Unique and Beautiful Destinations to visit outside Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is an incredible city, with beautiful beaches, vibrant neighbourhoods, and a lively nightlife scene. Whilst the city is hot and happening, there are many other fabulous destinations to explore in the state of Rio de Janeiro if you want to escape the crowds.



Just a 2 – 3 hour drive down the coast from Rio, the sleepy beach town of Búzios is picturesque. With sparkling waters, beautiful beaches, and a sunny laid-back vibe, it is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Búzios has some of the best beaches in Brazil and with over twenty-three to choose from, you’ll never be fighting for your sunny spot.

Often called the St Tropez of Brazil but without the soaring prices, the town was made famous in 1964 when Bridget Bardot visited with her boyfriend to escape the paparazzi in Rio.

Rio de Janeiro, Buzios

Enjoy dazzling ocean views as you walk down the pretty, cobbled streets of the Orla Bardot Boardwalk or pay homage at the Bridget Bardot Statue. Wander down the Rua das Pedras and browse the boutique shops and vibrant restaurants. By night, the street is bustling with bar hoppers heading to the nightclubs.

Swim and snorkel through the calm and crystal-clear waters of Joao Fernandes Beach or look out for sea turtles on Tartaruga Beach. Surfers can head to Geriba Beach for waves or if you’re seeking a bit more seclusion, head to Tucuns Beach.

Finish the day with some refreshing ceviche and enjoy the stretch of fabulous local restaurants along the Porto da Barra Buzios.


Ilha Grande

Rio de Janeiro destinations

Ilha Grande is breathtakingly beautiful, a tropical island paradise off the coast of Rio. This stunning destination is a slice of heaven with soft, white sand beaches, clear waters, jungle trails, and relative seclusion.

The 5-hour bus journey from Copacabana to Angra dos Reis followed by an hour and 20-minute public ferry is well worth it for the few who venture over.

One of the main attractions of the island is the abundance of marine life. Despite there being no reef, there are hundreds of species of fish as well as a large population of sea turtles.

Check out the dive centres in the Abraão village and book a day out to the island’s incredible marine canyons and shipwrecks.

If snorkelling is more your style, catch one of the launch boats from the village jetty over to Lagoa Azul whilst for surfers, Lopes Mendes Beach is the best spot for waves.

Away from the water, Ilha Grande also has some striking jungle and mountain scenery to explore. Hike up through the jungle in the lush mountain interior to Feiticeira Falls. Watch as the water crashes over the smooth rock lip into a crystal-clear pool below. It’s the perfect place to cool off after the hike.

Enjoy sunset cocktails and deliciously fresh seafood at Lua e Mar and watch the sun dip behind the mountains from your waterfront table.


Ilha de Paquetá

Another tranquil island escape, Ilha de Paquetá is only one hour away from the centre of Rio city by ferry, but away from the crowds, it is known as Rio’s ‘island of calm.’ With deep green hills, pink buildings, and colourful fishing boats, this bright and beautiful beach town is eye-catching.

There are no cars on the island, so the pace of life slows down here, and the best way to explore is on foot, by bike, or rickshaw.

Paquetá Bike offers well-priced rentals by the hour or for the day.

Visit the beautifully restored period house, Casa de Artes Paquetá which today hosts concerts, recitals and even a cine club. Sample some tasty homemade treats at the Gula Café as you take in the views of Guanabara Bay.

Enjoy hiking trails, ocean views, and a picnic on the beach at Darke de Mattos park or book a table at Zeca’s Restaurante on Praça Bom Jesus for lunch. It is often rated the best restaurant of the island, serving Brazilian barbeque and fresh seafood.

The island is small and easy to explore, and being so close to Rio’s centre, it makes for the perfect day trip from the city.


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Paraty is a charming little fishing town, with colourful streets, beautiful beaches, and a striking mountain backdrop.

Located on the southern tip of Rio de Janeiro state, this town has become a refuge for creatives and a tourist hotspot.

Wander through the cobbled streets of the Historical Centre where multicoloured buildings and Portuguese architecture nod to the town’s colonial heritage and history.

Take in the scenery in Matriz Square before visiting Santa Rita Church.

Enjoy the calm waters at Barra do Corumbê where you can stand up paddle board or relax on the soft sand of Praia do Cão Morto and take in the calming effect of the lush jungle backdrop. Praia Grande is the main hub for fishermen and boats, and it’s where you are guaranteed to find the freshest seafood lunch.

Kayak through mangroves to the crystal waters of Saquinho do Corumbê bay or explore the unique natural beauty of Saco do Mamanguá. This fjord-like destination is a hidden gem, boasting beautiful hiking trails, magnificent beaches, and stunning peaks.

Escape to the mountains to explore the local wildlife, hike through the jungle and chase waterfalls in the Graúna Mountain Region.

By night, the Historic Town is buzzing with an array of excellent restaurants and bars. Enjoy a crisp caipirinha in the warm open air before dinner in the town.




Petrópolis is a charming colonial city, home to fascinating museums, beautiful historical architecture, and long forest trails through towering mountains. Located 70km outside of the city, visitors can hire a car or take a public bus for the 2–4-hour journey from Rio.

The Imperial Museum of Brazil is one of the first historical architectures in the Petropolis and one of the city’s most popular attractions.

Inside this 150-year-old museum is an exquisite display of paintings depicting the Imperial Family’s history.

Wander through the city on a guided walking tour to make the most of the historical sites including the Crystal Palace, the Catedral de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, and the Palacio Rio Negro.

Take a tour of The Bohemia Brewery, recognised for producing the best beer in Brazil, and try a taste of the produce. For a fun family activity, visit the Wax Museum, where full-sized sculptures of prominent historical figures adorn the rooms in a hyper-realistic style.

The most beautiful part of Petrópolis is the Serra dos Órgãos National Park. The sprawling mountain range of this national park provides protection for the city’s natural freshwater resources. Embark on epic forest hikes and mountain peaks before cooling off in the waterfalls and natural pools.

Whether you are in the mood for island paradises, tropical jungles, or cool and calming mountains, Rio de Janeiro has so many unique and beautiful destinations to explore. Whilst the city remains the beating heart, there is so much life to be found outside of it in these incredible places.



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