçaras communities in the area.
In addition, we have the Jorge Amado drink, which it was an award-winning drink and it became one of the city’s postcards. The drink is made with Gabriela cachaça, a brandy combined with cloves and cinnamon. You can find this cachaça in all stores around the city!
The drink is made with Gabriela cachaça, passion fruit and lemon. Here we will give you a recipe, but the original is made in Paraty!
1 tahiti lemon
1⁄2 passion fruit
50 ml of brandy Gabriela (we have several brands)
Cut the lemon and make it like a caipirinha. In the cocktail shaker, combine with the passion fruit. Add the brandy and ice. Hit the cocktail shaker. Serve in a glass of caipirinha without straining and enjoy!
Want more tips on Nightlife in Paraty? Read on and learn more.
Basically, we have two essential tours for those who want to know the nature of Paraty. Boat tours and Jeep tour are widely offered by tourist agencies in the region. It’s worth comparing prices and seeing what it’s offered. Sometimes, some tours offer lunch included, a few more stops on the itinerary or pick-up at your hostel.
These tours are incredible on sunny days, but due to the tropical climate, Paraty sometimes surprises with rainy and cloudy days. For this, keep in mind other tours that can be done.
If you want to know more tips for these days, read our post on “What to do in Paraty on rainy days?”
Many people ask me which is the best. In fact, they are two different options. The Schooner Tour is a full day tour that already has defined stops, with lunch included or not. Most agencies offer the Schooner Tour and the price depends the number of hours, stops or benefits they offer.
Smaller boat rentals can be made directly at Largo de Santa Rita, close to the Church, or at the Tourism Pier itself. The price depends because it’s a private tour. You can choose to be only at sea, visit a specific island, stay 2 or 5 hours. This is ideal for couples or groups that want more privacy.
Another service offered is the Speedboat Tour. Some agencies offer the Speedboat as an option for families and couples looking to personalize the tour.
Also read our post on Paraty Beaches to discover the best stops and compare the itinerary offered by schooner tours.
We also talked about the Blue Lagoon of Paraty (In Ilha Grande we have another one). We give all the tips for you. Don’t leave out this incredible place out of your trip!
Beaches with Trails
Some beaches are a mandatory for boat tours. However, we have other options that can be accessed by car / public transport and trails.
We have already talked about the neighborhood of Trindade. One of the most famous beaches there is Praia do Cachadaço and Piscina Natural.
Trindade is about 30 kilometers from Paraty. Access can be done by bus leaving from Rodoviária de Paraty, on Avenida Roberto Silveira, five minutes away from the Historic Center. Buses leave daily every half an hour.
By car, the trip can take around 40 minutes through Highway BR-101.
Praia do Cahcadaço is the beach with the largest sand strip in the region. It’s one of my favorite points in Trindade! The trail from Praia do Meio to Cachadaço is of medium difficulty with about 400 meters and it’s the only way to access it. The boatmen only do the service from Praia do Meio to the Natural Pool.
Trindade’s natural pools are very famous and everyone wants to visit. As we said before, you can access it by boat which costs around 10 to 15 reais or a medium-difficult trail that lasts about 700 meters.
In this place, we have no sand, only rocks.
The height of the water in the Natural Pool depends on the sea level, I already had two experiences with high and low, but both ways I could enjoy a lot! If you are thinking to spend the day only at the Natural Pool you have to bring food and drink with you, there isn’t kiosks and restaurants in the Natural Pool.
Another popular place in Paraty is Ponta Negra. There we have several options for tours and places to discover. One of the most famous beaches is Praia do Sono.
By public transport just take the Vila Oratória bus (Via Condomínio Laranjeiras) at the Rodoviária de Paraty and get off at the Condominium stop. From there, we can access Praia do Sono and Ponta Negra. The trail from Laranjeiras to Praia do Sono lasts around 3 hours.
If you are not tired of the trek to Praia do Sono, it’s possible keep going to the beach of Antigos. This trek starts with an uncovered climb, so there aren’t shades. At least the climb is fast (around 15min). After a hard begging (again!), a lot of trees cover the trek and it starts to decline.
Antigos is an amazing isolated beach without constructions by the beach. The area is 100% nature surrounded. This was listed as one of the best Brazilian beaches.
Do you still want to see one more amazing place? Take one more 5min trek to Antiguinhos, one more untouched beach.
Easy access: Pontal e Jabaquara beach
Praia do Pontal is five minutes from Praça da Matriz and it’s also a popular place to stay. The beach itself is not suitable for swimming because it’s consider an “urban” beach, but it’s a great place to walk and see the view. At Pontal beach, we have several kiosks with meals and snacks and, sometimes, live music.
On weekends with festivals or holidays, it’s common to have a party or concerts on the beach.
The next beach is Jabaquara beach, it’s considered a nice neighborhood in Paraty. From the Historic Center, Jabaquara is about 20 minutes away and it has a lot of B&Bs and restaurants that are very pleasing to tourists who stay there.
Jabaquara draws attention because in the sea, under the strip of sand, it has a clay that the most people pass on the skin and some people credit miracles. Even a Carnaval party (Bloco da Lama) has already honored this unique feature of Jabaquara beach and today it’s one of the most traditional carnival parties in the city.
