35 Fun Activities and Things To Do In Paraty, Brazil
Let's explore the best things to do in Paraty, Brazil. Visit a beautiful colonial town packed with activities and adventures you simply must try.
We created this travel guide to help you with planning your next trip to Paraty in Brazil and included all the incredibly fun activities and things you can do there.
After a couple of hectic days in Sao Paulo, we arrived in charming colonial town Paraty, where we, at last, stayed four whole days. Located on the Brazilian coast Costa Verde, Paraty as a tourist destination offers cobblestone streets lined with colorful colonial houses, secluded beaches, several waterfalls, rich history, island hopping, fine dining, excellent accommodation, all of that with picturesque green mountains and Atlantic forest in the background.
From the very first moment, we clicked with this place and decided to enjoy the town in a slow, more relaxed pace. We were getting up late, ate a lot and still had time to try almost all activities possible doing in the town or the nearest surroundings.
Are you wondering why Paraty's city center (which is in UNESCO, by the way) remained so well-preserved?
Apart from the fact that people of Paraty take care of their treasure (we witnessed that one of the shabby looking streets was completely revamped in only a day) as tourism is the principal source of income for most of them, the main reason lies back in the history of Paraty.
Are you planning to visit Paraty? We've also made a complete Paraty Travel Guide where you can find more in-depth information about this beautiful place, our favorite things to do, where to stay, how to get there and cost fo travel.
History of Paraty
Although the history of Paraty is bound up with Portuguese colonization, Guaianas Indians lived in the area long before the first settlers from Europe arrived at Costa Verde in the 16th century.
Soon after colonization, gold became the most sought-after article in the 17th century, and Paraty grew into a crucial stop on the way between the mining region Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro. It didn't take long, and French pirates who were stealing the gold forced the local authorities to build a new road completely bypassing Paraty
The production of sugar and a local alcoholic beverage called cachaca kept Paraty on the map through 18th and 19th century but after a new railroad connecting Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo was built, and the slavery abolished, Paraty lost its importance, and the population shrank to mere 600. In the second half of the 20th century, a new road was built and Paraty quickly became a tourist destination.
Nowadays, we must be grateful that Paraty was most of the time away from any progress and the town was so well-conserved.
#1 Have A Beer
If you are a fan of tasting local products, Paraty is the place to go. We are coming from a beer country, the Czech Republic, so of course, tasting a local beer was the first thing we did in Paraty.
For instance, you can visit the local brewery called Cabore Brewery. Cabore means a small owl in Tupi–Guarani language, and it's also the name of the neighborhood, where the brewery is located. They currently produce three types of beer: dark, wheat and Pilsen, so everyone can choose the favorite one.
#2 Visit Distillery
In the past, Paraty used to be a significant economic hub known for its sugar cane distilleries and this industry is still alive in the region. There used to be around 250 distilleries, and you can still visit some of them on the one-day tour. Get insight into Brazilian history and taste exotic cachaca, a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice. You can buy the traditional liquor in tourist shops in Paraty's town center as well.
Despite the fact, that Paraty is a somewhat expensive tourist destination, you can definitely visit it on a low budget and have a great time. But if you are willing to splurge, and forget about saving money for the next destinations you want to visit, Paraty is a great place where to do.
This town features luxury accommodation in typical Posadas which serve as quiet retreats after a busy day out, and also Paraty has one of the best restaurants in the whole of Brazil where you can enjoy fine dining.
#4 Walk Around Historical Center
Walk back in time around the historical town center of Paraty, admire cobblestone streets, colonial architecture and houses decorated with all palette of colors. Simply put, explore the old times of Brazil.
The compact historical center is easy to walk on foot, so take your camera and get inspired by whitewashed houses, colorful doors, and shutters.
#5 Island Hopping
There are 62 islands and more than 200 beaches around Paraty. Take a trip on a speed boat, a big schooner or hire a local boat to have it only for yourself and discover one of the many sandy beaches where the jungle literally meets the sea. Hit the water for a great adventure, astounding nature and turquoise sea.
If you like water sports, Paraty is a perfect place for you. Thanks to its location near the sea, you can every day try a new activity, and your stay will never be boring. Kayaking belongs among one of those activities. In only 30 minutes of paddling, you can explore mangroves, other beaches and watch the wildlife around.
#7 Visit Organic Farm
Visiting an organic farm should be on your list of things you cannot miss when in Paraty. It is again something completely different, and if you are interested in sustainability, nature, reforestation, organic production, bird watching and supporting local communities, this is a project which deserves your attention. You can walk around the farm or rent an electric cart which will take you around to explore even the farthest corners of Fazenda Bananal, which is the farm's name.
