Planning a trip to Brazil during the most epic time of year? We got you covered on how to pack for this trip of sheer debauchery and revelry. The good thing about visiting Brazil during Carnaval season is that it’s as hot as a sauna and you won’t need to pack a lot. The less clothing, the better. Here we’ll break down all the do’s and don’ts of what to pack for your Carnaval experience!
Rio Blocos (Street Parties)
First things first: As a general rule of thumb, only wear out to Carnival street parties (blocos) what you are willing to lose (not that anything bad should actually happen, but it’s best to be prepared). Closed (private, exclusive) parties, such as Camarote N. 1, may be a different story, but please tread with caution.
Second things second: for street parties, you do want to wear closed-toed shoes. No matter how much you wear Havaianas in Brazil the other 355 days of the year, protecting your toes in the crowds is important at the Carnival dates! That said, it’s advisable to only wear shoes that you’re OK with getting destroyed. There will be a mixture of dirt, sand, mud, confetti, and other things on the ground. So don’t wear you’re Jordans or Louis V’s because they are going to get wrecked!
F’real tho, I would advise against Haviana’s or flip flops during blocos. I made the mistake of wearing mine and was paranoid about getting stepped on the entire time.
Men–it is recommended you wear Native shoes the whole time in street parties because you can wear them without socks and wash them, as well as wear them in the ocean. It is recommend to check out a pair of closed-toed, breathable rubber shoes that do not look entirely wack for Carnival, and Native is a good option.
Costumes for blocos are something you should definitely consider! It’s fair game to pack identifiable headgear, wigs, hats, masks, cool sunglasses, colorful stuff, light-up accessories, and anything else extra for this holiday. While you are able to buy some of this on the ground in Rio, packing some from home in the US can save you some time and energy once you’re on the ground. Think of your costumes if you were planning to go to a sexy Halloween day party in the tropics. Here are some ideas:
Ladies: cute head pieces – cat ears, flower crowns, etc., glitter and face jewels, body suits and swimsuits paired with tutus and skirts/wraps.
You can check out this Amazon page for more options on what to wear to Rio Carnaval.
Jewelry in Rio
To the question “should I wear jewelry during Carnival?” As any local will tell you, the answer is unequivocally NO. There are pickpockets out there. Carnival is about being light and easy, so just leave the flashy watches and necklaces at home.
An alternative, for the ladies, think face jewels and glitter.
The less clothing, the better
Remember that Brazilians in general–men and women–tend to be more comfortable wearing less clothing because it is very hot and humid, and fitness is part of the local repertoire. This is a core part of the tropical mindset in the country, and especially in the beachy cities like Rio and Salvador where Carnival is king.
Clothing for men in Rio tends to be casual: shorts, jeans, jean shorts, board shorts, t-shirts, v necks, polos, tanks, no shirt, Havaianas or other sandals. This is with the exception of the night out to a fancy private event, like Camarote N.1, where men could wear a nicer pair of jeans and good sneakers.
For women, it will be casual but cute during the day–skirts, shorts, jean shorts, tank tops, light shirts, etc–and more dressed up at night.
Everyone should have a pair of Havaianas (or just buy them in Brazil for cheaper).
Sunglasses are a must for beach days, but again, think twice about which ones you’re willing to loose in a crowd, etc.
Please note: Rio has been known for rain showers in recent summers, and tropical summer storms may continue periodically any time from January through April. So not a bad idea to pack a light rain layer and/or small umbrella.
Nights Out in Rio
For the ladies: Yes to the common question of “should I pack cocktail dresses and heels?”. One thing this city knows how to do is have BALLER parties. The Carioca ladies dress to the nines when they hit the town. You will want to have options as far as evening attire goes.
Similarly for men, packing a few nice, well-fitted shirts and pants that are all fit for humid days.
Depending on which Camarote you might partake in, you will be given a t-shirt before the event that you will need to pick up in Rio. The trend is for women to cut up their t-shirts, tie them in sexy ways, and decorate them with jewels, tassels, etc. We attended Camarote N.1 and they had a t-shirt design center where the advanced ticket pick up was. As far as to what to pack for bottoms, ladies – think more club attire for your bottoms. Cute skirts, shorts, and heels.
