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How To Spend 48 Hours In Paraty, Brazil

Details of Paraty |© Michell Zappa/Flickr
Details of Paraty |© Michell Zappa/Flickr
As the main port for gold back in the Portuguese colonial days, Paraty has numerous historical reminders of its wealth and influence from the past. The cobbled streets and low, white buildings with startlingly colorful doors are just a fraction of the charm of the town; it is also contains a flabbergasting number of natural wonders too. Luckily, 48 hours is enough to get a solid grip on what Paraty has to offer.

Day 1

Start the morning with fresh bread and one of the best coffees in Paraty at Cafe Pingado. Located near the port, the café enjoys a historic, charming atmosphere provided by the surrounding colonial architecture. This particular café serves wonderful cakes too, for those seeking a sweeter start to the day.

Paraty is a typical hangout for artists and writers, offering a slow-pace of life which cherishes every moment. Absorb this way of living by taking a stroll through the historical city center. The remains of Paraty’s legacy as a gold port are etched into the colonial buildings from its Portuguese heydays. Mosey along the cobbled streets that weave in between charming white houses enlivened by splashes of blues and greens in the window and door frames.

The historical center © Leandro Neumann Ciuffo/Flickr

Next, wander over to the port and wait for a boat to take you to some of Paraty’s most idyllic islands and beaches. Each boat tour starts at around 11am and takes about four hours, yet often stretches a bit longer – there is no one in a rush here. One boat tour option will take you to the Bay Islands, where you can visit the stunning, secluded sandy beaches framed by exotic palms and surrounded by crystal clear, gentle oceans. At each stop, there is a chance to go snorkelling and come face to face with some of the Green Coast’s wonderful marine life, or simply lay on deck and define your tan lines whilst being a part of the spellbinding landscape. During this tour you may also visit Praia de Lula beach, Praia Vermelha beach, Praia de Santa Rita beach, Montimento Island, and Comprida Island, all of which dazzle with their tropical beauty.

Another excursion option is heading just 25 kilometers south of Paraty’s city center and going to the Trindade region. Book with a tour guide to get all transport and boat trips included, as well as detailed and fascinating nuggets of information about each point of interest. Trindade is a fishing village with a simple, off-the-grid way of life and over 50 well-preserved and untouched beaches. The region is environmentally protected inside the Serra da Bocaina National Park and offers opportunities for exploring the diverse ecosystems of the Atlantic Forest and the Green Coast oceans.

The clear waters of Paraty © Luís Costa/Flickr

After a long day out sightseeing and seeing the natural trophies of the area, it’s time to settle down for a hearty dinner back in Paraty’s historical center. Head to Refúgio Restaurante for mouth-watering seafood that is fresh, cooked to perfection and served in a rustic setting with exposed brickwork and well-laid tables. Arrive a little early to make the most of the happy hour discounts and enjoy some of the local cachaça that is made in the region. Alternatively, go to Restaurante Sancho Pança for a traditional, wholesome feijoada (Brazilian bean stew) that will leave you satisfied and ready for the next day of activities.

Day 2

Stop in at Café do Canal for an outdoor breakfast of fresh breads, fruit juices and a strong, Brazilian-style coffee to keep you going the whole morning. Take your time here and simply sip, nibble and enjoy the surrounding peace and quiet of Paraty.

Next, it’s time to move away from the beaches and explore the jungle on a jeep tour that takes you deep into the Atlantic rainforest. This forest fosters an incredible ecosystem with many species unique to the region. The tour passes by gorgeous waterfalls with adventurous names such as Tarzan Falls where you can skim down an 18 meter rock slide into the water below, and Tobago Falls with its deep pools accessible only by rope swings.

Paraty's waterfalls © Diego Torres Silvestre/Flickr

Part of the tour is a pit stop at the Engenho D’Ouro, a cachaça distillery that is famous in the region. Sugar cane is processed into Brazil’s most famous spirit, that is then matured and aged in wooden barrels. Naturally, a few samples will be handed out of this sweet, spicy drink.

Alternatively, the tour above can be done on bike for those looking for a more physically involved excursion that also includes up to four cachaça distilleries. For the ultimate natural experience, try the horseback riding tour that is available for both beginners and more advanced riders. Led by a professional guide, the horses will take you to stunning beaches and glorious waterfalls.

Charming Paraty © Otávio Nogueira/Flickr

After a full day of sightseeing, reward yourself with dinner in one of Paraty’s finest restaurants. Head to Restaurante Banana da Terra which takes the traditions of Brazilian cooking and flavors and mixes them with innovation and creativity. Try the cod with plantain or the Brazilian beef for two wonderful dishes that showcase the best of Brazilian cooking, or stroll over to Thai Brasil for a taste of authentic Thai food. After eating, head over to the main streets in the center and settle down in any of the numerous bars to celebrate your final night with cold beers and the sound of live music and chatter drifting through the air.