Besides the beaches, Paraty has amazing waterfalls. A lot of tourism agencies offer the Jeep Tour. It’s a full day tour that you going to visit the waterfalls and the distilleries of cachaça. It’s one of the most fun things to do in Paraty. I loved it!
Like the boat tours, the Jeep Tours have predetermined stops. Normally, the pick-up is around 10am or 11am and it’s a full day tour. The most visited distilleries are Engenho d’Ouro, Paratiana and Pedra Branca. Some distilleries give a little tour inside to show you how cachaça is make and then you can prove some types of cachaça.
Every distilleries have there own singularity, my favorites are: Azulzinha from Engenho d’Ouro and Labareda from Paratiana (but this one is a limited edition and it depends the season).
The most famous waterfall in the region is the Toboga do Tarzan! You have already made a post about this incredible place and we have given you several reasons why you should not miss this tour of the waterfalls and destilleris.
Free Walking Tour
For those who love history, this tour is unmissable! The Free Walking Tour is part of a collaborative tourism concept, you contribute to the end how much you think the tour added and it was worth as an experience! It1s a tour of approximately 2 hours and we tell you all the history and curiosities of the city of Paraty.
The historical center of Paraty has been listed by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute of Brazil since 1974. And it’s one of the best preserved historical areas in Rio de Janeiro.
In addition, taking a Free Walking Tour at the very beginning it will transform the way you see the city. Paraty has many details, from the origin of its name to the houses in the historic center and their symbols. So don’t miss it!
Here we will explain one question that a lot of people asked me about Paraty: Is Paraty speeling with Y or I?
Royal Road of Paraty
During our golden rush, Paraty became very important because the portuguese built one road to connect the gold mines to the sea. We have two Royal Roads: Old road, from Minas Gerais state until Paraty; New road, from Minas Gerais until Rio de Janeiro.
The Old Road, or Royal Road of Paraty, is the largest touristic route in Brasil and it cross three different states: Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. This journey takes 8 days by car or 48 days hiking! 710 kilometers total!
Some agencies offers one hike on the Royal Road in Paraty that takes around 3 hours. We recommend a professional tour guide for this one, because you’ll pass through some private properties and a federal park. During the hike you’ll see the best of Atlantic Forest.
One curiosity tip! During all the way of the Royal Road, totems marks indicating which city you are. The Paraty’s mark stays at the Roberto Silveira Avenue, next to the Lojas Americanas store and it shows that you are at the final destination.
Museums in Paraty
Places to discover more about the history and culture of Paraty!
Casa de Cultura de Paraty: It’s a beautiful old house that today is a museum. All the exhibitions show something about the caiçaras artists (native people from Paraty) or artist from other places that lived in Paraty. Casa de Cultura offers art and music classes and workshops for locals. A tip! Casa de Cultura is a good option to visit before dinner because it stays open until 21pm. Sometimes it’s very comom happen concerts or plays for free.
Tuesdays from Saturdays, 12am to 9pm. Sunday, 4pm to 8pm. Free entrance.
Santa Rita’s Church: You have to visit this place! This church is the postcard of Paraty and a Art religious Museum, basically all the souvenirs that we can find in the city have the Santa Rita’s Church silhouette (from key chains until oil paintings!). It’s the oldest church on the historical center from 18th century, it looks very simple if you compare other churches from Minas Gerais, for example, but it has its own charm.
Tuesday from Sunday: 9am – 12am / 14pm – 17pm. Tickets R$4.
SESC: Like the Casa de Cultura, SESC exhibits several exhibitions by local artists from Paraty, bringing together the best of Brazilian art. In addition, SESC also has shows and festivals during the weekends. You can have more info here.
Livraria das Marés: It’s not actually a museum but it’s one of my favorite places! It’s a lovely bookshop with amazing books about Paraty’s history and other themes. Besides that, it has a coffee shop inside the place, where you can enjoy a break after a long walk or stop for reading. Don’t forget to try the deserts!
Open everyday 10am to 22pm.
Perpetual Defender Fort: Between the beaches of Pontal and Jabaquara, the Fort is a museum that keeps historical pieces and a stunning view! We already talked about it in our post Forte do Defensor Perpétuo!
The Festivals of Paraty
The city of Paraty is known as the city of Festivals. Because of tourism, the festival calendar is very busy and with large events. The city’s events calendar can be accessed here.
The most famous and important religious holidays are Easter and the Festival do Divino. During Easter, we have a celebration involving the opening of doors, called Passos (Steps), which they are around the historical center.
The Divino party is considered one of the most popular parties in Brazil. Masses and processions are held in the city. Its origin dates back to Brazilian colonization and and this party was brought by the Portuguese. The celebration is on Pentecost day.
The Cachaça Festival is one of the most awaited festivals during the year. Cachaça is an alcohol liquor made by sugar cane. It’s really popular in Brazil and we have a lot of brands.
Other very famous festivals in the city are FLIP, a literary fair that it has been going on for 18 years in the city. Several artists, writers and editors organize events and the city has a lot of nice events going on.