For men, wearing the Camarote-specific t-shirt is more casual, but as mentioned, a great pair of shorts or jeans, nice sneakers or loafers, and fresh hair are all recommended!
Ready to cross the biggest, sexiest, most energetic, most glamorous party in the world off of your bucket list? Read on to get a handle on the context and recommended steps for attending Carnaval in Brazil.
What is Carnaval?
Carnaval, or Carnival in English, is the Brazilian version of a seasonal festival that occurs in some Christian societies ahead of the 40-day period of fasting known as Lent. Generally occurring in February or March, Carnaval in Brazil is marked by massive street parties, samba song and dance competitions, concerts, and performances and is generally recognized as having the largest presence in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, the second and fourth largest cities in Brazil, respectively.
How did Carnaval come to be in Brazil?
The first carnivals arose from Western Christian traditions in Italy and Southern Europe, and their origins made their way over to Brazil and the rest of South America with the arrival of the Portuguese and Spanish colonialists. Over time, Carnaval in Brazil has taken on many influences ranging from Southern European to African. Over the 300 or so years of the slave trade to Brazil, African slaves are thought to have introduced and incorporated into the Portuguese traditions many of the cultural manifestations we associate with Brazilian Carnival today, such as decorations, masks, jewelry, drumming and Brazil’s extensive gamut of lively music.
What are the various types of Carnavals in Brazil? How are they different?
Though you may be most familiar with the postcard image of the Rio Carnaval, the festival is actually held in dozens of cities spread across the 26 states of this continentally sized country. Some of the biggest celebrations outside of the Rio edition are Salvador, Recife (Olinda), Natal and Ouro Preto, to name just a few. Generally speaking, Brazilian Carnival held in the Northeastern capitals (such as Salvador and Recife) are known for carrying even stronger African influence (and a wider range of musical styles) than their counterparts in the South and Southeast.
What kind of music can you expect at Rio Carnaval?
Modern Brazilian music encompasses dozens if not hundreds of genres and sub-genres. The Southeastern Carnaval celebrations, especially that in Rio, are marked most importantly by samba, but you’ll also hear a lot of Funk and acoustic pagode carried by stringed instruments. Salvador is famous for the heavy bass and wind instrument patterns of Axé music as well as Bahian pagode, which is different from the Southeastern variety in that it carries less guitar-based rhythms and more intense drum patterns. Further to the Northeast, in Recife, you’re most likely to find Frevo. In the South, and especially in Florianópolis, during Carnaval you’re most likely to vibe out to the most central music of the state of Catarina—booming vocal-laden Electronic a la Sam Feldt and Calvin Harris. The point is, a hyper-diverse range of musical styles is fair game across Brazil during Carnaval, and that’s just one feature that makes the several years of dedication needed to explore all of the country’s offerings even more worthwhile.
What is the Sambadrome?
The Sambódromo Marques de Sapucaí is an enormous amphitheater-style venue seating an impressive 90,000 people, with a long roadway running through it built for viewing the samba parades and competition that takes place for over a week during Carnaval. To conceptualize the nationally televised samba competition that occurs each February or March at the Sambódromo, it’s probably easiest to think of this as Brazil’s equivalent of a Super Bowl of samba. This is the place where Rio’s samba schools put on their exhibitions, flaunting extravagant floats, world-class art and dance to the applause of tens of thousands of spectators—and my, is it a genuinely one-of-a-kind sight to behold. Besides the thousands of seats for individual spectators, the Sambódromo houses several camarotes—VIP box sections built up each year to host lavish private viewing parties, replete with internal bands, DJs, open bars and restaurants during the festival.
This 2017 Bloomberg article, while already slightly dated, highlights some important principles and tactics for scoring tickets to spectate the competition at the Sambadrome without having to commit the thousands that might be required for some of the high-end camarotes.
What is a bloco and how do they differ from city to city?
In its simplest form, a bloco is a street or block party. But these take different forms from relatively informal to super organized all across the many iterations of Carnaval. In Rio, the city has been known to host as many as 500 different blocos across the two major weeks of the month leading into the peak of Carnaval. Gatherings might include sound carts, sound trucks, DJs and dancing. In Salvador, blocos tend to be more specific gatherings surrounding a specific band or musical performance, and often require a special band-specific matching tank top, called anabadá, to attend. One major difference you can expect is that while in Rio, festivalgoers often wear Halloween-style costumes as they join in the revelry of their costumes, in Salvador the main piece of distinctive clothing associating one with any specific bloco is the abadá.
