Paraty is a picturesque colonial town located in the southern tip of the Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil. Located on the Green Coast of Brazil, Paraty lies between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. and is situated within a secluded area with pristine beaches surrounded by mountains. It is still magically undiscovered by tourists, making it is an ideal place for couples or visitors that are looking to take a step back from city life and soak in the natural beauty and charm of Paraty.

Paraty was established by the Portuguese in the late 17th century as an important port for transporting gold.  Today, its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is renowned for its well-preserved colonial architecture, especially its streets that get flooded by design during high tide.

Paraty has evolved from a thriving gold port to a popular artist refuge and tourist hotspot. Its cobblestone streets, Portuguese colonial architecture and outstanding natural beauty offer a range of activities to suit all interests, from exploring the historic town center to hiking through the stunning surrounding mountains and relaxing on the nearby beaches.

Beyond the town center, Paraty boasts an abundance of natural beauty with surrounding mountains being well suited for hiking, with trails leading to waterfalls, natural pools, and panoramic viewpoints. Its surrounding beaches are also a major attraction, offering cruises, crystal-clear waters, and white sand.

Exploring ParatyHouses in Paraty

Paraty is a popular destination for visitors that are interested in experiencing the rich history, beautiful beaches, and stunning landscapes of this region.  Surrounded by lush Atlantic rainforest and crystalline waters, Paraty offers a stunning backdrop at all times.

Historic CenterFlooded Streets of Paraty at High Tide

The historic center of Paraty is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, and colorful buildings. The narrow streets run through very well-preserved colonial buildings that are as colorful as they are beautiful. The historic center has a number of art galleries, restaurants, and cafes, making it a vibrant area by day and night.

The cobblestone streets are very charming, though it is advised to be careful while walking over them as they can be very uneven in places. 

Interestingly, Paraty is built just below sea level. At high tide, the seawater rises, and the streets flood 6-10 inches deep. The enchanting streets of Paraty undergo a fascinating transformation as the waters from the bay gently spill onto the cobblestone pathways, creating a surreal and picturesque scene. Rather than being a nuisance, this natural occurrence adds a touch of magic to Paraty’s colonial charm. As the water retreats back to the sea, it creates a natural filtration and cleaning of the streets. During high tide, The reflections of colorful buildings in the glistening water create a mesmerizing reflection, turning an ordinary flood into a captivating dance between the town and the sea, showcasing Paraty’s resilience and harmonious coexistence with the natural elements.

Paraty Churches

Igreja de Santa Rita at High Tide

Igreja de Santa Rita

Paraty has four major churches located in the old town that are religious institutions as well as as architectural and cultural treasures, weaving together the threads of Paraty’s history and heritage.

Matriz de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios (Our Lady of Remedies Parish Church) is  Paraty’s principal church, located in the heart of the historic center. Construction began in 1646, and the church was consecrated in 1873. The church serves as a focal point for religious celebrations, including the renowned Paraty Religious Tradition Week.

Santa Rita Church dates back to the early 18th century. Originally a chapel, it underwent expansions and renovations, culminating in the present-day neoclassical style. It is dedicated to Saint Rita of Cascia.

Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário e São Benedito (Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and Saint Benedict) was built in the late 18th century, and is a striking example of Brazilian colonial architecture. With its characteristic whitewashed walls and distinctive ornamentation, the church served as a religious and social center for the Afro-Brazilian community. The annual Feast of the Divine, rooted in African cultural traditions, is celebrated here, emphasizing the church’s historical and cultural significance.

Capela de São Roque (Chapel of Saint Roch), constructed in 1722, is a charming small chapel located near the pier. Dedicated to Saint Roch, the patron saint of epidemics and plagues, the chapel played a crucial role during outbreaks of diseases that affected the town.

Paraty BeachesView from a Boat Tour in Paraty

Paraty has many beaches that are perfect for surfing, swimming, or just relaxing. There are two main beaches close to the port, but looking out from the port, tourists can see many secluded beaches along several of the local islands. Cao Morto is the main beach in town, while Barra do Corumbe is a smaller beach in town with great seafood restaurants. Praia de Sao Goncalo is known for calm waters, Praia de Jabaquara is full of wildlife, and Cepilho is a surfing beach. Praia Grande is a nearby village with a fish market, while Meio is a popular swimming beach.

Pontal Beach is located just a short walk from the historic center and is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. The beach is surrounded by lush green hills and offers stunning views of the bay, and offers kayaks or stand-up paddleboards for rent to explore the calm waters of the bay.

Saco do Mamangua

Saco do Mamangua is a beautiful fjord located just a short drive from Paraty. It is a popular spot for hiking, kayaking, and swimming.  There are boat tours of the fjord to explore the hidden beaches and coves that are only accessible by boat.

