Paraty is located between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in the middle of the Mata Atlântica: a small tropical paradise with great historical flair! Quite a few on Brazil trip simply get stuck in Paraty. The surrounding area has everything from gorgeous beaches to jungle adventures among waterfalls and mountain streams – and the old town of Paraty is magically beautiful!
- Paraty: Relaxation in exotic colonial flair
- Nightlife & Shopping in Paraty
- Food & Drink in Paraty
- There’s one name you have to remember: Jorge Amado!
- Excursions around Paraty
- Overnight stay in Paraty
- How do you get to Paraty?
- Where to go from Paraty?
- Helpful tips
Paraty: Relaxation in exotic colonial flair
Despite tourism, the old town has retained its relaxed character. Time seems to stand still. In the picturesque old town, one feels transported back a hundred years, to the old Brazil under Portuguese colonial rule.
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Hey, I’m Tatiana, a German-Brazilian living in Berlin & the author behind The Happy Jetlagger. I’ve been writing about my travels since 2014. In addition to my job as a flight attendant, this blog is my passion project!
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Horse-drawn carriages rumble leisurely over the huge cobblestones (high heels can stay right at home here!) and transport tourists on sightseeing tours today. Almost the entire old town center in Paraty is very well preserved, and since the mid-1950s Paraty has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many of the formerly neglected houses have been bought and restored by well-heeled Brazilian entrepreneurs and personalities. In one house even the descendant of the last emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II, lives in the middle of it and without any pomp.
Tip: Every morning a free walking tour starts at Praça da Matriz, which takes you to all the important places in the old town. (portuguese & english)
Nightlife & Shopping in Paraty
In the evening, life comes to the otherwise tranquil old town: stores advertise really nice souvenirs, no two stores are alike, and there are so many handmade, original pieces from plates to hammocks that you can’t get enough of them. Paraty has style, no question.
Livraria das Marés – Small bookstore with selected assortment, many illustrated books about Paraty and Rio, also English-language literature and a cozy café in the backyard. Insider Tip!
Food & Drink in Paraty
Good food and a small cervejinha (beer) must not be missing in Brazil in the evening! Around the Praça da Matriz, the central market square in the old town, you will find many bars and restaurants, but also in the cozy side streets you will find many interesting locations. In most places there is live music every evening, the atmosphere is Brazilian and cheerful – here you can have a good time almost everywhere.
Café Paraty | Very popular, at peak times you have to wait, but the tropical ambience with chilling live music is worth it! Brazilian cuisine. Recommendation: Picanha (beef steak with special cut).
Frida y Diego | Small taqueria with live music in the evening, away from the hustle and bustle of the old town, serving Mexican cuisine.
Sabor da Terra | Down-to-earth self-service restaurant serving delicious Brazilian cuisine. Self-service restaurants are very popular in Brazil and a great way for visitors to Brazil to sample their way through many typical Brazilian dishes.
Manuê Sucos | Actually a juice bar, but is open until evening and has many fresh little things like acaí or pão na chapa (toasted roll with cheese). Good and cheap. Could be the perfect workspace for nomads who want to get some work done on the go – laptops aren’t allowed, though.
For all venues, it is common for a surcharge of R$10-15 (3-4€) per person to be charged for live music (envelope).
For the small appetite, there are plenty of street stalls with a wide variety of dishes from tapioca (pancakes made from cassava flour) to pasteis (deep-fried dumplings). You should stop at one of the many cake carts scattered around the old town: Brazilians are true masters of sweets! Try a cocada (fresh sweetened coconut flakes) or a bolo de tapioca: the snow-white, paste-like mass of cassava flour tastes more like pudding at first, but the sweetened condensed milk freshly poured on top makes the dessert perfect.
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There’s one name you have to remember: Jorge Amado!
You must try a Jorge Amado here, which you can find in every bar! The signature cocktail from Paraty tastes like a sweet caipirinha: Instead of the sugar cane spirit cachaça, the liqueur Gabriela is used, which is spiked with cloves and cinnamon (Cravo e Canela). No coincidence: Jorge Amado is one of the most famous Brazilian authors and his novel “Gabriela like Cinnamon and Cloves” was filmed here in Paraty. You don’t have to like his books – but after five days in Paraty, I was hooked on Jorge Amado!
Excursions around Paraty
But Paraty is so much more than just culture and history: around the city there are so many different excursion possibilities from deepest jungle to lonely islands! During the day, most tourists are therefore around Paraty. I have compiled the most beautiful locations for you here!
In Paraty itself there is a beach, but even more beautiful are the beaches in Trindade! You can easily go there on your own: From the central bus station (Rodoviária) there is a bus every hour. (One way R$5, about €1.20, paid on the bus, get off at the terminus).
Whether you’re looking for peace and quiet or a party atmosphere, there’s something for everyone in Trindade. At Praia dos Ranchos you will find many bars and restaurants. There you can use umbrellas and chairs if you order something in the surrounding eateries. Here it is typically Brazilian lively with lots of music.
