While the secret’s been out for a long time now, Paraty still remains one of the most beautiful preserved colonial towns in Brazil. It combines Portuguese colonial architecture with quaint cobbled streets, modern Brazilian culture, shopping, cuisine and exquisite beaches located nearby. Visitors come to enjoy the laid back vibe, colonial history and architecture, the boutique shopping and the beaches. If you’re travelling around Brazil or just on your way from Rio to Sao Paulo or vice versa, Paraty makes a welcome change from all the franticness of the city. Stroll around the old town, sip cups of Brazilian coffee in any of the delightful little coffee shops and relax at the beautiful beaches of Trinidade- we’ve got you covered with this guide.
HOW TO GET TO PARATY BRAZIL
Bus– Paraty is located right in the middle between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo and buses are frequent from both cities. From Sao Paolo buses take about 5 hrs and from Paraty to Rio about 5.5hrs. Buses are comfortable and are air-conditioned for the most part. I chose Costa Verde as they seem to come recommended and I wasn’t disappointed with their service. The bus station in Paraty is fairly central and it’s walkable from there to the centre or to accommodation nearby. If you don’t fancy the walk, taxis are available outside the bus station.
Car– You can also get to Paraty by rental car from, Rio, Sao Paulo or any other nearby destination. Parking in Paraty doesn’t seem difficult to find but I would recommend you don’t stay in the colonial centre for ease of parking at night unless your hotel offers parking.
WHERE TO STAY IN PARATY
Most Paraty hotels are located fairly centrally. The most charming place to stay in Paraty is in the colonial centre, however, consider that this is also the nosiest. There are many bars and restaurants open in the evenings and it’s crowded throughout the day. If you’re looking for something a little more peaceful I’d recommend the outskirts of the colonial centre or the residential neighbourhood of Caborê.
Budget– HOTELARE Velejador Hotel & Pousada – lovely little budget posada (guesthouse) located very close to the historic centre. They also have a pool to relax in after a long day of exploring, or just in case you don’t manage to make it to the beaches. Great breakfast and also free parking – great if you’ve rented a car.
Mid – Pousada Pardieiro – This superb property offers a tropical calm oasis while still being located right in the historical centre. The guesthouse itself is built in the colonial fashion and its decor takes you back to times long gone. The tropical garden and beautiful pool area are perfect for relaxing at any time of day. MY TOP CHOICE
Splurge– Pousada Casa de Paraty Cabore – located in Caborê, this magical guest-house boasts large clean white rooms and swimming pool with all the colonial feels. The breakfast is simple but tasty with heaps of fresh fruit. The host is lovely and she’ll do everything to make you feel at home.
All the above Paraty hotels are available to reserve now through Booking.
Airbnb also has a host of fantastic options in Paraty. If you’re new to Airbnb you can get $40 off your first booking- simply sign up here.
Heading to Rio de Janeiro? Check out the Ultimate Travel Guide here.
WHERE TO EAT
Luckily there are quite a few plant-based and healthy options in Paraty, with enough to eat and drink for your 3-day stay. Many restaurants and cafes cater to veggies and vegans even if they aren’t fully plant-based.
Istanbul- Unfortunately the best food I had on my trip wasn’t Brazilian food at all, it was actually Turkish. In fact, I think this was the best Middle Eastern food I’ve ever had in South America. The main event here is the mezze platter which includes crispy falafel, smokey baba ganoush, creamy hummus, tabouleh and pitta. It’s big enough to share and if you’re not too hungry there’s also the delicious falafel wrap. If you’re a Middle Eastern food lover Istanbul simply cannot be missed off of a Paraty itinerary.
Colonia – All over Brazil including Paraty you’ll notice many restaurants serving food based on the weigh-and-pay philosophy. Simply grab a plate, fill it up from the varied buffet, go to the counter and pay for the weight of your plate. Colonia was one of the best buffets I found as even though it’s not plant-based in the slightest, there are many plant-based options for when you need something quick. It’s also a great place to go if your travelling with a non-vegan as there are meat options too. It’s a great way to try some local Brazilian food.
Bistro Maos de Lotus – Vegetarian cafe selling Asian inspired dishes based on rice and veggies, salads and sandwiches.
Manuê – simple cafe serving up great pancakes and acai bowls.