Waterfalls

Paraty is surrounded by lush rainforest, and there are several beautiful waterfalls located just a short drive from the town. Some of the most popular waterfalls include Toboga Waterfall, Tarzan Waterfall, and Pedra Branca Waterfall, which are accessible through guided tours or can be explored on their own

Boat TripsParaty Tour Boats

Boat trips are one of the most popular activities in Paraty. Tourists can take a boat trip to explore the nearby natural wonders, such as the beautiful beaches and coves. Some of the popular spots to visit during a boat trip include Praia da Lula, Praia Vermelha, and Praia de Santa Rita. Tourists can also book a private boat trip to explore the region at their own pace.

Kayaking

Kayaking is a great way to explore the beautiful mangroves and beaches around Paraty Bay. Visitors can rent kayaks and paddle through the calm waters, enjoying the peaceful surroundings. The Kayak Experience is a popular eco-experience that takes tourists through the mangroves and beaches around Paraty Bay.  Jabaquara mangroves is a great place for kayaking in Paraty.

Hiking the Caminho de Ouro (The Gold Trail)

Caminho de Ouro is a historic hiking trail that was used by the Portuguese to transport gold from the mines to the coast. The trail takes hikers through lush forests, past waterfalls, and through small villages. Local guides are available for hire to learn more about the history of the trail and the region.

Bocaina National Park

Bocaina National Park offers dramatic Paraty Waterfalls, hiking, rivers, and streams. There are full-day jungle jeep waterfall and Cachaça Distillery tours to explore the park.

Arts

Paraty is a hub for culture and arts, hosting numerous festivals throughout the year. The Flip Literary Festival is one of the most famous, attracting authors and artists from all over the world.

Cuisine and NightlifeCocktails in Paraty

Paraty offers a diverse range of dining options to satisfy any palate. The town’s dining scene is a fusion of Portuguese, African, and indigenous flavors. The seafood restaurants along the waterfront tend to be popular, as are restaurants that serve traditional Brazilian food.

One of the highlights of Paraty’s cuisine is cachaça, a distilled spirit made from sugarcane juice. Visitors can learn about the history and production of cachaça at Escritório da Cachaça and sample different varieties at Alambique Cachoeira.

Given the town center is pedestrian, Paraty’s nightlife with its live music and bars is very accessible. During full moon nights, many establishments offer special events and parties, making for a truly unforgettable experience.

 

Getting to Paraty

Paraty is located on Brazil’s Atlantic coast, between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. There are several ways to get to Paraty, depending on where you are coming from.

From Rio de Janeiro

If you are coming from Rio de Janeiro, the easiest way to get to Paraty is by bus. Buses depart regularly from Rio’s Novo Rio Bus Terminal, and the journey takes approximately four hours. Alternatively, you can hire a private car or take a taxi, but this can be more expensive.

From São Paulo

If you are coming from São Paulo, you can take a bus from the Tietê Bus Terminal. The journey takes approximately six hours, depending on traffic. Alternatively, you can hire a private car or take a taxi, but this can be more expensive.

Once you arrive in Paraty, you can get around on foot or by bicycle. The town’s historic center is pedestrian-only, so you will need to park your car or take a taxi to get there. Taxis are also available for longer journeys or if you need to travel outside of the town center.

Accommodation in Paraty

Paraty offers a wide range of accommodation options that cater to every type of traveler, from luxury seekers to backpackers.

Luxury StaysPousada Bromélias

For those looking for a luxurious stay in Paraty, there are many options available. Some of the most popular luxury hotels in Paraty include the Casa Turquesa, which is situated in the heart of the historic center and boasts a beautiful pool and spa, and the Pousada Literária, which is a boutique hotel that features a library, a restaurant, and a bar. Other luxury options include the Pousada do Sandi, which is housed in a colonial mansion, and the Pousada Bromélias, which is located in the lush Atlantic Forest.

Comfortable PousadasPousada Porto Imperia

Pousadas are a type of guesthouse that are popular in Brazil, and Paraty has no shortage of comfortable and charming pousadas. Some of the best pousadas in Paraty include the Pousada do Ouro, which is an 18th century house located in the historic center and features a pool and a sauna, and the Pousada Porto Imperial, which is housed in a restored 19th-century mansion and features a beautiful garden. Other options include the Pousada Villa del Sol, Geko Pousada Paraty and Pousada do Príncipe, which are located near the beach.

Backpacker HostelsChill Inn Paraty Hostel & Pousada

For budget-conscious travelers, there are many backpacker hostels in Paraty that offer affordable accommodation. Some of the most popular hostels include the Che Lagarto Hostel Paraty, which is located near the historic center and features a pool and a bar, and the Chill Inn Paraty Hostel & Pousada, which is situated near the beach and offers a variety of room types. 


 

Closing Thoughts

Paraty is a very charming town that is accessible from both Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and well worth a visit if you can plan a couple of days given the travel time to it is about half a day each way. Its colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and natural surroundings are amazing to experience, and it offers options for visitors with all budgets ranging from budget to luxury. 

Guest Bio: Hanit Gyani is a New Yorker with a passion for travel, new experiences, and expanding her horizons. She has a blog about all things New York, which she manages in addition to her full-time job as a professional. Hanit has a personal goal of visiting at least one new country a year, and Brazil was an amazing addition to her list.

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