Rio de Janerio is a vacation destination for every type of traveler. Due to the fact that the city is divided into different districts, if you are more of an urban dweller you can stick with Centro or the North Side. If you prefer the beach environment stick to the southern district which houses Copacabana and Ipanema. Either option you choose will be filled with a great deal of art, food, and culture but if you decide to explore neighboring areas you’ll be happy to know that you have many options to take day trips to. Some of the more popular and beautiful day trip destinations include:

Rio de Janeiro Day Trips: 5 Places to Explore Near Brazil's Famous Seaside City


Known as the Imperial City of Brazil, Petropolis is named after Pedro I, the first emperor of Brazil and it was selected as the emperor’s home because of its natural beauty being nestled in the hills of the Serra dos Orgaoes. In Petropolis, you can spend your day walking around the many sites including The Imperial Museum, The Cathedral of St. Peter of Alcantara, The Crystal Palace, and the city’s beautiful waterfall. Due to its mountainous terrain, you can also spend your afternoon trekking through the city and eating fantastic local establishments such as Las Delicias.

A walking tour of the city lasts around three hours and you will certainly be overwhelmed by the city’s beautiful parks, bridges, and canals. Access to Petropolis is only available by road so renting a vehicle, taking a taxi or hopping on a tour bus are your best options. Rio de Janeiro residents often make the trip so transportation between the cities is abundant and usually takes no longer than two hours each way.

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Ilha Grande

Talk about natural, untouched beauty in Brazil and few would hesitate to direct you to Ilha Grande off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Take this day trip when you feel overwhelmed from the constant partying and bustle from Copacabana as once you hop off the ferry you will feel as if you are in another world. Ilha Grande is very serene and surrounded by gorgeous beaches prompting you to reconsider only staying for an afternoon. An island with about 30-35 restaurants, don’t hesitate to munch on fresh seafood all day long. Some of the more popular things to do on the island include snorkeling, hiking its many trails, hiking to Papagaio Peak (2-3 hour hike), kayaking, and sailing. If you do decide to stay overnight (who could blame you) there are a number of hotels and lodging establishments available.

To get to Ilha Grande from Rio, you have to take a ferry which will cost you no more than R$20 and takes about 40 minutes. There are no roads for vehicles and they are actually banned from the island, so be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes as you will be on your feet all day (if not in the water).

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First settled by the Portuguese in 1667, this historic coastal town is about four and a half hours away from Rio de Janeiro by car. Cars are not allowed in the historic city center so ensure you wear comfortable walking shoes as you will be walking most of the time to the town’s many historical landmarks. Due to being its own self sustained city, here you will be able to find many of the same amenities as you would of a coastal neighborhood like Ipanema. While visiting Paraty you can kayak in the bay to the many little islands off the town’s coast as well as snorkel and paddle board. You also have the option of purchasing a popular speedboat tour around the bay. The ride from Rio to Paraty takes no longer than four and a half hours and there are numerous buses/vans that are dedicated to this trip and you can also opt for renting a vehicle.

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Sitting on a peninsula, Buzios is surrounded by 22 beautiful beaches. Buzios is comprised of three small towns: Ossos, Manguinhos, and Armacao de Buzios. Ossos is located at the northern tip of the peninsula and is arguably the most attractive settlement of the three. There are various statues along the peninsula including one of the French actor, Brigitte Bardot. Getting to Buzios by car takes no longer than two hours and once there you can discover all three towns via foot as they are very well connected. Once a quaint fisherman’s town, Buzios is sure to charm you. Some of the best eating establishments include Cigalon, Bar do Ze, Donna Jo, and Anexo Praia.

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Prainha Beach

This magical beach but somewhat secluded beach has long been popular with hardcore surfers as Prainha Beach is known for having some of the best waves in Brazil. Nestled in the middle of rainforest covered mountains enjoy a beautiful afternoon with your family here while getting away from the more popular beaches of Rio. There are a great deal of small kiosks along the beach selling food and drinks and arriving to Prainha Beach is tricky due to the fact that it is difficult to reach via public transportation and there are no established hotels. We’d recommend taking a taxi from your hotel and it should take no longer than two hours each way. Another fun way is to head over to Prainha Beach with the Surf Bus, a 30 seat bus that fits surfboards and body boards and equipped with stereo systems and televisions. This would be a memorable ride to Prainha Beach with some young locals.

Prainha Beach

This article was written by Walter Godinez.