How do you know where the blocos are happening?
There are several sites publishing the expected schedule of blocos in both of the major Carnaval cities. Although since the Salvador blocos follow a specific lineup in the two major circuits (the more famous Barra-Ondina circuit, and more heavily Afro-Brazilian influenced Campo Grande circuit) do expect a greater degree of spontaneity in Rio in general.
What is a Camarote?
Inside one of the many floors of the Camarote Party!
Camarote, a term common in Brazilian party lingo, simply refers to a VIP area, table, or otherwise private section for spectating. Camarotes can range from the more conventional (a set of private couches in a nightclub) to the more lavish and extravagant (a walled off section of the Sambadrome amphitheater with private entrance, security, food, drink, internal stages, and bottomless drinks from private bars).
What are some of the can’t miss Camarotes?
In Rio, there are several higher-end VIP offerings within the Sambadrome, some with eye-popping price tags and some that are more moderately priced. You can expect to pay anywhere from about 100 USD for the lowest-end offerings to as much as 2000 USD for the ultra premium VIP experiences. A couple of options starting with more moderately priced options are Camarote Allegria (known for having a younger clientele), Camarote do King, Camarote Club Arpoador, Camarote Portela, and Rio Exxperience, just to name a few. If it’s the high-end you’re after, and prioritize being around the A-listers, you’ll want to consider Nosso Camarote, Camarote Rio, or the infamous Camarote N. 1, which is one of the go-to party destinations for many of Brazil’s hottest celebs, models, and athletes. Pro-tip: try using your Google Chrome browser to translate some of these event-specific webpages; for better or worse, you’ll come to find that most tend to be targeted at a high-end Brazilian as opposed to international audience.
In Salvador, you can expect a similar range of overall pricing—everything from mid-level to the cream of the crop—specifically, the exquisite and nationally known Camarote Salvador. This year, we found Camarote Harém, just a couple of doors down the Barra-Ondina circuit from Camarote Salvador, to offer just the right blend of high end but with approachable crowds, with a more accessible price point (about 600 BRL or right around 160 USD). For that price, we enjoyed a concert on the top floor by Harmonia do Samba, one of Bahia’s most famous Axé music bands, all night DJs, unlimited drinks and food, and privileged views of the dancing parade on the street below. Considering that we danced until 6 am, this is truly not bad in dollar terms when you really think about all that you’re getting!
Where do you buy Camarote Tickets?
Generally, each Camarote is run by a private events company. In the case of Rio, these events houses tend to have independent sites offering entrance that can be purchased online. You can find a summary of the experience and sign up for newsletter updates in the Camarote luxury suite section of the official Sambadrome website.
In the case of Salvador, there are some great consolidated websites offering links to the sale of abadás for multiple camarotes and blocos, all in the same place. Central do Carnaval is an exceptionally useful page aggregating many of your best options in one place—and notice you can toggle the language to English or Spanish at the top of the page, which really helps.
How do you dress for Brazilian Carnaval?
Dress is all going to depend on the venue and the event. For street Carnaval, especially in Rio will involve dressing for warm weather, but with more pizazz as ladies are likely to be adorned with face jewels and glitter. Men and women tend to take up the opportunity to wear costumes, especially ones that poke fun at social dynamics in the fashion of what Brazilians do best—satire. (See some examples on this page.) Oftentimes groups of friends dress up in costume together for solidarity and easy identification of one another among the thronging crowds.
Salvador has a phenomenon referred to as pipoca, which is really just roaming the avenues of the Carnaval circuit without a specific abadá or allegiance to any particular bloco, band, or camarote. The dress for a pipoca outing is casual, and the main focus is on dressing for warm, humid weather: expect tank tops and shorts for both men and women, with comfortable, closed-toed shoes being a must as more than likely you’ll walk 10+ kilometers in a typical night of celebrations, and dance until your feet are sore in the early morning.
Please read this article here for more Carnaval dress tips.
Where to stay in Rio during Carnaval?
