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Things To Do In Paraty: Explore Brazil’s Colonial Gem

Paraty is a stunning tropical paradise in Brazil, filled with incredible things to do and places to visit, such as traditional distilleries where the iconic cachaça is made, beautiful beaches to soak up the sun, and more.

If you’re looking for a quality list of things to do in Paraty, Brazil, this article will come in handy. From exciting town tours that will educate you on the history of Paraty, to unforgettable nights at a local bar, this guide has it all. Get ready to discover Paraty and its best spots and local secrets!

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History of Paraty, Brazil

Before we begin our journey of things to do in Paraty, let’s learn the history of this charming town. Nestled along the shimmering coastline of Rio de Janeiro, Paraty is a town where the past is painted on every wall and whispered with every wave that laps at its shores. Its story began long before the Portuguese settlers claimed its beauty in the mid-1600s. The indigenous Guaianás people were the original inhabitants of this land, living off the bountiful sea and dense Atlantic Forest.

However, Paraty’s fate took a turn when gold was discovered in the late 17th century in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. Paraty became a pivotal port in the Gold Rush of Brazil, serving as the end-point of the Caminho do Ouro or Gold Trail, where gold was shipped to Portugal. This wealth spurred the town’s growth, and the Portuguese influence can still be seen in the colonial buildings and cobblestone streets that make up the city’s historic center.

When the 18th century approached, the gold mines began to diminish and Paraty’s golden age seemed to weaken. Paraty became a quiet town as its importance in Brazilian trade diminished. Paraty re-emerged in the 1970s as a cultural and tourist destination when a road was finally built connecting Paraty to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Today, Paraty stands as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is noted for its well-preserved colonial architecture. Its history is a mosaic of indigenous culture, colonial ambition, and a resilient spirit that has allowed it to emerge as one of the jewels to visit in Brazil.

Things To Do In Paraty That Will Make You Samba

Discover Paraty’s Spirit: A Tour of the Town’s Famed Cachaça Distilleries

A cachaça distillery one of the top things to do in Paraty.
Cachaça distillery in Paraty, Brazil

One of the top things to do in Paraty is to tour a cachaça distillery. Paraty isn’t just known for its picturesque scenery; it’s also famous for its cachaça. So famous that people stopped asking for the drink by its name, and started referring to it as a “paraty”. 

You must visit a distillery while in Paraty, and if you’re looking for the go-to place to discover their incredible cachaça, is definitely Alambique Eugenho D’Ouro, a name that echoes with quality and tradition. Be sure to try the green tea cachaça, you will end up leaving with a bottle.

The journey does not finish there though, there are plenty of other places that offer excellent tours, and ensure a great time, such as Alambique Paratiana, Cachaça Pedra Branca, Cachaça Coqueiro, Destilaria Engenho D’Agua, and Cachaça Maria Izabel.

Make sure to ask the distillers what their signature spirit is. Each distillery has its claim to fame, and you’ll want to sample the best they have to offer. It’s not just about tasting; it’s about experiencing the diversity of Paraty’s spirit, one sip at a time.

Experience the Town on a Paraty Walking Tour

Taking a Paraty walking tour is an enriching way to delve into the heart of this historic town. Guided by knowledgeable locals, you’ll discover hidden gems and learn the stories behind the well-trodden paths. 

If you’re looking for something to do in Paraty that is affordable, long-lasting, and fun, a walking tour is a great option. You’ll get to know the significance of the colonial architecture, discover the natural wonders surrounding the down, and—as if that wasn’t enough already!—you get a chance to get your steps in for the day. I’d say it’s a win-win.

A walking tour offers a chance to absorb the town’s ambiance, understand its heritage, and see why Paraty sightseeing is renowned for its charm and beauty.

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Indulge in Retail Therapy

If shopping is your cardio, then Paraty is your gym. The town is a treasure trove of unique finds, from artisanal crafts to bespoke clothing. Strolling through the historical center, you’ll find boutiques and markets brimming with local goods that reflect the town’s artistic spirit. 

Shopping here isn’t just a transaction; it’s a journey through Paraty’s creative soul. So, if you’re wondering what to do in Paraty for a little retail therapy, the answer is everything from shop till you drop to browsing leisurely through quaint local stores.