Through a small path you will reach Praia do Meio. Here, eateries and beach vendors are prohibited, as this beach is part of the surrounding nature reserve. The beach is relatively wide and the huge rocks are very impressive.
Waterfalls around Paraty
In the densely forested mountains around Paraty there are plenty of waterfalls. One of them is particularly impressive and is called only Tobogã . In Portuguese it means water slide and on site it becomes clear why: on a huge slippery rock you can plunge down the waterfall like a murderous slide. If that’s too dangerous for you (accidents are not uncommon here), it’s best to just watch the local guys who have already perfected their daredevil stunts – my jaw dropped.
In Poço do Tarzan (Tarzan’s pond) further up, you can enter the water more safely and feel a bit like a bathing Tarzan. Remember, though, that you are in the middle of the jungle: don’t forget mosquito repellent!
Next to the restaurant Vila Verde there is one of the most beautiful swimming spots for guests: Here you can swim in a cool mountain stream away from the hustle and bustle! The water is cold, but crystal clear: pure nature! If you visit the restaurant as part of an excursion, you don’t have to eat anything on site either, but can enjoy nature in a very relaxed way!
The best way to visit these places is with a guided jeep tour! I recommend Paraty Tours for this, the organization was great, the Landrover jeeps nicer than the competition having to sit in stuffy cars :)
(Don’t be impressed by the ratings, during our long lunch break we relaxed and floated in the mountain stream and enjoyed our picnic!)
By boat around Paraty
You should not miss a boat trip! On the one hand you get to know Brazilians on vacation (spoiler: even more exuberant than usual!), on the other hand you see the beautiful islands around Paraty. If you choose a “Passeio de escuna” it is a larger boat, usually with a complete kitchen and bar on board.
Those who arrive early secure the best seats. Food may also be brought, but is not absolutely necessary. The excursion lasts about 4-5 hours, there will be beaches, opportunities for swimming (I love jumping straight from the boat into the water) and lots of music. And of course Jorge Amado!
At the bathing places you can snorkel wonderfully. However, equipment is only available on board for a fee, it’s not great either, so better bring your own if you want to snorkel!
Overnight stay in Paraty
Location is everything in Paraty! The most beautiful place is near the old town center! There you live idyllic and in the middle of it all. Also at Praia do Pontal, only a few minutes walk from the center, you can stay well and there is still relaxed beach feeling included.
Geko Hostel & Pousada*| at Praia do Pontal, beach in front of the door
Che Lagarto*| Popular hostel chain in South America, convivial atmosphere, also private rooms
Pousada do Principe*| Small Pousada, good location, nice ambience
Outside it is often cheaper, but everything interesting is further away and it is not really pretty in the newer corners. So it’s worth investing a little more!
How do you get to Paraty?
Arrival by bus
Paraty is located between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, both cities can be reached by intercity bus. Paraty does not have a commercial airport. The trip takes about 4 hours in both directions, and a one-way ticket costs around R$80 (about €20). The buses are comfortable, but often don’t have Wi-Fi or USB charging ports.
Paraty bus station
The bus station in Paraty is located relatively centrally in the city, many accommodations can also be reached on foot from there. If you have a lot of luggage or need to go further away, just take a cab at the cab stand, it doesn’t cost the earth. Uber does not exist in Paraty (yet).
Buying Bus Tickets in Brazil
You can always buy tickets in Brazil directly at the bus stations. It’s best to take care of tickets a bit in advance. Intercity buses are a popular mode of transportation in Brazil and especially for destinations like Paraty, it can get crowded during peak travel season or on weekends.
However, so that you don’t have to go to the train station (in Rio, for example, the Rodoviária/bus station is quite far away from the city center), I recommend buying your tickets online at Clickbus*. If you’re lucky, you might also get an additional discount here!
Clickbus* is the largest ticketing platform in Brazil and you’ll find most bus companies here. (Attention: With some bus companies you have to exchange online tickets again at the counter).
Where to go from Paraty?
Paraty is a popular destination from Rio de Janeiro. On the way there, you can also make a stopover in the seaside town Angra dos Reis, for example, or cross over to Ilha Grande – a paradise for nature lovers.
- Avoid the peak travel period between Christmas and Carnival: prices rise and hotels will book out quickly!
- Security: Although you should be cautious here as well, Paraty is really very relaxed. At no time did I feel unsafe, rather the opposite.
- Remember to mosquito repellent, if mosquitoes love you like they love me, you are even better off with repellent containing DEET. You can also buy repellent at any pharmacy.
- Paraty is pronounced “Pa-ra-tshi” according to Brazilian Portuguese ;)
Looking for more inspiration for your Brazil trip?
Traveling alone as a woman: How (un)safe is Rio?
The best sights in Rio de Janeiro
Santa Teresa, the artists’ quarter of Rio
Búzios: Dream beaches near Rio