In Rio, there are block parties all over every single geographic zone and neighborhood of the city for about an entire month leading up to the last day of Samba competitions, referred to as Carnaval Sunday. That said, more than likely, as a tourist you’ll want to stay in the Zona Sul (South Zone) of the city, specifically the more coveted beachside neighborhoods of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. Many blocos gather along the coastal strip of this string of neighborhoods, and are an affordable alternative to the ritzy private events in the Sambadrome or at other event venues across Rio during this time of year. If you have a group, an Airbnb booked up to as much as six months in advance is ideal, as the Zona Sul neighborhoods tend to have more limited real estate vacancy (new real estate in prime Rio districts is harder to come by, as the city is surrounded by water on three angles—the ocean and the lagoon—and bisected by mountains!)
If you have only a couple of people, a hotel room is acceptable but generally it’s recommended to book at least three months in advance to ensure less-than-astronomical prices. If you wait to book a hotel with one month or less advance notice, sorry to tell you, but be prepared to forfeit an arm and a leg ($400-$500 a night or more, for a room with only moderate amenities).
Where to stay in Salvador during Carnaval?
The best neighborhoods in Salvador, most accessible to the main Barra-Ondina parade circuit, in rough order of geographic priority, are 1) Barra, 2) Ondina and 3) Graça.
The same principles for booking housing as in Rio still apply in Salvador, but would stress even stronger advanced notice for booking a group Airbnb, as generally speaking, housing quality in this poorer region of the country can be further away from first-world standards than in Rio. Waiting until last minute to book housing in Salvador can easily mean walking away with substandard digs, possibly lacking air conditioning etc. Just about every apartment owner with a property walking distance to the Barra-Ondina circuit will be eager to get their hands on some Carnaval rental income, so expect a wide array of quality and sizes.
There are some hotels facing the coastline accessible to the Barra-Ondina circuit, with comfortable-enough if not three-star-ish offerings. We happened to stay at the Hit Hotel in Porto da Barra (a touristy seafront area), and even booking three months in advance, paid around $250 USD a night per room.
The main concept here is of course: book early to have a chance at great housing!
What is the best time to visit Brazil during Carnaval? In Rio? In Salvador?
Carnaval takes place in February or March every year according to the Christian Lent calendar. This site outlines some important principles for planning your trip in advance, again stressing the recommended six months advanced planning for your trip. Carnaval dates for the upcoming several years, measured by can be found on this site.
One important fact to note is that there is a sliding scale of dates during which you can enjoy the celebrations. In Rio, commemoration tends to run more or less an entire month, starting one month before Carnaval Sunday, and that’s especially the widely accessible and public street parties, whose buildup has led to the phenomenon today known as Pre-Carnaval (anywhere from two to three weeks before the culmination of the even, the final Sunday mentioned in the site above).
In Salvador on the other hand, the bulk of the festivities tend to concentrate within about a 10-day period, culminating in Carnaval Tuesday (the Tuesday before the final Sunday of events in the Rio schedule). Still, indeed, as in Rio, the city is lively from around December 20th, through New Year’s Eve, and all the way through that final Carnaval Tuesday night.
You may have heard that Brazil is not the safest country in the world… Some of that is true, and some of it is just sensationalized in the media–don’t believe everything you watch, hear or read in the mainstream news. That said, just remember that there is value in exercising caution, especially regarding your whereabouts when in Rio. The intent of this post is to increase awareness and minimize risk of something risky happening.
Though generally speaking you won’t have too many issues in the safer and ritzier Zona Sul (South Zone) districts (namely, Ipanema, Copacabana, and Leblon), even in these places, petty theft is relatively common–especially targeting foreigners. When visiting the beach, as well as when touring the city at night, exercise restraint and awareness for pickpockets. As a rule of thumb, do as the locals do. For example, avoid walking about the beach at night after the sun goes down–even if in the Zona Sul. If you don’t see locals doing it, there’s probably a reason for that, so emulate their behavior and react accordingly.
Arrival in Rio: When you land at Galeão Airport (GIG), you can head to your lodge via yellow taxi, Uber, or a bus service called PREMIUM (locally sometimes known as “the Blue Bus”), information about which you can access here.