Stroll Through Paraty’s Past: The Historical Center

Historical center in Paraty, Brazil.
Paraty’s Historical Center

Paraty’s Historical Center is wonderful, with streets that tell old tales, and stores with the best products sold by the kindest people. When you walk through Paraty’s streets, it feels like you’re going back to the 19th century amid colonial structures and timeless churches.

You’ll discover hidden gems at every turn: artisan shops, inviting cafés, and the vibrant doors adorning whitewashed walls, each a story in color. In Paraty, history isn’t just learned; it’s lived with every step.

Connect with Nature at an Organic Farm in Paraty

If you’re eager to taste Paraty’s local lifestyle, spending time at an organic farm is the way to go. These farms offer fresh produce and an immersive experience with nature. You can walk through the fields while you learn about sustainable agriculture and everything it requires to properly function.

As if this wasn’t great on its own, you can pick ripe fruits straight from the tree. A true farm-to-table experience. Each farm offers different options, like exotic fruits and organic vegetables, as well as cooking classes where they teach you how to turn what you harvest into a delicious homemade meal.

Journey Along Paraty’s Gold Trail

The Golden Trail is the name of the route made from its discovery point, to the port of Brazil before it was sent to Portugal. We highly recommend you take a tour to understand all the hard work it took to extract gold from the mines and to later transport it. This wasn’t an easy task, thus gold is extremely heavy, and the route cut through the lush Atlantic rainforest.

Whether you’re into history or are just looking for an active way to tour Paraty, this is the perfect activity for you. You can explore the ruins and relics from the 17th century while you take a pleasant hike or walk.

Admire the Colorful Doors of Paraty

Colorful doors in the historic center. One of the top things to do in Paraty.
Colorful doors in Paraty, Brazil’s historic center

Another great thing to do in Paraty is admire the colorful doors throughout the town’s historical center. Each door tells a story, a silent tale from the town’s rich culture. As you wander through the cobbled streets, let the turquoise, yellow, and coral hues invite you into a world where architecture meets art.

These vibrant doors are a photographer’s paradise and a tourist’s delight, making it an unmissable part of any Paraty sightseeing adventure.

Savor the Local Favorite: A Caipirinha

Caipirinha is a zesty cocktail that blends cachaça with the tang of lime and a bit of sugar, or something sweet. While you’re staying in Paraty, you can’t miss out on trying a caipirinha; and it’s also a refreshing way to respite from the tropical heat.

There are plenty of bars and restaurants where you can order a caipirinha, and when the night falls, it is very common to see almost everyone head over to their favorite reuniting spot for this.

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Immerse Yourself in the Vibrancy of Carnival

If you didn’t know, Brazil is known for celebrating Carnival like no other, and Paraty is no exception. If you get the chance to visit Paraty during Carnival season you’ll get to see the town filled with vibrant colors, music, and dance. Surely an unforgettable experience for any tourist!

You’ll have the time of your life, as the Carnival takes all over the city. Quite literally, the entire city lights up and dances to the rhythm of samba. 

Savor the Flavors and Sunshine at Praia do Pontal

Praia do Pontal is a delightful spot that deserves a top place on your “things to do in Paraty” list. It’s where golden sands offer the perfect canvas for sunseekers to get that enviable tan while the gentle sound of the ocean provides a calming soundtrack. 

Combine this with the incredible local cuisine available right on the beach, and you’ve got a recipe for a perfect day under the Brazilian sun. Eating and tanning at Praia do Pontal, two things Paraty is famous for, is the perfect way to spend your day in this charming town.

Bask in the Serenity of Sono Beach

Sono Beach offers a great answer for those searching for what to do in Paraty for a peaceful escape. Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Paraty, it’s a slice of paradise where golden sands meet crystal-clear waters.

You can get there through a scenic trail or a short boat ride, and it is the perfect spot to unwind. Whether you’re looking to sunbathe, swim, or simply enjoy the natural beauty, Sono Beach is a blissful retreat from the bustle of daily life.

