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10 The Best Day Trips & Excursions

Alexandra deVries FrommerMedia ePub

An historic building in Paraty.


Travel back in time with a visit to Paraty, a colonial jewel wedged between lush Atlantic rainforest and turquoise ocean. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Paraty served as an important export harbor, first for the gold brought from Minas Gerais, later for coffee harvested on Rio’s coffee plantations. Today, Paraty is a booming tourist destination; its car-free historic center is packed with charming bed-and-breakfasts, excellent restaurants, and delightful shops and art galleries. The surrounding bay is a popular boating, snorkeling, and diving destination, and the rainforest-clad hills are a perfect playground for hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and nature lovers.

Paraty’s Centro Histórico. Half the fun of visiting Paraty is exploring its lovely colonial architecture. Pedestrians have plenty of room to stroll in the historic center since cars aren’t allowed, but wear comfortable shoes for the uneven cobblestone streets. Start off at the Praça da Matriz, the town’s main square, dominated by the impressive Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora dos Remedios, built between 1787 and 1873. The large square is a popular meeting place and often hosts events and festivals. Stroll south along Rua da Matriz or Rua do Comercio and you’ll encounter numerous art studios and galleries along the narrow cross streets. For more local artwork and an exhibit on the history of Paraty, visit the Casa da Cultura, the city’s cultural center, on Rua Dona Geralda 117 ( 24/3371-2325). Also take a peek inside the recently restored Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário (Rua do Comércio and Rua Dr. Samuel Costa), built in 1757 by slaves and for slaves, who weren’t allowed to worship in any of the town’s other churches. The narrow lanes and alleys that run perpendicular to the main shopping streets lead to the waterfront and pier. At high tide, seawater often invades the low-lying areas, so be prepared for wet feet.

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6 The Best Dining

Alexandra deVries FrommerMedia ePub

Tapas at Venga.

Dining Best Bets

Best Traditional Brazilian Feijoada

Casa da Feijoada $$ Rua Prudente de Moraes 10 B (p 103)

Best Beachfront Dining

Arab $$ Av. Atlântica 1936 (p 101)

Best Deli

Talho Capixaba $ Rua Ataulfo Paiva 1022 (p 109)

Best Pizza

Capricciosa $$$ Rua Maria Angelica 37 (p 103)

Best Gourmet Dining

Olympe $$$$ Rua Custódio Serrão 62 (p 108)

Best Restaurant for Foodies

Le Pré-Catelan $$$$ Av. Atlântica 4240 (p 106)

Best Gourmet Finger Food

Pipo $$ Rua Dias Ferreira 64 (p 106)

Best Service

Térèze $$$ Rua Almirante Alexandrino 660 (p 109)

Most Romantic Dining

Aprazível $$$ Rua Aprazível 62 (p 101)

Best Healthy Lunch

Celeiro $$ Rua Dias Ferreira 199 (p 103)

Best Sushi

Sushi Leblon $$$ Rua Dias Ferreira 252 (p 109)

Best Hip Tapas Joint

El Born $$ Rua Bolivar 17 (p 104)

Best Stuff-Yourself-Silly Steak Restaurant

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3 The Best Neighborhood Walks: Catete, Santa Teresa, Gloria & Lapa, Jardim Botanico, Ipanema

Alexandra deVries FrommerMedia ePub


This bustling, middle-class neighborhood, wedged between Glória and Flamengo, first developed in the 19th century, when the “nouveau riche” coffee barons spent their fortunes building opulent mansions here. The neighborhood’s turning point came in 1889, the year that Brazil became a republic and the president moved into the Palácio do Catete. For the next 60 years, Catete served as the political center of the country. When the capital was transferred to Brasília in 1960, Catete lost its raison d’être. Thanks to urban renewal projects and the recent real estate boom, however, Cariocas are now rediscovering Catete’s attractions. START: Metro to Catete. Palácio do Catete. This mansion was built in 1862 as the private residence of a coffee baron and was later acquired by the federal government; it served as the presidential office and home of 18 presidents, from 1897 until 1960, when the capital was transferred to the brand-new city of Brasília. The palace was then converted into a museum (see below). The lovely gardens, off-limits to the public until 1960, are now a popular leisure and cultural venue and feature a cafe, bookstore, outdoor exhibits, a craft museum (see below) and children’s playground.  1 hr. Rua do Catete 153.  021/3235-5124. Daily 8am–8pm. Free admission.

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16 Favorite Moments

Alexandra deVries FrommerMedia ePub

View of Rio.

16 Favorite Moments

Nicknamed “Cidade Maravilhosa” (the Fabulous City), Rio de Janeiro conjures up images of golden beaches, tropical sunshine, and colorful Carnaval parades, but the city has much more to offer. Blessed with impressive natural beauty, Rio is nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and steep mountains clad with coastal rainforest. The city’s architecture encompasses everything from 18th-century colonial baroque to modern minimalism. A rich cultural scene showcases some of Brazil’s most talented musicians and artists. And then there are the people, the friendly, high-spirited Cariocas, who know that they live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and make sure there is always enough time to kick back and enjoy life; to do otherwise would be disrespectful of the Cidade Maravilhosa.

Spreading your wings and soaring high above the city. Ever dream you can fly? Now you can, with no experience required! Your hang glider pilot will see to it that you are securely strapped in for take-off from Pedra Bonita, and accompany you on a safe, exhilarating ride through the city’s skies. After a 10- to 15-minute flight, you’ll land gently on São Conrado Beach. See p 93.

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4 The Best Shopping

Alexandra deVries FrommerMedia ePub

Shoes on display at Havaianas.

Shopping Best Bets

Best Place to Buy an Engagement Ring

H. Stern, Rua Visconde de Pirajá 490 (p 74)

Best Hip Women’s Clothing

Farm, Rua Visconde de Pirajá 365 (p 72)

Best Untouristy Beachwear

Blue Man, Rua Visconde de Pirajá 351 (p 70)

Best ’80s-Inspired Design

Mercado Moderno, Rua do Lavradio 130 (p 71)

Best Treats for Chocoholics

Kopenhagen, Rua Figueiredo Magalhães 131 (p 74)

Best Party Outfits

Casa Turuna, Rua Sr. dos Passos 122 (p 71)

Best Footwear Under R$15

Havaianas, Rua da Alfândega 176 (p 75)

Best Trendy Rio Souvenirs

Gilson Martins, Rua Figueiredo Magalhães 304 (p 73)

Best Mall for Spotting Celebrities

Shopping Leblon, Av. Afrânio de Melo Franco 290 (p 76)

Best Antiques Selection

Shopping Cassino Atlântico, Av. Atlântica 4240 (p 70)

Best Look Good & Do Good Cosmetics

O Boticário, Rua Santa Clara 70 (p 70)

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