If you take a yellow taxi, it’s highly recommended to purchase the fare inside the airport at one of the authorized taxi stands, and then present your purchased fare receipt to the driver.
Note: Don’t let anyone outside of your circle handle your luggage at the airport.
Neighborhoods in Rio (please read carefully): Rio is a vast metropolis of 6, 7, 8, 10, 12? million people–depending on how you measure the metro area. But beyond just being any other megacity, consider it’s built within at least three mountain ranges and interspersed within the jungle of the Tijuca forest. The city is divided into at least 3 key districts, and it’s essential to have a basic understanding of this geography to not get yourself into the wrong situations:
Zona Sul (South Zone) – this is the more affluent and well-structured part of town you’re probably most familiar with from post cards, and where you will find a majority of the Rio’s major legacy tourist attractions
For the most part, every every famous landmark you’ve likely ever heard about in Rio (Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, Arpoador Rock, Dois Irmãos mountain, the Botanical Garden, the Lagoon, Leblon Beach, Copacabana Beach, Ipanema Beach, etc. is in the Zona Sul
Everything you’ll need for all intensive purposes, from the best restaurants, bars, malls, shops, salons, parties, services, etc are heavily concentrated in this high-density urban area
Common “no-go” areas near the Zona Sul to be aware of (unless you are being escorted by a highly trusted local for a specific purpose):
Vidigal – Even though this hillside neighborhood was pacified over the past several years, the security situation can still be precarious depending on the latest whims of the Rio police (and their interaction with local gangs). Check with a trusted local first for the latest before going up, as conditions can change depending on the week or month. Though this is the access point to the famous (and very popular) Dois Irmãos hike, it’s recommended to exercise caution when entering the slum and before spending several hours at a time there.
Zona Oeste (West Zone) – This is the vastest section of the city, to the west of the more glamorous beach neighborhoods of the Zona Sul. It’s very mixed socioeconomically, from very rich new-money suburbs with sprawling strip malls, to very poor ghettos ridden with corrupt police (remember the film City of God? Yeah, it was highly sensationalized for the movie, but that’s a real place, and guess what, it’s in the West Zone–a perfect example of place you simply do not want to venture into if you are a foreigner… For better or worse, just don’t bother my people!).
In a nutshell, if you are a visitor, you will mostly only head into the West Zone to visit shopping malls or parties in Barra da Tijuca or to get to more remote beaches in Recreio. But generally that is only on the agenda of the more ambitious Rio visitor, so choose accordingly depending on how much time you have during your trip.
Zona Norte (North Zone) – As a foreigner there is pretty much no reason to go to the North Zone, especially without a trusted local guide.
Favelas: ‘Favela’ is the Brazilian term for slum. Please be aware of them and don’t go exploring a Favela just because. A friend once was held up at gun point and forced to hand over his camera and then delete his photos… You just never might know which gangster or amateur gunman you might aggravate.
A map of Rio City: Where to be and where not to be
Beach Culture in Rio: The main Zona Sul beach districts are lined with lifeguard posts, or, locally, postos. The postos are arranged 1 to 12 from the northern end of Copacabana (Leme Beach) to the Southwestern edge of Leblon. A carioca’s social identity tends to revolve quite a bit around his or her selection of beach post, so demographics will change as you descend the Zona Sul. And when meeting friends at the beach, a local’s reference point is always his or her favorite posto! Some locals might grumble that pickpockets are more prevalent near posts 8 and lower, but take all of that with a grain of salt as, as just about anything (and mostly tons of fun) can happen at any beach. Admittedly, the clientele tends to get higher class as you move toward posto 12. While the upper middle class will tend to stick somewhere between posts 6 and 9, things are ritzier from posts 10 and beyond (as are the rents per square foot in those corresponding parts of Ipanema and Leblon). But that’s not to say you shouldn’t check out many different postos, as each one has a bit of distinctive local charm to offer, and all are equally beautiful in their own way. Keep an open mind and go exploring!
Public Transportation in Rio:
The Rio Metro or Uber are excellent ways to get around most central sites and famous landmarks in the city. The Metro’s service is concentrated in the South Zone, with some service heading north toward the Centro (downtown) and North Zone. But again, it’s not recommended to go to the North Zone neighborhoods without at least a local companion who knows the lay of the land.