Discover the Lush Atlantic Forest

The Atlantic forest should be named the eighth wonder if you ask us. The biodiversity you can find while discovering the Atlantic forest is unimaginable, and if you’re a fan of nature, you should spend some time getting to know Paraty’s nature gem.

Whether you like hiking, watching birds, or simply enjoying being around nature, the Atlantic forest offers this and so much more. Plus, Brazil is known for being one of the most biodiverse places in the world, providing habitat for a wide variety of species.

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Embrace the Art of Relaxation

Paraty is the place to go if you’re looking for some time to relax. This picturesque town embraces the art of dolce far niente, also known as ‘the sweetness of doing nothing’. 

The calm vibe Paraty offers is quite contagious, with its cozy cafés, tranquil parks, and welcoming stores. For those coming from a buzzing city, you might find it shocking how peaceful Paraty, and Brazil in general, is. The way to live here is very relaxed, and stress-free.

Take your time to take in the beauty of the ocean while strolling down the beach, or even find a hammock to gently sway while you read a book. Whatever you choose, we’re sure you will have a wonderful time here in Paraty.

Take a Leisurely Stroll on the Pier

Rock pier in Paraty.
Rocky Pier in Paraty

A stroll along the pier is an underrated activity, and in this section, I’ll make you want to take a walk on every pier available in Paraty. 

Here is where you can watch the boats bobbing on the water as the sun sets, painting the sky in shades of fire and gold. The pier isn’t just a structure, it’s a vantage point to observe the daily ballet of sea and sky and the fishermen’s return with the day’s catch. It’s a simple pleasure, yet it encapsulates the tranquil essence of life in this historic town.

Embark on an Island Hopping Adventure 

Island hopping is one of the most exciting things to do in Paraty for those who love the sea. The bay of Paraty is dotted with tropical islands, each with its own charm. 

Hop on a boat and set off to explore these hidden gems where you’ll find undisturbed beaches, clear waters (perfect for snorkeling), and trails that lead to panoramic views. Every island offers a new adventure and more of Paraty’s natural beauty to uncover.

Unwind on the Pristine Beaches of Paraty

Relaxing at a beach is a key ingredient in a perfect Paraty getaway recipe. The beaches here are postcard-perfect, offering a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whether you’re looking to sunbathe, swim in the peaceful waters, or just lie back with a good book, the beaches in Paraty provide a calm retreat where the only thing on your agenda is relaxation.

Set Sail and Navigate Paraty’s Island Gems

Sailing through the islands is a unique adventure and a luxurious way to see what Paraty has to offer. Hiring a private captain to navigate the serene waters is worth every penny, especially when it costs as little as $40 an hour. Glide along the canals, feel the sea breeze, and hop from one island to another, each offering unique allure. 

Kayak and Encounter Paraty’s Wildlife

Kayaking in Paraty is a wonderful activity to add to your itinerary. You’ll find calm waters and a wide variety of wildlife to take pictures of. From impressive birds to an overflow of fish below you, Paraty has plenty to offer.

It’s a peaceful yet exciting and enriching activity to do, if you’re looking to connect with nature and take a break from the endless walking on street tours.

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Embark on a Fjord Cruise

Did you know you can take a cruise to the fjord-like region near Paraty? And we recommend you don’t skip this! 

Admire how the lush hillsides drop into the sea as well as how the animals live in their natural habitat that looks like a postcard. Another tranquil and exciting activity you can add to your Paraty itinerary.

Savor the Freshness: Paraty’s Seafood Experience

The local Paraty cuisine awaits with plenty of seafood dishes for you to try out. Enjoy the day’s catch, seasoned with local herbs and served with the zest of lime, we promise you won’t regret it!

It’s crazy how the food you’re eating was caught just a few hours ago. No chemicals, no processed ingredients, just fresh fish and vegetables that are great for your health.

Discover History and Culture at a Paraty Museum

Paraty’s museums are hidden treasures of history and culture, and visiting one of them is a must-do for any curious traveler. Whether it’s learning about Paraty’s role in the gold trade or its rich maritime history, the museums offer insights into the past that have shaped the town. Each exhibit is a window into the lives of those who walked these streets centuries ago, providing context and depth to your Paraty sightseeing itinerary.