We would point out at least two things why you should visit the farm. It is one of few places where you can see the Atlantic forest thrive, and the other reason is an exceptional restaurant working on the farm to table concept.
#8 Eat A Local Fish
To make our stay in Paraty complete, we visited one of the restaurants serving seafood and had a local fresh fish. I tried a traditional saltwater fish stew or as locals called it, Moqueca, a typical Brazilian recipe and it was one of the best fish I've ever had.
#9 Visit Trindade
A must visit place while staying in Paraty is a small village only 45 minutes away by bus, Trindade. Trindade has three excellent beaches, one of them is accessible only by boat or via hiking trail. There is also a famous Cachadaco, a natural pool, so if you are tired of staying put in one place, visiting Trindade is a welcoming change.
#10 Slide Down A Waterfall
Are you an adventurous traveler? Do you like waterfalls? What about water slides? In Paraty, you can enjoy both in one place. Cachoeira do Toboga is the most famous waterfall close to the town. It's a giant smooth rock forming natural toboggan which you can slide down. It's best to experience this waterfall during the rain or shortly after as it is in its best when it rains.
#11 Fine Dining
Paraty is well known for amazing modern cuisine and the dinner at Quintal das Letras was one of the highlights of our stay. Yasmin rice with herbs and palm hearts, typical stew fish in delicious tomato sauce and a chocolate creme brulee paired with traditional capacha liquor and locally crafted beer was something to remember.
#12 Scuba Diving
Dive among tropical coral reefs and swim with sea turtles and coral fish in the calm and shallow waters around Paraty. There are several travel agencies which will gladly help you to arrange your trip.
#13 See a Fjord
Yes, there is a fjord near Paraty, also the only fjord in Brazil, called Saco do Mamangua. Take a boat from either Paraty or a small village Mirim and get to the beach, from where you can climb the hill for amazing views of the bay and the surrounding area. You can also go there with a tour operator.
#14 Hit A Beach
There are many beaches to choose from in Paraty. You will find some decent beaches right in the town, or you can visit Trindade village with even more beach options, or take a boat trip to one of the many islands in Paraty bay and find a secluded paradisiacal beach.
#15 Walk Along The Pier
There is more than only one pier in Paraty, and our favorite was the rocky and artificially made breakwater pier right next to the Praia Pontal. To get to the end, you have to navigate across some boulders, so it's not crowded, and you can enjoy the calmness of this place while watching local fishermen trying to catch some fish.
Paraty is settled almost perfectly in the middle between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro which makes it a great place to get away from the hectic city life and relax. Most of the hotels in Paraty have pools, so after a day of exploring outside, take your book and rest for a while.
#17 Read A Book
Paraty every year hosts a book festival, so this place is destined to be enjoyed with a book in hand.
If you did not take your own book, no worry. In one of the colonial houses in the town's center is set a beautiful book shop so you can supply yourself. If you want to go even further, stay in stunning Pousada Literaria de Paraty, an astonishing hotel with beautiful and comfortable guest's library where you can read or chill out.
#18 Learn About The History
Join the free walking tour which will walk you through Paraty fascinating history in both English and Portuguese and discover picturesque colonial town center and its hidden secrets.
The tour starts every day at 10:30 am and 5 pm.
#19 Visit A Museum
Paraty has some interesting museums worth visiting. Your best bet is Casa da Cultura de Paraty as the building is photogenic itself and they have always some exhibition going on. On top of that, you get a nice view from upstairs when inside, plus there is a small cafe where you can relax a little bit.
#20 Go Shopping
Paraty is famous for its distilleries, and you can buy an excellent bottle of local spirit cachaca. You will also find plenty of opportunities to buy traditional handicrafts like wooden carved boats and much more.
#21 Buy Handicrafts
As I have mentioned above, the small color painted wooden boats are locally made handicrafts, and you can buy it as a souvenir and support the local community. They might not be the easiest to transport over long distance though, so you can keep looking for something smaller.
#22 Flooded Streets
Once in a month, during a full moon, Paraty turns into South American tiny version of Italian Venice as the inclined streets create channels and are flooded by sea at high tide. At that time, it is a bit more challenging to walk the streets (but locals use wooden bridges to get around the town more comfortably), but having a picture of colorful houses mirroring in the sea water is a great souvenir.
#23 Do Something For Your Health
The only thing we were truly missing during more than eight months of traveling around South America was regular exercise and even though we did plenty of hikes we felt out of shape. But during four days in Paraty, we had time to workout every day. We went running, swimming, did yoga exercise, and we also found a nice outdoor public workout place near the river.
