The Costa Verde
The Costa Verde of Brazil is the name of the beautiful coast between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The fastest way to go between those two cities is by the highway but we highly recommend to make a detour by the smaller, curvier road alongside the ocean. The road is passing by amazing viewpoints as this coastline is a mountainous coastline. With every curve be prepared to have a glimpse at a small city nestled in a small bay, surrounded by mountains covered with jungle… realtime postcards.
Paraty is a highly advisable stop on the way. It’s about 6 hours from Sao Paulo, 4 hours from Rio de Janeiro. But most importantly: it is a very very beautiful little city with a Portuguese colonial center, cobbled streets and 4 centuries old buildings dating to its time as a port.
The old city of Paraty
Discovering the old city by day
Paraty is indeed a relatively old city, many buildings were built in the 17th and 18th century, like the chapel Santa Rita which is built in 1722. The little streets of the old center are still paved. The white houses are aligned alongside, presenting to the passerby the bright colors or their doors and shutters. Wherever your eyes wander you will find beauty, that is preserved in a very natural way.
And one of the reasons for this? The love the inhabitants have for their city. It is obvious that they care: everything is clean and tidy. Off-season you can smell the scent of fresh paint on most of the houses. Regularly you will see people swiping the floor or fixing something. But most importantly: people you meet talk with a lot of affection about Paraty. When you look around you can understand why.
Enjoying the old city by night
If during the day, the old city is relatively quiet, at night it gets very animated. Shops and art galleries stay open late, many bars and restaurants will welcome you and often you will have a band playing on the main square or an art exhibition in front of one of the church. It seems like there is always something happening. But if you want some calm, go towards the sea, where the streets are empty and silent and offer you a unique atmosphere.
On the other side of the bridge
Passing over the bridge from the old city you will arrive on the “touristic” harbor: this is where most of the boats will wait for tourists willing to go on day trip. Another spot is in front of the Chapel Santa Rita. The boats are mainly wooden colorful boats. We really regretted not staying longer in Paraty as to enjoy a boat tour on the surrounding islands. But the weather forecast misled us badly (it was supposed to rain) and at that point it was too late to change our travel itinerary. Paraty and its surrounding definitely deserve more time…
Continuing towards the ocean will give you a nice view over the old city… and over the small beach of Paraty. Nothing to compare with the beaches of Trindade (see below). If you feel like a little walk you have a trail going over the hill to the old fort. Time flew by and we didn’t have time to go explore further, but this city will be on top of the list of places to re-visit in Brazil in the future.
Our adresses in Paraty
Where to sleep?
We stayed at Aracy Hostel Paraty and found it to be a good choice. It is located just at the border of the old city at 5 minutes by foot from the bus station. The owner is very friendly and will help you plan your stay. Worth mentioning is that the included breakfast is also very nice. The only problem, as often, is the sound insulation of the rooms. But all in all it is a great value and we recommend it.
Where to enjoy a cheap but good caipirinha?
Of course many places around the city offers caipirinhas, but we found this one to be delicious for a great price (starting at 15 R$ for 2 caipi com limao) to be enjoyed on the small terrace facing the main square: Cachaçaria Cana Da Praça. We didn’t try but apparently food there is not as good.
Where to enjoy an acai shake?
Humm, the famous açaí! It is everywhere in Brasil but we noted that the prices varied quite a lot! If you arrive by bus we recommend you to have a break at Mr. Shake just next to the bus terminal. You can opt for a classic acai shake or a sweeter version: the sundae with you choice of topping! Yummy!
Where to buy an original souvenir?
We loved the artwork of Marcelo Dalto that you can see in his Atelier Aracati, in the old center. This metal worker use coins to create unique pendants with incredibly precise cut-out details. You can even bring your own coin!
Want to enjoy a paradisiac day at the beach near Paraty?
Head to Trindade and read our article to discover what to expect there! (Spoiler: it’s amazing!)