THINGS TO DO IN PARATY
WANDER THE COLONIAL TOWN CENTRE
The old colonial centre of Paraty is this areas’ main draw. It’s one of the most well-preserved, Portuguese colonial towns in Brazil and there’s no better way to see it than just walking the old cobblestone alleyways and exploring every nook and crevasse of these streets. Admire the colourful arches and doorways, the cobblestones on the ground, the cute cafes on every corner and the intricate details and tilework on some of the buildings.
CHILL ON THE BEACH IN TRINIDADE
Trinidade is a quaint, or shall we say was a quaint little fishing village located 45 minutes south of Paraty. Now it’s a village filled with cafes, restaurants and shops surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches in the area. There are in fact three beaches here, one can only be reached on foot via a hiking path. The beaches are clear golden sand and the waters are a spectacular greeny-blue. You’ll find many locals relaxing, drinking beer and eating seafood in the beachside restaurants, local teens surfing and people of all ages in tiny swimsuits frolicking in the waves.
HIKE PARTS OF THE CAMINHO DO ORO
The Gold Path or Caminho do Oro is a now disused, cobblestone path that used to function as the main way to transport gold from Minas Gerais to Paraty, Brazil (the major port back then) and then onto Portugal. The path is broken up into different chunks and some parts go through public property so it’s a little difficult to do the whole thing without a guide. A day or half-day excursion would be to walk one of the parts in Ponte Branca which combines two of the waterfalls mentioned below. To get here take a local bus from Paraty bus terminal which goes to Cunha. Get off at Ponte Branca, at the actual bridge. From the other side of the bridge, you’ll see a cobblestone path on your right. This is the start of the trail. Keep walking until you get to Cachoeira da Pedra Branca, have a swim and relax before making your way back the same way you came.
VISIT & BATHE IN THE WATERFALLS
Many of the waterfalls are located along the Camino do Oro, so if you decide to hike parts of it as suggested above you’ll be able to discover them. The easiest waterfall to get to by public transport is the Toboga Waterfall or Cachoeira do Toboga which isn’t so much a free-falling waterfall as water sliding down a giant rock. The main attraction here though is the locals that practise ’surfing’ down the rock face- not to be tried yourself as it takes a lot of practice. Once you’re done with bathing, grab a fresh juice at the Tarzan bar, a simple restaurant located amid the waterfall and lush jungle. Along the Camino do Oro you can also visit and bathe in Cachoeira Poço do Inglês and the Cachoeira da Pedra Branca, two nice waterfalls, along the trail perfect for a mid-trek swim.
GO ON A PARATY BOAT TOUR
One of the best ways to see the gorgeous beaches and coves in the area around Paraty is by boat tour. There are many areas here especially in the Cairuçu Environmental Protection Area that cannot be accessed by road. Even if taking a tour normally isn’t your cup of tea or shall we say glass of caipirinha, I would definitely consider it here otherwise you really do miss out of the abundance of the area. There are many tour operators located in the colonial centre or you can enquire in your hostel/pousada about a good one.
Paraty is one of the best places in Rio de Janeiro state to go shopping. There are many designer boutiques and souvenir stores selling everything from gorgeous dresses and Brazilian-made swimwear to local Brazilian coffee. No doubt you’ll be tempted to do a little bit of shopping. The best stores are all located in the colonial centre.
WHERE TO MOVE
Outdoor gym – Fitness culture is thriving in Brazil and that’s certainly the case in Paraty. I found a great outdoor gym on the other side of the bridge from the main colonial centre just by the towns main beach. Here you’ll find a variety of bars you can use for push-ups and pull-ups as well as free weights made from concrete suitable for all. There’s even a bench to lie on for chest-presses. This was by far my favourite place to workout at sunrise(the gym faces the bay where the sun comes up), not just for its morning views but for its uniqueness and versatility too.
Yoga – Casa do Dharma – For daily yoga classes, meditation and therapeutic massages this wellness oasis is the place to pay a visit when in Paraty. Its central location means that its the perfect place for a morning yoga class before hitting the beach. Check their website for their weekly yoga and meditation schedule.
Hotel room workout – If you don’t fancy leaving your hotel or Airbnb why not try a quick hotel room workout? If you need some workout ideas don’t forget to check out all of my travel workouts here.
Run along the river – Paraty is a spectacular place to go for a run. It’s relatively flat and it has a lovely walking path/bike lane that runs right by the river, ideal for a long and scenic river run.
Any questions about how to spend your time in Paraty, Brazil? Leave them below, I’d love to hear from you!
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