Even if you travel around Brazil for just a week or two, take a break and do something beneficial for your mind and body.
#24 Stay In Pousada
Experience one of the luxury hotels in the historical town's center.
We had a blast thanks to staying in Pousada Literaria de Paraty for four incredible nights.
During that time we had time to do what we've been skipping for the last couple of months and felt completely as new persons when we left the town.
#25 Visit Atlantic Forest
Paraty lies in Atlantic Forest, a South American forest along the Atlantic Ocean coast. Thanks to its location it remains extraordinarily lush in biodiversity and rich with endemic species. One of the places where you can admire how the forest thrives is an organic farm only a short drive from Paraty, Fazenda Bananal.
#26 Enjoy A Carriage Ride
Enjoy a relaxed ride on a horse-drawn carriage as you travel through time in the colonial town of Paraty. Your best bet is to head to the pier near the church, where you can usually find horsemen around.
#27 See a Carnival
Every year there is a new carnival in Paraty.
But one of them stands higher among others. Bloco do Lama is one of the most bizarre carnivals you will ever see and is considered by many as one of the best shows in Brazil.
The tradition started when a few locals covered themselves in mud from the mangroves which protected them against mosquito bites and had healing effects. Carrying bones, skulls and yelling, they wandered around the town streets, and this event turned into a yearly attraction visited by locals and tourists from all over the world.
#28 Spa & Massage
Get rid of muscle tension, reduce stress, balance mind and do something good for yourself and your well-being. Paraty's tranquil location and peaceful atmosphere are perfect to choose the treatment that best suits you.
#29 Forest Hiking
Paraty sits at the edge of Atlantic Forest and offers some great hiking trails. One of the most popular trails in the area is a hike to Sono Beach with white sand through a jungle forest, home to a variety of animals and plants.
#30 Drink Caipirinha
Taste the Brazilian traditional cocktail in Paraty, home to many local distilleries producing cachaca, a sugar cane hard liquor. If you've never had caipirinha before, Paraty is the place you should give it a try as local bartenders know how to make it right.
#31 Walk Across The Bridge
You will probably have to use this bridge called Ponte Paulo Dias Carvalho Mendonca to get to the other side of the river channel intersecting Paraty, and there are some nice colorful boats tied up to the shore, so it makes it a popular photo spot.
#32 Rent A Bike
Rent a bike, jump on and explore the beaches or visit one of the many waterfalls in the Atlantic forest. There are several affordable bike rental shops, and they will give you advice on the best routes around.
#33 Feel The Old Times
You can't, of course, travel back in time. In Paraty though, you can feel the old times. The colonial architecture, small handicrafts shops, the pirate stories, gold trails, liquor distilleries, calm settings, all of this makes you want to go back and relive the fascinating long history of this tropical Brazilian gem.
#34 Get in Love with Colors
Decorated houses and colorful ornaments combined with white facade will blow you away. You will have endless photo opportunities to capture the beauty of this small colonial town. The challenge is to find your favorite color combination because when you think you have it, another one appears right behind the corner.
#35 Reconnect With Nature
About 14% of the land is preserved in Brazil by environmental laws. In Paraty, it's more than 80%. Yes, you've heard it right. 80%! Paraty is one of the most pristine and intact places in the whole country, and this fact makes it a truly special place worth exploring.
WHERE TO STAY IN PARATY
Paraty as a popular tourist destination has plenty of accommodation options for every traveler on every budget. Keep in mind, that you should not forget to reserve your room well in advance, especially during Brazilian summer and on weekends.
BUDGET | Breda Hostel LTDA - Great position, free wifi, and breakfast are the most valuable features of this cheap, yet well-reviewed hostel which offers dormitory rooms with garden view.
MID-RANGE | Pousada Praia do Jabaquara - This hotel is close to a beach yet within walking distance to the city center.
LUXURY | Pousada Literaria de Parati - Best (and also incredibly romantic) place we have stayed in! Nestled in a quiet mansion right in the city center, this pousada is one of the most beautiful places we've ever seen. Beautifully decorated spacious rooms, pool, cozy library, and delicious food are the main reasons to stay here.
You can also search for all hostel options using HostelWorld.
HOW TO GET TO PARATY
Paraty sits almost in the middle between two Brazilian's large cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, thus the connection by bus is frequent and safe.
There are five connections daily from Sao Paulo, and more than ten buses every day heading to Rio de Janeiro.
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