As a tourist in Brazil, as in much of the world, it’s expected that you will be profiled. You may be spotted a mile away from those that are interested in victimizing you, especially if you wind up in the wrong part of town. Maybe you think you look Brazilian and can blend in; don’t let that sway you as there is something about the way us tourists carry ourselves that is a surefire sign to locals that might have the wrong intentions. With that being said, keep in mind that as you’re going about your day and activities, someone or the other could be watching you. Here are some scams you should avoid:
Distractions – If you are asked for an address, or to light someone’s cigarette, or hold someone’s bag… This can be designed as a ploy to distract you so something can be taken from you. Keep your possessions in sight and stay alert! If you happen to be riding on the metro or on a bus with a backpack or purse–keep it in front of you! This is all common sense to a Brazilian, and when in the Brazilian big cities, try to internalize it.
Arrastão – There is an (uncommon though still present) phenomenon in some Rio neighborhoods or along some beaches in which young burglars will run furiously in a group across a major section of beachdwellers, scooping up as many possessions as possible in the process and then bolting away. In some extreme and rare cases, the young moleques (punks) might be armed. What this suggests is, when you’re on the beach in Rio, someone in your group should always be assigned to watch belongings, even if some of the group heads for a swim. Keep backpacks and purses within plain sight and secured. The more you actively keep in mind and exercise these local practices, the far lower will be your probability of having any mishaps!
To reiterate, the main type of robbery that happens at Rio beaches is pick pocketing. You must be cautious of all of your belongings. Don’t hang your beach-bag on the back of a beach chair. I recommend having it in your lap or tied up to your wrist at all times. Don’t let this discourage you from going, it would be a sin not to enjoy the beach in Rio! Just do as locals do and exercise the right precautions.
Do’s & Don’ts:
Don’t bring any flashy jewelry out and about with you to the beach, or especially to street parties (blocos) during Carnaval! Even if your jewelry isn’t considered “flashy,” I would recommend avoiding bringing anything of yours that is of significant value.
Do dress like a local. Brazilians often dress in comfortable clothing especially during the summer and aren’t afraid of showing skin. That means casual shorts and tanks for men, sun dresses and spaghetti straps for women, and sandals (especially the customary Havaianas) for all!
If there is a need to withdraw cash from an ATM, please do so in a mall or a shopping center. You’ll notice most Brazilian ATMs in outdoor places are shut down at nighttime–and there’s a reason for that!
Don’t have your phone out while you’re walking around the streets, beach, etc. Yes you’ll use Google maps, order Ubers, text and check social media sites. But if you do so while walking aimlessly and in a distracted way, it will be a sure fire signal to possible predators that you are foreign. Look around and you’ll see that most Brazilians aren’t walking around with their phones in their hands like we do in the U.S. Again: there is a reason for that–mimic the locals.
Similar to having your phone out, be weary of the electronics you carry on you. If you’re planning to go on a run and are going to use your airpods or something of the equivalent, note that your gringo is showing. Devices like air-pods cost almost twice the amount compared to what we purchase them in the US for (due to corruption in the Brazilian import tax). It is advisable not to have such electronics on you.
Travel with others; there is safety in numbers.
Don’t go to the beach and stay on the sand after dark.
Do carry cash but only a reasonable amount needed for your immediate daily activities. Note: most vendors at the beach only take cash.
Only book tours from credible companies. Do the due diligence to ensure your tour company is legit, it has online reviews, and you’re not getting scammed by a freelancer.
Don’t be loud and bring unnecessary attention to yourself, especially when speaking in English and especially in poor lit areas at night!
Looking to explore Rio De Janeiro state outside of the city? Consider a short drive to the colonial beachside town of Paraty! I will admit that at first I was hesitant about visiting Paraty due to the apparent lack of “hype” around it. I learned from spending a couple days there that the town is a gem that fewer non-Brazilian tourists know of–and it’s well worth the visit! Read on to discover a the perfect 3-day itinerary for families, couples, and friends in Paraty!
