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The Best Day Trips From Rio de Janeiro


Best Day Trips from Rio de Janeiro


The Marvellous City is a captivating place with many attractions to explore. However, we recommend including time in your itinerary to get out of the city for a day trip or a longer getaway to experience the incredible beauty of Rio de Janeiro’s surrounding areas. Here are some of the best places to visit outside Rio de Janeiro on a day tour or weekend escape.


Top 10 Places to Visit in Rio de Janeiro

In Angra dos Reis, you can enjoy beautiful hilly landscapes dotted with colourful boats/ Photo: Daytours4u

Meaning Bay of Kings, this coastal town is situated 168 km south of Rio de Janeiro. What makes Angra dos Reis spectacular is the lush Atlantic Forest which gives way to a glittering bay with 365 islands. The opportunities for adventure are endless with gorgeous isolated beaches, great diving and hiking trails.

Most tourists come to Angra dos Reis for the purpose of taking a boat trip around the bay to visit some of the islands, the most famous of which is Ilha Grande.

How to get to Angra dos Reis

This trip is popular to do as part of a day tour from Rio de Janeiro. This tour to Angra dos Reis and Ilha Grande will take you from Rio to Angra dos Reis by bus, before you board a traditional schooner (a sailing ship) and cruise to the beaches of Ilha Grande.

You can also book a convenient transfer to Angra dos Reis and explore the town and bay by yourself. Accommodation options here include sensational beach resorts around Angra, or convenient hotels and hostels near the port for those opting to use the town as a launching pad for exploring the bay. The most spectacular option, however, is to stay on Ilha Grande.




Top 10 Places to Visit in Rio de Janeiro

An ecological sanctuary, Ilha Grande is home to stunning beaches, waterfalls, mountains, rivers, and a whole lot more / Photo: Daytours4u

Ilha Grande, meaning Big Island, is the crown jewel in the Angra dos Reis archipelago. This large island has an interesting history as a pirate lair, a quarantine hospital, a penal colony housing Brazil’s most dangerous criminals, and now a tourism hotspot as a top island getaway.

Boats will take you to the island’s main town, Vila do Abraão. Development has been taking off on the island and the town now offers a variety of hotel and pousada options, as well as plenty of great beachfront restaurants where you can feast on fresh seafood, with a caipirinha in hand.

Note that there are no roads or cars on the island. To get around, hike along the island’s many walking paths, or take a boat from Abraão to the beaches. The most famous beach is Lopes Mendes, which has been included in various lists as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. A popular option is to walk to the beach from Abraão, a scenic 2 and a half hour walk, and then catch a boat back to town at the end of the day. Another postcard-perfect beach is Praia do Aventureiro, on the western side of the island. If you want to see some of the island’s history, head to Dois Rios beach, where you will find the ruins of the old Candido Mendes prison, abandoned in 1994, on the southern end of the beach. It’s an interesting place to ponder the island’s volatile history, which stands in stark contrast to its idyllic beauty.


How to get to Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande can be visited on a day tour from Rio de Janeiro. For more adventure, you can also book an Ilha Grande Hiking Tour, which will take you on a hike around the island to visit the beaches and panoramic viewpoints.

If you have enough time in your itinerary, consider staying on the island for a few days. Take a bus or transfer from Rio to Angra dos Reis. Regular boats run on the hour between Angra and Ilha Grande..




Top 10 Places to Visit in Rio de Janeiro

Along the coast of Búzios, visitors can find 24 beaches, some lapped by open waters and others by closed seas / Source

Buzios is to Rio what the Hamptons are to New York. The town made famous by Brigitte Bardot, who came here in the 60s to escape the paparazzi, is located on the peninsula to the north of Rio.

Today it is a favourite holiday spot of Cariocas. On weekends and holidays, many Brazilians, including the rich and the famous, flock to the town to enjoy the gorgeous beaches and wide selection of trendy bars, restaurants and nightclubs. On the weekdays and off season, you can enjoy a much more laid-back Buzios.

The draw of the town is the multiple beaches lining the peninsula. It’s the perfect spot to practice a number of outdoor sports, such as snorkelling, diving, surfing, kitesurfing, SUP, and kayaking. The peninsula also offers eco-tourism, hiking and a golf course. Those chasing the sun can take boat trips to explore the many coves and more hard-to-get-to beaches.

The beaches aren’t the only attraction that draws people to Buzios. Much more developed than many of its neighbouring beach towns, the town has plenty to keep you occupied. The main street of the town is Rua das Pedras where you will find an array of top-class restaurants, cafés, trendy bars, nightclubs, as well as art galleries and many shops.

Its proximity to Rio makes a day tour to Buzios perfect for those short on time. This will give you a chance to explore the town as well as the beaches on a boat tour around the peninsula. Or you can join the cariocas for a weekend getaway, or a quieter midweek break. Just keep in mind that this town fills up dramatically during summer with those looking to make the most of the temperature or to escape high season in the city. If you travel at these times, you will need to book your accommodation in advance.