Explore on Two Wheels with a Bike Rental

Renting a bike in Paraty is one of the best ways to mix exploration with exercise during your trip. You’ll get to feel like a local while you still tour this amazing place.

Plus, you can choose to explore the center, take a bike for a mountain adventure, or even a peaceful beach stroll.

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Stroll Across Paraty’s Bridge

View of colorful fishing boats from Paraty's bridge.
View of colorful fishing boats from Paraty’s bridge

Walking across Paraty’s bridge is like stepping into a postcard. The stunning structure offers incredible views of the colonial architecture, allowing you to take pictures or just take in the moment.

The Paraty Bridge is an excellent spot for walking and is part of numerous sightseeing tours. Is definitely something you don’t want to miss.

Explore Natural Beauty on a Hike

If you’re an active traveler, taking a hike through the surrounding areas of Paraty can be one of the most rewarding things to do. The trails here range from easy walks to challenging treks, leading to hidden waterfalls, calm beaches, and breathtaking viewpoints. Every hike is a chance to connect with the incredible landscape that makes this place so special.

Some easy-to-moderate hikes to consider are Prainha-Ilha de Araújo. Saco do Mamanguá a Pico do Pão de Açúar, and Poço dos Ingleses e Cachoeira Pedra Branca.

Discover the Natural Wonders: Waterfall Hopping in Paraty

One of the things to do in Paraty is chase waterfalls.
One of the many waterfalls in Paraty, Brazil

Did you know you can chase waterfalls in Paraty? A thrilling adventure for sure!  The most celebrated one, Cachoeira do Tobogã, is not just a stunning cascade you can slide down, but also a gathering spot for locals and travelers, which also features an outdoor restaurant to enjoy a meal among nature. 

Nearby, you can find others such as Pedra Branca and Tarzan Falls, which shine with their own unique beauty and offer refreshing pools for a memorable day out.

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Dive into the Depths: Scuba Diving in Paraty

Scuba diving is extremely fun, and Paraty offers a new world of underwater wonders to discover. Thanks to the clear waters and diverse marine life, you won’t get tired of spotting incredible fish, corals, and more. No matter if you’re an experienced diver or if this is your first time trying it out, there are many instructors ready to help you out.

Who knows, apart from the stunning marine life and scenery, you might even discover hidden underwater treasures from ancient shipwrecks.

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Experience Gastronomic Excellence: Paraty’s Fine Dining Scene

For those looking to splurge on fine dining, Paraty’s culinary scene won’t disappoint. There are plenty of restaurants that offer exquisite meals, such as Banana da Terra, Pousada e Restaurante Bartholomeu, and Restaurante Caminho Do Ouro.

These places offer both traditional Brazilian cuisine and international flavors, with world-class service, innovative dishes, and a wonderful setting to enjoy a night out. Be sure to make a reservation if you plan on dining at one of these restaurants on the weekend.

Enjoy The View At Restaurante Dona Ondina

Restaurante Dona Ondina
View from Dona Ondina

Dining at Restaurante Dona Ondina is a perfect way to end your day. It features stunning views of the bay, as well as an excellent menu. It is a great place to reflect on your day’s adventure, while you enjoy a cold drink and stare at Paraty’s beauty.

Shop For Local Handicrafts

The town’s markets and boutiques are filled with handmade goods we highly recommend you browse. You’ll find woven baskets, unique jewelry, and more. 

What’s great about shopping for local handicrafts is that you can chat with the artisans, get to know their creative process, and learn more about how they use local materials to create one-of-a-kind pieces.

Take your time to browse, chat with the artisans, and find that perfect, unique item to take home with you.

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Experience the Nightlife: Bar Hopping in Paraty

Bar hopping in Paraty is as much about the lively atmosphere as the drinks they offer. Each bar has its own character, from live music venues to quiet spots where the conversation flows. 

It is the perfect time to connect with locals and make new friends, all while you learn how to dance samba and speak some Portuguese!

Where To Stay In Paraty, Brazil

Finding a good place to stay while vacationing can be a struggle, which is why we found the perfect option, no matter if you’re traveling solo or with other people. Enjoy A Charming Stay at Pousada do Ouro.

