Paraty, Brazil is a small colonial town midway between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. We put together this Paraty Travel Guide including things to do, where to stay, what to eat, and more. Read on to help you plan your trip to Paraty, Brazil!
Paraty in a Nutshell
Paraty is a small Brazilian town with cobble-stone streets and colonial buildings, making it a stark difference from the metropolises it is situated between. The most popular things to do in Paraty are go on an island boat tour, visit Poço do Tarzan, and visit a cachaça distillery, also known as an alambique. In our opinion, aside from exploring the town center (which is an obvious), visiting Poço do Tarzan and sliding down the natural waterslide is THE one thing you MUST do in Paraty. The other experiences are great, but you can find comparable ones elsewhere in Brazil.
Keep reading for more tips on things to do in Paraty!
Things to Do in Paraty
Visit Poço do Tarzan (& a natural waterslide!)
Aside from exploring the historic center, this is the one thing you MUST do in Paraty! An island boat tour is cool, but there are other island excursions around Brazil that are comparable (like ones offered in Ilha Grande, a short hour away from Paraty).
Poço do Tarzan is a natural pool, waterfall, and waterslide all in one. The upper part is the pool, fed by a small waterfall. There is a restaurant with live music and pretty good traditional Brazilian food. Downstream, at a very short walking distance, is a unique natural waterslide that we hadn’t like! It’s a ton of fun if you’re into a little adventure!!
Keep reading below for how to get there and tips!
To get to Poço do Tarzan, take the bus to Penha from the bus terminal (the same terminal where you arrived). The bus should be the one closest to the town center and should have a line. I think the ticket was ~R$3 pp. No need to buy bus tickets in advance.
After about 30min, you’ll reach the spot pictured below. There’s a church to the right, slightly uphill, that I didn’t find notable.
From this trailhead, to the left you’ll walk up to the natural pool and waterfall. There is a tall bridge (with a 2 person capacity) that takes you to a restaurant where you can eat traditional Brazilian dishes, order drinks, and listen to live music.
From the restaurant, a trail to the left of the bridge takes you to the natural waterslide. There are also several ways to get to the waterslide, including from the initial trailhead, and also from the initial side of the bridge. (Instead of crossing the bridge to the restaurant, you can take a right and walk straight to the waterslide.)
Visit a Cachaça Distillery (aka Alambique)
Cachaça is the traditional alcohol used in caipirinhas, Brazil’s signature cocktail. Paraty is an important hubbub of cachaça distilleries, known as alambiques. Round out your day trip to Poço do Tarzan by visiting Alambique Engenho D’Ouro. It’s just across the street from the trailhead. They close at 4:30/5pm, so make sure to get there by 4pm to get the full experience!!
Go on an Island Boat Tour
Island boat tours in Paraty are a dime-a-dozen. My biggest recommendation is to do a full day tour rather than a half-day, as the full-dyay will take you to the farther out spots. Also, many allow you to bring your own food and drink. Check with your hotel/hostel for their recommendation.
Where to Stay
As with boat tours, lodgings are abundant. We stayed at Chill Inn Hostel across the canal from the main plaza and really enjoyed it, mostly for the breakfast-on-the-beach. Chill Inn shares a beach cafe with Geko Hostel, which seems to have more dorm rooms. Both enjoy a breakfast buffet over a spectacular view on the beach.
What and Where to Eat
Paraty is a tourist-centered town and the eating options reflect that. You’ll find plenty of restaurants catering to tourists for lunch and dinner as well as countless options for açai, and… DESSERT CARTS!
In all honesty, the desserts offered at these little dessert carts weren’t our cup of tea, but we were left wondering why these don’t exist absolutely everywhere. It’s a genius idea!
Aside from the novelty of a dessert cart, there were two places that really made us happy:
Favorite Restaurant: Refugio Restaurante
Refugio is close to the boat docks and offers an expansive, diverse and creative food menu — not in a bad way, though perhaps slightly overwhelming. We ordered two plates and both were delicious and creative! Michelle’s was banana-filled ravioli!!
Favorite Cafe: Cafe Pingado
Great cafe for a pick-me-up or to relax over a nice cup of coffee and a treat! The decor was warm and charming and everything looked delightful!
How to Get There / Where to Next?
To get to Paraty, you’ll need to take a bus from either Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. Either way, it will take ~6 hours. There is only one bus terminal in town. Make sure to buy your ticket out the day before, as buses tend to fill up!
There are also transfer shuttles between Ilha Grande and Paraty. Make sure to book the transfer through your lodging and NOT online, as they are significantly cheaper in-person.
All prices are current as of February 2020.