While the wet and wild city of Rio has plenty to entertain you, it also makes a most festive base for exploring Southern Brazil. So, never mind the night’s excess; instead grab a pack of Engove (the “patented Brazilian hangover cure”) and explore with day trips from Rio. When, after all, will you be back in the beautiful corner of the world?
1) Beaches of Buzios
Just two hours northeast of Rio is the spectacularly scalloped peninsula of Buzios, home to more than 20 beaches surrounding a historic village with charm to spare. A favorite escape for Rio’s elite families, there are plenty of public buses from the big city, or book a tour to get the most out of your trip. Stroll the city’s pretty boutiques and upscale eateries, then head to the beach to surf, snorkel, swim and lay in the sun. It’s a day to remember.
2) Islands of Angra Dos Rei
The 365 impossibly scenic islands and sapphire-clear waters of Angra Dos Rei can be enjoyed on an all-inclusive boat tour from Rio. Head down to the historic town and board your ship for a trip through paradise.
3) Highlands of Petropolis
Brazil’s Imperial Family (yes, this was briefly an empire) beat Rio’s heat by escaping into the cool cloud-forested highlands of the Serra Fluminense, where they built Petropolis. Packed with incongruous Alpine and Victorian architecture, including a glass palace imported from France, it’s an adventure with charm to spare. Buses run every half-hour from Rio, or book a Petropolis tour, with a guide who can explain this city’s most unusual history.
4) Dine, Dive, and Party in Paraty
When modern Brazil’s vast urban jungles, like Rio or San Paolo, become too oppressive in their cement-scape of skyscrapers and traffic, head back in time to pretty Paraty, with its strollable colonial neighborhoods and cobble-stoned streets. Enjoy its historic churches and fortresses, nouveau cuisine and much more. While it can be enjoyed as a day trip, the four-hour commute makes staying overnight quite attractive; consider booking a room at one of Paraty’s delightful hotels.
5) Cruise the Costa Verde
If you love road trips, rent a car and hit Brazil’s Highway 101, connecting Rio and San Paolo, the most scenic way possible. There’s no reason to do the entire 325-mile (523-km) length, though the attractive towns, secluded beaches and mountain scenery will certainly tempt you to take more than one day exploring all that Costa Verde has to offer.