Pousada do Ouro is a beautifully preserved 18th-century guesthouse, located in the historical heart of Paraty, 10 minutes away from the serene Pontal Beach. 

Each room is a burst of cheer, with bright colors and rustic furniture. Featuring amenities like air conditioning, and a flat-screen TV to ensure you have a comfortable stay. Plus, a private bathroom, with complimentary toiletries and a hairdryer.

The outdoor pool is a peaceful oasis, perfect for a refreshing dip or a leisurely day basking in the sun. If you fancy a drink, the bar offers a great spot to unwind with a variety of exotic cocktails to choose from. As for breakfast, the place offers a delightful menu featuring tropical fruits, an assortment of cold cuts, and freshly baked bread rolls. 

For guests arriving by car, you can enjoy free parking as a welcome benefit. The hotel is very close to the main bus terminal, about a 10-minute drive away, and Paraty Airport, located 2.1 km from the property. 

Pousada do Ouro will make your stay in Paraty one you’ll never forget!

Navigating Your Way to Paraty

Finding your way to Paraty is an adventure on its own, filled with promising scenic views and the excitement of traveling to a historic destination. Whether you’re coming by air, land, or sea, each route to Paraty offers its own unique charm. 

Here’s my go-to guide you can use to decide how to get from wherever you are to the beautiful Paraty. Plus, some key things to know about each means of transport to keep your journey as enjoyable as your stay.

By Car: (pros: travel at your own pace, enjoy the view; cons: long journey, you might get too tired)

Driving to Paraty allows you to enjoy the journey and stunning views without rushing. There are plenty of car rental options in both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, offering a comfortable and flexible way to travel. 

If you’re traveling from São Paulo to Paraty, you can expect a 4.5-hour drive. On the other hand, if you’re starting from Rio de Janeiro, you’ll get to Paraty in about 4 hours. Both starting points and routes offer incredible views of the mountains and sea.

Another option available is hiring a professional driver. This is great if you’re traveling with your family or a big group of friends. This will allow you to travel more comfortably for sure.

If you prefer not to rent a car, you can reach Paraty by shuttle. I went with this option and booking a shuttle to get from Rio to Paraty was super easy. Shuttles are air-conditioned and have plenty of room. Along the route, you do make one stop to stretch your legs, go to the restroom if needed, and buy snacks.

By Bus: pros: eco-friendly, comfortable; cons: lack of privacy, sharing seats)

Public transportation is a budget-friendly option that not many travelers consider. Buses run from São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to Paraty, and they take between 5-6 hours, depending on where you begin your route.

The main bus company servicing these routes is Costa Verde, known for its clean and comfortable buses equipped with air conditioning and reclining seats.

You can get to Paraty from other Brazilian cities as well. Simply check the bus schedule and find the nearest station. Make sure to double-check the departure times and arrivals during peak season, as some services might change.

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Best Time To Visit Paraty, Brazil

One of the colorful fishing boats in Paraty, Brazil.
One of the colorful fishing boats in Paraty, Brazil

Deciding when to visit Paraty is a tough choice, as it can influence the type of activities to book, what clothes to bring, and more. Paraty is a tropical paradise that can be visited all year round, but each season offers something unique.

Summer

December to March is the best time to visit Paraty, thus it features warm temperatures and Carnival events. Summer can bring more rain, and since it is peak season, larger crowds and higher prices can affect your planning, so plan in advance.

Winter

June to September is ideal for those looking to explore historical sites and nature trails comfortably. Paraty is not likely to experience much rain during winter, so feel free to book outdoor activities and small trips. 

Spring And Fall

Spring runs from October to November and fall goes from April to May. Both are excellent seasons to visit Paraty for those who want to enjoy the city without too many tourists, perfect for visitors looking for a more relaxed trip. 

Things To Do In Paraty Conclusion

Paraty is a charming city that offers plenty of experiences you can’t miss out on. This guide will help you plan an exciting yet relaxing trip to Paraty with enough things to fill up your day but not too much that you’re exhausted at night. 

Whether you’re tasting the local cuisine, exploring stunning rainforests, or simply soaking in the vibrant culture, each moment here is a treasure. Paraty is a unique destination that has everything you need!

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