The Bourbon Jazz Festival is one of the most popular on the calendar, just as FLIP has been going on for some years in the city and it has already brought renowned jazz and blues artists. For all events, I always recommend that you plan with your stay, as the city is full!
Paraty that not everyone knows…
If you want to discover a different Paraty that some people don’t know about, we have two amazing recommendations!
Paraty-mirim Indigenous Reserve: Close to Paraty-Mirim beach, we have an Guarani tribe indigenous settlement. This reserve is already recognized by the National Native Americans Foundation and live about 36 families producing handicrafts and agriculture. It’s quite common, during your walk at the historic center, to see the typical Guarani handicrafts: the colorful baskets. To visit the village, just have to call. It will be an unforgettable experience.
Quilombo Campinho da Independência: In the direction of Ubatuba by Rio-Santos road, we have the Quilombo do Campinho. Quilombo’s restaurant has already won several awards and is a great choice to learn more about the local cuisine (try the Quilombo’s fish!). However, Quilombo do Campinho is much more than just a restaurant, residents offer a tour telling all the curiosities and stories of the place.
Like the Paraty-mirim indigenous settlement, we have families living in Quilombo do Campinho. It’s said that 3 slaves women inherited the place after the abolition of slavery and then they start the community. It’s an amazing tour and experience.
A little bit of History…
Before the portuguese arrival and the foundation of the city of Paraty, there is an indigenous tribe called Guainá. A lot of historians try, until today, to discovery the myths and the culture of the guaianás that became extinct without any documents about them. Inside the coat of arms of Paraty, we can see a green square the represent the native people and their importance. Unfortunately, the only describe that we have about them is travelers diaries written in the colonial times.
In the 16th century, there is the arrival of the Portuguese. Paraty was the city that it has all the economical cycles since the colonial times until the Republic: sugar plantations, gold, coffee plantations…
The portuguese discover gold mines two centuries later and they going to built a road to conect the city of Paraty and Minas Gerais state. This road is call the Royal Road. All gold and precious stones will be sent to Paraty, and then to Rio de Janeiro and Portugal. Few decades later, the portuguese are going to built the second Royal Road, from Minas Gerais to Rio de Janeiro.
When gold start to be less frequent, the brazilian govermment decide to replace gold and plant coffee. The port of Paraty is going to be used again! In that moment, we going to have in the city houses with two floors and the new Main Church.
In the 1920s, we have an episode that shakes not only Brazil but the world as well: the 1929 crisis. From that moment, we start to industrialize the country and Paraty finds itself in its greatest economic decline. The city really stops in time – that’s why a such preserved historical center. Only after the construction of the Rio-Santos stretch, we have a better way to reach Paraty and rediscover the region.
Now we live the Paraty Tourism cycle. And the city unites everything we are looking for in a perfect destination: waterfalls, beaches, history, culture, gastronomy… Locals also say that if on your first visit you skip the iron chains that delimit the historic center, your heart will be stuck in Paraty forever!
The city of Paraty has more than 50 thousand inhabitants. In 2019, Paraty and Ilha Grande were recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. This title not only declares the importance of the cultural scope but also because the preserved forest in the region.
Churches of Paraty
We have 4 churches in the historical center of Paraty. We already talked about the Santa Rita’s Church, that besides a Museum, it’s one of the oldest churches in town.
Every church was built, maintained and attended by a specific group. In Santa Rita’s church, it was the brotherhood of mixed and free people.
Although small, the Church of Our Lady of Rosary and Saint Benedict is the favorite of many people. The decoration is very delicate and beautiful. In Brazilian history, these two saints were always associated with the slaves.
On November, the church organizes the Festival of Saint Benedict with parades and masses. It’s one of my favorites religious holidays!
One of the most beautiful places to watch the sunset in the historic center. Our Lady of Sorrows Church is a typical colonial building. The “little chapel”, as it’s also called, is not open for visitation. So if during your visit you find this church open, don’t hesitate!
In Main Square, the meeting point of Paraty Free Walking Tour, we have the Main Church: Our Lady of Remedies, the most recent building. This church had the first mass in the 19th century but it’s completely finished.
On the original design, the church should have 2 towers, but the soil is a mangrove and the building started to sink! That’s why the bells are inside the church.
Costa Verde: the nature of Paraty
The city of Paraty is located in the Costa Verde area. It’s called like that because of the Atlantic Forest in the region.
Costa Verde is the coast of the south of Rio de Janeiro until the north of São Paulo. Other cities also popular in the area are: Ilha Grande in Angra dos Reis, Ubatuba and Ilha Bela.
Despite the tropical climate, Costa Verde can have quite rainy days because the humidity of the area. During the summer, as it’s an area with a lot of green and humidity, we have sunny days and torrential rains that last a short time in the afternoon. During the winter, temperatures drop a lot.
The recommendation is always to take advantage of the tours that involve beaches and waterfalls in the morning. And visit the museums, or even join our Paraty Free Walking Tour in the afternoon. Always try to find out more about the weather to plan your trips, the city has several options!
Costa Verde has already been indicated by several important tourism websitesand magazines in the world, including Lonely Planet!