How to get to Buzios

To get to Buzios you can take a bus from Rio, which runs from the Novo Rio bus station to Buzios. There are regular buses running. Check the schedule here. Another option is to hire a car, particularly if you want to explore other areas outside of Buzios. Alternatively, book a private transfer from Rio to Buzios, for the comfort of hotel-to-hotel transport. 



Top 10 Places to Visit in Rio de Janeiro

The charm of Paraty is in its colonial houses and quaint cobblestoned streets / Photo: Diana Figueroa

One of the most charming small towns on the coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro, the colonial town of Paraty is a popular spot for a city escape. Around 4 hours from Rio, a trip here is a bit long for a day trip, so bank on spending at least one night in Paraty. However, there is so much to do, that you might not want to ever leave.

The town’s importance once lay in its sugarcane industry and the gold trail, serving as the port for the gold coming from Minas Gerais. After falling into decline after the collapse of the gold trail, Paraty saw a revival and nowadays is a premier tourist destination, with people coming to see the colonial architecture, idyllic bay and explore the old gold trail. Paraty also plays host to FLIP, an important International Literary Festival.

A must-do activity while you’re in Paraty is a boat trip around the bay. The view from the water gives you a chance to explore some of Paraty’s best beaches, as well as take in great views of the town set against a tropical backdrop. You can also explore some of Paraty’s hidden beaches by land with a hike or a tour to Trindade Cove.

Don’t just stick to the beachfront though. Head inland to explore the Atlantic Forest and hills of Paraty. There are many waterfalls to explore, cachaça distilleries to visit, and great hikes through the forest and along the gold trail.

Those that want to dig below the surface beauty of the town and experience the local culture should consider booking a Caiçara Cultural Tour to visit a local community and learn more about the history of this region.


How to get to Paraty

You can book a transfer or take a bus from Rio de Janeiro. Check bus prices and schedules here. Keep in mind that you can’t book bus tickets far in advance.




Top 10 Places to Visit in Rio de Janeiro

At the entrance of Petrópolis you will see Palácio Quitandinha, an old casino built in the 1940’s / Source

Take a break from the beach and head into the mountains of the state of Rio de Janeiro where you’ll find Petrópolis, the Imperial City of Brazil. Tucked in the hills of the Serra dos Órgãos, this town used to be the summer residence of Brazilian Emperors and aristocrats in the 19th century. Today it is a popular vacation spot for Cariocas.

Tourism in Petrópolis revolves around its spectacular 19th-century architecture, interesting palaces, and lush mountainous backdrops popular vacation spot for Cariocas.

Some of the main attractions in Petrópolis are: the Imperial Museum of Brazil, which was once the summer palace of the emperor, the Crystal Palace, the gothic Cathedral São Pedro de Alcôntara, a walk around the Centro Histórico (the historical centre), Quitandinha Palace and the Museu Casa de Santos Dumont, the house of Alberto Santos Dumont, the Brazilian aviation pioneer.

Active travellers should also consider setting aside enough time to hike the in the Serra dos Orgãos National Park. One of the most popular treks is the traverse between Petrópolis and Teresópolis


How to get to Petrópolis

The easiest way to get here is with a day tour to Petrópolis. Those wishing to stay longer to enjoy the hiking trails can take a bus from Rio. Regular services run between Rio and Petrópolis.




Top 10 Places to Visit in Rio de Janeiro

Cabo Frio is the municipality with the best infrastructure in the Lakes region around Rio / Source

Situated between Buzios and Arraial do Cabo, Cabo Frio is a fairly large town that is very popular with locals. Few foreign tourists come here since you need a car to get around, and it doesn't have the same fame as Buzios and Paraty.

However, making the trip here is well worth it. Founded in 1615 by the Portuguese, the colonial legacy can be seen today in the colonial houses and Fort São Mateus. Of course, the most popular attractions in Cabo Frio are the beaches.

The main beach is Praia do Forte, which boasts 7.5 km of pristine coastline, with plenty of space for all the Brazilian holidaymakers. Surfers should head out a bit further to Praia das Dunas, where stronger currents and bigger waves are great for surfing and kitesurfing.

Further along the peninsula is Arraial do Cabo, a place famous for its scuba diving. More laid back than Buzios and Cabo Frio, Arraial has a lot less infrastructure, is cheaper and boasts incredible clear blue water, surrounded by green hills. It also has an incredible array of diving spots for every diving level. You can book a full day scuba diving tour to Arraial do Cabo from Rio de Janeiro to experience this famous diving spot in Brazil.

How to get to Cabo Frio

Rent a car in Rio and drive to Cabo Frio. Alternatively, take a bus and rent a car in town, as public transport within Cabo Frio is limited. There are regular buses running throughout the day between Rio and Cabo Frio. See the timetable here.

You can book your day tours outside Rio de Janeiro and transfers online with Rdj4u. If you have any questions, our customer support team is always available to help you plan your perfect vacation in Rio.



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