Day 0: The Drive to Paraty
We picked up a rental car from Rio (GIG) Airport from Localiza (a sister company to Hertz) and headed off to Paraty. You can expect around 4-6 hours of driving to get there, all dependent on traffic and weather. The road can be windy, but you’ll find the drive to be scenic and worthwhile the closer you get to Paraty. Pro-Tip: When in Brazil, do as the locals do, and for this matter, due to security concerns on state highways, it’s highly recommended to avoid driving at night. For this reason, we left GIG right around midday, and after a ride replete with a couple of pitstops and sightseeing, arrived in Paraty just as it was getting dark, in time for dinner.
The other option is to take a bus from the the main bus terminal in Rio city, Novo Rio, to Paraty. Quero Passagem is a great local site to use to square away bus fares in advance. This is a great option if you want to save some bucks, as we didn’t end up using our rental car at all while we were in Paraty itself–the town and especially the historic center are totally walkable.
This is a gorgeous private lodge located in the colonial center of Paraty. The rooms are comfortable, the staff is friendly and happy to help you schedule any tour. Our stay included a complete Brazilian breakfast, served till late morning.
When you check in, make sure to square away your reservations for the rest of the week (boat tour, 4×4/cachaça distillery tour, and puppet show are all among the highlights)
We found this restaurant to be vibrating with energy for a Monday night. Cute place with fantastic Brazilian food. + Make sure to order the crab dish, moqueca (red palm oil and coriander-based seafood stew, with fish), and a passionfruit caipirinha with little sugar (“pouco açucar, por favor!” if you want to avoid the pitfalls–and hangover excesses–of the typical Brazilian craze for sugar). We managed to get seated easily without a reservation.
Address: R. Dr. Samuel Costa, 198 – Centro Histórico, Paraty – RJ, 23970-000, Brazil
Day 1 – Explore Paraty and Boat Tour
After grabbing a quick breakfast at the Pousada, we hit the colorful streets of Paraty to explore. We happened to be in Paraty during Carnaval, which added an extra charm and energy to the air. Spend the morning walking around this scenic colonial town and taking in the cobblestones and colorful Portuguese architecture.
We grabbed a quick lunch to go at a random in-town restaurant for the boat tour! If you have time one of the days, I recommend checking out a Free Walking Tour of Paraty.
1:00pm – 5:00pm: Boat Tour
We skirted around to 3 different islands about a 40-minute boat ride from Paraty. This was a great way to spend the day in the sun and water. Each stop was unique: we experienced a secluded black sand beach, rock formations fit for climbing, and a floating dock where several party boats had anchored to enjoy drinks. Having had the boat to ourselves, I recommend bringing your own drinks and a speaker if you get the chance: the Brazilian spirit is super receptive to music pumping through the airwaves at all times! The total cost per person for the boat tour came out to ~$40 USD each. You can make your reservation for the tour at Pousada do Ouro (hotel).
Right next to Banana da Terra (our dinner spot from the night before), we found both the ambiance and food lovely.
Address: R. Dr. Samuel Costa, 196 – Centro Histórico, Paraty – RJ, 23970-000, Brazil
Day 2 – Jeep Life
Don’t miss the chance to take this Jeep Cachaça distillery tour! You’ll spend the day chasing waterfalls and then enjoying some of the local artisanal Brazilian rum! Assuming the exchange rate stays the same over the next months, the tour only costs $25 per person + lunch
This puppet show came recommended by the locals. We ended up just missing this one as our dinner took too long.
Note that the show is in Portuguese only, and you will want to purchase your tickets beforehand when possible. You can do so at the Pousada do Ouro.
Pro Tip: After dinner/the show, do yourselves a favor and try a brigadeiro from one of the many street carts! A brigadeiro is a chocolate treat made with condensed milk and cocoa. I was hooked after trying these little chocolate balls and found them to be the best I had in Brazil!
Day 3 – Trindade Beach, then Rio City
We kicked off the morning with a ~45 minute drive southward to Trindade to check out one of the area’s renowned beaches before we skirted off to Rio City. Grab an açaí bowl and a fresh fish lunch, and relax on the beach before heading back to Rio city.
Planning what you’re going to wear to Coachella is all part of the fun! Looking chic and sexy doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. After spending money on lodging, tickets, flights, etc. you’ll want to find a place to save some dough. Check out these various styles–from boho to rave chick. All items are available on this Amazon list and are listed under $40.
Please note – prices are subject to change at the supplier’s discretion.